IFH 103: How a Camera and Hustle Created a $30 Million Empire with Joel Holland

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Get ready to be inspired. I want to bring this week’s guest onto the show for a while now. Joel Holland is the founder and CEO of VideoBlocks, the first subscription-based provider of stock video and audio, with over 100,000 customers in the television and video production industry, from NBC to MTV to prosumers and hobbyists looking to enhance their video projects and productions. There are a lot of indie filmmakers can learn from Joel.

In 2013, VideoBlocks was ranked the 32nd fastest-growing technology company in the US/Canada, and the 2nd fastest growing technology company in the DC region by Deloitte for the Fast500, for achieving 7,000% revenue growth over the past 5 years.

videoblocks, Joel Holland, stock footage, filmmaking, indie film, cinematography

Photo Credit: VideoBlocks.com

In 2012, VideoBlocks was named the #4 Fastest-Growing Media Company by Inc. Magazine and made the prestigious Inc. 500 list.

For his work with VideoBlocks, Joel has been named one of the Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25” by BusinessWeek Magazine, “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by the United States Small Business Administration, and “Entrepreneur of the Year” for the Greater Washington DC Region by Ernst & Young.

In 2013, Joel was recognized on the Inc. “30 Under 30” list: He is the definition of the word “Hustle.” Sit back and enjoy my conversation with Joel Holland.

Alex Ferrari 1:26
So guys, really, if you want to be inspired, sit back and relax and get ready to take some notes and enjoy my interview with Joel Holland. Guys. I like to welcome to the show, Joe Holland. How you doing, man?

Joel Holland 3:26
I'm doing well Alex, thanks for having me on.

Alex Ferrari 3:28
Oh, thank you, man. So listen, after doing my research on you, Joel, I found that you are the definition of the word hustle. There's no I mean, I thought I hustled but you You definitely if you are a hustler, and in the best term best use of that term.

Joel Holland 3:46
I've no, I appreciate that. And no, I take that as a definitely as a compliment. I think we've all heard the you know, heard the different axioms, but I think there's just no like an idea only gets you so far. The hustle is is what kind of gets you over the finish line. So I appreciate that.

Alex Ferrari 4:03
Yeah, I mean, honestly, ideas are, are are almost worthless. Sometimes unless you put there they are worthless unless you put also behind it. Totally, because all of us have ideas. I mean, and for me, specifically, we all have I want to be I want to make a movie, or I'm gonna write a song or I'm gonna write a book, but unless you actually start putting that also behind it. It's absolutely useless. Yep. 100% So please, let's first off and tell me Can you please tell me the story about how you interviewed Arnold Schwarzenegger while you were in school?

Joel Holland 4:32
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So that was so that was years ago when I was in high school. And you know, it basically I was a sophomore in high school, trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. And I was kind of mesmerized by the world of business and journalism and Hollywood. And you know, there's just so many interesting career paths. I couldn't decide what I wanted to do. And when I went to the career office, there descriptions and answers were just really textbook boring. And so I decided, you know, what better way to find out, you know what I want to do than to go ask the people that are top of their career, right top of the path and in any given industry. And so I approached a local nonprofit in the DC area that did video production. And I said, hey, look, I have this idea. I want to go out on an interview very interesting people and get their advice for teens who are preparing for college and internships in life. And, you know, and their answer was, look, you seem super ambitious. But you have no connections, no contacts. So if you can somehow pull together a list of people who are willing to sit down and be interviewed, then we'll be willing to give you a camera crew and a little budget. Wow. And yeah, so Exactly. So that was exciting. But then, you know, so right. So there was the idea, right? The idea was go interview fascinating people. Now the hustle part, was probably the most important. And I think part of the reason I had so much giddy up and go is that I was young and super naive. So to me, like, why wouldn't you be able to reach out to a person like Arnold Schwarzenegger and try to have them sit down with you to talk, right, like, I think most logical people would say, well, because they're super busy. And they're in another world. And like 7 billion other people want to talk to them. But I was just naive. And so I just started reaching out to interesting people and basically, begging, you know, bartering and you know, pleading to get them to sit down and do these interviews, and manage to get a good list of individuals. For our first base, I built like a New York City trip. And it was going to be David neelum, and the founder of JetBlue. A two sir Rubenstein, who started 17 magazine, a couple of guys who were running the American Stock Exchange. So and then the end of the last one, the biggest one was steve forbes. And that was someone who had just literally written to the like, editor at Forbes magazine.com, just over and over again to email address. And after like, months and months, I think wore them down are like, dude, kid, just leave us alone. Fine, like, he will sit down with you. But please, for the love of God, leave us alone. And so and so luckily, you know, the production company, this group called kids online, said, Alright, let's do this. And we went to New York, we shot these interviews, and it became part of an ongoing series that we called streaming futures. And that, over time, we ended up doing 150 interviews with really interesting people. And I the coup de gras was probably Arnold Schwarzenegger. And as a good segue, that interview with Arnold was also the real kind of kick in the pants to start, what is now videoblocks

Alex Ferrari 7:51
Yeah, I want to know how did that one interview kind of change the course of your entire life?

Joel Holland 7:56
Totally. So basically, when like this, you know, we It took months, like probably four or five months to get Arnold Schwarzenegger to actually agree to sit down to do an interview. And we flew out to Los Angeles, we had our crew, we interviewed him, I was like, a 20 minute to person, you know, to camera interview. his advice was fascinating, right? Because here's a guy who came from Austria with nothing, not a penny in his pocket. It became a bodybuilding champion actor, and he's about to become governor, right? Like what a trifecta. So great interview, great advice. We then went back to Virginia, and I'm editing this thing together. And I have this like, unfortunate realization. Oh, no, this is like, this is boring as shit. Not and not because of the advice, but because of the production value. Basically, it was I was I always say this, but it was Charlie Rose, for, you know, intended for a teenage audience, which is not a good connection, or maybe not

Alex Ferrari 8:50
Really, yeah, not the hippest of connections you can make

Joel Holland 8:54
Totally so total mismatch. So Good, good. Good advice, really, like dry, boring to watch, because it's just me and Arnold talking. And so I started looking at Discovery Channel to try to figure out how these guys were taking relatively mundane topics, educational topics, and making them super interesting to watch. And what I learned was, it was all about the way they edited this stuff together. It was fast cuts, right? The camera was changing every two to three seconds. There was music there were there were like interstitials transitions, there were effects. And there was a ton of stock media. So if you know they're talking, if someone's talking, a lot of times, they might give you two seconds to that person's talking head and then cut to you know, an aerial shot from a helicopter of what they're describing. So I saw that and I said, Dude, I need to do this for this Arnold Schwarzenegger interview. I need an aerial shot of the Hollywood sign, right like the Hollywood sign from a helicopter nice and smooth, right as we're opening this thing, I need some music. I need you know, to make this thing pop. And what I came to find out Was stock media at the time. And this is 2003 was not a thing. I mean, there was like there are two companies like seen an image source and maybe you know some other big agencies but you had to pay 1000s and 1000s of dollars. It's obscene.

Alex Ferrari 10:15
I remember I remember looking for that in the 90s looking for stock footage for commercials and stuff. And it was like, Oh my god, it was so freakin cost prohibitive, like one shot. And then there was the rights thing. Yeah, every like, oh, if you're gonna do it for this, it's this much if you can do it for this is this much if you do that, I'm like, Jesus, man. It was so ridiculous, saying well, exactly.

Joel Holland 10:35
And so there it is, like that was I was confronted with the ridiculousness of cost and licensing, you had to pay by the second you had to pay for like different if it was us distribution versus international distribution. So whether you wanted internet rights or television rights, it was it was crazy. And so look, I think this goes back to me being young and naive. But to me, I was like, there's an opportunity here to create stock footage, and sell it at a price point that's inexpensive enough, that hobbyist enthusiast and documentarians can afford it. Basically, people like me, and I'm like, why is nobody doing this? And so the fight instead of like, thinking, oh, maybe nobody's doing it for a reason. I said, Hey, this is looks like an opportunity. And I took a year off between high school and college, bought some equipment and started shooting. And that was kind of how I tested my theory.

Alex Ferrari 11:29
Very, very, Yeah, I was gonna ask you, well, I have a bunch of questions about how you took off, because I know there's a deeper question there. But one thing that came to mind too about, about being ignorant and not being naive, but I was I was watching an interview with Orson Welles. And when he because he was 23, when he made Citizen Kane, and they asked him how were you so brave when you did all these things? and innovative? He's like, No, no, I was I was ignorant.

Joel Holland 11:55
Yes, exactly. ignorance. I didn't know any better. The ignorance

Alex Ferrari 12:00
is the best form of bravery is your best form of, of any of that kind of stuff, because you just don't know any better.

Joel Holland 12:06
So percent, which is why I always think it's like, the younger you can start your entrepreneurial path, right, right. Or any path like the younger you start your path of being a filmmaker, or a documentarian, like young is good, because you haven't had time to become jaded. Time to start overthinking things.

Alex Ferrari 12:24
For me, it's been the opposite. Like I started young, then I got jaded. And then now I'm back to my mentality of being young. Yeah, I love it. Because you have to it's true. It's true. And like, if you would tell me like right now, if you go, Alex, can you get Arnold Schwarzenegger on your podcast? I'd be like, Oh, man, you know, everything. You just said, like, God, everybody wants him, how am I going to get him? all this kind of stuff. But you were, you had youth in ignorance on your side,

Joel Holland 12:52
Using ignorance and hustles, and hustle, and hustle. But you also you know, it's funny, you realize that everything in life is a two way street and kind of everything in life revolves around incentive. And so at first, when I was trying to get someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger, I was thinking too much mee mee mee like, I want him to be on my show, because it'll be good for me. Well, that doesn't work when you reach out, because how does it benefit him? Right? And so what I realized was, Well, a lot of these, you know, people have, you know, these high level individuals have passion projects that they're really passionate about. And for him, it was Arnold's all stars. So he was working with kids. And so I started going through his nonprofit, and saying, hey, like, this is the connection, you're gonna help us, but we're also going to help you because this will be beneficial for our owns all stars, and we'll do you know, and that, you know, that's the the advice that I think is pretty much blanket for anything you do in life is find the incentive for the other person, right? And make sure it's a two way street. And then when those things, you know, when those streets align, boom, yeah, I

Alex Ferrari 14:01
think that's a big mistake. A lot of entrepreneurs, filmmakers, and people in general, they always just like, Oh, I'm going to get this person and I'm going to interview this person, or I want 15 minutes with this person or an hour like, like, well, what is that person? What is it and what's in it for that person other than depth and being very nice. There has to be a two way street, and there has to be a value, you have to provide value to them. 100% without before you even attempt to go after someone of that statute. Now, again, from my research that I've seen, you know, you weren't just a hustler. Early on you were a hustler really early on. When you were making 20 bucks a day selling golf balls at the age of 10. Yeah, yeah, that's right. And then you moved up to selling on ebay at 12. And you were making almost what, $20,000 a year selling on eBay. For a 12 year old that's like a million dollars.

Joel Holland 14:53
Yeah, yeah. It is. It was it was very real money. And I was I was somehow good about saving it. And so I would I would every month, my goal is to send $2,000 to an investment advisor I had and so I tried to save money every month.

Alex Ferrari 15:12
That's my advisor at 12. Yeah, that's Yeah, amazing.

Joel Holland 15:16
So great. But it'd be you know, so I think that where all that comes from is, from a young age, I just love selling like, so the art of the hustle, the art of selling something, is, to me a huge rush. And it's a rush that I still get today. And because we think about a transaction, like if you sell something, it goes back to what we were just talking about, you're finding something that someone needs to, you're finding something that, you know, it's they have an incentive to buy it, and then a reason to give you money. And obviously, you enjoy getting the money. And so I loved selling things because I felt like a I was providing something valuable, because people were willing to pay for it. And then be everybody was better off, like the buyer got our product they wanted and I got money. And so I became obsessed with that. I mean, I think sales, just the art of selling is just a very, very exciting thing. And I can kind of the core of any good business, of course,

Alex Ferrari 16:10
right? And I'll tell you what, when I first sold my first short film when I was, you know, literally packing them myself and labeling them and sending them out. When I first released it and hearing those Pay Pal dings. Oh my goodness, I'll never forget that I did a launch sequence without without me knowing I did a launch sequence. Like I had no idea I was doing. I did a six month launch sequence for this movie. I had no idea what I was doing. It was just instinctual. And when I finally released the DVD, all I hear was thing, thing, thing, thing, thing, thing, thing, thing thing. I'll never forget that sound if it's like the greatest feeling ever. And this

Joel Holland 16:45
validates validation, right? Yes, total validation for the film you created, right? And then

Alex Ferrari 16:49
the then then comes the horrible part, like, oh, man, we got to pack these, we have to ship? How are we going to mail them? We didn't have like, there was no mail printing or anything like that we had to stamp each one. We must have like 150 sales in the first day. And which was huge for a short film. Of course. And and I'm like with handwriting the rats, it's it was just madness. It was madness. But anyway.

Joel Holland 17:13
But there was and those are the good problems, right? Like, yeah, that, you know,

Alex Ferrari 17:16
I guess, too many, too many.

Joel Holland 17:19
I know the feeling that feeling your scribing is just magical.

Alex Ferrari 17:22
Oh, it's absolutely wonderful. And I've been preaching to my listeners, you know that our filmmakers today that they have to become entrepreneurs, in order to make a kind of like in the indie film world, would you agree on that?

Joel Holland 17:35
I would, because I think it goes back to what we opened with which is, you know, a good idea is only as good as the hustle that goes with and so a good film, you can make the greatest documentary. But unless you know how to get out there and get in front of people, which will be the entrepreneurial part, then it's never gonna go anywhere. And I bet you there's so many amazing documentaries that are sitting on shelves, because the hustle part didn't ever got added to the equation. And and by the same token, there are a ton of documentaries that have gone mainstream that are kind of not that great, right? Because it is such a good job selling them.

Alex Ferrari 18:09
Right. And I think that and that's, I think a analogy for not only the bizarre, but you know, the business of filmmaking, but as well as any place because there's some people that you're like, how did that guy get that promotion? How is that guy making, you know, 100 million dollar movies? He's not that good. You know, like, how did he get to where there's so many other talented people I'm like, well, they're they hustled, they sold themselves, they did things that they were willing to do things that you might have not been able to willing to do as far as the hustle part is concerned. And that's such a key component to I think every aspect in life. But I think specifically in in the film business now. Can you tell me a little bit about the whole, the whole journey of how you started, go shoot, go out and shoot and did all that through? I think it was through high school correct when you started shooting your stock footage and trying to create your company.

Joel Holland 18:57
Yes, exactly. Right. So it was basically towards the end of high school where we had this realization or I had this realization that there needs to be an NFL an affordable source of stock media for people like me, documentarians independence, and I graduated in 2003. And and I was accepted to go to college, up in Boston to a school called Babson and I contacted Babson, I said hey, I'd really like to defer for a year take a year off and try to start this business. Is that okay? And luckily it's it's purely an entrepreneurial business school so they were very understanding and they said, Sure, do your thing. We'll see you in a year. And so I took that year and I said this is gonna be one year where I try to validate whether or not there really is a need for this. And I bought a IML my first camera is a Canon GL two. Oh, no, yeah. Beautiful, beautiful three chip camera. cost me like $2,000

Alex Ferrari 19:55
is that before or after the DVS 100 before that was Before the DB x Yeah, because so you were still shooting 30 frames, you weren't shooting 24 frames yet? That's

Joel Holland 20:04
right. It was it was 30 frames. And this was SD. I mean, this is like it was shooting on mini DV tapes. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And like, I think capture it. And I appraise it a bit, too, you know, to look really sharp, distributed photo, JPEG, and no one was the wiser, like it just looked like it was, it looked the same as a Canon XL one. And what I realized was the shots the way you compose a shot and this obviously, you know, this was the film but the way you compose the shot is much more important the equipment you use, and and so I started traveling with this camera, I had, you know, a nice little carbon fiber tripod, a backpack with all my batteries and gear, and I just hit the road. And I took, I took that year and I traveled to like 33 US cities, I decided that they I would start by hitting us cities, and trying to shoot them in a way that would be useful for an editor. So skylines all the different sites, daytime, nighttime, and, and I started Hawking it on eBay, right to start getting the initial sales, try to figure out what to call it.

Alex Ferrari 21:08
So so hold on for a second. So you actually went out and just shot a whole bunch of footage. Very, very organized, obviously structured, you know, like, you know, the the great cities of Boston and New York and all that kind of stuff. I'm assuming you would go on eBay. And then you would just I guess you created a company name at that point, like an eBay store at that point to do that.

Joel Holland 21:28
Yeah, so so I already had, so I had been selling on ebay for a long time, right? Because I it's, you know that when I was doing that $20,000 a year in sales as a 12 year old that was I was selling software. And so my eBay handle was hobby auctions. And I had, you know, I had like 2000 feedback, a shooting star, and all that good stuff. So when I started, I basically I shot washington dc first, because that was my backyard. So I shot Washington DC, I put it on eBay, and I created multiple listings to try to figure out how much to charge and what to call it. And so some of them were like Washington, DC B roll Washington, DC stock footage, Washington, DC stock video is between those three terms, I couldn't figure out what would be best. And sales started coming in from wedding videographers, that was actually the first buyers were wedding videographers. And that was cool. And that was you know, emboldening and all that. So I took the money from those initial sales, and I bought a plane ticket to Seattle, that was the first place I'd never been to Seattle before, flew out to Seattle had enough money to stay in the Best Western right beside the Space Needle for like, two nights. And I'd go out during the day and start the crack of dawn and shoot your walk the whole city, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, go back to my hotel room at night, and start editing, put it up on eBay to start selling. So by time I'd be back home, I could actually ship it. And, and that and that kind of progression, you know, I would basically take sales, buy a ticket, go to the next place. Eventually, I launched a name for it. And I called it footage firm. I liked I liked the Hey, I like I liked the alliteration and describe what we did. And then I built a website. And so once I once I had customers, I started trying to incentivize those customers to buy again. So if I went out and shot another city like Boston, then I go to my customer list. And I knew that number one, nobody probably needed it right then. But if I came up with the right incentive, right, the right price point, then they would buy it and just hold it. And so that kind of became the evolution of shifting from eBay to my own website and my own thing.

Alex Ferrari 23:45
And you never touched by the way during your travels, you never touched that nest egg that you created during all your early years, early years when you were a teenager correct? You always use the proceeds to kind of grow and go to tour the country. correct? That's

Joel Holland 24:01
correct. Yeah, that's correct. So the only time I touched part of the nest egg was to buy the Canon GL two. So I think I took a couple $1,000 out to buy the camera and a tripod that was it. And so it's funny because in my mind and obviously that's very different these days, you know now you start a business is kind of accepted you lose money for a while or you have a burn rate. But as a kid I didn't understand that to me it was there's no such thing as losing money. I was so frugal, I was like I have to always be making money, you can't lose money. That's just crazy. That's just that's a crazy concept. And so I only knew how to use money that was coming in. So cash flow like I I understood cash flow very well from a young age, which I think was very beneficial for bootstrapping the business.

Alex Ferrari 24:50
Now let me ask you if you don't want me asking, How much were you able to generate in that little nest egg as a teenager? If you don't mind me asking that number? Give or take

Joel Holland 24:59
is good question. I think I had up to probably, you know, pry 40 $50,000 Yeah, by time I was meant to do it might have been closer. I think by the time I finished high school, and I said always, but this had been a goal. Actually, this is fine. I had two goals, one was at buy timeshares high school, I wanted to have saved $100,000. And I think I got very close, I think I was I was within striking distance of $100,000 in the bank. The second goal is by time fers college, I wanted to have a million dollars in the bank. And I didn't hit that one by the end of college, but I did within the first year out of college. And so I think that this is another thing that I think is actually very useful. It sounds silly, but like I made dream boards as a

Alex Ferrari 25:45
kid, yeah, this is the secret.

Joel Holland 25:48
I'm telling you, man, like you kind of end up manifesting the reality that you focus on. And it's not through magic, it's just that the subconscious mind is very powerful. And when you say, and when you actually write down and commit to, you know, hey, I'm going to make this film and it's going to get distribution at Sundance. Well, everything you do in life from that point forward, that's in the back of your mind. And so the actions you take the people you meet, the things you think about, are on some level, working towards that goal. So I think there's a lot of power and doing it.

Alex Ferrari 26:20
Oh, no, I mean, I said this, I did the same thing. When I started indie film, hustle. Like I was like, You know what, I'm gonna launch this, I started from scratch. And I'm, like, you know, in a year, I'm gonna have this much, you know, hopefully this kind of revenue coming in. And I have this kind of success as a podcast and things like that. And it happened, like, beyond actually what I originally thought, like, way beyond, you know, what I originally thought. So it does work without question. Yeah. And I actually said, and I said, earlier this year, I'm like, I think at the beginning of the year, I was like, Guys, I'm gonna make I put it out there. I'm like, I'm making a feature film this year, I'm making my first feature film, I'm gonna actually just go out and do it. And I'm not gonna stop waiting around and love it four or five minutes, four or five months later, right? You know, I have a feature film, it's, I'm getting ready for Sundance right now. as we speak.

Joel Holland 27:05
That's amazing. Congratulations. I

Alex Ferrari 27:07
haven't gotten in yet. But I'm saying, I haven't gotten there yet. But at least I've made it. And I'm gonna submit it. But But yeah, I did it. And it was so quick. And it's fascinating when you put your mind to something like that. And you just like, you know, let's just go do it.

Joel Holland 27:21
And well, and then not only that, I think you put your mind to it, but you also publicly committed to doing it. Yeah, that's

Alex Ferrari 27:28
another big that's

Joel Holland 27:30
huge. And I bet if you hadn't, if you had not done that, if you hadn't put it out there to your friends and your listeners, like he the chances of you having accomplished it by now are probably much less because you'd have an excuse to like, I'll do it, you know, next year or next year. It's easy, it's easy to kick the can down the road.

Alex Ferrari 27:45
But and then you and then you wake up to it's 10 years gone by totally. And

Joel Holland 27:48
then and then that's super sad. So no, I think making public commitments, even if it doesn't always work out. That's okay. I mean, it's it's better than the alternative of not making the commitment. And it also not working out, right, like, yeah, I think I think there's something very powerful to that, too.

Alex Ferrari 28:03
There's a website, I forgot the name of it. But there's a website that if you actually do that, like you go in there and you basically, I think the thing is, like you put a goal in, like, let's say you want to lose 30 pounds, all right, and if you and you publicly put it out there, if you don't achieve the goal, you put up a substantial amount of money. Let's say it's 1000 bucks. If that 1000 if you don't do the goal that $1,000 goes to one of three organizations that you absolutely hate.

Joel Holland 28:34
Yes, dude, I love I knew you're gonna say that. Like, she's so brilliant, like in the example is it because it's the exact dude I love. The example is, if you hate guns, right? your money's going to the NRA. Yeah. And so now you've got this, like this incredible incentive to hit your goal. Because if not, you're not only letting yourself down, you're literally going against what you believe. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 29:00
Somebody put that website together, and I'm sure they're doing quite well. Just amazing. So when you launched footage firm, its footage firm was started on eBay. And I'm assuming you put footage on DVDs and shipped them out. Because there was no digital distribution at that time.

Joel Holland 29:17
That's correct. So at first Actually, I was shipping on many dv tape and beta beta tape. I mean, so it was a beta ease Yeah, of course. dv cam so I was actually shit I like I actually was making tapes and shipping them by yourself. By myself, right? Like, in my dorm room. So So after that year off, I went to Babson in my dorm room. I had tape decks. I had Russ rush back from class, I checked my orders. I like start burning a tape. I'd have to get it to FedEx by like 630 at night, right? So every day was I know those days, dude. Every day was like it was that like crazy hustle to like try to get there before deadline because filmmakers need like They need something oh no yeah you know what I mean

Alex Ferrari 30:03
that's what that's all that's why it's so wonderful now you could just literally just download it

Joel Holland 30:06
oh my god yes 100% It's

Alex Ferrari 30:08
so amazing you're like I need that now. Not in three hours not in next day now

Joel Holland 30:13
yes and we were good at staying in front of the trends because you're so we did I moved to do today to DVD as soon as that became kind of a thing. One of my claims to fame I shipped over 1 million data DVDs of footage. He's within like it within a I think was a two year period.

Alex Ferrari 30:37
So you manually burned a million DVDs.

Joel Holland 30:41
So it first again in my dorm room I had one of these robots Yeah, but I think like 12 desks a burnin time and had this like robotic arm would take one put it one up right? And it would run all through the night cranking out DVDs. Yeah. By the time I graduated for Babson that was like that year I had an inflection point where I really started learning how to market this stuff well and and then it was beyond me like I could not have we would you know we do an email blast and have like 1000s of orders come in and I could never burned enough it first though is kind of what you describe with your film when you had like 100 orders you're like oh boy now I gotta get these out. I remember the first time I sent an email campaign to creative cow which is one of our industry you know outlet Oh yeah, sure. And $25,000 worth of orders came in within an hour and I was like, dude, I was like holy shit number one this is the most money I've ever seen at one time. Number two aren't we now have a business this is real this is a real situation here oh yeah get it just got real and number three how in the world am I going to get all these DVDs burned

Alex Ferrari 31:52
so our problem but magnified but magazines

Joel Holland 31:54
so I went on Craigslist I found a couple people on Craigslist locally and we literally just all day and night for like days and days were burning and shipping burning and shipping burning and shipping. Then I found a fulfillment company so I found a place in Colorado that could actually on demand burn and then ship the DVDs. And so by the time we were then doing on the regular you know, orders of the size, it was no longer my problem which was a huge relief.

Alex Ferrari 32:23
Right and that's the thing a lot of a lot of business people forget that that the like you know you you're as an entrepreneur, sometimes you want to do everything and you want to cover and as filmmakers you want to do everything you want to cover every aspect and I'm horrible at that because I do everything I do everything but now I'm starting but if you keep doing that you will bottleneck yourself to a certain point where you can't grow and that's kind of where I'm at now with indie film hustle like I've gotten to this point where I mean I don't know if you know this job everything on the side I do everything from the graphics to the writing to the podcast to the videos to I marketing I do at all so I'm now getting to that point where it's like I am bottlenecking like if I'm in the oh by the way I also did a movie and all this I have a post company I do all this other stuff. So it's like I have to do something to kind of move the needle and now letting go of things.

Joel Holland 33:18
Exactly. And so I think that this is a really interesting point and this is something that all of us learn at a certain point but just because you can do something doesn't mean you should because I made the same mistake I was like hey I can do cost I can answer the phones I can respond to emails I can burn the product and ship it I can do it all I can save a fortune and maintain the quality that I want but what you realize is you only have so much time and really you only have so much mental capacity and so the expense is the growth rays hitting that next phase. And so I mean one of the examples Do you know FroKnowsPhoto

Alex Ferrari 33:58
he got the name sounds familiar?

Joel Holland 34:00
Yes he's a very very popular youtuber around photography Okay, so he's got millions of subscribers and followers and like he's got a huge amazing production and what he realized was like, you know, like you he's got the mind for creating the great content he's an incredible interviewer a great personality and today when you when you meet with him you realize he has a whole staff right is a guy who sets up the interviews who manages and handles all of the advertising that separate actually sells the ads someone who does the sound the video and it was like it was getting that crew around him that opened him up to being able to really blow this thing up. And and I think that that's, you know that that's the next phase but it's hard. It's really hard to let go and and relinquish. You know what I mean? No,

Alex Ferrari 34:55
it's it's so tough because you're like I could do better. I could do it. It's a horrible month. It's wonderful and horrible all at the same time. Because you know, doing like, and I know a lot of filmmakers have the same problem that like, Oh, I want to, I want to be the editor and I want to be the colorist and I want to be the DP. And I want to do this. And I'm horrible, because I just literally did that on my movie, but, but it's also 20 years of experience, and so on. And it works for this kind of movie. If, if all of a sudden I had $100 million movie, I'm not doing all those jobs, you can't, you just can't, you can't do something like that. But again, that's in that growth stage. So I think that's really important for people to understand that you eventually at the beginning, like you like it took you years before you finally started bringing in other people, you know, you doing everything yourself, but then you get to that point in any company, any endeavor, whether it be a creative endeavor, with your films, or building up a company or something like that, that you have to relinquish a little bit. Now, you were the only cinematographer and cameraman when you launched footage firm, correct?

Joel Holland 35:57
That's right. Yeah. And then,

Alex Ferrari 36:00
and then how did you bring other people in?

Joel Holland 36:03
So I had this realization, while in school that I could not do, I really couldn't physically do everything, because I had class and I had social life. So I couldn't actually be traveling and shooting and selling and doing everything else. So I sat down, and I said, Well, what am I best at? Right? If I'm best at shooting, if I if I think I'm best? At the cinematography, then I'll do that. And maybe I should hire someone to do the marketing and e commerce. But what I realized was actually my strength was sales, right? Like what I was really good at was figuring out how to take a product, find a market fit, and then sell it. And, and so the videography though I enjoyed it was actually not my strong suit. And there were plenty of people out there that were much better than me, right? So I started outsourcing it. And so I basically again, what, you know, back in the day, I went to Craigslist, and started finding videographers located in different cities, I would look at their demo reels, find people I liked, and then pay them to shoot a city, and I'd buy the rights, and did that for a while. And then realized to scale, I needed to kind of open it up a bit. And so then I started allowing anybody to shoot and sell through footage firm. And I would then sell them on, you know, when it's so I would then pay them when it's sold. I give them 50 was a 5050 split. And so I had videographers submitting content from all over the world, and from your actual library grew very quickly. And then they would get paid when it sold. And I loved that model. Right. So it's a great,

Alex Ferrari 37:37
it's a great model.

Joel Holland 37:38
It's great model. It's it's you know, it's today's platform model. And it's very scalable. It's very self sufficient. And, and yeah, so that was kind of that was the evolution from doing it myself to realizing this is not my this is not my strong suit. There are other people better than me. Let's let them do that.

Alex Ferrari 37:55
Now, when did did footage for him turn into video blocks? Or did you open a video blog separately? How did videoblocks comm come to life?

Joel Holland 38:03
Yeah, so it was an evolution. And at one point, they were both running. So basically, let's fast forward to 2009. But each firm is doing really well. I mean, I think we did like a couple of million dollars in sales in 2009. We got up to in by 2011 like $4 million in sales, we only had like three or four employees. So it was doing really well. That's That's insane. It was great. It was great. But I saw the writing on the wall, which was we're shipping DVDs. And the future is obviously digital distribution. And I'm like how do I make sure that we like we could keep doing what we're doing and hang on to this for a while. But But not only will it stop growing eventually it'll go into you know obsolescence. So the blog, the block, but the blockbuster phase is exactly within the complication as well. If I launch a product that has digital distribution, I'm literally competing with myself, and I'm gonna cannibalize my sales is that dumb. But I realized that if I didn't do it, someone else was going to, and I prefer to be my own competitor than to have some other guy taking all my business. And so I launched videoblocks in 2010. It's kind of like a, as a test and started promoting it to some of our footage from customers. And it was a hit. And so then we started advertising it to some of the you know, the industry publications like creative cow and DVD maker. And it worked, people started subscribing, and this concept of paying a membership to get unlimited download access to a library of content, basically, you know, there were queues I took from Netflix. Yeah, it started working. And so footage from calm and videoblocks comm they both continued running parallel for probably a year or two Sure enough the footer terms contained as downward spiral as video blocks got stronger and stronger 70 blocks eight footage firm and and so today footage from Inc is still our parent company but but video blocks is our is our signature product and then we obviously launched Graphic Stock to get into vectors and design elements and photos and we launched audio blocks to get into production music. Yeah those three products

Alex Ferrari 40:29
Yeah, I want to talk about the other two in a second but the one thing I find fascinating is that you were able to see the writing on the wall where like a company like blockbuster did not. And you actually you actually were able to instead of like switching footage firm over to digital where it would compete within itself you actually created an entire look other company so it would basically be I don't want to use a term that hopefully everybody listening will understand your Blockbuster Video and then you create Netflix and then slowly as the video parts goes down Netflix starts going up and then all of a sudden to finally where Blockbuster Video is now gone. And Netflix has taken over but you've done it yourself. And that was it's brilliant actually really brilliant and I don't think there was anybody else doing it was there were there other competitors that got into the digital distribution of stock footage as early as you

Joel Holland 41:27
Yes, so actually there were a couple but but nobody had this set. there nobody had the subscription model so we were the first and honestly still the only one really that does subscription based stock video. Some people have subscriptions for credits, which I think is kind of bullshit like you're just prepare

Alex Ferrari 41:46
Oh yeah, yeah, I've seen that. Yeah, I don't like that either. I'd rather just get 10 bucks a month. Yeah, I'm good. You know, it's like insane.

Joel Holland 41:53
Yeah, it's exactly like don't call it a subscription if it's not a subscription but you know, he so there were other groups that they were selling by the clip and you could then purchase and download like one company comes to mind heartbeats.

Alex Ferrari 42:06
Yes. are

Joel Holland 42:09
really good content have amazing, amazing companies. But it's too expensive. Are they still around? You know, I think they're they're, they're, they're I think they're kind of limping around. But they're

Alex Ferrari 42:20
all they were all DVD based. I remember cuz I remember in our world, in the film world, and working in television, artbeat was always around that you just buy these collections of like stock, wonderful stock footage, I mean, really was beautiful stuff.

Joel Holland 42:36
It was gorgeous, sensitive, show price prohibitive.

Alex Ferrari 42:40
And then of course, everybody would then burn the DVDs all around the office.

Joel Holland 42:47
So this was kind of like my thesis back then. And still today was like, sure, there's a high end market. And, you know, good for, you know, tastes like Shutterstock and others go after the high end market. You know, that the big production companies, ad agencies with big deep pockets, but the group, you know, the individuals that we're most interested in are that are the documentarians, the hobbyists, the enthusiasts who are super ambitious about creating great stuff, but don't have a ton of money. And, and again, this is not a pity project. It's not a nonprofit. The reason that I love that group is it is a huge group of people. And it's like, it's a niche, but it's still huge, but it's huge compared compared to the professional. So like, there's like maybe what I so we have 150,000 paying members, maybe a couple 1000 of them are, you know, the NB C's and ABCs of the world, right? Because they're all customers Paramount and they're all customers of ours and they're great, but it's 2000 of the 150,000 and so really the mass creative class that mass market is what I'm most interested interested in and the way that you help that group is by making your products super affordable. You don't

Alex Ferrari 44:03
know absolutely and that's it's the Netflix model it's what they did they finally took all the all the crap out of like renting videos though I do I do have a big soft spot for video stores. But they made it so easy first just mailing DVDs but now like streaming and and then also in this one thing that we're not talking about when you you know during this whole transition from footage firm, to video blocks, there was this thing called HD that shows that kind of screwed a lot of your footage out of out of that because no one no one downloads SD anymore. Right if they can help it, so everything had to be HD so that whole transition of you had 1000s and 1000s of hours in SD and then all of a sudden you're like, well I got it now I gotta go back out in New York and shoot the skyline.

Joel Holland 44:53
100% same same things happening now. 4k. Yeah, while 4k is really still Kind of in its infancy and not a lot of people are downloading it you fast forward a couple years and HD will be SD nobody is gonna want HD

Alex Ferrari 45:10
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor and now back to the show

Joel Holland 45:21
it's gonna be garbage I'm just better

Alex Ferrari 45:24
I'm just curious about that because you know um, and I don't want to sound like the old fart in the room that doesn't see the future I think in the future 4k will be the industry standard. But like there's at a certain point Don't you believe that now we're getting off topic of stock footage but don't you believe that the consumer is just getting tired of like, every year something news coming out, like at a certain point, like you know, I just bought my 65 inch HD monitor now I gotta get to a monitor. Now I gotta get a 4k monitor. Oh, I bought the blu rays. Now I got to buy the 4k blu rays, or, and you know, I'm streaming here. And it's so kind of like, I think at a certain point, I think like what after 4k? What are we going to do 8k? You know, like, I know a lot of these red cameras that the new red camera shoots 8k? I'm like, Well, great. Right? Right. But you know, but mastering on film for a theatrical distribution to K is fine. You know what I mean? Like it's perfectly fine. They've been doing it for over 100 years. I mean, it's completely fine. So at a certain point, like where do we stop because there's also there's going to get a point where our eyes can't tell the difference. And actually, some there was I think there was a an article in Forbes that said that 4k monitors are kind of BS, because you can't tell the difference from from sitting back 10 feet, you really it's really hard to see that difference unless you're like up next to it which nobody watches television like that.

Joel Holland 46:45
So or unless the monitor gets much larger and it's actually a very interesting discussion because I think so your first question was when does it stop? I think the answer is never Yeah, right. So so like just like computers continually get faster and more powerful video technology will continue getting higher resolution and you know better and so that progression will never end does it plateau? So that's an interesting question. Now I think it's I think it's silly when I go to the store and I see a 42 inch 4k television that makes no sense to me. It logical whereas an eight inch HD television makes no sense and so so you know, I think what 4k enables our people are going to be able to start buying 80 and 100 inch television so you're gonna have these massive wall sized televisions that actually look sharp

Alex Ferrari 47:44
unless the walls turn into like in Total Recall. They actually just turned into televisions the walls It was a television only

Joel Holland 47:51
one I bet you I mean look if you're looking into the far future that you know walls would be organic LCDs right like I think that you will just like you paint a wall walls will actually be screens and you're absolutely right. No longer will you have a device you have to like plug in and put on the wall. The wall will be your device. So I think that's absolutely correct. But in the meantime, you're right. I think that 4k I think 4k makes sense because it enables you to jump from 65 inch televisions which a lot of us own to the next thing which is like 70 and 80 inch which are huge.

Alex Ferrari 48:25
Oculus you need you need a bigger house at that point. Yeah, you put it in an apartment and like it's

Joel Holland 48:31
it's it's legitimately a home theater. Now 8k I think 8k I mean, we're talking well i don't think 8k becomes a a like television device for like, at least a decade if that it might just be the resolution and reposition. repositioning totally. So it's like you could now shoot a shot. And now grab four shots out of that shot. So you get to like, shoot it and then in post, you can now change composition. And that's pretty powerful.

Alex Ferrari 49:04
It is. We do it all the time. I mean, well Red Red camera actually was the one that kind of started this whole damn thing with the 4k red one back in 2000 I think it was at eight or 977. Like when they promised that in seven. I don't think it actually showed up until oh eight. Right, right. But they kind of like blew everybody out of the water with that. And that's kind of what started the whole the whole jump I think everybody started cuz I don't think honestly, I don't think if red comes out. I think we were waiting around a few more years for for for for 2k let alone 4k. You know, I think they definitely pushed the envelope now. Now videoblocks is definitely an industry disrupter without question. And I've been I've been before we ever knew each other or, or, or did any business together. We I was I was a member of videoblocks for a lot of my projects that I've been using over the years. But I love audio blocks, audio blocks and graphics. Can you talk a little bit about audio blocks and graphics?

Joel Holland 50:04
Totally. So starting first, here's how he came up with them. Video blocks was growing, it was doing well. And I'm a firm believer that when something's going, right, that's when you need to start getting really worried. Right? Like, you want to be like,

Alex Ferrari 50:21
when there's too much money here, what's going? Well,

Joel Holland 50:24
and that's where people tend to get complacent. Yep. And so it's usually when you're on the top that you fall, because you think I figured it out. I'm the smartest person in the room, blah, blah. And meanwhile, your competitors are scheming to take you down. And so things are going well, videoblocks. And we sat back and said, Alright, what's next? Like, we can't just be happy with this? How do we come up with the next move? And the answer was stupid, simple. It was, well, let's just ask the customers, right? Let's literally pull our customers and ask them. Point blank. What else would you pay money for, that we don't currently offer? And that was a question we asked in a survey. And the answer that came back was music. They're like, we really want music. Music makes all video better. And, and same problem that video was experienced music was hard to find super expensive, and a licensing rights were outrageous. Where's the video? I think we're totally worse than video. And confusing. And just it was horrible. So we said, All right, the customers have spoken, they want music, let's see if we can do this, could we build the same model a subscription based approach to a Production Music Library. But do it in a way that's really you know, better than what's out there. And we realize, yes, we could, we can go find musicians who have great music, pay them a lot of money, like for their stuff. So they're happy, put it in our library, and then create an interface that's very powerful, or at least we think is powerful to to help you discover music. And you'll notice on audio blocks, you can like you go in and you, you start by clicking around to say mood, and genre and instruments and beats per minute. So you can really customize and then boom, it comes up the list of tracks that might work for you. And so we built all this based on customer feedback, and we launched it, even the color scheme, the logo, the name, all of this was from the customers. And and it took off and did really well. And it was the same thing with Graphic Stock. You know, what, you know, in another survey? The answer was we want graphics and photos. And so Graphic Stock was born out of completely out of customer demand. And you know, and that's also a very, you know, that product is also doing really well. So, yeah, I think that listening to the voice of the people, you can never go wrong. Yeah, I

Alex Ferrari 52:52
know, right. And just so everybody listening knows I'm actually using some music from audio blocks in my movie, we're going to be using it as a background, like, you know, coming from a radio in the background, not a score piece, but like just something in the background. Because we were like, Oh, we really need some new agey music here, I'm like, well, we'll go to audio blocks perfect. And, and I don't have to worry about it. And I got the rights to it. I could theatrically released, you know, and it's like, wow, that that freedom is so wonderful just to know, like, oh, if I have a membership, I can download it. And even after my membership is over, I still have the rights to it in perpetuity for projects that I use. Correct. Is that is that correct?

Joel Holland 53:29
Absolutely. Right. And that's Yeah, you know, as, as a filmmaker, you've got so many things to worry about that the last thing you should have to be fretting about is, is my music going to get me in trouble? Am I going to have to pay extra if this goes International, if I get into, you know, the you know, into Sundance, I might have to pay for that. And if I if I distributed on YouTube, and I got to pay but so we just made it simple. It's pay one fee, use the music any way you want forever, unlimited distribution worldwide. There's just never anything else to worry about.

Alex Ferrari 54:01
And it's it's fantastic. Now, when you work, by the way, when you are going out to shoot stuff, did you? What did you know, how did you know what would sell?

Joel Holland 54:10
Well, good question. So it first I decided that the US cities would be a good place to start, because I figured at some point, every editor is going to need a shot of New York City or Los Angeles. So that was my starting point. Now, once footage firm was launched, I was able to start looking at the search data. So I would just literally look at what people were searching for on our website and use that as my shot list. And that's and that's something we do today, right? So on videoblocks we get I think three or 4 million searches a month. And we have a team a data team analyzes those searches, and then actually provides insight to our contributors so you actually get an email says, here's what was searched like we just found email saying that searches for Turkey footage are way up for LGBT footage for diversity footage, all these terms that are kind of disproportionally up compared to what we have in the library, we then make our videographers aware of that. So they can go shoot with insight, and make more money.

Alex Ferrari 55:18
And you or your company and yourself, and you're pretty transparent as far as your revenue and what you make. Do you mind telling us what you what the company made last year and this year, so people understand the scope of what videoblocks has become?

Joel Holland 55:33
Sure, yeah. So last year, we did a little over $20 million in revenue, and this year will do closer to 30. And you're 26 to 30? And you're a private company still? Yes, yep. private company. We have about 80 employees based out of the Washington DC area. And yeah, we've still got you know, we're still very much that startup small business hustle company. And, and we love that and, and it's been really fun to you know, so so a year and a half ago, we launched our marketplace on video blocks, where anybody listening great can go to contribute videoblocks comm sign up for free to start selling footage. And basically when a member, so we're gonna leave 150,000 members, when they search for something on video blocks, they look for first usually look at our unlimited library to try and find something for free included with their membership. But if they can't find it, we then also put marketplace results in there. And those clips are $49 for an HD shot, or 199 for 4k. And if they buy through the Marketplace, 100% of those proceeds go straight to the shooter. No, so yeah, 100% so so like, you know, if you're listening to this, and you have footage you want to sell, unlike our competitors who keep, like Shutterstock keeps 70% of every sale. We We We pay twice as much. So because we pay 100%, you end up making twice as much as you make with our competitors. And so that's become very, you know, that marketplace went from zero clips to it'll be at 3 million clips by the end of this year, of course. And I think we're gonna pay out something like $6 million to contributors this year. That's amazing. Yeah, so so like that. And we don't include By the way, we don't include that in our revenues, I want to talk about the revenue number. That's just our membership fees. Because all these marketplace sales, it goes right back to the Creator, to the creative community. So that's been that's been really fun. So you

Alex Ferrari 57:37
know, for So what advice would you have for filmmakers who might want to get into the stock footage game and generate another stream of income because it could be I mean, if if you live in a certain area that is remote, or you have something unique, or you could just shoot unique footage of certain things, this could be a nice little revenue stream to help to help make your movies in the future.

Joel Holland 58:02
I would say if you're not already selling, you know, your excess footage as stock footage, it's a no brainer, you have to do it. And we have, you know, we have videographer contributors who are making six figures this year, right? Like you're gonna make 100 to $200,000 this year, while sitting back just from us. And by the way, they're also selling through Shutterstock and our other competitors. So while they're focusing on their films and their documentaries, they're making significant money that's just in the background. And it's just every month that you know that the payments are coming in the door, and it supports their it supports their art. Totally and totally. And the thing is, you've already done the hard work, right? Like if you're, if you're doing a film that takes place in you know, whatever, Columbus, Ohio, well take all the cutting room floor stuff, and just turn them into 15 to 32nd clips, you don't have to do anything to them, right, you don't even have to color them right no audio, no colorization needed. Just upload them to video blocks costs you nothing. And if it sells you get a pay day. So it's really the only cost is not actually monetary. But it's you have to keyword you have to put in keywords and a title. And so that takes a little bit of time, but not that much time. And I think it's more than offset by the money you make.

Alex Ferrari 59:22
So what I'm doing what you're telling me is I have to go back to all of my raw footage now over the last 20 years and start looking for stuff to upload to you guys.

Joel Holland 59:30
Totally. But don't get overwhelmed. I would like to set it set a goal of 10 clips a day, right? Every day, pick 10 clips at some point throughout the day while you're having your morning coffee, export them, upload them straight to the website, boom done, you're off to the races.

Alex Ferrari 59:48
It's pretty it's pretty remarkable Actually, that's actually a really it's amazing and and again, when we talk about any full muscle all the time is it's like creating revenue streams to from your business. But also just created so you can can make a living doing your art. And this could be a possibility for a lot of filmmakers out there, especially documentary filmmakers, but even other filmmakers were just in their area and they own their own camera. Like why don't you go out and shoot something and put it up? It doesn't cost you anything. It takes time. That's it. That's it. It's pretty, pretty amazing. Now can you real quick, can you speak a little bit about the technical specs needed to submit the footage, submit footage to a video blocks?

Joel Holland 1:00:28
Sure. So we accept high definition or better. So basically, HD or 4k. You know, as long as the shot we do have a quality review team, but as long as the shots are unique, or just well shot, right, use a tripod, make sure it's not shaky iPhone footage, like that will get rejected. But if it's well shot, you just, you know, you upload it and and that's it. So there's really not a lot of restrictions or requirements. So any camera you're using, like, for example, I always have my five D Mark three with me. And if I come across something interesting, I put it on a tripod, I shoot some HD footage, I upload it, but I also shoot with my my red Scarlet x and we support you can you can upload your art 3d files straight to the website, which is we're the only company lets you do that. And so we'll then take those files, and automatically put them down, resize them into 4k, and HD and make the er 3d file available. But so so basically, we do all the heavy lifting on the back end. So you just have to upload a file will automatically re compress it into the various formats that are needed.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:39
And do support like, like the Blackmagic cinema RAW files or anything like that yet, or just would you do we'd have to do all that the transferring over to HD or 4k first.

Joel Holland 1:01:51
Yeah, so you know, something like Blackmagic I don't, we don't support the native files. But if you just kick it out to an H 264, or a photo JPEG is kind of my preferred and then upload that, you know that so that's the that's usually the workflow is is kick it out to, you know, as long as a.mo. v file, whether it's h 264, or photo jpg, we take it from there.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:20
Now, um, can you explain real quick, in just because I talk about this so much, can you please explain the importance of marketing, to your business and to every venture in your world, even marketing to a girl to get her to go on a date with you. That's called marketing.

Joel Holland 1:02:38
Totally, totally. So here's the easiest analogy that comes to my mind when you ask that. Think back to our like, eighth grade, basic math equations. Multiplication equation, so you have a great idea, multiplied by zero, equals zero. So it doesn't matter how great the idea is, whether it's a billion dollar idea, or a million dollar idea, a billion times zero equals zero. And that, you know, that second holder is the marketing. So you can take a great idea, multiply it by decent marketing, and you'll have decent results, you can take a terrible idea, multiply it by great marketing, you'll have decent results, or you can take a great idea, multiply it by great marketing, and you'll have outrageously great results. And so, you know, I think, you know, when it comes to marketing, a lot of people say and you know, especially for filmmakers, like that's the part I'm uncomfortable with, right? Like, I love making it, I love creating it, but like I just don't want to have to go out there and talk about myself and promote and shamelessly promote, like, I'm the artist, I'm just the I'm Yeah, but you know, when it turns out, like that's part of the game. And if you believe in your film, and you want it to get the proper distribution, you're going to have to whore yourself out a bit. And that's right, like, that's just how it goes. And and the analogy I'd make is to public speaking, a lot of people are very uncomfortable getting up and speaking in front of other people. But it turns out that you can overcome that through practice. So anybody who says I can't speak publicly, it means they just haven't done it right, then you can't get up and do it. And the more you do it, the more comfortable you get doing it. Probably the same with filmmaking, right like you look back to the first film you ever made, you probably think it shipped. The first stuff I shot I'm like that is garbage. But the more you do it, the better you get. It's the same thing with marketing, you know, you just you just you got to start putting the word out there, it's gonna be uncomfortable, but soon, you're gonna love it and realize it's just part of the game and a great film times great marketing equals great distribution.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:39
And can you talk quickly about the power of the email list? Yeah, totally. Because that's another thing we talked about and, and filmmakers like, like what do you would do with an email list? I'm like you did you have no idea. So please explain.

Joel Holland 1:04:53
So first of all, email is not dead. I think emails the most is single handedly the most powerful. marketing platform there is right, it's it because the the return on investment is outrageously high. So, you know, unlike Google AdWords, where you have to spend a fortune to get those clicks, once you've collected an email address your cost of having that email and using that email, it's almost zero, right? If you're hopefully using MailChimp, or some other great outlet like that, you're paying a little bit each month. But you can then send this you can send emails, you know, weekly, bi weekly, and get people to, you know, to engage with your with your product or film. And so number one, email is not dead. Number two, don't be afraid to email more. I think a lot of people are like, oh, everybody hates email, I need to back off on email. But you know what you don't, the reality is, most people send too few emails. And if you're only saying email, once a month, you actually run the risk of your list going cold, and people forgetting who you are, and losing engagement. So if you're emailing weekly, and don't spam them, like send something interesting, useful, but you know, keeping up weekly correspondence is very powerful. So that's number two. And number three, don't be afraid to ask for, you know, for a task for a sale, whether that's actually physically like saying, hey, buy this or saying, hey, go view this, or, you know, or introduce us to somebody, like, having a call to action and email is very important. So, right, it

Alex Ferrari 1:06:27
goes with the whole Gary Vaynerchuk, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, vibe, you know that book, right?

Joel Holland 1:06:33
Yeah, totally. It's a totally, if you don't ask, you're not gonna, you won't receive right, like you must ask to receive. And so there's nothing wrong with having a call to action. And make sure it's clear. And there's only one, like, don't have an email full of a million things to do have an email with a very concise one call to action that you want them to do, whether it's by your film, watch your film, help people, you know, hear about your film. Just one thing. Yeah. It's

Alex Ferrari 1:06:59
kind of like, how'd you get that? How'd you get that interview with our Schwarzenegger? I asked. I asked.

Joel Holland 1:07:06
Over and over again.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:07
So, last two questions I asked this are the questions of all of my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn, whether in life or in the business?

Joel Holland 1:07:19
It's a great question. I think the lesson goes back to something we discussed earlier, which is I tried to do everything myself for too long. and realized that hiring people or getting other people involved is uncomfortable, which is a reason that I think a lot of us don't do it. It costs money. Right? So that's another reason we don't do it. Trust trust as well. Yeah, exactly. And then relinquishing control is scary. But as soon as I did it, as soon as I like started hiring people, getting other people involved, I immediately saw the light realize, dammit, I wish I'd done this earlier. Because, you know, my first customer service representative, she was wonderful, she was much better than I was with the customers. So the customers were happy. And all of a sudden, I had so many more hours in my week. My first marketing guy, he was so good at marketing, and all of a sudden, I had so many more hours in my week to spend on like building the company. So I think that's the lesson is you need to, you need to get other people involved earlier, right? Like, don't be afraid it's gonna be uncomfortable. It's gonna cost money, but I promise you, it'll pay back, you know, dividends,

Alex Ferrari 1:08:36
big time. And then what are your three favorite films of all time?

Joel Holland 1:08:42
Whoa, that's a tough one. Alright, so let me think about this. Okay, so home alone. I love home.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:54
It's not Christmas unless you watch home alone. And until you watch that hard, but that's just me.

Joel Holland 1:08:59
Yes. So it's like my answers are not going to be deep they're not gonna be like a sci fi 100 like no, no, no, I I'm just thinking about like the films that I will go back to time and time again. And every Christmas it's home alone. You know, for comedies, old school, I think it's just one of the I just love old school. It's just classic Will Ferrell movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:23
Probably one of his best.

Joel Holland 1:09:24
I think probably one of his best and all the others are like templates of it but and then you know, third for like an action movie godfather two. I mean, I think it's just that is a classic. So good. So good. So

Alex Ferrari 1:09:37
so good. So um, where can people find you Joel and your companies.

Joel Holland 1:09:43
Totally. So if you go to Joel Kent holland.com it will just redirect you to my LinkedIn profile. But that's the best way to connect with me. And you know, I love it when a lot of people connect with me on there. It's just a great way to stay in touch. You'll Have my up to date contact information, my email addresses on there, it's all it's all there. So connect with me on LinkedIn and then for videoblocks you know she's videoblocks comm if you're a contributor and you want to make money, and it costs nothing, go to contribute dot videoblocks comm sign up is super simple. And then for graphics and photos, it's Graphic Stock comm for music and sound effects. It's audioblocks.com

Alex Ferrari 1:10:26
Sounds good, Joel man, you've been a wonderful guest, man, thank you so much for spending time talking with me today.

Joel Holland 1:10:32
Well, thank you, Alex, this has been a lot of fun.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:35
So guys, I told you it was you know, Joel is definitely that definition of hustle without question. You know, I wish I would have been his age during the times of this technology because I was hustling out at garage sales and doing all sorts of things to make my money at when he was at that same age. 12 1314 years old. I wish I would have had eBay, I wish I would have had Amazon, I wish I would have been able to start my own online business back then. But hey, it's just where the chips fell. That's just the year I was born, unfortunately. But, but I did go through the 80s though. And that was that was a lot of fun. But anyway, guys, I really hope you got a lot out of that Joel is an inspiration to me. And I'm hoping to turn indie film hustle into a $30 million company within the next two or three years. So let's, let's rock and roll guys. But, but no, seriously, I I'm really impressed with Joel and what he's been able to do. And he's an example of seriously what happens when you put your mind to it and just hustle hustle hard man and, and that's hopefully a lesson that all of us can take from Him and His story is that there is no limit to what you can achieve. As long as you hustle, and you do it smart and you learn and you just keep going and going and persistence is one of the keys to success in any area of your life. I'm telling you guys persistence and hustle is gonna get you much farther than just raw talent. All right, or luck for that matter. As always if you want to get the Show Notes for this episode, it's indie film hustle.com forward slash 103 and again, I want to thank everybody who is it decided to jump in on that special one month free of the indie film syndicate man I know you guys I see what you guys are watching you guys are watching a lot talking a lot on the Facebook groups and and really just enjoying the syndicate. So makes me really happy to see you guys inside and joining. So if you guys want to take a look at what all the hoopla is about, head over to indie film syndicate.com. And guys, if you really love the podcast, I would really greatly appreciate you heading over to filmmaking podcast calm and leaving a good review on iTunes. It really helps us out a lot guys and I would personally appreciate it a lot. And guys also don't forget we have a comedy fundraiser on Saturday, October 22 at the ice house in Pasadena, California at 8pm. And it's going to have basically a bunch of the stars from this is Meg are going to go out there and put on a show we're going to paint the barn get dressed up and put on a show and and all proceeds of the of the night. We'll go to this is Meg to help us with Film Festival submissions. Some extra post stuff that we need to get done, and all sorts of stuff like that, but it would really help us out a lot. I'll be there. It's going to be Joe reitman who plays Eric in the movie, Carlos I was rocky who's plays the the amazing Tony Eckhart. We also have Shawn polaski who plays Cheryl in the movie and of course make herself Julie will be there and I will be there as well. Don't worry, I won't be doing stand up. I will just be in the audience. So again, it's at the ice house in Pasadena for tickets call six to 65771894 and it's only 20 bucks guys for a great night. Great night out. All right, so keep that hustle going keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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