Today’s guest is returning champion Brad Olsen, director of the documentary Off the Tracks. This time we discuss his misadventure in distribution. After meeting over 40 traditional distributors Brad decided the best path for his film was self-distribution. I’ve always said that self-distribution is not for everyone but with Off the Tracks it makes perfect sense.
We discuss how he got the word out of his film, got in the press that was in his niche and how he engaged with the audience he was trying to reach. We talk numbers, successes, and failures. It’s a pretty eye-opening interview. So if you are thinking of self-distributing your indie film take a listen to this episode first.
Enjoy my conversation with Brad Olsen.
Alex Ferrari 0:07
So today on the show, we welcome back Brad Olsen, the writer, director of the hit documentary about Final Cut Pro X off the tracks. Now the reason I'm bringing them back is we just had him on last episode to talk about how he made the movie and about Final Cut Pro and all that stuff. But today's episode is strictly about his misadventures in distribution, and how he was able to self distribute this film, and how he was able to focus his very niche movie and reach his niche audience and how he's been able to do it. We talk numbers, we talk marketing strategies, how we got the movie out there, and so much more. So this is a really interesting conversation. And he learned a lot of lessons along the way, including talking to 40 distributors, and why he decided not to go with a traditional distributor. And like I've said before, traditional distribution has its place without question. Self distribution is not for everybody. It's not for every film, but it made sense for this film because of its nature. So sit back and enjoy my conversation with Brad Olsen. I'd like to welcome back to the show. Brad Olsen, man. Thank you for coming back, brother.
Brad Olsen 3:03
Yeah, it's great to be here one week later.
Alex Ferrari 3:07
One week later, for the audience, it might be a little bit different. But yeah, no, I wanted to have you back. Because we we had a deep conversation about Final Cut Pro X and all things editing. Last time we spoke and there was a huge chunk of your story that we just couldn't get to, which was self distribution and how you got it out into the world. So first question is, what kind of distribution plan? Did you even think about when you start off the tracks? Or did you even think about distribution?
Brad Olsen 3:37
That's a great question. So initially, when I had the idea, I actually, you know, I, in my head, I was envisioning everything from a simple just throw, throw something, store some episodes up on Vimeo for free. To what if I, you know, got this up on iTunes and everything else? So I wasn't really sure I wanted, I really wanted to figure out what the quality of the content and the demand of the of what this content would be, before I necessarily locked myself into a plan. In fact, actually, I was having a conversation last week with somebody in New York, who, who was talking about how he's looking at everything I've done to promote my movie, and he's like, wow, you just had it all figured out. And I'm like, actually, I've kind of been feeling my way, step by step. Right. This wasn't, this wasn't something that was like a total masterplan from the front. Although I did imagine a lot of things and I kind of, I kind of thought, okay, if I want to get here, like, let's reverse engineer what I need to do today. So the ultimate pie in the sky dream was Let's get it on iTunes. Let's get it maybe on Netflix, which hasn't happened yet. But let's, let's see where we can get it. And if I'm going to do that, what do I have to do today to get it there? And you know, if it doesn't, if it turns out there isn't the demand or I don't get the Quality I want from it that I think there's some at least some interesting little. Again, throughout the interviews or episodes, little episodes on Vimeo was kind of my fallback plan. Okay, so that was what was in my head at the time when I very, very first started.
Alex Ferrari 5:13
So you just kind of thinking, you actually were you had no idea. Honestly.
Brad Olsen 5:18
I didn't know. I didn't know what it would do. I just knew that I had to start. And I tried to point my ship in the direction that would hopefully land. It's like Columbus trying to discover the New World, you know?
Alex Ferrari 5:31
So then, so after you, obviously have associated itself with Columbus. No. So at what point did you say, Okay, this is going to be a feature film. And I'm going to try to sell it and try to, you know, get it out there in the world as a documentary feature.
Brad Olsen 5:51
So I had already shot interviews at the Final Cut Pro 10 creative summit, which is an annual event that's held in Cupertino, Apple headquarters. And I'd shot like 20 interviews there, I went to LA and shot some more interviews. At that point, I was like, still kind of leaning towards the, I'll make like 615 minute episodes, and they'll go up on Vimeo route. And then, one day as I was posting about it on a Facebook group, a guy named Noah kavner, who runs an organization called FCP works, reached out and said, Hey, have you interviewed anybody from Apple for your documentary? And I'm like, I hadn't met a couple people at the creative summit. But I said, No, I haven't. Like they can't go on record is like, Well, what about Randy, and he was referring to Randy, you, billows. And Randy, you billows is the guy I think I mentioned on the last episode that invented premiere, and Final Cut in the 90s. And then went on to do like aperture and iMovie and Final Cut Pro 10. And Randy had retired in 2015. So actually, he's somebody that could be in the documentary because he wouldn't have to get permission from Apple to be in it. But he's also a guy that travels the world constantly. And I don't know him. And I didn't really know anybody who could put me in contact with him. However, here's the funny part of that story is in this Facebook group. Randy's actually a member of it is like this secret Final Cut group. And he's a member of that group. He's never posted, to my knowledge, anything in this group at all. But I have the option to tag him. And I thought, well, let's just let's just see what happened. So I said, I don't know. I don't know how to get ahold of Randy. And then, and I tagged him I'm like, but I'm would would love to interview him. Well, he messages back, not that like minutes later, he messages back and gives me his email. And I was just blown away. And that's when I went to interview him. And I realized that okay, this is no longer just the final cut communities story about Final Cut Pro 10. We've got the man in the film, this probably has some value. Let's run a Kickstarter and see where that takes us.
Alex Ferrari 8:20
Okay, so yeah. And I'll translate this for the audience. So basically, you were doing market research, when you didn't even know you were doing market research. But pretty much to the point where like, well, now you're very cautious and conservative on the way that you went through this process. No, because most filmmakers are just like, screw it. Let's do it. Let's cash out. Let's get a mortgage on the house. Let's do this. And just roll the dice. But you were very methodical and conservative in the way that you were kind of rolling this out. And you're like, Okay, well, I think we have something. Let's try to do a Kickstarter to see you wanted to test the waters of your of your niche audience. And this is obviously a very niche film. It's a niche of a niche of a niche. And it's not a large audience, but yet it is a large. It's not a large audience compared to the like the rest of the world. But
Brad Olsen 9:12
It's a it's a it's a small audience, but they're spread out globally, which is interesting.
Alex Ferrari 9:18
We'll talk about that in a little bit. All right, so now your Kickstarter campaign.
Brad Olsen 9:22
Yeah. So no Academy who had was the one who suggested I interviewed people at Apple here. He also lives in San Francisco. So does Randy. So he went with me to the interview. And he was actually the one who pitched the Kickstarter and said, I'm willing to help you out with this. So because he's in he'd actually i'd shown Randy the first opening 15 minutes of the film as I had it at that point, which is kind of a hard part of the film, I think for him to watch because it is just all about the lousy rollout rollout of the product, but Randy was gracious and he was, you know, didn't say didn't rip up the release form. There. Noah saw that and he's like, I think you've you've got some quality here I think you got something of value. So let's let's run a Kickstarter and see what where it goes. Again, you talked about being conservative, I was actually even conservative with the Kickstarter, I, I decided to reach out to two people who are like software trainers and plugin developers and podcasters and, and things that were in the final cut community that kind of that made their living based off of people buying Final Cut Pro 10 related stuff. And I committed them, you know, to like, put in $1,000 each. Some of them put in some more, like motion. VFX was a huge supporter of it.
Alex Ferrari 10:47
You were getting sponsors for this, or
Brad Olsen 10:49
I was getting sponsors before saying, Hey, we're thinking about doing a Kickstarter, if we did a Kickstarter, would you be willing to put in 1000 or $2,000. And, and based off of that, we're like, okay, we definitely got nine or 10 people willing to throw in money. Let's ask for $10,000 we know we can make it
Alex Ferrari 11:09
We literally have 10,000 sitting waiting, let's just open up a Kickstarter for 10,000 or
Brad Olsen 11:14
10,000. And, and I also was thinking, you know, I've shot almost everything I'm editing this myself, sure, you know, maybe some money to get a score, pay a lawyer or something. I don't know, like, let's just,
Alex Ferrari 11:28
You were doing it more for market research than you were for the money.
Brad Olsen 11:31
Yeah, and and it's like this was more about raising awareness that there is a Final Cut Pro 10 documentary The other thing that we did previously to launching the Kickstarter, and this was again, kind of know as marketing brain at work, and him kind of guiding me was, let's do a trailer. So, so I put out a trailer. And I like on Facebook got like 30,000 views, and got 200 something shares, and then got like 20,000 views on YouTube. And then and then we got all these like Final Cut and Mack blog sites writing about it. And saying there's gonna be this documentary is gonna be documentary. So that kind of all was the preamble to Okay, now let's do the Kickstarter. So when we did the Kickstarter, the first day now I mentioned that I had some people like lined up. And of course, there's not like written contracts, or, in fact out, but just got that feel. And, and we made the $10,000 in a day. And actually, most of that money did not come from my sponsors, which that surprised me really was like, Wow, so the trailer was effective. And once the Kickstarter, like, Hey, we have a Kickstarter now, you know, I'd already kind of warmed up everyone up and primed them. And then we can add some more sponsors kind of came on board, but we actually doubled that and got the $20,000 by a weekend. And then by the end of it, we were at $26,000. And that was really overwhelming for me, because it kind of showed that hey, this little thing that you've been doing, you know, basically started out with maxing out a business credit card. That's all there was, you know, a couple grand or whatever shirt in the bank. Now Now there's, there's obviously some people that are willing that want to see this. But the other thing that comes along with that is the the terror of Oh my Hell, I have to actually make this movie. Like I have to really do this because now I've got like 200 people that are sitting there saying, hey, when's the movie coming out? Hey, when are we gonna get?
Alex Ferrari 13:46
And how much? How much did you finally raise? $26,000 You know what, man $26,000 for a movie about Final Cut Pro X is not bad at all.
Brad Olsen 13:56
No. And I thought if there's if there's this many people that are willing to put in this much money now, then we you know, we can this is something that we can get out there on platforms and sell. I'm not expecting to make you know, tons of money off of it. But I think the last episode I talked to you when you said Well, I made a movie about this. And I'm like, Well, you know, final cuts, kind of has a message that I'm passionate about and want to get out there and I want to get my own name out there. So there was lots of motivations for me to want to do this not just make a bunch of money. But you know, I The fun thing about self distribution and doing this process is also just seeing can it be done? Can you make a low budget movie? And you know, proving to myself Is it possible to make make this kind of a thing that that I could repeat and do again and maybe do a little bit bigger next time?
Alex Ferrari 14:50
Well, I mean, your story so far is a perfect candidate for for self distribution. Like if you would have reached out to as a consultant, I would have said, Absolutely yes. Because it makes the most sense in the world. And you were in a very similar place than I was with my first feature, this is mag where I was walking in, in the black, like I, the movie, I was, I was already shooting the movie when I started my crowdfunding campaign. And by the time, you know, we didn't, we didn't even make that much money. We made I think, 15 or $16,000. And I was like, Well, great, now we can, you know, get real big sound design done and all this other stuff. But I was in the black. So the moment I released it, I was already in the positive, so you have nothing to lose. And that's, that's the best place to be obviously, if you can't be,
Brad Olsen 15:46
Right, no, with any product, um, houses didn't sell my car, nothing crazy, you know?
Alex Ferrari 15:50
Correct. It's always it's a perfect candidate for the film. And because it's such a niche audience, and it's, it's a niche audience, but you tapped into the larger niche, which is Mac, Mac, the Mac world. Yeah. And the Mac followers, and those because those guys are crazy. And that's a large, I'm one of them. I drank the Kool Aid A long time ago. But, but that or that part, that kind of fan base for Mac is a huge sub genre or subculture. And out of those there was, you know, a smaller culture, they even cared about Final Cut Pro, but that is still a good a good market to tap into now. So now you have the movie, you're going to go out to distribute it. How did you choose the platforms that you did?
Brad Olsen 16:35
Well, actually, I'm going to back up a little bit, because you mentioned like the the plan, from there kind of evolved to Should we try to see, like, I'm still testing the water. You want to believe me? You still don't believe? Yeah, well, I wanted I wanted to self distribute. But I also wanted to, I wanted to see if there was some magical partnership, or distributor out there that got this movie and thought that they could, you know, sell it. And I wasn't I didn't want to take any deals that were definitely no deals that were going to be like you have to pay money up front or stupid things like that. But I was curious, because I'd never been down this road of distribution, if there was somebody so we actually started reaching out to a lot of distributed distribution companies. That should be amazing.
Alex Ferrari 17:25
Tell me, tell me what they tell me. Tell me what they said. Oh, please. Please tell me what they said. When you call up and say, Hey, I have a documentary about Final Cut Pro X. And I want to hear the crickets on the other line. I want to hear what they said, sir.
Brad Olsen 17:41
Well, here's the funny thing. Most people never replied. Not surprising. The ones that did, yes. said, hey, you've got a great documentary. It does not fit our catalog. Okay. It does. We don't know how to sell this. Okay, I got really, in fact, actually, well, well, so that I kind of was going through that for a few months ago. Just trying to figure out if there was but yeah, they definitely didn't get it. And I that did not surprise me. Well, again, feeling my way I just wanted to see. I was curious. Would somebody offer me 10,000 $15,000 or $30,000 for the movie? Would they have one you know then and I felt like mostly I just wanted help with the the legal clearance stuff and the end the whole getting it out on different platforms? I'm not looking for like, definitely no, no, I have no ambition to do any sort of theatrical distribution right broadcasting didn't make any sense to me. But you know I wanted to get it on there I'd never done it and and I didn't approach it's not like all the distributors I approach were like big time distributors. But yeah, they're definitely. I mean, it's funny because actually, one of the distributors I never heard back from these guys, but they distributed a movie about Compaq in the 80s and you know, that's like super niche and no one cares about it. So I watched it and it was similar to mine
Alex Ferrari 19:18
I actually saw that I saw that documentary actually one of those
Brad Olsen 19:21
I like it, but I'm just saying it's kind of it's you know, and then what's funny about the documentary is they have to constantly like compared to Apple, which I'm like if they made this documentary in the 90s they wouldn't even breathe a word about viral but there may be a little bit about Apple but right is mostly because the time it was made. So anyway, I I tried to reach out to a lot of those people. But the crazy thing that happened, actually this year is around namb is right before I will I decided okay, I promised my Kickstarter backers and advanced download of the movie. So I put it up on THX I'd been running pre sales on VHS and as a way to kind of keep the Kickstarter thing going, you know, like generating a little bit more money. And, and then I will, I was going to release it to just them. And according to the documentation, there was a way to kind of release your movie to people before making it available for sale. But then, when I actually went to click those buttons, it didn't work. And I had to make the movie available for sale in order to send it to my Kickstarter backers. Sure. And so I'm like, I'm gonna be real quiet about this, I'm just gonna post a thing on Kickstarter, just a private message, or update and, and I'll just send it to them. Well, they started sharing it with me immediately, hey, it's up, it's for sale. Like I did no publicity and that like, and it was for sale for like, a day or so. And we were like, raking in hundreds of dollars, you know, nothing glamorous, but still, like, I think we ended up there was like, on sale for one week, and we made like, $3,000 in that or maybe was like 20 $500 in that week. Okay. And, and without me like, announcing it officially on Facebook, or sending out a newsletter, or just to my 200 Kickstarter backers that were like, excited about it. And during that time, that's when after, like, a couple months, one distributor distributor in particular, all of a sudden was like, hey, wait, wait, wait. I really want to help you guys sell, like distribute this movie. And I have this plan and whatever. But in order for us to talk, you got to stop sales. No. And I was like, absolutely, you literally have to stop sales. I was like, this is just a talk worse? Well, because he had a relationship with a bigger company. And he and he was so excited. He was a sales rep. He's actually theatrical distributor that works with other distributors to get things out on other platforms and whatnot. So he we told them that we'll we're not interested in theatrical. So he's like, that's cool. I've got a relationship with this company, actually a pretty big company that I was like, he's like, I'm really good friends with this guy there. And I'm like, Okay, um, I spun it a little bit. Because I realized that the thing that worried me the most is, if I stopped sales, are the people who already bought it, are they going to not be able to have access anymore? Well, it turns out on VHS, you can you can stop sales, and they still have access. So that was relief. I was actually I have actually a couple producing partners on this. I'm being very candid with you. By the way.
Alex Ferrari 22:48
If no one else is listening, it's fine.
Brad Olsen 22:51
But we were actually kind of in panic mode at the time, because it was like, how do we say this? Without being like, without this looking like a big disaster? Like, we don't know what the heck we're doing, and which we kind of didn't. And, and it actually worked really well. We did a little blog post we spent it is Hey, good news. We're we have a distribution deal in the works. And but in order to do that, we have to stop sales on this platform. But don't worry, you still have access to this you. We made everybody who bought it. And the Kickstarter, people feel very special. And actually, even in the again, actually going back to this conversation with a guy in New York. He was like, I was one of the guys who got it in March. Like he felt really special.
Alex Ferrari 23:36
No, those are called the super fans. Those are super fans. Yeah, there's there's fans, and then there's like early adopters, and those kind of people, those are the ones you want because they're the ones who are going to spread the word. And that's exactly what happened.
Brad Olsen 23:50
So we kind of we kind of we pulled it, you know, and then and then we waited and I was at nav when we finally heard back that they you know, said what everybody else said they're like, well, now we're gonna pass like, a really good job so ridiculous. And I'm like, Well, thanks a lot for giving me like, heart palpitations and stuff.
Alex Ferrari 24:10
So now Yeah, so back on on Vimeo
Brad Olsen 24:13
So well. At that point. We were talking to my Corton with the Los Angeles creative pro user group, about doing a Los Angeles premiere. So and that was going to be like Originally, I wanted that a little sooner, but he had people lined up, he had my back manager coming and other people lined up for his meetings. So we were going to we were having that set up in June. And I also decided this would be a good time to maybe take care of some clearance stuff that I maybe hadn't done up to that point. One of those things being like I talked to a lawyer and everything has everything had passed the initial kind of science fair use test. Yeah, this sniff tests. But there was one clip in particular, he was like, Ah, you know, why don't I was using the clip from the Conan show? Yeah. And, and arguably, it could be fair use, but I didn't have somebody in the documentary saying, you know, Conan even made fun of it or something if I had somebody who had actually said, like, had set up the clip, Uh huh. And then shown it that can count from my understanding getting not a lawyer, but my understanding was, that could count as fair use. But I didn't have that I just had the quote unquote. So he said, Why don't you just reach out to the people at Conan? And I'm sure they, you know, they won't really care, whatever. I don't know why he said that, but kind of bad advice.
Alex Ferrari 25:50
Never ask for forgiveness, not for permission.
Brad Olsen 25:53
Right. Right. So but but it's true. I found like some I found the Conan press releases. And I found a PR guy for Conan. And so I emailed them, and I told them a little about what I was doing. And he forwarded it directly to Jordan szalinski, who's the associate producer on the show, and if you ever watched Conan, yeah, you know who he is. He's definitely comes off as a weirdo and a lot of sketches. And I was like, holy crap, this George Lansky, and he's, and he's, like, fill out this form. So I fill it out. And he was pretty cool. But he was like, like he when he got back to me. And this was kind of holding me up a little bit. Just like getting it out on sale and everything. And then he finally got back to me. And he said, Well, it looks like you want, you know, in perpetuity, which is, unfortunately, our most expensive license. But if you think he's the geek broadcast world, I'm like, Dude, this is a documentary that's going to be out there. I can't like cut the segment out later. I mean, I guess it kind of could have but um, so I don't know any other way to do it. He was he said, if you just want to do for festivals, and whatever, we can license the clip for $500. And then with the understanding that once you get your full distribution in place, that, you know, you'll pay the full amount which he quoted me as $12,000 for like 14 or 15 seconds of Conan. Christ. Well, okay. And here's, here's the funny thing. I talked to a buddy of mine who works in documentaries, and he's made documentaries for like, discovery in a&e and things like in and things like that. And he said, and Smithsonian and he's like, okay, Brad, Walter Cronkite costs half that much. Freaking Cronkite data is like, it is not worth it. Not only did I not have the money, but it just was not worth paying that much for the quote unquote, lose the lose the 15 seconds of the film.
Alex Ferrari 27:51
I would agree with you. Yeah. So I would agree with him too. I just that doesn't make a whole lot of financial sense.
Brad Olsen 27:58
And he's like, even if you had $100,000 set aside for just licensing, this clip wouldn't be worth it. Now, of course, I could go the route of trying to do the clearance thing, but it just it seemed easier to just lose 15 seconds. Got it. Got it. So so I had that done. Right. Then I was like, Okay, let's get this thing for sale. Now. We've, this was the last thing in question. We've, you know, we've got everything else cleared. So let's just let's just get this show on the road. So there was about a month, June, I did the LA showing. And actually, we invited Rob ash to that showing, but he couldn't make it. He had to go home and watch some kids or something. I really wish he could have made it because we actually at that point has still had the code and clip in there. And then I and then I just once I heard back, which was after that screen, Rex thing was right before. That's when I started kind of prepping this July 24 release. Yeah. 24th. And that was VHS, and back on VHS. And then I wanted to like show that I had been doing something in this time period. So I also had gotten some, I think had been working on some captions in the meantime, like cheer sharing language such as Amazon, which, if you My understanding is if you go through an aggregator you can release some more territories on Amazon, but if you don't, you can still release through the US, US and UK. That's it right. And actually, Germany isn't on there.
Alex Ferrari 29:31
It was it wasn't sure if it's there anymore. You might have gotten in Germany, but they don't allow it anymore. I don't think I was just talking to those guys think Germany and Japan. Were the other two. Yeah,
Brad Olsen 29:41
Japan was kind of weird because you had to burn in the subtitles from what I was reading. Anyway, this is all this nerdy stuff. But the fact is, I could get it without paying for an aggregator at this point. I could get it on Amazon. I had also at the same time, been waiting to hear back from an aggregator. I'd submitted stuff to an aggregator for iTunes. But they hadn't assigned me a sales rep. And so I finally in July, like after a month of waiting to hear back, I wrote in their support, and I said, Hey, what's the deal? Where's my sales? rep, I want to get this show on the road. So I didn't have the iTunes stuff set up, set up in time. But by that point, people were like, emailing me daily. And messaging. Where's the movie? When can I see the movie? So, got it. I didn't want to lose that momentum. And that excitement.
Alex Ferrari 30:31
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. And then you really see you have a theatrical Oh, that you had a screening in LA, you've put it back out on VHS, and then the money starts coming back in. Are you starting to get attention again?
Brad Olsen 30:50
Yeah, so that's like, the that week, the last week of July On va checks I think we made we made about $3,000. Most of it being that kind of the launch day. And of course, I timed that with some articles and things as well coming out on different blogging sites a premium v lb five FCP, co we're just a no film school. We're all sites that were writing about it. To drive sales, and I was trying to get coupon codes out there. It was kind of crazy, because I put a bunch of coupon codes out and hardly anybody, like really shared them. And then even when they were shared, most people weren't using them. But I was like, okay, more money for me. As part of my whole, like, this will be good for, you know, marketing and whatnot. Specifically the bonus feature edition, which was like, which was basically the package I delivered to my Kickstarter backers at a stretch goal, like we'll do extended interviews and stuff and, and so that was because the Kickstarter thing was $25. I left that at $25 $25. But then I had a $5 off coupon for it. So anyway, you
Alex Ferrari 32:07
By the way, you're doing all this by yourself at this point.
Brad Olsen 32:11
Pretty much. I guess I have a couple people that were helping me with like Facebook ads and helping me with some logistical stuff. But you know, when you're seeing most of the posts are written by me and most the, you know, trying to like, in fact, actually the other boring thing I've spent way too much time and I still have to spend more time is like formatting captions and language.
Alex Ferrari 32:31
Fantastic. Which now you could just go to rev calm and do much
Brad Olsen 32:36
I have the transcript and have the translations and stuff. But yeah, Rev. Rev is
Alex Ferrari 32:40
So much easier. Yeah. Dude, dude, it's me for other languages. I think it's three bucks a minute. Just Are you kidding me? That's $20 a minute before?
Brad Olsen 32:52
Well, yeah. And I actually had somebody in Japan, of course, you did reach out to me. And he's like, hey, and he'd gotten the movie back in March. And he's like, I love your movie so much. I've been spending I've been translating it to Japanese. here's the here's the SRT.
Alex Ferrari 33:11
There are, there are there are wonderful human beings on the planet who do things like that? Yeah, fans, man. It's true. It's true. I get stuff like that people do stuff like that. Sometimes for stuff that I do. I was like, wow, God bless, man. That's awesome. Now you were talking a little bit about social media. So how did you? What How did you find where the where your niche audience was? How did you kind of attack and your marketing plans is now you already got the movie out? You already are selling it? And now how did you kind of come up with this marketing plan, a social media marketing plan? And what platforms did you use and so on?
Brad Olsen 33:46
Well, I'm kind of lame in that I'm not an I need to get on other platforms. But I'm not like on Instagram or Twitter. I have fans that are on there that share stuff on there for me, but I don't have an official thing there. Most of what I'm doing is on Facebook. The nice thing though, is because in the years leading up to making this film, I was already part of the Edit communities and the final cut communities and the apple communities on Facebook, and I'm an active member of those I already had.
Alex Ferrari 34:21
You already built in that. Because a lot of times, a lot of people, a lot of times I always tell people when they're going to try to go after an audience you go into where those audiences live. And you'll become part of that audience by hosting and providing value. You've already done that. So you already knew where this audience was living.
Brad Olsen 34:37
Yep. And they were already kind of aware of me and I and and what I was doing, and they've been following the making of process, you know, and I've been updating people on that. And I think that's a good thing, too, is Yeah, sometimes I feel a little guilty of that. I'm sort of just settling, try to sell stuff on there, but at the same time, this is information that they're all interested in writing Now you're providing value. Exactly. And, you know, I'm also always chiming in and helping people out with their editing questions and stuff as well. So it was, you know, it was like you said it was providing some value. And people are definitely always really excited when something when I mentioned some news, or whatever of, Hey, I'm on this podcast, or Hey, and then you got this thing.
Alex Ferrari 35:25
And you were saying that you worked on Facebook ads, the G, did you spend a lot of money? Or did you spend some money on Facebook ads trying to get the word out?
Brad Olsen 35:32
So, um, you know, most of the early stuff has been very viral and shared very well, which was just awesome. I didn't have to spend money. Once we had on sale, we started we've been we've been testing the waters with the Facebook ads stuff, I think in the next month or so. We're going to double down and have more targeted ads. I've got clips lined up, like short video clips from the documentary that I'm gonna start rolling out because video always says better. And I'm paying, obviously for for some ad stuff. So and there's there's a whole back end of building an audience on Facebook, some of it is a little bit creepy To be frank. But that's how Facebook makes its money. And that's how we target people.
Alex Ferrari 36:17
It is kind of creepy. I'll tell you, it's insane how detailed they can get.
Brad Olsen 36:21
Well, you Okay, here's an example of something, again, being very candid. But you can take and I'm not selling anybody's personal information? Of course not that clear. Yes. But you can take an email list. And because those people are on Facebook, you can you can build what they call a look alike audience, it's really easy to do. So I'm not like targeting the people that bought the movie, but it's basically saying, what are their likes and interest for the people that already like your Facebook page? And how do we target people that are like that, that have similar interests, like, and so that's the funny thing, when people think it's cute and fun to like, share their likes and interests on Facebook, or join certain groups or whatever. I'm like, you know, that's fun for you. But this is all data mining for these companies, which is a whole nother rabbit hole benefits. It can it can be working to your advantage. If you're an independent filmmaker, and you're trying to find more people that might be interested in what you're doing. Because you can pay Facebook, to target people in certain regions. Like my case, like, okay, New York, LA, San Francisco, there's probably clusters of people,
Alex Ferrari 37:30
Expensive to market to those people too, isn't it?
Brad Olsen 37:33
Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, but like you said that the nice thing about having a niche niche of just editors is I think it's a lot, you can narrow down a lot of those interests and things
Alex Ferrari 37:47
Very much. Now, how big of a part was the international audience for your film?
Brad Olsen 37:53
So yeah, when you look at when I look at my hits on the website, which is like, actually, the last week has been about 200 views a day. And, and then when you look at purchases of the movie, it's somewhere between 60 to 70%, are not domestic hits and sales. That's amazing. It's It is like, the craziest countries from all over the planet that wow. And you know, I saw a little bit of that when I ran the Kickstarter, and I was having to like mail packages to Israel and Spain and Australia and other places. But, but since the movie has been on sale, it's just been crazy. You know, Europe is obviously a big one. But even Asian countries and other places that I would not have expected hits in the Middle East and in Africa that I'm like, I don't even know how they know about this other than these are people who aren't they have. They're on Facebook, they have Final Cut. And any of the same thing can be said the number one final cut group was actually started by a friend and neighbor of mine, Braden stores, and it's got about 30,000, the final cut pro 10 editors group has over 30,000 people on it. And you can look at that and see is a very international group of people who were using and of course, it is because you know, the the number reported earlier this year, for total installs a Final Cut Pro 10 was 2.5 million. That was I shouldn't say installs. That's actually they they say the term seats, which was explained to me as actual purchases of the app.
Alex Ferrari 39:38
So just probably installed in many more places.
Brad Olsen 39:41
Yes, like you can buy a copy of Final Cut Pro 10. And the license agreement says you can put it on as many Mac's as you own or if you're at a business or school, then you have to have a license per machine because it's a multi user machine, you know, but that being said, there's no actual Physical mechanism to stop you from signing in on your Apple ID and putting it on 100 computers. Sure. So who knows how many people actually use Final Cut, or in what ways they use Final Cut, I'm very interested to know that, because we know they're not using Final Cut Pro 10 very much in Hollywood, per se, but there's this whole global audience of people that are using it for all sorts of things, which I think speaks to the democratization of our craft.
Alex Ferrari 40:27
Without without without question. So yeah, it's it's interesting how it cuz I have listeners from in countries that I'm like, how are you? How did you hear about me? How did you? What do you know, but they don't even speak English there. How are you listening to me, like, I don't understand. But I'm very grateful. And I have, it is interesting that this is a global thing. And you have to look at it as a global thing. Because filmmakers, a lot of times, they just concentrate on the US, they just concentrate on on America as the biggest market. And it is the biggest, but it's not as big as the rest of the world in many ways, specifically, depending on your movie, and, and I think you you unwittingly started seeing that by doing your movie and by using a platform like VHS, which is owned by Vimeo, anybody internationally could buy their, like iTunes, you have to go to territories and Amazon, you have to go to territories.
Brad Olsen 41:27
But with and I was told by the aggregator, you know, it's like to change the, to open up the metadata or whatever is like a $200 base fee. And for each additional language, which I have to do a new poster for. And a description for translated in addition to the subtitles, is another 150 bucks. So if you're trying to get five or six languages, like that adds up really fast. And that's actually the next thing I'm going to be doing on iTunes, but it's like this cost.
Alex Ferrari 41:59
So you are on iTunes, now
Brad Olsen 42:00
I am on iTunes yet. So as bout a month ago, little less than a month ago, we finally once the once I got a sales rep assigned from this aggregator, then the ball really started rolling fast on getting everything prepped for iTunes, there was a lot of learning that I had to do. And honestly, I should have followed your advice. I've gone with distributor. I did not go as distributor distributor initially, and that was only because I was looking at Apple's website, they have under compressor, which is how you make an iTunes Store package. They had like a list of four aggregators that they recommended there. And then and then I also had been, I'd made friends with somebody who was on the iTunes team, but now is moved over, they actually reached out to me at nav and said, hey, let's I work. I work at Apple for iTunes, I want to help you, you know, get your movie up here. Now granted, I probably shouldn't say too much about that, because it wasn't like sponsoring me or whatever. But anyway, he did introduce himself and he he still referred me I went through the regular channels. I want to make that very clear. Yes, he referred me to a list of aggregators. And and on that list of where these, you know, I found some of the same ones. So I ended up picking an aggregator. And anyway, it was just it was the the front end on their website looked very, very clean and upfront, here's the costs. But spray, the back end was kind of a nightmare. And if you'd done it before, now that I've done it, I could go through it easy. But I think this is the interesting thing that speaks to complicated systems is the people who build them. And then the people who use them, just kind of get used to it and don't recognize how bad it is. until somebody who's never done it before it comes in and says oh my gosh, this is like a total nightmare. I just want to get my movie up and compare it to VHS where I'm this is kind of where I was going with all this VHS. I want to add a new language. No problem. I just tack on the subtitles. I can switch them out at any time. Yeah, yeah, it's great. It's great that way, it's gives me full control and I'm not paying anybody to click buttons, I can click myself or is going through an aggregator. Well, they're the ones with the iTunes Connect account account and and I can't, you know have access to any of that. So I have to send them stuff then they have to QC it then they send it back and it's just this whole long joke of a process but I knew I had to get there because I have lots of people writing in and saying well let me know when it's on iTunes.
Alex Ferrari 44:58
Yes, you know, I know look, you made a movie. Got a final cut about an Apple product? for god sakes, you got to be on iTunes. Exactly. It is no, no question about it. No, picking the right aggregator for your needs is extremely important. And it could be as costly as picking the wrong distributor. If you're not careful now has now finally as the as the money is a movie made money is in profit.
Brad Olsen 45:22
Yeah, I mean, I didn't spend very much to make it like so. Are you retiring?
Alex Ferrari 45:27
Are you retiring to the French Riviera off this move?
Brad Olsen 45:29
No, no, no, no, no. So I'm on VH. x. We are close to grossing $10,000. That's awesome. on Amazon, which I haven't done a lot of push to Amazon, mostly because their profit share is not great. And I haven't I haven't unlocked prime yet. I will probably my prime eventually. But yeah, keep it off there till then. Yeah, yeah. But, but it's, I think my half of it is this. So this is kind of the net of it is around like six or $700 is all okay. And then iTunes is actually checked the other day, and it's humming along? Well, it's been up there for about a month, and it's made about two grand.
Alex Ferrari 46:14
Hey, man, that's awesome.
Brad Olsen 46:17
So you know, we're, I, you know, I think the sales keep coming, which is nice. So that and
Alex Ferrari 46:23
It's gonna keep coming in. Because there's I promise you there is not going to be a competition, a competitive film coming out, like the other documentary about, you're not gonna have that problem, like you are the only one in your category. And you are the only person ever to make a movie in that category. So I think you're good for a while. And this movie will probably continue to generate money for you. For for at least the next handful of years. if not longer, depending on how you might have to update it. Eventually, you have to do a sequel to it. Which brings me to my next question. Are you planning a series of documentaries on editing software? Like the avid dock? premiere? DaVinci Resolve doc? Well, and then of course, the Sony Vegas doc. Don't forget that one.
Brad Olsen 47:13
Yeah, we've got we've actually got a great name picked out maybe you and I can co produce this one. It's called back on track. DaVinci Resolve
Alex Ferrari 47:23
Nice. That would be awesome. Back on Track the sequel. Right. That's, that's awesome. That, you know,
Brad Olsen 47:35
I think I think what's interesting, and I kind of wish I'd found an angle. There's so many things to try to pack into dosha into my Doc, but but I actually do think that in a lot of ways, the final cut pro 10 story has a lot of parallels to the avid in the 90s story versus, you know, film based editing because film editors Oh, you said I'm not editing on a computer. That's a toy. And what did they say about Final Cut Pro 10. I'm not editing on that it's a toy. So it's, it's really interesting to to see the parallels there.
Alex Ferrari 48:13
I might be there might be a place for the avid documentary.
Brad Olsen 48:16
There might you know it might be I feel less inspired by avid just because in the last 20 years, I feel like they've just totally stagnated. And yes, the whole film industry has accepted the fact that and they're comfortable with the fact that avid really isn't moving the ball forward in any significant way.
Alex Ferrari 48:33
They just all they do is patch the holes in the ship. No, no, no, no, and I'm not trying to be a dick about it. But it's the truth like I because I've worked with come, you know, worked with avid and I've worked with, you know, studios that work with avid and having to deal with that workflow. And I literally, like I walk into the edit suite, and they're like, they're on Macs that are like 10 years old, because they're the only ones that are completely stable with the software. And that's the only thing so everything is super slow. It can't really run really well. And it's just like annoying as all hell and I know they're more advanced, you know, systems out there, but these are the ones that they were renting. And I feel like every single time there was a problem which was daily, the average guy would come in and like literally just patch a hole in the ship that obviously have leaks and it will drown it will drown eventually it will go under eventually but it there just
Brad Olsen 49:30
Ithat the irony though people like avid it's so stable, so solid. Well, you're paying Yeah, if you're paying hundreds of 1000s of dollars for avid support every year. Yeah, guess you guess it'll be reliable in that sense.
Alex Ferrari 49:43
Or you could download DaVinci Resolve or Final Cut Pro X. I mean,
Brad Olsen 49:46
Yeah, why not do something a little that's that's also reliable but doesn't demand the full attention support, like like you were talking about.
Alex Ferrari 49:56
It's like, it's like buying a really bad car. And then you have have to pay for a mechanic or for a mechanic to live in the back House of your home to make sure the car is running perfectly all the time. And it breaks down daily. So the dude's always working, but the car mechanics fees are another 100,000 plus the car, and they're like, wow, that car is really stable. Sure. You're paying 100 grand for the dude that live in your back? Oh, man, yeah, it this, this whole conversation is gone off off the tracks.
Brad Olsen 50:31
We've got it. We've got off that we've we've we can't help ourselves. We just keep getting back in. I mean, it is something I've been asked like, what about like the Adobe Premiere story and whatnot. And like, it's just for me? I was I'm very passionate about Final Cut Pro 10 Sure, sure. Sure, sure. I'm not so passionate about the other systems. And that's not even about Final Cut Pro 10 per se. I'm just passionate about the idea that a person with no connections with very few resources can go out and make a movie like anything that is gonna empower that and enable that. So you know, you 2003 for me, it was the dv x 100
Alex Ferrari 51:10
No 100 Acer 100. Yeah, the 108 police let's let's keep it straight. Don't forget, there wasn't 100 v. I was about to say there was a B but there was like only weirdos bought the B. Honestly, it was about the A everyone had. I don't want to hear about the B, it was about the A we have gone so off the tracks. everyone listening thought this was a
Brad Olsen 51:34
But it is about like now like I was just shooting 4k 24 frames a second footage of my I just had a kid the other day. We were talking about this before the show. So I had my second daughter earlier this week, and I'm shooting some 4k video on my iPhone that honestly, like is really really good quality
Alex Ferrari 51:57
Just like mom used to do. But definitely Yeah.
Brad Olsen 52:01
So to me, it's like, well, what's You know, there's, there's no more excuses. And that. So I see Final Cut Pro 10 fitting into that, that world. And that's actually when I'm more passionate about Final Cut Pro 10 could be could go away and something else could come about and or in and then there's other tools that could come around, then that's where I'm going to be anywhere that is is going to get rid of the gatekeepers that is going to allow me to connect to my audience or connect to an audience directly. And for us to just have a good time and not be told you can't do it. You know, because that's what I was told when I was a kid growing up. This all goes down to like childhood psychology and drama, which was I wanted to make movies because I saw my heroes George Lucas and Steven Spielberg making movies. And I was told you will never get to do that. So stop dreaming about it. Oh, yeah. Well, I'll show you along that the way you know, we saw all these innovations and things come about so when people react negatively to the message that oh filmmaking has, you know, gotten easier, it's more accessible, it's more powerful. And they're like, No, no, no, no, no, let's keep everything the way it is. And let's keep people out. I'm very, you know,
Alex Ferrari 53:23
That's avid basically is what you're saying?
Brad Olsen 53:24
Yeah, it's 35 millimeter film even though I think 35 million films beautiful. It's a it's a system that requires so much support and resources and resources and money that it represents to me this you know, it's the adult it's the teacher, it's the parent, it's whoever telling 12 year old me Stop dreaming stop, you know at attending
Alex Ferrari 53:49
Bradman I thank you for being raw and honest about your entire distribution process with off the tracks. It was a fascinating story to listen to. You are very candid, and I hope it does help somebody out there listening in whatever country you're listening in. That Hope it helps you guys figure out what's the best path for for you. But Brad, thank you so much for being so honest and forthright with your journey, sir. And of course, thank you for allowing off the tracks to be part of IFH TV.
Brad Olsen 54:24
Yeah, I'm excited. I'm excited to see what the tribe thinks of of my movie, hopefully. Hopefully they're positive.
Alex Ferrari 54:32
I think they'll be I think there'll be okay. But and you know, and the same
Brad Olsen 54:37
Feeling feelings. I know that.
Alex Ferrari 54:39
Well, the bottom line is it same thing that you were saying about the gatekeepers and stuff like that. I mean, I'm a dude that's opening up a streaming service, you know, aimed at the audience that I love the most, which are filmmakers, screenwriters, creators, artists. And, you know, I I'm not spending millions of dollars to do it. And I'm able to go out there and do it because of the tools because of the things that are out there to be able to make these things happen. And and you just did a story about one of those tools that really did help a lot of people tell their story. So thanks again, man for being on the show and no more. You're not allowed on for at least 100 episodes. No more conversations with Brad, this is enough to he's more than now, if you come back with an avid movie. You're you're first in line.
Brad Olsen 55:28
We're back on track.
Alex Ferrari 55:29
We're back are back on track with the victories. Oh, that's such a call back with a whole black magic. I think we can make this happen.
Brad Olsen 55:38
I think so.
Alex Ferrari 55:39
Thanks again, Brad.
Brad Olsen 55:41
Yep, thank you, Alex.
Alex Ferrari 55:43
I want to thank Brad for coming back on the show and revealing and being honest and raw about his distribution misadventures on getting the film out there. But if you guys are interested in seeing the film, don't forget it is on indie film hustle TV, it is a great documentary. If you're into editing, post production, or just want to know how Apple royally screwed up one of their product releases to watch that happen live, it is quite fascinating. So definitely check that out. I will put links to everything we discussed in the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/279. And if you haven't already, please head over to filmmakingpodcast.com. And leave us a good review. It really, really helps to show out a lot and helps us get this information out to more and more filmmakers. So it would be greatly greatly appreciated. And that's it for another episode of the indie film hustle podcast. I hope you guys are doing well. In this holiday season. You got to keep hustling. No matter what guys got to keep pushing, keep writing, keep learning as much as you can. And also, by the way, thank you so much for all the kind remarks of Episode 277, which I revealed my daily routine and has inspired a bunch of you guys out there to wake up at 4:30 in the morning. So do it guys. Keep hustling. And, as always keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.
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- Off the Tracks (Final Cut Pro X) – Rent or Watch on Indie Film Hustle TV
- Off the Tracks (Final Cut Pro X) – Official Site
- Indie Film Hustle TV (Netflix for Filmmakers and Screenwriters)