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Building a Minimalist Filmmaking Empire with Matt D’Avella
Today on the show we have minimalist filmmaking guru Matt D’Avella. I had the pleasure of being on Matt’s podcast The GroundUp Show back in 2017 when he was still a young and up and coming podcaster.
One day I turned around and saw that Matt had built a following of over 2 million followers on Youtube. It was official, he was a Youtube star. Matt was able to build this business using his filmmaking toolbox. Before his Youtube fame, he directed an amazing documentary called Minimalism. That film went onto to run on Netflix and was sold around the world.
The video below was watched over 14 million times.
Matt and I discuss his filmmaking, building and marketing his Youtube channel and what it’s like being a minimalist filmmaker. Enjoy my minimal but EPIC conversation with Matt D’Avella.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Matt D’Avella – Official
- Matt D’Avella – Youtube
- Matt D’Avella – Patreon
- Matt D’Avella – Twitter
- Matt D’Avella – Instagram
- $1 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)
- 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 2:03
Now guys, today on the show, we are going to go minimalist, we're actually going to become minimalistic filmmakers. And I'm going to talk to arguably one of the leading minimalist filmmakers out there Matt D'Avella, and Matt runs a YouTube channel that has 2.1 5 million subscribers. And he talks about minimalism filmmaking and creativity. Now I had the pleasure of being on Matt show. years ago when he was first starting out when he was just a young podcaster growing up and building up his audience. And then all of a sudden, I turned around one day and I'm like, Man, what the hell happened? You got like millions of followers now. It was insane. And I wanted to bring, you know what was first of all was honored to be on his show. Even back then, when he was first starting out, because I love his message. He was the director of a movie called minimalism, which was all over Netflix and all over online and, and I loved it. And I've tried to bring more minimalism into my life, not easy with, you know, with a family and kids and things like that. But I've really made an attempt to kind of get rid of and declutter my life. And that's why I love the quote that I use this morning is to collect moments and experiences, not things. And we're going to talk about not only about minimalism, but we're also going to talk about how he markets how he's been able to build a to over 2 million subscriber base on YouTube, how he monetizes what he does, how he This is his full time business at this point. So how he uses Patreon and other avenues to market his his channel and build out a minimalist Empire by using the film entrepreneur method. Of course, whether he knows it or not, he's using the film intrapreneurial method. So I want to talk to him a little bit about how he does what he does, and also how he got distribution. And he sold his movie minimalism and how he was able to leverage that into the next stage of his life. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Matt D'Avella. I like to welcome to the show, Matt D'Avella. Thank you so much for being on the show, brother.
Matt D'Avella 4:20
Alex. Thanks for having me. Dude. Excited to connect with you again, man. It's been a little while.
Alex Ferrari 4:24
Yeah, man. It has been it's been a minute. I mean, when you when I first when you had me on your podcast, in 20' 6 17? 16?
Matt D'Avella 4:35
Probably. We're probably 2017 very early on.
Alex Ferrari 4:38
Yeah, right. Exactly. I came to your to your to your house and we we recorded it. By the way. It's still one of the best interviews I've had and I've abused that video everywhere as you've noticed. I love it. It was It was great. It was a great interview. And, and you had just literally gotten off the boat from New York like you'd like Fresh Off the Boat.
Matt D'Avella 5:01
Yeah, that was a fresh start for my now wife and I, we, you know, it was mostly a personal decision. It wasn't let's move out to LA to be closer to the film industry. I had an established freelance career at that time, and I was moving into doing more original content. For us. It was more so my wife's from Sydney, Australia. So to be able to visit family, you know, 23 hour flight from New York is kind of rough. So we got the direct flight from LA and it's a lot easier now to see family but that said, it's certainly been great just to be in LA there's so many creative people that I've gotten the chance to connect with. So definitely rivals New York in terms of the creative energy for sure.
Alex Ferrari 5:44
Yeah, with up I just literally got back from New York. I was visiting there on vacation and it is such a different energy, man. Oh my God is so I was right in the middle of Midtown. Oh, guys, I was staying in town for like for like four or five days. It was just like, it gets to you after a little while for sure. It just like like you you walk out at like 7am to go to Gregory's to pick up some coffee. And all of a sudden you just like boom, like, is it noon is like what is going on? There's so much action going on? Like that. Yeah, the city does not sleep. Well. La is just chilled much more.
Matt D'Avella 6:18
Right? Well, we lived in West Hollywood. So it was a little bit busier, but definitely not close to New York. And then recently, three months ago, we moved to closer to the beach. So now we're really la live. And it's very chill. I mean, it's it. There's not as much chaos. So for us, we're finding some some stillness and quiet here, which has been great.
Alex Ferrari 6:36
And I'm in the valley. So you know, we're nice and quiet over here as well, for sure. I love it. Yeah. So um, first of all, how did you get into the business?
Matt D'Avella 6:47
So filmmaking was the, I would say the only subject in school in high school that I really excelled at that you didn't have to force me to do. You know, I would be working in study hall hours during lunch hours after school, I was always working on videos and films. And I was very lucky to have a great production school class classes, there's probably three or four, even advanced editing and film classes in my high school, shout out to Mr. Brandt, for his high school, like he did amazing job. He had all we had all the you know, Mac computers, we had Final Cut Pro, I don't know if it was Final Cut Pro five, or whatever it was at the time. I graduated high school in 2006. So before the whole DSLR movement and revolution. And so we were shooting on these like, you know, crappy handy cams and dv tapes. But that's where I started. That's where I fell in love with filmmaking. And that's where I realized that this was, if anything going to be my future and a potential career path moving forward. And at that time, you know, 2006, YouTube is starting to build up, we're starting to see more alternative media versus the traditional Hollywood studio system. And I think just seeing that seeing youtubers get famous seeing videos go viral. This allowed me to see the potential in what it could be and what I could do with film. So that's like, when I would say, I got started, it wasn't probably for another four to four or five years before I ever made a dime doing it.
Alex Ferrari 8:19
Nice. Now, where I first saw you was the documentary minimalism, because I was just scanning through Netflix, I was like, oh, minimalism, I want to be a minimalist is I have too much crap in my life. I want to watch this documentary. And I watched and I loved the documentary. And that's when you're I think I forgot who connected us. It was a mutual friend who met with Yes, yes, Matt. Matt connected us. And he's like, hey, do you know the guys who made minimal I'm like, I don't I would love to be on his podcast. I think that would be awesome to talk minimalism. And that was
Matt D'Avella 8:53
Very, very kind of you to come on the show, because I had probably 50 downloads an episode at the time. And it was definitely one of my favorite episodes early on that, you know, you brought it you you just, you have so much experience both in like the industry and also in the independent stuff. So I learned a lot and you helped me create a bunch of really great little teasers that we got to share around on it's always helpful
Alex Ferrari 9:17
Dude! it was my absolute pleasure. And now the the the foot is on the other shoe as they say because you now have a massive audience, which we will talk about later. But let's get back into minimalism. So tell me about minimalism. How did it come about and and first of all, what is the definition of minimalism by itself and then we'll get into the movie.
Matt D'Avella 9:40
So minimalism is a lifestyle that helps us figure out what's most important in life. It often starts with the things the stuff that you know, of course, most American homes have a lot of clutter. We've got attics and basements and sheds filled with stuff. I certainly know
Alex Ferrari 9:57
Storage companies like that.
Matt D'Avella 10:00
The multibillion dollar industry right? In our houses are what like 3050 times bigger than they were in the 40s. And now we have soared so much stuff that we need to throw them in storage lockers. So I think minimalism, addressed that problem in a big way for a lot of people. And it started with decluttering. And like, let's just clear out the stuff that we don't value don't care about don't look at don't notice anymore. And just curate a set of things that we really love. And we really value and we want to take care of and focus on. But then of course, by getting rid of this stuff, it also allows us much more time to focus on the important things, what we want to get out of life, asked me some deeper questions about where we want to take our lives, what do we want to do? Who are the people that we want to spend our time with? So I think that was probably the biggest thing for me when it came to minimalism. And I probably it was just after I graduated college that I found out about it for myself. Of course, it's not a new idea. But there's this resurgence of the idea of many more people talking about it now. And minimalism helped me to version redefine what my idea of success was, both as a filmmaker as a creative, you know, monetarily, I just thought I had to get to a certain place in order to be happy, I needed to have all the stuff, I need to have a nice car, I need to have a really nice house. And all these things that tech gadgets that I thought I needed to be successful and to feel successful. And then I just realized that after discovering it, that I had enough to be content, I had enough to be happy with where my life was at. Sure, I was still ambitious. And I still wanted to make films and I wanted to be driven creatively. And I you know, I still had these things that I wanted to accomplish in my life. But I wasn't letting that get in the way of my happiness, I was able to take a step back and actually enjoy the journey in the process. Not to say that it was a lightbulb flash instant, everything was perfect. And I was content from that moment on because life gets in the way. We certainly have our struggles, and that's part of life. But it's given me a greater awareness and acceptance for the life I'm living and a much more appreciation for what I have and what I had.
Alex Ferrari 12:12
And then you decided to make a whole documentary about it.
Matt D'Avella 12:15
Yeah, so that came about I had been freelancing for probably seven or eight years, and I had been making pretty good money paying down my student loans, which I had over $98,000
Alex Ferrari 12:28
Oh, my God. Can we just stop for a second? Can we just talk about student debt dude, problem, it's for filmmakers specifically. And I know a lot of I know a lot of people before, I'm going to be actually speaking to someone in the future, or my, in the past, depending on when this gets released, that that was able to pay off their entire 40 or $50,000 student debt in 11 months. And they and they, and they tell you exactly how they did it. And I'm like, Yes, we need to talk about it. I think it's if anyone's listening to this, and you want to be a filmmaker, would you advise putting $98,000 in debt to become a filmmaker
Matt D'Avella 13:11
No and the world has changed a lot since that time. Now there's a lot more opportunities to create on your own. So what I would probably suggest is there are so many alternatives, especially for the first two years of college. So whether you're taking community cap classes, online college, whatever it is, I, I could have significantly reduced the amount of debt and given myself some time to breathe, to find my path. But like, most of the stuff I learned in terms of filmmaking wasn't from sitting down in a class it was from and by the way, I was a broadcast telecommunications major. So it was more so TV. But it was me grabbing a camera, like as cheap as it was. And as bad as the quality was at the time and just running out filming, doing a bunch of stuff, editing on my laptop, and just making films. That's how I got really good. And that's how I started to see myself distance myself from those that were in my class. There were a lot of people my class that were just waiting for the syllabus and for the instructor to tell them how to be a filmmaker how to make a great video. And I was just running out just experimenting, trying different things, because I really loved it. But you couldn't, you couldn't force me not to do it. So I think that's one of the things that you have to learn is that like, the piece of paper nowadays, especially when it comes to creativity and filmmaking, it's it's, it's not going to be as necessary as you think like if I'm going to hire somebody, I'm looking at their work. And I'm getting to know them and understanding if they're going to mesh well with myself and the people I work with. But at the end of the day like I don't need that piece of paper to legitimize your value with a question.
Alex Ferrari 14:43
I even heard that now Google is taking kids right out of high school. They won't even look at people with college salaries, because they're just like, no, we'd rather take someone clean and train them exactly how we want them to have the skills. That's it. It's it's, I've always tell people like look, if you can if you can do it. If you don't have to worry about money, sure, go to film school is fun. Yeah, it's fun. It's a nice four years you'll meet some people be great. But if not, man, I mean, I walked out with about 18 to $20,000 in debt, and I was able to pay that off. Luckily, within a few years after I got out, but $98,000 that's like obscene amount of money, you know,
Matt D'Avella 15:21
Yeah. And that's around the time when I discovered minimalism, and you know, I was living in my parents basement just after college had $98,000 in debt, hardest thing I could think of, which was to buy a brand new car. So now I'm like, $118,000, in debt, I'm just worried. And I feel like a failure. I'm like, What is going on? Like, what am I done with my life, all my friends were going out, getting their starting jobs and starting salaries. And then minimalism helped me to take a step back and kind of redefine that idea of success, like we talked about. And also it gave me a drive a deep drive to want to be debt free to to have that freedom of being able to move where I wanted to take the jobs that I wanted to, you know, a lot of times it's very easy to just focus on filmmaking, or that creative pursuit that you have, when our lives should be taken into account and how flexible we are, how little debt we have, that determines what jobs we can take in the future, and really our career path in general, so we'll get it all matters. So for me, like paying off my debt, it took me about four and a half years, which was just, every, every dollar I made. And as I grew my bit like my business, they pretty well, I grew my business, doing what I did 5060 weddings, probably over the years Bar Mitzvah videos, and get my hands on, started working with tech companies. And I would just pile up money, but I didn't see it as my money I never did. I was like, I'm in debt. This money isn't mine, it belongs to the bank. And that separation for me allowed me to not get attached to the money and not feel like oh my god, like I'm losing something. Because all I saw was I was gaining freedom by paying off my debt.
Alex Ferrari 17:06
It's great way to look at it. Great way to look at I just wanted to talk about that. Because it's something that does not talk it's it's it's it's a complete. It's, it's a it's a crisis, man, it's a crisis, because I anytime I hear a filmmaker telling me like, Oh, yeah, I got 100 grand a debt, and I just got out and I'm like, I just, it just hurts me. Because I know as well as you do, it will take years years for them to pay that back. If they're good. Like it took you what, four years, and you were hustling to try to get it off you were like focused on it. But if you don't, it could take that because like literally walking out with a mortgage of a you know, of a house that you never
Matt D'Avella 17:43
And you're going to end up paying way more. So if you're the person that's like ad, forget about it, it's not even a big problem like
Alex Ferrari 17:49
Interest only interest only.
Matt D'Avella 17:51
You're gonna end up you're gonna end up paying like an addition. Like, if you have 100 grand in debt, you might end up paying 150 175 in 20 to 30 years total. So I mean, it's the smartest thing you could do financially is to wipe out your debt and have a clean record.
Alex Ferrari 18:07
It's all about ROI, man, what's the return on your investment? Is it? Is it worth it or not? Alright, so back to your documentary. So you so you got into minimalism. And then you started, you put this documentary together? How did it come about?
Matt D'Avella 18:19
So I was working freelance, I had set, like a little corny bucket list, they had about 20 items on it from like, fall in love with somebody who doesn't speak English and like a bunch of silly, that's awesome. But then at the top of the list was make a documentary about something I care about. And minimalism was something that had already impacted my life. So that was kind of in the back of my mind. And then I happened to meet these guys, Josh and Ryan, who run a website called the minimalists. They've got an amazing podcast under the same name. And I basically offered to help them out. Like they were coming to New York, they needed somebody to shoot a video for them. So I said, Hey, your guy's work has impacted me greatly. And I would love to somehow get back, help out, shoot a video for you, like, whatever, you'd be willing to charge me, I'd be happy to take it. And, like, again, that's from the fact that I was doing pretty well financially. So I wasn't struggling. I just wanted to work on projects I was passionate about. So a lot of times, it's like you, if you're in that position, cornered against the wall, and you need to make money, you may not be able to do something like that, because maybe they they, they wouldn't be willing to pay you your rate. But anyway, we ended up working together. The video that we videos we put together ended up being they'd really enjoyed them. I thought it turned out great. And we just built the relationship and got to know each other. And then probably three months later, Josh gave me a call. And he's like, hey, like, what do you think about making a documentary about minimalism? And his initial idea was to just do a tour documentary. So pretty basic, like just follow us around on tour and then it'll just be about us. You know, talking about our book and talking About minimalism, and maybe we can make this like 45 minute piece that we can release to our audience. That was kind of the gist of it. But I was thinking a little bit bigger picture. And I was like, Well, you know, this is a massive, or at least in my eyes was a massive movement, it was pretty small at the time. But there was still like, you know, 10s of 1000s of people that were focused and practicing this thing called minimalism. There were blogs that were getting just as many views and hits. So I knew as an idea that was resonating. And I was like this, like, there's really something here. If we interview all these people who are a minimalists, if we maybe find some experts to talk to to help us talk about consumerism, our culture, the American dream, maybe we can understand how we got here. So it started with the tour, like, let's just go out on tour, let's just film you guys, as you continue to spread and talk about this message of minimalism. And then let's interview people along the way and see what we can put together. There was some planning in the beginning, but like Mike Tyson says, everybody's got a plan and to get punched in the jaw and the face. And that's certainly happened with me, we, I mean, you know, I had this beautiful vision of how the scenes would be laid out how every interview would be shot in the same exact way. And then when you get there, and just you, you do the best you can with each situation, each environment you put into. And so we filmed the time, and then took a step back and said, okay, like, what do we have here, we started editing together rough cut 123. Filming more footage was probably a process of two to three years, from the very conception of the idea to at the time, we finally had our theatrical release and debut and we we ended up promoting thing and releasing it online. But it definitely like at least in how it was received was well beyond all of our expectations, because it was just me shooting and editing 95% of it, I had some people and friends help out along the way. And I had a friend color, grade it for cheap. Somebody else that I found Peter Duff, he did the sound mix for cheap. And so we were able to really make it work. But we didn't think it was going to be like a hit, we didn't think anybody was going to really watch it. Because a lot of documentaries, go to Netflix to die, they can at least you know, there's hundreds and hundreds of documentaries and probably 1000s of documentaries on there. So we didn't have expectations that it was going to do well. We were just we just wanted to hopefully make our money back, or really make a film that we cared about and could
Alex Ferrari 22:34
help some people. But so but the thing that I find fascinating, and I always kind of preach this as well as you guys, at least you were thinking about this, more than then the boys were that there was a niche audience here, there was a niche audience that was growing. It was it was about the hockey stick up as far as the trajectory of the minimalist, because now minimalism is it's a lot more mainstream than it was. Yeah, when you guys were starting?
Matt D'Avella 23:01
Totally, you're always gonna have uncertainty, I think like, you're never gonna be like, you're totally like, there's definitely going to be people who buy this film. But we had a great, I mean, we probably ended up spending around $50,000 on the film, totally, maybe 70. You know, that's like after colour sound. We had original music score, which probably cost the most, which helped us in terms of like, then we didn't have to deal with licensing because licensing can be like really tough. All the legal stuff is is dependent on challenging to navigate. But yeah, we like we didn't have any expectations. And but we did know that, hey, they have a decent sized audience. I don't know how many people were like whether it was 50 or 100,000 people a month that went to their blog. But I was like, That's enough, I think to make our money back. And what year was that? By the way?
Alex Ferrari 23:48
What year was that?
Matt D'Avella 23:49
2016 is when we released it. So at the end of 2016.
Alex Ferrari 23:53
Right? So yeah, so so you so you released? How did you distributed them yourself? distributed it at first?
Matt D'Avella 23:59
Yeah, so we, you know, we reached out to Netflix and a few other places, and we got turned down from all of them, including Netflix,
Alex Ferrari 24:06
how did you turn it? How did you reach out to them? Like, just out of curiosity?
Matt D'Avella 24:10
I that was one of the great things about just having a team is that like I worked on the film and the making of it. And then Josh and Ryan from the minimalist. They are the ones that went out the producers to get it sold and to figure out the distribution model. But and I don't know if they had a connection there maybe they I think maybe it was through gather, which was the distributor. So they did our theatrical release where I think we went to a couple 100 theaters you know, mistake in hindsight just because the theaters we there was just cuts coming left and right for different people theaters get a half a cut. Then like distribution company gets half of what's leftover. And then by the time at the end of the day, like I think we made like $250,000 from the theatrical release, and then pocketed pocket Probably, I don't know, five to 10 or something each. So, yes. But,
Alex Ferrari 25:05
but the movie did use by self distributing it through, because gathers kind of like a kind of like a tug or something like along those lines. Right.
Matt D'Avella 25:12
Exactly. There were that Yeah, they basically a tug competitor. So yeah, they certainly helped us out with that. And then we did, it was cool to have theater run, I'm not gonna lie like I went to one of the screenings in New York and to see a line wrapped around the block like 400 people was mind blowing and terrifying at the same time. Sure, like, you know, the experience that you had your premiere at the Chinese Theater in West Hollywood, like just a surreal experience to be there to see a film premiered of your own. But yeah, it was a then we ended up just doing independent. So we just said, Alright, we did the theatrical release, we can't get it on Netflix or anywhere. Let's put it on Vimeo. So we did Vimeo for a month. I don't know why we did it. We they didn't give us any exclusivity deal. But we said, let's just make it simple for people just one place to buy it. So we really shouldn't do for a month. And then we put it on iTunes, and a bunch of other places. And then it ended up going to the top 10 on iTunes.
Alex Ferrari 26:10
I think it was one of the top 10 of documentaries are top 10 of all.
Matt D'Avella 26:15
I think it was documentary. Okay. It might have been of all I don't know, it was I don't know, say something it was I have a screenshot of it somewhere. I'd have to like look into it. But I don't I don't think it was top 10 of all movies, because that would have been that would have been nuts.
Alex Ferrari 26:27
But even top 10 of documentaries is huge.
Matt D'Avella 26:30
Yeah. So it did very well. And it was a Ben, I think it was at that point that we re initiated conversations with Netflix, but like, hey, it did really well, like a lot of people are connecting with this film. And then we were able to gather connected with this third party company, Kino lorber, who's a distributor who finally got us onto Netflix. And again, we weren't sure how it was going to do if it was going to even perform well, are people going to see it? But then just that I think it was just the right timing the right idea. And we executed on it well enough that it ended up trending. And it was certainly seen by way more people that we thought were nice,
Alex Ferrari 27:07
no, was that self distribution model to get to Netflix? Did that make financial sense? I mean, what was like the experience cuz you'd like you've already named to other people that are taking cuts? Before Netflix, you know? So like, so how does that on a financial standpoint? How did that makes? Did it make sense? And was it worth it, even if you didn't make a lot of money just to have the exposure.
Matt D'Avella 27:28
So you're probably gonna make more money from like, the independent releasing, like, if your film does well, right, you're gonna, you might get a guarantee from a Netflix or Hulu. But if the film does really well, you're you have more upside if you just release it independently, financially. That said, if you don't have the audience promote it, if you're not able to push it in that way, Netflix may also be able to get you more leverage and connect you with a larger audience. So that's like the balance that you always have to think about. Although I think most filmmakers today would just be stoked to get a film on Netflix, it's a great credit to have it really I think will bolster your resume to be like, I you know, directed that documentary on Netflix or made a film for Netflix, so hard to turn that down, even if financially, it wasn't going to be as lucrative as doing something else. But you're also building relationships. So you should never see your career as a one off one hit, just trying to make one movie that pays all the money. Sometimes it works out like that sometimes you're Joe Rogan, you do fear factor, and then you technically don't have to work again for the rest of your life. For most people, you know, we want to make a career out of this, we want to keep making films. So if you get one film on Netflix, then you can potentially have discussions and talk with them about creating a follow up or a new documentary or something else in the future. And that's definitely something that we've done.
Alex Ferrari 28:53
That's awesome. And now, before we get into YouTube, man, you had a freelance business, I'm assuming you're not doing as much freelance anymore.
Matt D'Avella 29:02
I'm not doing any freelance anymore. And it was hard to turn away from because I loved it. I love doing client work, especially the further I got along into it because the more selective you can be, and the more I was just working with clients I love. As I mentioned, I did weddings and bar mitzvahs and local TV commercials, like anything I could get my hands on to build my skills and expertise. And then as that evolved, I started working with more startups and tech companies. I worked with a company envision a lot which they're an amazing prototyping design tool. They ended up funding a full feature length documentary called design disruptors, which is where we went and we interviewed with Airbnb and Twitter and Facebook and I google, the self driving car division at Google to like, talk about how they design experiences today for consumers and people. They use technology, which is basically everybody. And so it was a fun, it was exciting and I was working on really creative projects. They all had pretty good budgets. So and I was making good money, but then I released minimalism. And I was like, I like this better. You know what I mean? Like, and it's more challenging. And it's gonna be way more risky. If I drop all client work and go full in on creating original content. And like it truly was a risk, like I'm talking about making hundreds of 1000s of dollars a year to making $0 a year. And I didn't make a dime for it was like a year and a half, pursuing YouTube. But that transition was one that I knew I had to make, because as much as I loved the freelance stuff, as much as I was connected and tied to it, I knew that there was a bigger challenge for me to face and I would regret it if I didn't do it.
Alex Ferrari 30:44
Yeah. And same goes for me, I was, you know, I had my my striving, my thriving post production business I've had for 20 years, and I within the last year and a half, I stopped, I just said, I'm just not I've turned I turned down work now, because now I'm doing full time indie film, hustle, and from shoprunner and all the things that I do with it, and it's time dude, like, you can't do it all as much as you would love to have all the time. And I know you do you work harder than anybody I doubt.
Matt D'Avella 31:13
So I know just how I'm sure how much you probably push yourself to do both at the same time. It's just a different point, you gotta you gotta put your family first. And you need to make sure that you're not sacrificing too much.
Alex Ferrari 31:24
And very much like you like you just start figuring out what makes you happy? And what and what is your new definition of success and happiness. And that took me years to figure out I mean, you're a bit younger than I am. But, but we've both figured it out, I wish it would have figured out your age. But I figured it out, I figured it out of my agent and, and I said you know what I just I don't know, I like doing this I like waking up in the morning creating content, being of service to my community, and also go out and get to make my own films, write books, do other things. And it's just so much more satisfying as a human being to do all that and as a creative to do all that then it is just to do client work and, and deal with the politics and deal with the I have to chase money or I have to go do this, all this other stuff.
Matt D'Avella 32:14
The dream, dude. I mean, like it is. That's what stand up comedians, like if, like, their goal for at least most of them. There's obviously a handful of people who just want to be famous, just like people who get into YouTube. But like the dream is to make a living doing what you love to make a living making films or doing stand up comedy, whatever it is, and making a living is paying the bills, period. And if you can get to that point, like I think that's what most people should be striving for. And you get you fall into the trap of always wanting more and more. And that's where I think you could potentially you're going to hurt your happiness because if you're constantly chasing happiness or chasing this success or whatever it is, that presupposes that you don't have it now and you likely never will. Right by being content in the moment and like just being grateful for the fact that we can do this for a living I think it's that's everything.
Alex Ferrari 33:05
Yeah, because most filmmakers I know I did get caught up in the hole I need to you know, get into the studio system. I need to make big huge movies, I need to be a millionaire I need to live in the Hollywood Hills and and live that lifestyle. And that's the definition you know, of being a successful filmmaker where that is a definition for some people. But it's okay to make a living making or being a filmmaker or doing things in the film industry. That is not Gino shooting Avengers, or avatar, it is like it's, it's okay. And you know, how many directors get to do that? Literally. Like how many studio directors are there literally, like, I don't know, a few 100
Matt D'Avella 33:47
you know that like maybe 1000 guys in the hit like we're talking about 5060 year generation here filmmakers like from Scorsese. All the way to Nolan and Fincher like, there's not a lot of dudes that get 100 $200 million check. It's just and, and he I mean, I don't know each of these people personally. But I certainly know that a lot of these top directors have a lot of stress in their lives. And it's I mean, to be at the top is not something that we all should admire. Because, you know, if you polled the 1000 people who potentially do these big budget films, and you ask them all how happy they are, and how content they are, like, I would be surprised if more than 50% of them were like thrilled with their life or their life was in balance. There's a lot of things that we don't see from the outside. And I think if you're constantly trying to and I could be wrong, but I think if we're constantly trying to have these extrinsic rewards and these external measures of success, fame, wealth, instead of looking internally about are we content Are we happy with what we have or we filled with our jobs and our family? Then we're going to be making a big mistake because There's always no more stuck, you always have more crap. Or you can always have a bigger film. And you know, you have a hit film, but what happens if the next film flops and like nobody watches it and then your career is over? If you didn't have do those internal and ask those internal questions first, then it's going to be a pretty big fall from the top.
Alex Ferrari 35:18
Yeah, no question. And imagine the pressure man, like you and I've done production. So like, you know, imagine you have, you know, a quarter million dollars on your head, as a director, producer, or a million dollars on your head as a director, producer, that's stressful, that's stressful. And you have to make your day, you got to deal with the talent that's having an issue, because you know, they had a breakup with their boyfriend or girlfriend now we have to, and now they're slowing down production. So now you can't get your day and then the producer is going to be yelling at you. And, and there's all these other things. And let's not even talk about if it's a success or not, that's just making the damn thing, let alone trying to be as successful. And that's at a million dollar level. Can you imagine at a 50 100 $200 million level? There is a few human beings on the planet that really have that capability. Do I mean, will I take the meeting for Marvel? Absolutely. I will take that meeting. I think you would take the meeting. I mean, if you'd like, let's say you take the meeting, you take the meeting, you know, you take the meeting. But like that unit, I'm sure you know, the duplass brothers, right? They they took that meeting for Marvel? And they said no, because they're like, snat, really what we want to do, and that's a really strong conviction of who they are what makes them happy. They have that definition very clear where everybody else in Hollywood would kill for that job. 100%.
Matt D'Avella 36:42
Yeah, the ability to say no, I think is a muscle that not enough people work at. And Greg McEwen who wrote the book, essentialism, talks about the myth of success, how you get to the point where you work your whole life to be successful, you finally get it. And then all of a sudden, you get all these amazing opportunities, all these other opportunities to say yes to things. So people start taking it. And like startups and tech companies fall into this trap, they start trying to do everything they possibly can, because now they have the resources in the team to try to go after it. But then they lose sight of what got them success in the first place. So you have to develop that muscle the ability to say no, especially if you're looking for happiness and contentment. If all you're looking for is financially rewarding game, you'll say yes to a bunch of other things. And then you know, it could fall in your face. And it could end up not working out well for you. If you say yes to too much.
Alex Ferrari 37:36
So you shouldn't do for Transformers movies in a row is what you're telling me. And my gray hair might end up coming out here. After the third one, she would have said yes to the first one. Mr. baisha. Could we have just left that alone and moved on to a bigger, you know? Yeah, I hear you. I love Mike. I do I do. I'm a I'm a big fan of his first few films, the rock, I still think it's like one of the best action movies ever made. So so good.
Matt D'Avella 38:06
I mean, that's the cool thing about like, making films too, is that like, yeah, you're personally happy with the work that you make, and like you make a film that you're really proud of? I think like sometimes, like that's enough to keep you going to be proud of because like, he can't do a knock on a park every single time you make a movie. It's gonna be downs, for sure. And I'm not talking about Michael Bay.
Alex Ferrari 38:29
I was about to say like, yeah, that's all nice and dandy, but when it costs $150 million to kind of have to worry about if it's, if you want to do the making another one if you don't, exactly. Alright, so let's get into YouTube brother, because when I met you, you were doing a podcast, and you were kind of playing around in YouTube, but you weren't really deep in yet. I mean, you did you do? Were you making videos at that point?
Matt D'Avella 38:55
I think that's a good way to look at it. I was basically following the Joe Rogan method, which is, you know, he's got a YouTube channel. And he's got his main podcast. And what you see with Joe Rogan is a lot of excerpts from that podcast. So you record this for him a three hour interview, but I might do an hour or two tops. And then I can cut it up into all these short clips, and then I can post it on my YouTube channel. Yeah, sure. So that was like my main
Alex Ferrari 39:23
focus, but you were focusing on building a YouTube, you're like, I'm gonna do something in YouTube. It wasn't like,
Matt D'Avella 39:29
it wasn't me. It was the pot and the podcast was my main form of content, especially for the first year as I as I started to make original content. I thought the podcast was the thing that was going to be my bread and butter and be my, you know, financial income as well as my creative pursuit. But then, basically, I did that for a very long time. And I just didn't get any views. And I there was, you know, and I knew that I gave I was giving myself like two to three years and I had a runway from my freelance career that I was able to, you know, just dedicate myself at least for a year, maybe two years. And also having a wife that supported me financially helped me out a whole lot.
Alex Ferrari 40:09
Matt D'Avella 40:10
Yes. Shout out to the wives out there that down. Yeah, cuz that definitely it just it's more so peace of mind and like made me feel comfortable doing it and having her support allowed me to pursue it. But the podcast, it grew a little bit, I was getting a few 1000 downloads a month, but it wasn't at the point where it's financially viable for me. So I was like, Alright, what can I do now to like, just switch things up. And then I just, you know, started watching more YouTube videos and just was paying attention to what other people were doing. And then said, You know what, why don't I do like a minimalist apartment tour, I think there was a couple of videos I did early on. One was just like traveling simply like how I remember that level, while being simple. And it was more It was really voiceover as well as just vacation footage, a recent trip that I'd taken to Hawaii, I believe. And then the next video I did was my minimalist apartment. And then that one was the first video I made that really took off. So it wasn't just a cliche, like, tour like, Hey, guys, it wasn't like MTV Cribs. Welcome to my apartment. This is my stuff.
Alex Ferrari 41:16
cribs, you've dated yourself, sir. Yeah.
Matt D'Avella 41:20
And so in that video, it was like, I tried to make it really cinematic. I tried to use all this expertise that I had created over the years to make something that was that was interesting and informative and funny and had my personality in it. So I basically just chop together this video, put it on YouTube. And then within a week, I think it got 20,000 views, which was like
Alex Ferrari 41:45
down the rhythm. The algorithm just picked it up.
Matt D'Avella 41:47
The algorithm picked it up because I didn't have an audience, then I had maybe 3000 subscribers. So like, yeah, maybe it would have gotten 400 views. But then it just took off in a way that I hadn't seen with any other video. And then that moment changed everything. And then I'm like, oh, okay, now I get it. I'm starting to like see the matrix code that dates me to a little bit too probably. But I'm starting to like see in between the lines. And I'm like, this is the kind of content I should be making. It should be thoughtful, I should take my time to create it. And I shouldn't feel like I need to release three videos every week. So I just started out by doing one video a week, whether it was on minimalism, simple living, focusing on things that I was interested in talking about, mostly talking about myself and experiences that I had had why I became a minimalist how to be in a relationship with somebody who isn't a minimalist. And then it was a good one. Yeah, that was certainly I think a lot of people resonate with that, because just had living with somebody who has a different lifestyle, certainly is not the easiest thing to navigate for people. But for us, we've made a channel like I released my minimalist department that started to grow. And that's when my my audience and my youtube channel started to take off.
Alex Ferrari 42:59
Yeah, so you were still doing your podcast at that time. And but you start seeing that this other content was taking off more and more. What What have you learned about building an audience? You know, because you built Well, first of all, there was a moment because you were doing those videos, and I was watching you. Because I was I was as a subscriber of yours. I was watching what you were doing. And then there was a moment that there was an explosion, like there was like, You were like, all of a sudden, I looked over and you're like, he's got 100,000 followers, like how did that happen? He's got 200,000 followers, like how, like if there was something that happened, what was that thing that happened that like just exploded? You exploded your channel? Yeah,
Matt D'Avella 43:39
that was a really exciting time, especially looking back on it and seeing, it's almost like watching it from another perspective. Like it wasn't happening to me, it was happening to somebody else. I basically had put out that one video, my minimalist apartment, and I started to make similar videos, and they started to do pretty well. So I had a streak of about a month where my channel was naturally growing. So maybe I like just natively through the algorithm through people watching and subscribing. I think I grew to around 15,000 subscribers or so. And then I was featured as a creator on the rise. So YouTube pick me up in the algorithm, they saw that my channel was doing really well and growing quickly. And then when they put me on that homepage thing and featured me as a creator on the rise, which is like an amazing experience and surreal like when they saw I guess they saw YouTube saw it and then they just they picked me they probably have some way of sorting and figuring out like okay, these channels are growing quickly. Let's check to make sure they're kosher and like they actually it was it would fit with putting them on the homepage of the trending. So if you went to youtube.com slash trending the whole category there and made it there and then probably in a day I got like 15,000 subscribers right so it doubled in a day. And then each day after that it was still like picking up and then I probably in the course of that few months. Like you said, got to about 100,000 subscribers. So it happened very, very quickly. And that happened. That was a big moment. And that's what I've been a huge growth started and then, but you have now a foundation to be able to build upon, which was was exciting and knowing and like a little bit nerve wracking to write because you're like, I'm uploading videos. And now people are watching, it was easy when nobody cared and like, I wasn't expecting anything. But now I expect a lot of people to watch it. And so that was certainly a learning lesson and something that I had to grow into.
Alex Ferrari 45:33
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Matt D'Avella 45:44
And there was actually another moment, last October, so not even that long ago, in the past year that my I did for video, I think I had four or five videos go viral, like hit over a million views back to back to back. And one of them was a day in the life of a minimalist, which currently has, it's my most viewed video, it has over 11 million views. And like so. So that all is crazy. And I think I got 200,000 subscribers in a month, just from that month alone. And then from there, like that's how it's been kind of snowballed into what it is today. But, you know, it's, it's, it's awesome. It's great. I like originally, my goal was to get 15,000 subscribers, I thought if I can get 15,000, I'm pretty sure I can make a living doing this. So everything else has been cake on top of it. It's been very cool to be a part of and just, I've just been blown away by how nice people have been in the YouTube comments that there's like really community, they're people who are working on themselves and trying to learn and they're not being critical or judgmental. Of course, yeah, I got a few little negative nancies in the comment section every once in a while. But for the most part, everybody's just been super awesome. And it's just been, it's been an amazing thing to be a part of, and certainly something I'm proud of. And the big tip there i think is and people listening thinking about trying to do something like this is that you were hustling out content for a while before anything happens. So
Alex Ferrari 47:16
by the time that YouTube showed up, it wasn't that you had two videos up there, you had a lot of content up there. And they said, Oh, wait a minute, there is a lot of content. So when people started to show up, they subscribe. Not all for one video, but they described because you had a portfolio or a library of videos already created. But you weren't getting any money for those and you weren't getting any kind of views for those, but you just kind of just just kept grinding until something.
Matt D'Avella 47:42
And it was it was 10 years to to that point, right of doing freelance and working on films. And again, like not making any money. Like I didn't make money in the beginning when I first started freelancing. That's not why I made videos to begin with. And I wasn't making money early on to YouTube, not why I did it. And you couldn't stop me, you couldn't stop me from making videos, like I loved it. You know, I mean, that would be torture to me. If somebody were to take away all my cameras and say that I can't make films anymore, it would be a struggle for me to figure out something else to do with my life. So I was gonna do that no matter what whether, you know, of course, there was always the potential that it wasn't going to work out. And I think that's something that everybody needs to come to terms with. It may not. And it's certainly not going to come turn out to be the life you'd imagined or it's not going to happen the way you might expect it to happen. But you have to continually focus on what you love. So for me, like, if I didn't make it as a YouTuber, I would have just done freelance again. And I wouldn't have been, I wouldn't have felt like a failure, I would have been so proud that I tried that I actually made the attempt. And then if it didn't work in three, four years, whatever time we decided, hey, like, you know, we need to pay for the wedding. Or we, you know, we need to, you know, Natalie, we might get a house or we have kids and we have even more bills that we need to take care of. I had an opportunity to go after it. And if it didn't work, that'd be fine. I'll do freelance and I'll still make videos. Maybe I'll take another stab at it again in the future. But you know, you always have options. And I still always in the back of my mind in the back pocket is like wedding films. I'm like if everything falls apart, and nobody ever watches a YouTube video of mine again, and I cannot build a freelance career again. I'll just start making you make wedding films and I would be totally fine to do that and like it's good money and I could still make videos. So that to me like just it's almost like just a security wall for me that I just know like I'm always going to be doing this no matter what unless I go blind or something happens to me knock on wood. But I think unless anything like that happens I'm still going to continue to make videos. What I also
Alex Ferrari 49:51
find fascinating about your your meteoric rise, if you will in the YouTube space is that money was not The main focus of what you were doing I mean, it was to assume you have to make money to survive. But you did not turn on advertising. You You are your model is very different than others. So can you talk a little bit about the business aspect of your YouTube channel?
Matt D'Avella 50:17
Yeah. So for the first I mean, what did I guess? A year and a half, two years? I did not turn on monetization. I did not do any sponsorships. And like I certainly, I mean, it was, oh, I mean, at least half a million dollars. Yeah, I gave up. But yeah. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 50:36
I'm looking, I'm thinking to myself, like, what's Why? But I'd love to do this. Why we're asking?
Matt D'Avella 50:41
Sure. Well, in the beginning, it didn't matter. Because I wasn't, you know, I didn't have any views in the beginning. So I had no intention to turn it on. And I was more interested in making something popular, interesting, valuable than I was about making money off of it. Because even when I just started to gain that traction beginning, I was like, I would rather I would trade a view for $1. I'm not that I would, I'm not that I would buy views. But basically, when you have advertising, you're going to lose a certain amount of people that are going to be clicking on the ads. That's it. That's what the advertisers pay for. So forget it. Like, let me just actually focus on views and garnon, building an audience and building a community first, and then I'll figure out the money down the road. I did start Patreon. Last year, late last year, maybe around October or so maybe over the summer. And that was my main way to you know, raise money to do that. Do what I do, I create additional videos and podcasts and all that stuff. And then I was able to make good money doing that. And then just recently, I decided to finally turn on monetization and sponsorships to do a six month trial to see one with Does that hurt views? Does it do? How do I feel about that? Am I feeling good about the partnerships I'm making in the companies that I'm working with? I feel like it just distracts and takes away from the video too much. And then can I use that money to invest back in my videos and make even better videos maybe travel more and do more films outside of my apartment outside of Los Angeles and then invest more into maybe feature like documentaries, maybe I can produce it whether it's a YouTube original or another Netflix film. There's a lot of awesome things that you can do with money and yeah, I don't need to buy a lot of stuff but I've got all this I literally have all this stuff I need besides like camera gear and film gear which is like you know continue to always invest in yours you need to continually make sure you have your cameras up to the right standards and because we love it and we want to make better films, but so that's where I'm investing like all the money I make like obviously you got the 401k we got the wedding fund we've got like a fun to potentially buy a house in the future but for right now it's like I'm just trying to make the best films I can and money certainly helps.
Alex Ferrari 52:58
That's awesome. I do want to talk a quick about one of your videos because it's something that's dear to my heart You You took a cold shower for 30 days oh yeah did I was kind of sucked I've been taking a cold shower now for four months now five months wow i like i love it i love it i actually actually when it's when the when the the the hot water accidentally gets turned on or something like that. I freak out I don't like it. I don't like hot
Matt D'Avella 53:28
water Yeah, I don't like no water no experience like taking a hot shower after that 30 days but I do the cold shower is wakes you up like nothing else like no cup of coffee ever could. Yeah, and it's just refreshing to and now sometimes I'll like I don't take cold showers right now like not religiously. But I will like end on a cold shower. I love doing cold plunges like I love jumping into the ocean like to me. Nothing feels better than just like freezing cold water. I don't know what it is about it. But it definitely like it talks. It changes your state in an instant. So if you're like anxious or nervous or whatever, if you happen to have a cold shower, gone, cannot think about anything else. Like the pain you're experiencing. But it's a good pain, right.
Alex Ferrari 54:13
But like the thing is, is and I've told people about it, I started doing it because of the half, half mess, the half method, The Iceman, the guy who does? Yeah, well, exactly. And I started studying his stuff. And when I started taking that cold, I started cold showers. I realized that one every single thing that my mind was telling me to why I should not get into the cold shower, is the same excuses. It told me about not making a feature film or not doing this because it was such a huge It was such an outside the box thing. your brains there. And I've said this a bunch of times on my podcast, your brain is there. It doesn't care about your happiness. It doesn't give a crap about view. Get into your dream. It only cares about survival, it only cares about itself and a cold showers that that equation at first where it you have to kind of break through that meant that mental block and trust me do that first month. And you know it was I started the same way I start off warm and then slowly cool it off. And now like literally this morning I went to the shower. And I put on like a little like it's just a drop of hot water, just a drop, just a snap, absolute freezing. But then as I'm watching, like, it's too hot, and I took it off, I'll go all the way
Matt D'Avella 55:34
you adapt to it to think like you adapt both physically and mentally in terms of how you are prepared to take it. And there's a great book that does talk about this. The the flinch by Julian Smith. And it's about basically you know, when you if you're boxing and you're in a fight, and somebody snaps their their hand at you and snaps in jab at you, if you flinch, you're not going to win that fight. So boxers over time develop this no flinch mentality. So if somebody can take a swing at them, they have to always be there locked in. And if they close their eyes, then they're going to get clobbered. And that's what we do in life all the time. We're flinching at these big opportunities, these things that scare us. And instead we're deciding not to go on that date not to make that film not to take that cold shower. And a cold shower is one of those things that it there's no harm in it. Once you have like problems with your heart, you're not going to have any negative repercussions because of it. It's strictly a personal thing, you feel a little bit uncomfortable. And the more we can embrace those uncomfortable situations, the better. We're going to be able to do that throughout the rest of our life.
Alex Ferrari 56:42
Yeah, and there's also health benefits too. And I remember I was worse. I wasn't as sore as I was when I worked out because it's just there's a reason why athletes take ice baths.
Matt D'Avella 56:51
Yeah, totally. Yeah, I love the cold plunge like that would be like a dream of mine. An ideal world to have a cold plunge at my house and then maybe a little sauna to be able to do the cycle back and forth.
Alex Ferrari 57:03
That's what Tony Robbins says Tony Robbins has like this. This dunk this dunk. But he just has it's like a hole in the ground. He just read degrees or whatever he drops in. And then he jumps over into the sauna like Oh, so good. Yeah. People I know listening right now are watching. They're like, these guys are crazy.
Matt D'Avella 57:21
These guys are not like you have to actually try it. And I would definitely recommend if you are just getting into it, maybe go to a spa or sauna that has it where you can do the sauna cold plunge because that's like, it's certainly an experience. For sure. Someone you'll remember,
Alex Ferrari 57:37
I think it's more of a mental exercises than a physical one. Because it's all mental, like your body can handle it, your body, your body will tell you to stop about 20% before your body will snap. So it's just it's just evolution, it's there to protect you. But your body can handle a lot more than your mind thinks it can. And if you can break through that it does help a lot on our filmmaking journey in our life journey, just being able to break through that uncomfortable state because what do we all always try to do? You know, avoid pain and go towards pleasure. We're always trying to avoid pain, but the pain is kind of where the good stuff is. That's where the dreams are like, like Joseph Campbell said, the treasure you seek is in the cave that you're afraid to walk into.
Matt D'Avella 58:24
I love it. Yeah, that's a Ryan Holiday as a book called the obstacle is the way Yes, yeah. stoicism and how in our life, we're always trying to avoid obstacles. We think that they're they're getting in the way of our life when in fact they are life. And the sooner we understand that things will never go according to plan, the quicker we can find contentment in our lives.
Alex Ferrari 58:49
Have you do have you delved into stoicism a lot.
Matt D'Avella 58:51
You know, I just interviewed Ryan Holiday yesterday. He's awesome. It was really really cool to connect with him. It was like surreal to because I've just I've read all his books, and I've been a fan for a while now. But he Yeah, so I and I'm starting to get more into stoicism. I mean, just the practice of it. A lot of people think it's like a lack of emotion. But that's not it at all. It's just about facing life's challenges with a level head and not letting yourself like get an overinflated ego continuing to be thankful for what we have. And certainly try to put that into practice myself.
Alex Ferrari 59:29
And you also interviewed. You know, a God in the entrepreneurial space Gary Vee. Yeah. What was that like? Dude, I have to ask him. What was it like talking to Gary, man?
Matt D'Avella 59:44
That was cool. So I actually had interviewed Gary once before, like a long time ago when I was doing freelance work. You know how to do an interview with him. So I've been around him but like that was before. I mean, he was big then at least for people who were like in the circle and understood what he was doing and One or two of his books he had put out at the time. But obviously at this point now, his company has like exploded and he's a he's almost a household name at this point is very well known. But it was it was awesome. You know, I over prepared I did as much as I could I was very, it was not easy to get the interview, I was coordinating with multiple people, I had some connections with friends who worked with Gary Vee Tyler babban, one of them who's a filmmaker, and he, he said, just write up an email, and I can forward it to him. But he's like, you know, I can't guarantee anything. And then nothing really worked. And then all of a sudden, I just sent out a tweet to him one Sunday night and was I would love to interview you about how we can hustle with more intention, how we can bring more intentionality into our work lives. And how to find happiness. And I think my subscribers might gain some value from that. And then I think he then he just responded and just said in, and I was like, Alright, sweet, like, when is this going to happen? And then it was maybe a couple of months later, like it, we coordinated it. We eventually scheduled an interview. He ended up coming he was in LA and I happen to have a you know, 30 minute block with him where I got to talk about intentionality and minimalism, and I prepared the hell out of it. I read every one of his books. Probably, yeah, there's so good, I write over prepared, but like, his books were certainly a good reminder to me. And I really wanted to I didn't want to go in there and be like, yo, why do you hustle so hard, Gary, I wanted to understand like this man, and how he, how he thinks and works. And when I read his books, and I got the full context. I'm like, he's, he's just wants people to be happy. And he thinks that working hard, and you got the hat on right now. And hustling and putting in the work is an important aspect to that. And he himself would be miserable. If he worked four hours a day, or if you work 40 hours a day, like he would rather work 100 hours, or sorry, 44 hours a month, starting a week. So for him, it's about, like, I work a lot, but I love what I do. And if I worked any less, I would be miserable. And I think it's a I think that's certainly an important question to ask ourselves. Like, are we happy with our work? Are we working too hard? Are we not working enough? And where do we find that balance in life?
Alex Ferrari 1:02:15
And I have to ask you, man, how is your quest to get the rock on this show?
Matt D'Avella 1:02:20
You know, I still have a photo in my wallet here. Like I honestly I walked around all day photo of the rock in my wall banded here like you see it like it's like torna camera out there.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:35
How did you get that? What did you just like printed it out yourself? That's awesome. Yeah,
Matt D'Avella 1:02:38
like went to like FedEx. And I just printed out. And the guy was looking at me like, this is like some weird shit. But if you are, and no, I decided from the beginning, like around a little bit earlier before you came on my podcast. I was like, if I could get one person, like, what's the biggest name, I could get somebody who's got the best ground up stories, somebody who's made it, but still continues to put in the work and continues to bosses and work really hard. And just seems like a great dude, somebody that I would like want to connect with and have beers with. That's like, it's got to be the rock. And I mean, he just continues to get bigger and bigger. And I think it becomes more and more unattainable, but it's fun for me. And like, if I never get the rock on my podcast, if I never interview him, it's not going to be the end of the world. It's really just about the process right and enjoying the attempt and attempt will be made. So we'll see if we can actually get him on the show.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:32
Yeah, I did. I literally just did an entire episode on the list of all the the filmmakers and screenwriters and people I want on the show. And like I just said, If anyone out there listening has any connection to any of these people, please reach out to me and I'm just gonna put it out into the universe and see, you know, and I had you know, Cameron Spielberg, you know, all the it's just every big filmmaker, screenwriter, and PR and, you know, personality that wanted to talk to you. And we'll see. We'll see I've had actually, I've had, you got to go for it. Like,
Matt D'Avella 1:04:03
I hate it when people are like, are you sure that person's kind of big? I don't think you're gonna be able to get him on your show podcast. And I'm like, exactly, it would be amazing if I could get that. And there is a world there is an order a sequence of events that can conspire to make it happen. It just depends, like, how much do you want to work for it? And how much do you want to put on the line to make it happen?
Alex Ferrari 1:04:22
And how many subscribers Do you have now on YouTube? As of this recording? How many 1.61 point 6 million so at 1.6 million? It's still hard to get the rock on, but like six or 7 million will his PR people go? We should probably get him on the show. Like there's a there's a breaking point dude like it goes up 1.6 million is no
Matt D'Avella 1:04:44
joke, at least to get you know, that's the one thing I have to think about because I might you know, who knows that could get invited to one of these press junkets and it's like, is that how I want it? Like would I want it to be like I don't want to be on interview amongst 100 in the same setting. I need to be unique and you know, there's so bright Oprah you want to do Oprah? Yeah. Yeah, exactly. It needs to be a story. Right? Like I wanted, you know, I mean, now it's not much of a story because my podcast and my youtube channel has grown. Because like, in the beginning, it would have been hilarious because it was just a no name guy. Like, there's a guy. Like, that's not the websites get the rock on Matt's podcast, just some guy named Matt, who wants to get the rock on his podcast. Now, like some of the errors that take me out of it, but still it is, you know, it's about that journey from the beginning of a guy that, you know, had nothing trying to get the biggest superstar on the planet on his podcast. So I'm still gonna push for it. I haven't, you know, talked about it too much on the YouTube channel. Lately, it's been a podcast thing. But, you know, once I have some time to delve into it, I want to like put together a plan and make like one video or a series of videos, where like, that's the only thing I do and maybe enlist as many friends as I can to try to like, stir up and get on his radar. other YouTubers. Yeah, yeah, exactly. So we'll see if it ends up happening. If it does, it'll be really cool. And I'm sure it'll be a nerve wracking experience.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:07
I you know, the funny thing is, is that if he actually heard this, he would probably do it.
Matt D'Avella 1:06:13
You know what, like, I've talked to Brian Bowen Smith, who is a celebrity photographer, and he's worked with the rock a lot. And he calls him a friend. And he's like, you know, I guarantee like, it's something that he would want to do. Like, he really is a good dude. And he wants to do everything he possibly can to, like, make people happy and do all the interviews he could possibly do. It's just a matter of like, will the timing workout? You know, I mean, like, I don't even I say no to interviews. Right? Like, and I'm like, the rock is he's the rock. So I think everybody asks him to interview him all the time. So the amount of nose that he gives out his exponential, to even what I do. So I'm like, I feel bad when I say no to people, because I'm like, I'm sorry. Like, right now. I'm working on a film that says, I can't I can't do an interview right now. And it's like, I'm like, it's just me. Like, I don't see myself I don't hold myself in high regard.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:04
I agree with you. I get asked things all I get asked things all the time. And I have to say no to I've learned to say no to them. But I do appreciate you saying yes to this interview, though. I do appreciate because, man, I know you're I know you're I know you're big time now. So I do appreciate it now. You helped me out so much when I got started. So what is the next thing for you man? Like what is what is in your the next few years, man because I again, I'm I'm so and I don't want to be derogatory. But I'm so proud of you. I don't want to, you know, I'm proud of because I saw you literally Fresh Off the Boat with like, Hey, man, I'm just hustling, you know, this podcast, and I'm trying to get this little YouTube channel off the ground to 1.6 million subscribers. And you kind of blew up and I see all the work you put into it. And it's a lot of work. When you do a lot of work. There's no question. But what's the next? What's the next steps? Like? Do you want to do more feature films Do you want because now you have an audience, like if you decided to make minimalism to which would kind of go against minimalism, you know, minimalism to the Electric Boogaloo, if you decide to go down that road, and you have a built in audience that way, you could easily self distribute the film, you could, you know, probably finance the film yourself. And there's a lot of, there's a lot of film entrepreneurial things that you could do based on the audience that you've put together, you could create different contacts, you can create online courses on how to become an a minimalist, there's so many different things that you can do. What is the next steps for you, man?
Matt D'Avella 1:08:34
Yeah, so first, I would say that I, I have definitely pushed up to the point of burnout multiple times. And I know this is something that a lot of YouTubers and creators entrepreneurs deal with. And I think that if you haven't pushed yourself that far, it's a good test. It's good to know like the line and where we should be drawing it. Cole Wallace is the one that told me that he's like, just push yourself across that line every once in a while, but then come back in and understand, okay, that's probably a little bit too much, I probably don't want to spend that much time working. So now, I feel great. I mean, I've had some anxieties in the past and some burnout and all this stuff. But now I feel like I'm at a place in my life where balances there, I'm really I'm dedicating myself to my health and my wellness and my life. And also creating the films that I want to make and I'm not sacrificing on quality in any way. Continue to make films is and always will be the goal. And what I plan to do what form that takes what platform that ends up on. I'm not really sure we are working with Netflix on another film. And it is like it's not minimalism v2 but it's like Josh and Ryan story and we're kind of going into it and telling in a totally different way. So we are working on that film. I'm doing the YouTube videos once that thumbs complete. Yeah, I think it would be really cool to do an original documentary. Probably not I don't know but a series a series is too overwhelming on pay for it. But that said like I think it would be fun to do an original project, maybe something like my YouTube videos, maybe like a film on self help and self development, I think it'd be really cool and fun. And I could basically just make a longer format version of one of my YouTube videos. But, uh, other than that yet, I mean, you have to continually push yourself, you got to do things that you're uncertain of, and unknown whether it's going to be worked out or not. And that's what I'm most excited about is just embracing the unknown.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:29
That's awesome to me. Again, I want to congratulate you, brother on all your success. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy, man. Seriously, I think I'm happy. I'm happy to see you. You're doing well, man and that you're doing good work and you're being of service to the your community and to the world at large for people. I mean, the concept of minimalism is so important. I mean, it was because of us threw away a bunch of shirts. I was looking for six months later. But I'm not kidding you. I went through my whole closet, and I started dumping stuff. And then I lost 40 pounds. And then I'm like, oh, let me get the Hawaiian shirt on. Like, oh, I don't have it anymore. I've been waiting years to wear that they have big Hawaiian shirts out there. Exactly. That's the way I look at I look at it that way. But I've tried to become more minimalist in my life. And, and it's helped me out a lot. I'm not, I'm not where you're at. Because I have children and I would love to see your life with children. Wait, that's gonna be a way it's gonna change. Things will change. For sure. The minimum the minimalist father is going to be a very, that should be the next YouTube channel, the minimalist.
Matt D'Avella 1:11:37
That's really good. Yeah, when everything falls apart, it might be an oxymoron.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:42
It just comes crashing down. Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions, ask all my guests or what advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?
Matt D'Avella 1:11:53
Give yourself DIY man. Like, don't wait for people to tell you what to do, or what camera to use. Don't let excuses get in your way. I don't have this lens. So I can't make this video. I don't give a shit. Use your iPhone, use whatever camera you have. I started with a Sony Handycam. And that quality is like a potato today. So like just just get out and start making it. If you really love the craft, and you love what you do. That's enough momentum to build upon to make a career out of this. So just focus on that.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:25
Can you tell me the book that had the biggest impact on your life or career?
Matt D'Avella 1:12:31
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield book it just puts into words the struggles that I have faced and continue to face with my work and sitting down to do the work so he's uh, he calls it the resistance. So this force that prevents you from sitting down to do the work that you need to the creative pursuit that you're on? And you know, just rewrite it recently and it helps me every time I have facing a roadblock and I'm having difficulties actually getting the work
Alex Ferrari 1:13:03
And I love is the sequel do the work? Which is
Matt D'Avella 1:13:06
Yeah, the War of Art and do the work yet both of them are fantastic.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:09
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Matt D'Avella 1:13:15
Enjoy the process. You know, it's when you're working on your first feature doc or you're working on the YouTube channel that you're hoping to build into something that's successful, we have a tendency to continue to look forward to look forward to the moment when we've made it when we no longer have to worry about anything ever again. As you find out that moment never comes and there's always new challenges and obstacles that will be had and the more that you can enjoy the process enjoy each day that you get to do the work that you love to do. Even if you're just getting started and you're not making any money then I think like that's where contentment lies. That's where we find happiness is in those moments.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:56
Without question because if you keep going after that, if you live in the future you will never enjoy the present and it's just like it's like that rat we it's like that hamster wheel. Yeah, very much. Now, what is the biggest fear you had to overcome? When you know making your first film or launching this YouTube channel was that thing that you had to overcome to get where you are?
Matt D'Avella 1:14:18
Like, am I like worthy? Like, am I the one that should be telling this story? Am I smart enough? Am I talented enough, clever enough, and I have something to offer a lot of self doubt the imposter? imposter syndrome completely and it really doesn't go away. Like I'm confident in my filmmaking skills. But in terms of like whether Am I going to be able to deliver a really compelling story or whether this film is going to be what I set out to make is a whole nother story. And no matter what like I talked about that from the very beginning is overcoming self doubt is one of the number one questions I asked my guests on my podcast. especially early on because it was something that I dealt with firsthand. And the more you do it, the more you settle into it, the more you get comfortable. And just the more you embrace uncertainty, because you could let self doubt kill you and prevent you from doing anything. Or you can overcome it. And it's something that you need to do every day if you want to make great work.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:22
And the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time?
Matt D'Avella 1:15:25
Oh, god, that's so funny. It's because like, I'm not even like a big film buff, or movie buff. Like surprisingly, I know, you are like, you're like you're so into movies. And like, it's your passion. And I'm like, I'm more into as you are into making films, but I spend more time thinking about and making my own films than watching too much.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:48
But I'm sure I'm sure you've seen three films that have touched you in one way, shape, or form in the last, you know, 30 odd years.
Matt D'Avella 1:15:54
Yeah. How about a bad boys, too? That was a quality film. Early on, is that when you're a kid, it's like those movies define your life. Yes. I loved Adam Sandler movies growing up. Yeah, like, they're just the movies that you can go back to and you watch and like, yeah, they're a little bit corny, but they make you feel really good. I'm trying to think of like some recent films that I've watched in terms of maybe, you know, like, want to make a documentary series is the Jinx on HBO like that. That's certainly, I think, such a well done series, and they used recreations in a way that I hadn't imagined before. recreations back in the day used to be cliche and corny and it was like, a dramatic reenactment. And instead now it's like, it's a whole new art form and film of how can we tell this story without having any footage of the events that happened? So yeah, man, I don't think there is that's that's my
Alex Ferrari 1:16:56
Bad bad boys in some in some Adam Sandler films. Okay, we'll take it. Yeah, exactly. I look man, I remember watching. I walked in the theater to watch bad boys one. And I was like, my mind was blown. When that came.
Matt D'Avella 1:17:09
Oh, good, dude, no. Ha answer to but like, watching the matrix as a high school student blew my mind. Like I remember my brother and I watching it late at night. And like, I think we we really watched it that night because it like blew our minds so much. And certainly was obviously a groundbreaking film in cinema. But yeah, like I enjoy movies. I love watching it. But I'm not. You know, I don't I don't carry around a Rolodex in my head.
Alex Ferrari 1:17:37
That would be that would be me, sir. If I
Matt D'Avella 1:17:40
I admire you how much movie knowledge you can pack into your brain.
Alex Ferrari 1:17:47
There's a lot of things. There's a lot of movies in there that shouldn't be in there. I wish I could just get rid of them. Empty.
Matt D'Avella 1:17:53
You gotta walk out of the movie,
Alex Ferrari 1:17:54
Delete delete files, but unfortunately, they're in there for now, where can people find you your work in your personal home address and I'm joking.
Matt D'Avella 1:18:04
You can go to mattdavella.com m a t t d a v e l l a .com and like if you social. It's all on there. You'll be able to find my YouTube channel and everything else from that website.
Alex Ferrari 1:18:17
Dude, man, thank you again, so much for taking the time. I know you're a very busy man these days. So I thank you so much for coming on and sharing your experience with the tribe brother. So thanks again, man.
Matt D'Avella 1:18:27
Thanks for having me. Dude, this was a whole lot of fun.
Alex Ferrari 1:18:30
I want to thank Matt again for being on the show and doing the work that he's doing in spreading minimalism filmmaking and creativity to the world. We need more and more guys like Matt out there. So thank you, Matt, again, so much for being on the show. I truly, truly appreciate it. If you want links to anything we spoke about in this episode, including links to Matt, some of his videos and his channels and how to get ahold of him. please head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/368. And again, I want to thank you all so much for the support for the new book, Rise of the filmtrepreneur it is I'm again, so overwhelming for everybody that that's been buying it and talking about it and leaving reviews and messaging me and doing social media posts about it. Thank you guys so much. I'm so glad it's resonating with the tribe. And everyday I keep seeing more and more books selling more and more audiobooks going out there. And I really just want you to please spread the word about what is in that book, share it with as many filmmaking friends as you can. And if you have read the book, please take 10, 15 seconds, leave a review on Amazon or Audible for the book. It helps so much with the rankings of the book and the algorithm and all that kind of good stuff. And it gets to more and more and more filmmakers, which is what I want this book to do. I want it to spark that indie film revolution. Now I did tell you guys I was going to continue to do two episodes a week. To the end of the year, but I might have to go back on that because I'm just too slammed for all this stuff I've got. I'm working on for 2020. For you guys it is going to be the most insane year for the indie film hustle tribe with out question and I got a lot of stuff planned. So I might put out another episode this week. I might not you will get one next week as well on Christmas week and one before and then we're going to get into 2020. So I can't wait to share all the cool stuff that I got cooking for you guys in the new year. So thanks again for listening. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.
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Taught by veteran award-winning film producer and author Suzanne Lyons. The filmmaker behind over a dozen profitable low-budget feature films.