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Distribution Myths, SVOD, and AFM with Linda Nelson
Today on the show we have returning champion Linda Nelson from Indie Rights. I wanted to bring Linda back to discuss how much the distribution game has changed in the three years since she was last on the show. We also discuss the American Film Market and how to work it properly.
Nelson Madison Films/Indie Rights was founded by Michael Madison and Linda Nelson because they believed that the future was bright for independent artists and that there was a better way to produce and distribute movies. They have been in business since 2000, when they produced their first film, NSYNC BIGGER THAN LIVE a Giant Screen Movie that played to sold-out crowds worldwide.
Known for innovation. SHIFTED, their first digital feature, was the first movie on Amazon’s UnBox (the predecessor of Amazon Video) and was used by Amazon to promote their platform for over five years. DELIVERED was the first independent feature to edit and master a 4K movie using Adobe CS5. Articles in Variety, HDVideoPro and an Adobe Success Story followed. Partnerships were forged early on with the leading digital platforms including Amazon, Google, Cinedigm, MGo and Adrise, and these partnerships ensure that Indie Rights can offer the very best audience opportunities for their own films, as well as the more than 300 other filmmakers they work with.
Linda Nelson began her career as an international investment banker, IT executive an entertainment real estate developer. After meeting Michael Madison, she pivoted into the movie business finally realizing her artistic potential. As an Executive Producer on NSYNC, she quickly realized that she was interested in being more “hands-on” and was the DP for her next film, SHIFTED. As a Producer on DELIVERED, she was finally able to gain experience in all aspects of the financing, development, production and distribution phases of moviemaking.
I can’t recommend Indie Rights highly enough. If you have a feature film that needs distribution do yourself a favor and check them out.
Enjoy my eye-opening conversation with Linda Nelson.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Indie Rights – Film Distribution
- Nelson Madison Films
- Indie Film Hustle TV (Netflix for Filmmakers and Screenwriters)
- IFH Store (Indie Film Hustle Merch Store)
- American Film Market
- Soundstripe.com – Find the Perfect Song for Your Project (DISCOUNT CODE: IFH – 10% discount off of a membership)
- BlackBox – Make Passive Income From Your Footage
- Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business
- Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: FREE AUDIOBOOK
- Indie Film Hustle TV (Streaming Real-World Film Education)
- Alex Ferrari’s Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story)
REAL-WORLD STREAMING FILM EDUCATION
- Indie Film Hustle TV (Streaming Real-World Film Education)
- Hollywood Film School: Filmmaking & TV Directing Masterclass
- Filmmaker in a Box – Learn How to Make an Indie Film – 18 Hours+ of Lessons
- Storytelling Blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys
- The Dialogue Series: 38 hours of Lessons from Top Hollywood Screenwriters
- Filmtrepreneur® Podcast
- Bulletproof Screenwriting® Podcast
- Six Secrets to getting into Film Festivals for FREE!
- FreeFilmBook.com (Download Your FREE Filmmaking Audio Book)
Alex Ferrari 2:40
Today's guest is returning champion Linda Nelson from indie writes. Now Linda was on episode 17. And she is hasn't been here for a while but things have changed dramatically since last time. We spoke to her about distribution, and the world of VOD s VOD t VOD, a VOD, and you know physical media and all sorts of stuff. But we really get into it. This is a master class no joking about distribution. And if you really want to know the differences between traditional distributor verse is a self distribution model. Linda really breaks it down for you very, very well. I love indie writes, I've sent a ton of the tribe to her for distribution. Not every movie is perfect for self distribution. Some movies need or demand, a traditional distribution distribution partner or a hybrid of the two. And indie REITs is by far the top of my list, and I'll put her links all her links in the show notes. But without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Linda Nelson from indie REITs. I'd like to welcome returning champion, Linda Nelson. How are you, Linda?
Linda Nelson 4:00
Good morning. I'm so thrilled to be back talking to indie film hustle.
Alex Ferrari 4:05
Yes, you were on episode number 15. If I remember correctly, so it's been a few. It's been a minute since you've been with us.
Linda Nelson 4:14
Yes. And and in distribution, that like a century
Alex Ferrari 4:18
In today's world, not in like the 70s and 80s it was pretty standard and didn't move very much. But in today's world, things are moving.
Linda Nelson 4:26
So I think for a good 30 years, you know, 20 to 30 years it was just all about DVD sales. And that was it and and now it's very much based in physical media and that has totally changed.
Alex Ferrari 4:38
So we'll get we'll definitely get into all of that good stuff. But so for those who don't remember, how did you get into the business and how did indie writes the company you work with outcome to be?
Linda Nelson 4:48
Well, my partner current partner Michael Madison, I made a had the opportunity to make a big budget film. It was a 5 million Dollar film was our first film. And we expected to get very wealthy off of that. And instead it wound up in a lawsuit. So he fell over the DVD sales. So
Alex Ferrari 5:12
In the biz, in Hollywood, I can't see that happening, people
Linda Nelson 5:19
And so we had to close our production office and start over again. And, and we did. So we decided that, you know, this time around, we're going to, you know, make our own films, and we made a very low budget feature. And we got into some film festivals and started to get a couple of offers, and we thought the offers were horrible. And we didn't, you know, see how you could, you know, be make a living in industry, if those were the only kind of deals that were out there. So, this was about 2007. And we decided that well, gee, how hard could it be to start a distribution company? I mean, little, little did we know, I mean, it was purely, you know, out of, you know, stupidity that we even, you know, if we knew more, we probably wouldn't even have tried it. But we, we said, Oh, you know, can't be that hard. So it is, it's so exactly true. And so we would often, and started a little company called indie rights. We started it, just with some other filmmakers that were on the festival circuit with us. We were at like dances with film. When we got five or six films gathered up, we figured Oh, well, you know, we've got enough to start a little company, and we've got a little catalog. And that's how we started. And now here we are, 10 years later. And we have 650 films in our catalog. That's nice, not bad. It's just grown exponentially, we really kind of doubled every year, we doubled. And when we we love that we don't have to go out and look for films. And that's the best part about what we do. Every all of our business is by word of mouth, and people that have been with us for a long time tell their friends and filmmakers, and that are filmmakers and they tell their friends and and then those filmmakers all bring their new films to us. So we have lots of films now that filmmakers where we have four or five, six films from the same filmmakers. And that's amazing. It's great. It's a rarity take care of your reputation. That's what happens.
Alex Ferrari 7:26
Yes, because distributors technically don't have a fairly good reputation.
Linda Nelson 7:30
No, they don't.
Alex Ferrari 7:32
There's, you know, I just did that image of that, you know, guy who's like 80 years old, sitting behind a desk with a cigar. Making some exploitation posters like kid All I need is a poster in a in a trailer, and I could sell it.
Linda Nelson 7:48
And I have to tell you, more than half the companies are still that. Yeah, I know. It's not a cliche. I mean, anyone who goes to AFM and walked around there, that's what they're gonna see primarily.
Alex Ferrari 8:00
Yeah, it is. It's
Linda Nelson 8:02
Starting to change. But there's still a lot of that.
Alex Ferrari 8:05
Yeah. Because in would you say it is because overseas is like, a little slower to catch up with everything else. Because there's, you still need those kinds of guys sometimes to get to those oversea markets, where you just can't get to them. Otherwise, is that true or not? Um, you could go with someone like you, obviously, but yes,
Linda Nelson 8:22
Right. on your own, it's very difficult, I think, I think still, for foreign sales, buyers would prefer to deal with a sales agent or us distributor, because they know that they can build a relationship and get more than one film. So it takes the same amount of energy to get a film from an individual as it does to get from a company yet, if you do it with a company, then you're building relationship where you can have future flow. Right? And so buyers tend not to deal with individual filmmakers area for sale. If you're an individual filmmaker, you really have to search. Yes, it said yet, it takes a huge amount of effort. So if you can find the right distributor, you're better off to use a distributor or a sales agent. And and there's a big distinction between the two. And that's something we can talk about later.
Alex Ferrari 9:18
So what what are your feelings on the world of distribution today, versus what we were talking about even just three years ago?
Linda Nelson 9:27
Well, you know, and the interesting thing is I I'm sure I said the same thing, then, because I keep saying the same thing. Every year. I don't believe there's ever been a better time for indie, indie filmmakers to make a movie. I really don't. I think there's, there's more and more opportunity as time goes by. You know, I think that there are skills that you have to acquire if you want to be able to take advantage of that and I'm sure we'll talk about that too.
Alex Ferrari 10:00
Yes, and, and I think it from your perspective, I think a lot of people, from your perspective, you see all the possibilities, because you're in, you're on the ground level, you are in the trenches of distribution every day, where I speak to filmmakers, almost on a daily basis and distribution is still such a clouded and in mystery. And who is going to screw me? And where can I actually make money when will actually get a check? That it's scary, the distribution is so scary for somebody who doesn't. And I've been in the game for a long time. And there's still aspects of distribution that I don't know, you have much more information about it than I do, because you do it on a daily basis. But I'm an educated person. And I'm still like, I don't know where what's going on over there.
Linda Nelson 10:46
Right? Well, and I think part of the reason for that is that this business has never been very transparent. It's always been quite secretive and old boys club, you know, type of environment where nobody shares any information. And that also is changing. You know, and that's a good thing. I mean, it's one of the tenants that we founded our company on. One was that we were, you know, going to pay filmmakers from dollar one. So we give our filmmakers 80%. And, and we don't charge any expenses. And we give very, very detailed quarterly reporting, and that that reporting is shared amongst our group. So that that it is the filmmakers that are doing great, get inspired, you know, our wind up inspiring ones that aren't doing so great, because then they want to know, how do you do that? And, you know, and then we can talk about that.
Alex Ferrari 11:46
So you actually share numbers with the other filmmakers in your,
Linda Nelson 11:51
Within our, our private group? Oh, that's amazing.
Alex Ferrari 11:54
I didn't know you did that. That's, well, no,
Linda Nelson 11:56
We do it. And, and, and it's very much appreciated, because when it comes time for you to do a new project, you have real numbers. Now, we don't let people share those numbers, with titles outside the group. But they can make General, you know, assumptions and projections based on genre, right, so you could look at all of the horror films, for example, you know, in our catalog, and, and, and draw some conclusions from that about what the realm of possibility is. And so it winds up, you know, being inspirational to those who aren't doing as well. And, and it makes the people that are doing well feel really, really good. So we really feel that's an important part. And it's been missing from our, you know, from our industry. And that's kind of why like on our website, we share our contracts and deliverables list, it's there for the world to see. We don't need to hide the terms of our contract. So does that fair?
Alex Ferrari 12:58
Right? No, exactly. And that's, that's amazing. You're extremely transparent. And I think that when filmmakers sign on with a distributor, what they're really signing on with for is one access and two relationships. Because you've been able to build up. So you know, just from your experience of doing this along and you know, the buyers that if you have a certain kind of horror movie, a horror movie that has doesn't even have to have stars in it, per se, but if you know the quality of the movie, then you go, Oh, I can estimate that that movie is gonna make us X amount of dollars, because we have a track record of what we've sold movies like that in the past for and current market shares and everything, and you just have relationships, where you could just pick up the phone and call up, you know, a market and go, hey, I've got this movie. What do you think you could give us for it? Is that a fair fairly accurate?
Linda Nelson 13:50
Well, you know, I because the the businesses and stuff such a state of flux right now, that is kind of changing, because it used to be that, you know, a buyer would want an all rights deal for a territory. So some some buyer would approach you for Germany and they want everything Seattle, broadcast VOD DVD. Well, now we've got lots of buyers that are looking to buy VOD only, or you know that. So it's it's become more complicated from that, that, that standpoint to try and project. And also, in our experience, we've found the projections aren't terribly relevant for on an individual film, but it certainly gives you the ability to give a range, right? So you could say, Oh, well, we have some that are making $2,000 a month, we have some that are making $6,000 a month, right. So, you know, it's, it certainly helps you to understand what's possible.
Alex Ferrari 14:58
Linda Nelson 14:58
As opposed to how much Your film is going to make,
Alex Ferrari 15:01
Right it's it's almost impossible depending on that, even if you have Brad Pitt in it, like you have estimates, I know. But there's movies that Brad Pitt made that made hundreds of millions of dollars, and there are others that made right 10s of millions of dollars, which, by the way, I would be happy with either. This is very true. Um, now, how has the streaming game changed the landscape for distribution?
Linda Nelson 15:30
Um, I think, you know, obviously, it is the most dramatic change in the past 30 years. And I think that the major players way underestimated how quickly streaming would become the accepted way to watch movies. And also, a couple of years ago, the technology wasn't available to allow people to watch movies in so many different ways, right? I mean, it used to be if you, you know, you you've made a movie, it would come out on DVD, it will go into blockbuster, if you were really lucky, it would stay there for three months, and a bunch of people would rent it, and then that would be the end of it over it's
Alex Ferrari 16:21
Pretty much it's dead in the water for
Linda Nelson 16:23
Right. For Indies. I mean, you know, big blockbuster films that become classics, yes, you might be able to still be able to get a hold of those all the time. But Indies, really kind of cycled through these rental stores fairly quickly. But now, and also, there was very limited shelf space. So how you know how many movies could be available at any point in time was very limited, right. But now we have unlimited shelf space, we have so many different ways to watch movies, sometimes people watch on tablets, they watch on their laptops, they watch on their television, they watch on their phone. So you know, there's so many different ways for people to consume your movie now as well. And there's no shelf life. We have we have films that are 810 years old, that are still earning good money.
Alex Ferrari 17:18
Linda Nelson 17:18
Which is unbelievable. And we have like n For example, we have a number of films, where people were with another distributor, and their contracts expired, and they never got paid any money at all. Maybe they got a small mg in the beginning, but that never saw any money after that. And as soon as the contract expired, they came to us and now they're earning money for the first time. And their film might be, I don't know, 10 years old, like we have this film called cherry, which is a terrific film, you know, and and they were with another distributor and the rights were, you know, tied up. It was originally released in 2010. Right, right. And so so as soon as the rights Well, what wound up happening is that they're there. Another film of theirs that came out much later, they came with us. So as soon as that, as cherry was available from the other distributor, they had us do it. And now that film is making money for the first time, you know that they're seeing money from that and it came out originally in 2010.
Alex Ferrari 18:34
Linda Nelson 18:35
And I also i mean they're they're thrilled because they thought they'll never see any money from it. But now here it is. It's you know, it's 2018 and on the front end, and the film's doing really, really well.
Alex Ferrari 18:47
That's amazing. That's really
Linda Nelson 18:50
I'm Brett Robertson's in it. So she you know, was not a huge star back when that movie was made, but she is doing really well now. You know, she has a I don't know where IMDb score is 149
Alex Ferrari 19:02
She's doing all right. Now, can you tell? Can you tell the audience a little bit about the difference between s VOD t VOD, and a VOD.
Linda Nelson 19:12
Yes. Very, very important to understand all of these different VODs or video on demand, right. And, and it's important to understand that, that different demographics are served better by different types of VOD and that's something that we you know, recently figured out for our for our own company. Normally will release a film especially if we've done a limited theatrical on it. We can talk about that limited theatrical option a little bit later. We will put a film out like on Amazon paid transactional first right and see If we can get any traction actually selling it because that's where you're gonna make, if it actually gets traction and sells, you know, they pay half of that money comes to us whether it's rental or purchase. So that's called paid transactional. Sometimes it's called p VOD. Sometimes it's called t VOD, or transactional or paid transactional. And, and so we, we, we try to do that first. But if there's no names in it, and there's not huge buzz going on about it, you're, you're probably better off being on prime and then we'll move it to Amazon Prime. Now amazon prime, it looks to a user. The same as Netflix was, it looks like it's free. But it's not. And there's a huge difference between the two platforms, Amazon Prime, and Netflix and Hulu are all what's called s VOD, which is subscription video on demand, which means that people pay an annual fee to have access to that platform. Now, the problem, you know, for indie filmmakers, is that Netflix has a different payment scheme than amazon prime and some other platforms. So Netflix pays a flat, annual or 18 months fee. And they spread those payments over the term. Right. And so say, for example, they are going to give you $20,000 for your film, that means that you're going to get $5,000 a quarter, right? Now, they really want an exclusive window. While you're with Netflix, they don't want you out on any other platforms, which to me is horrible, because what happens is that then, because so many people have Netflix, almost almost your entire audience is gonna watch it on Amazon, and I mean on Netflix, and that's all the money you're ever going to see. So so they wouldn't really cannibalize your revenue.
Alex Ferrari 22:00
Now, are they buying a lot of indie movies, I hear that they're not doing a notch.
Linda Nelson 22:04
They're not buying a lot of independent films. Because their business model favors serialized content. Right. So more like TV shows that type of content. But But Amazon on the other hand plate pays by the minutes watched. So if you have a strong film, and you have good social media marketing, you could actually earn very, very well we have we have a film that's made close to half a million dollars this year on amazon prime.
Alex Ferrari 22:37
Now, what do they pay? What is what is their rate is?
Linda Nelson 22:42
The rate is extremely complicated. And, and it's impossible to tell somebody what that rate is going to be until it's released. So what happens is they have a tiered system. And what they will pay six cents a minute, up till 100,000. And from 100,000 to a half a million, they pay 10 cents and from a half a million to a million they pay
Alex Ferrari 23:12
15 cents. Well, that's that's not permitted. That's per hour watched. Isn't that crowd watched? Yeah.
Linda Nelson 23:18
Okay, so So, on our catalog for, for example, we have some earning 15 cents we have some are a lot earning 10 cents most that's predominant. One for us is 10 cents, and some earning six cents. You know, the six centers tend to be ones that have been out for a long time, and people have forgotten about them, and they're on to the next film and they don't bother nurturing them anymore. Right. So they're and and it's important to remember that you really do need to maintain at least a maintenance schedule of, you know, social media on your older films, and you can schedule that stuff. Sure. It doesn't become it's not doesn't have to be terribly time consuming. And, you know, I remind me to talk about post post, that's my my new buzzword
Alex Ferrari 24:11
Post post you mean deliverables?
Linda Nelson 24:14
No post posts is, is actually marketing. It's like a final phase of production. Got our after post.
Alex Ferrari 24:22
Okay, so I will I will
Linda Nelson 24:24
Make a note and we'll talk about I will post post guys, because it's critical. So anyway, so back to Amazon. Now, what I like about their new pay scheme is that there's no longer any kind of cap so your films don't stop earning. We had some films last year when they first announced that plan that we're gonna cap out well, they did cap out. And then so all of a sudden the film that's making 20,000 was making 20,000 a month, you know, capped out and couldn't earn any more for a whole calendar. Our year. So they removed that cap, which was great. So when you have strong films, you're going to just keep on earning. We like that. And also, because we're considered a studio by Amazon, we're in 120. territories.
Alex Ferrari 25:14
Oh, so you're so you have access much more than amazon video direct, let's say,
Linda Nelson 25:19
Right, exactly. So if you're just an individual filmmaker, and you go on Amazon, all you're getting is US and UK, because you can't even get Germany and Japan anymore, which was they were offering to individuals for a little while, but not anymore. So US and UK is all you can get if you're just an individual filmmaker, which is why that should be your last resort. If you can't find a good distribution partner, then do that. But if you can find a good one, then you can be in 120 territories. So that's what you want to do. Because every day more and more people in all these territories are adopting are adopting, streaming, just like it happened in the United States, Amazon didn't happen overnight, in the United States, we had the first downloadable film from Amazon in 2007. And we have about picture of that on our website. You know, and so here we are 10 years later, and it's firmly established here in the US. But you know, this, it's all new to a lot of the foreign territory. So it's gonna take a little time, I don't think it'll take that long. But it might take two years or three years, but you still want your film there and to have a presence so that you can take advantage of it when it really starts to grab because there won't be that much content there. You know, there's not won't be as much competition. So and, and it used to be on Amazon that foreign territories all earned six cents, no matter how much they were watch. So they changed that, too. So now we get the same opportunity for foreign territories that we do for the US as far as payment tiers. So the other advantage of being with a distributor relative to platforms is that they have they have algorithms that create recommendations for people. And and one of the one of the heaviest weighted out. algorithm element is the studio that you're with. So in other words, if you bring up one of our films, then the recommendation engine or algorithm is going to go out there and look for other indie writes films that might be in the same genre have some of the same actors,
Alex Ferrari 27:28
Because you're a studio according to
Linda Nelson 27:30
Our studio according. So. So that's really, that's really important too, because that really push that surfaces, all of our films, and that really helps.
Alex Ferrari 27:41
Wow, you cut through a lot of the of the you rise to the top.
Linda Nelson 27:45
That's right. That's right. So that's really good. So so then that's it. So now we've talked about s VOD, and TV, VOD. Avon is a very interesting option. And really what a VOD is it's ads. It's a the a part is for advertising. And that stands for that stands for advertising. And so so those channels that are a VOD channels, they're going to insert ads before, during, and after your movie. Now, you know, not too far back, we all watch movies on television. And there were always advertising. So there's a lot of people that are quite comfortable with having ads. My personal preference is to not have ads and be able to watch a movie straight. So but but there's a huge part of the demographic, it really can't afford to spend $120 on cable, or whatever it takes to get all of these subscription charges, you know, so, you know, they don't want to have to pay money to be on prime and pay more money to have Netflix and pay more money for this or that. And so they're quite comfortable. You having a Roku box and watching ads supported channels.
Alex Ferrari 29:05
So so and that's a part of VOD is like Roku, who are some of the services. Well,
Linda Nelson 29:09
The the the top ad supported channel is called tubi. tv. Are you familiar with this? I've
Alex Ferrari 29:17
Seen it on my I seen it as I scan through my apps
Linda Nelson 29:19
Night so so tubi TV is what is the most popular right now. Now, I'm about two years ago, we wanted to get in on this so called Ott market, which is the streaming channels. They're called the Ott for over the top. And they mean it means that they're they're they they're not linear, their streaming channels that are not linear. They're like their apps basically. And and so it means that you can watch what you want when you want to watch it on any device. Right. So it's people are moving away from the old linear model of broadcasting We'll talk about broadcasts in a few minutes, too, because that's important to see what's happening with that. But people no longer want to have a TV Guide and have to look up something and say, Oh, I gotta be home on Tuesday night at three, you know? Right. I mean, I think those days are pretty much over.
Alex Ferrari 30:17
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Linda Nelson 30:28
But so, so there is a huge demographic that is maybe a little bit lower income, right, or maybe less educated, or whatever, they they aren't going to spend the money on prime and Netflix and those expensive subscription channels. And they're quite happy to have ad supported channels. And so tubi is doing huge. And we have films that are if you go to a to b TV right now, you'll see like our top earning film is sitting. It's, it's, it's sometimes its first, sometimes its second, but it's always in the top three or four films on tubi.
Alex Ferrari 31:07
Oh, yeah. And you can you expect to make a decent revenue if your
Linda Nelson 31:12
Films making 20 grand a month?
Alex Ferrari 31:14
Just off to be or? Yes, no, Toby? Wow.
Linda Nelson 31:19
That's what you gotta have, you gotta have a hit, you know, you can't, you know, it's, it's, and you have to really, really work at what you're doing. So it's really important that people understand that, that everybody's not going to make that kind of money that you really have to commit to learning how to use social media and use it well, to engage with your audience.
Alex Ferrari 31:44
I mean, I'll give you a perfect example. I'm, I'm a recent cable cutter. And I cut and I cut my cable for the first time because I discovered YouTube TV.
Linda Nelson 31:53
I love you to
Alex Ferrari 31:54
YouTube TV for 40 bucks a month. I mean, you can't beat it. And the way it allows you to like if you liked the show, let's say the Big Bang Theory, yeah, and you add it to your library automatically, wherever it plays on the in the world that it controls, it will record it for you in order with episodes and by season. So you basically where you used to have to go out and buy DVDs for seasons, you have access to sure with ads, but sometimes you can skip through those ads without even even stopping. It's it's fascinating how the world is changing. Now it's, and let's talk about broadcast. And let's talk about broadcast. Because Is there any 100 left? Well,
Linda Nelson 32:34
I'm gonna just mention that I'm gonna do a plug for us. So two years ago, we thought, Oh, we've got to get in on this Ott model. So we had a subscription channel built called indie rights movies. Okay. Right. And we found it so difficult to get subscribers, because and then we realized, you know, what, we're trying to compete with Netflix. Right? You know, and, and why somebody's gonna pay $5 a month, you know, just to see any rights movies when they can be on Netflix and have access to 1000s and 1000s and 1000s. So we kind of just let it lapse. I mean, it's still there. But we might get one or two new subscribers a month, you know, you know, just, you know, we thought ridiculous. So then, but then, about six months ago, a company approached us that had millions of dollars worth of advertising that they needed to place on a channel, and they built us a beautiful ad supported channel, and that channel is going to launch on September 17. Oh, congratulations. So our goal is to compete with TV TV, and I think we have a good chance at it because I can see that our films are earning well on TV. So, um, you know, I think that, you know, so that is a it's a Roku channel, and you'll see it in the, you know, Roku lineup, and it's indie rights movies for free. And so I think that it's going to be, you know, very good revenue earner for our filmmakers. So, so we're, we're, that's something that we're gonna do.
Alex Ferrari 34:11
That's, um, that's a really see I haven't really not heard of, I mean, I know about Avon, but I did not know, like the inner workings like you've just discussed. So that's a really interesting business model, because you're basically giving it away for you're basically turning into an old school broadcast channel.
Linda Nelson 34:28
That's right. You're basically people can watch what they want when they want to watch it.
Alex Ferrari 34:32
Right and it'll pause. Right so it is the best of both worlds except for that kind of consumer who doesn't want to pay 10 bucks a month for Netflix or 20 bucks a month for HBO or whatever it is. Right? That's really all they have to do is buy a Roku box. That's right, and plug it into their TV and you're out and you're ready to sell and
Linda Nelson 34:53
Even no TVs have those channels built in. Your channel is going to be built into TV.
Alex Ferrari 35:00
Right, right. That's insane. That's insane. So let's talk about broadcast is it? Is there money left?
Linda Nelson 35:08
There, there is some, but it is dwindling and it and linear broadcast is dwindling, the fastest being for the reasons that we just spoke about, people don't want to have to commit to a certain time on a certain date to watch something. So what you're seeing happen is that the big time players in broadcast are now all streaming. So there's HBO now they're stars now there so time now are shifting, they have realized that they've got to shift, you know, into so um, there still will be opportunities for those networks to purchase or license independent content. And and we licensed some of our content to like Starz and Showtime and stuff like that. So it's still there. But it is certainly turning into all streaming. You know, so basically, it's all becoming digital. And Ott, and I think that the regular you know, network aspect of it is just really doomed.
Alex Ferrari 36:23
Do you? Yeah, I was gonna ask you, do you think that network, I mean, there's obviously the three big or the four big networks, but like, the CN ns of the world, the the news networks, the discovery channels, all of those kind of neural streaming. They're all out there as streaming, but but it's cable. I mean, cable is still a thing, it will be a thing for a while.
Linda Nelson 36:46
Did I say? I don't I don't know about that. I think that I think that what's gonna happen is that it's really they're just going to become cable providers. I mean, internet providers. You know, I'm, that's all I use. I have you know, we have at&t. Right, and we am for our business. Obviously, we have to have fast internet. So we have 1000 megabytes per second up and down. Nice. Which is great. But we must have that because we have to download a livery. Yeah, we're delivering electronically. So. So we need that but, but it's a that's all we have. You know, we have we haven't had cable for
Alex Ferrari 37:26
Five years. I think you see you're much more ahead of the game than I was. I literally just cut off my DirecTV. Now, so um, so is there any money left in limited theatrical?
Linda Nelson 37:38
mindset, no money, no prestige and buzz for your film? super important. So
Alex Ferrari 37:45
tell me about limited? Michael.
Linda Nelson 37:47
We we do we do one every week? Okay, so, you know, Friday night, we're always releasing, you know, one film. And we're booked now until early December.
Alex Ferrari 38:01
Here locally in Los Angeles.
Linda Nelson 38:02
Yes, we use right now we use a theater called arena, Sena lounge. It's a 53 seat theater. It's, it's, it's beautiful. It has DC great DCP and great sound, you know, projector and stuff. So we do a one week release for a number of reasons. One, all, just about every one of our films gets an LA Times review, we can't guarantee it. But 95% of them do get an LA Times review, which is very valuable. Many get a Hollywood Reporter review. But what's most important about it is that when you do that one week release, you're getting a Rotten Tomato page. So we get and we get that we order that Rotten Tomato page like two weeks before the film releases. And you also get a Fandango page, though, because that's where tickets are sold. And so those two things are very, very important. People really underestimate how important Rotten Tomatoes is. You know, so if you go on Rotten Tomatoes, and you look up like one of our films like everlasting or stray, and they have all of these fresh tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes is the first place that buyers look after they watch a trailer for a film. They immediately go there and look at that. And we noticed that starting about a year and a half, two years ago at our office at AFM we'd be sitting on the couch, you know, they would you know, they watch a trailer go Yeah, that looks interesting. And then say Hold on a minute. And then he goes our phone and they're on Rotten Tomatoes, looking to see what the tomato scores are.
Alex Ferrari 39:42
Because they don't want to have to watch the movie.
Linda Nelson 39:44
Well, they want to know they want to know what the critics think and they but and they also want to know what the audience thinks. So when we train, we train and educate our filmmakers how to understand what's important, you know, for billing Buzz for their films. So we train them how to get reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Because it's really, really important. And, and and the public uses it to people look up,
Alex Ferrari 40:12
I look it up all the time. Yeah, it's it has become the, for better or worse it can sink a movie or it can make a movie studios hated studios, absolute
Linda Nelson 40:22
Studios hate it because they don't bother to work it. All right. But if you could you can really research critics and write to critics that are approved by rotten tomatoes and, and get good reviews for your film. You know, if you get enough, you know, unless your real film is really horrible. Right? You know, then you won't, but but if you've got a decent film, some are gonna like it, some aren't. Right? I mean, and I find I could never guess like, what's the LA Times reviews? ones I think are going to get a great review don't want it. I think all this one, they'll never think much of this. And they'll get a great review. So I give up and if you know, if someone like me with experience with 500 films, films, can't guess which ones are going to get a decent review the rest of us.
Alex Ferrari 41:10
Yeah, the rest of us aren't gonna be a good producer.
Linda Nelson 41:13
You know, so. So that's important in Fandango. We have films that, you know, the Fandango trailer has gotten over a million reviews. And I can't tell you that really helps on YouTube, because they have all those. Fandango has all those channels on YouTube was trailers.
Alex Ferrari 41:30
Yeah. Is that how that works? Because I always wondered why those channels on YouTube are allowed to play these trailers and not get dinged for the copyright.
Linda Nelson 41:37
Now, because we're they're sent to them by the distributors, like we send those to them, they have our permission. Got it. And you just have to be that if you have a large enough audience on YouTube, then you become Okay. Well, we're, we're a partner with Google. So we have all of our movies go on YouTube movie rentals, of course. So you know, so so when, you know, when we give the trailer to somebody, then it's not gonna, it comes up in a list that somebody got it, and then we just dismiss it. Got it. And if it's somebody, we don't want to have it, then we make them take it down.
Alex Ferrari 42:21
Now, now I'm going to talk about something that you and I had disagreements about the past. I know you I know why, you know what I'm going to talk about
Linda Nelson 42:32
Self versus traditional.
Alex Ferrari 42:33
Yes, there's this issue, because I remember when I was about to release this as Meg, my first feature, I got a message on Facebook, and you're like, please tell me you're not self distributing your movie? I remember you said like, Yes, I am. Why would you do that? What's wrong with you? And I said, and I said, Well, I have an audience, and I think it's gonna be okay. She's like, and then it was a pause. And then you're like, yeah, I'll probably work for you. Because you already have an audience and you can sell it to them. Okay, fine. And that was that that was the exchange, everybody. And was it fine. It was wonderful. No, we made a we made I mean that retirement money, but we made money, and I still get checks every quarter. My partner, I are very happy with the way it went. We sold it to Hulu. We sold it internationally, through through an international distributor who just picked up International.
Linda Nelson 43:24
So you did get a
Alex Ferrari 43:25
Sales agent for international not for domestic. And then now we just found a domestic partner for wraparound rights. But I still maintain s VOD. And I think Amazon and iTunes, those are we control those but everything else they would control for Apple.
Linda Nelson 43:43
But Amazon, are you only in two countries?
Alex Ferrari 43:46
Ah, no, no, we could because we went through the stripper. We had access not to 120. I forgot. It's probably like eight or nine. Yeah, they got a bunch of them. But we pulled all of them off internationally. And because because of the International deals that were going on. So we just literally just control the US, which is where the bulk of our money came from. I'm curious to see what would have happened if we would have gone with someone like yourself. But also that movie was a proof of concept. I wanted to prove to my audience that it could be done. The movie's budget was ridiculously low. So I did not have to recoup a lot of money. Actually, I was in the black when I started shooting because it was crowdfunded. It was an experiment. So it worked out perfectly for what I wanted to do. Will I do that on my next movie coming up? I don't know. We'll see. Right?
Linda Nelson 44:40
So if you if you have a film that you believe has no global opportunity, you might be fine just doing us on Amazon. You know, but if you do a film that has any kind of goal Audience you're always going to be better off with someone to handle worldwide rights. These days, we won't sign a film unless we get global VOD. And the reason we want and then on top of that we actually have two contracts. Now we have a three year contract for domestic distribution, plus global VOD. Alright, so that so that we can, we can do DVD if you want. It's not mandatory, but we have a great DVD blu ray deals. So there's, there's no reason for anybody not to do that. There's no cost. And it's very expensive, then, and we keep our contract term short, because we know that people will love us and stay with us. So we don't worry, we don't have to ask somebody for seven years, or 10 years or 15 years, like most companies still do, right. And we do that because we know you're going to stay because you're going to get paid and more honest, and you're going to get good reports. And we can't guarantee you how much you're going to make. But you will know exactly what's going on with not only us, but other, you know, filmmakers like yourself. And so then, on top of that, we have a one year contract for foreign sales. And that allows that allows us to take your film to Cannes and AFM because we exhibit at both, right. And you don't want to be with a sales rep that's just walking around. You want somebody who's an actual exhibitor. And if the member if possible, let's if does, if does the International Film and Television Alliance, and it's a global organization, they are the ones that put on the American Film market, got it. And that gives you a level of credibility with buyers that you can't get without, you know, you don't have it without that. So you'll notice when you walk around AFM on the door sign, it'll say if the member if they're a member of VISTA, and so instills a level of trust, right. And believe me, they kick out people that that, you know, don't pay and stuff. So it's a good assurance to foreign buyers, that you know, you're going to get their money. So and it's a good assurance to us if we buy from people that are certified. So it's it's like a kind of a verification certification situation. But that one year, and both of those contracts renew automatically unless you decide you want to leave. And out of 650 filmmaker films, we've only ever had three people leave. And that was because they thought they could do better. And we've actually got apologies from if I'm still waiting on the third. So all right, so So anyway, so the reason we like so we want to foreign without the domestic. And the The reason we like to have both, and we prefer to have both, but we will do just domestic and what's the global VOD without the forum. The reason we like to have both is that we then control turning on turning off channels, you know, I mean, territories, you know, where you wouldn't have that if he had two different companies. So what how you had to take down Amazon,
Alex Ferrari 48:40
Right? That was it. That was a little bit of a combo, every time a foreign distributor called me. He's like, Hey, we have a deal in the UK, pull it off.
Linda Nelson 48:48
So so so that way, it's easy for us, we just have a checkbox. So you know, so if we have a buyer for any territory, it's simple enough for us to manage those rights. So so we like that. And that's, you know, so that that makes it very helpful.
Alex Ferrari 49:03
So but there is a but I mean, and I believe I thought with my movie, this is Meg had absolutely no international appeal. It was a drama at about a comedian in Hollywood. It did have recognizable faces. Some faces that, you know, Krista Allen, who was in Baywatch and a bunch of other movies. So we had a few faces, but no stars, you know, our, you know, bankable stars. We thought we had absolutely no appeal, but I was mistaken because we sold China, South Africa, the UK, you know, China for God's sakes. And we I was like, what, how, why? So you'd be amazed.
Linda Nelson 49:44
We sell around 20 films, a market to China. And there are ones that you would not, you know, think you know, had international opportunity. But they do so and we get very, very good revenue for China. Do you? Can you share what you got for China? Or do you not want to do that?
Alex Ferrari 50:11
Um, we got under under 10k.
Linda Nelson 50:15
Okay, so, um, we get we regularly get between 10 and 15. So, you know, so I mean, it's good, because we see, I mean, we have filmmakers that come to us and say, oh, everything's available except for China. We already sell that. And I'll say, Well, how much did you sell for? And I'll go, Oh, we got $1,000 for it. You know, so, so there's tons of people running around out there trying to get rights for China. Don't fall for it. Right. Okay. There be and and this has to do a lot with this all VOD stuff, because there's a huge hunger out there for VOD deals.
Alex Ferrari 50:57
There's a billion people over there.
Linda Nelson 50:59
Right. And so so there's a lot of a lot of brokers running around. They're not really distributors, they're not even really sales agents. They're like brokers. Now, can
Alex Ferrari 51:10
You talk a little bit about DVD and Blu Ray? Is there a market still for that?
Linda Nelson 51:13
Yes. Absolutely. And, uh, specifically, you know, genre. films like horror, horror, fans love to have physical media in their hands, they collect the boxes and all of that stuff. They're collectors. I so but But definitely, you know, there's some DVD sales and you know, like, in all genres, even, you know, like, dramas and Doc's do pretty well, we what we do, we, we had a very bad experience with one of our films, with a DVD company that went bankrupt in the middle of a sale. So in other words, it was all old school, DVD distribution, you had a guess? How many that your, you know, copies, you were going to make them and print them, replicate them and have them all sitting in a warehouse. And then they get shipped out to places and the ones that sell you get paid for. And sometimes they return the ones that don't sell and don't forget to damage and in the end, hopefully, you make a little money. Well, we did this great deal for Walmart 20,000 copies, we had them all made, shipped them off to Walmart A week later, the distributor filed bankruptcy, and we've never seen a penny, guess who had to pay for them? Oh, we did. Right. So that was it. I said that is the last traditional old school DVD blu ray we're ever going to do. So now we want now we work with a manufacturer on demand partner. They're the largest one out there. And they place all of our DVDs and blu rays on about 100 webs, online stores. No charge to the filmmaker, we leave it up to the filmmaker to author the boss of the DVD and blu ray, give us a nice, you know, they give give us artwork, we give them a template. And they give us the ISO file and the artwork and fill in a metadata sheet cost them nothing. They send it to us, we give it to the manufacturer and they make sure it gets distributed on all those websites. If it gets any traction at all. They might get orders for brick and mortar. So like if it's on Walmart's website. And a lot of people are buying it, they might say Okay, give us 10,000 copies, you know, but there's no returns involved at all right? So it's a great opportunity to take advantage of whatever DVD opportunities are still, you know, strong and and I have to tell you, streaming does not work great all over the country. We have a lot of areas and especially in the middle of the countries that don't have internet that's good enough for streaming. Yeah, right or not?
Alex Ferrari 53:59
Oh, yeah. And people end there's a lot of people who are still, I mean, there's generations and people that still want to own or touch, feel their media and they're not I mean, that will change eventually when they die Oh, when my generation dies off. Alright.
Linda Nelson 54:15
But also I have to say that you know, like when you're giving a gift if you want to give a movie as a gift, you know, it's a lot nicer to have it in the box.
Alex Ferrari 54:24
No, no without question without question and it does come with all the special features and the commentary tracks and all that kind of cool stuff. So I buy the occasional DVD blu ray that I won't buy a DVD but occasional blu ray I'll buy will more likely be a Criterion Collection or so that's
Linda Nelson 54:39
Right it's a classic and it's got interviews with everybody and
Alex Ferrari 54:43
In the in the transfers bits been remastered or something like that. If I ever buy one but but it is going down there but it's still going down. I mean the trend is downwards as far as sales are correct. Oh yeah, way. Yeah. It is. It is going away.
Linda Nelson 55:02
Do you think all the DVD stores are closing? There's, I don't know, if there's any left, there's,
Alex Ferrari 55:08
There's, there's one, there's one or two blockbusters left in the country.
Linda Nelson 55:12
And you know, and and and if you keep an eye on the amount of shelf space that's available at like Target or Walmart or Barnes and Noble, that there just is shrinking and shrinking. All
Alex Ferrari 55:24
Right, and there are there are still video stores. I actually live not too far away from two video stores. I can't believe I'm in Burbank. And I will and they've been there for a decade that I've been here. And I'm like, how do they stay in? But apparently, especially for different type of demographics of people that are not that technically, technology is they're not technically inclined. Right? They still want old school blu rays and DVDs. Yeah. So it's a thing. It's still a thing. Now, what is the biggest mistake you see filmmakers make in distribution?
Linda Nelson 56:01
Not doing a proper job during production so that they can facilitate distribution.
Alex Ferrari 56:08
You're talking about deliverables? That's right. I am. So let's talk. Let's talk about deliverables, because that's one of my favorite topics. Because I'm, I got I've made my bones in post. So please, please preach?
Linda Nelson 56:23
Well, unfortunately, if you don't pay very close attention to what you need as a finished product to deliver to distributors, you're not going to be able to distribute your film to the max. And, and we see so many people shoot at frame rates that aren't right. They don't spray Wait, don't forget, next next frame rates, you know, can cause a lot of problems they have poor audio, I think is the most common problem that we have. And you really no matter how cheap a film you're going to do. Make sure that you get somebody that does the sound that knows what they're doing. Very few people that are making new films get clean sound, so they can't make an m&e track, which is what you must have if you're going to really have good foreign sales. We have about a 70% failure rate, first time somebody distributed. So it sends us their deliverables, the most common problem that we get is that they deliver dual mono instead of real stereo. And I swear about, you know, more than half of the films that we get have dual mono, and it's really it's just not doing the settings right, you know, on their editing system.
Alex Ferrari 58:00
And how about five one
Linda Nelson 58:05
Right now, what's absolutely required for if you want to be on the premium channels, like say iTunes and VUDU and Xbox and Amazon and Google Play, Fandango is that you have to have 1980 by 19 9020 by 1080. progress for two to HQ, stereo, that's the minimum if you have that we can get you on anywhere. However, if you want the best quality and I would assume at some time in the future, it may be a requirement, you will want to do 5.1 the 5.1 that's required by premium channels though is not just the 5.6 5.1 channels, it's eight channel 5.1 and that means that you're also adding for Channel seven and eight a stereo left and right stereo so that way they prepare files so that that the system is d determined by the platform and and if you just have stereo they'll play stereo if you have five point if you have a surround sound system they'll play surround sound so that's why they need to have it all available. And then the some of the other problems that we see with deliverables and we no matter how many times we tell people no color bars or tones on the beginning no countdowns we still get those few flames of black and then straight to the movie. That's the way it's got to be and same on the end a few frames about black and no to pop. Right no to pops. That was for broadcast,
Alex Ferrari 59:58
Right it's it's it's a holdover It's a
Linda Nelson 1:00:00
Holdover from broadcast, so people have to learn to get rid of that. So color
Alex Ferrari 1:00:03
Bars is I haven't delivered anything with color bars and years,
Linda Nelson 1:00:07
We still get them. And it's usually from filmmakers that are older that originally, you know, that delivered their previous films to broadcast.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:17
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Linda Nelson 1:00:28
Alright, so so so there's that. And then also, platforms are very strict. You're not allowed to have any URLs or website information on the back end.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:38
Yeah, I heard about Yeah, I came across that,
Linda Nelson 1:00:41
He still get that. And so you, you have to remove all of those. And then the next thing that causes a lot of problems is that we tell people, you must have a G rated trailer. And that means no profanity, no nudity, no extreme violence. And yet, we still keep sometimes you have to go back three or four times with people about, you know, what is a G rated trailer? I mean, you can't show slashing someone's throat. Can so someone shooting someone? Right? Right, right. You can have there can be a gun in it, but you can't show them shooting someone,
Alex Ferrari 1:01:22
But you but you can do some like red band trailers or something like that. Yeah.
Linda Nelson 1:01:27
And everybody should do those, but use those strictly for promotion. Sure. But when you do your deliverables, you must have a G rated trailer and under two minutes. The other thing that is, you know, has been an issue is closed captions. It's a requirement now Bye, everybody, everybody. Ah, and I'm more we we actually asked people to have two types of captions, we asked them for SRT, and SCC. Now, the important thing is that while we use a company and recommend a company called rev Doc,
Alex Ferrari 1:02:07
Yeah, I was about to say rev is,
Linda Nelson 1:02:09
They're they're great. We help them get started. We were one of their first customers.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:13
They're amazing. I've used them.
Linda Nelson 1:02:14
They're great. I promoted heavily. And they now do subtitles for three bucks a minute, which is great. That's insane.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:21
Remember those, the cost like
Linda Nelson 1:02:23
20 920, you know, a couple $1,000. God was the $8 a minute to $10 a minute for captioning. That's right. And so so now they have a really good option for both. Now the important thing is that you must get the FCC first. When you go to read just just order the SEC, do not order SRT first, because most people don't understand the difference between those two formats. The SCC format actually has two important things about it that SRT captions do not necessarily have. One is called placement information. And so especially for docs, or any films that have kind of any burned in information on them, you're not allowed for the captions to overwrite that. So you have to be able to move those conditions to OPERS. Elsewhere, you know, within the frame for that. So if you order SCC first, right, and you get your sec file, then it will have that placement information. The second information that's really important is that closed captions actually were devised for the Deaf. So there are what are called atmospherics. So in other words, anything that's important for a deaf person to know is happening, like a door slams a phone rings, when we're saying Right, right, that's in the SCC file. It will if you order s if you order SRT file, it's really just like a subtitle file in this in the sense that is only spoken dialogue. And you will not get that those two pieces of information and it will fail. Okay, it will fail certain platforms like iTunes and Google Play. Amazon's more lenient, they'll take. They'll take either. But so it's really important to get your sec files first. And then if you do it from ramp, once you have the SEC file, you can hit the edit button and save it in any other format. And it'll discard all that.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:23
No, no, I want to ask you a question about 4k because I get filmmakers just constantly I need a master in 4k. I need to master in 6k I'm like you guys are ridiculous.
Linda Nelson 1:04:35
Stop. Yeah, what? Well, 4k. I wouldn't say stop. No, no,
Alex Ferrari 1:04:39
no, no, no, but like 6k is, you know, I don't 4k is great, but it's not like you said it's not absolutely needed right now.
Linda Nelson 1:04:47
I mean, it's optional right now, but you you should have it. Sure. It's always wonderful to work. But we take it because like we have like on Fandango. We have like 10 4k Films there. It's not the common thing right now but it will be see like right now even on Amazon, they won't even take 4k through Amazon Video.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:06
But it's coming. I mean, look, I mastered $8 million series for Hulu on Hulu original. And they asked for your attend ADP attend ADP for two to HQ stereo, right? That was that was what was going to Hulu I was that, well, if an $8 million shows doing this, I don't know how much this $50,000 indie feature really needs to master in 4k at this point.
Linda Nelson 1:05:28
It doesn't. It's just that it can give give you additional revenue. And and for us, we say, okay, it's optional. We must have that HD,
Alex Ferrari 1:05:38
How much but is it worth spending the money in post and a production to get that 4k? Master in regards to the revenue that that 4k will bring?
Linda Nelson 1:05:50
Okay, depending on your workflow, there might not be any extra cost? Sure. Okay. Nine years ago, we shot delivered in 4k on a red camera and did everything all the editing and mastering everything ourselves, you know, on Adobe Premiere? Sure, it didn't, there was not one penny of extra cost. Okay. All right. Now, if you are on Apple, or you don't have a powerful computer, you're going to have problems. You know, with the workflow and stuff. I mean,
Alex Ferrari 1:06:25
That's what I mean. That's what I mean. Because if you have the the ability to master and 4k, by all means do it. Right. But if it's going to incur extra harddrive cost because the file sizes are larger, that you can't you can't literally push it through your system,
Linda Nelson 1:06:39
Or Yeah, it's not worth
Alex Ferrari 1:06:41
It's just not worth it. No, no, no, of course, you'd
Linda Nelson 1:06:43
Better have a you know, I mean, we had a big tower with 32 gig of RAM and a six terabyte raid attached to it. So, you know, so we could do it. You know,
Alex Ferrari 1:06:56
Right? It was a different Yeah. But if you can do it great. If you don't, don't go Don't kill killing yourself to try to do it. It's not worth it. Absolutely
Linda Nelson 1:07:03
Not. Now, I will say we're not taking any more SD hopes. Up surprise there. People say Oh, but I have this whole film in my library. Can you do that? No, that the exception is a classic horror from the 80s.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:23
Of course, because there's always a market for that, isn't there? Yeah, yeah. There's always a market for that. That's it's an it's a that's a sub genre that that always sells and always will probably sell. Now, can you discuss a sales agent versus a traditional distributor? So if we don't understand,
Linda Nelson 1:07:41
Right? Okay. A sales agent is really just a broker. They don't have any direct relationships with any anyone who has an actual outlet for your film. They are looking for other people. They are actually looking for distributors for your film for you. That's all. And they might take 25 30% for doing that. And then they're going to give it to a distributor who's going to take another 20 30% for actually distributing it. So all of a sudden, you've doubled what you got to pay out.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:18
Does that make sense? Makes perfect sense. Makes perfect sense.
Linda Nelson 1:08:21
So for example, so for the you for us. For the for VOD, we are a distributor, we have a direct relationship with Amazon, we have a direct relationship with Google Play. There's no middlemen in between. We don't have to go to you know, an outside company to encode your film and dilute and our game you don't know aggregator That's right. We we actually do all of that in house.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:50
Got it? So you're the
Linda Nelson 1:08:52
We're the we're the actual distributor. So we're distributing your film. And in fact, we have many sales agents that bring us films. And you're like, Okay, yes. And unfortunately, sometimes their films that we wanted to get, but they weren't with the sales agent instead. And that still winds up with us.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:13
So the filmmakers is
Linda Nelson 1:09:15
That we're paying all we don't even pay the filmmaker, we pay the sales agent. Oh, God, Okay, got it. Now then. Now there are producers reps that are I say gos agent. sales agents call themselves producers reps because that's really what they are. You take someone there are reputable producers reps out there like circus Road Films. And they send a lot of films to us. Right, you know, so,
Alex Ferrari 1:09:42
You know Sebastian and Glen.
Linda Nelson 1:09:43
I know Sebastian and Glenn very well. In fact, I'm doing I'm doing a panel at downtown Film Festival in October and I always have Glenn come and speak. We live for a long time. Glenn's
Alex Ferrari 1:09:56
Actually in my movie. As an actor Glenn and Sebastian are Both movies,
Linda Nelson 1:10:01
You know, and and, and, and he's terrific and you know, wonderful I think a lot of new film makers especially it's their first film, or and they're not they live in Ohio or whatever. And they've gotten in a good festival and they made a great film and they are lost, they have no idea. Also, who's good, who's bad, who they should be working with, and and he is great working with, you know, people that need their handheld for a bit, you know, that are because, you know, like you said distribution is it's daunting.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:35
It is absolutely, and circus Ron, and Sebastian and Glenn are both awesome.
Linda Nelson 1:10:40
And so they they, you know, they send a lot of great films our way and we really appreciate it. Now, Glen also has a social media marketing company called media circus. Yes.
So, you know, because there are still a lot of filmmakers who don't know about post post. And I always make this comparison of that, you know, like, when you make a film, you know, you you're develop, develop your development. And then pre production is like your pregnancy. And then when you get, then you're in production. And at the end, when you have your festival premiere, that's like giving birth. And then you have to nurture your film after post, you've got to do post post, which is nurturing,
Alex Ferrari 1:11:23
You got to raise that baby
Linda Nelson 1:11:25
Gotta raise the baby. Because if you abandon the baby, there's no telling what's gonna happen. Go down the wrong alley. All right, good. So, post post is my new favorite phase. And that's why we educate our filmmaker. That's a great analogy, by the way, the
Alex Ferrari 1:11:42
Baby I did, like, once the baby's born and like, oh, okay, I'm good. And like, No, it's just getting started. Exactly. That's great. And I'm gonna steal that one from you, Linda.
Linda Nelson 1:11:52
Yeah, no, no, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's very true. And, and, and they are films, you know, do consumers and take up our so much of our life while we're making them, and then we just dropped the ball, you know, I mean, it's, you can't do it. So. So education for filmmakers is very important to us, we give all our filmmakers like a 50 page marketing plan, that's only you know, they can't print it. You know, it's, it's strictly in house. And, and it really teaches all the basics, and really good techniques for optimizing all of your social media efforts. When it's really, really important. Plus, we have the private group of all of our filmmakers, and we, you know, share resources and support each other,
Alex Ferrari 1:12:39
You're kind of like an unlock. You're like the unicorn of distributors, honestly. I mean, I think as I speak to you, and I've known about you for obviously for years now, but now but kind of getting back into your inner workings You are so opposite of every other distributor that I've that I deal with like a Facebook group. Could you imagine a Facebook group for some of these distribution companies, they would be flames coming out
Linda Nelson 1:13:05
They couldn't do it. They absolutely couldn't do it.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:10
You know, it's insane. Now, we spoke a little bit about AFM. Can you explain to the audience the importance of AFM to distributors and what exactly you do at AFM. Just a little quick overview of AFM.
Linda Nelson 1:13:22
Okay. AFM is the largest gathering of people in the industry. That happens every year in Santa Monica, they take a big huge hotel Loews hotel, they take all the beds out of the rooms, and they put tables and chairs in there. And all of the people that have content to license rent, basically those rooms and you live there for nine days, and you sit in the room. And what happens is before the event takes place, we get a list of all of the buyers that are registered from the American Film market. And we send what are called avails, which means pertinent information about any films that you're going to be selling at the market. So in other words, we'll have a poster or a trailer or a synopsis description of the genre, you know, information if they've been won any festival awards, cast and crew and and we send those out to all the buyers now because there's a couple of 1000 of them. A lot of them just ignore the those things but others, you know, will actually write back to you and say, I'm interested in this one, this one, this one, I will I'd like to set an appointment. So probably by the time the market starts, our we are booked about half of our time with appointments from people that have responded to those avails that we sent out to the buyers and then then the rest of the time in between The other buyers that come to the market, they walk the hallways. So that there's a book published with every single exhibitor listed in it with a list of the films that they have. And then the buyers actually will walk, there's eight stories of there's eight floors. And so they will actually walk the hallways, and we all have displays of our posters out in the hallway. And if they see something that grabs their mind, or they have sat down with the book and go, Oh, this looks interesting, this looks interesting. And they stop at your office and either set up an appointment, or if you're free, then they'll sit down and talk with you on the spot. And the process is pretty simple. If someone comes in cold, and you say, Hi, how you doing, you know, what do you what kind of films are you interested in? They'll tell you, maybe they'll say, Oh, I just want romance for Korea, or Oh, I just want a horror for Japan, etc. Or they might say, Oh, you know, I'm looking for VOD rights for you know, six different territories or whatever. And so you sit down, and you start to show them what you have. So we bring with there's a couple of different ways for people to see our films. There's two important buyer databases that go along with canon AFM. One is called sin Ando and the exhibitors every time you're exhibiting one of those two markets, your films are on there for a year. So we've been on there for four years now. So our catalogs pretty extensive. And so those online databases have trailers, so that people can actually watch your trailers ahead of time. And that brings in a lot of buyers to the office. And then the other one is called the film catalogs the film catalog, anyone can see, you don't have to be a member. Anyone could go on to film catalog and look up indie rights and see what you could
Alex Ferrari 1:16:56
Sign up. You can sign up for the email list i get i get i get constant emails about all the movies that they have. And you're there all the time.
Linda Nelson 1:17:04
Yeah, we are constantly having new films on that carousel. Because we're if the members, only the films that are uploaded by if the members get to go on that carousel, only about 100 of us 100 150 maybe. So there's a limited number of if the members and people whose films get on there, and you can look, you can look up who's a member and if to online so you can see who you're dealing with. So so that's the process now. Now, sometimes you will actually sit like in Cannes this year at AFM last year in Canada. The very first meeting we had was a company from China called hawala. They sat down with us and they had a list with them already. They said we're interested, we want to see the trailer for this, this, this, this and this. they wound up signing a deal memo before the undercard can for 13 days first meeting first day. That's under 13 films. That's terrific. So now they're regular buyers must have bought from us AFM last year they bought from us and can and there we've already have a meeting set up for them for AFM this year. So what happens? There's still a lot of this business that depends on relationships. I mean, a lot of people think, oh, pretty soon it'll all it'll be done online. And I don't know, I think I like to meet people that I'm doing business with face to face. And I you know, like and my partner is great at sussing out people, somebody walk out, no, go we're not doing business with that. And he has a real really good instincts about that better than me. And so, you know, it's I like meeting people in person. And so those markets, that's where you build those relationships, you know, you might have drinks with someone you might have lunch with someone you know, or, you know, yeah, and, and also they have a buyers lounge. That's great. That's only for if the members where you can go back with the buyers to these very big comfortable gowns with couches and, and they have, you know, players so that they can watch movies, watch your movies, and you can talk about them. So it's a, it's a terrific opportunity just to have to build face to face relationships with buyers. And then, you know, like, people that have been doing that for a long time. They have all the same buyers come back every year and buy content from them. So it's very much a relationship business. And so that takes a while I mean, it's we're on it were our fourth in our fourth year of doing that. And, you know, every year we we build better and better relationships with buyer. That's the process and then and then sometimes people will take they'll say, Okay, I email me a screener for this one or that one and then they go back and they watch the movie in their hotel room. At night, and then they might come back the next day and say, Yes, I want to do a deal memo on that. Otherwise, you go back home after the markets over with and then you have to have follow up emails to all of the people that you send screeners to. And so it can take three, six months to actually finalize some of these deals. So it'll go anywhere from doing a deal memo on the spot, you know, to six months, you know, down the road before you actually combinate a deal with somebody. So it's quite a time it can be a time consuming process.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:36
Now how should look so and I know a lot of filmmakers listening right now they're like, Okay, I'm gonna have a movie I just finished it. I'm gonna go to AFM to see if I can get it sold. And how how should a filmmaker prepare to go to AFM and what they should should they be doing to approach a distributor like yourself, and at what point at AFM, because I know a lot of people make the mistake of trying to do it at the beginning, which you're pretty much packed on.
Linda Nelson 1:21:01
Yeah, I mean, I think a good idea you can do what's called a half market pass, which is the last half of the market. The first half of the market, most of the exhibitors are very busy selling, you know, at meetings that they have already established to had preset, so the half market is is good. And what you should do is do your homework, all you got to do is you can go on to the film catalog, and you can research and find companies, you know that acquire films like your films, like if you if you have a doc, you don't want to go to a company that only does dramas, or you don't want to go to somebody that only does horror film. So you can do all of that research ahead of time and you can actually email any of the companies and try to set an appointment. So that before you get to AFM that way you can cram all the beatings you want into, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:21:58
Those last days.
Linda Nelson 1:21:59
Yeah, those last days. And you guys are interested in Korea? It's Yeah. Oh, absolutely. So it's crazy to go, there was no preparation. I'll just show up. A waste of time. Right? It? Yeah, I would never just show up because, you know, you Where do you start? No, there's, there's, you know, there's 100 offices there. Where do you Where do you start? You know, you need to at least have an idea of what companies might be interested in your type of project. And the same thing if you're looking for financing, because there are a lot of companies there that will finance but you need to set those you should try to set all of those meetings at a time.
Alex Ferrari 1:22:39
So I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all of my, my guests. I think I've added a few since last time we spoke What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?
Linda Nelson 1:22:52
A filmmaker, make the movie that you want to make research heavily before you start production so that you can understand what you need to create. If you want to be able to have your film distributed.
Alex Ferrari 1:23:12
Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?
Linda Nelson 1:23:18
The 4 agreements?
Alex Ferrari 1:23:20
Oh, really? Who wrote that?
Linda Nelson 1:23:23
It is written by a tall tech Shaman Oh, and it is very, very basic way of life.
Alex Ferrari 1:23:41
It's called the Four Agreements, the
Linda Nelson 1:23:43
The Four Agreements, interest and it's something that I give people as gifts if I think they're kinda, you know, like, ready? Yeah. Well, or just, you know, need some good advice about, you know, how to live life and it's a lot about being honest.
Alex Ferrari 1:24:02
No, stop it.
Linda Nelson 1:24:04
It's a lot about always doing your best. And then being okay with that every day, you know, you may not, you know, feel like you've accomplished everything you should accomplish, but just try your best every day. It's about not taking things personally because anyone you interact with, right is filtering everything through their own brain and their own experiences. And it's very easy to get discouraged in our business.
Alex Ferrari 1:24:33
Oh, god, yes.
Linda Nelson 1:24:35
So, to learn that skill, of not taking things, criticism personally from other people, you know, is is really, really important. You know, and you have to look inside and you know, drive your passion, you know, from your insides, not from other people's opinions about what you're doing. And good Those things are really, really important.
Alex Ferrari 1:25:01
I'm gonna look up look up. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Linda Nelson 1:25:14
I would say, living in the present moment to totally stay out of the past. We can learn from the past. But if you live in the past, you wind up feeling a lot of feelings that are not necessarily like regret, and guilt. And they can really get in the way of today. And you really shouldn't spend too much time in the future. because it keeps you from doing stuff today. So it's not even a vision. That's right. And yeah, and there you'll there's so many possibilities. How could you ever really have any real grasp of what it's gonna be? I'll tell you. I my life is so different than
Alex Ferrari 1:26:03
I think everybody's is honestly it's just you'd never
Linda Nelson 1:26:07
Staying in the present is just, you know, really, really important life skill. Learning to stay there.
Alex Ferrari 1:26:14
Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time?
Linda Nelson 1:26:16
Oh, my God,
Alex Ferrari 1:26:17
Just as of today as of right now in the present moment.
Linda Nelson 1:26:22
Alex Ferrari 1:26:23
Oh, yes. Thank you.
Linda Nelson 1:26:25
Casablanca classic. And current soldato, the new Who? Benicio del Toro movie.
Alex Ferrari 1:26:39
Linda Nelson 1:26:40
Alex Ferrari 1:26:41
Oh, you mean Sakario, yes.
Linda Nelson 1:26:43
That was I think it was terrific.
Alex Ferrari 1:26:46
Wonderful. I didn't see the sequel. I heard it was pretty good.
Linda Nelson 1:26:48
Oh, this is the sequel.
Alex Ferrari 1:26:49
Oh, you're talking about the sequel? One? Oh, yeah. No one better than the first?
Linda Nelson 1:26:54
Oh, yeah. If that's possible? Yes. Absolutely.
Alex Ferrari 1:26:59
And and where does
Linda Nelson 1:27:00
That that's an old one, a new one and one in between?
Alex Ferrari 1:27:04
Now, where can people find more about you, and indie REITs. And what you guys are doing?
Linda Nelson 1:27:10
indierights.com is our website. And there's all kinds of historical information on there. What we're doing now movies, we're distributing a place where you can submit your film to us for distribution. And then as of September 17, our new Roku channel indie writes movies for free, will be available on the 17th of September. So we're really excited about that. And of course, we're also on Facebook, and we didn't really talk much about social media marketing, we should do another one, because that's really, really important. But we're we're on YouTube and Instagram and Facebook and Twitter,
Alex Ferrari 1:27:50
I will, I will, I will come back and do another one with you. If you're so generous with your time again, I might do another because we this has become an epic conversation as I knew it would when I asked you to come back on this, I'm like, this is gonna we're gonna be here for a while. So thank you so much for being so generous with your time and dropping and dropping some knowledge bombs on the on the tribe today. So I really appreciate it. Linda, thank you so much.
Linda Nelson 1:28:12
You're very very welcome.
Alex Ferrari 1:28:14
That was epic. I want to thank Linda, so much for dropping an immense amount of knowledge bombs on the tribe today. If you want to get any of her links or how to contact Linda, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/274. And guys, I will be at AFM this year. So I'm going to be flying around I'm going to be there about three or four days. So if you're going to be at AFM, a please message me, email me, let me know we'll grab a coffee, we'll sit down we'll talk and we'll try to schedule a time so we can all you know get together and and just talk shop and see if see if I can help you or be of service to you in any other way I can. So definitely check it out. And if you are in LA, and you have a film that you want to sell or even thinking about making a movie, if you can head over to AFM and even get a day pass just to see how movies are sold. It is very, very, very educational. I went for the first time last year and it blew my mind back this year and I plan to go every year that I can because you always meet people you always learn things there. So definitely check out AFM and I'll put a link to all their information as well in the show notes. And that does it for another episode of the indie film hustle podcast. I hope you have a scary and safe Halloween today guys. So as always, keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.
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