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Today on the show we have film producer, distribution expert, and today’s “go-to” authority of how to get a film to market, Jerome Courshon. He has broken open the “exclusive club” of successful independent producers with his innovative 3-Day Program, “THE SECRETS TO DISTRIBUTION: Get Your Movie Distributed Now!”
A producer in his own right (he secured a profitable distribution deal with Warner Bros. on his very first indie movie), Courshon is called upon by many sources for his savvy. From beginning to veteran producers, as well as the press, they contact him regularly to gain access to his unparalleled expertise and invaluable knowledge.
Regarded as one of the world’s chief experts in distribution, he tracks the ever-changing film industry distribution markets to present relevant, trending and successful strategies in his lectures, classes and 3-Day Program. His ultimate goal for every filmmaker? Get your movie or documentary to the marketplace successfully.
Citing his own personal journeys of releasing films and working with distributors, Courshon highlights the many obstacles & challenges filmmakers face today — and how to overcome them. His teachings also pack powerful messages on how to stay in the game for the long haul. At the heart of every lesson on distribution is a focus on “what works and what doesn’t” in reaching your audience.
We also discuss the current Distribber disaster and how it is affecting indie filmmakers today and in the future. This is a masterclass in film distribution so buckle up and enjoy my conversation with Jerome Courshon.
Alex Ferrari 2:27
Now guys, with all this talk of film distribution, predatory film, distributors, this whole debacle with distributor and what impact it's having on filmmakers in the community today, I wanted to bring on to the show, and oh gee, an original gangster when it comes to educating filmmakers about film distribution. Today's guest is Jerome Courshon. And his revolutionary DVD course called the secrets to distribution really help hundreds if not 1000s of filmmakers get their films to the marketplace. Now, Jerome has been on top of this whole distributor debacle. And if you're part of the protect yourself from distributor Facebook group, you'll see him pop up here and there with information and tips and tricks on how to navigate the film distribution world. So I wanted to bring them on the show. So we can just sit down and talk shop. And we did this turned out to be an epic conversation that lasted nearly two hours. But if you want to know about film distribution, if you want to know about what's happening right now, in the world of independent film distribution, this is essentially a free masterclass for you guys to listen to. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Jerome Courshon. I'd like to welcome the show Jerome Courshon man, thank you so much for being on the show, brother.
Jerome Courshon 3:54
Thank you, thank you for having me today.
Alex Ferrari 3:55
It's been a while I've I've seen you pass through my Facebook feed, probably 1000 times, and I've heard about you and your course and all the good work that you've done in the distribution space, because there's not a lot of people in the distribution space that are trying to help filmmakers. And as I heard from somebody a long time ago, who's in that space, by the time that filmmakers get to you, they're exhausted and broke. So
Jerome Courshon 4:22
They're exhausted, they're broken, they're really, really vulnerable. And they're so vulnerable, that this is where 70% of them maybe higher, get taken for a ride, and they're screwed.
Alex Ferrari 4:37
Yeah, so what we're going to go deep into all of that today, but before we get into that, how did you get started in the film business?
Jerome Courshon 4:45
Oh, my lord. Well, you know, it's, it's a long saga as it is for all of us. Um, I started out as an actor many years ago. You know, got some work here and there. always felt that I would eventually write and produce And then one day I woke up and said, What What, what am I waiting for? Why don't just start. Because I've been writing all along actually just not in screenplay format. So wrote a couple sample scripts to get my feet wet with that formatting. Then when I was happy with that, I wrote a full length screenplay. And then I sought to do it, put it together the Hollywood way, package it with actors, a director, etc. So I spent two plus years doing that actually, not that long, comparatively, but, but I spent too, and I had some name actors involved, you know, who loved the script. And I had a named director at the time and named director, I mean, not a big name director, but you know, like a B, B plus director, somebody's not, that doesn't did didn't do shit, but wasn't doing the, you know, 100 million dollar studio movies. So then we tried to raise money, I tried to raise money, and the director tried to help too. And we got into a bunch of people had bunch of meetings, but we couldn't get it off the ground. And, and quite frankly, I don't know, maybe this is boring, but it was an ensemble piece. So there was not one or two actors that were going to be the sole leads. So the name talent we were attracting was people had names, but they weren't the big names. And nobody wanted to take a risk, even with the package we were putting together. So I want to get What year is this, by the way? And the 90s? Okay. 1990s.
Alex Ferrari 6:31
So when there was money, there was money.
Jerome Courshon 6:33
There was money, and the independent, independent film scene was Virginie. Sure. So I went ahead, and I just, you know, said, If I didn't have the money by a certain date, I was going to shoot no matter what, with whatever I had. So I set a date that happened there, there's a whole you know, a lot of interesting things that happened along the way. with, you know, not being able to now use the the director had some name, and I went to independent director, you know, people who had a lot of credits, or a couple of credits, but they were indie. So they, their name wasn't, and I went through three or four of them, who cut would come and drop out or whatever reason, finally, got it off the ground, shot it. Went through post took me took me a few years to get through post production, actually, because I didn't have the money for that. But I finally made that happen. And then, bam, I'm ready to hit the marketplace. One of the mistakes that I made at the at the starting gate was submitting the film to certain distributors, who passed on it because there was no pedigree. First of all, there were no names. That's always a question I would get asked. And there was no pedigree It was like, um, okay, you know, you know, it's a talking heads slicer like picture with no names. So I got passed on by everybody i'd submitted it to. And I had just started doing festivals at the same time. So I decided, Okay, screw it. pullback, quit submitting to distributors, nobody told me that I just kind of figured it out. I won't do that till I kind of, you know, get some press on it, maybe win some awards, if I'm lucky. So I kind of ended up building this whole pedigree thing, which nobody was, I think, really using the word pedigree in relation to film. So I don't know that I came up with it solely. I think there was maybe one other person in the industry who might have referred to films that way. Anyways, I either you served his use of that word. Sure, sir.
Alex Ferrari 8:41
As I as as I will now start using it as well.
Jerome Courshon 8:44
Absolutely. You know, as a matter of fact, somebody else who's now just getting into the distribution arena, I think I saw a class somewhere, something advertised or whatever I talk, and they actually use the word pedigree. And I was like, right on, I don't care if they stole it from me or not, the fact that they're bringing it up and using it is important, because filmmakers Don't even think about pedigree and what pedigree means to your potential buyers. Anyways, we'll get into that I'm sure. So. So as long story short, I built this pedigree. And then I started submitting to distributors, and I was getting a much different response now. And I really learned firsthand how the way you position a film, the way you put it out there to your potential buyers, is night and day difference between the two. So anyways, I finally got distribution. It took a while. There were I actually might have come close to getting, you know, specialty arm distribution, because a couple of the big players were interested but I didn't play that game, right. And that's a whole game in and of itself, about how to use Interest leverage interest against one another. Um, I didn't do that right. screwed that up. And But anyways, I got distribution, it went out I did some limited theatrical myself and then and then I got into Warner Brothers released it nationally no name comedy drama. That journey then led me to just writing some articles about film distribution for the magazines. I get called after I'd write an article, someone would find my number and call me or they email me Hey, Jerome, your story was inspiring. I didn't last I don't know what to do. And I started helping people whoops, just just for free. And then some of my colleagues, uh, you know, we're finishing their films. Hey, Jerome, can you help us out? And by helping them out? They two of them got distribution within four months of my talking to them and telling them what to do. And another one, it took them a year. And then they were like, drum, you got to teach this. You've got to share this. What you have is gold. Oh, my God. And I'm like, No, no, no, I'm not a teacher.
Alex Ferrari 11:11
I'm a film. I'm a filmmaker. I'm not a teacher. I mean, those who teach don't do I mean, seriously? Yeah, that's what I said the same thing.
Jerome Courshon 11:20
There is that and a lot of people think that or feel that way. No, no, no. And, and then also, I was like, Yeah, but these are, these are my secrets. These are, these are the things that let me turn my phone off. Yeah. These are my secret sauce. These, if I share this, it will lose value? Well, I don't know, when they just occurred to me. Well, you know, I don't believe in scarcity, just as a concept. I mean, I'm not saying it doesn't exist. But if we buy into it, then it does exist for us. Okay, maybe there's a little bit gonna be a little out there. Because philosophically, but if I'm being generous, you know, in theory, and spirituality or religion would say, we'll come back to you. So I just decided what the hell I'm just going to share, created a class share what I knew, helped a lot of people that turned into a one day class, it was an evening class turned into a one day class, turned it into a class. And I've just kind of stayed with it the whole time, with my projects, helping others that I know and helping those people that hire me. So that's kind of how I kind of backed into it. Right? I backed I didn't intend to be doing this. I'm really good at it. I guess I'm like a film distribution, whisper, you know, and then I just kind of get it and I know what you need to do. And I can look at a film and say, This film needs X, Y, and Z. To have an audience or this film, here's the audience for this film, you got to do this, or this is the right distributor, or, you know, stay away from these guys over here. They're gonna fuck you. Die, probably.
Alex Ferrari 13:00
It's okay. It's, it's the realities of our business, sir.
Jerome Courshon 13:05
It is it is. And you know, in this business, the distribution business is, you know, 70% of this end of the business, it's crooked. I'm sorry. It's just it's just, it's just frickin crooked.
Alex Ferrari 13:18
I use the word predatory. predatory is another way of putting it. Yeah.
Jerome Courshon 13:22
Yeah, it's predatory. Um, and, and like we you know, and filmmakers are very vulnerable producers are very vulnerable, especially on the first few films. They're exhausted by the time it's done. They just want to move on, right? It's like, you know, I don't know it, you know, I was gonna say liken it to you know, raising children, but I don't have any children. So I don't know what that I wouldn't. I'm just speaking
Alex Ferrari 13:48
Kind of like that. But the children that they don't go away, you don't get you don't you don't just put them into distribution. And and they're and they're a financial drain on the family. I'm just throwing that out there. It takes years for them to actually put some some money back into into the pockets, but it could turn into something who knows. But I'm just joking. I'm joking. Everybody out there. I'm joking. I have kids this is this is how I this is my true feelings now. Alright, so you said something very interesting, though. pedigree? Can you explain what your concept of pedigree is?
Jerome Courshon 14:20
Your so pedigree is simply look, you know, filmmakers out there, you make a movie, who's gonna like your movie, your family, your friends, people who personally know you, even if your movies not good or great. They're not going to, most likely trash it right? Or maybe some of your friends maybe you were jealous might trash it, but you know, or they might throw trash into your face, but they'll you know, behind your back. So people who know you personally are always going to be a little more favorable than the average person who doesn't know you And so without getting too deep into that concept and social media and every you know, all that stuff you need to as a producer needs to create this profile pedigrees, a profile, a positive profile on your film of what others are saying or what that film can do. So, here's some examples of pedigree. First of all, if you have names in your movie, that's that's automatic pedigree, you automatically start with pedigree Oh, I've got, I don't know Christina Applegate, or I've got George Clooney or whatever. Okay, great. People are going to watch your film only because of that. And that so so pedigree is what is it going to what? What is that people? Why will people watch your film? So it's it's names. And if you don't have names, then did you win awards at film festivals? That's really important. And I know there's a lot of people in Hollywood who poopoo that and say I you know,
Alex Ferrari 16:02
But it also depends on genre, wouldn't you say? Because certain genres Film Festival pedigree means something like if it's a drama or, but if it's like a slapstick comedy or a straight up horror film. I don't think that audience really cares that much if it won Best Picture at screamfest.
Jerome Courshon 16:17
Okay, um, yeah, well, okay. Um, so this is? That's a great question. And I'm gonna I'm going to I'm going to go into it. Go into it. Yeah. Because there's two there's two reasons we I pedigrees important. One is yes, and No, it isn't, isn't important. And another is it is important, depending upon what you want to do with the film. So correct. Yeah. So if I don't get by somehow, don't get back to that you'll bring me back and finish up though. Alright, so awards have even when them press articles. So one thing that a lot of filmmakers don't do is they get accepted to film festivals. Now, if it's a tiny little festival, or it's only in his first couple years, and the media doesn't pay attention, no matter what town it's in, well, you know, you're not probably going to get any press but but if it's at least something that's been around for a while, and there are even independent press that will cover it, you got to get some press articles. Because what you're going to do is you're you're building a press kit for the film. And you're building a you're going to build you build a crescendo of people talking and writing about your film. So when people are talking and writing about your film, the subconscious or subliminal messages, you have something valuable, you have something worth talking about. And while this sounds simplistic, or like, Is it really that important? Yes, it's frickin important, because sales. Now here's here's, here's the bottom line truth films are no different than anything else. Any other commodity in the marketplace. Okay? A film is no different than this coffee cup. coffee cup has an intrinsic value. $2 $10, whatever it is, but the value is it's useful to me, movies are not useful to people, they're only entertainment. So you've got to make your movie appear useful to someone useful as either an entertainment, something to spend two hours on and have fun. Or if it's a documentary, or a social issue, something or narrative movie that has a social issue, a serious issue in it, that makes your that can make your film important and important to the level that it's something you that my audience needs to see. Because it's going to open your eyes, it's going to change the world in some way. Or it might change the world in some way. You know, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. A lot of people laugh about that film today. I mean, well, one's politics. But you know what, that film actually really launched a serious conversation that even though that conversation seemed to go away for a while, it was the start of a serious conversation that we are full blown in today about climate change. So anyway, so um, and if you've got a critics now getting reviews at a film festival is really hard to do. But let's say the festival programmer writes up, you know something about your film and says wonderful movie or whatever. Well, you know what, that's a quote, wonderful movie and the person's name and their attribution. If you're playing at let's say, I don't know the Chicago International Film Festival, you may get reviewed in the actual one of the daily papers there, or your be written up and about, you know, the festival and they'll talk about your films, if your film is one of those films, and the critic watched it and says something about it pedigree. So all of this stuff, does two things. One, it can help your audience decide whether or not to actually invest 90 minutes or two hours in your film. And to let's say you want a distributor, you're not going to do a DIY, a DIY approach to do it yourself approach. If you want a distributor, having a press kit, physical and or APK, that shows all this coverage of your film. And how good it is, makes them salivate. It makes them salivate, you are telling them you're communicating to them, I have a valuable This is a valuable project is the valuable movie. And they think, Oh, I can make money with this. I told you want a distributor think is Oh, I can make money with this if you're going after distributor. And so you know, and if you're going after the audience, like a DIY approach, then you need to convince your audience in this country in America, I everywhere. Spend 90 minutes with me, you're going to be entertained or you're going to be you're going to learn something or that this is worth 90 minutes of your time.
Alex Ferrari 21:10
Now, would you? So obviously actors do bring that pedigree in it brings they bring their audience with them. So you know, fans of George Clooney or Christina Applegate, or Ryan Smith or something, people who who know their history and know their work will be fans of what they do. And then they will go and watch this movie. And that's a kind of a deal that actors make with their audience. So that's why when like comedians jump into drama, like wait a minute, that is not what we know you for we want to laugh with you, Robin Williams, we don't want you to be doing serious moves. But then when he does series movies so well, they're like, Well, okay, this is a nude, but there's a kind of unwritten social contract that an actor has with his audience. Is that fair to say?
Jerome Courshon 21:52
I would say that's fair to say. Sure. Um, you know, I, this is an example from from many years ago, but quite a few years ago, when Colin O'Brian was going to do and out. This was his first live tour, but it was the early live tour, and he was on Twitter, and he had a million or 2 million followers. So you know, somewhat the early days of Twitter. And he went and he set up this whole tour across the live across the country. And he tweeted out once or twice, and every single show in every single city filled up, sold out, based on a couple tweets, and and that got a lot of press, and I was like, Oh, you got to be on payments, you got to be on Twitter, look what it'll do for you all this kind of stuff. So yes, there's a social contract that if you like what I do, or who I am, I'm going to just give you more of that. So buy a ticket,
Alex Ferrari 22:46
Right? So that's what that's what you're buying into with, with with actors. Now, when you're saying pedigree, film festivals, definitely have that articles and write in any kind of press you did. Like when I did my first short film, I was in 180 200 film festivals, I was reviewed by Roger Ebert, I was reviewed by 200 news outlets. This is a short film with no stars in it. And I and I leveraged it not knowing what the term pedigree was. But I was adding pedigree because I knew that there was nothing inherent about my 20 minute short film that people would pay money for. So that I created this kind of image or a kind of like a vibe of the film that people were like, wait a minute, if Roger Ebert wrote about them, and like they have to go see this movie, and then I created other product lines and things like that to sell the movie. But in today's world, I mean, I agree with you 100%, that films should get pedigree. But if you're going after a distributor, which there's an inherent problem, which 70% of them are crooks. So that's it, that's a conversation to be had. Or if you're going to go down the DIY aspect of things. How important is like I know film festivals in the 90s had so much power, you know, putting Sundance on your film. And today, even if you put Sundance on your film, there is a definite pedigree. But it's not an automatic like it used to be like before when you won Sundance, or were you even in Sundance, you just got distribution checks with flow from distributors purely because of it, those things are not here anymore. Would you agree with that? Or they're different? At least they're they're different. I would say they're different. So so don't get me wrong if I could get into Sundance and win it. Yes.
Jerome Courshon 24:27
Absolutely. Because you'll you'll get a deal of some kind, something
Alex Ferrari 24:30
something maybe, and that's not guaranteed.
Jerome Courshon 24:33
Well, if you win an award, you're probably going to get a deal at Sundance.
Alex Ferrari 24:37
I worked on a film in 2010, that they won two awards at Sundance, and they did not get a deal. Because of the kind of film it was. So there was there's I mean, it's a case by case basis.
Jerome Courshon 24:47
Yeah. That's true. It is a case I agree. It is a case by case basis, and I probably should not make you know, a no exception rule here.
Alex Ferrari 24:58
Of course, of course, of course.
Jerome Courshon 24:59
But you There are a handful of festivals that that if you get into me will mean something serious mean something significant, and possibly lead to you getting an actual reputable deal, a deal where there's a check written, etc. And they have New York Film. Now one of the things that I talked about in my course, my 18 hour course, is an liveplan. I talked about this in live classes too. So I'll talk about it here briefly. If you're in if you get accepted to, let's say, one of the top three film festivals in the world, and those are Sundance Toronto and Cannes, if you're in one of those, to me, you have to set the stage. Oh, yeah. And, and, and basically create an aura, an environment where buzz can happen. So if you just go in, a lot of people don't understand this filmmakers don't aren't marketing experts. So I get it, we all you know, we know that. And so they're a little weak on this. But if you get into Sundance, you're not, if you just Oh, great. I'll show up at Sundance, and I'll sit in my first screening, will this be great, I'll be over, I'm gonna relax,
Alex Ferrari 26:15
I gotta choose between the $10 million offer and the $20 million offer, that's, that's gonna be the problems I have in my life.
Jerome Courshon 26:23
And so you don't do anything, you don't. You don't get a producer Rep. And by the way, I hate producer reps. And they're useless for most films. And we can talk about that later, if you want. But in the case of Sundance, if you and I'm talking about maybe one of the handful of important or reputable, reputable, important producer reps, if you don't have one of those who helps you build the buzz before the screening, or one of the sales agents from one of the top agencies in Hollywood, or, you know, there's a lot of things that one has to do, what you want to do is create buzz about your film, before it plays at Sundance, I'm talking weeks before Sure. month before when, when the films are announced. And if one does that, and there's a lot of different ways to do that. Then when you go all the acquisitions, representatives from all the major distributors will be at your first screening. Yeah, but this happened on your film before that they're going to be there. That'll be their top on their list of what they got to see. It'll be at the top of the list. And if they are any of you built this bus, they're going to be there and a deal is going to happen. Most likely, what filmmakers don't understand is they don't understand that game. And the psychological process, the psychology that happens at film festivals like that, where buyers will buy stuff, even if the film isn't great, because their competitors are aiming to get it too. So this is why and the nutshell version, this is why a lot of films that get bought at Sundance or in the past were bought at Sundance, and then they get released theatrically and they kind of die at the box office. And the general public goes Hmm, well, it's not a great film. Well, no. But in an environment like Sundance, you had five different companies going after it. And they were all trying to get the film because in and it's the I want this film, and it played so well here. I'm gonna make money with it. Well, you know, best of all audiences are not exactly. You can't look at Film Festival audience and say, okay, the rest of America is going to respond this way. That's a whole nother issue.
Alex Ferrari 28:34
What was it? What was that movie that got sold to I forgot to I think it was a boxer slide. It was a record. It was $11 million. It was the slave movie, the slave rebellion movie. And it just died. It died 12 years as a slave. No, no, no, no, I was not that that 12. Seriously, there was another one Exactly. You'll never remember. But it one son dads, and was sold. It was a record. It was a record sell. This happened like maybe three, four years ago. But it was a perfect example of that bidding war mentality. Where was $11 million purchase? And it died. I think Nate the guy who was the director, that was a scandal about a Birth of a Nation. There it is birth. That Well, yes, yes. Yeah. Yeah. So that's a perfect example of what you're talking about, like this kind of thing of everybody. I need to have this movie, but it ended up not doing very well. Well, yeah. And this this scandal didn't help. But it did not help but unfortunately, when you spend a little million dollars, there's no way to vet that situation. So who's a huge risk? Like how how could a Fox Searchlight even known if it was fasteners right? But how would a company known spending $11 million that this was around the corner so it killed that movie? We don't know which is which is unfortunate. But I have a question for you. So I understand this concept was for the top three film festivals or even south by or maybe Tribeca there's a few top tier festivals that mean something in the in the in the Zeitgeist of Absolutely. movie goers eyes like trackback. As the name South buys a name, there's a handful. There's not many event Venice, Berlin, there's a handful. Correct. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. But that is for like the top 1% of 1% of filmmakers what happens for the rest of us?
Jerome Courshon 30:25
This is why pedigree This is why I you know, we'll talk till I'm blue in the face about pedigree because if you can't get into one of the top festivals and you're right try bekende South by South by Southwest are in I would put those at four and five respectively, you know? Sure. Becca and then south by Seattle, you know, I probably throw Seattle in there. You know, Austin Film Fest. I'll throw a few others in
Alex Ferrari 30:49
Venice Berlin, Venice Berlin
Jerome Courshon 30:51
Telluride tell you about notable pickups in the past, Juno was discovered at Telluride, you know? So this is why you know, and most you right, most filmmakers are not going to get in the top festivals. So what do you do? Okay, you go to the second tier festivals and you build a pedigree through the second tier festivals. And let's talk about because I didn't get back to that one. The why, you know, is our awards important or not? And who were they important
Alex Ferrari 31:26
For genre? Depending on the genre, right? Yeah,
Jerome Courshon 31:28
yeah. And you look, you know, if you've got a horror film, you don't need 10 Awards. You don't need a lot. You know, if you've got a good horror film, with no names in it, fine. There's an audience for that, you know, it's a genre film genre films don't need pedigree necessarily, because people will watch it. rows are cisgender it's a built in the genre itself. Is the pedigree, almost the same as the audience that's
Alex Ferrari 31:50
gonna watch it regardless. And hores. infamously very forgiving. That audience will watch almost anything, right? Yeah,
Jerome Courshon 31:59
exactly. Exactly. There's a built in audience for genre films. It's just when it comes to comedies, we know names, dramas with no names, comedy dramas, romantic comedies, coming of age, any of that stuff. Harry
Alex Ferrari 32:11
Jerome Courshon 32:12
all that. Fairy pieces. Exactly. Anything that's not genre, documentaries, you know, anything? Not genre needs help. So I show, if you build pedigree through the second tier, and third tier film festivals, I mean, there really are
Alex Ferrari 32:31
clear. Oh, yeah, absolutely.
Jerome Courshon 32:34
What you're basically doing is is, is you're you're setting yourself apart, you're doing a number of things. One, we've already talked about pedigree for the purposes of, you know, the other is that you're setting yourself apart from the 5000 other independent movies that are made every year, every year, there's 5000 plus movies being made. So you know, if your movie is in the marketplace, you're trying to get distribution for two years, now you're up against 10,000 new movies, not just 5000. So it's kind of a festivals are often seen as a curation process by distribution executives. And so if you show up at their door with a film that won five awards, or one award, but it's got all this great press, versus the person that shows up with nothing, a little DVD in an envelope, or you know, a link, or a private Vimeo link to where they can see the screener? Well, if you're if you're in the business to make money, which are you going to look at first, to make a decision? I'm going to look at the one that's come with press and or awards, and or Oh, you know, I mean, my time is valuable. I'm going to look at that before I look at that, and that over there as a pile that grows, and it'll get to you maybe, maybe it'll get you by the Secretary of the secretary, right? Who may not be in a good mood that day. So your cut your independent comedy doesn't make your laugh. And she's like, what? No, I pass and our boss goes bind, send out the past letter, whatever. You know, you're going to look at the stuff that looks like, wow, this might be something here. And so. So it's a curation process. And distribution people. Look there. They're their buyer. They're salespeople, but they're buyers and they understand what sells so if you have probably digress a little bit, but if you've got a title that's interesting, and you've got a movie poster that looks good. Those are two of your most important assets, along with building pedigree to get people to say yes to you, distribution people, or eventually your audience. And I don't know how much we want to get into the movie poster but but a lot of A lot of lot of filmmakers they just throw things together.
Alex Ferrari 35:03
Oh, yeah, they I constantly preach them like hire an editing a trailer editor, please. Just because you've edited for 20 years doesn't mean you're a trailer editor. There's this this as a specific art form to trailer editing. If you're going to spend, go to 99 designs, and get a poster, get a bunch of great graphic designers who understand movie posters to bid against each other, and design and design something for you at the lowest end at the highest end, spend 500 to 1000 bucks on a guy or girl to design a real movie poster who has credits during the movie prosecuted, it is immensely important. It is what people see. I always tell people that trailers and the poster are seen by much more people that will ever see your movie. And it's so so so important. And it will be the driving factor in so many ways. But I do and I do agree with you in regards to things that can set your movie apart. So pedigrees pedigree meaning actors set your movie apart. If I've got Brad Pitt in my $500,000 independent movie, I promise you someone's gonna look at it because of the pedigree that Brad Pitt brings to the to the day, everyone will look at it exhibit everybody was like How the hell did you do this? And then that's a whole other conversation. But But either actors or, or pedigree meaning press festivals, possibly depending on genre, and then also just genre itself is a pedigree, depending on what you're trying to sell. If it's action, if it's sci fi, if it's four, that's another thing that makes you set apart in regards to the marketplace. Now, we've been focusing a lot on distributors and trying to get bought and sold to distributors. Let's not talk about sales agents, because I agree with you on sales agents. I do believe there are some good producers reps out there that do some good work but generally speaking, it's their their unicorns, their unicorns without question.
Jerome Courshon 36:58
Yeah. And and and they're just they're not to distract from your train of thought. But you know, a lot of producer reps, look, you know, I don't know why people still think they're so valuable, or they're so important. I mean, they just they just aren't, except in some very selective situations. You know?
Alex Ferrari 37:17
Exactly. I mean, when we, when we spoke off air, I told you, I'm like, oh, there's this one producer rep that rip me off. And you're like, Oh, it's this person. I'm like, Well, how did you know? Because because everybody knows, that's what they did. So, you know, that was number two, I think it's episode three or four of this podcast, which is why producers rep suck, and how they're gonna rip you off. Like, I mean, I've been on this boat for a long time, I was taken for almost 10 grand. You were not brother. And you
Jerome Courshon 37:43
know what i Yeah, absolutely. You know, and I understand that a lot of filmmakers are like, they don't understand the game. They don't know, they can just pick up the phone and call and you know, or they get blocked by, you know, one screening person on the phone who says, well, who you want to speak to? I'm sorry, if you don't have a name, we can't speak to you goodbye. I mean, you know, and they think, Oh, my God, everybody's like that. No, you know, I just just last week, or the week before, someone's like, Hey, I can't get through to the strippers. I'm like, Who are you trying to reach everybody? I can get through to anybody. It goes. He said in talks about the movie studios and TV networks. I'm like, okay,
Alex Ferrari 38:19
call NBC up and go, Hey, do you want to buy my movie for you? No, no,
Jerome Courshon 38:22
that's the wrong people. And then he's extrapolating that to me now, everybody. I mean, there's, you know, there's hundreds of distributors, distributors here anyway.
Alex Ferrari 38:31
So so. So we're focusing a lot on what you've been talking about focusing on being purchased by a distributor, which is more of a traditional legacy model of buying movies. And that's what has worked for many, many. Well, I won't say the word worked. It's the way things have been done for many, many years. Right. And I do believe that there's obviously a place for film distributors now and in the future as part of a holistic ecosystem for filmmakers moving forward. But with that said, How can you protect yourself as a filmmaker from these predatory film distributors? Because, I mean, I just put out a podcast talking about how nobody really knows what's going on in the in the distribution space because everyone's just trying to figure out the market now, because what worked before was DVD was the thing. Now DVD is gone. Then t VOD was a thing. And t VOD is really not generating the kind of revenue used to be now it's s VOD, and a VOD is where's a lot of money? So there's so many there's so much shifting going on that these distributors don't even know how to deal with it. So how do you first of all, protect yourself from it? And moving forward? How can we actually generate new revenue?
Jerome Courshon 39:46
All right, that those are good questions, in terms of how to protect yourself. One of the things that you know, there's a lot of, there's a lot of shakeout that's been going on for a long time and the distribution business, it's like, I would say, I don't know that things have really settled down since the digital revolution. When DVD started going down, that's when things gonna got complicated for distributors. And I don't think, even to this point today that, you know, a lot of them gone out of business. You know, if I look at the list of who was a sales company, just talking about the international sales agencies, we call it you know, we call them foreign sales agents, or international sales companies that sell worldwide outside the US and Canada. If we look at the list of all those who existed 20 years ago, more than half of them are gone, probably two thirds of them or more are gone. So there's always new companies coming into the, into the marketplace to try their hand at the game. And if they don't succeed in the first couple years, they're gone. And what do you do if you've made a deal with them and your rights are tied up with that company. So one of the things that there's a lot of things we can do to protect ourselves. One is to do due diligence on any distributor or any company that you are considering making a deal with, and the due diligence means you're going to call up. I know other people now talk about this, or if you do, one of our colleagues does as well, but I was the only one talking about this for a long time. Not due diligence in and of itself. But how you do it as you call up a minimum of three producers of movies that have been with that distributor for at least one year, okay, that have been in the marketplace for at least one, okay. And you can do more than three. And you track these people down, you don't ask the distributor, can I have references, they're only going to give you their friends or the people who they performed really well with who are going to give them glowing reports. And those are going to be anomalies. More than likely. So you just pick up. And there's ways to you know, figure out how long films have been with a company
Alex Ferrari 42:08
and I am an IMDb is a perfect resource for that.
Jerome Courshon 42:11
IMDb Pro. First of all, I you know, Amazon, you go to Amazon, and you look for the release date, you make sure it's been at least out in the marketplace at least a year. And then you can go to IMDb pro and track down the producer. Or if they're not there. You've got Facebook, you find them on Facebook, you find them on Twitter, you direct message them, you find them on Instagram, they're out there. It's very rare to find a producer today who doesn't have any online profile at all, then will they answer you? You know, most of the time, they will once in a while they won't, you know? But fine, you can't get an answer from one you move on to the next. So you got to protect yourself by doing due diligence. The second thing is the contract that act that that that filmmakers and producers make those contracts. And if I go on too long with this answer, you can cut me off.
Alex Ferrari 43:01
I will, sir. Okay.
Jerome Courshon 43:06
You're going to get a boilerplate contract from a distributor, that boilerplate contract is going to be in their favor, always.
Alex Ferrari 43:14
It's good, that's business, it's as a business. Many times you have to your own interest as the nature of any business. Yeah, you're gonna you're gonna skew things to your favor. Exactly,
Jerome Courshon 43:26
exactly. So you just have to know that doesn't mean they're crooked. Maybe they are maybe they aren't, but it's got to be in their favor. And your job, as a good savvy producer is to get that is to negotiate that contract. And to go and you'll have to go through a red line, what we call our red line process, you're going to negotiate the contract to at least at the very minimum, be neutral, no more favorable to the distributor, and no more favorable to you, that's a minimum, if you can get it favorable to you. frickin great. And, and that's the negotiation process. And so distributors, they understand this, they understand the game, they know the business, if they if they get a filmmaker who comes to them, and the distributor gives them the boiler plate. And the filmmaker signs it without negotiation. They know they have a sucker on their hands, and you're going to get ripped off most likely, because that contract is it's just not good for you.
Alex Ferrari 44:26
If I if I could if I could tell a story. There is a there is a specific distributor who will remain nameless, but we all know who that distributor is. They work very heavily in the independent space. They put out 4050 movies a month, which is a whole other conversation we could talk about. And I had a friend of mine who had a horror movie who's I think now in 100, some festivals like he's doing, he's going hard in the festival circuit. He's won tons of awards. And it was a small movie. You know, it's a micro budget film, but he's done very, very well. He's in He's already made money with it and all that kind of good stuff. He called me up and he goes, here's the contract that this company gave me. And I looked at the contract 15 years. 15 years $100,000 actually was that I think it was $200,000, marketing, cap 200 marketing for marketing cap in there. And I mean, just those two things alone was enough. And I said, No. And I always call it if you sign this, you're baking a non, to a non deductible tax and non tax deductible donation to this company. Like that's you're giving your movie away, you will never see a dime from this movie. So that's when you're talking about boilerplate contracts, they'll throw out like, let's see if they'll sign this 15 year thing.
Jerome Courshon 45:48
I that's, that's interesting that you mentioned that example. And I don't know if it's the same company, but yeah, I have seen I have seen contracts. One in particular from a company that shall remain nameless, remain nameless. And yeah, there was a $200,000 recoupable Yeah, and not only that, not only that, there was a penalty clause in the pair in the code. And a penalty clause good went like this, if you make a deal outside of our jurisdiction, without us being part of that deal. Um, and they I think that was a worldwide right so they had everything. If you make a deal, and we are not part of that deal. You will be penalised. A get this $200,000 penalty. So the guy signed this agreement, gave it every attorney look at it. It was not a client of mine. I mean, I would have not had let him have had let him say that. But I it came to me through a colleague of ours. And I'm like, wow, what I'm sorry, what an idiot. You don't? Don't ever filmmakers. Don't ever fucking sign any god damn distribution agreement without a good attorney reviewing it. And when I say that I'm really passionate about or you should when I say that, not your cousin. Divorced attorney. Yeah. Not your third cousin who real
Alex Ferrari 47:28
estate? Does real estate attorney. Yeah,
Jerome Courshon 47:31
real estate. Okay. You need an entertainment attorney. And that entertainment attorney and you have to qualify them has to really understand distribution distribution today. And so you have to qualify that before you hire them. And it's not
Alex Ferrari 47:47
that much, though. I mean, we're talking about what to get. It's like 500 bucks, 700 bucks tops, to an entertainment attorney to look over a contract. It's no, yeah, yeah, the grand scope of the movie.
Jerome Courshon 47:58
It'll be two to three, two to four hours. Okay. Um, whatever. I mean, and if an attorney once will only work with like, you got to send me a $5,000 retainer before I look. No, no, it doesn't cost 5000 to have your agreement reviewed.
Alex Ferrari 48:13
Yeah, 1500 bucks under 1500 bucks is generally a good, good is I
Jerome Courshon 48:17
agree with that. I agree with that. Um, so, you know, I think that it's really important to, to, to, you know, take this to heart and and for the folks out there, you know, hearing this for the first time, and most likely, those entertainment attorneys who really understand distribution, you're not going to find them in Omaha, Nebraska. You're not going to find them in Boise, Idaho. You know, you're just not and I no disrespect to any entertainment attorneys who there are some in various disparate parts of the country. So likely you're going to find them only in LA. Maybe New York? I'd say depends on who in New York, there's some in New York, possibly Chicago,
Alex Ferrari 49:03
maybe but that's arguably New York and LA LA is going to be the best the best. I
Jerome Courshon 49:08
wouldn't I probably wouldn't. Hi, I'm from Chicago. I love Chicago, I wouldn't hire an entertainment attorney to review my decision.
Alex Ferrari 49:14
I will I would agree with I would agree with that. I would agree with that. So
Jerome Courshon 49:17
so you know, you've got to go with someone who's in the mix, looking at this stuff all the time. Seeing how things change how terms may change and be defined. So yeah, so that's that's a way to protect yourself as well. Um, and then the other thing is what you brought up don't sign a 15 year deal anybody? Don't you don't know 15 years Are you crazy? Your movie is gonna make the most amount of money it will probably make in the first couple years. Okay, two three years. Can it make continue to make money? Yes, it can. It can on amazon prime it can and other places depends on the profile the movie Who's in it to someone in it who's a no name become a name? They get on a TV series, and they're a regular on TV series? Are you doing marketing every once in a while for the hell of it. I mean, there's a lot of things that can cause your movie to continue to make money. But the first couple years, don't sign 15 year deals, just don't do it. Have clauses in the agreement that, here's an example. If the country, a country, if the company goes belly up, they file bankruptcy, they go out of business,
Alex Ferrari 50:36
or purchased or purchased
Jerome Courshon 50:38
or purchased. And that's another as a separate separate center for that. But the first three, there should be a clause in your agreement, that if they file bankruptcy, if they go out of business, the rights automatically automatically revert back to you. So they're not tied up in a bankruptcy case. Um, now, I'm not an attorney. And there may be some attorneys out there who will say, well, Jerome, you know, they're, you know, might depend on state law. And I don't know if you can do that, because blah, blah, blah, state law, bankruptcy laws and various about whatever I mean, get I demand that my clients have that in the agreement, we put that in the agreement, and that agreement gets signed, and it's passed muster by my attorney, or my clients attorney. And it passes muster by the distribution company, whether they agree with it or not, they'll accept it when I'm done negotiating if I'm negotiating with them. So that's got to be in there. Because otherwise the company is going to go out of business at some point in the future, possibly. How are you going to get your rights back? that money goes into a black hole? If it's a bankruptcy, that money goes into a pile of money, that the creditors, you know, descend upon? and cents on the dollar and blah, blah, blah? Alright,
Alex Ferrari 51:55
so in today's world, would you agree that a lot of the stuff we've laid out is with distributed distribution companies buying your movie, if in today's world, I found at least from my experience, and from and just from my walking about in my walk about through this business? And just dealing with talking to people and talking to filmmakers and hearing the stories? I find the film distributors right now it is a buyers market? Because there is so much content out there, yeah, that they will just throw out these ridiculous deals and go if you don't want it, there's 10 other horror movies walking down the street this hour? Yep, that will sign the deal. And if you don't like it, I don't want to deal with you. So there's a lot of there's a lot of what do you suggest for filmmakers like that? Because like, like, if I can't really negotiate the deal, and if you have no other options, what do you do? Well, okay, I don't know about the no other options. No, there's plenty of other options. But but is there's always another distributor, there's always somebody else will give you a deal. But is it going to be a favorable deal? Are you going to be able to generate any revenue with that like is? Well, I
Jerome Courshon 53:06
don't believe I don't believe that filmmakers and producers should be making deals that are that are not going to be favorable. Now, that, you know, when a client comes to me and says, okay, drum, here's what I got. And here's what I want. The what I want, it's really important. I want to know what their goal is what they need to achieve. Because some filmmakers may come I do have some people who come to me and say, Okay, I, I have a mortgage on my house, and I need to generate this amount of money. And maybe it's realistic, or it's not, you know, and then we'll talk about that. Some people I have had, believe it or not, I've had some people come to me and go, Jerome, I don't care if I make any money on this or not. I want the most number of people in the world to see it because it's an important film, or it's got an important message. And I go, great, great. Okay, well, there's all different strategy and different, you know, group of people that we might talk to traditional distributors, or a DIY approach, you know, putting it up on the platforms, and making it free or available, or, you know, whatever I mean, so, if we look at their goal now, in terms of the in terms of, and I just lost the rest of your question,
Alex Ferrari 54:23
in regards to not having any other options. And I do agree with what you're saying, like, because every film and every filmmaker has different goals. It could be money, it could be exposure, it could be a bunch of different things. But if there is no other option on the distribution standpoint, or like, I don't know, it's a tough question to answer. I can't even answer it myself. Like this is like you're running against the wall, because there's so much such a buyers market, where do you go, what do you do?
Jerome Courshon 54:49
Well, alright, so yeah, so So I think what I wanted to say is, I have you know, a number of years ago, on one of my own projects. Here's how I I'll give you two example. Got a number of years ago, on one of my own projects I was about to make a deal with, with a foreign sales company out of England, to handle the film for the world outside of US and Canada. And we were in the middle of negotiation of a contract that I'd gotten. And the the owner, or the head guy was not available, frequently available, which made me a little uncomfortable, because he was when I started talking to he's the one that gave me the contract. And he put some, like, you know, Secretary in charge to interface with me to go through. And everything that I would say, the guy would go, Okay, yeah, making notes you're off to talk to so and so and get back to you. And after a couple of times of this, which really annoyed me, because if the the decision maker was on the phone, we could just hammer it out right then and there. After a couple of those, the guy says to me, Listen, the boss says, you have to make a decision. And we have to make this obtain the screen by Friday, or the deal's off. Now, I didn't like that. That's not the way that I do business. When it comes to this kind of thing. It's a pressure tactic. It's a, make the deal I'm offering you or you know, goodbye. And you know what I said? I said, goodbye. Buck you. Bullshit. Okay, yeah, you're gonna play that kind of a pressure tactic. When we can't come to agreement on certain things in the agreement, I'm gonna get screwed. Now, it's, I don't want to I know, anybody out there, you get to Sundance, and you've got five acquisitions, people after you, and they're pressuring you and whatnot, is a different situation. Please don't apply what I just said to that situation.
Alex Ferrari 56:53
It's different. Yeah. And because that that is pressure, like, Look, we're gonna give you $5 million. Sign it now and your movie, your movie costs $250,000. Right, sign this deal. Now, that's a different conversation to have. And I hope we all one day have these problems. But generally, like, should I take 5 million or 7 million for my Sundance winning film? I really don't know, either. These are first world filmmaking problems. 50 screens
Jerome Courshon 57:20
versus 100 screens? Gee, I don't know, I don't know. The other thing that happened recently, yeah, this happened like, last year, and it was on behalf of a client. So all names and name of company will remain nameless. But the deal on the table was that the company want a worldwide rights, we really only wanted to parcel out the international rights and keep domestic. But the way the deal would have been structured was it would need a theatrical release, which they would pay for in a certain number of theaters. And then it would result in a very profitable sale to a very important international territory. And when we ran the numbers, when we were given what that number would be, and the costs involved, and the distributors fee, and the recoupable
Alex Ferrari 58:24
expense than they were, it's massive, I'm sure
Jerome Courshon 58:27
we ran, it ran the numbers, we would have been in a net zero, or maybe up 10 to $20,000. Okay, and now we did have the rest of the world to sell. I mean, the company would, and we had a sorry, that's my mail thing. And then we also had the rest of America, I mean, the company would have the rights, but after the article we've got. So potential upside all the way around the block. The client said no, my client said no, I don't need 10 to $20,000 out of this, we still are gonna have to market this thing domestically, we're still gonna have to do marketing. For VOD, where's the money gonna come from them for that, you know, 10 to 20,000 isn't going to cut it if we even have that. Now, this distributor, this sales company was not a crooked one. They have a, I think a fairly reputable reputation. The client said, I'm not happy with this. I said, I don't blame you. Let's move on. We walked away. Now we actually did say we did come back. I mean, we had a couple of counters. And one of them was Listen, why don't we make the deal? And we'll give you x, y, z. And you just let us have this and the guy was like, No, I need worldwide and I'm not negotiable on that. recoupable expenses now? Well, then we walked away by
Alex Ferrari 1:00:04
Yeah. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Do next well, you know, you know, then there's others, there's always another place to do it. But so would you agree that a lot of times these distributors will will ask for worldwide, but they're not particularly good at selling worldwide they just want them so like their maybe their strength is in their contacts are US and Canada and North America, right they'll go I want worldwide because I just want it and I could just maybe I know a guy maybe in England or maybe somebody in Germany I worked with once but the rest of the world is really not going to you're in or there's the opposite is that distributor is excellent internationally, but really doesn't have a strong connection here in the States. So would you I always I always, you know, advise my clients as well as to, if you can piecemeal it out. If you can carve up rights and and literally from s VOD, a VOD t VOD. You know, being able to sell it on your own website. It all depends on the movie depends on what what to recoup what money you need. Like if it says a 234 or $5 million movie different conversation than a 50 to $300,000. Movie. Sure, different conversation. So would you recommend and how would you recommend carving up rights? And how distributors deal with that because in today's world, there's a lot of a lot of distributors who are realizing that like, dude, you don't know anything about s VOD t VOD, or a VOD, you're just gonna go through an aggregator which we will get to in a second. You're just gonna go to the same aggregator that I'm gonna go to, but you're just gonna take 30 or 40% item off my off my top. So why would I give you those rights? Unless you have a direct relationship? Or there's some some special deal? Or you have, you know, how many territories you're going to get on Amazon? Are you going to get the same three that I can get by just uploading it to Amazon Video direct? Are your per hour s VOD numbers, any much different than the ones that I would get if I just uploaded a directly? Or do you have automatically 68 territories around the world with favorable, you know, s VOD number, you know, a per hour number that I can't get because you have a relationship. Do you see what I'm saying? So what what's your What's your opinion?
Jerome Courshon 1:02:22
Well, and and I'm glad you bring this up, because I actually have two articles that deal exactly with this at my website. So the website is for those of you never heard of it before, heard of me before, you'll find you'll find two articles. Under the left hand column where it says free stuff. It's where articles in some previous videos, interviews and all sorts of stuff is there, it's all free. It's at my website distribution. What's one word distribution.la, calm but.la. So everyone should read those two articles, just
Alex Ferrari 1:02:57
send me those send me those links, I'll put them in the show notes.
Jerome Courshon 1:03:01
And I've talked about how my preference, generally speaking, and I advise this, generally speaking, is not to make worldwide rights deals. Now over the past few years, that's what every company in the game wants now, and they want it because they're trying to protect the bottom line. Where because the revenues have gone down in different ways in different territories, and even domestically. They're trying to get a piece of everything they can. But you're right. All these international sales companies, they don't know they don't do domestic distribution, all they're going to do is take is farmed out to the handful of people. I mean, they'll they'll list gamble people they know. And if one of them takes it great, if none of them take it, they might just stop trying, or they'll just hand it off to an aggregator in the US. And then they'll handle International, but they get a piece of that bullshit. Why? Now, I'm not a I'm not like, that's my rule, I'd never break it. Of course, there are some companies out there who have a track record, as you point out, where they may take worldwide worldwide rights, but you know what, they actually do their best to really generate as much income as they can, everywhere.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:19
And that could also be a good mg for that as well. That's minimum guaranteed for people don't understand that. So if you get a good minimum guarantee, or a nice upfront payment that says a lot in today's world, if you're actually getting an MBA at Alton, in today's world that actually says volumes about what the distribution company thinks that they can make with the with the movie, right?
Jerome Courshon 1:04:37
Right. Yeah, absolutely. But also bear in mind that that that sometimes when these companies say let's say so I have a client who recently got 50,000 on his horror movie from a distributor up front. That's probably all the money you'll ever see it you'll never see him
Alex Ferrari 1:04:55
and you have to think of it that way to think of it
Jerome Courshon 1:04:58
that way. pends on the company depends on do you do your due diligence. But there are a number of companies out there that if they if it's the right film, they may pay you 10 2050 as an advance, by never say a dime. That's it. That's, that's all you're going to get. And if you're okay with that, and some people are fine, if you're not okay with that don't make that deal. There's another company, I don't want to get sued, so I won't use their name, but they have an output deal with Sony Pictures. The owner of that company is a crook. Um, another company that existed, you know, back in the double O's, with an output deal with Warner Brothers. They made millions and millions of dollars, file bankruptcy. Those millions and millions of dollars were never found, it was never determined where that money was spent. screwed a lot of filmmakers. Those filmmakers had their films caught up in bankruptcy court for I don't know how long. And he now has a company with an output deal with Sony Pictures. And I had a client who came to me I've had a few people come to me asking me, what did they think about the deal? And this one client, it was a $50,000. Deal. And he said, I'm going to get 50,000 advance. I said, Look, this is the guy. He's a crook. You can look them up online, you can read about him. And if you're okay, only getting that 50 you can make the deal. I'm fine with that. But if that's not okay with you, I promise you, that's all you're ever going to see. I promise you. And by the way, you're
Alex Ferrari 1:06:39
not going to get a $50,000 check you'll but he'll break it up over like a payments over the course of the next two years as well. That's something that they don't tell us a lot of times, yeah.
Jerome Courshon 1:06:46
And that and that. And I don't accept that either. Because what if they go bankruptcy in a year and you only got half of what you were supposed to get correct. Get it up front, or get it within the first few months. Get it before your film is released. Because of your films. They once they release your film, if it tanks, they're not going to pay you. So get it before that in the deep. So anyways, um, uh I don't know where else we were going
Alex Ferrari 1:07:11
with it with the with the crook we were talking about the crook and cutting up and cutting up rights and cutting up different rights. Yeah, um, I was long night last night. Sorry, folks. Night asleep. So you know, I go off. So let me let me talk because we're gonna get to the aggregator in a second because there's a there's an 800 pound gorilla in the room. There's an elephant in the room, if you will, that 800 pounds. There's an elephant in the room that we need to discuss. But I got a I got a client the other day who sent me this deal from a sales agent. And I was absolutely blown away at the audacity of this deal. It was just so creepy. The deal was this Can I see that deal? I it was so that the bullet points on it were just so like. So the film was you know, it's a low budget film genre kind of genre asked but not like a super action or anything like that. So very well put together nice film, no stars, you know, some maybe international faces but no stars. And the sales agent was going to take 2020 to 25%. Okay, he was gonna own it for five years. Yeah. Okay, own it. He would basically owned the film for five years. So he so he basically becomes the middleman. So they can't they can't do anything with the film for these five years. This man now becomes the owner of the film for five years and takes away not licensor but owner you'd like sensor for five years, okay. Now for all intensive purposes, they are locked out of their movie for five years, okay, based on this so they he licenses the film from them, he gets 20% of whatever money he can bring in the this creepy stuff was he owns the IP for those five years. So any deals he makes with the IP kick he keeps, which I found for it looks not a superhero movie guys. It's like a drama. Like, I don't know. That's weird. He gets his name put on as an executive producer, which a lot of sales agents do, which I don't agree with, like saying your ad I think it's ridiculous. And there
Jerome Courshon 1:09:23
They're trying to pump up their IMDb, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:09:27
I'll get to IMDb in a second, I'll give you a second. There's a specific reason I'll get to MTV one second. Then on top of that he needs to have his logo at the beginning and end of the movie. Now I get it with a distributor. I don't get it with a sales agent. Because now you're you're portraying yourself as you were part of this movie in a much larger way than you were so that the filmmaker turned to me and said, Hey, I looked at their IMDB page. And there's he's a lot of credits as an executive producer. I'm like, of course, because he has scammed a lot of filmmakers into this kind of deal, which now anytime a new filmmaker goes to check them out. They're like wow, he's executive produced 50 movies and I told him like do you want an IMDb credit? I can give you an IMDb credit Do you want I'll put one on right now for you. How many would you like? I've got to fake when I fake but um what's the word I always forget it. Alternative names that I use for credits that I just because when I do a movie a lot of times I do so many deal at so many jobs. I just it's ridiculous to see my name 1000 times. So I made up a couple aliases. Thank you. I have a couple aliases that I use for like editing post production, you know, color grading. And I how ridiculous the names are Mongo Wilder is one of them. And jalapeno humperdinck. And I put them they both have IMDb credits pages with full credits for like a lot of credits on them. But they're real because they were made. But I'm like that means absolutely nothing. I know people who who just throw their names on a movie, because it showed up. So you can't be fooled by that. And IMDb doesn't promote that. So doesn't police that. So anyway, that was a deal on I think the expense, he had an expense account as well. Don't forget, he had an expense account for things as well. I think I forgot what the total was. But there was an expensive guy and he got 3000 bucks. If I'm not mistaken, three to 4000 bucks. I'm like that to edit a trailer and make up and make a poster which he had final say on. I had no, no, no, no say on this, okay. And I said, Are you insane? Are you insane? They don't do this all but this guy told me like no run away. You're just giving money away for no and control of your film. And these guys were not rich guys, they're, you know, they busted their ass to get their movie made. And I'm like, don't do it. It's just a but this kind of these kinds of deals are happening all the time. And if it wasn't for guys, like you or me, going out there trying to educate, right, right people will get taken advantage of
Jerome Courshon 1:11:57
you know, and the sad thing about that, Alex, is that I don't know if this stat is accurate. Today, it was probably accurate some time ago, that I use it anyway, I would say that probably 80% of the people who make an independent movie, the first one, never do it again. Either they realize it's not for them, or they got screwed over so badly. They never recovered, and they're never going to do it again. So if they had you, or me, or one or two other people out there who are on their side to really try to help them. You know, I you know, if they don't have that, they're probably going to get screwed these deals that you're talking about. And then I'm talking about are Yeah, they're very common. If you don't sign Yes, there's another 10 filmmakers behind you that they can
Alex Ferrari 1:12:54
they can. And they're desperate because they have no other options because they don't know any other option of making money with their movie.
Jerome Courshon 1:13:00
Right? You know, and I mean, that's ultimately why I put together why I started teaching this because it's, it's, to me, it's a no brainer. Everything I understand and know about this side of the business, to me is a no brainer. But to most people, you know, filmmakers are creatives, they're not business people, generally speaking, they want to make movies, they want to be creative. They want to excel, you know, creation, creative creativity is a self expression, art. Well, you know, it's well, that's probably not the right term. But I know what you mean. Yeah, yeah, you want to express in the world. And your way of doing that is through film, and TV, film media. And that's what you know. But if you don't learn this side of the business, even just enough to protect yourself, you may not be a second or third time filmmaker, you won't. And that's sad. Because if you're in this world, and you have this desire, I happen to have the belief philosophically speaking, that if you have the desire, you have the desire for a reason. And that reason is because you are to do that, you know, when people say, I don't know what I want to do, I'm not filmmakers, but people like I don't know what I want to do in my life, right? Most people go through that. And but if you're middle aged, or you're in your 30s, and you don't know what you want to do with your life, I think you just haven't made a decision, your inner being your heart, whatever some part of your body has it is interested in something. What is that? Oh, well, I can't make money at that. Well, how do you know if that's what you're interested in? That's what you need to be doing. But that doesn't mean that's the only thing you need to be doing. So for filmmakers, you want to get better at your craft. You want to become great filmmakers, storytellers. But yeah, you got to learn the business or you're going to get screwed by the people, the sharks out there, or you're going to be with a business partner who's going to handle it all for you. person is going to screw You, you've got to, you know, you got to write the checks yourself. And you've got to pay attention to everything. And I know it's tough. I mean, I know the business side is boring to most people, I don't talk about this and cocktail party conversations because people's eyes glaze over, as soon as I talk, start talking about the business of distribution and what they need to do, even filmmakers eyes will glaze over. So I don't get into it. Unless somebody you know, says, Jerome, I really need to understand this.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:30
The smart ones, the smart ones, you know, and not to be negative to anybody out there. But if you don't listen to this information, or don't really take interest in it, you won't make it you just won't make a sustainable career. This, it'll be a one and done. And, and it's sad, because there's so much opportunity for filmmakers out there and so, so much more so than ever before. But there's also a lot more competition and there's a whole other other regards. Yeah. But But, I mean, I mean, I was I came up in the 90s. You know, during that whole Sundance, you know, independent film craze, where every week almost, I felt that there was a new lottery ticket, you know, a new a new Cinderella story was happening. It was Rodriguez or Tarantino or Kevin Smith, or Steven Soderbergh or john Singleton are and the list goes on of Richard Linklater this that the list goes on and on and on. At that time period. It was a wonderful time.
Jerome Courshon 1:16:22
I have no doubt you and I crossed paths without knowing that. You know, I was gonna dance in 1994. When at the first screening of clerks, yeah. Oh, that was I was like, I was like, you know, here I am in a theater, you know, in Park City. Black and White screening sound a little fucked up. Very rough. But at the end of that, I said, Wow, this film has an audience. This film is a good film. And this film is going to make noise in one way or another. And it did. And it did. It did. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 1:17:00
yeah. And it was in but those are the days that checks were flowing from a person who shall not be named, who was was who was a catalyst for a lot of these careers back in the day, because he was the he was the 1200 pound gorilla at Sundance, right or in the business at that time. But, you know, I already like potted plants, is that Oh, yeah, I think I think we're talking about the same guy. So all right, it's a little weird joke. I understand. But but it's but you know that that was a weird time to be a filmmaker. And I feel that so many filmmakers still to this day, live in that time. They make their movies with that model in place.
Jerome Courshon 1:17:42
You know, I agree. And I think it's and it's, it's, I have this theory that the reason that we always step filmmakers tend to be five or 10 years behind, or longer is because myths develop in our industry. And these myths are so powerful, and so strong, that we, we it's hard to break through with the truth. It's kind of like, it's not that they were ever fake news. They were real at one time, these, you know, Cinderella stories and whatnot. And what keeps them alive is every year at Sundance, you know, 20 to 40 deals are made that get all this press. So they keep the dream alive. But, um, but when things change, people are still only talking about the way things were and they think that's still the way things are, right. I
Alex Ferrari 1:18:38
mean, I I crafted my directing career around what Spielberg would have done in the in the 70s. You know, like, you can't like, Look, I wouldn't, why would I go on YouTube. Steven Spielberg didn't go on YouTube, you know, like, but the point was like, but he's he would have if he was born in this time period, right? You know, if he was at that age, in this time, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, they would have all been making YouTube films, they would have all been, it's just a different time period. And you've got to think differently now, before because we were ready. We this is this is going on for a bit, and I have no problem talking for another two, three hours. I know, we could definitely do that. But there is something that we did to discuss. And it's just how we actually met Finally, yeah, it was because of this situation. And the elephant in the room is distributed. And what what the ramifications are of what has happened with distributor how it will affect not only independent filmmaking, but distribution as a whole moving forward with these new the new gods that we before it was DVD. It was VHS and DVD, right, you know, cable VOD for, you know, satellite, and there were these different masters that we kind of, you know, we had to serve as filmmakers. Right now. Those masters are streaming services and platforms to we can get the movies out to the public. Right? And these platforms are dictating to us and to distributors as well, that you must use these five companies, who will aggregate all of the deal all the all the technical stuff, as well as all the money. And with all the, with all the requirements, technically that we're giving, but they're given no, not one ounce of requirements, or any sort of rules on how to deal with money. And distributor is a perfect example of the iceberg that we just skipped. And if we're not careful, there's still time to turn the ship. But we see the iceberg. But I have a feeling in I don't want to be conspiracy, or you know, the world's coming to an end. But I do believe that this is a sign of We will be back here in five or 10 years with another company. Oh, sure. You know, there's no question. So I want to hear what you think about the whole distributor thing, how it's been handled, how filmmakers can protect themselves and so on.
Jerome Courshon 1:21:01
Yeah, well, I think my response to that probably will be a little to that particular question might be a little brief in that, I think, first of all, I never used distributor myself. I always steered clients away from them. It wasn't like I was some psychic, and I knew there would be a problem down the road. I just didn't like their business model. I didn't like that. You know, you're gonna pay them exit? Well, you know, they went through a lot of different iterations of this model, you know, you you get they get a percentage of your film, I think at one point in time, and then they got away from you know, and then there'll be an annual fee as well. And then they, you know, and then you just pay this amount of money, and they'll put it up on the platform, or the or you pay them $5,000. And they'll submit your movie to the cable and the cable VOD,
Alex Ferrari 1:21:54
for your $3,000 for your $3,000 budgeted movie. Yes.
Jerome Courshon 1:21:57
Yeah, exactly. And, and, you know, I just any company that is constantly changing their business model is a yellow flag. And you got to pay attention to that. Now, people don't follow this stuff like you and me. They don't track it. They don't know that distributors, business models changed a few times. They're not aware of that. I get it. But did they do due diligence? Did they call up previous producers? You know, there was, I remember, at one point, and this might have been three or four years ago, whenever it was when the person that we know was working there. The second time, the second time, he was working there, and I said, Hey, listen. I said, Hey, listen, I have clients that asked me about disturber all the time. You and I know each other. Can you give me? I know you guys promote new talk about this one movie and it did this great number.
Alex Ferrari 1:22:57
Yes. The return of return of Jake the Snake? Yeah, this was one of them. Yeah.
Jerome Courshon 1:23:02
And I said, Are there any other examples you can give me that I can also share with my clients? And I kid you not? He refused. And his refusal was? I can we can't divulge that information. I said, Wait a minute. I'm not asking for the actual numbers of those films, what they did financially. Just I need more examples of films that have done really well. His response was can't really give you that. I'm sorry. Now this person I know. I'm sorry. That's bullshit. Okay, you're just taking your entire company in your marketing on one film that did gangbusters and you expect everybody's going to come, you know, following you like lemmings. And they did people did over 1000 films? Well, I don't trust that, you know, I didn't even do the due diligence of calling up producers who've been with them for a year or two. I didn't need to but but the fact that this person wouldn't, you know, was evasive. That's always a bad sign. So, I didn't like that. I always felt Look, they don't do marketing, they might say they do marketing at one point. They said they did marketing, Bs they nobody does marketing these days for independent films, unless there are certain parameters and situations as you know. I said look, there are ways there are other companies that you can go with that are not going to cost you money up front, who are going to be direct with many of the platforms you need to be on. They're not going to charge you expenses and there are companies that will so you select the right company, you do your due diligence, and be with someone that might give you an advantage versus just putting your movie out through distributor or quiver or any of these other companies now this is not a slam against say quiver. I just use their name but If you don't have a marketing budget, I mean, this gets in another topic. And I'll just say this, and I don't know if we'll have time for it, you know, we're gonna release the movie yourself, do it, take a DIY approach and use one of these platforms. You need to have a marketing budget, you need to have time to market, you've got to have things to market your movie, you can't just put it up on platforms today, and expect that you built it, and they will come you know that be able to dreams build it, and they will come. Well, you know what? That was true. To a certain extent, decades ago. That's another myth that exists today. If you build it, they will come? No, not anymore.
Alex Ferrari 1:25:40
Not so much.
Jerome Courshon 1:25:41
But five or 10 times and you've sold them to come. So I think that would just River. I don't know, because I never used them. I don't know what their TLS said their terms of service. I have asked the question to people I know been with them. They don't remember ever signing an agreement. They don't even remember if they checked a box that said I agree to the Terms of Service when they submitted their money. If they didn't, and if there was no agreement signed, then, and I think people following you are doing this, then you get your you know, you demand that their films, but your their films, if they want to be taken off the platforms, because their agreement, there is no agreement. And if somebody says, well, there's an implicit agreement, I'm sorry, I got that from an attorney. I think in your group, I don't agree. There's no implicit agreement if you didn't sign something with the stripper, but you gave them money, and they put it up on the platform. They don't, they don't have the rights anymore.
Alex Ferrari 1:26:42
They don't have the rights period. Even if you have the signed agreement with them. They don't take rights. They're just an aggregator. They're just there. It's like basically saying, I took my movie into this post production house. And because they edited the movie, they own it. If that doesn't work, you're paying for a service. And that's all it is. That one of the one of the stories that I promoted very heavily on my show was range 15, which was that military zombie action movie comedy that went through them, and they made $3 million using the stripper. And that was another case study that they use a lot.
Jerome Courshon 1:27:15
That was I think that was the one that they told me about that, that the person would only refer me to. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 1:27:21
right. So so I had Nick on the show. And, and I've spoken to him, and he's in my new book, and all of that stuff, because it's a good model. But there was a lot of things that his case made distant why it made it work, which is his audience, how he marketed he's very savvy, he is a businessman, there was a niche audience that they've been cultivating for years. Like there was a lot of things. I mean, they raised $1.2 million on crowdfunding on Indiegogo to make this movie. Like there's so many anomalies that made that work. If those things are in place, could this be redone? Absolutely. And even a smaller or larger scale, depending on the audience, and so on and so forth. But I spoke to him recently, and he's like, yep, distributor owes me money, too. So it's not like everybody, everybody's He's like, yeah, I guess they're going out of business. They owe me money, too. They've got a lot of their money out of it already. And they've already partnered with a foreign distributor to sell their movie outside of, of the US and so on. But they've already made their money, but they're still owed money as well. So no one's immune to this. You know, I know there's Netflix producers right now, who are owed money. You know, and that's a whole other mix and conversation to be had in regards to it. I, I agree with you, 100%. There, they're like even the recent, the recent model, I think was you had to pay $20 every quarter to get paid. You have to pay $20. Right, get to get a check. Right? In what world? Does that make any sense? Like it was just? I don't know, I don't know. The second,
Jerome Courshon 1:28:55
I have to assume that there is. First of all, they were they were obviously for them to go belly up. They were spending money beyond their means beyond what they were bringing in. That would be their share. So there had to be a mismanagement of finances. And or coupled? Well, I would say probably coupled with a business model that wasn't working, but definitely a mismanagement in terms of what was coming in and what and what they were out laying for staff overhead, etc. And maybe there's some corruption there too. I don't know. Certainly mismanagement, maybe corruption if there's
Alex Ferrari 1:29:31
mismanagement, you know, with millions of dollars, generally speaking, you're either completely an idiot, or you're, you're competent, or there's some other stuff going on. And we don't know. We can't we can't say that yay or nay on either on but, I mean, I, the one thing I do find I was very funny. I don't know. I don't even think I told you this is because the movies that I submitted, I submitted those two films for a client and they were charging me on a monthly basis. They I So I called my bank up and said if the if this guy's tried to charge me block it, and then I got a letter saying, whoa, they tried charging me. They tried charging me my monthly, you know, thing that I had to pay them and I was like, wait a minute, they're trying to charge me after they've now released the information that they're in reorganizational process, and they have no money to pay anybody. But yet they're still charging me to me. That is, to me, that's completely immoral. It's completely immoral, because they even told me, we can't guarantee getting your we can't guarantee the service you're paying us for. But we're gonna still keep charging you. Yeah. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Jerome Courshon 1:30:46
Yeah, that's ridiculous. That's ridiculous. It is ridiculous. No, it's ridiculous. It's really disappointing that, you know, that this has happened to so many people affected by it. And, you know, so whatever, 1000 plus filmmakers who have to find new homes for their films that have already been exposed, so and maybe old now. Old by other people's standards, also visa titles, right? You know, um, now Amazon, they can always, you know, you can always get it up on Amazon yourself through their service. And that is a major, it's one of the big but what I call the big boys, it's one of the big boy platforms. So being there, you know, there's a lot of eyeballs.
Alex Ferrari 1:31:32
But, but there are options as well. There's other options. I spoken about, like, you know, indie rights, or film halls, or these kind of places that can do they do good work. And again, anytime I say anything from now on I go, please do your own due diligence. Yeah. leads you to any kind of company that I ever recommend. Please do your homework and see if it's a good fit for your movie. It might not be. Yeah, but there are options out there. There are options other than going with another aggregator right, which if those aggregators go down, we're going to be in the same place again, and it's in don't think it can never happen. Right. And I just had like, just released the podcast today. And I said this very frankly, I'm like, all these problems that all the distributors are having. And I'd love to hear your opinion on this. All these problems, or distributors are having trying to figure out revenue streams and how to make money and what's working and the landscapes keeps changing, and this breakdown with the stripper and all this, this is all happening in a good economic time. Ray are arguably in a good economic time, things are somewhat stable, there's growth, real estate prices are up the stock market is up, you know, overall, give or take. It's not for everybody. But overall, we're in a, we're not in 2008. Can you imagine what's going to happen when the next downturn happens? Which any minute now, any minute, you know, within the next few years, something's gonna happen. We're late. We're due it's cyclical, happens. It's happened like that historically, for the last 100 years, something's going to happen. Right? How do you think this whole business is going to react? I mean, I think what happened in 2008? Because you were Yeah, I was I was around in 2008. But I really didn't wasn't focused on the distribution side of things, then. What? What happened in 2008? I'm sure a lot of companies just went belly up during that time.
Jerome Courshon 1:33:16
Sure. And, and and I think it was a was a 2009 2008. Somewhere around then. And I don't know that it was right at the time of the economic crash. But somewhere around there. This executive in Hollywood said, the sky is falling for independent film. The sky, the sky is falling. Do you remember that Chicken Chicken
Alex Ferrari 1:33:39
Little Chicken Little syndrome?
Jerome Courshon 1:33:40
Yeah. And every media outlet picked it up. Especially every entertainment media picked it up. There was conversations about it. Everybody was talking about it. The the prognosis, the prognostication of indie film is dying. That's what this guy was basically saying, was it Mark Gill, I can't remember I don't remember. And I was in at that time, I was like, Don't listen to that. indie film will never die, it will never die. And there's always
Alex Ferrari 1:34:12
change. There will be it'll change,
Jerome Courshon 1:34:14
but they'll go through cycles of change. And, you know, a bunch of companies and we're at what I was talking about, at the beginning about the foreign sales companies that you know, two thirds of my around a day. Well, same with the domestic distributors, a lot of modern around any that were around 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, but new ones come into being you know, whether it's a 24 you know, who has not been around forever Mian vertical gunpowder, you know, gunpowder and sky, or, I mean, there's always new people coming in. This is a country of innovation and entrepreneurship. So they'll be always be new distributors coming into being who need films. And you know, so it's never it never dies, but shift and does change. So You know, I think that's that's the conversation that I never really liked to engage in too much with filmmakers, because Don't worry about it, make what you want to make. express how you want to express, just understand the business, try to track the business a little bit, you know, I know you don't want to, but read indie wire once in a while, read the rap once in a while, read deadline or variety once in a while. Pay attention to kind of what's going on a little bit a distribution or
Alex Ferrari 1:35:29
listen to this podcast. This podcast? Absolutely, um, you know, it's, it's, it's an interesting time I really, I'm trying to prepare filmmakers. And I'm trying to I'm trying to shout from the top of the hill as much as I can, that, you know, there I truly do believe in it. Again, it's not a conspiracy theory. So there's a sound economic, you know, history here, we are going to go something's gonna happen. I don't know what it could be smaller, it could be big, something's gonna happen. And I think it's truly going to affect our business dramatically. With this the streaming wars situation next year, there's going to be four or five brand new Monster streaming services, you know, how much how many streaming services are we going to pay for? You know, like I said, and a lot
Jerome Courshon 1:36:17
of them that have come into being are gone, by the way.
Alex Ferrari 1:36:20
Yeah, Warner Brothers, what is it that DC Universe one that's gone, they have Warner Brothers tried to make that a thing, it didn't work, because it was too niche for what they were trying to make happen. It's, it's, it's a very interesting time. But when this thing does happen, or just even if the economic turn doesn't happen, just the economy of our industry, things are shifting so much, that if filmmakers are not prepared, they're going to be they're going to be run over. And we've seen it, you know, so much, in just the history that you and I have been in the business, things have changed. I mean, can you did me remember 2005, like, that's, that's 15 years ago, it's a complete 2010 is a completely different world than it is today. 2015 is a completely different world than we had today. It changes so rapidly.
Jerome Courshon 1:37:11
And and, and that's also why the length of term that someone's going to enter into a contract is so important, because, you know, keep those always ever, you know, anybody's always gonna ask for a long period of time, and your goal in your negotiation is bring it down, get it down to two years, or three years, if possible, five, Max, because that company may not be around in five years. Or they were absolved. They were absorbed by here's another thing that I've kind of alluded to, but let's say you're with a distributor, who is who is bought by another company. And so it gets absorbed into that other company, this happens a lot. And now your movie is in that company's library, and that company doesn't give a damn about your film, you're just one of a library, your film is three years old, they don't care, it's in their library, and that gives them a value, they have a library, that's an asset. So you don't want that to be long, because you want it to be as short as possible. So when that's done, you can now do your own thing, put it up on Amazon, yourself, whatever, you know, because things will change, and new opportunities will come around. And if your rights are tied up forever, you can't execute any of those new or newer opportunities,
Alex Ferrari 1:38:26
would you would you recommend that filmmakers try to include a performance clause? So like, if 18 months or two years something doesn't happen? They have an out or they have money that was promised that they would make? Our estimates are that you know, we've done our numbers? Have you taken my course? And I have not, sir, I have not yet but I'm going to, like can you please?
Jerome Courshon 1:38:49
performance clauses one of the one of the key things that I talked about? In my course,
Alex Ferrari 1:38:56
that's funny. That's funny. I honestly have not taken your course because I haven't. I just I just knew that from my experience, I'm like, performance claws, hey, you know, you saying you're gonna be able to do this. put your money where your mouth is?
Jerome Courshon 1:39:09
Yeah, absolutely. I really, I'm really big on them for international sales companies. Because you know, they're going to give you if you if you ask for who should you should ask for a chart of minimum maximum amounts that could be gotten for your film by each territory. And you should negotiate a performance clause and that basically means that the film has to generate this amount in sales within this time frame, whatever you negotiate the number of sales and the timeframe, and if it doesn't, you get your rights back. So that should be in that you're really be in domestic agreements to but it's a little that's a I don't think we can kind of get into the weeds on that with with aggregators. First of all, a lot of aggregators. The good ones, you can get out of the agreement. If you you know, submit within a certain time frame of writing, you know, 90 days,
Alex Ferrari 1:40:04
yeah, aggregators, you can pull out any time you just have to tell them.
Jerome Courshon 1:40:07
Yeah, so um, so that's a different, you know, area. But But performance clause really important. As well as what I talked about before about how having the ability to having a clause in the agreement that if they file bankruptcy, or they go belly up, you can get out now, if they're absorbed, this is a bit, you know, I'm going to get in the weeds just real briefly on this, if, you know, often it's it's getting into an agreement, that usually what happens in terms of a company being absorbed by another, is there is an assumption that you know, that that company that absorbs the company you're with, they must honor the agreement that exists. Okay, that's pretty standard, and it should be in the agreement, your agreement. But you know, it's it's, it's, I don't like that if you try to get an agreement that if they're absorbed by someone else, you have the option to get your rights back, you could aim for that. They might not agree to that, you know, that's a negotiation. So because their library is a selling point to whoever's buying them, if and if they have 2000 titles and 1000 of them say we're out, then the value is just not there anymore.
Alex Ferrari 1:41:16
So it's, it's, I think we've covered a lot in this episode. Without question, this has been an epic episode of about distribution, which I knew it would be Sir, I knew that you and I getting together would have this, this kind of conversation show. So for whoever is still listening, wherever still listening, I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests. What advice? Would you give a filmmaker trying to get into the business today? Or for you specifically? What kind of advice would you give a filmmaker trying to sell their movie in today's world?
Jerome Courshon 1:41:48
Um, so the and I kind of we touched on this earlier, in terms of the number of key the key things in terms of selling your movie today is remember this, selling your movie, to either a distributor, you know, good distributor wants to take it on and actually try to do something with it, or to your audience, it comes down to is your poster, your key art? Your poster? Is it cool and interesting enough to get people to come off automatic, if I make, I'll just let me address this real quick. We are creatures of you know, we're in an environment today where many people have ADHD, and even if you don't have a DD, and it's just not to minimize it, you know, your attention span may not be what it was 20 or 30 years ago, or, you know, the way people were. So when somebody scans through Amazon offerings or Netflix offerings, or whatever, I'm talking about the general public, you have less than a second to capture their attention with your key art. If you don't, boom, they've gone past it. So less than a second, let maybe maybe less than a half second, if he catches their eye, our brain will stop on that for a moment to look at it. Okay, you know, something caught our eye. Now we're looking at it. Now. It's whether we like it or not. And if and this happened, so, you know, nanoseconds is this. Okay, let me look. Let me read the synopsis. Now they read the two sentences. Okay. Oh, that sounds interesting. Okay, it's a trailer, and I watch it for free. Okay, maybe I just start watching or if there's a trailer there, watch the trailer, see if it grabs me. So that's the process. That's the thought process that your buyer goes through. If you don't get them with the movie poster, and the title at the very beginning, in that split split, you know, fraction of a second, you've lost a potential sale. So it's all about what I don't care if you've made the next Oscar winning movie, if you don't position it, right. And I know this is you know, this is marketing. And you don't like this stuff. But if you don't position a right, it has a huge impact on your sales. I had, can I just say and then we can wrap this up. I don't want a client of mine had a trailer that I didn't love. I didn't think it was really effective. But they didn't want to spend the money. They had made it themselves the editor and the filmmaker made it themselves. It was not horrible. It was not bad. It was just yeah, so what Okay, and the movie was released with that trailer, and it got onto cable VOD. And we could we were given the statistics of the people who watched the trailer versus the people bought. And the people watch the trailer was massive. And the people who bought was, you know, really small. And I said that's our evidence. We have a trailer that is not converting people. So you know, finally they executed and made a new trailer and spent five grand on it. It's a much better trailer now. But it's a little late in that part of the process, you need to have a really kick ass trailer. Because that's your that's the final sale. I mean, that's the final tool to convert. So that's the advice I have for
Alex Ferrari 1:45:15
you guys and perfect example to illustrate what you were saying The Shawshank Redemption, the worst marketing campaign ever, for the arguably one of the best films ever made. The title was horrible. Yeah, the trailer didn't seem like it was, you know, like, it's a period piece about some guys in a prison. It's called Shawshank What the hell is Shawshank? And what it Why is it at redemption? Like it was a horribly put together, you know, marketing situation, but arguably one of the greatest films ever made. So that's a person Imagine if that would have done been presented differently, it would have had a different name, it would have done a lot more money upfront at the box office, though it's done. Okay. On a just because of who was involved in the film and the studio behind it, you know, and the time and also the time period, it came out where it was VHS, still, it was still cable was a thing. You know, people found the movie and there wasn't as much competition. It would you know, in today's world, I think it would still stand out. But there's just so much more competition for the eyeballs now, it'd be tougher for it to find an audience. So we're in a tough, we're in a tough time in history. But yet very wonderful time in history.
Jerome Courshon 1:46:29
Absolutely. You know, the democratization of distribution has been a good thing. And I'm not so good thing. It's good. I mean, it's got its positives, and its negatives, it was the
Alex Ferrari 1:46:39
same thing that happened to me in post, when Final Cut Pro showed up. And it didn't cost a million dollars for an editing system anymore. Right? That was great. But then all of a sudden, everybody's an editor,
Jerome Courshon 1:46:48
everybody's doing it. And it becomes, as you said, a buyers market.
Alex Ferrari 1:46:52
Yeah, right. Alright, so what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Jerome Courshon 1:46:59
the longest lesson in the film, business, or in life? Oh, my God, he shouldn't take gag, you should ask me before so I can actually think about the biggest what maybe one of the biggest lessons for me in the film business, is have a great district have a great entertainment attorney understands distribution. I talked about it before. And really and and is qualified to look at distribution agreements, and make them great for you. And at that, and that doesn't mean they're going to negotiate everything for you. I actually think the filmmaker should generally be the one to do the major point negotiation, and then they can do the red line in the minor stuff. But I think that's that's one of the most important lessons because that determines whether you're going to see money or not at the end of the day. And I you know, I made so many mistakes and in my you know, career in this industry. That's, that's a mistake that, you know, that I had made at one time. Hiring producer rep two different times was another big mistake I made. So learning not to do those things. I mean, Laura, do that. Yeah. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 1:48:25
That's good. That's good. That's good. Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time?
Jerome Courshon 1:48:31
Oh, my lord. Only three?
Alex Ferrari 1:48:33
Only three, only three. The three that come to your mind today. I want to hold them they won't be on your grave. You won't have them in a in an island, a desert island somewhere. Just three that come to your head today.
Jerome Courshon 1:48:43
The Godfather, the first one
Alex Ferrari 1:48:45
Jerome Courshon 1:48:46
Brilliant movie on many different levels. Apocalypse Now. Brilliant movie.
Alex Ferrari 1:48:52
I'm seeing a theme. Go ahead. A couple of themes.
Jerome Courshon 1:48:56
Alex Ferrari 1:48:58
Oh, fantastic movie.
Jerome Courshon 1:48:59
It's brilliant. And it's and you know why that movie is so brilliant. Well, in my view, it's so brilliant. Not only is it a fun and interesting and constructive and hilarious movie, there is a deep message. And that message resonated with people resonates with people. Not everybody obviously, I've had some, you know, people I know. You know, some some women friends are like, yeah, you know, I didn't really well, no, because, you know, because it's about the transformation of a man, which they're not identifying with, you know, but it's information movies that yes, the theme of the first two but I also really get into movies where there's a transformation that occurs another one I would throw out there as a local hero from the night. Yeah, the transformation of a person, man but a person from being materialistic and money to Oh, there's more to life than that which is so universal. I think for a lot of people. Well Maybe in our country, not so much for everybody, but
Alex Ferrari 1:50:03
Hopefully, hopefully more, hopefully all people, hopefully more people. And then where can people find you and more about the work you're doing?
Jerome Courshon 1:50:10
Sure. So my website is, again, one word distribution.la. That's where it can be found. I can be contacted through there. My email I get, so I can be contacted through there. And my email addresses [email protected] There's a lot of stuff there. I'd mentioned before free articles and some interview interviews there.
Alex Ferrari 1:50:33
You have a course you have a course, don't you?
Jerome Courshon 1:50:35
I have a nine a course, that's on nine DVDs, which will be eventually gravitated and moved online. So we watch it digitally. And it's of course, I update periodically to stay current. So if you want to know, the A to Z, of what you really should know, as a producer, the course is a must. I get into the weeds only where necessary. I'm not going to teach you about the theory of distribution, and oh, all this weird deal behind the scenes stuff. No, it's what do you need to know, to have success to make money with your movie? Not get and not get screwed? That's basically it.
Alex Ferrari 1:51:15
Jerome, it has been an epic conversation. Without question. I know, we could keep talking. I mean, there's like about 10. Other questions I haven't asked you. But we just we just riff. So it's a great time to do a part two itself. But we'll do a part I think we should do. This is already a part two, this should be part one and part two, so long, but but it's a lot of great information. And I really thank you for being so honest, and, and being being a warrior out there for filmmakers as you because you've been doing this for a while. So I really do appreciate you going out there and truly, truly trying to help filmmakers on their journey. So thank you for your for your service, sir.
Jerome Courshon 1:51:51
Thank you, thank you, and thank you for your service as well doing the same thing. I mean, we're both doing the same thing. And, you know, and I and people benefit if they take good information to heart. So you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:52:03
Thanks again, my friend.
Jerome Courshon 1:52:04
Thank you, sir.
Alex Ferrari 1:52:06
I want to thank Jerome for not just coming on the show and dropping some insane knowledge bombs on the tribe today, but also all the good work he's done over the years, trying to educate and help filmmakers get their film to the marketplace. So Jerome, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for keeping the fight alive and trying to help as many filmmakers as you can. If you want links to Jerome and anything we talked about in this episode, please head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/354. And guys, if you're a filmmaker, or you want to be a filmmaker, and you just want to make that feature film that's been dying to come out of you, please join me at the make your movie boot camp that I'm going to be holding October 26 and 27th. in Burbank, California, I'm just compressing 25 years of my experience into a two day intensive on how to make a feature film and not only make it but how to market it and sell it actually make money with your feature film in today's environment. So if you want tickets, there are a few spaces left, just head over to mymbootcamp.com. That's make your movie or mymbootcamp.com. Now I know a lot of you have been following this whole distributor debacle. And there is some new information coming out in the coming weeks. So please stay tuned. The best way to get all the latest information about what's going on is heading over to the Facebook group, protect yourself from distributor, just type in the word distributor on Facebook and it'll pop right up, subscribe and join the conversation to see how we can help our community deal with this insane, devastating situation that is hurting so so many filmmakers, as you can tell, I'm really passionate about this. And I really want to help as many filmmakers as I can. So whenever I have new information, it will come to you guys. Thank you so much for listening, guys. I really really appreciate it as always keep that also going. Keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.
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- Jerome Courshon – Official Site
- Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
- Audible – Get a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
- Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)