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How NOT to Get Ripped Off by a Predatory Film Distributor with Orly Ravid
Today on the show we have attorney and film distribution expert Orly Ravid. Orly is committed to helping artistically and intellectually rigorous and important films reach their respective audiences via a financial model that is sustainable for filmmakers.
Having established the theatrical, festival, digital distribution and educational services, presently at TFC, Orly works primarily on distribution, sales/licensing and contract/negotiation services with a focus on new media digital distribution. She also oversees theatrical releases, the various educational services, and the organizational overall.
Called a “big picture” thinker, Orly founded The Film Collaborative in response to a dominant and overarching structure that favors middlemen, not filmmakers. She is passionate about protecting filmmakers’ rights and revenues as much as she is about good film.
Having worked in the film business for two decades, Orly’s past experience ranges from programming to all aspects of the business of film. Orly and discuss the current state of distribution, what the future holds and how not to get ripped off by a predatory film distributor.
Enjoy my conversation with Orly Ravid.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Orly Ravid – LinkedIn
- Orly Ravid – Twitter
- Orly Ravid – Facebook
- The Film Collaborative
- The Complete Film Distribution Blueprint with Alex Ferrari
- DONATE to Feed America to help with people affected by the Coronavirus
- Rise of the Filmtrepreneur: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business (FREE AUDIOBOOK)
- $1 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)
- The Complete Indie Film Producing Workshop with Suzanne Lyons
- Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story) (FREE AUDIOBOOK)
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
WATCH MICRO-BUDGET CASE STUDIES
- IFH Academy – Exclusive Filmmaking & Screenwriting Training
- FreeFilmBook.com (Download Your FREE Filmmaking Audio Book)
- Indie Film Hustle® Podcast
- Bulletproof Screenwriting® Podcast
- Filmtrepreneur™ Podcast
- Inside the Screenwriter’s Mind® Podcast
Alex Ferrari 2:22
Now today on the show guys, we have film distribution expert Orly Ravid. Now Orly has been in the film distribution space for a long time, and is the founder of the film collaborative, where she has been fighting the good fight, trying to help filmmakers get distribution and navigate the shark infested world that is film distribution. Organization launched a best selling book called selling your film without selling your sold, and more recently, how not to sign a film contract. The film collaborative is the first nonprofit focused on distribution education and uses three taglines that really encompasses what she believes in filmmakers first nonprofit on purpose, and we don't own the rights you do. Not Orly and I sat down and had an amazing conversation about film distribution in today's world what's going on with Coronavirus and how that's affecting the world and what we as filmmakers can do to get our films out there because things are changing so rapidly. Amazon is dropping documentaries now and no short films and you know, these platforms have just so much power and we need to figure out what we can do as filmmakers to make a living doing what we love. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Orly Reed. I like to welcome the show Orly reveals how you doing early? And well how are you as good as I can be in this crazy mixed up world that we live in? So thank you so much for being on the show. We I how we have not met officially over the years is considering we're both Oh, it will our good friendship head who introduced us Finally, he he's like we need to build an Avengers team of distribution, you know, fighters and like, you know, early, we'll be on it. I'll be on it and you'll be out of Alex. I'm like, that would be awesome. So how we have not literally crossed paths and all the stuff that we do individually is beyond me, but it's a small world.
Orly Ravid 4:34
So as soon as she can introduce this and then obviously we were bad and all of a sudden it's like when you learn a new word and you see it everywhere. Then every all of a sudden you like Oh yeah. Do you hear the new indie film hustle podcast and the latest episode? I was like, Uh huh. Yep.
Alex Ferrari 4:48
Yeah, yeah, it's it's Yeah, exactly. My wife all of a sudden she's like, Is it just me? There's a lot of Tesla's around and like, she was like, she was like thinking like, Oh, I just looked at one the other day and like, yeah, like, that'd be nice. But not yet.
Orly Ravid 5:04
Alex Ferrari 5:05
Yeah, well, she wants the big. The big station wagon one. The one. Yeah, she wants to station wagon one for the family. I'm like, give me a minute.
Orly Ravid 5:14
Yoda needs his own row. He's
Alex Ferrari 5:16
obviously a Yoda. Yoda my co pilot in life, sir. so first of all, how did you get in the business?
Orly Ravid 5:25
Oh, that's a fun question. Um, I mean, when I studied in college, I did take film courses that weren't business related, but they were more sort of fear, critical theory and screenwriting and I did externships or internships, they call them that were film related, but I wasn't in the business. And I didn't ever think that I would be in the business. And then I moved from Manhattan to from Manhattan, New York to California, although I did a quick stint in Chicago on the way and like you had other film involvements. But the first job that I ever took in distribution in this town was with a international sales company. And I just thought I was going to be their office manager. That's what I that was the job that I took, I had done some film festival programming, work it out fest and the Israeli Film Festival. But that was my first like job in the industry. That wasn't an internship. And the office management job turned into me creating and running the domestic distribution arm, because the my boss that I own, the company said, well, international sales, it was really hurt in the Asian or Asian crisis back in the days it was, you know, after the 80s, boom. And I really need some business revenue to offset any downturns in international sales. And so could you help me launch this domestic distribution arm? Which I did, and back then there was VHS? So all those things? That's how I got started in the biz.
Alex Ferrari 6:53
Yes. And then after VHS, the boom of the DVD market, which was Oh, man, the money was flowing, wasn't it? Oh,
Orly Ravid 6:59
yeah. And so I was doing, I did VHS, I did DVDs, all of that stuff. And I also still did international sales. That's how I learned both aspects of the business. And at the time, folks, were like, oh, you're such a go getter. You should be an agent. But I decided not to be an agent.
Alex Ferrari 7:16
Smart. I think smart move, I think smart move. So with, with in for people listening, you have to understand, like, when the DVD boom was happening, that's when you can make sniper six and seven and just pre sell it. It was just done. Like, all you needed to do is put it out and was three to 5 million. Guaranteed.
Orly Ravid 7:37
Yeah, and that time was so lucrative for the business to business folks. That's when you know, deals were done on napkins in Canada. And it wasn't weird to have big parties. And it was just the cost of doing business because a lot of business was being generated, a lot of money was flowing, at least to those folks in the business.
Alex Ferrari 7:54
Right. Not to the filmmakers as much. Okay, exactly.
Well, let me let me ask you that, let me ask you that question. Because, you know, I've been I've been yelling from the top of the mountain for a while now that I feel that the the system has the film distribution side of the business has a systemic problem that has been there pretty much since the inception of the industry where distributors have and in the distribution contracts. And the way that whole traditional model is, is set up not to pay really or not to take care of the artists not to take care of the filmmaker. I mean, I remember it was it Chaplin and fair banks and Pickford, they opened up United Artists, because they kept getting screwed out of the business side of things. It's been going on forever. Do you think it's it? I don't think it's getting any better, do you? I mean, there's more knowledge out there, but I don't think it's getting any better. And why is it? Why is it that way? Because you've been in the business for a while?
Orly Ravid 8:52
So I'll answer the why it is that way first, which is, you know, American culture is very commercially focused. We don't support our arts in this country, with government and public funds, generally. I mean, these are some exceptions. And and we don't treat distribution as a mission, we treat it as a business and people in business. I mean, you know, they're, they're, they're billionaires buying up mobile home parks, and evicting the tenants, you know, their landlord, you know, the people who ratchet up rent, I mean, big businesses, big business. And that's just the culture that we're in, in in with film. I think the disconnect for folks is that because independent films, feel like they're doing artwork, you know, working to do something important, artistically important, culturally important, that it should be treated differently. And I agree that it should be but if you're going to do a deal with a traditional commercial distributor, I mean, they're not obviously all the same, but certainly the whole is oriented to make money for the for the for the distributor and and take rights. For a very long time and that kind of thing, and it's just a different system here that we have that that's that Walmart or sorry, just, you know what the way Walmart approaches, vendors, you know, push very hard to get the best price. And if we don't sell it, you're going to take it back. Right? The business is taking care of itself.
Alex Ferrari 10:18
Got it. And it's just, it's just the brutal nature of this, this, at least this this in America. And I know the UK is not too far behind that there's a lot of guys doing that kind of deal. But internationally, because you worked internationally as well. is a different distribution deals or is it like, you know, when you're in Cannes or at AFM? I mean, these deals are similar in overseas, like in France, or in Germany or in other major, but is that just a general way of the business is done period?
Orly Ravid 10:47
Well, yeah, I mean, they're the all rights distributor deals in Europe, and in Asia can be for just as long of a term. You know, and there can be similar accounting issues. Certainly, we've noticed that. But at the same time, the difference is a lot of the European films are financed by public funds. And frankly, the filmmakers are not so worried about as long as the distribution happens. They're not so they're not always getting the money back. So and then the, you know, the public broadcaster's that are funded by public funds, and even on sales companies that can get public support, like in France and stuff. So, but I will, because you had a second part of the question that I didn't yet answer, which is, I think it is getting better not because necessarily distributors are going to book two things, I think there is a movement that I like to think that I'm part of having started, which is creating other distribution opportunities for filmmakers that are not deleterious that are not going to be harmful. And I think that that different ethos, and a different push for more transparency, and for better terms, has shifted the market a little bit, because they're now there are services that accommodate that, you know, for example, I love working with giant entertainment. I think they're, they're an example of a way to get VOD distribution done without giving your rights away for a really long time. But also, the fact that, you know, there's a bunch of distribution folks can do themselves, right? People are booking theaters themselves, people are, you know, getting someone on their team to do it, or hiring a service. People can get onto VOD platforms through aggregators, which is a much safer way. There's a there's obviously the marketing question there. But in other words, what before distribution was so much more cost intensive, there was also a barrier to entry for the filmmakers, right? It was to make 35 millimeter prints was expensive to traffic them as expensive to an employee that was, you know, gatekeeping. And you weren't going to be booking theaters yourself. Although I think Cassavetes did it. So I guess you could have done it, when could have done it in the 70s. But now, it's a lot a lot less expensive to make the movie, it's also a lot less expensive distributed. And I'm not talking about, you know, $100 million campaign, you know, on a few 1000 screens, but just for the, you know, an indie film, and that happens all the time. There's service deals, right? So the model, there's plenty of those opportunities where you can just pay for a service to help you accomplish your goals. And you'll have more control and ownership and keep your ownership of the right.
Alex Ferrari 13:19
So as as we obviously in the middle of a once in a generation pandemic, which is obviously ravaging not only our industry, but the world. But specifically in our industry. How do you see COVID affecting distributors moving forward, because my feeling is that the financial pressure hasn't even begun yet. In my in my feeling, I think it's gonna get a little bit worse. And I feel that a lot of these distributors, especially the predatory ones, will become more predatory. In regards to it. And again, not all there are good. And I always say that there are good distributors out there. But a lot of them these deals are very predatory. And I've been sad. I mean, we could talk about predatory deals that are just, Oh, my God, I'm sure you've read a couple over the years, like, how is this legal? You know,
Orly Ravid 14:06
but how do you see over the years, but I mean, I've been involved with, you know, because I'm an attorney, I help clients see their distributor? Well, I, you know, I don't disagree that, you know, there's going to be even greater desperation to have distribution by on the part of filmmakers who, you know, there's just also just so much more. I mean, I also think filmmakers are kind of going into this not always being educated about, you know, what distribution is how to get it when it can work, and when it can't, not every film has a big audience, right. And that's just the truth. I will say that distributors that I knew and do deals with are seeing a surge in home entertainment consumption, right? I mean, fit VOD generally is I think up 40%. So there's a lot of positive impact and just in terms of extra consumption is also more content than has ever been produced before. And, and the you know, the buyers are more and more commercially oriented. And there's more emphasis on series and less on independent film. So that's the Plus, you know, I think it depends on what you're creating that you may even have more opportunities than you would have before. In terms of though theatrical and having an impact there. It's obviously tremendously diminished. festivals, the ability for a film to break out and launch out of a festival is tremendously diminished. I mean, I'm so fascinated to see what happens at Sundance this year. Right and virtual festival, you know, I mean, I guess there's some live components, but, and there'll be virtual festivals for months to come. So I think that it, it creates a glut right films that were premieres itself by are meant to like premiere again, and it's just it is definitely stacking the competition, time, several fold, right, because there's like that many more films going to try to compete at the same time. For note for attention and for distribution, I think that's hard. And I, you know, I don't know what else to say about it, but I think it's gonna be an eye as far as predatory. You know, people should not sign deals with distributors without checking right, you've got your podcast, your Facebook group, and we are going to rejigger our distributor report card early next year. And then, you know, just always so what
Alex Ferrari 16:24
can you can you tell me what the report card is?
Orly Ravid 16:27
Yeah, it's, you know, we have a suite of digital distribution, educational free services. One is the digital distribution Guide, which is a guide to platforms around the world. You know, if you made a certain kind of film, you can see what platforms are available to take the film. And then there's case studies. And then there's a very information rich blog and our social media, all this stuff is free information that or is oriented to VOD distribution, distribution that weren't in VOD, reverse. The distributor porkers, the only thing that I started that I didn't successfully finish the film collaborative, because was getting it was meant to be the Yelp for distribution, right. You know, having transparent information from filmmakers to experienced step distributor, distributors, oh, it was very hard. People just didn't want to comment and want to share even when they could be anonymous. So we're doing it differently. Now we're kind of just going to interview distributors as well to get their representation of what they do and what they do well, and what they're looking for. But also comments from filmmakers about what went well, what didn't go well, to enhance sort of synthesizing that. So instead of it being like, you know, anonymous filmmaker x, right, or, you know, meaning we're just going to synthesize it all. And then I just have my own years of experience, right, like, there and it's not, it's not black and white. There's some distributors who are perfectly fine at this, then the other thing, but not the best at this, or no going into this, you know that this is what this look, this is what it ultimately is. Excuse me, then there are other distributors that are flat out predatory and like, never do we deal with them
Alex Ferrari 17:59
straight up. Don't Don't do it. Yeah. And because I've been, I've been trying to figure out a way to do something like Yelp for distributors, because that's been coming up constantly in the Facebook group that like, Hey, is there a place, we can just go see if this and our Facebook group is a good is a good reference and resource because people just type in? I'm like, Look, just type in the name of the distributor and and the search, and people will let you know, it's not hard to do research on distributors. I mean, you just got to call a few filmmakers up, and they are very honest about it.
Orly Ravid 18:29
Exactly. I always tell every filmmaker don't just take my opinion about what I know, my data points call filmmakers, not just the ones that distributor told you to call, but other ones, and usually you'll hear, but I also think it's to know how to receive the information. I mean, that's part of where hearing the distributors perspective is also useful. It's like, what they're actually able to deliver and what they're promising versus what's not, you know, they're going to do and no one is going to do. Right. And so, you know, you got to get real about what's available in the marketplace as far as distribution for small films. But there's just the flat out predatory ones where like, it doesn't matter. Like just don't do that deal. And I would love to, you know, love to collaborate with you and anyone else on expand, this is a free service that's just meant to correlate. Yeah. Real, real, real experiences that filmmakers have had, you know, and across the top, we're gonna focus on the US first, like, you know, the top 25 to 40 companies that the topic the biggest but rather the most commonly at issue in India.
Alex Ferrari 19:30
Yes, there's a couple of and you know, to be you know, and I beat up on distributors, especially the predatory distributors a lot, but to be fair, you know, a lot of filmmakers go into a distribution deal with very unreasonable expectations, because like I say, There's never an ugly baby there no ugly babies in the world. And that's the same thing with with film like, well, but unfortunately, the truth is, yes, there are ugly babies, and, and filmmakers don't want to hear that they just spent a year and a half, making an ugly baby, and they don't want to hear that and then of course who they Gonna play, they're gonna blame the distributor, whether it's their fault or not that there is there is that? Do you agree with that?
Orly Ravid 20:07
Oh 100% and I and I asked myself or not, I don't only ask myself, I asked them. I mean, you're choosing the most expensive art medium in the world as, as less expensive as it is now than it's been, it's always been more expensive than poetry and painting, and, you know, and playing instruments and everything else. So, you know, and you're usually not just using your own money, you're usually using other people's money. And so if you're just gonna give, if you're gonna have a business plan around your film, it's only looking at the most successful films with anything similar, but really not punch, not a fair comparison with respect to cast over budget or
Alex Ferrari 20:43
genre or time of when it was released.
Orly Ravid 20:47
Right? Well, I mean, genre that usually kind of sure a line in terms of a businessman, but yeah, time when it was released, right, it was released in the heyday of the 80s. When, you know, we just talked about that, or in the 90s, which had its own boom. Um, you know, the difference is, I mean, the difference between then and now is that there's a lot less business to business guaranteed transactions, like when VHS and then DVD were new, the stores needed stuff, and they were going to buy anyway. And now you just don't have that. In fact, now you have so much data that the platforms have themselves, they simply only license but they you know, iTunes, anyone get onto iTunes, without, you know them curating you have provided you meet the tech specs, and other criteria like that. But it doesn't mean you'll sell a guy Damn. Oh, no, absolutely
Alex Ferrari 21:35
not. And Amazon's purging right now they're purging, like, just whenever they feel like it like, Nope, sorry. And you're just gone. Because they don't, they don't need data. They don't care. They don't care. They're selling socks, they make more money selling socks, that they do deal with independent filmmakers.
Orly Ravid 21:50
Well, and they tried, let's get real, they tried to do an independent film initiative with festival stars program. And it didn't last because it wasn't revenue generating. And presumably, if it had been, they would have kept it going. Right. And so and so that's the other thing is like to be realistic about, you know, you know, a film club, but we really try to help folks get clear about where they are in the landscape. If you've made a film, that would be a studio film, if only it had a much bigger budget, a top director, who's, you know, famous and a less cast? Well, but you haven't made that you've made this other thing that, you know, how are people going to know it exists? And what's going to motivate them to watch it? And then the answer is, you know, sometimes it's extraordinary. And it's a breakout, and that's a great thing. And an alias festival can help get you there. And sometimes that happens even without that. But still, you know, what's the data around that? And so and just and the other thing is, filmmakers ask themselves, how many independent films do you view? Right? Like, not studio films, not series, just small films from not famous people that like that you're just like discovering and paying for, or you know what I mean, right? That's when people get really real about it. But again, I kind of don't, I have screwed me in that speech. But I also understand, because they want to make their work. They're artists, and we don't have a kind of funding support in this country. They're just going to get it financed privately, and then try to figure it out.
Alex Ferrari 23:25
Right, and you said something earlier, and I want to kind of touch on this because there's a myth out there that I'd love for you to help me debunk a T VOD transactional video on demand. Everyone thinks that all they need to do is go to an aggregator and and put their films up on iTunes, Google Amazon and and they will be discovered because their film is genius. And the world of TiVo will get the S VOD and Avon in a minute but T VOD in. And I have examples of films making half 1,000,003 million dollars off, off transactional. But two things have to happen. One, one of those examples was in 2010. And they were one of the first movies on iTunes and they had a TV star in it. And they were two very popular directors. So that's an that's out. That's the outskirts. But the other one is you t VOD only works if you have an audience that you can drive to it that actually generates that actually is willing to pay, purchase or rent your film. That's the only way to VOD works. Unless your studio print independence, I feel that it's pretty much dead. What do you think?
Orly Ravid 24:31
I think you're right. Every distributor that I've talked to, um, well, I mean, they're not saying like, it's completely dead. There's still
Unknown Speaker 24:37
Orly Ravid 24:38
So yeah, yeah. It's just not the boom that it was for some in the beginning. Because again, when you know, I mean, when cable VOD was a new thing that was a big piece of business. That was like the biggest part of video on demand revenue. And we were ahead of the whole world in terms of video on demand revenue, and then of course, the transactional platforms like apple and stuff like that. And You know, there was a time when there was a reasonable amount of revenue for certain films with the marketing tracks with the audience. Now it's completely really, really died down because there's just so much content available for no extra charge to the to the audience, because, you know, that's streaming or a VOD. And you know, people just don't feel the need to pay for anything other than, you know, the big studio stuff, or maybe some stuff for kids where they want to be able to keep watching it and, and it's not on a streaming service. Or watch without ads, whatever it is, but it's very Yeah, the revenue now for independent films on T VOD is very low. It's the lowest ever been. I've there are exceptions, but they sort of prove the rule. I know that there's one film that companies taking on it is, you know, very VOD focused. And that film is a low budget indie, but it happens to have people in it with huge social media followings that are very supportive, right? It's got to have that or niche right. And I you know, like free solos, a doc that I think did quite well on T like, it's got to have a thing, you know, sports enthusiasts enthusiasm, a certain subculture, right, where people really want to rent it and buy it. And that's all that's available at the time, right? There's the window created to make people to drive those sales. Yeah, if you don't have if you're just that small, would be a studio movie only at a bigger budget with a famous director. And you have no like clear marketing, and even the niches that used to be such a slam dunk like LGBT, which, you know, I know a lot about I've worked for two LGBT distributors, we have a lot of those films that film collaborative, I'm lesbian, you know, like, it's like something I really about even that is no longer like a slam dunk, like any movie will work well, because the the, the population is not desperate for the content anymore as it once was. Right. So
Alex Ferrari 26:50
yeah, because I mean, and you know, in my book, I talked about the power, the only power I feel that filmmakers have, especially small Indies, is niche, that you can target an audience that is very passionate about a subject matter. And that cuts through a lot of marketing that it they'll cut through $100 million, with a marketing of the studio stuff, because I always use the example I'm a vegan. So when that that the game changers came up, I was just clamoring to see that the game changers documentary when it came out, which is about athletes, vegan athletes, which was brand new, no one had ever really done anything, or at least marketed properly. And it did have some heavy hitters behind the head, James Cameron, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, and a couple other big executive producers behind it. But I was clamoring and everything just wiped away all these other content. I was like, I need when is this release and I paid for the rental. And then of course, three weeks later was on Netflix. I was like son of them. But I didn't tell you that, but they didn't tell you that right. And it was also but I was also very passionate about that. So that is I think the only hope we have as independent filmmakers is to do like LGBT is is a sub genre. And if you're able to, to focus on that, and target that audience and really build something that's a value to that audience, that's the only hope you have you can't make a broad comedy anymore. Can't make a broad, you know, drama.
Orly Ravid 28:08
Unless Listen, I mean, at the
Alex Ferrari 28:11
end level at the end, like it's gonna
Orly Ravid 28:13
end by the way game changers, you know, great example. But a lot of money went into that, too. I mean, that movie was not marketed just with like, grassroots there was like,
Alex Ferrari 28:22
Oh, no, that was a big, that's a big example. But I'm just using the concept of the niche.
Orly Ravid 28:26
Yeah, like 100% and, and yet, I would say after you have a few movies within the niche, it's not enough to just make the movie in the niche. So so so that was a unique movie at the time. There's anything since but there's for other other niches there are plenty of movies that are that are covering, you know, the subject, I mean, but there's plenty of different niches, you know, different interests, like musician type, you know, music interests, ballet,
Alex Ferrari 28:51
sports, DMX, but there's so much,
Orly Ravid 28:55
you know, Cannabis, I mean, but but then and then it's also like, what else is happening within that niche? Is your work going to really satisfy? And is it going to really, you know, and then, and then there's that, you know, just building community around the film early on, and knowing that if you're not going to have $100 million, you're going to need to spend a lot of time to reach even though it's a more streamlined approach. I'm with you. I'm all about we're all about niche and our case studies, evidence that now broad comedy, I mean,
Alex Ferrari 29:25
$100,000 broad comedy with nobody in it.
Orly Ravid 29:28
Yeah, it's, unless it's something that's going to go viral, because it's so fun.
Alex Ferrari 29:33
But that's but those are outliers. those are those are lottery tickets.
Orly Ravid 29:37
Those are the outliers. And if you're that talented that you can make that then you're going to be successful, even if you even if that movie isn't successful, cuz you're gonna get discovered and you're going to become a comedy writer.
Alex Ferrari 29:46
Right, right. Comedy director, whatever. Exactly. But, you know, again, the niches The thing that I feel that low budget, independent filmmakers have a chance if you can make a series and that's the thing now right now is series if you can create long form series like even six episodes broken up 20 minute episodes, that is more valuable right now in the marketplace. Would you agree? We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show
Orly Ravid 30:19
you Yeah, I think the marketplace is looking for series, but at the same time making a series that nobody consumed is also not useful. So right, if the, if the work doesn't lend itself to be a series, but you know, of course, as its filming, you know, because that's a struggle, I think, you know, it's also like, it's not like all the platforms are just buying up every series that's available, right? They have their pick, and they're buying very little relative to what's available. Right? Well, how much they could buy. So but I'm with you yet, it's it's definitely a time for series. And if you have a series, that's what they want, that's great thing. But there's plenty of docs. And I think, in terms of comparing doc features to doc series, the good news is with docs, there's also so much financial support, that is philanthropic that you can get your work made, and have it be the right format for the work and not and then and then even have impact. I mean, we're all about distribution, that that is not about money making but impact. We're launching a global VOD distribution initiative that is looking to philanthropic and corporate support to get movies out into the world for creating impact without it needing to generate revenue and have the support that came into making the film simply extensive releasing it. But But back to the broad comedy, then there's no issue there. Right? So it's like, we're back to like, what kind of content are you making? And how are you going to find an audience for it? If it's an issue oriented film, if there's a niche, these kinds of things, you can see a marketing plan. If it's just, if it's just entertainment, I don't think just
Alex Ferrari 31:47
then, but but it is just because there's like, I mean, I go on night, and every night I go to Netflix, I got Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, Disney plus I go through, I'm like, What am I gonna watch tonight, and sometimes I literally watch because there's so much new stuff, but I can't. This is what this is my, this is my and please tell me what yours is. When you're scanning through your streaming services. If you see something that you're familiar with either an actor or a genre, specifically an actor, or director or someone like that, you'll feel more comfortable going to that, because you just feel confident. That's why Adam Sandler has a career. It's he's one of the biggest stars on Netflix, because anytime you skip on you go Oh, that's an Adam Sandler movie. I know exactly what I'm going to get with an Adam Sandler movie. There's no surprises unless you're watching punch drunk love. Other than that, it's generally and that's why people might not admit it in public, but they're like, you know what, this is just gonna be silly and funny and, and like that new one. He just said, Halloween hoobie or whatever. Huge. They're like, going to make a sequel for it. Because it was such a big, big hit. But when you're going through, like for me to trust an unknown is tough for me. And even if I do give it a shot, I give him five minutes. And they don't get me out. So that's why it's so difficult to stand out. As opposed in the 90s. Do you think El Mariachi clerks, slacker brothers mcmullin? Do you think they would ever find a voice today? No way.
Orly Ravid 33:12
I agree with you. I agree with everything you said. I do. One thing you didn't mention I think is also true. I'm sure for you to like shits Creek, the show I would have never known or heard about. And but it's also because of a social media phenomenon or word of mouth. I do think there's that that's happening now. Which is like, there's so many series. I mean, if I did nothing, but watch the content available, I would run out of time before I died. Of course, if I lived a very long life. So you know, you just kind of like what's you know, people are raving about this and that and
Alex Ferrari 33:43
but ya know, they're all the platforms, all the platforms have their name and look at speaking of like, niches look at Disney plus, what Disney did is, I mean, we saw it coming. And we all kind of felt like, there's something here, but they just have killed it. They're they're taking over and they just released the finger few weeks ago that released that we're like, yeah, we're restructuring our entire business model for streaming. Yeah. Because they go, this is the future. This is where it all began. And you just started yesterday, they released that Wonder Woman. Yeah. on HBO for free. On December 25. That's a what $150 million film. I mean, wow. That is I mean, I know COVID is up is definitely fast tracked all this stuff and forced us to do it. But yeah, I mean, the business model solid.
Orly Ravid 34:35
Yeah. Well, I mean, it's different. The technology is there, especially in this country, but it's also obviously developed in many other parts of the world. And where people are home, and it's working and actually it's less expensive is slightly less expensive than doing a theatrical campaign. So you know, yeah, I'm with you. I have some Disney stock. I like I'm happy like this is doing well. You I totally agreed, I think. And so and then there are the times when it's back to the COVID thing where an indie filmmaker, I mean, just think about, like the filmmakers who got their careers because of having a short or a feature breakout at Sundance or there to get discovered there. I do think that's another thing that's going to be challenging now is the discovery.
Alex Ferrari 35:19
But the thing is, though, and I've been kind of breaking down the Sundance myth for a while is like, that doesn't happen as much anymore. It's not the night like in the 90s. It happened. Every month, I felt that there was a new story, a magical mythical story. But now, like, I haven't heard of a lot of short filmmakers breaking out of Sundance, I know many Sundance winners who didn't make money on their films, and they're still struggling to get their next gig. Like it's not the automatic golden ticket that it was in the 90s. You know, like,
Orly Ravid 35:48
I think it was an automatic golden ticket in the 90s. I just think there were enough successes that your odds were better than they are. Now. I definitely agree with you. The it's definitely not that anymore. Now, on the happy note, there's so many more buyers than there have ever been, right? Oh, yeah. Right. And, um, and it's less expensive to make the work and less expensive to distributed, and there's so many more buyers. And then there's also a real push for diversity. And there's, I've seen my clients on the legal side, like people getting jobs that they might not have gotten in the past. Not that they didn't deserve it. But you know, I mean, given opportunities that they were overlooked, for, they shouldn't have been overlooked for. And I think that that's what's great now, so there's a plus side
Alex Ferrari 36:29
to Oh, no, absolutely. And there's so much more opportunity now. But this is what I feel that a lot of filmmakers now, and I see this in my work on a daily basis, I see filmmakers, making movies producing films, thinking that the distribution landscape is set up, like it was in the 90s. Like, that's their bit, the business model is set up like, oh, we're gonna do this, and we're gonna get this amount of money in there. So these pre sales and like, it was tough. In December 2019, it was tough, let alone now like now, nobody even know,
Orly Ravid 37:03
literally looks like it was written in the 90s. Like I've seen, I worked for someone who is even in the 2000s had marked, you know, a conception for the films that were way overblown. Were like the budgets were twice as big as they should have been relative to how much money could be made? Yeah, I think people need to adjust. And they need to get honest. I mean, I do think that there's sometimes a willful blindness on the part of the filmmaking community, because it works to raise money and it needs to not feel, you know, you know, like, it's not doing the right thing. And then it's just becomes, you know, and if you're investing in film, you just need to know that you might not see your money back. And that's okay. As long as you know that and you're happy to support it should people putting money behind film should be doing it, not because they're going to get rich. But because they wanted to support the artists. I've always thought of an interesting model of invest in the artist for a period of time, right? Like, imagine if you'd bet invested in you know, carry for an hour, Chris Nolan, like you don't I mean, like, back in the day before they first made their first films. So I think that's another business model that I've just sort of fantasized about, but I've never employed. But I do think that what you're talking about if people like, just deliberately not inquiring as to what the economics of film are today, it's just,
Alex Ferrari 38:26
it's, it's foolish. Like, I mean, I talked to a filmmaker the other day, who made half a million dollar horror movie with one older horror star that only horror fans would know. And it was a half a million dollar movie, and they're like, Where can I go? I'm like, you're never gonna get that money back. Like,
Orly Ravid 38:44
they have no audience? Or is it very glad to know her expert, but when I I've sold some art in the past, and the distributor will tell you there's a there's a lot. I mean, there are deals to be done
Alex Ferrari 38:54
in half, but half a million for No, no stars. And it's like, it's gonna it was well produced. It's like a well produced, nice horror, but that, look, if you could have made that movie for 175, you could probably make a profit. But
Orly Ravid 39:12
you know, something about it. I mean, again, breaks it that was about that level of deal. But it involved other elements, I think, right? There's got to be, there's way too many of those movies is wastage of that content unless you have something that's going to break out. And there's a reason that it's going to be special and make that and generate that revenue. Because I mean, there is there are still pre sales, but for cash driven films,
Alex Ferrari 39:35
it has to be cash revenue has to be cash driven.
Orly Ravid 39:37
And and and the genre stuff is also quite I mean, it's still in demand, but there's so much of it that it's like there's a lot more that isn't sold than there is that is
Alex Ferrari 39:46
Yeah, without question. Now. We talked about t VOD, the S VOD world is pretty much I mean people now the golden goose is not DVD but getting that Netflix deal and getting that Hulu deal or getting you know Those kind of deals. And those are lottery tickets nowadays. I mean, again, that flicks isn't buying a whole lot of I mean, you tell me better than but they're not buying a whole lot of especially independent films that they stopped that for a while ago, right. And Amazon isn't either, you've got to have a very big cast. Yeah, you have to have a very big cast, if they're even going to look at it.
Orly Ravid 40:22
Well, or you have something that they want to adapt to be something bigger, or you have something fits in niche that that that tracks their data, what really well, I mean, they're very data driven. I mean, they're, they're buying, but they're buying very, you know, I have a client that whose movie they bought, there's also you know, it's a global market for them. So there could be content that really works. That isn't, wouldn't work here, necessarily, but it's going to work in different parts of the world, that's a big, you know, a market that they're developing, right. So I don't want to completely undersell the ability to sell to Netflix. But it's certainly the case that I mean, most movies out of most festivals they will not buy. So that whole thing of like going to a good festival, even Sundance, you can go and not get sold at all, let alone to Netflix. So and just being a tiny little movie, without other clear elements that they're looking at me, because the best way to know about what Netflix wants is what Netflix has, right? What if they just like, you know, scroll through everything they have it relates to your movie and see what it is. And then you'll see, you know, I mean, obviously, they could have stuff, it's no longer tracking well, but they're very data driven. And you know, I've sold to them before, and yet I've been told no a bunch to and there's no sales agent who hasn't been told no a bunch, right then. And I every, by every single big platform,
Alex Ferrari 41:42
I know, I just want filmmakers listening to understand like that that's a goal. But that's not a business plan, there's no guarantee, there's not even a high probability you have to it's kind of like winning Sundance or excuse me getting into Sundance, like the probabilities are hard. So you have to adjust that, you know, I always try to talk about, I always try to be real and raw about the truth, with hopefully with a positive swing, but I just don't worry, they're gonna get, I think I've been saying this lately, like, you're going to get punched in the face, okay, like, we all get punched in the face in this business, it's, we're all going to get it. It's the difference between, I'm going to tell you, I'm going to punch you in the face. And you're seeing the fist coming to you slowly or getting cold cocked. That's how, and I just want you to be prepared for it when you get to it. Because I've got a lot of shrapnel, as I'm sure you do in this business.
Orly Ravid 42:32
Ya know, and it's been nice to hear you talk about your sort of tough talk because I actually in the same very, you know, straight talking New Yorker, yes, is it means words and news. And sometimes I get thanked for being so honest, I often get thanked for being so honest. But I do think occasionally, it's, you know, receipts is just sort of negative, and I don't want to be that. But at the same time, I really don't want to participate in any false, you know, assumptions, and any puffing that is going to lead to people being disappointed later. And so I rather err, on the side of being a little tough. But, you know, I just yesterday had a conversation with someone who I was like, Look, I don't see a big international potential for this. And they were explaining to me what they do. And I always say, I'd love to be wrong. But, and I really don't mean this in an ego way. But I really am. And I really, I think when those words come out of my mouth, I don't think I've ever once been wrong, where I've made a statement like about and then been proven. And part of it's also people. They don't think of it in terms of Okay, like, actually how many films are submitted to Sundance and how many are selected? How many films are pitched to Netflix, how many are selected? And what are they buying? I talked about, you know, whether this film will work internationally, like, what does that actually mean? Like? how, you know, the buyers need to buy it in order for the audience's to be given the opportunity to see it? And is that likely how many American films are they buying in the first place? What types at what prices? It's that kind of stuff that people are? They're not looking at the business of it all right now, and and the math behind it, like the sheer volume of competition. And what they're doing is is what they're doing is focusing on all the positive press that they read over the years of people just being
Alex Ferrari 44:30
the lottery tickets, the lottery tickets,
Orly Ravid 44:32
but they haven't thought about all the entrance, right? All the tickets that weren't that weren't winners.
Alex Ferrari 44:38
a lottery ticket logo is that every week someone wins the lottery. But every week, millions of people don't. And they only show you the lottery ticket winner and that's what they show up because that's the good marketing. If they just said up another 200 million people didn't win the lottery this week. No one would buy a lottery ticket.
Orly Ravid 44:53
And the lifelong amount of money spent by people pursuing that and not never getting it right. How many people who could have been better of saving that money getting interest on it, or even investing it in the stock market,
Alex Ferrari 45:05
buying a house and renting it like I mean, there's, look, if you're in this business, this is not a money making, I mean it is. But there are so many other places that are better suited to generate revenue, you're in this because you love it. And you have a spark of madness in you. I mean, we all are a bit crazy just to be in this business. And the ones that we'd like you and I've been in it for, you know, many years, where we should be certified at this point, because there's no excuse we know better. But for some people young coming in, you know, it this is you have to be a little mad. And that's okay, because this is an artistic medium. And artists are crazy in the first place. And you have to look at things differently, you have to be outside the box, and you have to, because that's what makes art art. But I feel that you know, you were you were saying something earlier that triggered a thought in my head, which was filmmakers are taught in film schools and by Hollywood that you need to worry about the craft, and they teach you how to to bake the cake, but they have no idea. They never teach you how to sell the cake. They never teach you how to build a bakery that actually is profitable, they just show you like, look at the cool font on look at the
Orly Ravid 46:20
business right there. Also business if they told you that all the tuition you were paying might be a big fat risk. But I'll also say this, I'm never surprised anymore by the power of a passionate filmmaker. I do think you know, it's important to combine the passion with empowered knowledge, and in and be and be real. But when people are absolutely obsessed with with getting success, they often do. It just might not be exactly the version that they thought initially right, the Netflix things happen like that. But I will say there is something to be said for me, especially when they're talented. I mean, the intense passion without any talent is a little bit. Not great, but very talented. And you're very passionate, you know, often more often than not good things will come from that. It's just maybe not exactly how you first division. I also want to be clear about the you know, just back to Netflix. I mean, I worked at a distributor with a distributor that sold to Netflix before they even had a streaming service. There was a great boon back then, because similar to the you know, model of the retail stores, buying physical media, they were buying stuff just to have it to offer to build their business. So every so often, there's a new version of that, right there, you know, VHS, and then DVD and blu ray, and then VOD. And there was a window of time where there was a lot of business being done just because the business was being built up. And people needed stuff. It's just that we've passed that into the question is now what's next, because it's hard to imagine yet another thing in life when he was in an interesting experiment that obviously failed. And I think it was probably destined to fail, regardless of pandemic, but then the pandemic happened. And I do think that, you know, on the positive side, there is kind of these like, every, every 10 years, or whatever, every number of years another kind of boon in the business that keeps things going. And another boon of people willing to invest in it, right was like, real estate people, dentists, I'm forgetting the order of calm people, right? There's like new wounds of people. It's a sexy, attractive space to be in. Crazy people attracted to it all the better. But, so there's but but not, you know, where are you in that landscape? Right, in terms of, so I guess what I'm getting at is, I think people always find a way to get their movies financed and made, and then they always find a way to get them distributed to some extent. But they do need to be I think they need to be real about not to assume that it'll come from an easy a less festival acceptance and an easy, big deal,
Alex Ferrari 48:56
right, or just an easy distribution deal, which there is no such thing as an easy distribution.
Orly Ravid 49:02
And many distribution deals these days, or, yes, we'll take all your rights for 10 to 15 years, and we'll give you no money upfront, and we will recoup expenses and if it's successful, you'll make some money or maybe, maybe, right depends on the deal, right depends on their expenses and, and how much money they're allowed to recoup and what their distribution fee is, and whether they're accounting, honestly and accounting at all. at all, I've seen people just stop accounting. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 49:28
oh, yeah. Or the hip pocket deals or cross collateralization. And there's so many little, little things you can do on a deal to make sure you never get paid
Orly Ravid 49:40
middleman that you didn't know existed, to figure it out right to actually don't do any VOD on them that this happened quite a bit where the companies didn't do the video on demand on themselves and someone else did in that company took a fee and
Alex Ferrari 49:53
it just keeps going and keep you'll never make it you'll never make a dime or the the with cross collateralization with Walmart buyback. Like you who's gonna eat that? Not the distributor, you're gonna eat that.
Orly Ravid 50:04
If that's in the contract.
Alex Ferrari 50:05
You're eating it. You're reading it now with what you were saying. Like there's always that next thing I feel that it was t VOD, then it turned into s VOD, but I do. I do believe now. It's a VOD. Yeah. A VOD is the thing now that we're filmmakers are making money. But if you notice, in everyone listening from VHS to a VOD, the the ROI has dropped
Orly Ravid 50:29
substantially. It's not it's because a VOD isn't like. Okay, so when to be, you know, launched? I mean, first it had I think films, not even licensing but, you know, it was a boon. A lot of filmmakers got on there. And similar to what you're saying, like when you're early on the platform, there's a lot of money, nice big check. And distributors who had like master distributors take you know, rights for so long. Because every time there's a new transition in the marketplace, they have a big basket to deliver. And, you know, they get in early, they make money. Um, so there were people there were a lot of people that I think did well early on, but now they're getting just to select it right. And at the same stuff as that was true before, just like with Netflix, where in the beginning, it builds up to you know, curate for indie film lovers to get people to subscribe, didn't need to do quite as much of that same thing, right? All of a sudden, to these folks, some more commercial stuff, not everything is going to get on there. Not everything is going to transact not everything's gonna get on the homepage. You know, it's it's so Amazon It was also a big boon for films for a while. But stars initiative was awesome, then that was discontinued. Prime change its its its rates right down to one cent. Um, you know, it's so I think if you're a distributor, you're gonna keep chasing where the money is and have make a living because you have a lot of volume, where you're the individual film, if you don't, if you're not a commercial film, or film with a very clear niche, you're just not going to drop it.
Alex Ferrari 52:03
But it means from so from the from the inception of the film industry, to let's say, the late 70s, early 80s, the distribution model was fairly the same. It didn't really change, you made a movie, you went off theatrical, you maybe redo a reissue every few years, and that that was basically the way and then maybe some MTV showed up, and we could sell the rights to TVs and there was foreign sales, but it was all fairly stable. Then VHS showed up. And that was the first kind of shift, really major shift. But then it was a slow, we're talking a decade, 15 years, then DVD. So as you notice as time goes on the the shift is much shorter. Now it's monthly.
Orly Ravid 52:48
But it's not you're choosing to break out the VOD category with with the types of VOD and I will just say that really, if you think about it, t VOD is DVD but less expensive, right as it is TV by race. Correct. And Eve is TV that in different ways, right? Everybody's just the TV with ads. And as far as cable, you know, right? It's
Alex Ferrari 53:11
just online. It's just a different version of it. But I remember when a VOD was a dirty word. Like you went to a VOD, if you were you had nowhere else to go. And you're like, sorry.
Orly Ravid 53:20
You've done everything else. Now.
Alex Ferrari 53:22
It's like I know, distributors are going straight to a VOD. Like,
Orly Ravid 53:26
I think it depends on the movie. Yeah. But I think there's some films that are still doing it kind of traditional in that there is enough business potential to do transactional first, or and or there's enough of a big s5 sell potential that that's going to happen instead of a bot. or event. What happened only after that window, you know, but But yeah, fair enough. Yeah, I think that's right. And I and that's why it's important to stay on top of what's happening in the business, and where your film fits in with that. Right. So my other words, just hearing that Avon is a big boon. Now, it's not for everything. So are you making a film that lends itself to that? And is it going to come out in time? You know, and then the other thing is, there's a big surge in home entertainment, revenue, and VOD. That's happening under COVID. Well, what's going to happen when there's a vaccine released in and things shift, again, are things shifting, we're gonna like, be like, okay, I was in my house for a year. Now, I'm not turning on. I doubt that's gonna happen.
Alex Ferrari 54:23
No, no, it will. But that's a good question, though. So do you think the theatrical obviously, in business has completely been devastated? And even when this when we get out of COVID in let's hopefully, let's say within the next 12 months, 12 to 18 months, maybe completely out back to somewhat of normalcy? Many of those screens are going to be gone. They just didn't make it during this time. So the screen capacity is going to be less though I think someone will buy these screens and maybe do something with it. But do you think that it's going to get to where it was before because it wasn't ready? Going down. I mean, if you pull Marvel out of the last 10 years, there is the box office would be in a very bad shape. So it was definitely on it's a downward slope. But this just just accelerated everything. Do you think theatrical is going to be what it once was even at 2019 levels?
Orly Ravid 55:19
No, I have no reason to think that i think that i do think that in the same way that privacy, a lot of flying happen after the pandemic is behind us. I do think that, you know, for the studio films, it'll be super blooded, that there'll be a business, great business for the studios. But for the independence. No, I think if anything, people will just have been trained to see that much more of that content, if at all, on at home, and that there won't be a reason, a good enough reason to go out. I mean, I, you know, I think festivals will still be thrive, will thrive and events, screenings, and all that kind of stuff. But in terms of the decline that was already happening to theatrical generally, especially for Indies, there's no reason that should be reversed. I don't, I don't see that at all. And it doesn't even make sense. Because, you know, a lot of the time the home experience, other than not being communal is no worse technologically than depending on with what theaters we're talking about.
Alex Ferrari 56:14
So, sometimes it'll be superior.
Orly Ravid 56:17
Yeah, exactly. And, you know, but I think the community experience of a festival and community screenings, yeah, event vehicles and all that stuff, especially that worked for niches or issue oriented films, or certain kinds of community communities, all that stuff will be I think people wish it could be happening now. And it'll go back but but but a theatrical indie hit that it's like, oh, this tiny, little $3 million movie generated way, way, way more times than its budget. I think that will be it'll happen, but I think it'd be rare.
Alex Ferrari 56:47
All right. Now, I have to ask you, can you give me an example of the best distribution deal that you've ever been a part of or seen, and the most predatory that you're like, I can't believe this person is walking the earth?
Orly Ravid 57:04
Well, what I can say is, I'm very proud of how much right splitting I did. For one film. You know, we actually turned down, I'm not gonna name the name of the film. But we turned down in this case, it's very rare for me, I think the only time I turned on a worldwide Netflix deal into instead do a very significant television deal. And another very significant VOD deal, both you know, real money, and then an airline deal and a home video deal. And then additional educational distribution and additional. And then a number of territory sales and until additional television sales. So that that it was that it was like so much. Right splitting, that was successful, where the film, filmed in festivals for over two years, and made a whole bunch of money that way through film collaborative. And so that was where each distributor was willing to do what it did best, and let everything else be carved out and have a really wonderful, robust combination of deals. And I've done that to different extents a few times before. I love the giant entertainment, giant pictures of deals of just three years, I think giant is kind of a hybrid between aggregator and distributor, I don't think they would purport to do a ton of marketing, but they're not absentee about that. They're just sort of partner with people on marketing. So I, I I've done those deals that I think are wonderfully, like beautifully filmmaker safe. Um, you know, and then there's just a whole bunch of other in between, right, where, like, the distribution deal wasn't totally predatory. But it wasn't totally amazing why the distributor didn't like do incredible stuff. But there's other good deals that I've done over the years that are that I'm that I could say the distributor did everything that they said they would do now in terms of, I mean,
Alex Ferrari 59:05
the most credit, like the most predatory thing, you when you read it, you're just like, oh my god,
Orly Ravid 59:10
I mean, green apples deal is predatory. Oh, wow. Okay.
Alex Ferrari 59:15
What is what is green apple?
Orly Ravid 59:18
Yeah, and I mean, maybe they'll sue me for saying it, but that's okay. I think it's predatory I charging a marketing fee of 30 Grand i think is in their contracts. Okay. You know, I, you know, take you right, I mean, that's, it's it's that kind of thing, to me when you have marketing feed. I mean, it's one thing for a sales agent to have a market of a market fee, saying okay, instead of us doing this countless complex accounting of figuring out exactly what how to amortize. You know how to prorate you were just going to charge this thing. I still think you drill down into that and you don't just accept it at face value. But But you know, when you're just like taking filmmakers writes without promising anything in return in terms of the degree of release the marketing to be done, right. There's no actual commitment unless you know, a boy or made them change their content, which I'm not sure they would. And you just on its face, the contract is like, yep, we're taking your rights, we're going to go back to a $30,000 marketing fee and not make any promises.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:20
And how was it? What was the length of it? What's the length of the deal? 10 year?
Orly Ravid 1:00:24
I don't, because I never I mean, my clients never did that deal with me having been their lawyer prior to that. But I've seen that deal after the fact that people came to me after they signed it. Yeah, it was like, it was like 10, it was, I could double check. But it was more than seven years, probably more like a 10 or 15 year deal. But even if it was, I'm almost positive it was in four or five years. But the bottom line is, I've heard the filmmakers complain later, they're unhappy, right? Nothing that they were told was going to happen happened. And you know, they're never going to see a penny because there's not enough money coming in. I mean, you know, I'm not saying that the distributor is incapable of distributing the films, I'm just saying the deal on its face is almost always going to be hideous for the filmmaker. If, and frankly, I don't even understand the logic behind simply charging that kind of a fee without doing the marketing. without, you know, without having a real promise and commitment that's worth that
Alex Ferrari 1:01:23
we get little or break it down. Like Yeah, we're gonna buy $15,000 of Facebook ads, and we're gonna get some billboards, and we're gonna do this kind of
Orly Ravid 1:01:29
thing. I would bet money that that never happens where they never actually spend $30,000
Alex Ferrari 1:01:35
No, of course not. No, that's well, and nowadays, like before, it was like, Oh, we go to the markets we go to Can we go advocate but no one's no one's flying anywhere.
Orly Ravid 1:01:43
That's the other thing I'm seeing in sales agent deals those same that, you know, where I said, it's not necessarily unreasonable, but you need to drill into it. It's like, You're not going anywhere. There's no flying, there's no booth, there's no nothing. It's never been less expensive to do sales. And apparently, no, because it's a virtual market. Not to say that that will stay forever. But that's the thing is don't just sign these things. So, you know, and I tell filmmakers, the term is not, to me the biggest issue not because I love doing long terms, I love giant for their three year terms. But not to say that just because a distributor has a seven or 10, or even 15 year term, that's so terrible, because there's a logic behind it for from their perspective. But also, the value of the film really, like a car really goes down so fast right after it's been released. a year or two later, very few films are generating enough money for it to be back for it's a bit of a thing.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:33
So then what So then why hold it for so many years?
Orly Ravid 1:02:35
Well, because what I said earlier, right? I mean, the distributors perspective, a, they will have spent money on it. So they want to not be at risk of not recouping and making money. But also because of that, then they have a nice lock, brakes time, there's a new thing, they have a basket to start with. I mean, that's a good thing. If you're a distributor like Netflix launch is great, I've got 50 or 100 movies, I can license you to be great. Like they're in a best position, if they didn't keep the rights for a long period of time, they wouldn't have that library. Right?
Alex Ferrari 1:03:04
But that's not helpful. Now for to the filmmaker, it's more helpful to them.
Orly Ravid 1:03:07
Well, it can be both. I mean, I can't I don't want it to be so I don't want to be so tilted. Got it can be helpful. The filmmaker in that tube is not coming to individual filmmakers, right, you know, Netflix, I mean, or you know, I'm not saying it never happens. But mostly these platforms, these new buyers are only going to go to a place where they can get a lot of content at once not just one offs. Plus, it's a really big one off. And in that way the filmmaker is helped because it's an opportunity that otherwise they wouldn't get it's just a question of under what terms? Is there going to be part of that? Or is if there's going to be the question is what happens when that film just isn't doing any business? anywhere? Five years into the term? Will the filmmaker get the rights back? And the distributor will say no, because, you know, we still wanted the opportunity to keep monetizing to the extent possible, and is the distributor, do anything to keep giving life to that film after you know, the first year of release? So these are the things to drill into? What are you getting for giving up the rights for that period of time? Are they committed to always pitching your films? every platform? Are they really marketing thoroughly?
Alex Ferrari 1:04:11
What are they doing to the consumers all that stuff? Yeah,
I had a deal. I was consulting once and they came to me with this deal, which was 20 year $50,000 marketing fee yearly. Oh, wow. yearly, yearly, a 20 year so it's like okay, so $2 million. So that's a million dollars over the course of the term. So you'll never ever gonna see a dime and then we put I go, let's just play it was 25 years excuse was 25 years. 25 year term. And let's push back let's let's see what happens and we pushed back and they're like, okay, okay, okay. 15 years and 10,000 a year.
Orly Ravid 1:04:52
What is this in here? It's just in there. You know, and I you know, some of the things I do understand from Like I said, I've been a distributor. But it's also true that even the distribution expenses, it was really expensive to make VHS is indeed Yeah, how it's not expensive to do VOD, it just isn't right. I mean, I'm not saying it's free, I'm just saying it's hundreds of dollars or a few 1000. It's not per platform, it's not, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:05:19
a 10s of 1000s. Yeah,
Orly Ravid 1:05:20
and don't put my film on 100 platforms at my expense, unless it makes sense. Like, you know, this film actually gonna get onto those platforms and actually perform. So I think those are the things to look to, but I, I just, you know, I think it's important, this is part of what the distributor portraits meant to do is not just only have red flags, and also, you know, happy you know, blue ones, whatever the color would be, for good, you know, for good and bad work on distribution, perfect, to also have perspective on what why things are the way they are, in what what you should push back on, and what maybe isn't so necessary to push back on, you know, I will say, you know, whenever wants to be in a queue media or tug or distributor like scenario where you can't get your rights back when they become insolvent, or file for bankruptcy. And similarly, I don't want to not be able to get my filmmakers rights back, if the if there's uncured, material breach, you know, but if they have distributors, that everything they said they would do, and honor the contract, but you simply haven't made as much money as you hoped. There's not going to be happy to just hand you your rights back.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:26
Right. It's it there's there's a balance there's there's a balance with everything. Now, can you tell me really what is film called? collaborative and what what is it? What do you do with it? What's the work you do with it?
Orly Ravid 1:06:37
It's a nonprofit, that is focused on educating filmmakers about film distribution, facilitating film distribution without taking their rights, I founded it. At the end of oh nine, we launched officially 2010. And we have a lot of educational information on the website. And in our books about distribution, I recommend folks go to the film collaborative.org some of those resources I've mentioned earlier today, speak English, or we have something always replaced. Anyway, we have all that free educational information about distribution. And we also have membership. consulting services for folks, if they want, like, you know, one on one or one on two, let's say two of us to watch the film and advise about it or three of us, it depends. We do festival distribution, I think better than anyone, we, you know, help with the festival strategy, we submit the films to programmers that we know personally, there's no code submission, there's no paint to submit. And we also monetize the funds on the festival circuit that can sometimes generate six figures, sometimes more often than not five figures, that we share that money with the filmmakers and then we're never taking rights. So any deal that's done with us can be cancelled at any time. And we also do sales, but in a very, very boutique fashion. So I don't want to oversell the sales practice. But we can definitely help with that service of pitching the right places and helping to do the deal and collaborate with a sales agent. Like we also play well with others. So if we provide a distribution service, but you're also working with, you know, you name it, the sales agency, or you want help doing international sales, which I don't do anymore, very often. On purpose, you know, we'll pair you with folks that we think are trustworthy. So we basically can help with every single aspect of distribution to one extent, or either completely or in part without taking rights. And we're launching the TFC group global VOD impact initiative that I mentioned earlier, which is that's going to be documentary focused. And that is going to be taking films that are that really are meant to have an impact around the world that are, you know, meant to educate and inspire and impact and getting them widely distributed, including on VOD platforms around the world. There's like 3000 VOD platforms just in Europe. Not saying that film needs to be on all of them. I'm just saying there's a whole world out there. That's not just the big squads that you know, and TV ads in a box that we know of in the States. But having films reach audiences around the world with a goal of impact, not revenue generation and have the revenue come from philanthropy and corporate support.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:20
Very cool. I'm so glad there's something like you in the world. And I love to spotlight that kind of stuff I've been, you know, I've been fighting the good fight over here for a while now. And I'm glad that there's other Avengers out there we have to unite to take down predatory distributors and educate filmmakers as much as possible on on the process. I know. I was just talking to a filmmaker yesterday. Like Alex, you saved me from going with this trimmer. Like I was literally about a day away from submitting and paying when you came out with your podcast and broke that story. And I'm like, Oh my god, I have no idea how that makes me feel and being able to help filmmakers, get them rights back or get their money back. That whole situation was so rewarding, but it is, you know, I, I tend to be sometimes a little bit too raw and too, too brutally honest. But I feel that the business is brutal. And I rather you hear from me, then you lose $500,000 on the movie that you borrowed your money, or at least, you know, took a loan out on your house for which I'm sure you've heard those stories. And I have to,
Orly Ravid 1:10:25
Oh, definitely, no, I totally agree with you. And I think what you did, there was great. And if we had a distributor like service, and I'm really glad that we did not do to filmmakers were distributed. But it made me rethink even our service to make sure because we were working with another service provider transparently, and a less expensive version of the exact same service to distribute. But I never want to be in that place if I don't have total control to make sure that they never get harmed. So we've adjusted that to, you know, and it's knowing what you're doing is great. And, you know, I think the thing is, at the end of the day, if filmmakers just get the knowledge ahead of time, they can make a choice, they can make a choice to proceed anyway, even knowing they might not make the money back, or, you know, knowing they might not be discovered to become an A list director, but at least know that what's possible and and what it takes to get there. And and then, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:11:16
enjoy the process. Yeah, absolutely. And I appreciate everything you do at the film collaborative and fighting the good fight for the last 10 years now. Plus, working and helping filmmakers. So I appreciate you and thank you so much for coming on the show and, and dropping the knowledge bombs on the tribe today. So I appreciate it.
Orly Ravid 1:11:34
My pleasure. Thanks so much for hosting me. I really appreciate it's been fun. Good luck to everybody stay well.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:41
I want to thank Orly for coming on the show and dropping those distribution knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Thank you so much early. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, including how to reach Orly, head over to the show notes at indie film hustle.com forward slash 444. And if you haven't already, head over to ifH tv.com and check out the world's first streaming service dedicated to filmmakers and screenwriters. We have over 2200 videos there to help you on your filmmaking journey. Just head over to eye f h tv.com. Thank you so much for listening, guys. As always, keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.
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