When I wrote my book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur I hoped it would help filmmakers around the world. I never thought that a filmmaker halfway around the world would read it and change his entire marketing and distribution plan for his million-dollar+ indie film. Today's guest is Australian filmmaker Mark Toia who created the insane indie sci-fi action film Monsters of Man.
After reading Rise of the Filmtrepreneur he reached out to tell me what he was thinking of doing. He was planning on self-distributing his film as an experiment to see if he could do it and also to prove to filmmakers around the world that you can get a great ROI (Return on Investment) on a million-dollar+ indie film without any major bankable stars.
I asked him,
“So a million-dollar Filmtrepreneur experiment?”
Mark said yes. He had already been offered multiple seven-figure deals from distributors but after looking at the convoluted fine print of the distribution contracts he decided to opt out. The payment schedules were so insane it would take Mark forever to get any money at all. The traditional film distribution path was not designed to help him get paid and if a film like Monsters of Man is having these issues the system is most definitely broken.
Then he discovered my book and down the Filmtrepreneur rabbit hole, he went. When I saw the trailer for the first time I almost fell out of my chair. I recently had the pleasure of watching the film and all I can say is:
“Monsters of Man is one of the BEST films I've seen in 2020. A must watch!”
To get the most bang for his buck Mark shot the film in Cambodia. He was able to hire an amazing local crew while also capturing the breathtaking locations, and culture that the country had to offer. The production value was off the charts.
Here's the synopsis of Monsters of Man:
A robotics company teams up with a corrupt CIA agent trying to position themselves to win a lucrative military contract. They illegally airdrop 4 prototype robots into the middle of the infamous Golden triangle to perform a live field test on unsuspecting drug lords that the world will never miss. Volunteer doctors witness the murder of a village and become the targets.
I've been on the post-production side of the business for most of my 25+ year career and I have to say the visual effects that Mark was able to create on such a low budget is truly miraculous. The quality of the robots is $100 million+ level. I've seen studio films that couldn't get to this level of VFX quality.
If you want to buy the film check out the Indiegogo campaign Mark set up for the film. Here's what he has to say:
I would like to invite you to our crowdfunding campaign that’s a little bit different than most. As you can see, our film is completed, as we funded it ourselves because we didn’t want our fans to be at risk of BACKING a film that could have been completed to a sub-standard level or not ever is finished at all. So we pushed hard to complete our film to the highest level, giving our movie fans something legit to back and not putting them at risk of wasting their hard-earned dollars.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime Filmtrepreneur experiment. Can a multi-million dollar sci-fi, action indie film be self-distributed successfully? We will find out. Mark agreed to keep me updated on the progress of the film and come back next year to tell the tribe how it all went.
I can't be more excited to share this episode with you guys. Enjoy my inspiring conversation with Mark Toia.
Alex Ferrari 2:22
Now guys, today I cannot be more excited about the show. We have on the show today, filmmaker Mark Toia who is the creator behind the insane indie sci fi action film monsters of man. Now what makes this film so unique, and it's not only the way they made it, because he was able to make this film for under $2 million. But when you see the trailer, you will understand what he's been able to do. The quality of the production is at least a 50 $200 million tent pole style film for a fraction of the cost. Now where the story really becomes interesting is that Mark was offered multiple seven figure deals by traditional distribution companies and sales agents. And he decided to say no to all of them. The reason why is that he picked up a little book called Rise of the filmtrapreneur. And when he read that book and started to dive deep down the indie film, hustle rabbit hole, he decided, I'm going to just self distribute this as an experiment. He is in a position to experiment with his million dollar plus film, to see if he can actually get an ROI with his amazing film. And he reached out to me months ago, and we've been talking back and forth. When I saw the trailer for the film, I my mouth fell on the floor, I almost fell out of my chair. And I just recently watched the film. And I gotta tell you, it is one of the best films I've seen in 2020. Without question, what he was able to achieve with his budget. And his just limitations was remarkable. And the visual effects alone which he has over 2000 visual effects shots in the movie. I mean, what he was able to do, I mean, we're talking studio level, visual effects, not just like a one or two shots, the entire film. These robots are the star of the show, and these killer robots there. And you understand once you you understand what the movie is about when we start talking about it, but these robots are the stars. And I'm really curious as he is to see what happens with the self distribution. Now he's already launched an Indiegogo campaign to help him pay for the marketing of you know, buying Facebook ads and things like that. And Within a few I think within two or three days, he was already at 150% funded, and it's just starting. So I'm really excited to have mark on and we're going to talk all about how he made the film, how why he turned down and specifically why he turned down these multimillion dollar deals for for his film, and, and how the film shoprunner method has really changed his mentality about how movies can be made. So without any further ado, please enjoy my inspiring conversation with Mark Toia. I like to welcome to the show Mark Toia. How you doing? Mark?
Mark Toia 5:41
I'm very good. Thank you.
Alex Ferrari 5:42
Oh, my I'm so excited to have you on the show. I am. I mean, we've been talking for a while now. So can you tell the audience how we were even introduced how how you came into my life and how I came into yours sir.
Mark Toia 5:58
With what I remember, I was actually nursing a broken rib maybe I'm not sure I was a mountain skiing at the time. And I had injured myself a little bit suffered. I'm just sitting there in the hotel room and I was just fumbling through looking at how to sell a movie. And your, your podcast popped up. And and it was so interesting that I really dug deep into all your shows. And a lot of it was making so much sense in at the time I was going through a you know a large sales company in the states and go through the whole distribution thing. And all of a sudden, you popped up just upset and flip everything on its ear as I do, as you do and, and I thought you know what, there's an alternate way to doing this. And, and I'm not saying the traditional ways the right way or the wrong way. And this way that I'm going to go is the right way or wrong way. But I tend to like this way, because I've got more control. Right, a bit of a break.
Alex Ferrari 7:08
Yeah. And, and then you read the book and you read the book, and read my book Rise of the filmtrepreneur, you sent it over to a few people who worked on the film as well. And
Mark Toia 7:18
I've read a lot I mean, I've to tell people, sorry to go and buy your audio book.
Alex Ferrari 7:23
Yeah, you're responsible for most of my sales in Australia. You're responsible for most of my sales in Australia. So I appreciate that. You reached out to me and we started talking about it. And you were you kind of explaining what you were going to do with your film monster of man, monsters of man. And, and i when i when i get i get hit up all the time by filmmakers like, Hey, I got this film. You know, I'm thinking of self distributing, you know, can you take a look at it, and I get hit up all the time. So I said, you sent me this trailer, I looked at it. I'm like, What the hell is this like? And this was we're going back What? Six months? At least? It's been a while. What have been 12 months now? Yeah, it's been we've been talking for a while. And I was like, What is this? And then as I called, I was like, we have to get on Skype. So we started talking. And and then you said Do I read your book and I'm thinking I want to go down this road. And I'm like, oh, man, and then I started digging into the movie, and what you did and how you did it and all that stuff, which we're going to get to in a minute. But before we get into monsters of man, tell the audience a little bit about who you are. And how did you get into the business? The business of commercial advertising or the filmmakers like oh, well filmmaking in general, because I consider commercial advertising very much like Mr. Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, David Fincher, Michael Bay, they all started off in commercials, that is filmmaking, but just for commercials as opposed to narrative. So can you tell us how you got into the business
Mark Toia 8:57
Was a bit of a weird one. Actually, I, I, I was a steel worker. Originally, I was in Australia, we call them border makers. We, you know, we literally built buildings and anything made of steel. So but I was always a very artistic child. So I was one of those very lucky kids that could paint real life oils when you're studying is like, I was gifted artist, child artist, so but that sort of didn't really go anywhere. Due to my teacher telling me that art doesn't pay and there's a video floating around about that as well. But yes, I ended up doing a trade with my father and he got me the job and I become a boilermaker. And but I was I got it sort of got into photography at a bit of a late age, to be honest. And I admit I took a photo of a yacht because I was in the yacht racing at the time. And I sent the out of this magazine, this image off to a magazine and they sent me $50, which I remember looking at that check how they pay you for this. So easy, right? And then I did it again and another check turned out for like $200. And then the machine just my head exploded and off I went. So yeah, after the death for a few years, I sort of climbed the ranks doing you know, magazine, photography, news photography quite swiftly and it became quite lucrative. I sort of gave up my day job and, and then got into photography full blown. And then I had a client of mine asked me to do a TV commercial. And I had no idea what I was doing. I literally paid a guy, a cat and a beer to teach me how to turn a video camera on and. And I was hooked. And yeah, I did this commercial for this client, one of our clients, and one Best Director and Best cinematographers first time out in an award show. And I thought, this is for me. And that's how I got to do so in 2725 years ago now.
Alex Ferrari 11:07
So you've shot a couple of commercials basically, is what you're telling me? you've signed a few,
Mark Toia 11:11
Very early days yes now i shot one really.
Alex Ferrari 11:14
No, no, I'm talking about throughout your career, you shot a few commercials,
Mark Toia 11:18
Shot 1000s of commercials on the album. But the business has been very good to me, it's, I've traveled the world countless times. And I've and I've made my living doing that. And my wife and I, we sort of ran a small property business as well. And, you know, we've sort of combined our brains and to a point to where I could literally go and make myself a movie without sort of begging for money around the traps, or using state funding money or film funding money. And just we just, you know, got a very supportive wife and she I said, I want to make a film. And she pretty much she goes, we'll go and make a film. And I didn't I didn't get sort of barrage bias, you know, that keep me creatively free to do whatever I want. And then another reason another thing, she said, as well, she goes, I want to get, I want you to just have creative freedom to just do what you want with the film. Because it's what happens when you got a small amount of money, you got to try and make it work. But if you've got a lot of people telling you what to do, it turns up tends to be quite messy, because there's, there's a lot of other people as invested in that film. And there's a lot of stress and annoyance, and you're not sure if you can be able to pay that person back and blah, blah, blah,
Alex Ferrari 12:36
Politics and all that kind of stuff out.
Mark Toia 12:38
It's totally stress free exercise. And we're in a position to really not stress about the money side of making the movie either. So I was in a part of my life where I was ready for it. Yes. Experience
Alex Ferrari 12:55
The expert and experiment it is as we will continue to reveal in this episode. Now tell me how monster of masters of Man came to be like, how did that story come about? And you know, you know what, who what was the budget? How did you decide to like, Hey, you know what, I'm just gonna go make this insane movie.
Mark Toia 13:18
It was a very random story. I was I had, I've got a couple of other screenplays that I was really keen on doing. But one of them was multi multicam. This one here we shot in multiple countries as well. But this one is extra multi country. It was quite a large film. not crazy large. But I wanted to do this particular the movie first. It's called UFO man. It's pretty intense. X is my favorite. So the screenplay that we have at the moment, but this particular film, monsters of man was originally called robot four. It was just a working title. But I thought about it. In the back of the van and Vietnam. I was traveling around Vietnam, we're doing a film shoot with a friend of mine, and not film, she did a TV commercial. And as we're driving around the van bored, you know, traveling up and down this country. We he said I'd love to do a movie with you, Mark. I'd like to invest in a movie with you. And and I said, Yeah, okay, great. Let's do it. So he'd always started thinking about ideas in the van. Anyway, he wanted to do this treasure island thing. And I went No, no, I did. I said, I want to do something a bit crazy sky action, you know, and have a treasure island and, you know, so I sort of sadly dominated the idea. But you know, he was he's a really lovely guy. And zip His name is and he owns a bar actually in in Vietnam called Apocalypse Now. Genius genius. The guy's real film buff. He's got his own butt. Companies, he's done very well. And he's a really good friend of mine. Anyway, so he wants to invest in the film, he doesn't end up, he puts a little bit tiny, tiny little bit at the end. But, you know, he, things change for him. So he didn't really jump into the film by the end. But, you know, I literally thought that this, this, this whole concept in this vein, and then I sort of came back and started writing down notes and beat passes for it. And, and I've got a really good screenwriter that I love working with Jeff hand, and we sort of worked with it together. And I sort of, he sort of put the guts of it together. And then it sort of came back to me after notes. But I ended up like, literally rewrite, not rewriting it, but just going through the whole thing. myself. And I think he might have been a little bit annoyed with me, because I went, that's it. It's done. Two drafts. And he's like, Are you crazy? And then I got out, you know, it's my money, I can do whatever I want. So. And we ended up literally with 167 page script, which was ridiculous, obviously. And, and I thought, you know, what, screw it, I'm going to shoot the whole 167 pages. And because again, I could afford to do it. So we went and did it. But the good thing about it, is, when you see the film, there is no padding. Like seriously, you know, a lot of movies, they sit there and they just, well, what's the runtime? It's took just over two hours. You know, 167 should have been like, you know, Chris Nolan epic, right? But But, you know, but it's good, because we didn't, we didn't, we've got no padding in the movie. It is literally once it's once we set up our characters, it is a way and that's where a lot of people that have watched the film, a lot of test audiences and people that have seen it all quite shocked with how intense this film is right at the very end. And you know, you'll see.
Alex Ferrari 16:55
Do You Do you mind? Do you mind talking about the budget? Or do you want to keep that under wraps? Yeah, I'll keep it under wraps, because it's okay. Under 25 million.
Mark Toia 17:09
Look, it's it's it's under 2 million years. Okay, under $2 million. All right. Which, that's not that's real cash, not pretend cash or soft money. That's like, yeah, I'm into it. Who knows?
Alex Ferrari 17:21
Oh, no, of course. So if it's but the film looks. Looks like it's something that costs $100 million. I mean, it the quality, which I would expect from somebody with your skill set. I mean, you've shot 1000s and 1000s of commercials over the course of your career. And, you know, the tool so I mean, it's, it's the same, you know, same school as Ridley and Tony and Fincher in Bay, and Fuqua, those guys just shot so much, by the time they got the features, when like, Well, we know the tools now let's just tell a cool story. And you also kind of know how to squeeze the most bang out of your book, essentially, because that's what you've done with this because the visual effects are pretty insane at this film.
Mark Toia 18:02
Yeah, we've been very fortunate that the ad game does teach you lots of tricks. And because you've got very budgets, you know, you might have an ad that you're doing for like five or $6 million and then the next day doing a commercial $20,000 it's not these days, but you know, it's sort of like a the advertiser game is a great learning teaching tool or learning tool for feature films. But more so because the bigger your commercial the more pressure you have from you know, agencies and lawyers and you know, creatives and clients and all that you might have 20 people and attend you know, all with their own monitors telling you what they want from it so you know, understanding time pressure money on on these big commercial shoots makes making a movie so easy like be making the movie for me making the film was boring process actually because I had no I had no pressure behind me you know, there was no no one breathing down my neck telling me how to how to make how to shoot and no one telling me how to direct and now tell me that someone is speaking wrong.
Alex Ferrari 19:15
Yeah, and the end up in the bottle doesn't is not being shot properly needs to be lit better or something like that make the logo pop or something along those lines.
Mark Toia 19:23
Fine, you know, because that's the clients sure that's their job, you know, it's the project it's their skin in the game as their their job on the line. So I've no problem with clients telling me what they want because it is their money and their job. And I will respect that to them did but you know, from a movies perspective for this particular project, it was great and I it literally took me two weeks to stop looking behind. Someone it's better to me I'm doing it wrong, right. And it was it was such a such a relaxed, stress free beautiful experience and people go on either side stressful making movies oh god not sure what to do, man, it's alright. It's a lovely time it was literally like, it was just like therapy as I use it like a too much my wife said it was like a holiday for you. Every time she visited us in Cambodia, you know, I've got a beer in my mouth. And ladies, you know, giving me leg massages, and
Alex Ferrari 20:24
But I think also, and I'll use myself as an example where I mean, I've shot for clients, and then I've shot my own features. And when I shoot my own features, I basically am the only person that I have to worry about. And I, other than the stress of just trying to do it for the budget and that kind of stress, but not having a client behind you. It is a lot more relaxing, especially as you get older, you just become more comfortable in the in the onset, you can be more comfortable with the tools and you just been down the road so many times, you specifically mean literally 1000s of times, that the actual filmmaking process doesn't intimidate you at all, and doesn't bother you. It's not stressful anymore. As much as it was when you first did it.
Mark Toia 21:06
The big crews and big things and big jobs that it's very just day to day now. So yeah, walking into this film, I didn't need to 100 crew, like a lot of people have on their sets, we kept it very sort of manageable. And because I was paying for it, obviously. But it became a very easy set. Like there was no pressure on on anyone. Excellent. Can I Can you tell the actors I really, I really made sure the actors you know, were really on the Reagan and they were I mean, we literally we put I wanted not to shoot in some luxurious the back of some resort, you know, we literally went to the golden triangle with this movie is set. And we really put the actors in the real Golden Triangle and real village in in Cambodia, ocean Cambodia with this thing set. So for performances from as actors that he literally went full on Lord of the Flies, that was awesome. I mean, outside, actually, that was the saving grace that all the actors in the film would just top notch. Like they really really put their all into it.
Alex Ferrari 22:22
And but also, but because and I've had this experience as well, with visual effects. A lot of times the actors don't know what's gonna, what it's gonna look like at the end. And you could tell them, you know, and I'm sure there was like, you know, guys in suits, and you know, weird things going on and you're shooting like, they don't see it, I'm sure their reaction when they actually saw the film must have been, you know, they must have been Godsmack.
Mark Toia 22:44
So it blew their minds. Like, I remember this one, one of the young actresses she said to me, you know, after you know, well, after she gets the grades, she does crappy little movies that you do, right is part of your career jump. And because he's just watching this guy running around and spending soup, you know, pretending to be a robot and you know, she didn't feel it, right. But she was acting top notch. She's She's probably thinking, I'm going to save the day here with my amazing actor. But when she saw the finished film, like God, she was like just gobsmacked. She was like, Oh my goodness, I'm part of the real movie, like a proper movie like a, you know, it's these that is a really gonna, and I hope they do is they're going to really use this movie to jumpstart their careers even more, I hope.
Alex Ferrari 23:36
Fantastic. Can you tell everybody what the movies about?
Mark Toia 23:40
Have you? Well, it's actually a few things, because I didn't want just one story following one group of people or one person. So I've actually got about about four, maybe five story arcs in it. And you follow certain characters through their scenes of you know, through the movie, but the core of it is the CIA crap CIA agent, with a robots manufacturing guy have decided to try and sneak their way into some military contract. But they firstly they need to do a couple of illegal tests of these robots to see if it'll really work. And before this guy presented, you know, to the military to sell and shit goes wrong as it normally does. And the other thing too, is we've got another angle there where the there's a whole bunch of young doctors that just happen to be doing immunisations where they dropped this robot or these robots into this village to test on in the right and the doctors actually. The doctors actually, you know, see the this crime really, of these robots murdering this village. And then within there, we've got a tech a tech group. That's part of the whole robot. team which was sort of lied to they said they'll just doing the surveillance doc tests but now it becomes like a huge murder mission. And these technicians don't really want to be a part of it either. They just think it's wrong. And and also we've got you know, there's a, there's a I don't get to take this, there's two more story strands in it, which are really really strong as well a bit you know, a young boy in there that's, that loses his parents and he's, you know, he's got to survive in this mess as well with with these with a navy seal. That's an A well, Navy SEAL that's in there as well, that just happened to be hiding when one of these villages that doesn't want to be found. And there's a relationship there, that builds quite nicely as well. But it is quite a bit going on. And that's what's made the the movie quite appealing to our audiences that have seen it so far. Are these big producers that have watched it? It's not just, you know, a robot movie going and killing people. It's actually this, this drama. It's quite deep or So yeah, I just didn't want it to be legacy be too simple a movie
Alex Ferrari 26:10
Definitely. It is not a simple movie. That is it. That's for sure. So the thing I love about what really is terrifying about the the robots is that design of the robots are kind of similar to real robots that they're testing out there right now military, because I've seen some of these, you know, military robots that they're testing out there right now that they can walk up, right. And if they, you know, you can push them, you can knock them down, but they get back up. And they have a similar design, which is more terrifying, because oh my god, it's not like this out of this world. Like, you know, oh, this is never discussed never actually happened. No, this is really, I don't know if you did that on purpose or not. But the design is similar to what I've seen, just on the internet, you know, with with, you know, these kind of robots. Was that intentional?
Mark Toia 27:04
Yeah, yeah. A bit more current day. And, you know, with Boston Dynamics, building those particular robots that are sort of rolling around on the ground, and all that sort of stuff, I go, what's the next generation pass that? Will it be ours, you know, what I mean, they're a little bit more robust, a little bit more solid units, that they can take bullets, you know, explosions, some that's tough and strong, heavy, heavy, and crazy and intimidating, and all that. So I just thought, well, let's step it up. And because I'm from an engineering type background, I really got into the whole mechanics of it, because I used to work on a lot of robotics and NP medics and, and stuff in my early days, so I knew all about what you know, surveys do and hydraulic junctions and so forth. So when we were designing the robot, with a really clever dude from Russia, he, he his, he had this Russian flame that was all very industrial. And I really liked his style, but he really didn't understand I had to follow a human underneath. So really, we really needed not to have arms clashing and legs clashing, like when it did things or the shoulder clashing with the train. So we had really had to figure out a design and I was literally sitting him over all these real components, or images of real mechanical components that we had to use for shoulders and elbows, so then he would then design something similar, that would literally work for real. So that's what made the robot so. So, so quite real looking is because we all knew we were really using, or design styles from real, actual machinery that would work for real if this thing's legit. And I didn't have the money to ring up with her and get a million dollar robot made up. So people, you know, and then I thought, well, we're gonna have to make this thing super high poly because I wanted to do close ups in 4k, right? bicep portraits. And from our advertising days, we did it all the time that these these 3d models get so large, and so big and so heavy, you know, future in space. So we redid the design these things, and so many of them to through the stages of the movie, to where they could handle a 4k camera, right on their face. And down to the point of you know, we can see fingerprints on the steel, you know, when you tuck them in? Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 29:33
How did you? How did you handle the technical, the technical challenges, I mean, that I know what that takes, that is a massive amount of data. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Mark Toia 29:52
It's a lot of data. But what site this actually was a program called redshift. And we just we had all these big PCs made up with a lot of rendering power, just to render these things out. Most of all, most of my work was all done on Macs, obviously, but that that particular job of rendering it out was all, all PC based because we just needed these big video cards at the time to do that, but yeah, redshift really saved us. And we were doing massive renders of which we're not taking on at all. So in the compositing, I did a fair bit as well with my one of my special effects guys, Ray or Teague, and we literally between him and I, we did all the comping of over hundreds and hundreds of shots yourselves. In my spare time, he was on it full time.
Alex Ferrari 30:45
How long did this take? How long does this movie take from conception to final?
Mark Toia 30:51
Well, typically, it was finished. Yeah, a year ago, because we went through that traditional sales route. So we sort of blew a year just in that. So but the movies literally been happening. From the moment I thought about it in the back of that van, til you know, I've got a finished harddrive with the movie on it, probably three and a half years. And you were just doing a basically as a side hustle. I shot the movie properly. Sure, of course. But really, you know, post production, like editing, I just had to go back and do my day job, my real job. So I was editing in my spare time while I was on airplanes, in hotel rooms, wherever I was at the time, on holidays, the weekend. But again, that was therapy to editing the film. For me, I loved it. It was commercials day in day out on my own commercials. But the edit the film was it was so relaxing, it was great to see a scene unfold. And because I shoot multiple cameras as well. So we shot that movie with, you know, four and five cameras or four cameras mainly. And, and it's great for actors, you know, the actors really got into the multi camera shooting because then they could just like theater, right? We just go we blocked out the scene, amazingly, and we just know coverages was second to none. We just really really nailed everything. And it was performances off camera that you would never normally get shoot. But having four cameras, you got it. So with so much extra filler in so many shows. And you shall what read? Here we shot everything with radius.
Alex Ferrari 32:23
What was the resolution, you shout out? I can shout it at 8k
Mark Toia 32:28
630 because we had some dragons at the time as well. And Jared, from Red sent us, you know, one of the latest aliens as well. So which saved us in the cave scenes, that's for sure.
Alex Ferrari 32:40
Not really, because of the light then because of the light sensitivity.
Mark Toia 32:45
We got into a cave system in Cambodia, which is crazy, like we need, I'll send you the film. But have a look. But you'll know I think we know we're good. Now. The year you'll see some amazing cave scenes in there. And we literally we I because I didn't I wanted to use the most minimal of light in this case, because when I walked into the cave, there were like shafts of light coming through little holes and all that stuff. So our field lights were very minimal because I wanted to keep the natural ambience of that cave coming through.
Alex Ferrari 33:21
Right? When you see it a little make sense. So you were you were the cinematographer as well. Yes. So you were the DP the cinema saw. He was dp, the director, the producer and the editor and also VFX VFX supervisor, I'm
Mark Toia 33:34
assuming is what onset I was. But I gave that role to another guy when I when I got home because I sort of was too busy with other things to be there too. Oh, actually now, I suppose I was the VFX super on the whole job. does everything literally to come back through me. And you know what really, really saved us as well. It was a party or an app called frame i O yes. And we live because we were farming, you know, hundreds and hundreds of shots around the world to certain companies and operator scoping for animation for motion tracking for paint outs for everything right. So a lot of that little rats and mice II type work got sent off around the world and frame and everything came back to me on my phone. So while I'm set on set, I'm looking at my movie on my phone and go and collect Okay, and I had a system going with all the post people when you see the green approved button, you can bill me right and so they loved it. I couldn't wait to see that little green button approved button pop up. So another thing too was pretty hard on the VFX guys because I didn't want to muck around too long with approval processes. And, you know, people tend to hire the cheap guys, but you shouldn't you should hire the very expensive experienced guys because they become cheaper overall, because they could do a shot and maybe one day with a cheap guide. next four days, all of a sudden, the cheap guy becomes more expensive than the, than the expensive guy. And so, myself, I'm very knowledgeable in visual effects anyway, so I can get shows pretty quickly, who was, who was doing well and who wasn't. So you had to sort of be in a game a bit for this for this movie, because I wanted it to be, you know, ILM, top quality, or, you know, top top shelf, I didn't want it to be cheap.
Alex Ferrari 35:28
Yeah, it was resting on good effects as well. The thing that I want people listening to understand is that I've been saying this for a long time, the reason why you were able to make a film like this is because of all the tools you've put in your toolbox over the course of your career. And without those tools, you would have had to hire a cinematographer, you would have had to hire an editor, you would have to hire all these other and that's film doesn't become it's not feasible anymore. And I do something similar in my world, all the stuff that I've been able to do I do it because of all the tools I put on my toolbox, how can you please express to the audience how important it is to even if you don't add those specific skills to your toolbox to understand enough, like what you just said, I understood enough about VFX to know who was doing a good job and who wasn't doing a good job. And that saved you probably 1000s 10s of 1000s of dollars. And in the end, so can you just express how important that is to the audience
Mark Toia 36:21
will vary. I like to mentor a lot of young filmmakers. And this film actually is going to be used as that as as an experiment for them as well. But the I've always tried to push a lot of filmmakers to learn as much as they can. And you know, like from a program point of view, I went through, you know, my first program I've learned was Photoshop, and then when to you know, avid and then Final Cut Pro seven and then premiere then FCP X then resolve then you know as from editing programs, go compositing programs us started on like after effects, then I jumped on the flame, then we went to nuke, then I've tried motion, I tried fusion, you'd have given them all a really good go. But you've done want to be like a part time learner them, you really want to get deep into every one of them. So you really understand how to you know, to write code, script, everything. So you really can get the best from each of those programs. And then you can figure out what's going to be fast and time saving for you. Because the more time you have, you know, in finding the right program that's fast, that delivers the quality thing, you can then put that spare time into your credit, finishing, you know, assets. But learning all those programs for me was hugely beneficial. And especially in 3d. I mean, I'm not a great in 3d because I need to be as 3d artists, you need to be 3d retires, I fly in a helicopter, right? Every time I change, like Maya, for instance, a new camera needs that. Yeah. And because I wasn't in there enough, I just literally lost my way with Maya, in like cinema 4d is like really easy. You know, there's a lot of great 3d programs out there, you can get a hold of I want to wrap my head around unreal, when you know, when all those movies Get out of the way in. But it's a whole, there's a whole world of technology out there, they can really benefit your filmmaking forevermore. And it makes making movies so so so much easier. So in fact, like, we were getting quotations for our film, in its current gaze, right? between two and $5 million for post production. And really, we got it down to using all outsource freelancers, as well as us doing stuff, but we've managed to keep the prices at the under 350 grand
Alex Ferrari 38:52
for all the VFX of this film,
Mark Toia 38:55
all of the the effects of a wheelchair that might say I'm not counting my labor that I you can't
Alex Ferrari 39:01
you can't count your labor because then it astraeus astronomically.
Mark Toia 39:07
But the reality is, you know, to save several million dollars by by understanding and post production yourself that you're getting into indie filmmaking because the secret of making movies future forward is trying to who can make the best movie for the least amount of money right is gonna win this race. You don't I mean, and that's why I've had a lot of movie offers in the last sort of six months is there's a lot of producers out there and I'm a goodness you made that for how much so the all these producers that now you know calling me up crazily now trying to get me onto their films because they know that's what they have to do as well. And you know, a lot of them is a lot of producers really that just survive and the producers offsets and all that but thank you for the movie bonds are not right. They just lost their job. But there's other producers out there they go, No, we literally want a high quality film. And we don't want to spend the, the 10s of millions or hundreds of millions that we normally do here. So having someone like me on the side, really, is really beneficial for them, obviously.
Alex Ferrari 40:16
Yeah, the way the marketplace is right now you can't do what they you can't make a movie like you did five or 10 years ago, because the marketplace is so changed that the value of the actual movie has diminished. And it's continuing to diminish. Every year that goes by as far as just like, what's what's the actual value of the film, a film like yours, in 2005 would have sold for 10 $15 million comfortably probably purely because of what it is and how you built it. But in today's world, it's it's just a tougher sell. It's really tough. And all the edits everywhere, even everybody in Hollywood is feeling that kind of pinch that you have to create high quality product at a low budget. And if you could do that you will work you will work anywhere in your film is definitely a calling card for that without question.
Mark Toia 41:06
Yeah, I think we're, I have no idea if we're gonna do well or not, because, you know, we're not selling it through the traditional means
Alex Ferrari 41:15
we had before it. So let's get into that a little bit. So Alright, so you spent the year out there in the traditional sales, you know, going to sales agents going to film distributors. And my, when I saw the film I knew like you must have gotten some offers, you must have gotten some some serious offers from from serious distributors, because of the quality of the film because like I said, I've seen I get bombarded with independent film on a daily basis. I see a lot of stuff. When I saw your film, it definitely stood out. And I'm sure most distributors who saw it they go, Oh, we can sell this everywhere in the world comfortably and make a lot of money with it. So what was your experience going down the traditional film distribution
Mark Toia 41:58
path? was good, good and bad. We hope that with we hooked up with CIA, excellent. Okay. And the end looked at is a company that will go down, you know, there were, they did all the right things from their side, you know, they introduced me to all the right people, and they put the movie in front of all the right. distributors and studios and all that sort of stuff. But the reality is, you know, you're right, the market is completely congested with content. You know, you go to these film festivals, and you find out there's 25,000 feature film submissions.
Alex Ferrari 42:44
to Sundance. Yeah, Sundance was I think 22,000 or something like that. Yeah.
Mark Toia 42:47
Is it Cannes is the same and Toronto same. And then you look at the end of these festivals, and it's all a dismal failure, right? They get it one film sold for $1 million. For some crap like it oh my god, it's just like, you know, I literally made my movie five years or three years too late. And everyone was telling me Oh, you should have been here two years ago. It was all that shit. You know, you should have been here, you know, the typical surface story, right? You should have been here yesterday, the waves are. Exactly. You know, and I'm and I'm listening to a bunch of people that are like AFM in Toronto, you know, other filmmaker friends I have? And they said, fuck, it was a bloodbath. Yeah, you know, it was like, back, you know, we got offered like peanuts for our film, and, and then it sort of resonated with us. Because some CIA, you know, that that was trying their best they did everything that they did, right. I'm assuming and hoping and praying to me, but there, but you know, it's not their fault that the market was rubbish, you know, I mean, it's, and the thing was, you know, distributors aren't buying one movie now for $5 million, or you're trying to get you to sell and move with five or $10 million, that they're now going to offer you $15,000 or $20,000 or $50,000. You film. And you know, we did get some big seven figure offers for are moving, but the, the contracts attached to so convoluted, and the payment plans are so long winded and it's it's it's too much of a process now, if this is where COVID might have saved me from myself, but put it this way, if COVID didn't happen, I probably would have sold the movie this way, and just get it out their office and just Yeah, whatever. I'll get my money back. We'll walk away. Do you know I mean, that was that. But the reality is COVID hit and I'm sitting there with Alex Ferrari, Alex Ferrari. You know, I'm eating too much. I'm watching too much crap on the internet. I'm watching too many movies, and I've got time on my hands. And I went, the fact that I'm gonna sell this myself. Because at the end of the day, these distributors really are just gonna dump my movie on all these TV ads. And that's what's enabled platforms around the world over the next 1020 years. And they're gonna make money off my movie, which is fine. That's what they do. But also thinking, well, since I've got all this time on my hands, I might as well just do exactly that myself. And that's what we're doing.
Alex Ferrari 45:28
Yeah. And I remember when you when you call me, like, Alex, I read your book, and it's completely screwed me up. Because I was gonna go one way. And now I'm when I'm like, and you and we, we started really talking about how we could do what you could do with this film. And, you know, we started brainstorming and how to do it. Because it's, it's, I mean, your film is, is it, we were talking about this before we came on air. The film specifically, is a little broad. It's not like a niche film. Like, it's like, it's about, you know, a specific segment of the population or a religious or political or something that you can, like sink your teeth into. But what it does have is that is so effing cool. And, and it stands out purely because of the visuals. Because you don't even on even in, you know what it is it's an original tentpole film, in my opinion, it's it's an original studio film at an indie budget. And that is something and it doesn't have an Emmy, you have one, you have one, you have some great actors in it. But you don't have any major movie stars and you have any bank, we get a Will Smith's not running around in this. So it's not the star power behind it, the star is the robots, and the action and the visuals of it. And that's so rare, because to be impressed by visual effects, or to be impressed by a concept is such a rarity in film in general, because studios do that all the time, though, they'll dump $100 million in visual effects in the movie, you'll bomb, it'll just it won't even see the light of day. But yet you are able to create something that I mean, captures people's imaginations. And like you said it's timely. The where it's being shot, how it's being shot. I think that's what makes this this film such an amazing experiment for the film to printer method. Because you're just like, well screw it, let's just do this. And that's what I love about Umar, he was just like, I am gonna turn down seven figures. I don't I don't care. I'm just gonna do this now. Because now it's principle. I'm gonna do this myself.
Mark Toia 47:41
Yeah, because I'm not doing it to wreck the system. Because No, of course not. You know, a lot of people won't do what I'm doing because there's either too lazy or it's too much work too much effort, whatever. But there's investors and there's other things like that you have a very unique situation. Yeah, I've got a unique situation. And you know, the traditional way is there, it's there. Don't expect to make it much money that way. If you go to sell your indie, indie film, or if anything, you the whole back end thing is really a myth. You know, the reality realities are, you know, if you're going to hand over your movie to the sky to sell it on your behalf. He wants to make money as well, or he or she that that that distributor wants to make some dollars they're not doing they're not going to sell you a movie for nothing. I mean, they, they have got the they've got mouths to feed staff to feed that one as well. So the the distributor doing that on your behalf, but he's, you know, he's not your buddy. He's just trying to make a few bucks off. Yeah. And, and the reality is, you movie's not gonna make a ton of money anyway, so there's not much to give around. Right? And, you know, like, the whole theatrical thing people go Oh, can't wait for this to go to movies, because sadly, it's not going to go to theaters. And they go Why does it well, the problem with that is everyone but me will make money. Right? Yeah, like that's that's a whole different beast again, you know what I mean? So you're not playing
Alex Ferrari 49:10
I mean, I obviously because of COVID it's a it's a different I'm not sure how it is in Australia right now.
Mark Toia 49:17
I don't know a single person. I know a lot of film directors, a lot of producers that make movies I mean, hundreds of movies. And we always have this chat and theatrical distribution is it's been a dead duck for many, many years for all of them. They sort of use it almost like an ad to try and sell their movie that's about the only purpose it has the cinema and makes the money that distributor makes money off of those technical deals but the actual guy that made the film pipe that film made the film that don't really get a hell of a lot from it. So that's why I decided not to worry about theatrical so much and I'm you know with now I'm looking at like Moulin and you know Greyhound and What's that movie? It just came out that I just watched it the other night. I think it was we learned but trolls, you know, they're all just going straight to premium p VOD
Alex Ferrari 50:10
is they're calling a premium video on demand.
Mark Toia 50:12
Right? And that just and they're making bank, and they're not even worrying about the theatrical release anymore. And I think that's probably Yep. We're good. Yes. Probably the it's probably the way to go moving forward. I mean, I've you know, I've got a theater in my house. It's lucky, I can watch it in the theater at any time. But it's,
Alex Ferrari 50:38
well, a lot of people have their own home theater.
Mark Toia 50:41
So many people have amazing TVs and theaters in their home now. And they used to be locked out from theaters during COVID. It's, you know, I literally, I love watching movies on my iPad right now, literally sitting in on my chest with my Bose headphones on. The quality of the image that you never see in a cinema is just remarkable. I watched Interstellar the other night, just on my iPad. I'm going oh, my God, it's so many colors and tones and things I've never seen before. Because I've not watched it on a proper monitor. It's just paint on these big giant projectors, which aren't.
Alex Ferrari 51:17
Right, but Mr. Mr. Nolan must be rolling over right now. If he hears this.
Mark Toia 51:24
Sorry, Chris. But he's, yeah, that's right. But as you know, is a lot of amazing movies that aren't rewatching you know, apples 6k monitors, and I've been watching my peoples movies on these on these monitors are on my 8k TV. Right. And you go, Wow, I've never seen the movie looks so good before. So and I'm really enjoying the movie experience now with all these latest TV. So no, you are and you are no cooler. I would have loved my movie to do this technical thing. But the COVID Yes. COVID is a little rough.
Alex Ferrari 51:58
I I personally think you could have done you probably would have done well. If you did a a for walling, or booking the theaters yourself theatrically that might have done well, because I've had I know a lot of case studies and experiment and filmmakers who do well with that your film probably would have been a good candidate for just calling up a movie theater and going Hey, do you want to book my film? I promise you that book it and and get and see what would happen. And you would get a 5050 split with a theater. So that could have done well. But with COVID as well. It's it's a whole other conversation right now. And it would be a different taste. Yeah, it's a completely different.
Mark Toia 52:36
I've had some cinema owners bring us for the film,
Alex Ferrari 52:39
Mark Toia 52:41
But you know, I went and saw a tenant the other night at the cinema with my son. And we were the only people sitting in a theater, you know, it was a guy Well, you know, anyway, but that's COVID times. So you know, the next movie I do if I do another movie, I'll might rethink and I think he just got to flex with the time, you know, no,
Alex Ferrari 53:02
yeah, it's not like it you know what, you know, as, as you and I have been coming up over the years before it was pretty, pretty rock solid that the process, he made a movie on film, he made a print, you went to the theater, then I went to home video and then but that was that was a process and it stayed like that for a long time. But now, it changes monthly. Like it's like p but p VOD was not a thing in January, like in January, premium video on demand really was not a thing. Not a serious thing at least. But now it's been forced to be a serious thing. And you know, all of the things have changed because of not only COVID, but just generally the marketplace. It's It's remarkable. Now, how are you applying the entrepreneur method to the film? What are your plans with it? I know you're doing an Indiegogo, what what, what revenue streams? Are you planning to build for the film?
Mark Toia 53:54
Probably not as detailed or as fast as what you've recommended? Because I need to get, I've decided it's hard to focus on 10 things? Sure. Well, I mean, so I'm going to focus on two or three things well, fair, and the big biggest one is, for any movie, sitting on a shelf at a digital shelf is you have to sell. Right? You've got to get it out there to the world. And hence it's that's where the Indiegogo thing is sort of, you know, my wife doesn't want to keep dipping her hand in the pocket in the back book the whole time. You know, or our man is the house, but you're not. I mean, it's It's COVID time, so we got to be a little bit frugal. So, marketing, the film is a big deal for me. And since I'm from an advertising industry of 25 years, I've literally been armed to the teeth with good marketing and knowledge. You know, I've been literally taught by the best of the best from the biggest companies in the world. And they've all taught me really how to sell my movie at one point with inadvertently right So, and so far, believe it or not, we've had an unbelievable trailer launch. I literally look at YouTube, I've got like, right now just looking at my, my big screen here. And I've got like this about 50 movies on this YouTube page. And we have got mixed, I think June, moving during that just come out. And that's it. We are actually the biggest play trailer and next to June, we've even beaten Batman one particular giant website. So, you know, we're at like, almost 850,000 views and Batman was is eight is 800,000. So we've beat that number 50,000 days. And that's only on one on one side. So you know, the good thing about YouTube is is they they're looking for revenue from YouTube. They just steal your trailer and put it up on the website, but they are serving as a great service service because the list again has all this amazing free advertising. And my movie says literally it's Yeah, it's we sort of lost count at 7 million ish. And it's
Alex Ferrari 56:27
Very quickly too within I think within 30 days now.
Mark Toia 56:32
Now, it's only been out Oh, yes, just hit 30 days now. So it's not even that it's 24 days, but yeah, it's it's crazy. It's we we always hoping for maybe in total, maybe a couple 100,000 views, but to get into the millions, like that's tentpole stuff, right,and you're not absolutely,
Alex Ferrari 56:53
absolutely, absolutely, that's
Mark Toia 56:55
Very, very happy, obviously very happy with that. And I think I, you know, we contributed then we teamed up with a PR company in LA, which will just help push that as well, simultaneously. So they were the kindling, you know, and all the social stuff was the was the fire and took off and, you know, the media, you can't even count social media, because so many people have shared it, I have no idea what the numbers are there. And we've, we've, we've paid a little bit in social media to push it, but really, that's just a small amount of money really, because we just want to understand their market and who's really hitting on this thing. We found out that, you know, men or males between 25 to 35 is our biggest market. So and and it's you know, fans and suddenly different genres to the horror genre. So the good thing about good analytics is from from especially Facebook, is you really get the dig deep into who's really looking at your movie. As though our targeted advertising come December, when we actually released the film is going to be pretty intense in sorry, if I'm gonna bombard you with more advertising,
Alex Ferrari 58:07
Oh, no, there will, there'll be plenty of it. And I and I will be the tribal know about the film, I am going to be promoting it fairly heavily as well. And, and I will be putting the trailer up very soon on indie film hustles YouTube, as well. Now you also so you have you know, you have merged that you you're creating for the project, which looks so cool that I already I'm like, I need the T shirt mark. So you need to make this happen. So you've got merged, which is going to be great. And I think mirch just on itself. Regardless of the film, it's cool, it's just a cool looking t shirt that it's associated with the project is another thing. So that is a revenue stream that you can keep going with. And then now you also have created a massive online business unlike an online course or almost like behind the scenes of this film.
Mark Toia 58:56
So yeah, well really that's just an Indiegogo thing to help us with you know, the the money from Indiegogo is literally just going to get funneled straight back into our second wave advertising. You know, when we release the videos really adjust them most are really want to share them. Really the way we did this whole thing. None of me because we've broken lots of rules. We've done everything apparently the wrong way. We've shot a big movie with a minimal crew, we've done big post production with a minimal team, we've done lots of things that are not normal. The way we've done everything, including the marketing and self distributions, I really want to share that because there's a lot of part of a lot of young filmmakers out there that really want to make a movie, and I'm going to well, you know you've you're a great asset for that community. Now, if people have a little bit more, you know, money and find a bit more, here's another way of going even bigger again, instead of it The big cliff, you know, a quiet little movie. If you want to make a big genre, action thriller, you can actually do that. But there's these processes you need to do to do it.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:14
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. And I'm excited
Mark Toia 1:00:26
to share those those the way we did it, and you know, a few people that you should possibly ring because there's a lot of people in all these countries around the world. They think they're overcharging you. But it's actually like 1/10, the price you'd normally pay in the Western world. You know, if they do such a good job, I pay them even a little bit more. Because there's no way I could have got a local guide to do that job for that money. And even the the local post companies here in Australia and America everywhere they give they send all their work offshore. Right? So it's about finding these artists around the world to really jump in and you and the secret of that is you pay them fast and you pay them well Don't. Don't rip them off. You know, they'll do a great job if you look after every one of them. But when it comes to that high end stuff, it's I always bring in the right people you know, I've always I brought in a great first ad. Great camera, good camera operators. He got a not lit don't don't bring in the wrong people to help you make that film. Because it will become painful.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:36
Yeah, Penny one penny wise pound foolish, essentially.
Mark Toia 1:01:40
Because I didn't want to get out you know, I want to do it. I want him to make this movie student films style without the street. I didn't want all that chaos that goes with student films I wanted order and preciseness and and effectiveness Better yet, but literally, I couldn't afford to have any circus going on in the background
Alex Ferrari 1:02:02
Are you planning to send you probably to release a blu ray because it is a 4k print? You have a 4k master of this. So it's it seems a perfect candidate for blu ray release?
Mark Toia 1:02:14
Its a bit there's a company I'm gonna team up with that because I not sure I can be bothered with doing all that. Rainy Day stuff. But, but yeah, that there will be at the time and I'm sure that's gonna all release at the time. T shirts, I'm, you know, you got me going that might have been on your show or someone else's. But they said they made about 300 grand from selling their movie and $900,000 and T shirt sales. Oh, yeah. And our Yeah, let's do the T shirts, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:02:43
You should absolutely do the T shirts, you leaving money on the table, if you don't do stuff like that. I mean, there's,
Mark Toia 1:02:48
I think that, like, every second day for a T shirt I've got, I'm on T shirt company in it. Yeah, COVID are down the whole t shirt system. But it's, you know, we've got a guy and we've got some samples finally coming to us shortly. And, and it's, you know, we'll just, we'll just when, again, we will advertise that we're not just going to dump it on our web page and hope for the best we will literally push that. Right, you know, all of the things and that's all part of that revenue making. There's a companies that have rang us up for toys and yes, and you know, because this these robots make again, I don't know how many people have called me guy, are you making them?
Alex Ferrari 1:03:28
Okay, so first of all, I'm gonna, I'm gonna throw this all out there. So I'm going to just give you all these ideas right now. Okay, first of all, you absolutely need to be targeting the comic book, you know, Geekdom world, the nerd world, because this film is built for Comic Cons. It's like built for that kind of world as well as all the other niches. So if you create mcats, for this, and you call up sideshow, or you call up one of these companies, and partner with them on creating, and there's tons by the way that you don't have to, and not only the big boys, but you could also find smaller companies who would be willing to, you know, license this from you all day. action figures, toys all day, you should be able to create because, again, that there's a movie attached to it is helpful. But just the design of the robots is so darn cool. And the things that you can build around that war, you can build an entire ecosystem of a world around just these these robots, and what they're doing and the whole comic books, graphic novels, all day you could be build theirs, you really could be doing. You could be making a lot of money with this project if you start venturing out into all these other areas. Because it's just the perfect candidate for it. Not every film could do that. Like on the corner of ego and desire. Not so much with the toys. Not so much for the filmmaking. I though I would love to see some action figures of the film. Just trying to sell their movie. But, but this is a perfect, perfect candidate for that entire world to do. And I think you'd be foolish, you'd be leaving a lot of money on the table, if you don't start going down that and it's again, doesn't have to be that you physically are doing it, you can actually partner with these companies and get a royalty and just get royalty checks on this stuff
Mark Toia 1:05:23
I'm looking at this already. It's the, you know, I'm a little bit time poor, because I got so many other things going on. But I will be investigating and doing it further. That's for sure. within it, you know, we've already had, you know, people go, are you doing a sequel? Like, I'm going to the movies don't even out yet, right?
Alex Ferrari 1:05:43
Mark Toia 1:05:44
The movies work for us and that whole other way? You know, from a revenue point of view, it will, you know, I've literally, this is part of the experiment. experiment was, I'll go and make a movie. I'll sell it, I'll do everything. And we'll just see if it's actually a feasible thing. Because, you know, like I said, I know, you know, hundreds and hundreds of directors and producers that have made movies and a very, very small percentage of the axes have made, OK, money from most of them will pull a bit of a wage out of them. But that's about it. So a lot of people do Netflix shows at the moment, or my friends and they, you know, they, they make their wage. That's all they make. They're hired. No one's making bank, right. They're just literally making their own jobs. You know what I mean? And so, I'm going down this route going, alright, if I make a movie like this, and I sell it like this, is it a feasible business model? You know, will I just keep making movies until I croak? Or am I going to do other people's movies, and that's where, which I touched on earlier is, you know, we've had, like, 30 odd movies sent to me, like the literally the moment this trailer came out. And, and beforehand, people wanted me to do the big movies, and some of them, one of them was the 180 million bucks, and other one was like $120 million. Another one was 80 million, there's a $50 million movies. And they're all big, big players. And it's great conversations, it's really good talking to these guys. So there's another way, you know, this movie as an experiment, was it a showreel piece for me for my, for my, you know, abilities to do an actual movie and, and you know, all these people have seen the film, they all love it. And they just through all this work. One guy said I was gonna give you a little $2 million scripted, but can you check out this $50 million one instead, right. And so it's a very lovely conversations. Now whether these guys yeah, they're all spinning plates, they're all trying to align moons, I have no idea if they're gonna get their movies up or not. And they're all credible big players, and they own and they have made hundreds of movies. And but I think this day and age of COVID, who knows, I could be sitting on a, you know, movie sit next year, you know, blowing stuff up, or I could be just doing my own movies, or it could be back to doing TV ads, I have no idea.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:18
So and that's another thing I you know, I really stress in the in the film shoprunner method is that it doesn't always have to be about making the money back on the film. If you get a job, or you get something else, like I did a short film that I did for 50,000 bucks. And I did not make 50,000 bucks off that short film. But I got jobs as a director that easily paid for that over the course of of the next few years. So it's all about the end game with that where you want to go and you are, you are a brave soul willing to just and you have the ability to do an experiment. And that's why I'm so fascinated with monsters of Ben with you how this all turns out. And that's why I'm gonna keep the tribe very up to you, we'll come back on the show if you if you want to come back and keep me updated on the going ons of what is going going on with the film because it is kind of a once in a lifetime experiment. Because this doesn't happen, Mark. This is not something that happens.
Mark Toia 1:09:20
I'm sorry, a lot of books telling me that a lot of people are telling me you don't make movies like this. That is unique. And I am in a very fortunate position to do so. You know, my wife, my wife said, Just give it away for free on YouTube.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:36
Don't do that. Don't do that. Don't do that. Don't do that. If you're gonna do that call me.
Mark Toia 1:09:40
But it's more like I think, you know, she was thinking I'll just jump on these big 10 poles and just, you know, we'll get our money back that way. Right? Right. But I really wouldn't want to rely on other people too much. You know, I'm happy to go and jump on these big films. That's fine. I just can't do them. I think it'd be fun but the reality He is I can't rely on those people either, you know, you've got to actually rely on your own efforts.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:07
And COVID right now is really exposed that I think a lot of directors specifically, let's just talk about our people, directors, specifically, I think they've come to the realization that like, Oh, I literally am relying on my entire livelihood on, on getting clients on getting gigs on working for somebody else. And if that those jobs dry up like they have during COVID, I'm screwed, as opposed to building your own business, building your own projects, building your own revenue streams, whereas you like you can survive with no jobs for as long indefinitely. If you're able to build online businesses or build on other sorts of businesses. Like you, you have a property business, you have other things that generate revenue, that, you know, you're not, you're not going paycheck to paycheck. And I know a lot of directors and a lot of filmmakers out there who, who were doing well, but then when you can't shoot, this is an unheard of situation. You're screwed. And it could be this way for another year, maybe two before we get back in back up and running the way with how is it by the way in Australia, like how's the shooting scenario there?
Mark Toia 1:11:16
It's quite messy here at the moment. I mean, there's not this word floating around. It's actually quite busy, but it's a lot of its, but you can shoot. Yeah, I've been shooting here we've just finished a nice big shoot. But the reality is, it's it's sort of it's very cost savings. Like this is my fourth recession technically have gone through since I was a kid, right. And I've seen this before, I've seen those $2 million, Kellogg's conflicts commercials get chopped down a million dollars in the next half 1,000,500 grand, and the next receipts I got, like 100 grand, you know, there's always someone out there, out there to chop it down. And the client goes, Well, I'm happy with that and only paid $100,000 they'll never pay any more for that commercial ever again. And I just did a big mistake with a client I you know, I did a huge job for them, you know, a year ago, like, in the millions and and this year they gave me like 100 grand to do one. And it literally almost looks as good as the big million dollar one. But we did it really cheap wise like a tiny crew and everything but it looks amazing. But I think I've just wrecked that client too because they've just gone all cheese or look at you just gave us for that that so I doubt they'll ever give me any more money ever again. Right? So the recession's literally destroy these, this type of industry you know, you've got to be clever in the figuring out how to how to try and make it back out of it from this point forward. And as well, because of the digital industry. There's so many people running around with an a seven SLR camera and a tripod now that you know competition so fears and everyone is happy to work cleanouts to try and push the career up. So it's a bit of a bit of a crazy industry. Right now. It's a very hard industry for the young people to really do well in it. Unless they really really work hard. I mean me making movies again, I'm not sure if that's the best way to go. I'll tell you in six to eight months time if it's if it's a worthwhile thing to go along and do but you know there's it's not hard to make a living in the film industry. You just got to work for it.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:36
And it's not it's harder it's harder now than it was
Mark Toia 1:13:40
The days of sitting back just getting the one job a week charging a week's wages for a day's work is now gone. I'd say if you see did
Alex Ferrari 1:13:50
Mark Toia 1:13:52
Film crew we're getting everyone gets paid way way too much anyway. Right with shows and dinners and everything brought to you on set I mean it's very privileged without without question not want to change I wanted to stay is probably going to change dramatically.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:09
Now um I think Mark that you have a very unique film a very unique IP that you should be and I know you will be exploiting to the nth degree of of trying to generate revenue with it and building out this kind of film directorial model by doing it yourself getting it out there into these marketplaces and generating that revenue. So I I am very interested to see how this all goes. If the launch is any indication, I think you're gonna do just fine.
Mark Toia 1:14:41
Yeah, fingers crossed. I think like, I like experiments like this, especially if they work but so far thing has gone plan. I did go over budget on the movie, I should say my wife will always if she was standing in the room. Yeah, you went over budget. But the reality was when we were shooting the film I was gonna do a bit like the movie The quiet place, you know, just see the robots, just, you know, they sort of come in in. But once I started shooting, I went Screw it. Let's have robots all through it. Yeah, the script changed all of a sudden onset. But you know, it was our money we could do that sort of stuff. That's a very,
Alex Ferrari 1:15:21
that's a very director thing. That's a very director thing to do. Like you just like, you know, I want to see more. Well, that's what that was. Why jaws? Is it an absolute masterpiece, because he didn't get all the Starkey won it because it didn't work. But you have the ability to have as much shark as you want, sir. Now, it didn't cost much more. And I'm going to ask you a few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today
Mark Toia 1:15:55
Depends on what level you start in and but if you're trying to break in, into the into making content, whether it be movies, or ads, or anything, is it all comes down to your body of work that you can show and market to the world, if you don't have a decent show reel, we don't have a decent commercial show reel or a decent drama show which you can do yourself, which you can go out and shoot fake commercials, you can go out and shoot fake ads and, and make short films and all that sort of stuff you can do yourself all you need is a camera and a couple of lenses, and some buddies and, and a lot of knowledge in post production. So learn as many programs as you can to help those of you tools. You know, go and shoot amazing content, practice, practice, practice, and then tell the world and show the world how good you are. Now, if your reel is good, people will call me It's as simple as that. Like my advertising showreel is is very strong. I only I sort of make a like a montage thing up every five or six years. Every time I send that thing out that phone rings off the hook. So it's it's all about building that body of work. But making sure you market to the planet is look I get phone calls from Russia of any sort everywhere in the world, every corner of the world has called me to do a TV commercial, because I've made myself highly visible.
Alex Ferrari 1:17:23
So very important. Marketing is everything would go from movies to outside. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Mark Toia 1:17:34
Longest lesson i dunno I'm still learning. I'm loving family, love your family to death. My kids and my wife now instead of you know, this movie business for me at the moment is purely a hobby. But but but honestly my family everything to me now my sort of, you know, where I used to be very one sided. recreate career now I'm like, you know, now my kids are all at home now. And I don't want them to leave home and I want them to be at home
Alex Ferrari 1:18:11
Isn't that isn't that the thing, though? Isn't that the thing as you get older, like when you're a kid, like when you're in your 20s and your 30s you just like it's all about career. It's all about career and you want you're focusing so much and then as you get older, you get met and you now family becomes more important like I you know, I want to spend more I don't want to be on the road. I rather just you know, Can I shoot something locally? Okay. Oh, can I shoot something quickly? You know, so I can stay home with family?
Mark Toia 1:18:37
Home it's been great. I'm not sure she's bit of a shock because I'm usually awake, you know, seven 8, 10 months of the year, right? overseas filming so for me to be homeless matches like it took us a bit to get adjusted to each other. And then kids are bringing them randomly at some stupid air of the night. Hey, here you go. And you know dad's been a pain in the neck.
Alex Ferrari 1:19:03
That's awesome. All right, and three of your favorite films of all time.
Mark Toia 1:19:10
Holy Jeez, there's so many I mean, I I actually a big fan of Cloud Atlas. I love Cloud Atlas. Yeah, yes. And there's so many great movies that Close Encounters of the Third Kind is one of my all time favorites the I think I was watching Interstellar the other night I still think that's quite the masterpiece Yeah, that you know those I do like big movies. I'm Ridley Scott fan. I'm a I do actually love Michael Bay movies but not real I'm not really into the story so much but I just other visual like what he achieves on screen. You know krustyland fan and I'm a Spielberg fan. So it's, you know, those four big directors and that and that. What's his name? The The, the owner of that guy is doing June and did Blade Runner as well, I think.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:13
Oh, yeah. Dennis Melville. Yeah I can I cannot I cannot say his last I just had his brother on the show just got released last week. And he's a director as well. he's a he's a sci fi director as well. He's his younger brother. Which is that that must be a hell of a family to be in.
Mark Toia 1:20:34
I think he's he's doing all the jobs I'd love to do.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:37
Are you in a lot of other directors in town, sir. So
Mark Toia 1:20:43
June fan in the world. And when I heard he was doing June, I'm like, Oh, no. Oh, well, at least it went to someone. Awesome. Right.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:50
Right. And it looked at trailer looks insane. That trailer. That trailer looks insane. And I did I love blade. A Blade Runner is Blade Runner was was brilliant. I'm a huge fan of the first one. I mean, you watch that and you just like Well, that's just a masterpiece.
Mark Toia 1:21:07
It was so there was so raw looking. It was the first of the raw movies was more Skype. I mean, yeah, but what get is, you know, both of those movies, technically flops. Right. Right. So they've gotten out following. And you know, the last one was even a bigger flop, you know, as $100 100 million dollar dump.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:29
Yeah, but it looks fantastic.
Mark Toia 1:21:32
Night film. Go figure.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:34
Exactly and where can people find you and find out more about monsters and men?
Mark Toia 1:21:43
Look, it's monstersofmen.movie. Okay. And that's it. And that has got a thingamajig gotcha prefix monstersofmen.movie? Yes, I think it is. It is.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:57
Yeah. And an Indiegogo campaign still going on right now. I think you you last night check. You were over 140% funded already. So within a few days
Mark Toia 1:22:09
It went probably better than we thought as well. But you know, it's, it's, it's been that's been great.
Alex Ferrari 1:22:18
No, I mean, yeah.
Mark Toia 1:22:20
Money is literally going to go straight to the marketing in the film. So I'm really thankful to all the supporters and there's a lot of people still buying it. So up buying the perks and everything. So I'm very, very thankful for all those people.
Alex Ferrari 1:22:33
Well, Mark, I want to not only thank you for being on the show, but thank you for doing this experiment, because it's going to put a lot of things to the test in regard to like, well, if someone actually made a movie, like monsters of man, and did what you're doing, you know, to do an experiment, like, this is such a rare occasion that that happens. So I thank you for just saying hell with it. I'm going to do it this way. And I know everyone's telling me not to do it. And, and I thank you for turning down, you know, a seven figure district multiple, seven figure distribution deals. And that's what the one thing I asked you, when we we talked a while ago was like, why did you turn down this and he goes, Oh, man, because that I mean, by the time I was gonna get paid, I was gonna be like, 105 years old, like all the stuff that they were doing and payment schedule was just so shady, you're like, screw it, I'm just, I'm just gonna do it myself.
Mark Toia 1:23:25
Like it wasn't, I wouldn't say it's shady. It's just the way they do things, right?
Alex Ferrari 1:23:29
Red, Potato, potato straight up.
Mark Toia 1:23:32
Those deals can vary. The delivery schedule is very difficult in them. And you got to jump a lot of hurdles. And I think a lot of it's delay and the delay purpose, really. So you know, that your movies actually out released out to the world and they still haven't paid it right. It's sort of like, you know, what they're doing is the recouping all your money at the marketplace, and then that is going to pay you what, what they owe you anyways, then they're not really putting any skin in the game at all. But that's the way distribution is and you just if you don't want to sell the movie yourself, you got to do it that way. But you know, the proof that what the whole thing that comes out of this is from a film perspective, my movie will probably make less money doing it my way. I'll make what, Ryan? Right. If I did it through that way, it'll probably make more money, but I'll make less.Does that make sense?
Alex Ferrari 1:24:28
Makes perfect sense. Makes perfect sense. Well, Mark, thanks for being
Mark Toia 1:24:34
It's our last Sorry, I was, you know, you've had a couple of, you know, distributors on site or there was I think it was in the any film any rights in the rights, you know, like, she had the right idea, that lady because she was like, you know, we'll charge this on our show. 5-10% 15 whatever she does, but she seemed very open and transparent. And that's what's gonna make her little business model takeoff, you know what I mean? And but she's literally just doing what we're doing anyway. It scale she's, she's charging you for the for that, you know and I think companies like that are the future it's the the transparency is a big big deal. Especially live portals. You know one good thing about doing Amazon and iTunes you get the portal you get to see everything. So you know that those sales, distribution companies aren't touching up all these aggregators because you can see what they see, you know, it's all about transparency moving forward for a lot of people love it.
Alex Ferrari 1:25:37
Mark, thanks again for being on the show. And I wish you nothing but success with monsters of man, and I can't wait to see how it all turns out, sir, thank you, again, my friend,
Mark Toia 1:25:47
It will file a win, you'll know it all I'll share with you another time.
Alex Ferrari 1:25:52
Again, I cannot thank Mark enough for not only being on the show, but on going on on this adventure on this film shoprunner adventure to see if his film can actually get a great ROI. And from what we're already seeing early on. It's It's looking good. I think his film is, you know, the entrepreneur method is very case by case. And I wanted to see if a film of his magnitude, with his budget with no major bankable stars in it is going to be able to do what we all think it can do. So I'm really curious and Mark is going to come back on the show in the next six to 12 months. And let us know how it's going and see what worked what didn't work. And you guys the tribe will be able to benefit from this exane insane experiment. Thank you again, Mark. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, including watching this insane trailer of monsters of men, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/407 and it's not too late if you want to buy the film and get early access plus all this other cool stuff. Head over to his Indiegogo campaign which is still live and it is on the show notes. The link is on the show notes as well. And one last reminder guys tonight the film distribution blueprint course closes for a while until I open it up back at the regular price. If you want to get access head over to indiefilmhustle.com/let me in. Thank you guys for listening. As always keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.
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- WATCH: Monsters of Man – Amazon
- Monsters of Man – Official Site
- Mark Toia – Official Site
- BUY IT HERE – Indiegogo Campaign
- Rise of the Filmtrepreneur
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Oscar® Winning Writer/Director
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