Today on the show we have filmmaker and author Josh Folan. He's a writer/director/editor/producer/actor – though not necessarily in that order – that began professionally making things people watch on screens in 2005, prior to which he studied finance at The Ohio State University.
Filmmaking highlights since founding NYEH Entertainment in 2008 include 2018 Hamptons/Woodstock/Napa selection Ask For Jane, 2017 SXSW audience award winner The Light of the Moon, 2015 Slamdance selection BODY, 2015 Raindance selection The Lives of Hamilton Fish, 2016 SOHO Int’l selection and 2017 Queens World best screenplay nominee catch 22: based on the unwritten story by seanie sugrue.
His new book, Still Filmmaking, the Hard Way, is a detailed recounting of the step-by-step process of the development, production, and distribution of three micro-budget feature films with one critical commonality – producer and fifteen-year independent filmmaking veteran Josh Folan.
Josh walks the reader through each and every painstaking step of the making of three sub-$250,000 USD films featured in the case study – Ask For Jane, Love Is Dead!, catch 22 – while explaining, scrutinizing, and contrasting the experience in a voice intended to entertain, not lecture.
The experience of producing sixteen feature films and a bevy of short, episodic, and commercial projects inform the words herein, across which countless mistakes and learning experiences were had by the author. Still Filmmaking, the Hard Way offers readers the opportunity to learn this laundry list of lessons at a tiny fraction of the cost of crippling your own film’s micro-budget.
Enjoy my conversation with Josh Folan.
Alex Ferrari 2:21
Now, guys, today on the show, we have writer, director, editor, producer, actor and author, Josh Folan. Now Josh is a 15 year veteran in the independent filmmaking game. And he started to sit down and write a book to share his misadventures, what he has learned and all the different ways that he's put together multiple films over the years. His book is called still filmmaking the hard way. And Josh walks you through the painstaking step by step process of making three sub 250k budgeted films while explaining scrutinizing and contracting the experience and the voice intended to entertain and not lecture. I had a ball talking to Josh, and I can't wait to share this episode with you. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Josh fullan like to welcome to the show Josh Folan man How you doing Josh?
Josh Folan 3:22
Good, man. Thank you for having me.
Alex Ferrari 3:24
Oh, thanks for being on the show. Brother. I'm a fan of your book. Still filmmaking the hard way I feel like we might it I feel that we might have been cut from the same cloth a bit because you're as jaded and have as much shrapnel as I do probably this
Josh Folan 3:44
is their picture I don't know it's all relative but I certainly have my share
Alex Ferrari 3:47
Yeah, your battle hardened sir. As they say you are battle hardened so I
Josh Folan 3:53
did 11 years into our 13 years in yc and then two more in LA now so 15 years on those in those two places doing this shit yeah.
Alex Ferrari 4:01
Yeah, you've got you've got some scars got some scars. So first before we get started, man, how did you get into the business?
Josh Folan 4:09
Oh, I started I mean I backgrounds fine. I went to school finance. So have states and work briefly and that before moving out to New York for in front of the camera stuff, and I was there a couple of months Actually, I booked something for comedy central kind of sent me down the acting path, took some classes, will you mess for studios and some on camera stuff got a job on one of the soaps and working on there. I was on there for like three years on my children. ABC. And it was it was good. It was you know, reoccurring you five day player thing. It wasn't a contract or anything but it was a nice first real job for sure. And while I was on that show another guy and I started producing theater with the actual important soap stars there. They sell tickets and have fans that are pretty rabid. So we did okay with that and towards the tail end of my run on that. show a I did some really bad horror film six kids locked in a house kind of thing. And the other male lead and I had a had similar horror thriller kind of scripts and interned i evety, we decided to go out and try to raise financing for the two of them at once, as if having two products. So obviously in tears, because it's
Alex Ferrari 5:19
easier, it's much easier to get money for two projects, right?
Josh Folan 5:24
That actually would have been maybe smarter. We were thinking that just like having two options, like pick one, like they're, you know, apples and oranges or something. Did
Alex Ferrari 5:33
you think that at any moment, it was going to just like, like, when should the money drop? It should be dropping? Of course,
Josh Folan 5:40
you know? Well, I don't know. I honestly, it's so long ago. And I tend to be a I wouldn't say glass half empty, but the glass is exactly 50%. Right. So I don't expect great thing happen. I anticipate here in my nose. But there's certainly no way you can anticipate the number and the type of nose you're going to hear. Before you tried to raise financing for for film for sure. Especially with no experience, like, you know, it's it's like why in God's name? Would anyone give you money to make a movie until you shown you can do that activity? To bring it to fruition? You know what I mean? Like, why would anyone do that? So, yeah, it's it's not easy to start. And certainly we had our difficulties. But But
Alex Ferrari 6:23
isn't it isn't it insane that our business is the I mean, you don't hear someone going, I'm gonna go build a house. I need you to give me $400,000 I'm gonna go but I've never built a house ever. But I've seen HGTV. And I feel strongly that I have a vision and I think we can do it. And I know running
Josh Folan 6:46
with everything they say on the shows I wish would be set.
Alex Ferrari 6:49
But that's kind of the that's kind of the insanity of filmmakers in general. Like we I mean, I'm, I'm guilty of it, you obviously were guilty of it, we all
Josh Folan 6:58
have this, there's no way you get to that first step that first rung on the ladder without that blind leap of faith and just bumping your head into a wall until it happens, you know,
Alex Ferrari 7:05
and then every once in a while, that guy or that gal gets the million dollars because I've worked on those projects. Sure, it's some dumb money, said, Hey, I want to I want to invest in this kid. Let's go for it. And I've been in those projects and you just see this. Rarely does it come out. Okay. I mean, you're talking about miniscule.
Josh Folan 7:28
Yep, just the company even into even into my career that the project that I'm covering in the book here, I mean, to that we shot in 2015 17 and 18 Yeah, and that's, you know, over six years into my career on the first one there so I've been doing it for a while and done enough films to not shoot they're like I have no idea what I'm doing and even in those cases the money came to every one of them and like random ass unexpected ways that were almost exclusively a product or a function of just the the past until something bites and that's you know, you'll collect your nose to collect your nose Simple as that and that makes the the yes that much better. But understand that you're going to be collecting a lot of those and you know, you never know what the yes is going to be so expect knows
Alex Ferrari 8:16
expect those and expect to start collecting as many of them as possible because the more you collect the closer you are to someone saying yes, precisely.
Josh Folan 8:24
And it's quite law of averages
Alex Ferrari 8:26
on the lower edges and it could take not only it's not gonna take six months, it could take three or four years sometimes especially when you're starting out and don't have a track record. Now when you are so you're going to start your movie so let's say there's filmmakers listening right now that Okay, we have this movie we want to try to go raise money should you defined the audience for that film prior to the development of it even like should you know who you're going to sell this to?
Josh Folan 8:57
I think you know there's it never hurts it's never bad to do the work it's never a bad plan. I think with smaller projects you know it split first time like we you know we made a copy but God only knows how many pages it was business plan with all these sales projections where you're depending on completely unfounded comparison projects that was a horror film in your mind at the time it was a horror film oh well the my very first film was you know we it was we call it it's a it's a love story. It happens to happen in a really fucked up dark place between a serial killer and a prostitute was my personal so we were able to market it.
Alex Ferrari 9:35
So in the projections did you use Blair Witch?
Josh Folan 9:39
We probably did.
Alex Ferrari 9:41
Everyone, everywhere. I'm sure we did. Every everyone uses Blair Witch, a paranormal activity. Like the biggest unicorns in the last three decades.
Josh Folan 9:51
unicorn is a great word for it. Yeah. And you know, so I mean that Yeah, and honestly, it's just, it doesn't. It's not bad to know that stuff. So when you have the car conversations you have some sort of at least basis, you know, I think it's more important, I find when talking with investors to be wildly, especially going through it now a number of times to be wildly transparent, because it's actually more, I think attention garnering to have a conversation with someone who has money, particularly if there's someone who does any investing with regularity at all, to hear someone sit down, the first thing they say is you need to be okay with losing this money. That's like, that's something that they don't hear. Because they're people who are, you know, people are trying to be sold, or who are being sold things all the time. I don't hear that maybe ever, but let alone as the first thing said in the conversation. So in one in one aspect, it's it just gets attention and get someone to listen to you, maybe that's a, here's these this type of thing all the time, but it's also on us. And if you want to create any sort of longevity in this career, in this in this line of work as a producer, like you don't, especially if someone with money, you don't want to burn that bridge. So if you walk into it being completely transparent about what the the realistic side of this business, and and find people who want to invest in your projects, for a reason other than the independent film businesses about, unfortunately, I don't think in my opinion, you know, in the ultra low budget sector, I'm saying, you know, those projections mean more when more money is at stake when
Alex Ferrari 11:15
started, like bigger stars, or it's play, yeah, use things
Josh Folan 11:18
that actually can be quantified, because you can't quantify so many aspects of these very small projects, you know, it's up to 50k projects, you can't quantify these things with any realistic metric. So trying to qualify them with investors. And and and, and the way you put the project together, in some sort of ultra quantifiable way is completely unrealistic. And then there has to do it
Alex Ferrari 11:42
there. But they're the only way I can even think of doing that is if you have certain cast of involved and then you can use their former, a former projections of what they've made on other films in similar genres. And you can go look, we got lucky, you're not going to get Nicolas Cage in that in that movie. But let's say you get Michael Madsen or Danny Trejo and in that in that world, and you've paid him for a day to come out and shoot out the
Josh Folan 12:07
scenes, and these are quantifiable things in the foreign sales market, sure, but I think, you know, I think even that is, Oh, no, it's a small project. It's super unrealistic, you
Alex Ferrari 12:15
know? No, it isn't, it's, it's something, it's something you might be able to hang your hat on. But it's not something that it's
Josh Folan 12:20
especially if you're working, like I like to make, you know, festival targeted, kind of do clever people in rooms, talking kind of movies that have something to say, it's even more undefinable there, if you want to do Danny Trejo are working in these genre movies, these things that are do have a quantifiable foreign marketplace for them. Where that can be can be determined. But you know, I mean, I talked to sales agents about some of these movies, dramas and stuff. And they're like, it's, I mean, it's an execution base. That's what they call it execution based. So base means that they're not gonna give you shit right now, if you bring me a good movie, and it has something I can sell after you do it. Let's talk money in the development stages, they have no value, realistically, not me. So
Alex Ferrari 13:03
and I noticed that you keep your budgets low, under 250. Now, a lot of filmmakers listening will say, but Josh, I can't make my movie for less than a million. I mean, I just can't I need two and a half million to make this film, I have to have this to make it. I've been preaching from the top of the mountain for such a long time. Like, if you can make your movie for 15 grand, and it looks good. And you can sell it for 30 you are in a business. Right? You're not gonna live off, you can tell
Josh Folan 13:38
if that if you want that to be your mantra, then by all means, have it like you know, I'm not gonna, that's that's, you know, we talked about this kind of the, the film industry is such a, who the hell, you know, you just don't know what's going to happen. And you know, there's things do shoot to the moon sometimes and like, how am I gonna tell anyone what they're doing is wrong. Like, if that's your thing, and you think you can do it that way. And you whether you do or don't have a plan to get there, like, I'm not going to tell you not to do it. I will tell you realistically, someone who that's what the book is like, these are, these are the roadmaps to make your movie. These are three things I did step by step. And that's how I did it. Like, I hope you can learn from that. I can't tell you it's transferable every film project is its own unique problems. And good luck with it. You know, like all you can do is educate yourself as much as possible and bump into the shit you have to bump into on the way to the finish line. Hope you hope you get there. But you know it certainly if you are more realistic about putting together a project, especially if you don't have a lot of experience where you you don't have a track record that is quantifiable, like good luck. But it's a whole lot easier if you meter yourself and come up with an idea that can be done at an executable amount of money that you can convince whoever you have to convince around YouTube to finance it, that either you can make their money back if that is their core project. No. And that's something you have to determine feel and be responsible and honest about when when when you're When you're having these conversations, or if you find someone who's willing to invest in you or wants to invest in art or in the case of after Jane, that's a movie that has a borderline documentary component to it or, or social justice component to it that has, you know, our financing came to that, because it had something to say about something that matter to the women who paid for it. And and you know, they want to make their money back. Of course, everyone, no one wants to lose money. Unless you're I don't know, I shouldn't say that. Who knows?
Alex Ferrari 15:27
No, there's no I've met I've met a couple of those guys are like, Yeah, I just wanted a lot. Can I just come on set my next break, it's gonna make it the taxpayer, I just want to come on set, I want to hang out with the actors, and I want to do the red carpet, and maybe go to a festival or two, this is why I'm giving you $200,000 it happens. You know,
Josh Folan 15:42
that's, that's still not wanting to lose money. But it's not the reason they're investing in it. Exactly. And, you know, yeah, and afternoon was exactly what was absolutely an example of that. They wanted to tell this story about a group of women who advocated for women's reproductive rights in a time when they weren't being properly advocated for or being properly respected by a lot of people, you know what I mean? So that's why we got to make that movie because we found someone who cared about what the movie meant, not because we were trying to create a commercial product that was going to be financially viable in the long run, you know what I mean? Hopefully, we can make it happen that way, in the long run, but who knows, you know,
Alex Ferrari 16:19
but who knows, but you have a niche, but you have a niche audience with that. I mean, you have a nice name and a small niche. It's a fairly large niche,
Josh Folan 16:27
especially right now. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 16:29
Especially right now. So it is a timely film. There's an audience for that film. And I think
Josh Folan 16:35
we did incredibly well with festivals and
Alex Ferrari 16:38
I'm sure no, it's a festival darling. So I was like, please,this is perfect.
Josh Folan 16:43
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, the funny thing is, you know, I came on to that after the script stage, for the most part we did we build with it a little right before we shot, but basically, that script was done. When I came on board as producer, and Kate and Rachel, the women who, you know, were the catalyst for, for putting that script together. You know, when they started writing it, it was pre election, they had no idea that it was going to become that. And that's a perfect example. It's another filmmaking lesson to like, the whole idea. When you talk to the sales agents, they'll tell you this thing is hot right now religious, faith films or, you know, films or any money right now, why don't you try to do one of those, and I can help you put that together. And you can chase that. But what are the odds that the thing that is working right now, three years from now, two years from now, when you get this whole thing to the line, and it's right, it's still going to be relevant, it's almost, it's highly unlikely. So you're much better served, in my opinion, making the films that you want to watch, that's what I make, I make movies that I would want to watch. And whatever happens happens, at least I can stand by knowing that. That's the core value of it. You know, that's the core purpose of this. And whatever happens, I have to accept it. But if you chase those things, and it goes wrong, like that's got to be just soul crushing.
Alex Ferrari 17:54
Oh, oh, trust pair about? Oh, yeah, we I think I've been there. I've you know, I, I tried to like when I when I was, I had a project that was floating around the town around town, we had talent attached, we had all this stuff, taking meetings left and right. And it was of the moment, which is, which is funny, because of the moment, it was a little bit ahead of its time. It was like maybe two, three years ahead of its time. And but it was still kind of like that whole vibe of what was going on this action movie I was doing. And then it was just like, oh, nobody wants a female lead action star. Like that's, we can't
Josh Folan 18:28
what you can't get made. You have one now. So yeah,
Alex Ferrari 18:31
I mean, I can't You can't do that. It's not there's no box office stuff. So there was that whole thing. And then now it's, it's come back into vogue. So you just, you just don't know, I mean, look, when Passion of the Christ came out. First of all, nobody saw that one coming. And then all of a sudden, faith based, like faith based film started popping up everywhere, because oh, there's a market here. Let's make some money. And that's, that's what what happened. So you just can't, you've never never know. Now, what are a few things you wish you would have known before making your first film?
Josh Folan 19:01
You know, it's actually I just took a project such a short film for the first time film until I quit talking to them about whether or not it was a fit on both sides of the thing. They were asking kind of a similar question to that like what what would you what you know, what, what do we need to know that we don't know? And I'm like, the biggest thing probably you should know is that you need to accept what you don't know and stop trying to fix it. Like don't don't try to anticipate like shits gonna happen it's going to go back days are going to go awry, things aren't going to go according to plan. And the biggest thing you need to do is understand that you need to be open to whatever those constraints end up being and be adaptable. And like you know, you can I am a wildly over the top organized preparation mind individual contingencies for contingencies, etc, etc. So you can do all that and again, just like we were talking about with the the underlying business plan to a project, you should do all that work so you know what it is, know what the skeleton of whatever you're doing is But understand that when you get there on the day of that all goes out the window, just like a shot list like time might run out, you know, we might not be able to get that thing, we lose light, this goes wrong. This issue right now 4 million things can go wrong. So have a plan, but understand that that plan is probably going to be useless on the day of and understand that you have to be able to adapt to whatever the situation is. And there's no preparation for that other than being open minded. You know what I mean?
Alex Ferrari 20:25
Right. And, and I, I noticed that too, because when I've been on set with directors, I always find that the directors who cannot pivot and adjust and roll with the punches, they they crumble, because they like but but I but I need the sun to stop moving. I'm like, well, dude, that's just not the way that works. They're rigid. If you're rigid in the filmmaking process, you're dead. You if Spielberg and Nolan have to worry about the sun, so do you? I mean, now, right? Yeah. And now, not now, not as much with the virtual production of the Mandalorian, where you could have a sunset for 12 hours?
Josh Folan 21:03
Sure, sure. Yeah, it makes something but even that case that you have to zorbing amount of money to facilitate that sort of,
Alex Ferrari 21:08
you still have 12 hours, you still only have 12 hours to get what you need. Yep, I'm sorry.
Josh Folan 21:14
Yep. No, yeah, I mentioned that we're going to ask for Jane, Rachel Carrie, the director that just, you know, first time feature, she done a pilot and a couple smaller projects prior to, but like, I just couldn't, you know, it's, you can say these things, and they might read them in books before they get on set. But you don't know how amenable someone's going to be. So you get there on the day of and you see, how can they actually deal with it? Can they solve that problem with a million people around them, asking them questions, etc, etc. and all that pressure being on him and she just did an amazing job of like, whatever, you know, we had, you know, we shot that a period piece, the late 60s period piece with 7072 locations like I'm 70 something locations, most are at some locations. 74 speaking roles. 24 shoot days, with, you know, a quarter million bucks.
Alex Ferrari 22:04
That was under those under 250. Yeah, oh, yeah. That's, that's impressive
Josh Folan 22:09
period, period cars. I mean, a lot of it, we, you know, we, to her credit to writing the script, she did a good job of keeping things internal, and, you know, contained environments that we could properly dressed, at least to some degree or another to maintain that we obviously weren't getting any sweeping street shots or anything like that with wine period cars, we had a few period cars, and those were their own pain in the ass and very expensive. But, you know, they were they were mitigated to some degree. But yeah, I mean, you know, whatever the with all those variables, whatever the hell came up, she was able to just go, Okay, well, what are our options? You know, and like, that's as a producer that is like that, that's the dream director, thing to come out of their mouth. It's like, what are our options? Let me choose one, you know, as opposed to freaking out and know, those options don't work. You know, which is not the way to approach this stuff. Because you can't it's it's of no benefit to freak out. We're not gonna get to the finish line. If you freak out. You know what I mean?
Alex Ferrari 22:59
And I find that a lot of the A lot of times when you have those limitations, the magic shows up that would never have shown up before if you would have done it as you planned. It's never as good as what happened on the day because this actor Yeah, this act with this camera, this lighting this scenario, this magic, you've got to be there ready to capture the lightning in the bottle and not try to control everything. Unless you're Cooper coffee or Fincher. And then that's fine. And that's their process. But even then, I'm sure there's magic that happens on the day.
Josh Folan 23:32
Yeah, yeah, that's, that's, you know, that's that's how you get there being that creative, like, you know, keeping that muscle going and exercise. As trite as that may sound like that is the way you get good at this stuff is to learn how to adapt and deal with whatever comes up and yeah, the can story I've told probably a million times about that very first feature all God's creatures we looked at we wanted we wanted it we had this movie theater scene and we we want to claw machine in a movie theater lobby. And that was like that was very important that that happened in the movie theater lobby, because they're going to go see movie after it's so important to me at the writer and tell us everyone in the project. And we looked all over still in New York at the time, we looked all over finding a claw machine in the movie theater lobby love to shoot there for literally borderline zero location budget just not happening. Of course, we end up I lived on 100. And I don't know how you know, you're out in New York, but I lived up in Spanish Harlem at the time. And right in the corner. I lived on 100 and 10th. And first between first and second Avenue, and on 100 and 10th. And Second Avenue. There was a bodega with a claw machine outside that I walked by every day in pre production while we're looking for this location, and we couldn't find it. We couldn't find it. We couldn't find it and I was walking around one day and I was like we're making this gritty love story fucked up love story between these two dark people like a serial killer and a prostitute in New York City. It is 100% in line with what we're trying to do here for this scene to happen in this grimy outside some grimy bodega as opposed to in this beautifully lit pretty movie theater lobby. Oh my god, and I go in there Talk to the bodega guy into it in like five minutes, we have a solution. And it ended up catering to what the overall aesthetic of the film was infinitely more so than if we got the thing we thought we needed. You know what I mean? And, and that is a product of problem solving that ended exactly that ended up serving what our end goal really was. And we didn't even know it.
Alex Ferrari 25:17
So gotta be Yeah. Okay. Have that. Yeah, exactly. And have those antennas open. For when that happens. You got to be open to it. Because a lot of times, filmmakers are just like this. And they're closed off. And like, this is my fishing in I my vision that I've been with for six months, a year with this script. This is the only way it can be.
Josh Folan 25:39
I sat in that room all alone, and I had it exactly, exactly.
Alex Ferrari 25:43
To be a slot machine in a movie theater. And in the carpet needs to be read, like me like, and that's the stupidity that we do is for me, I did that too. Like we all did that, like, oh, it has to be this and it has to be that. But as you get older, and you do more of these things, you just kind of go doesn't have to be read. I think what we'll have to do we have to have blue, blue, fine. Let's move on.
Josh Folan 26:08
to other industries, though, like, you know, that's a perfect example, like what other industry would you be, you know, that rigid about every aspect of what, you know, what you're trying to do professionally? Like, it's such a weird business and that
Alex Ferrari 26:23
I mean, architecture and construction, I mean, essentially, you can't really freeball a whole lot. Once the construction is going on, like hey, you know what, I thought I wanted to move the wall over there. Like that's one of the businesses,
Josh Folan 26:37
but it's it's not it's certainly not it's it's more, it's not the norm.
Alex Ferrari 26:40
It's no, it's definitely it's definitely not the norm is definitely the norm. And also surgery. I would rather not my surgeon that kind of like, you know, man,
Josh Folan 26:50
I got some friends that work in medical device sales and stuff, and I've heard some crazy stories.
Alex Ferrari 26:57
Now, um, one thing that we that a lot of filmmakers Don't even think about, and it's not talked about a lot is how can a production protect themselves legally? Before going into production in production and post production? Like, what are some of the some tips on how to protect themselves legally, you know, basic stuff. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Josh Folan 27:29
For small budget projects, the best answer to that is good, good, good, good, good friend, that's a lawyer. Right? Of course, that's the answer. Because it's tough to find good legal advice, inexpensively for sure. Um, you know, I mean, you know, do your homework, there's enough at this point, there's no such thing, I think in 2021 of the beautiful things about working in film now as opposed to what it would have been like, pre internet days, which I don't even know most mostly, but listen, this probably came you can see that but you know, when I was first getting started was right kind of infancy stage. And I was like some of the things we had to do location scouting, trying to find some of the some of the things that we need is more production variables. Like without the you know, I don't know how that ever happened without the internet to be honest with you, but Oh,
Alex Ferrari 28:09
I remember it. I'm old enough, sir. Yeah, I remember. Oh, yeah. I'm a bit old. I'm a bit older.
Josh Folan 28:16
My late 20s So I didn't. My my I remember film fucking difficult.
Alex Ferrari 28:21
I remember film I remember filmed. I remember having to go into a dark bag and change film mags. And you only had 10 minutes at a time. It was BB. It was incredible time. It was insane. Eric is it was a barbaric time, where sometimes the PA would open up the can and ruin the last 10 minutes of footage. And you lost six hours. I've been there too. Oh, yes, it was it was a joyous time.
Josh Folan 28:48
Yeah, yeah. Anyway, the point, the point would be that there, you know, there's no such thing as not knowing how to do something anymore, kind of you can find an answer or someone who has the answer. Anywhere, you know what I mean, or about anything really, for the most part, and ask you honestly, if you can't find it on your own. I have found whether it be reaching out to filmmakers about you know, distribution companies they've worked with, or whatever it might be. filmmakers, especially in the dependent sector are very open to having conversations and helping be helpful and like I am wildly, wildly advocate for that, because I think all of our jobs and lives would be much easier if we were more transparent, more helpful, etc, etc. But I don't think there's any shortage of that necessarily. And if you just do the work, to ask people who and you have to do the work to know who has walked whatever that path is that you want to know about? Whether it be a certain legal question, or a certain production question or whatever it might be. But reaching out to those people and asking how to help you do this, like if someone saw some wildly difficult problem, they're probably gonna be all too excited to to tout and talk about how they accomplish this very difficult thing. So asking questions and doing the research, whatever it might be. legal things, or otherwise, is always the answer. If you don't have that lawyer, that free lawyer friend, you know, to just lean on for an easy answer.
Alex Ferrari 30:10
Now, we're going to talk next about my favorite part of the entire production process, which is distribution. So, I know you told me that you've been listening to the podcast for a while and and you heard the whole distributor thing and how that whole thing went down. And you obviously have a lot of experience distribute a distributing your own films, either self or with a traditional distributor. Can you tell us a little bit of story of what happened to which was which film was it that went to traditional? Okay, so that went through traditional distribution
Josh Folan 30:43
and aspartame both did but the better story has played out with catch 22 or So please,
Alex Ferrari 30:48
please enlighten the audience, sir.
Josh Folan 30:51
Right. So, okay, so it gets 22 we shot that. And 2015 did the festival thing for most of 2016, the tail end of 2016. We, we we had it you know, the funny thing about distribution and independent sector is you're not unless you have some film, you know, playing some big boy table festival, you're not gonna they don't these, these offers don't happen in a vacuum, you, they don't come to you at once, where you can weigh them, the pros and cons of each right right alongside each other. That's not how it works, you have to get good at that we're not necessarily good at but understand whatever your goals might be, whether they're fiscal, or, you know, however you want it to be released, if the the company's gonna facilitate and be able to do that the way you want it, be able to gauge what you're being told by these companies, and decide whether or not it meets your expectations slash hope for what for what the distribution of the of your of your project will be. And in our case, we had a bunch come to us over the course of that festival run. And towards the tail end of that we had one come in, that actually had an mg. And it was a company I liked. What the the guy in charge had to say to us, the acquisitions guy was one of eight media up in Toronto, and we ended up going with them. And that was and I want to say October, we signed the deal with we had a target street date of I believe it was January 17 of 2017. So nice round numbers there. And it came out. And they did all nothing they said they were gonna do as far as the digital release goes, there was no theatrical component to that. So then it was just hitting all the platforms. And the way the MG was structured on the project we were supposed to it was going to be do I believe it was two weeks after the the street date, or something like that. And then XYZ maybe two months after said street day, the second half of the payment was due. And, you know, the the whatever the window was, or the date comes on that first payment comes and goes, we don't have our check yet. I email and I'm like, Hey, guys, what's up?
Alex Ferrari 32:50
How are you guys doing? Hey, what's going on?
Josh Folan 32:52
Yeah, like, like, you know, and I was still, it was still early enough in my career. And I hadn't had enough bad things happening to me in the distribution realm where I didn't just expect the apocalypse, you know what I mean? So I was, you know, I
Alex Ferrari 33:06
didn't I hadn't, I hadn't come online yet, sir. I hadn't come online yet. So if not, you would have been better prepared.
Josh Folan 33:13
Oh, yeah what's funny. The very first time we did up deal to also a decent OMG. And, and they you know, they actually did All right, I would say in the long run, they did some foreign stuff that we couldn't have facilitated on our own. But they were very, very old. You know, Old Guard minded. They were always talking to us about DVDs and shit even into like, 2015 2016. And I was like, Why are you saying these words to me? Like these words mean nothing.
Alex Ferrari 33:36
Right, right. Right. Right.
Josh Folan 33:37
Why are we not talking about every digital platform on the planet? So there were, you know, that ended up going its own awry way too, but not nearly as bad as this one did. So anyways, yeah, that that day comes and goes, I emailed him, like, what's up, we get into this long, drawn out, exchange and like, you know, I and in the interest of transparency in the book, like I have a by email recounting of the exchange, like, again, completely transparent. It's a beautiful thing, really, if you like, if you like email vitriol, I recommend checking out that part of it. If nothing else, so. So yeah, so it's just yeah, you know, we two months, it's a two month back and forth with their acquisitions person, their operations person, and they're kind of you know, to their credit, they were always very nice. And they it came down to they were either be they're either lying, albeit nicely, or they were bordering on insolvency. And in either case, I was like, this. That's not a company I want my film with for what we I think the deal was for seven years, five or seven years, you know, they were fairly reasonable on the term, which you can't always get But either way, I didn't, you know, I couldn't have our film. They wouldn't be responsible for me as the producer, to our investors to keep our film in bed with a company that is going to either be lying or about to go about the fold. No, so like, it came down. To me, you know, I again googling talking about your legal problems, I googled I found a letter A terminate a distribution agreement termination letter that I swatched
Alex Ferrari 35:13
you paid homage to you pay you paid.
Josh Folan 35:17
Do you want to our to our needs, and, you know, to their credit, they were actually very, they you know, they tried to talk me out of it a couple of times right there towards the end of it, but they eventually relinquish whites, we actually, we end up getting the first half of the payment of the of the MG, it was 7500 bucks. And they sent us the first 3750 in between these two in that first two week window and the missing letter, I did get the check. It comes in, it comes in an envelope, there are two checks on the envelope. One is for 18 and 75. Another for 1875. And at first I open the envelope, and I'm like, that's kind of weird why the two checks. And then as I go to the bank, I get to the ATM to deposit them. And I see one is post dated. So one one was dated for her never sent it. Oh, yeah. And the other one is post dated for two weeks out or something. And he I mean, you know that that's one of the fun parts of the email chains. I'm like, Guys, you got to be kidding me. Like, you know, I wait for way longer than I'm supposed to to get the checks at all. And then when I'm supposed to, like, Are you out of your mind? You know, so what is the question here?
Alex Ferrari 36:18
So everyone listening, if you get a check, that's post dated. And it's 18 $175 that's generally not a good sign that your distributors having problems paying you 18 $100 is is a red flag. It's a red flag
Josh Folan 36:39
to put it up and yeah,
Alex Ferrari 36:40
so So continue, sir.
Josh Folan 36:42
So yeah, so you know, I sent the letter that we ended up getting to keep that money they didn't they didn't even ask for that back, which is, you know, not bad. For a couple of months, I guess of anguish, three, three months or so of anguish. And then but it you know, it created the problem of course, we have to and they were rather expedient about that too. Again, like it's it's surprising for something that went so awry, like I don't have it could have went a lot worse as far as the the personal side of it went the exchanges could have been a lot meaner, I suppose for spurred deal going this wrong. But yeah, they relinquish the rights and they have to get it off all the platforms. And then that's not always the cleanest process. You know, so then getting them relisted, in some cases, you can't even relist for some platforms, that was part of their like, that was one of the angles they took with trying to talk me out of it. They're like, I think it was iTunes, and maybe Hulu, they were saying, and then you know, was even on Hulu at the time. Like we're talking them at least there. Yeah, they were they were saying that. Yeah, there's some platforms you can even get back on? I'm like, Yeah, well, that's, you know, what's, like, 10% of rather 100% of nothing is a lot less than 10% of something, you know, right? Like, that's.
Alex Ferrari 37:48
Yeah, what was it? What was the deal? What was the deal? Was 2575 2080 3070 6040
Josh Folan 37:54
7030, I'm pretty sure was the split and our marketing cap might have been? That's it's all in the book, I'd have to look at it to remember, we're talking, you know, a few years ago. But yeah, I mean, you know, I had done all my homework as far as keeping the main deal points. And that's something I talked extensively about the book to understanding what those major deal points are. We didn't have a performance clause, like we talked about before we jumped on, like, that's a really good thing to talk about these days that I would certainly, particularly if they want some sort of term, that's anything more than a half decade, honestly, I would want some sort of performance clause at this point, because there's just, there's just no reason to sign that unless there's an exorbitant mg, of course, that makes it.
Alex Ferrari 38:31
And if there isn't a job in mg, you can almost guarantee that that's the only money you'll ever see. For sure.
Josh Folan 38:36
The entire idea of recouping it all for sure.
Alex Ferrari 38:39
There's no way you'll ever, if you get a $200,000 upfront mg in today's marketplace, you're counting,
Josh Folan 38:46
it's not going to go in your favor going for
Alex Ferrari 38:47
I hate to tell you, I hate to tell you, but there's that's just not gonna work out. And I was telling you this story, and I'll tell you, I'll tell you, I'll say it now the story of a filmmaker friend of mine who I was consulting that was a little too, too informed for this big distributor distributor who shall remain nameless, but that we all know. And that is, you know, that throws up 40 movies a month, if not more, and they were offering them an mg and it was this whole deal. And I kept telling him, well bless push them, let's see how far we can get with them. And the second he asked for a performance clause. He they said, You know what, we're just going to pass on this after after, like, wooing him and wanting it and promising them the world and everything. But the second he asked for performance closet, like, oh, abort, abort, this guy knows too much abort, abort, and it's for them. It's not worth the hassle to deal with an educated producer. Unless they have a former relationship. Then that's already kind of established with a sales agent or or producer but with the new guys like oh, no, this guy knows way too much. He's going to ask way too many questions. I don't want to deal with them next
Josh Folan 40:02
for those companies that where their business is structured around and doing that kind of business and exploiting the undereducated and overly hopeful filmmaker. Yeah. And that, you know, that's, that's probably the biggest soapbox thing with with with the book is that it's, you know, it sucks that it exists. But it's our job as the filmmakers to make it go away. And if we don't support it, if we don't let them take our films, just because we think having their name on the project as a distributor is going to help our careers on the line. Because these companies that operate this way, and check off any of these red flags, I list off very explicitly, like if they if they hit any of those things. Everyone in the industry knows it. You're not impressing anyone, by having a film with a company that is known for operating like this, it doesn't give your film a badge of honor. It doesn't give your career a badge of honor. There is no advantage to giving away again, you know, if you're never gonna see a dime back just because
Alex Ferrari 40:53
Disney is because Disney is distributing your movie, which they wouldn't do. But if Disney's distributing, like I can't distribute by Disney, I'm like, Yeah, but you're broke.
Josh Folan 41:04
Right? Yeah. Yeah, it's just not it just doesn't. It's It's sad how many filmmakers work? That's not the important thing. I you know, there's a friend of mine. Sorry, go ahead.
Alex Ferrari 41:15
No, no, I wanted to say, Tell me, tell me your story about your close friend. Go ahead.
Josh Folan 41:18
Oh, yeah, a close friend of mine that produced the project, it was his first feature. And he ended up going with the current the very company that we're discussing, but won't say the name of, and it's, it was important to him that exact thing to have this film, his first be one that was released, and like this pose in the public eye a legitimate way, as opposed to the sad, lonely place of self distribution. And,you know, it's
Alex Ferrari 41:49
Josh Folan 41:50
it hearts to what's important to you. And like, again, I'm not he's a close friend of mine. And I'm not like, that's, that was his goal. That would that was his set of goals. And like, even as the producer on the project, you know, I like that. It's, it's his project, I'm just helping him make it happen. And like that, understanding what your what your goals are with the project. And being able to look at these distribution offers in the light in that light and make it a responsible decision that achieves whatever those goals were, that you set for yourself is the important thing. Like, if that is what your goal is then fine. I told him numerous times, I'm like, Listen, you will never see a diamond this deal, it will never happen. Like understand that if you're going to take it and he understood it, and decided to do it anyways. And like, you have to just accept it, because that's important to him. But I want to change that I want us I want us to stop viewing that.
Alex Ferrari 42:40
I want I want to kind of dig into this a little bit, because I think it's something that's definitely not talked about. And it's I feel it's a sickness that filmmakers have. It is it is and I get it, I get it, especially when you you know, there's two reasons I think this happens one ego, you just want to say that you were distributed by x company, you know, like, hey, I want to I want to have my foot like everybody wants to have their film on a 24. Like, that's as an independent, like, we all want their the Sundance distribution. And they release it
Josh Folan 43:08
like this from a company like that's kind of the point, you know, deals like that. They really ask you to put their operating costs.
Alex Ferrari 43:16
Right, exactly. So these kind of distribution companies that are kind of like, elevated art house, kind of brands, you want to just get with one of those, and you don't care how abusive or you know, the advantage of being taken and all that all the money that they're going to steal or anything. You don't care, because you just want to say that you directed a movie that was distributed by them, which is insanity, as opposed to like, Oh, you poor? Are you self distributed? Oh, sorry about that.
Josh Folan 43:47
Oh, yeah. But it's not it's not a sad, lonely place. I hate that. It's
Alex Ferrari 43:51
because because well, first of all, that's, that's, that's an image that the industry has perpetrated. So that's a marketing ploy by the distribution said like, you don't want to self distribute, you'll never make a dime, you need us. You need us to make it. And you know what, depending on it's a per project basis, if you've got a $5 million movie, self distribution is a tough model to play. It's a tough model to play. If you got a million plus dollar movie, self distribution is not impossible, but you got to hit every target. Exactly. So that's why those budgets lower the budget, the better chance you have of recouping and being profitable in your in your films. So there is a place for good quality partnerships with with traditional distributors, honest, which is an oxymoron. I know. But it's like military intelligence. It's just doesn't jumbo shrimp. It just doesn't. So, but if you can partner with someone like that, and then also carve out some rights for yourself and maybe create ancillary products, and you have something that you could build, like I don't think there's going to be a lot of you know, ask Jane asked for Jane, you know, lunchboxes, action figures, action figures. So it depends purpose depends on the project. But if the certain projects have that it's absolutely doable, but self distribution, I'd rather be an A happen. My films have been, you know, I've self distribute a lot of my films. I rather be in positive rich off of my movie and not distributed one of these guys instead of being broke, and have the ego trip of Oh, I was distributed by x, Phil, x distributor. And I want everyone. I want everyone out there to listen to and hear that. And I think you and I are both very passionate about that. Go ahead. Yes, absolutely.
Josh Folan 45:39
Yeah, I mean, you know, even it's not even a matter of like, yes, it is harder. And it is more work to self distribute. And that's why so many filmmakers are adverse to it, because they just want to get on to the next film. And that's a you know, we've all heard that whole component of it a million times. But even if you know, the, that there's an excerpt from the book, that's, that's up from this whole soapbox section about distribution and fucking getting rid of these companies that are preying on filmmakers that don't know any better. Like, there's the math problem example in there, you know, the the good deal only makes 1000 bucks. And like, that sounds terrible. If you unless you made your film for less than 1000 bucks, which is not a terrible decision, but what do you Whatever it is, like the the, you know, the, it's just it's, you know, 10% of something is better than 100% of nothing. It's a very simple thing. And like, the idea that we have to, you know, we already made the point, I don't know, we've made the point.
Alex Ferrari 46:39
I mean, the whole the whole process of giving away your film, because you're exhausted or you don't, you're not educated. Well, that's, in all honesty, that's a failure on you, as a film producer, as a filmmaker, and as a producer. You need to educate yourself on this process. And there's no excuse, there's just no excuse, you know, what the latest lenses are, you know, that the Blackmagic just came out with a 12k camera. Fantastic. That's great. But you know what, that doesn't matter. The story matters, the, the story in the creative process is extremely important. This process, there's no doubt about it. But just as important, if not a bit more important, sometimes is the distribution and the business side of it. Because without that you can't make the art. And that's what I've been yelling at the top of my lungs for so much. And I know what that lets your, the core lessons of your book is, is you got to understand the business. And it's not sexy. It's not sexy. It's not the sexy part of it. But no, man, well, I love it.
Josh Folan 47:37
I enjoy the sheet Alex and if you don't if you're not one of those people, you should partner up with someone.
Alex Ferrari 47:43
Correct? And that's another thing you should absolutely do without question. Now how are so when you set so that was your traditional distribution? So how did you do the self distribution on the other project?
Josh Folan 47:55
So yeah, love is there we self distributed and that was something you know, walking into it. So love is dead is an adaption of a stage play that a buddy of mine wrote, and it's you know, a crazy crazy dark comedy about every possible horrible aspect of the human condition. And you know, it looks based on it's still good. Yeah, you got Disney type stuff. So yeah, I mean, you know that we're looking at the project initially, he sends it to me even before he's put it up as a play and immediately I'm like, Oh, this is like his his brain of comedy is just it's brilliant and I love it, but it is dark in a very very specific type of comedy that not everyone's going to love and we're looking at it and I'm like, you know this would play it's three it's basically three scenes in three new york apartments You know, that's what the whole pieces so I'm like that already kind of plays to me very sitcom II it's a stage thing to begin with. We should shoot this like an old like it has kind of this old sitcom feel to the pacing and the type of comedy almost Married with Children ish or All in the Family is kind of very much the vibe to it. Like why don't we shoot it aesthetically like that and and make it this like go all the way with that and you know, shoot it in a four by three aspect ratio. And then I was you know, found plugins and stuff for the editing side of it that kind of gave it that degraded VHS look nice thing to achieve these days. So yeah, we went all the way we painted in a studio audience via with the audio track and everything and just went all the way with
Alex Ferrari 49:25
you could fairly say it's an experimental film. It's not mainstream, as though there's
Josh Folan 49:30
there's we put in you know, we took old psats and cut them in as commercial breaks that kind of commented on the the narrative itself, you know, there's an opening title sequence, it's just whole nine yards with the being like the Sunday special television event kind of situation. So yeah, just completely out of the box. And you're going to even talking to festivals, that I have very good relationships with the directors of who have programmed our stuff before me and Shawnee, both, you know, they we sent it to them, they're like, What the fuck is this guy's like, you know, we don't we don't have a TV. Section like it's not a TV section, it's a feature film just looks like a TV, like so, you know, even if we knew walking into it that we were doing something that was completely out of the box. But what was the budget hard time?
Alex Ferrari 50:11
But what was the budget?
Josh Folan 50:12
Well, that's exactly knowing that we structured it to be a very economically right produce thing. We shot it for under 35k 32 and a half k, I
Alex Ferrari 50:21
was gonna say, when I saw that when I saw the trailer, and I was like, This is not a $250,000 movie. If it is no, you should be shot. So I was like, no, it has to be a lower budget. And that's okay, real quick, I just want to hit on this. Because you're going experimental, you're going for a much smaller audience. And, you know, the chances of you recouping your money are harder because of the material. You use a budget that reflect the debt. And most filmmakers, a lot of filmmakers don't understand. A lot of them were like, this is my, this is my Opus, we're going to do this for $250,000. And you and I both know that this at a $250,000 budget is going to be rough.
Josh Folan 51:01
Absolutely I mean, you know, after doing this stuff for such a long time, man, like I, I read material, and like the firt, I'm the I can't even you know, I also write and direct and stuff and like, I'm trying to, you know, do the creative side of it as well. But I can't the business, the business background in me, and then just the long amount of time I've spent producing I know how hard it is to ask people for money, it sucks. I'm trying to do that as little as possible. So like when I'm looking for, for material or use material, I'm like, What is the producibility of this? Like, you know, and reading Johnny's play three scenes, people, people being clever in three apartments, like I'm like, dude, we can, you know, we ended up we did that incredibly, cleverly, you know, we like we rented a theater in Long Island City in New York, and literally a stage theater, we ripped out all the risers basically created a television studio environment around the stage in where the seating used to be. And then when we were done, we had to rebuild those standards, risers and stuff and, and put the play space back like it was and you know, we were able to get that on a deal. And the owner of the theater, also an actor, we cast in the film to kind of always it's
Alex Ferrari 52:09
always a good idea,
Josh Folan 52:10
oh, is for the location fees. And you know, we shot the thing on three iPhones, you know, which that's the funny thing about it, like, one of the things that's kind of a something that we're talking about now, Amazon's being weird about their content right now. And they're pulling things off and stripping things down and love is dead. One of the things that got ripped off, you know, they don't know for sure it maybe they just think it's shitty, I don't know if it's an actual image quality thing. But like we shot that in 4k, like it's on it was a beautiful image to start with. And we ripped it down to what it looks like visually looks really degraded looking, borderline terrible image, you know, the standard definition looked at it, like that was a creative decision, not a lack of actual quality in the in the in the underlying image. See, we don't but we saw it on iPhones and the image the image look beautiful. And you know, we were able to rig the theater in a way with the lighting where we didn't have to do the subs freeze. And we you know, we did that in three, three day shoots. We did one day of rehearsal, one day, or we shot kind of like with the with each episode, there were three episodes we call them episode shoots, whatever you want to call them. With the episode, the cast, we come in, we rehearse for a day, just me and the actors. And then the next day, in the morning, we would do a little more rehearsing, shoot the opening credit, just little insert shots and stuff, give me added points and what have you then run it, run it a few times for everyone, the whole crew would be there that second day for everyone to see. And then the third day come in and just run the scene front to back into the ground with our three camera setup. You know, where we didn't have to cut we just run the thing like a play basically the way a sitcom does. And we did that three, you know, three times in a row with one day in between to rip the whole set down. And our poor production designer had to build a whole new apartment, you know, right, basically. So we did that we did that whole shoot and the last one and up because of a snowstorm. We did this this the last shoot in two days instead of three. on that second day, we shot the whole thing.
Alex Ferrari 53:58
So out of these three movies, were all of them profitable? Did any of them breakeven at anyone lose money?
Josh Folan 54:05
Oh, but none of them are in the black, you know? Yeah. After James very early in the thing and we came out the the came up theatrically last year in May and hit the the VOD platforms and October. So it's still very early to say, you know, especially with a quarterback or movie, how that's gonna go catch 22 we shot for 55k. And I'd say we're probably a third of the way there and recruitment on that especially after the whole distributor the distributor default thing that certainly slowed things down. And yeah, I mean with with a substitute distribution thing i'd love is dead a long way to go if they're still you know, but we didn't actually get to the point of how we did it. I mean, you know, the, with that kind of thing. It was such a they're all if you're going to self distribute knowing what like what are you going to try to do with this and like we were so outside the box with what we created and how we created it, that I think that the chief marketing tool where you Using for that? Is the independent film community, the film like the idea of this crazy project that we created, how did we do it? And you know, I hit all the film courage and all those types of outlets that are geared towards just as you're doing Alex, the independent filmmaker.
Alex Ferrari 55:15
Josh Folan 55:16
So you know, no, yeah, again, just knowing what it is and how to market it. And, you know, the idea is, over time, do that enough. And you are able to make it a viable business in the long term. You know, I mean, you're not going to, with with self distribution, especially smaller projects, you're not going to have that lump sum payment, like, kind of the trickle out of, yeah, that's a trickle for sure. You know, so that that's how you approach it, for sure.
Alex Ferrari 55:40
And can you discuss a little bit about niche marketing and event marketing, because I know, that's something that you do to get the word out on your films?
Josh Folan 55:49
Well, niche market, you know, it's after Jane is a good example of that. It's, it's a film about reproductive rights. And, you know, we, that's one of the one of the things that went with that for Jane is how much having that social justice component can make this the whole process just more enjoyable for one, because it's more it gives it more purpose, you as a filmmaker gives you a reason, other than just telling a story. And that's a really nice aspect to have for these, these projects. But you know, we had companies or organizations reaching out to us, just our initial press drops about the project, like wanting, of course, you screen the film, you know, because it, it carried this message. And like, that was, you know, Planned Parenthood was a company we had ties to, and were able to align with, and nyrA and other reproductive rights women's justice organization, based out of New York, that we were able to align with and do a ton of marketing with throughout the festival process, and then into the actual theatrical release. And we've done events and screenings with companies or organizations like that. And, you know, yeah, I mean, it's, it's, everyone wants to, wants the answer as to how to do this for their own project. And it's an there's no answer to it. Like, it's an impossible, it's the shittiest thing to hear. Because, you know, we all want to have the answer. But it's like, you have to just do the work and know who is figure out who is going to care about that, about what you're trying to say, if it, whether it is just a little story, or it has some sort of overarching bigger purpose, and getting out into the world, you know, knowing what that is. And that goes all the way back to doing that work, market research in advance. But also you learn a lot of that going through it, like we didn't know that we were going to have the kind of response or the political climate that we ended up having with Astra Jain because it was pre election, the project started and then Trump being elected, and then you know, women's reproductive rights going under coming under attack as they have was not something we planned for. But that cropped up and like I don't want it you know, it's, I've said a million times, like, it's, it's horrific for humanity, but it's fantastic for the film. And, you know,
Alex Ferrari 57:56
I understand what you said, yeah, it's timely. It's timely.
Josh Folan 58:00
Yeah, be embracing that. And, and not you don't want to say exploiting it, but you know, it. If that's what they that's the message of the film then that, you know, it's all that money. Yes, it's good for getting it out there and our bottom line, sure, but it also allows you to say it in a bigger way, you know what I mean? And that's a beautiful thing, you know, so just
Alex Ferrari 58:20
look, it's not
Josh Folan 58:21
accepted for that.
Alex Ferrari 58:21
And yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Um, there's films that just hit at a certain time and they they just they galvanize around the time you know, there's Easy Rider one Easy Rider showed up it was a time for Easy Rider you know, that was the that was the movie of its time and it completely shaked up Hollywood want to show it up. And it was it was it was in
Josh Folan 58:45
its hopper just making some that he wanted to make a little ad and little was not he was not checking some marketing box and making crazy.
Alex Ferrari 58:52
Well, that was it. It was the 70s brothers a whole other world and there was no niche marketing. It was just like, let's just make a movie and get high of lot. And that's what they did. They actually filmed them. So you ready writers? Raging Bull? Of course, of course. I've read all those books. There. It's amazing to hear those stories. Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked all my guests, sir. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Josh Folan 59:19
I want to steer away from what everyone says that you know, if you can do something else do it. Right, the best advice, but we've all heard it a million times. Well, I've said it a few times. Don't chase things. Don't chase when other people tell you you should make make the shit you want to watch. There's so many reasons. And it benefits you it. It better prepares you to make that film. You know what I mean? If you care about the stuff that you're making, because it's stuff you watch, then you're that much more equipped to tell that kind of story. You know, and that's that that's all the more reason like I should never make a film because I'm fucking not going to church on Sunday. So I should make a
Alex Ferrari 59:58
movie. It's nothing you're passionate about. Got it?
Josh Folan 1:00:00
Right, exactly. You know what I mean? So you know that that is probably the best advice I think I could give someone getting started is to do what you think you would want to sit in front of a screen. And watch because you're gonna be best equipped to do that.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:13
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life,
Josh Folan 1:00:21
I'm stubborn, strong minded person. So learning to step out of the way, and let like to properly delegate, I'm somewhat of a control freak, and I want everything to go my way. And learning to just step back and let go of some things, whether it be control of a project, or trying to, you know, you can't, you can only control what you can control and stop trying to control the things that you can't. And that is certainly a life lesson much more so than a film one. But it's applicable, of course,
Alex Ferrari 1:01:01
Now, what is the biggest fear you had to overcome to make your first film?
Josh Folan 1:01:08
I thought about this one, I listen to the show, I thought about this one, because I wanted to be prepared. And I don't know, man, like, we were so ignorant. Oh, yeah, we had no idea what to be scared of. We were absolutely carried by the desire to do it, like today almost want to say to be able to say that we did it, you know, which is such a misguided reason to make a movie, you know, we didn't have there wasn't we weren't trying to make a movie that truly said something. It wasn't something that we thought would be entertaining, it didn't have some sort of more important message or something. We were just trying to make a piece of entertainment. And I guess prove to ourselves that we could do it so we didn't. I don't know if we had fears because we didn't that we there's no way to know you know, I don't know
Alex Ferrari 1:01:57
Ignorance is bliss ignorance is bliss.
Josh Folan 1:02:00
I don't know if there were any man. I really know.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:03
Three of your favorite films of all time.
Josh Folan 1:02:06
I this is impossible to I don't know. I can see the three filmmakers I like,
Alex Ferrari 1:02:11
Josh Folan 1:02:11
I can't I can't tell you three movies is insane. That's insane. To narrow it down to that. The duplass brothers. I think they're all seemingly magical beings. Everything they touch is gold. Shaun Baker.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:23
Yes. Yes. Yeah. Sean's amazing!
Josh Folan 1:02:27
Yeah, scene tangerine. At I was at slam dance that year with the film when that hit and like, I don't know if I've ever watched anything where I was like,
Alex Ferrari 1:02:36
let's just add
Josh Folan 1:02:37
so much. It's just it was so much energy with and again, you know, knowing I put a reason I like these filmmakers like this is because I respect so much what they accomplish knowing the constraints. They work with that and like that I work in those constraints every day. And for them to achieve such incredible with those limitations is so impressive to me. Yeah. Yeah, and I actually kind of a bigger filmmaker, I guess. Is is my drawn a blank on his name? Seven. Fincher.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:11
Oh, of course, of course, Fincher man. Yeah, he's one of us on my top list as well,
Josh Folan 1:03:17
which is not the same thing. But he's everything against someone who just, he, he's able to keep it on the darker side, usually, which I like, even with these bigger projects, which is such a hard thing to do, too.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:27
That's why he doesn't make as many movies as he should is because right. He needs to make mine hunter and he needs $200 million to do it. Because he's Fincher and yeah, that's why he should he should have at least another four or five movies in his filmography. But yeah, yeah, I would love to see a Fincher comedy. That would be interesting.
Josh Folan 1:03:47
Alex Ferrari 1:03:48
because we got a Scorsese comic. We got a couple of Scorsese comic
Josh Folan 1:03:52
those really dark movies though, man like, you know, seven has colic him and Freeman and pit are under
Alex Ferrari 1:03:57
there's comedic moments there. There's like Fight Club is, is on my top. It's on my top five list, of course. But his fight club is is is very funny. It's ridiculously funny, but it's that kind of humor that he does bring. Oh, he has humor. I mean House of Cards has amazing humor in it. But I'm talking about I want to, I want him to do airplane three. Like I want to see slapstick, like Naked Gun 44 I want him I want you to do Naked Gun 44 I think that would be amazing.
Josh Folan 1:04:28
Like the easiest thing in the world to market to just because it's so such a it's a far cry from his work. People go see it. This is like a,
Alex Ferrari 1:04:35
I want to see I want to see. I want to see Fincher do a comedy and I wanna see Nolan do a comedy. I want to see a Nolan comedy. Can you imagine? Because Kubrick did a comedy. He did a great comedy did Dr. Strangelove so you know, it's
Josh Folan 1:04:54
I often struggle with pre mid 70s sometimes I would even say maybe late 70s content it's it's slower. It's more static Sure, sure. Very active thing you know. So I often struggle with older films, but strange love is brilliant. Like I it's hysterical. It's amazing how far ahead of its time.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:12
Oh, it with everything he makes in the comedy front, you know everything. Everything he made was so far ahead of his time, every film we catch up, I still remember getting out and it probably even heard this story. I've said it a bunch of times, I came out of Eyes Wide Shut and 99 and I'm with my friends from high school and they're like, what you think I'm like, I don't know, but I think I'll put aren't gonna get it in about 10 years. And it took me 10 years when I got married. I was like, oh, and then every single time I watch him like oh, every time you watch any of his films, you get another layer and that's what great art that's what great art does. Now where can people find you and your book and everything you do?
Josh Folan 1:05:47
Oh my website and why eh entertainment has everything I've ever done. There the book still filmmaking the hard way as the name is available on wherever human beings read books these days iBooks, Amazon, Kobo, etc, etc scribed paper it's also available in paperback if you'd like clutter.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:05
Josh Folan 1:06:06
on Amazon but yeah, the there's I have an expert on the web's on my website. It's been populated a few places rain dances blog has its film shortage but it is even if you don't want to buy the book whatever I get money's tight these days. But the excerpt is free and it is very much on the soapbox of we got to stop letting these companies survive on our blood. So please go through parasitic that their parasite yet parasitic for sure. But that's free. So go read that please. And let's let's stop supporting that.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:38
Absolutely. Hashtag and predatory distribution. Josh, man, it's been a pleasure having you on the show, brother. Thank you for dropping the knowledge bombs on the tribe and and fighting the good fight out there. Man. I appreciate you doing what you do, man. Absolutely, man,
Josh Folan 1:06:56
Absolutely, man, thank you so much for having me.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:59
I want to thank Josh for coming on the show and dropping his knowledge bombs on the tribe. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, including how to get a hold of still filmmaking the hard way head over to the show notes at indie film hustle.com Ford slash 434. And if you haven't already, please head over to filmmaking podcast calm and leave an honest review. For the podcast. It really helps us out a lot. And I know you guys have noticed that we've been getting really insane guests lately. And that that that trend is going to continue. Because my guest on Tuesday is going to blow your mind. And I want you to prepare yourselves because it will be the record holding episode for being the longest conversation I've ever had on the show. At clocking in, I think a little bit over three hours. But I promise you it is arguably one of the best episodes I have ever recorded. I can't wait to share it with you guys. And I'll give you a little hint. He's made big movies with Johnny Depp and Denzel Washington. I'm just gonna leave it at that. Thank you so much for listening, guys. As always keep that also going keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
- Josh Folan – Official Site
- Still Filmmaking, the Hard Way
- Josh Folan – Facebook
- Josh Folan – Twitter
Where Hollywood Comes to Talk
Oscar® Winning Writer/Director
(Platoon, Wall Street, JFK)
(Brothers McMullin, She's the One)
Oscar® Nominated Writer/Director
(Boyhood, School of Rock)
Emmy® Winning Writer/Director/Actor
(City Slickers, Analyze This)
(Smokin' Aces, The Grey, Narc)