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Today on the show we have to return champion film producer and distributor Shaked Berenson. Shaked has been on the show a few times now and each time he brings a wealth of knowledge bombs to the tribe. Shaked launched his new company called The Horror Collective, whose mission is to foster a community of independent horror filmmakers and connect their films to fans, all done transparently and fairly. We provide direct distribution combined with a cost-effective, high-impact festival, marketing, and release strategy. The Horror Collective aims to bring your film to the right audience.
Shaked Berenson produced, and executive produced 22 features and two television series including many horror and cult favorites such as TURBO KID (2015), BIG ASS SPIDER! (2013), THE AGGRESSION SCALE (2012), and most recently, THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT (2019), EXTRA ORDINARY (2019), PRETENDING I’M A SUPERMAN – THE TONY HAWK VIDEO GAME STORY (2020), and THE LODGERS (2018).
In the past 15 years, Shaked financed, marketed, and distributed over 120 films across all genres. He served as a Board Director for IFTA™ (Independent Film & Television Alliance) since 2011, a PGA (Producers Guild of America) member since 2013, and currently on the advisory board of The Film Collaborative, a non-profit committed to distribution education and facilitation of independent film.
In this episode, Shaked and I discuss the realities of film distribution in today’s world, why most indie films fail to make money, why many film distributors screw over filmmakers, and how filmmakers can better position their films for the marketplace. The RAW TRUTH that Shaked and I discuss is not for the faint of heart but I truly hope it helps filmmakers better understand the marketplace they are entering.
Enjoy my eye-opening conversation with Shaked Berenson.
Alex Ferrari 2:09
Now guys, today I have a special episode for you because we have returning champion, Shaked Berenson and Shaked has been on the show a few times before. We've been talking for years in regards to film marketing, and distribution. But in today's episode, we're going to talk about the raw truth of film distribution in today's world. And it is a fairly brutal conversation. A lot of truth is dropped in this episode. And I hope I truly, truly hope that this is going to be eye opening for a lot of you in the tribe listening today. Because I know from experience that many times we as independent filmmakers live in somewhat of a magical world where things will all work out the way we hope they will or dream they will, that our films are going to get big deals at Netflix or at a studio that our career directing careers are going to take off. And I'm not saying that can't happen. It happens all the time. And I have those success stories on the show all the time. But you can't. And I wanted to sit down and talk about the other 99% 99.9% of filmmakers working in independent film, what they really need to do to position themselves and their films to have success in the market place that we are living in today. And that marketplace is changing so so rapidly, that episodes like this are needed more and more because right now, our business as well as the world is under siege by this pandemic. And honestly, Hollywood is trying to figure out what to do next. I mean, just the other day, Warner Brothers is going to be releasing all of their 2021 Films directly on HBO max. Those are the big studio releases that they have, as opposed to just going theatrical first, which is an atom bomb going off in our industry. It really really is everyone's just trying to figure things out. So Shaked and I talk about how all of this is affecting independent filmmakers, and how the marketplace is changing and how you can adjust to it. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Shaked Berenson. I like to welcome back to the show returning champion. Shaked Berenson man How you doing Shaked?
Shaked Berenson 4:47
I'm good. I'm good. I know if I'm returning champion. Well, I'm returning something but every time I talk to you, it looks like your empire is bigger. And I'm making the same movies. So you may be the champion.
Alex Ferrari 4:58
Well, I don't know. I don't All About that, sir. But you have been on the show twice before this is your third appearance on the show. And they every time you're on the show, people love the episodes. And you and I were just chatting the other day just catching up. And we were start talking about distribution. And I just said, Look, we have, we've got to record some of this stuff. This is this is gold. And we have to we got to put this out for the tribe. So you you were you were nice enough to agree to come in and burn some more bridges for yourself. Because Isn't it like every time you come on the show? You burn at least 1718 bridges?
Shaked Berenson 5:34
Yeah, every time I come to your show, I have at least 10 people that they end up not talking to me. But as I say it's you know, it's to burn bridges with people that anyway you know, steel and religion. Right. take money from filmmakers, you know, we might as well burn those bridges. Right?
Alex Ferrari 5:52
Abs. Absolutely. Now I wanted to I wanted to for people who don't know who you are and have not heard the other episodes. Can you tell everybody a little bit about who you are and what you've done?
Shaked Berenson 6:03
Um, yeah, I My name is Shaked Berenson was born in the States but grew up in Israel. This is why I have this weird hybrid accent.
Alex Ferrari 6:13
Fantastic. Very sexy, sir. Very sexy.
Shaked Berenson 6:15
Thank you. Thank you. I try if I if I speak like this, it's better. But yeah, I came to LA to go to UCLA study economics, got a degree in business. Didn't come here with any dream to be an actor or anything like that, like many people that come here, but I couldn't find a job as a bartender. So I started working for a film producer at that time working on a little movie called ghostwriter. And from there as a personal assistants started moving up to level getting experience in every aspect, both onset and different departments, but also on the business side, and in 2007, started my own foreign sales agency and produce movies. Since then, I've I think I just recently counted 41 films at the other executive producer, or was a lead producer. Beside that I've done sales and distributed over 160 Films sold to companies like Netflix, dozens of movies work with HBO. Right now I'm delivering a film to stars and AMC network, all the way down to small indie distributors in different countries, and some fly by night companies. So it's really done everything A to Z, and from being in small, produced some very low budget films, for a movie like Jerusalem, which is fun footage and was in the $130,000 range to Viking dome, which is an action film that we did for $11.6 million, or my animation franchise, space dogs, which is 20 plus each film. So I really have wide experience, really in all genres budgets, from an idea developing an idea all the way down to stocking DVDs at Walmart and doing the price reduction.
Alex Ferrari 8:13
So that's it. Yes. You've done you've done a little bit of everything in the business. And you've been in the business for a while. Now. I you as you started distributing your own films A while ago. Can you explain to the audience why you decided to Well, what happened and what caused you to say, wait a minute, this system is busted, I'm gonna get screwed, I got screwed, I'm not gonna get screwed again, let me build a system out so I can start funneling out my my projects in a way that I can kind of control a little bit better than if having to go to a distributor specifically.
Shaked Berenson 8:49
Yeah, it really came out out of necessity. Because the beginning, obviously, you know, the, I guess the most fun part is to make the movies and remake the movies and you give it to foreign sales, you have to get an mg, or you're not. I think it's better not to get an mg actually. But you get an mg. And then you spend the next few years chasing the sales agent for reports and for money and just wasting more time. And so we started to do on foreign sales in started traveling around the world. The time was probably doing six to nine months of traveling internationally, both to a lot of broadcasters in different countries in also the regular film festivals that we all know about. And then on the domestic side, we used to just sell our movies for domestic distributor, but then let me think it's probably was around 2013 that we started started venturing into the domestic distribution mainly because of a small film we made that was so small that we couldn't really get a good mg and also we made enough money from the foreign side. That we didn't we didn't need to get a big distribution from the domestic side. So and the offers were so lucky, you know, like, you go up to some movie and you get offers like 15, grand, you know, like 20 grand and about 2000. And probably 10 or
Alex Ferrari 10:16
But what was the budget of the film?
Shaked Berenson 10:18
Oh, the budget of the movie was 75 grand. Right. So the budget was 75. I'll never forget because ice I sold to Spain to quatro, which since then it's been acquired by media set, but quarterback bought, it was kind of like a sci fi channel. And they used to buy those, you know, low budget films, and we sold it for, I think over 80,000 euros just for Spain. So we covered the entire budget, just from one territory. So and you went directly and you went directly to them? Oh, yes, yes, directly. So I spend like I said, I spent a lot of time traveling to different buildings, building the network. And and really cannot do it any other way. Because it markets, he distributors usually slot 30 minutes meetings, which means that they need five to 10 minutes to find the next meeting and 510 minutes to come from the previous one. So you have 10 minutes with them, you can build a relationship like that. But if you go to Spain, two or three times a year come to their office, they invite you to launch, they always want to show you the sound stages and everything, you build a much stronger relationship. So the movie was already solid and profitable. And the deals were so low that we thought I mean, we can just stand in a corner and sell DVDs in a few hours a day and find the same money, right? So we might as well just try to do it. And we reach out to a few companies got a red box deal. So it was already like 80 grand, right off the bat, comparing to you know, the $15,000 off price. And then you put it on VOD through an aggregator that you mentioned your name before we started recording, but I'm not going to mention my name because I don't even ever mention because I try not to speak ill of companies but.
Alex Ferrari 12:06
Well, I mean, if it's true if it's if it's scriber, so you could speak ill completely sir, because I've spoken ill spoken ill about that company quite often because they screwed 1000 filmmakers and are owed millions of dollars and they went bankrupt. So I have no problem saying that. And I generally don't call any paper. And I don't I generally don't call out any companies in my my podcast, but they have a special place in my heart continue sir.
Shaked Berenson 12:30
Distribution out of necessity, because I found that you just get you know, in a good day is 75 grand or 125 grand. And that's it. And I'll give you a movie away for 15 years. And and sometimes I remember the first movie that I that I produced. Somebody on Facebook told me Hey, you movies on Redbox. You know, nobody even told me and, and to think about yourself as a filmmaker and your level of intimacy with the project and the knowledge of the people that can actually promote the film, especially these days, you know, 15 or 17 years later, or whatever it is. It's really a shame that those movie just go into a pipeline. And nobody tells the filmmakers when and if it goes out. And there's no transparency. And it's very hard for the filmmakers to promote. Because today, if the filmmaker is not doing a lot of the legwork to promote the movie themselves, you're losing a lot of the awareness that you can build for the film. So just as an example, you know, maybe the writer is Turkish, right, and he has connections in Turkey, and he can help you get a turkey sale, you know, but if the sales agent is not communicating with the producer and the director on a regular basis, they will never know that right? So. So I build distribution that is more oriented like that. And I made myself a mission to cut as many barriers between the actual release and the filmmakers.
Alex Ferrari 13:56
So when you said when you say 125,000 or you know, 75 or 125,000 mg, those days are are gone for the most part, especially for lower budget independent films. So I just want to make sure everyone understand is like, oh, why? I can go out and get 100 my film only costs 50,000 I'll get 125,000 mg like it generally doesn't work that way. Would you agree with me?
Shaked Berenson 14:19
He doesn't he doesn't know there are there are still companies sure that get that get those we just sold a movie for you know, especially when you sell directly to streamers like Netflix.
Alex Ferrari 14:30
what those are. Those are deals not not MGS is specifically like that's a deal. That's a selling deal. I'm talking about going to a distributor and the distributor going we'll give you 125,000 for the film for 15 years. And then when we when we make more than 125,000 then we're going to give you a check which
Shaked Berenson 14:45
Yeah, so so just to be an again, this is my experience in the people I've been talking I've been on the board of the Independent Film and Television lines for many years. So I have a lot of friends in distribution and the foreign sales side so you know we all share information. When we talk about a movie getting $125,000 mg from a domestic distributor, it's two things. First of all, we're talking about a $5 million movie. Yeah, or a $3 million movie, right? So it's not that you get for your basement 30 grand, you know, I made a movie with my wife and friends kind of thing. We're talking about a movie that has stars, right? We the Audience Award at South by Southwest has, I won't say stars, but you know, have recognizable sag actors. Those movies still gathered. So so so one is, is just to know, the budget level. And the second thing and this is something that that you and I spoke offline, that in this market, because you don't have the DVD you don't have if the optical unit we can talk about that for four hours, just that but because you have so much uncertainty and the number of deals is small, those deals usually happen because the distributor already have in mind or even a deal in their pocket with the streamer. Right? So if you have good relationship with if it's a Netflix or a shorter, and you're already talking to them and in festivals, and you know, the movies playing, and they're like, what do you think about this movie? Like, yeah, that looks great, that looks like something we're going to pick up, you know, you kind of have the relationship and you can feel comfortable putting those offers out, because you know that you backed by by somebody that that can help you pay that bill. But to have somebody just taking a risk on 300 grand on a film without having anything that they can think of to sell it. I think it's rare these days.
Alex Ferrari 16:42
Yeah, it's from what I from what I understand as well, it's extremely, extremely rare. And it's a percentage based thing. So like, if you're gonna have $100,000 movie, if you get an mg you might be five grand, might be might be 10. And 10 is a really great mg for $100,000 movie. So you have three or four, three or $4 million movie 120 550. It seems relative to the cost, but the days of getting an mg that's more than the budget show unless it's a Sundance thing or a lottery ticket. It's rare. It's extremely rare. So I just wanted to make I wanted to make sure that their audience,
Shaked Berenson 17:18
It is a lottery ticket. Yeah. And I think that that the funny thing is that when you talk about emojis in the five or 10, or 15, grand, and I used to give this lecture called the four things, your lawyer negotiating on matter, and one of them is the MG, because if if you can get a half a million mg, because you making a profit, or because it's big enough to pay back your bank, because you have a loan or whatever it is, then it makes sense. What I don't understand that, why would filmmaker for five grand, you know the difference between a 10 and a 15,000 mg will shoot themselves in the foot and go with a less experienced a scimitar or an aggregator that basically put out 100 movies a month, you know not gonna give them the time or the attention or get a worse deal. You know, for something like that. I think that too much. And a lot of lawyers and reps get into it. But they really look at the defense of a 5% commission or 10 grand in in mg. And for me, I think it's it's nitpicky and wrong because you probably want to look at the other films that the company is putting out and get recommendations and referrals from other filmmakers that worked with them and choose the company like that, because that five grand is not going to change your life. Right? I mean, it's not going to be a big difference.
Alex Ferrari 18:40
Exactly. And I think a lot of times filmmakers, you know, fight for that, like I was at AFM this last year and filmmaker came up was like, Oh, I got I got a I got a $35,000 mg. I'm like, great, how much did you film cost that goes with 350. And they were super excited that that was a win for them. Like they were like, We arrived. And I go What did you What did you give away for the 35,000? They're like, Oh, worldwide? I'm like you gave away worldwide for 35 grand and yet your film cost? 250 Do you understand that? You're never going to probably see anything more than the 35 grant if you even get to 35 Yeah, if you get it right if that's that's one thing is to write down how you're going to get 35 grand and once the movie, then it's a whole other other because generally, they don't just write a check and throw 35 grand down they generally partial it out over quarters and over a year or two or something like that. Even Netflix pays out every quarter
Shaked Berenson 19:32
Deliver there is oh you don't have a QC you don't have any you know insurance. Well, we can provide that and deducted from the MG and sunny 35 become 28
Alex Ferrari 19:42
Oh, yeah. Oh, you need closed captioning closed captions gonna cost you $10 a minute. Exactly. But this is the this is the game you're walking into kind of shark infested waters. And if you're not educated, like I consult I consult filmmakers all the time. That have that Going into a distribution deal. And then I'll ask, I'll tell them what to ask for. And the distributor, a lot of times will go Yeah, we just we know, you're asking way too many questions. We don't want to deal with you. Because they're just like, Oh, this guy's gonna be a headache, because he knows too much. Yeah.
Shaked Berenson 20:15
Well, it depends if you speak with companies, especially aggregators, and companies that just in the volume base, and for them, it's all about getting a lot of movies and getting the minimum out, right. So if a movie on average, just any film, basically a poster and a file that you're going to put up going to make a five to 10 grand, if you taking a even a 10% Commission, but you have a 10 grand in a marketing fee of some sort, you taking the first $10,000 or $11,000. So it really doesn't matter to you, right? So people can come out and have you know, oh, you know, my lawyer pushed him down to 10%, or push them down to five, can push him down to 1%. You know, I look at some of those deals, and I go, like, you know, you can give them 99% Commission, it doesn't matter. It's like you're not gonna see $1 right, so, so why why are you guys negotiating those things? Right? So I would prefer to have a deal that is a straight revenue share, but actually work with people that I trust and have a plan, have a strategy, have a festival strategy, have a marketing strategy to have a press and release strategy and not just have another movie to just go into the system? Because to feed the you know, the employees, yeah, feed a beast, they just need to have 20 movies coming every month, you know, they have a guy sitting in a cubicle just making posters, and nobody really gives it any attention. And nobody talks with the producers.
Alex Ferrari 21:44
Can I ask you, I mean, you've been in the business so long, and you've been in the distribution side for such a long time. Why is this system built this way? It's obviously a broken system. And it's a system that it's definitely not set up for filmmakers. And it's definitely not set up for the producer. It's in it's been that way. I've been saying that since the days of Chaplin, like it's, it's a systemic problem, where it's as, as I used to say, like, you know, the casting couch was a thing that was before me, too. It was a thing. People were like, Oh, yeah, it's the casting couch. It was a joke. It was a punch line. And you know, when it shouldn't have been, and now, how many times have you heard Oh, the distributor screwed me. Like, that's just a you know, Forrest Gump didn't make money according to paramount. Like, are you like Siri? Like it Seriously? Seriously made 670? And I won the Oscar like, but according to their accounting, it didn't. Why is it like this? And what do you think?
Shaked Berenson 22:37
I think there are many reasons. Obviously, one of them is, is what you just spoke, you were just talking about your your your correlating, devalue, ie to mg or the revenue to the budget, there is no correlation, right? I mean, you can make fun of activity for a few 1000. And it has a lot of value in the marketplace. Or you can spend the 100 million dollar in a movie and it just nobody wants to see it. Right. And I think that that there is a lot of expectation and and unrealistic expectations in Terminal, and I'm going to flip it around on you because I know it's easy to kind of bust distributors, but I think filmmakers have a lot of
Alex Ferrari 23:22
illusions, or delusions of grandeur. Oh, absolutely. Yeah.
Shaked Berenson 23:25
So you see movies that I swear to God, I mean, we get I get so many emails, we see, you know, anything from an idea to scripts to complete movies, and you see some movies that are on unwatchable. I mean, we both know that today. Everybody has, you know, this, this iPhone has four cameras on it, right? I mean, it's like, it's, it's fairly simple just to make something right. And, and people truly, I mean, it's hard to do to it. Some of them astonished me every time again, like people think like, you know, we're gonna win an Oscar status and it's like, an Oscar. Like, I don't see like your parents sitting through five minutes of this, you know? So, there is there is matter of illusion on one side, right? And like, I'm talking to you and when you talk to people, it's like, well, we know we need distribution mean, it's like okay, but you need to understand like you're gonna you know, to put something on iTunes gonna cost you $850 it's not gonna make $850 Right, right. And that's the cost that's not you know, the distributor pocketing This is the lab just the cost of you know, you need to pay people to
Alex Ferrari 24:30
Aggregate you gotta it's a cost of aggregation. Yeah,
Shaked Berenson 24:34
Yeah. And and when that happened, and they in seats on getting the movie out there and let's put in as many screens as we can, let's put it everywhere. And they don't make money. Of course, they blame the distributor and I always like to say it's like I never heard of this director saying, my movie to an odd shade, but thank God for the distributor to do such killer marketing and
Alex Ferrari 24:54
you've never heard that He never hear that. But that happens does happen.
Shaked Berenson 24:59
It's It happened more often than not, right? Because the marketing should be better than the movie if the marketing is not better than the movie, then the marketing is not good. Right? Right. So I think it's a lot of that side. And, and because of it, there is a lot of competition and the distribution side that encourage bad behavior, right? So if if I see a movie that I really think fits the audience that I know how to reach, and I come like, Listen, you know, we released one movie a month, on a, on a, on a busy month, right? We do one or you know, every month or two, we put everything behind it. We speak every week with the producers, we do all of this, you know, we have all this relationship. But I'm gonna lose this title because an aggregator offered 10 grand, you know, it's not really encouraging good behavior from side of the distributors. Right? So like, you say, like, people read books, and they listen to podcasts, and like, Oh, I have this list of demands to give. But it's really on a case to case basis, and you need to be open minded to what's best for your specific film. Right? And, and to find the right home, and not just like, Okay, well, these are all for 10 grand, these are for 15 these are for zero, this, this is distribution fees are 10%. This distribution fees are 30%. You know, it's okay, if lions get one to release your movie, and they're taking 60% distribution fee, give it to Lionsgate, you know, they're going to be much better than an aggregator is going to do it for 10%, you know, because they're not going to make it. Right. And, and people, sometimes we don't just think business wise, you don't think like, Hey, you know, free take this consultant that can help us and they take 10%? Like, do you think that our advice for 10% will generate for you at least 10% and $1, more than without it, because then it's worth it? You know, it's it's, sometimes people are afraid to kind of spare the wealth, and, you know, they kind of holding for themselves, you know, everything, but making the pie very small. Instead of, you know, taking on partners, you know, giving pieces giving, giving the incentive, oh, it's funny, like how a lot of lawyers and producer reps, there's so much beat beat the sales agents, or distributors to lower their their Commission's and their sales and the distribution fee. And I think like, you know, if you give me a film, and you beat me down to a 20% distribution fee, right, and I can't, you know, and you kept on my marketing, I can't put Facebook ads, I can't do anything, right, that can cut my own trailer, I can put my own poster. And then I have another movie that I get 35%. And I can actually, you know, have a budget of 200 grand that they can put Facebook ads and such. And the filmmakers are totally open to cut new trailers and posters and testing the market and see, you know, how to reach the audience of as possible. Who do you think is going to get more love and attention and resources? Right? So I'm going to be the movie that the lawyer beat you down for a greater deal. You know, so the deal itself is like, such a small part, I think from the success of your film, but really, what a lot of people focusing on, you know, the running at AFM in the end waiting in the lobby, it's like, oh, what offers we got? Well, it was 35 for worldwide from this company, or this company just going to do a really good job, and it only wants us screw that company. I want the 35 grand right.
Alex Ferrari 28:33
But the thing is, but that what you're saying works with the assumption that the distributor that you're talking about, is honest, actually cares, and actually is going to do what they say they're going to do. In your case, I get it because you have you do have a fairly stellar reputation other than the people that you burn your bridges with. In the business, but you're a unicorn in this space, there, you are definitely the outlier in the distribution space. So yes, I get what you're saying. But if you're going with a company that's doing 30 or 40 movies a month, that doesn't apply that logic that you just lay, it has no relevance in it, because they're just a machine. They're just a machine with a pipeline, like you said, and they're just trying to grab as much content as they can just to spit it out and hoping that something that they throw against the wall sticks that month that can pay the overhead essentially, and now they have a larger library, and there's all other reasons why they do that kind of stuff. But what you're saying makes perfect sense for someone like you, but and I'm sure there are I know there are other good distributors out there. Yeah. But they're rare. They're rare.
Shaked Berenson 29:41
Well, first of all, thank you. I really appreciate that. I'm sure there are many people that do distribution the right way, and it's really a matter of finding the right home. Right. Oh, right. I do agree. This is how the conversation started that maybe a lot of distributors start with a an elitist, you know, theory of how to do this, but because of the reasons we just spoke about their business model, keep changing into the you know, fuck it, we have to make money. Let's just give them what they want. And we'll just skim off the top to make up for it right.
Alex Ferrari 30:18
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Shaked Berenson 30:30
And I've seen that happen before. So it's important to have good relationship with your distributor. And also, again, this goes back to your expectation. For some movies, I was talking on the phone yet just yesterday was a filmmaker that has a field that was actually stuck with a company that got acquired by a company got the acquiring company to get stuck in the outcome, a bankruptcy, right? So he's about to get his movie back. But you know, the movies, whatever, 710 years old, is asking me what to do is it and my advice was if you can keep it wisdom, you know, and but the system that you actually can make your percentages as a producer, but not necessarily every movie. It makes sense to go out and, and do everything that I say some of the movies, okay, you made a movie, it was a good exercise. The best that you got from this movie was your experience and some relationships, give it to an aggregator, put it out there, try to do some, you know, friend, friends and family, you know, marketing, but just keep it out there for a calling card and work on your next one, you know, because these one is not going to make you rich, you know, you spend 50, or 100 is what it is
Alex Ferrari 31:47
And seven years old, seven years old. Yeah. And it's like,
Shaked Berenson 31:49
It can be also a new movie, you see a lot of movies, it's like it's Congratulation, you made a movie movie can be nice, or it can be even really good. But could be the wrong genre. You know, if you made a drama that has no cast in it, and you didn't get into festivals, because you made a mistake, or whatever the reason is, you didn't have the relationship to get into the right festivals. It's it's so easy for us as filmmakers, because we create content that is both a product, right? We just make potatoes, but it's also our children. Right? Yeah. And you always have this, this forces pulling you in in both sides. And I think that when you make a movie, treated like your child, right? When you deal with the initial the sales, the strategy of it, you need to treat it like a child. But then you need to put it on the other side and start thinking like the audience and start thinking like, Okay, well, who wants to buy these potatoes, and you know, where, where should I put them. And a lot of time, it will give you a better path to what you need to do. And sometimes you make a move for 100 grand. And that was the cost of going to school of how to do it, right? You know, people go to law school or medical school and spend half a million dollars to get to the craft to the point that they can actually work on patients, right? So like, Why? Why is it so easy to be a filmmaker, right? It's like, Oh, I watched a lot of movies. And I know where Starbuck is. So I'm a writer, you know, you're not you know, some you know, you need to write 25 unsuccessful Sheedy scripts until you start getting it, you know, and if you write one, and it just keep knocking on doors for 10 years, just keep beating people with this first script, you're probably not going to make it happen, you know, because you need to practice your craft. So and then do is just unfortunate thing I, I released the film many years ago, and it was a great film, really well done, relatively, you know, modest, but in a real budget with millions not 1000s it had good cast that you know, if I do the cast to recognize all the names, but because of a mistake that the filmmakers didn't know, they open in a very, very small festival, just because it was the same town where the investors live show the open over there. And the movie could have been easily assignments movie, but when you start in a very small festival, you don't get into other ones. And for a film that could have been in Sundance and maybe get a theatrical release and everything you just kind of have to put it out there and you know, rely that the level of cast and the story and the trailer and the poster will draw some of the money back but you can turn the wheel back and and do a premiere at Sundance and get your theatrical release and and it's not always the distributors fault, right? I mean, yes, it's a lot of distributors, they unaccessible sound and lies on them cheat. So you know, some of them just do a deal that you don't realize like I've seen, oh, agreements that just as it is, I'm going to try to censor redacted but it's a recent example. So I try I haven't done it in a while because of COVID or do I need to start doing it virtually. But last year, I started something called it the nama tree clinic. So, one Friday of the month, I would see it in a coffee shop. And I had meetings with filmmakers that just needed to help, you know, that needed to look at the reports need to look at their agreement. coproduction, which really anything besides teaching me, you know, I was very clear, it's like, this is not the place for you to just come and teach me the movie, but that can maybe help you with your pitch to other people, or general career advice a lot of people come to me with basically report and say, just sitting from the other nowhere, you know, and when you have experience, you know, I've been because I'm, I'm a data guy, I keep everything in Excel, I did over 6800 licensing deals. So at this point that can look very quickly on your agreement and see like, Okay, well, here's the pitfalls, he was probably where they're gonna, you know, hide the money. Or I can look at reports and because the name of the distributors or the broadcaster, you can kind of put together like, Okay, well, it doesn't make sense to RTL to in Germany, we'd buy this action movie with a face, and we'd pay only 15,000 years, it just doesn't happen, you know, so, you know, you get to a mode, and you can very quickly kind of like this is the places you should look at not being a lawyer not, you know, following up, like, it's their job to, you know, do something this is information. But I saw a format this from a filmmaker that showed me an agreement. And it keeps saying that this is a non exclusive agreement, this is a non exclusive agreement, but I'm looking at the agreement that you've done, and like, you know, you keep saying it's not exclusive, but if you read the document, you know, it says non exclusive at one point, but three, you know, clauses below, it gives him the option, and all those kind of things that like you locked were like forever, all right, you know, was then like you need to was it
Alex Ferrari 36:57
wasn't a perpetuity.
Shaked Berenson 36:59
It was, I tried to think I think the option was in perpetuity shows basically, like there was a very elaborate legal language, it gave him an option to do what they want forever. And the filmmaker had to jump through hoops to, to get it out. And this is something like so. So it's fairly easy for an acquisition person to use phrases like you can, you can get out whenever you want, you can do this, you can do this. But it's like, if you build your contract, that it's on the filmmaker back to chase the distributor to get out of the deal, then they just don't respond to you. And you stuck with them. Right? So it's not like, Okay, well, let's have a renewal. If you make a request to me 90 days in advance, and I confirm it, or it could be automatically if I receive at least $10,000 a year for performance performance class. Exactly. So Dewey's ways to do it. So if it's automatically terminated, it automatically terminated. But it was the film that it's it's acquaintance of ours from from Israel, that it's been released, didn't do anything, the company basically retitled it and everything and, you know, the, their agreement expired, right, according to the agreement, it expired. And they came to me, and we said, Great, let's help you put it up on some platforms, let's bring it back to the original name and, you know, revamp the poster and, you know, give it life and make it available, but the distributor keeps it available on their iTunes and their channels. Right. So, you know, the agreement expired, but now you still need to chase the distributor to get the right to get out. Yeah, yeah. And if you think that you can email iTunes, and, oh, by the way, company, ABC is no longer have the rights. Can you please from January 1, you know, send them a very funny, very help, you know, you know, CD, that's not gonna happen, you know, I don't like, you know, well, they're not gonna answer the email, but, you know, you can understand that they cannot do anything about it. And a lot of those companies, they, when you sign the agreement, the filmmakers or the filmmakers, whoever is signing the deal, basically take the liability. That is an issue with copyright, or is the chain of title so they don't care. Right? So literally, I can take your movie. Let's say I took it tomorrow with Netflix, right? And I'm like, Oh, I have this really great movie you know, produced by my friend Alex. I can sell it to them I can sell an agreement. They're not going to call you to check that a chicken actually have the right no zero rap does he have the rights? They were going to do some chain of title but how easy it is for me to just Like draft something and say Do they have the rights or or for your your paper like think about when you buy a house, how many hoops you go, right to go through, you know to do a title search,title insurance, that's
Alex Ferrari 40:15
Oh the amount of paperwork that you have to sign and get notarized and look
Shaked Berenson 40:20
You need to get insurance for this, like the bank, you will get a refinance on a house that you already paying a bank for 10 years. And they will have you repay and redo title insurance, right for refi. That you paying them for 10 years, right? And there is a reason for that, right? Because technically, you know, especially when you talk about Forget about it. Netflix is sophisticated, it's American, they have legal team blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. What if I said your company for India? or Thailand? Oh, forget right? Do you really think they're gonna be a lot of
Alex Ferrari 40:52
recourse, you have no recourse, you have no recourse?
Shaked Berenson 40:54
None of them is going to do enough homework to see if Alex actually gave me the rights. And also there is no recourse. You want to go and change a company in Thailand? I mean, maybe Netflix, this, you know, you can talk with a friend of a friend and maybe have somebody in the legal department, right? But what are you gonna do if it's a deal in Taiwan or Columbia? You know, it's gonna cost you $20,000 just to retain some lawyer in that country to you know, it just doesn't worth it. Right. I mean, if it's a million dollar deal in Netflix, you know, in the US or Germany or a country that is more organized, you'll go Okay, well, there is a million dollar on the line. Let's get a lawyer and do something. But for five grand in Turkey, you know, and that's five grand in the distributors pocket that I found once. It was the reason why I said turkey IT company based in Argentina, that they were pretending I guess or saying that they're accompanied by Argentine, I think you were based in Argentina, basically took my entire catalogue, your your attire, my entire color, change your logo, and send it to buyers in Turkey to sell. No, I'm sorry, that was a Turkish, a Turkish guy based in, in Argentina. I'm so sorry. It was a Turkish guy based in Argentina, that he took my catalog and he send it all over the place. Trying to sell the movies, right. And I had my French client that bought the film, sending me an email furious saying, How come you know you have your guys trying to sell your movie in France? I bought the movie over a year ago. I have exclusive rights. And I'm like, Don't mark it. I have no idea who this guy is. You know, and then he helped me because I told him like, Hey, can you? You know, we try to like, yeah, almost put a trap.
Alex Ferrari 42:48
Yeah, catfish. You're shaking your cat fishing your cat fishing?
Shaked Berenson 42:51
Yeah we're trying? Yeah. So so I had my distributor in luck. Luckily, I had the relationship with the guy for you know, years. So you know, I could smooth it over and it's like, Listen, let's, let's do a trick. Let's ask him about some of the REITs. And let's see if we can get links for him ask for screeners and ask for numbers. Let's see what happens. And the guy from what I remember, he was so you know, I guess he just does it and any so clueless or lazy or, or, you know, he never really followed up. But a lot of people can do that, you know, they're just in a different country. You know, just like in YouTube, that people just steal your movie and just put it and now it's only your responsibility to go and chase it. Right. And you spend money on lawyers and you just spend your own time you need, you know, to use your contacts to try to chase somebody in different country, but just representing your movies without any any any legal control over it. I've no idea how we got into it. But I have a million of like, you know, I have all these cars from different places that have shrapnel Sir,
Alex Ferrari 43:54
I like to call it shrapnel you have tons of shrapnel in the business. I mean, that's what was the question, but the answer is yes. Yes. It's fascinating. It's fascinating to hear a story like that where a distributor is being stolen from by some other like some other schlocky, you know, guy some thief. And and that's an amazing story. Like, I can't believe that that's a thing, but it is. And I was I was talking to a filmmaker the other day, and they were like, yeah, we have this deal. On the table, this guy in either France or in the UK or Spain wanted. He was the sales agent over there. And he wanted to get to Europe, like the European rights or something like that. And I'm like, Well, first of all, do have you done your homework? Do you have you vetted them? And then you have to ask yourself the question, if things go bad, what recourse do you have? are you flying to Spain to fight this guy? Are you hiring an attorney? So you know, at least here in the States, you can you can have some sort of legal route, you can sue somebody here, but if they're in the UK, the cost to try to sue somebody in the UK to get the rights back to your film is, is astronomical. Again, if there's a million dollars on the table, like you said, then there's some point. But if it's, you know, 10 grand here, 15 grand there, and your movie costs 100 grand, you can't afford that. And these distributors know that they know that they have, especially the larger predatory distributors, there's a lot of these low level kind of bottom dwellers who they do this stuff, and they're like, what are you going to do sue me, and if you actually sue them, and you actually take them to court and everything, they'll just go, Oh, sorry, are bad. Here's the money. And you've already spent, you know, it cost you 100,000 to get 40.
Shaked Berenson 45:37
So it's, it's your 100%. Right? And, and you need to be very careful. And I think, again, a part of it. I don't think that people, you will never hear me so optimistic. I don't think people get born just evil like that. Nobody, nobody had their 18 year old, you know, his two suitcases, I'm gonna move to Hollywood and steal money from the other people that I think that the business is so tough, and there's so little money in it, you know, it, the value of when a value of a $5 million dollar movie is about 120 grand in the marketplace. Right? And that's need to cover trailer makers, poster makers, dumpers, delivery people shield agent, QC manager, I mean, I can just, you know, so many people with the handout, everybody just fighting over, you know, like sharks just trying to fight over those pieces of meat. And I think that's create a situation and and unfortunately, a lot of people, you know, there are a distributor and friends. And they go to a lot of markets, and maybe some French friend, give them their movie and say, Hey, you traveled to Canada AFM, can you help me to sell it internationally, and maybe you sold a few territories and saw that it's valuable. So now they're also a sale, the sales agent, I mean, if you look, look at see Nando, or one of those sites, or you know, the AFM listing, it's like, everybody's a foreign sales agent, if you have an email and a pulse, your foreign sales agents, right? So easy to say that you are sure you can just collect movies, and maybe have a relationship in one or two territories, you know, but if I sign your movie, and I just don't need the least and UK and everything, everything else is, you know, remain unsold. It's a problem, you know, and you lose it, you leaving a lot of money on the table. And a lot of I think it's on necessities, because you can't make enough money as a producer. So you start getting into, you know, distribution, you don't make enough money distribution, we have opportunities to start getting into foreign sales. A lot of people I think they go, like I said before that this is it's a disease, like please, please, if there was anything to take from this conversation, don't be sucked into the best deal. You know, the numbers not telling the whole story, right? So if there is a distributor or sales agents, okay, we're just gonna take 10 15% you know, if it's too good to be true, it's probably because it's not true, right? It's, it's like, there is no reason for me to take a movie for domestic for less than 25 or 35%. Because I need to pay my people, you know, I need to pay, you know, the expenses, and I need it to be worthwhile for me to, to to work, right. So if somebody offered you 10 10%, you know, there's something wrong with it, you know, do something wrong with that deal, you know, and then you get to companies like deceiver, right? They just offer a deal. It's too good to be true. And then everybody gets sucked into it, and then, you know, it blows up in their faces.
Alex Ferrari 48:37
You know, the thing is that a lot of a lot of these, these distributors, if there isn't a lot of money in the marketplace, and that's the thing that filmmakers don't understand. Their film is not worth what they think it's worth as a product, if you're looking at it as a business that there is a value associated with a film. And it's also not only the value of the film, but the time that it gets released. So big ass spider, which is an amazing post that you have behind you, in 2008 is worth a lot more than big spider and 2020 in the marketplace. Is that a fair statement?
Shaked Berenson 49:16
Absolutely. I mean, unlike, you know, find wind did not get better in time. You know, it's rare to have movies like pretty woman or you know, evergreen.
Alex Ferrari 49:28
Oh, yeah, like Jurassic Park just became the number one movie the other day.
Shaked Berenson 49:32
The theaters. And Jennifer Aniston is still probably making $14 million a year based on friends in sure. But that's that's an exception to the rule. That's not if, if you listen to this podcast, I'm assuming knocking that bolt yet. You know,
Alex Ferrari 49:50
I'm Scrooge McDuck in it all the time. I have a whole pit of gold coins. I just swim in it. Every day I do a dive and it's very nice to have a little board and everything.
Shaked Berenson 50:01
We touch a lot of important important thing, you know, important thing to note, which is, you know, getting the deal. No, no, no, you're feeling to know your product and, and and what is the actual value? And what is the potential? I think that question that they always ask and I love to ask it when they have everybody in the room and I have the investors, the executive producer, producers and directors, what is their goal? Yeah, because of course, everybody's goal is to do as many festivals to make as much money and to be as many theaters and to, you know, it's like, you can't write if the goal is to, you know, try to get awards and being festivals and all that kind of stuff. That's one thing. If you're trying to make money, you probably just want to get on VOD and focus on that, you know, if you want to be in theaters, because that's good for the director's career, you know, it's all conflicting interest. And you have to be as a team, realistic about what is your end goal? You know, because when you ask these questions, almost every time everybody wants everything, and then you have to have this conversation, and then slowly, you hone down, and what is the actual strategy for the film? The second thing is this linear mode of thinking that a lot of filmmakers learn from out of nowhere, which is you make a movie, you go to a festival, you get a producer, and the producer plays you in a sales agent, the sales agent said it to distributor, distributor, give us the aggregator it's a horrible model, you know, you want to have some idea in some plan of what you want the movie to be. So you can back engineer your release. And I always said that it's like the whole. And it's fun, because you contact movies that just got in south by discovering Sundance. And you say, congratulations, can you send me a link? And like, No, no, I want to see it. In Sundance, you know, it's like, well, that's going to be too late for me Sorry, because I want to be in Sundance, with a PR team, interviewing the director and the cast promoting the movie. So when you have your 15 minutes in the limelight, I want the director to be able to say in an interview, we coming out two months from now in March or April, please check it out on your you know, nearest driving or you know, speeding to the time, or we're going to be exclusively on itune in Jul 15 Make sure to you know, Mark your calendar, you don't want to like spend all because you can only release a trailer once you can only use a poster once you can only break the reviews once you know varieties not gonna run a review on your movie, after 25 small blogs wrote reviews based on a small festival that nobody heard of, you know, so you kind of have to come up with a splash and you want in the end of the review, saying, you know, indie film, hustle taking it out on iTunes only July 15. Because otherwise people review go like, well, sounds amazing. And they're not going to remember you know, that's now you need to fight the fight again. So, have a plan when you go into this festivals, as opposed to hoping to find the person that's going to sell it to the person who's going to sell it to the person that maybe we'll come up and
Alex Ferrari 53:19
you'll never make a dime. You'll never make a dime. You'll never make a dime.
Shaked Berenson 53:22
You can make a dime, but it's like winning the lottery. You know, everybody, of course, you're like, Oh, look at this movie. Like, I want to make a comedy a comedy was sold for $8 million in Sundance. Okay, what about the 399 other movies that you never heard of?
Alex Ferrari 53:34
Right? It's actually 30,000 other movies you didn't hear? 300. And that's something that, by the way, I want to talk to you later about releasing the indie film, hustle the movie, I'll have to write it. And we have to do that. I don't know what that is yet. But I'm sure there's a vegan chef in there somewhere. I think the main problem with with the filmmaking business model, especially the independent filmmaking business model is that a film does not. If you like, if you buy a house, you make a house for $250,000. You know, the marketplace will value that house. If it's a new construction, depending on the neighborhood you build it in, then you're going to get 400,000 you might get 500,000. And that works in real estate. If you're going to buy if you're going to sell like I used to sell back in the day, I had an olive oil company where I sold bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. There was a cost per bottle, and the marketplace will determine what that bottle is worth. Generally speaking, I knew that I was going to cover the cost at very bare minimum of the manufacturing of that product. In the filmmaking world. There is nothing you can't do that. Like if you make a million dollars, there's no guarantee you can make a million dollar piece of crap. That will is worth $5 in the marketplace and that's mom renting it she won't even purchase it if she's expressing it. The $5 rental? She does exactly. So that's why I always recommend to filmmakers, especially if they're not savvy about the marketplace, keep the budgets as low as possible while retaining the highest possible viable product. So if you can make a film for 50,000, that has some sort of viability in the marketplace, great, but I don't want you spending 300,000 on that same movie. Because your chance to hire that budget goes, the less chance you have to recoup your money. Is that a fair statement?
Shaked Berenson 55:32
Yeah, well, you You touched a lot of points. I was writing them down. So I don't forget. Yes, it's, it's first of all, it's a it's a true statement. And I will start backwards. Just something you just said. The thing about making the movie for 30 grand or 3000? grand, I mean, obviously, it's not brain surgery, right? If I offer you the same, you know, if you can buy an iPhone, that iPhone store for 700, or, you know, you can buy it at a different store for 400. Why would you buy it for more, right? So, so you need to be economical about the way you're making them. Um, but one thing that I really would like, for everybody listening to this, and everybody from your tribe, right? I don't want ever in my life to hear again, my movie looks like that. I'm so tired of like, well, we made it 400 grand, but do you It looks like it looks like it's 100,000. But it looks like a 1.5 every these movie look more than the budget, right? nobody walks into my office and say, Oh, we made it for a million, but it kind of looks like half a million. That's not a selling point. It's will not put on the poster directed by Alex Ferrari, but it looks much better than the budget. To anyone they buy the moment, the moment you lock the film, past QC, a budget is irrelevant. Alright, the budget is relevant only to you. And, and but you know, the investors and your family that put money in into all that kind of stuff. Now you can maybe, you know, talk with other producers about your next film, right? And say, like, Look, here's this film, you know, what do you think I made it for 100 grand, you know, you want me to work with you, you know, I can bring some money. You know, I'm raising money, like, that's fine. But to sell that movie, that's not a selling point. Right? Well, I'm better yourself homemaker.
Alex Ferrari 57:33
But I think that's a holdover from the 90s. With honestly, with Robert Rodriguez when it started with the $7,000. That was a marketing thing back then. I don't know. But that was that was and it was a big deal to make a feature film for $7,000 in 1991. And then clerks with another one was the 30,000. And then it was all about so the cheapest movie
Shaked Berenson 57:50
Right about the potatoes, right? My wife, or any girlfriend or anything in a pass? Never, you know, looked on Rotten Tomato or a newspaper. If people remember what that is. And said, Honey, let's go this weekend to watch some movies. Because I heard it was made for cheap. You know, it just makes the movie cheap.Right?
Alex Ferrari 58:16
But that that marketing ploy doesn't work. And I look I have I have filmmakers all the time that reach out to me to be on the show. They're like, man, we made a movie for $30,000 I'm like, that's not enough. Dude, this is not 1990 anymore. It's not enough. I made a movie for $3,000. And, you know, and I got it released. Like, it's, it's not enough anymore.
Shaked Berenson 58:36
It works when you after the fact right? If you say Listen, you know, we made partner activity for eight grand and it made $200 million a box office. Okay, now we can talk about it. Right. But because
Alex Ferrari 58:47
it's a selling point.
Shaked Berenson 58:48
Yeah. It's because you already proven yourself. Right? But just to say that you made a move for 30 grand, doesn't mean anything. But I think the point we made a point. Second thing, let's talk about comms, right? Because you're talking about market value. And yes, I'll give us an example. It's it's I will never forget, it's it's one example I use. I got a PowerPoint presentation. somebody's trying to you know, like always trying to get you to to finance their film. It was a zombie movie, you know, for whatever, 300 grand or half a million I don't remember exactly the budget. But they had all this calm saying like how zombies are hot in the market right now. And they had a poster for war z and it says you know how much and and this is what we get talk about comps, right? When you're in real estate. Right? When you're trying to sell your house, your realtor or your appraiser look at similar neighborhood, similar square footage, similar number of bedrooms and bathrooms, right? It's something special about a pool, no pool, whatever, right? Yeah. You're not just like, Oh, I'm trying to sell my house. You know, in in nowhere by America's biggest field, and you know, there is a condo in New York that cost $150 million. So I want $150 million. Right? What were these based on a book? That was huge translated for 7000 languages. Right? And, and it has red beard. It's like, how, like, how is that money for woodsy? was not that it is zombies in it? Right? It is not acceptable for your $300,000 film. Right. And and I think that that's what you're talking about how people try to figure out what is the value in the marketplace? Right?
Alex Ferrari 1:00:39
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Shaked Berenson 1:00:50
And especially these days, and this is a very important concept, right? Not so long time ago, when there was a DVD market, and theatrical and decide when there was a DVD market, you had a sliding scale, right? So distributor, had a team of people in suits that had to walk from one mom and pop rental shop to another, or ones that had five branches in Wisconsin, right? And show them the catalog for what's you know, coming out next quarter, and get ready to get orders, right, they had purchase orders like, oh, we're gonna take 10 from this move, you're gonna take 50 from this movie gonna take one from that movie, right? Because, you know, the rental basis knew their market and blah, blah, blah, and all those purchase orders come in. And it will make 100,000 copies of your movie in CIB, remember, which made a lot of work for the distributor, right? But it meant that some movies can sales zero, some 10,000, some 100,000 some a million, like you had gray area, right? When you don't have that market. And basically, you movie either sell to Netflix for half a million, or they pass on it. Right? And they don't say, oh, we'll buy your movie, but just just for one week for 25 grand, right? They either cough the money, do it right?
Alex Ferrari 1:02:07
Its black and white, rIts black and white,Yeah.
Shaked Berenson 1:02:09
If you sell to red box, the other by 40,000 units and you get 80 grand, or whatnot, or zero, they're not like, oh, we're gonna buy it just for, you know, five locations by 711. Right? And that's true to almost everything, like you have a very binary kind of system right now that these are the yes or no. Right? So when you look at the value of the market, but he was like, oh, what do you think is the value so Okay, so you can create say a lot because it's like, Okay, well, on the view, the side transactional, which is a shrinking bits, it's almost shrunk. Every moment that we speak, you know, it's like a frightened turtle, just like,
Alex Ferrari 1:02:51
another fairy loses their wings every second that we speak.
Shaked Berenson 1:02:54
Exactly. The time we finish this, this conversation is going to be small, right? So, you know, you can't say, Oh, can a good day, you know, you can generate 150 on transactional for this movie on a bad day. It's gonna be 15, right? It's around rage, but then it's like, well, you've read books is gonna fake it or not? Depends on how many copies they're gonna take, you know, it's gonna be another 50 to 100 or zero, right? Who's gonna take it's gonna be another 150 or 300, or zero, right? So you can make that. But when you look at a range, you end up with like, a range between 15,000 and a lot of zeros, right? to making a million dollars, right? And I find people kind of like, just do them middle ground and say like, Oh, so we're probably going to generate half a million usually doesn't work like that. When when biggest spider, you know, you mentioned behind me when it go to you know, it went to South by Southwest and you know, it got a lot of buzz and you know, we sold first drawn to sci fi channel and then we sold Netflix and then occasionally you sell to everybody when they want it. And zero when they don't, you know, it's not it's rare that you you break out so much on one side and the other side, they just man and you kind of average in the middle. Right? It's it's you hit a homerun, you hit a homerun or you strike out. Exactly. So your expected return is not half a million, you know?
Alex Ferrari 1:04:16
Yeah, it's Yeah. Yeah, it's no it's I think the analogy is you to strike out or you hit a homerun because there is no, with Netflix is like, Oh, I hit a double now they're either gonna give you the homerun or they're not gonna let you even get up to bat
Shaked Berenson 1:04:31
And when you speak with you know, companies like Apple or Amazon, you know, they want to acquire all rights worldwide, you know, they don't want you know, they're not just buying UK and testing the water, right? They either go all in, they need to translate it to 25 different languages and they need to put dubbing for another 70 languages or whatnot, you know, so there is people this is another thing that kind of connected what you asked me about like why everybody hated the Scimitar people don't realize As the cost of the distribution, right? People don't realize it's like, oh, well, you know, Netflix is just just a file, you know, it's like Netflix in order to serve the world, they need to have redundancy of servers, right? So if you and I watched a movie from a son jealous, you know, it comes from a server farm that is, you know, nearby, probably somewhere, you know, a little bit north to here. If you're watching into New York, it's from somewhere else, right? Because you're not showing a movie for friends from the LA. So there is a lot of storage costs and a lot of infrastructure. Like, it's not like printing DVDs. It's not like, you know, making film rates, but there are costs, there aren't there is a cost for distribution. And if you ask me, like, hey, just put my movie out. And you know, if I need to have your file serving, Vimeo, whatever it is, for the next 10 years, just to generate 50 bucks a month, you know, it might not be worth it, especially if you tried to push me to just take 10 10% distribution fee, right? I mean, just think about it, you know, if if your movies seven years old, or whatever, or new but it just very niche, and and you're gonna make 50 bucks a month, and you want me just to make $5 off of it. It just doesn't work, the fees that you pay to feed me your, for your pork count for the terabytes that you need to hold those movies. Right, right. Now, it was your cherry picking.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:21
So would you agree that I've been saying this for a while now is that there is an A d value realization of bedia in our business. So the like the value that was associated to a film, like we were talking about DVD, there used to be a cost involved, there used to be, you know, that value was $20, to get a blu ray or $25 to get a blu ray or, or $10 for a DVD. And before that, and after that there was te va that actually was TiVo because it was kind of a cold over generation from DVD. So we were still used to renting things. Streaming wasn't completely 100% just there yet, as far as as far as I'm concerned. But it's slowly being whittled down to now Amazon's paying you a penny per hour streamed. This is exactly what happened in the music industry, where a song used to be $20, because you had to buy an album to get the song you wanted. Or you would wait at the radio to bootleg it off radio when they played it. With the DJ, you were hoping that DJ never spoke well in the middle of the song. But but there's just like holding your finger on the on the tape recorder. And you go and I know a lot of people are like, What is he talking about with this tape recorder? And what is the radio. But But there is a devaluation with the film with the marketplace of media. So when a filmmaker shows up with a $300,000 horror movie, let's say or, or a rom com that has nobody in it. And they expect to put it out into that marketplace, the value is not there unless you have a Netflix deal or red box deal for you know, selling different foreign territories that can just like can kind of take off, you know, start you know, cutting into the budget a little bit start buying us up back. But there's a devaluation Do You Do you agree? In general,
Shaked Berenson 1:08:14
I'm not on an agreed it was actually a lecture I gave a few times about the devaluation of content or just do a little correction to what you said, the media is actually very valuable. And it's enough to look at the value of Netflix the value of Oh, and it's like, the companies, it's the content, the media, the distribution has a lot of value. It's the content that basically I think we live in a world where the content is is as valuable as possible. And it's to remember that when you come out as a filmmaker, or as a content creator, let's just jump because you created content right now. Right? Right. You basically fighting for attention, right? the attention of the people, and if a video of a cat or somebody dancing on Tiktok, right, and detain 1000s of millions of people for millions of hours, you know, it doesn't matter that you worked on your podcast for so hard or correct. Somebody worked on your movie for five years and spend $2 million. It's it's entertainment. Right? So your entertainment is equal to playing fortnight, it's equal to right, going to a concert equal to other things, and you need to think about the value and the utilities that you get from it. And in the lecture that they give about the value of content always start with a picture from 1300 you know, we'll have a have a bank with it. Oh, and and this is like what is this? Anybody knows what is this? This is like the original, you know, iPod. And just just to you know, I'll try to condense you know, an hour into a few minutes. But if you think about how we used to have entertainment, right if you had to if you want to have entertainment in the old days you have to have a castle and you To have a lot of fancy friends, and you need to have a big enough castle to have like a piano room, right and invited, you know, Mozart or local artists to go there and you had dinner and you retire to that room, and they had to play live, because that's all that there was there. Right? In. What's interesting about it, is that every town had to have artists, you had to have musicians in every town playing in bars playing in people's houses, you had to have theater houses, like people forget, it's like, all those theater houses, you have to have actors in everywhere doing this, right? Not just New York, right? Oh, we're going to Broadway, where every small town had to have entertainment, because there's nothing else to do. Right? If you want to determine that's what you have to do. And then to cut, you know, cut to the chase, radio came out one person can you know, or before that the records, you know, record players came out and then the radio than the TV, then you know, mass media did like what you mentioned that the iTunes gonna broke the bill, you know, buy a whole record, and you can just download the song. And now songs worth 99 cents will actually less because
Alex Ferrari 1:11:08
seven years and 77 it was 70 cents.
Shaked Berenson 1:11:11
And not to be do your own the details. And we live in a world that Jennifer Aniston can make $14 million, right? And something she made in the 90s. Right, right. And we live in a world that we all can be entertained by Lady Gaga from a song she recorded 10 years ago, right? And we don't need to have a singer in every town, in every place in the world. Because you don't need to, we can access the best. Right? So it's a winner take all business just for the sake of that, you know, transition from, you know, everybody needs, you know, to create content. By the way I know, it's like, it's kind of funny to think about but used to be that children learn an instrument. Everybody played an instrument, because otherwise there is nothing to do, you know, like, you would have dinner. And you know, the daughter would go and play the piano or the violin or Yeah, how many people you know, and we live in one of the most creative places in the world, if not the most creative? How many people you know, that play the violin? How many violin players
Alex Ferrari 1:12:14
violinist? I don't I I know the court agonist accordionist. I know and a piano I know, piano players.
Shaked Berenson 1:12:22
I you know, they're your here's your homework, Google because, you know, I studied economics and business, right? Google and trying to find out what was the sales of pianos in violins from the days of the colonies to now? Oh, I'm
Alex Ferrari 1:12:37
sure it's okay. Of course, those things used to be households, right? Everything I remember, there was always even you going back to the 50s, you would still in every house, it would be that one piano in the corner. And that's what the it was still a holdover from that even in the time of radio and television, and it's slowly down now is like, if you have a piano in the house, like you, you really must be serious about the piano.
Shaked Berenson 1:13:03
Right. And now it's so funny. So you go from such a commune expensive experience, to everybody in the house, hide in their own bedroom with their own iPhone or iPad or some and watch their own content and have their own entertainment. You know, we can sit here in the living room. And you know, I'll be on my phone, my wife has another phone, her younger sister because she's she's a student, she's younger, she's on tik tok, like doing things that I you know, I don't
Alex Ferrari 1:13:34
And it's all tailored, and it's all tailored to you by the algorithm.
Shaked Berenson 1:13:38
Exactly. So content has very, very little value, like you said, and and you need to kind of understand it and and know that, that you're preaching to create more value added around it, right, and creating brands.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:55
And approaching and approaching a niche audience. So like the T shirt that you're wearing, right now you're wearing a turbo kid t shirt. And we spoke about turbo kit, right? Yeah. And we spoke about turbo kit in our other episode, which I'll put in the show notes. But that's a perfect example. You guys created a world around it. But it was a very specific story that appeal to a niche audience. It's a fairly large niche audience, people who like the 80s and you know, that kind of like Kung Fury, it hit around the same time as Kung Fury did, and it really struck a nerve in the in the world. And then you started building out other product lines, t shirts, hats and other products around it. You kind of build a world around turbo kid. And it's hard. Don't get me What you did is extremely hard. It's not easy to do. And you really need to know what you're doing. That's why I lay out how you could do things like that even on a very small level with with the film entrepreneur method that I that I came up with. It's doable, but it's it's work. And that's another thing, a lot of filmmakers when they get to the distribution phase, they're just like I'm exhausted. I don't want I don't want to do this anymore.
Shaked Berenson 1:15:04
Yeah, they, a lot of people don't want to do it anymore. And, and it's combination of a lot of hard work, but also a lot of luck, you know, you need the right time in the right place. Yeah. You know, in this case, turbo kid started in Sundance, and from there, you know, kind of blew up. So, you know, you can say, Well, you know, you guys professionals, you've been doing this for a long time you put the right team, which is all true and great. But you also have, you know, that magic ingredient of being in the right time in the right place, and, you know, very lucky to, to being able to have some breaks out, break out titles like that. And it's also very important for filmmakers to let go a little bit and bring because it's such hard work, bring partners and, and not be so tight Russia's role and refreshes with their money, because it is valuable to like, Hey, this is a good PR company. You know, maybe instead of paying them 20 grand, which we don't have, we can give them 10% of the revenue, you know, it's worth it. By the way, I always love giving people revenue share, because then they have an incentive to do better work. Right? So Oh, yeah. Um, so try to build a team and try to like find people that know better than you and let them do their work and compensate them for that, you know, let them make money from your product, right? Because then they're happy to win when you're want to work again tomorrow and the next one and I feel that that's not another place that a lot of filmmakers you know, they made two shorts and one feature and because of it, they're so sure that they know better than you and better than anybody else, how the trailer is supposed to be how the posts are supposed to be. Which you know where the movie supposed to be. Which festival is the best like alright, I just been doing it for like 200 times but great like yeah, then they force the hands of everybody around them and then when the movies unsuccessful they blame everybody else you know and so often that you see that it's like insistent of using their own trader on poster not to believe the numbers not to do test screenings now to do tests. I really like to test for the marketing just to see which marketing works the best not to agree to anything and even if you do it you know have all the excuses why you know the numbers are wrong and then when the movies unsuccessful because you cave because you don't want to argue anymore because distributors can get tired to write the point of view and say like you know we unsuccessful because of you and it's like well maybe one successful because you insist of using your friend to edit it and doing this and doing that and doing this and you know having our you know if your distributor with both hands tied behind your back it's really hard to generate money and it's a shame because you just get bad reputation because now you have filmmakers rocking around and you know talking shit about how bad work you've done you know and you kind of stuck in a rock and a hard place
Alex Ferrari 1:18:07
It look in and that's why I was anytime I tell filmmakers to actually always do your homework and go in it before you sign with the distributor talk to filmmakers who have worked with them before talk to that one and don't talk to the ones that that distributed give you look them up on IMDB pro call them up and go What was your experience and and why did that happen? And if you're you know if you're a smart filmmaker you could look at the movie that like oh they didn't know what they were doing and this and that and then you look at the movie and go This was horrible. I mean they did you know it's it's it's a catch 22 I absolutely agree the distributor is always going to get shit on without without question it like you said at the beginning of the swift like no one ever said oh my movie was crap thank god the distributor saved it it's the other way well my film is genius and the distributor screwed it That being said, it only applies to a small percentage of honest distributors because most of them are not going to screw you
Shaked Berenson 1:19:03
I want to point out because this is you don't hear that a lot but I'm gonna repeat what you just said because the second half of what you said is extremely important. Talk with the filmmakers and not just the director director producers activities and the second half is watch their film because after watching it you might feel like huh they actually got pretty good press compared to what I'm seeing you know what I mean? I always when I buy product on Amazon anything Oh is like sort to the bad reviews and then I read wider bad you know and then a lot of time like you're trying to buy a whatever a coffee machine and you read and bad reviews about like the customer service and like I'm not gonna call customer service when my confirmation right so it's like, it's like, when people don't talk shit about the submitter to dig down to really what was the core of the problem? Sometimes you find out like, Yeah, but it doesn't really apply to me. You know what I mean? Right? I'm not that smart. And we like to have the filmmakers involved, but the filmmakers and to make it a part of the team and not force your hand into doing things. Which is a shame.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:10
Now, what are you seeing right now in cope with COVID? Man? How is COVID affecting the distribution? You know, playing field from your point of view?
Shaked Berenson 1:20:18
COVID is very interesting because it, it moved so many different levers, right. So, okay, let's, let's talk very surface and we can get dig deep dig
Alex Ferrari 1:20:33
deeper into it.
Shaked Berenson 1:20:35
You may think it's tea, but I'm actually drinking whiskey here. So the obvious one is, okay, there's no physical production, right? There's no physical production, which means that nine to 18 months, in the future, there gonna be no movies. And obviously, there is no it and all distributors have budget and programs. So everybody needs to have content, so they need to buy it right now. Which means that content value is going to go out. Right? Okay. So that's one I don't want is everybody's home. They're not spending money going to a concert or spending money going to theater. They're not spending money, you know, they're just stuck at home. So everybody's signing up for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, eBay, upgrading internet, maybe buying bigger TVs, adding a TV in the bedroom? Yep. Getting more base with that, which should be more money for filmmakers, maybe, you know, maybe it's more money for Netflix. But who knows if that trickle down. Ideally, it's supposed to write because Netflix need to serve those clients and have more content. Beside that, an interesting thing that happened with with COVID is that a lot of companies accelerated coming out with content because people are now at home. Right? So maybe instead of spreading our content, Let's release it now. So suddenly, with a surge of things coming out on digital, and let's not forget COVID may not work, right. So, you know, people sitting at home. So let's put our movies out on VOD, because everybody wants to spend some time watching movies. Yeah, but maybe they're not going to spend 599 right now, because there was enough movies on this class and enough enough movies and Hulu and Netflix that they haven't explored it. So and they're just like I'm throwing stuff. Right? So it's economic levers that that move. So how does it look for us as an indie? indie filmmakers, right, because if your studio your Netflix is definitely different things. Because we always in the bottom, when there is no money, it's the first thing that's gonna affect us. Because, yes, maybe people would pay $10 or $20 to see a movie that was supposed to be theatrical. And now we came out on VOD, because universal, you know, made it go out. But still like to pay 799 for that movie that was made, like for 300. But looks like a million. That doesn't mean that money, right. But before they would spend it on the Star Wars, you know, maybe catching up with some studio movies that they haven't seen, right. But then for the other indie stuff. You know, there was enough stuff on Vimeo, youtube for free. There's enough stuff on Netflix that they haven't exported enough stuff. You know, Disney plus came out with the whole Fox library of blah, blah, blah. It is a lot of stuff that
Alex Ferrari 1:23:23
Oh, there's so much I'm catching up on TV shows that I've been waiting, like, I'm just clicking through seasons of it right now. Like, it's it's so much content, there's so much stuff to go the customer stuff.
Shaked Berenson 1:23:33
Yeah. So what we seen was in movies that we releasing that sound and perform extremely well, because they have, and this is not really changing anything in COVID. Like the movies that have audience appeal, doing extremely well. In in today's market, the movies that don't still don't perform, right, and so to anytime, right. Another thing that happened is the rise of the Avon. I think that the pandemic accelerated a lot of processes, so Avon, everybody knew that that's going to be the next thing. But because of COVID and people saving money, they're seeking How To watch more content for free. There you go. You're Pluto, you're Toby of all those Voodoo Voodoo of the abled a good side of it. So a lot of DOD started to actually create money for indies like us. Again, like you said, like with Amazon, they're paying about a cent per per hour watch. It's very, very little money, right? So people talk about like, Well, you know, Toby and Pluto and start making us you know, able to start making us a little money. But when he asked him like how much we're like, do I have titles that make you know, 1000 bucks a month? You know, it's like, well, 1000 bucks a month minus 30% distribution fee. You know? It's when you talk about a movie that costs 300 grand or to make it So nothing, right, but it's better, it's better than the nothing that that was before. So it really depends on where you add the distribution level. Because a lot of our movies are new, you know, we're not yet in the abl space. I'm not gonna put my movies on a board yet. I'm going to wait for them to to finish the transaction on the in the subscription, VOD cycle, before getting to that, but I heard a lot of movies getting getting there. But it also create, you know, there is an equilibrium. And because everybody knows that Toby and Pluto and the Avon space are starting to be profitable. They have a surge of producers and distributors giving them titles, which means that now less eyeballs on each one, which will reduce the price. There is a reason why, when amazon prime started, it was 17 cents per hour. And now it's one You know why? Because it was a gold mine and biggest fight, he was making 10 to five to 10 grand a month on amazon prime. And you know, a lot of us saw it, and started putting more and more content on Amazon. And Amazon, you know, they charge 100. So they know exactly 100 a year, right for prime. That's like 100 something. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, they know exactly what piece they want to be spending on on on the prime video, right? So if, at the beginning when biggest part of just got on to it, and it was relatively new, maybe there were, let's say, 100 million subscribers, and they viewed five hours of movies a month, right? So divide the money by to five hours. It's a lot of money, these to get bonuses, and Oh, yeah. But now they have 180 million subscribers, that each one watch 10 hours a day, during COVID of movies and TV shows, do the numbers, it comes out to be less than a cent the person, you know, it's not that Amazon trying to be a bad guy, you know, there's just a business. Right? Right.
Alex Ferrari 1:27:01
And he's just not there and the adaption. And anytime you're adopting a new platform, they're going to give you a lot of front to get those users to get that content. But once that's filled up, I mean, Amazon did it, Facebook did it. To me, they all do it. And then
Shaked Berenson 1:27:16
yeah, it's bought, you know, bought from us, you know, 20 movies time, 50 100 grand, you know, that, you know, we could have done those deals, now you can do it. Now they watch every movie, they they cherry pick, you know, they choose the movies that they want, and maybe they pay more for the movies that they want. But when they buy one out of 30 movies, instead of half your library, you're in a very different market.
Alex Ferrari 1:27:39
But do you think I mean, so COVID obviously, I this is what I've, I feel that COVID is, except, like you said, accelerating? what was going to happen in our industry anyway. But I feel that the model, the distribution model that's in place, I feel that Rome is burning, and I feel a lot of these companies are going to go under and we still have not even touched the bottom of the economic effect of what's going on. We haven't even touched it yet. So when that happens, we're going to start seeing companies drop like flies, and a lot of filmmakers are going to lose like you know, unless those deals are in place they're gonna lose access to the films it's gonna be a nightmare for film and I don't want to be like oh The sky is falling The sky is falling. I'm trying to I always say I prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Yeah, and I feel that that's what's going to happen with our with our industry I think next year will be very telling a lot of companies that we're seeing when I hear it I don't know if you hearing it I'm already hearing some people like oh, they're they're you know three months behind dude pay payments Oh, they're six months behind payment to the producers. Oh, is it and these are big companies these are not small companies. So when I start hearing that I'm like oh so if those bigger companies are having issues what what chance does the small predatory and make they're just they're gonna probably go wander and take as much you know, as they can as they go wonder what he would like what you feeling? Let's try to be positive for like I said, I don't want to be the Alec Alex Jesus Christ. I like I like the back and forth because you know, we you are you are the positive one. All of a sudden, generally you're the negative. Yeah, generally, you're not generally you're the doom and gloom. I am trying to help you, sir.
Shaked Berenson 1:29:19
Good thing about the independent. Yeah, he's that we're small. Yes, efficient. limbal. We're quick, right? We agile. So when AMC or whatever big, theatrical, you know, chains and they need to adopt and it takes them a long time and and they have a big machine to feed them in a lot more trouble than if you're a small distributor that can easily say, Hey, you know, we'll just take our 50 films, take them off Amazon, put them on Pluto, boom, you know, make more money. You know, it's like, you can do that. In terms of production. Studios and networks. Yes, they have the money to spend But when you making movies with big stars that afraid of COVID, and if something happens to them, they're going to owe a billion dollar and blah, blah, blah. It's very complicated for them to shoot movies. If you indie filmmaker that anyway should it movie with their few friends and you know, just a camera and a six people crew, you will look more agile to write a script change, you know, change a few things make it that it's all happening in one house Anyway, you shoot for 10 days or 12 days, you know, it's not like you're shooting for months, like studios networks. So you can create content, there's going to be needed, right.
Alex Ferrari 1:30:38
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Shaked Berenson 1:30:48
And, and I do think that, networks and streamers, and you know, studios less, because I mean, you can't make a blockbuster from you know, a small movie, usually that is made with your friends, but some of the other ones, they are going to look for interesting, compelling storytelling, that we can go out and do it. Today is Thursday, tomorrow, I'm going on a location scout, with a producer friend. And, you know, the idea is, you know, he has an idea to shoot a film, that's going to be an action movie, and it's just going to be five people. And he came up with a clever way to to do it with all the COVID restrictions. And to get it done. So you know, if he does that, by February, if we should, in in the next few months, by February, April, we can have movies, you know, ready to release? And, you know, maybe we can actually get good numbers from Netflix, or Hulu or Apple or wherever it is, because they're gonna have less content. Right. So I think what's interesting is from talking with, with my friends, the streamers, they actually not looking for content right now. Because when COVID started, they, they have enough liquidity. And they smart enough to basically load up with titles. So a lot of the schedules are actually already going to meet of 2021. Oh, no, I know that all of my friends, I call it the best time selling movie, it's like how come Netflix pass on it? Well, they pass on it, because they actually spent March and April and May buying so much. So they're kind of happy with the schedule
Alex Ferrari 1:32:25
A deal. From what I understand a deal deal prices, like, you know, Paramount are one of these big studios that they don't have any other revenue. So they're just emptying out their libraries at 25 cents to the dollar is what I heard. So that's why all of a sudden, on Netflix, I started seeing huge movies from the olden days, like this just popped up on my like, where do these all come from? And
Shaked Berenson 1:32:44
we're back to the future coming up to Netflix next month. Yeah, you know? Yeah, it's, it's, you know, again, all of these good for consumer, you know, oh, yeah, not the best for filmmaker. Democrats have the least amount of leverage, almost anything that will happen, somehow we will pay the cost, it just is a thumb rule, because because we are at the bottom of the of the food chain. But there are good things that we can do. And if you're smart enough, you're smarter to write something you can make. You can make it you know, on the cheap, safely with COVID, and all that kind of stuff. We had a production that was supposed to happen in Latin America, with a fairly, you know, big star, impossible to get it bonded and to get it insured at the moment. So those type of movies cannot happen. Right? But if you truly indie, you can make stuff happen. Because anyway, it's you know, just you and your wife or whatever it's not, you know, it's like, it's a bunch of friends you can get Yeah, yeah, I want to get into union and sag, you need to quarantine you need to, you know, build those rings, you know, and all that kind of stuff that, again, we talked about. I mean, it's already been almost two hours. But you know, it's like, we can talk about those things that it's another opportunity on the COVID Productions. But one thing that I get a lot from people that I kind of want to make it clear. I keep hearing this people developing projects thinking when the cure and the vaccine comes out. there going to be all these productions and people are going to need scripts. Right. Yeah. Think about what's happening. You have production house, those scripts are already greenlit. Right? Yeah. And everybody we sell laptop, writing scripts right now.
Alex Ferrari 1:34:31
And then these people and some of these people with the laptops, you're talking about, have Oscars, have, have track records have connections.
Shaked Berenson 1:34:39
So So if you think that let's say by April they're going to be a vaccine and our old production is going to go out. There's not going to be more pa DPS cameras. I mean, you can we already were making so much content to increase the capacity of what Hollywood is independent and formed. reductions we're doing do is not a lot that we can go up to, you know, we can increase it by 5% 10%. You know, there is a maximum amount of like DPS and camera scripts, there is a lot, right? So the value of scripts is not going to go higher, because maybe they're going to be a 10% increase, you know, hopefully in production, right. But with that said, is, you know, don't everybody that you remotely know, on your Facebook or anything, or writing scripts right now, everybody? What kind of surge of scripts? Like why why you know, how we're going to look like, in a role that scripts already have almost no value, because there is so much supply of them, compared to demand. And now it's going to be so much more supplies, because everybody's at home writing scripts.
Alex Ferrari 1:35:53
Right. And then the agencies are going to be inundated. And I think projects are going to be the ones who have the connections, who have package deals ready to go with talent with a director with everything attached. Usual. Yeah, like you. Yeah. So if you think you're going to just write a script and send it over to CIA, and they're gonna go, Oh, my God, thank God, you sent this over, because we were hurting for scripts? Can we just give you a million dollars cash now is that will that work for you like that, that's a delusion,and, and
Shaked Berenson 1:36:21
So many text messages, I think it's great time for these, it's great time to develop these great time to develop these, like, I'm not developing anything, yet, I'm helping my you know, I'm lucky enough to have connections that we have deals in the pipeline. So making this family, this family movie for a broadcaster, so obviously, I'm developing it was supposed to shoot in September, you know, we'll just have to wait until February or March or whenever it is to shoot it, you know, so I'm not slowing down on that one, or actually, I'm slowing down, but I know that it's going to go somewhere it is going to make a hole in our production. So oil production means holding your income, you know, that you need to be paid, you know, you need to eat
Alex Ferrari 1:37:06
But banks are very understanding they are very understanding and
Shaked Berenson 1:37:11
very much you should be so so yes, it's a problem for us. But you know, could fool you know, unit good place that, you know, you do have a place that I can get the movie finance. And then I'm helping other people to do this, like COVID type projects, which is interesting. But they're done in a very low budget, and they're done as, hey, we're gonna go out, we're gonna do it. Everybody's a partner, you know, we're going to spend 50 grand on whatever we need, you know, but nobody's expecting again, it's not a passion project that somebody worked for 10 years and they're gonna expect to win an Oscar, you know, it is what it is. It's, it's basically keeping these in keeping the people busy at the moment. There is a surge in animation, because everybody thought about the genius idea that you can do an emotion from home, you know, and they're the only one who thought about it. There was a surging podcasts, right?
Alex Ferrari 1:38:05
Oh, my God, please don't get Don't get me started with the power surge and podcasts. Every now all of a sudden I turn Oh, there's a new filmmaking podcast. Oh, there's nothing to filmmaking calm. And everybody had the idea. Everybody's coming in. Under? Yeah. All I need is a mic and a computer. And I could I could call some friends. And we could talk about film. Let's do this. And I'm looking at I'm all about, you know, I have a podcast network, and I'm bringing in new podcasts. But like, I started listening to some of these things. I'm like, Oh, my God, like everybody. And I'm few of them already started it off. Like they started in February. And now they're like, you know, you see it in June, June or July. They're just like, yeah, we're done. Is this? Yeah, well, you know, a lot of hard work.
Shaked Berenson 1:38:45
It's a lot of work. It's not, it's a lot of work. And it's not that easy. Now, it's easy to record, it's easy to just jump on Skype and just talk like this. It's easy to point an iPhone or get the red cam for cheap and pointed something, to have something that appealing and create value for an audience and also know how to find that audience and market very, very hard.
Alex Ferrari 1:39:07
And that's that, and that's the thing that if we could use podcasts as an example, they don't understand is that I've been doing this now for five years. I'm not the oldest podcaster by any stretch, but there's podcasters out there who've been in our space in the filmmaking and screenwriting space. I've been doing this for 10 years. But the thing is that we have an audience that we've built, I have an infrastructure, that's why I have five podcasts now because why not? But I have an infrastructure that I can kind of run things through. And that's what these what that it's a perfect analogy for what you were saying at the very beginning, was you have an infrastructure now to sell movies, I have an infrastructure to release podcast, and then do everything that I do with indie film also, because I've built that over the years, and I have a value there that I present to an audience. You have a value because you can make a call to that buyer in France, and go I've got indie film hustle the movie, and it stars Chicago and Alex and as a as a crime as a crime fighting duo that fights against evil distributors. And we're and I need, how much can we get and he'll go automate what both of you are in it 80,000, just for France. So obviously, but you have that I can't make that phone call, because I don't have that relationship, I can't provide that value, but you do. So it's just about and I want filmmakers listening to understand that, that it's, like you said, making content is easy. Opening up Skype calling you recording this is easy. The hard part is packaging it, you know, marketing it, putting it out there as a valuable thing to an audience. And that's where filmmakers need to understand women. That's why my whole film intrapreneur model is find a niche audience create value for that niche audience market to that niche audience, because you can, you can actually focus your energies on a niche audience as opposed to a broad, or I'm gonna do 18 to 45 males who like turbo kit, I'm like, that's a pretty large audience. You know, what I mean?
Shaked Berenson 1:41:05
And, and also just getting into it is, it's really about understanding the value. Because if I want to have a new podcast for myself, yeah, I'd much rather call you and say, hey, I want to make a podcast, can I give you whatever it is? 20% 50%? You know, can I join your network, and you help with the marketing, instead of thinking, Oh, this is easy, I'm just going to build a website. And myself, because probably, I can start from such a higher point. You know, even if I need to give you 50% not to like do marketing for your network. But even if I give you 50%, like I said before, it's like, if I can have at least 50% more revenue, right? Plus $1, or
Alex Ferrari 1:41:51
You get your Wow, you're gonna get a few more listeners being in an established filmmaking network. Exactly, as opposed to just launching by yourself and then trying to go after that same audience.
Shaked Berenson 1:42:02
Yeah, you leverage being you leverage, you think, Hey, I can put my movie myself on iTunes, or can or on Vimeo and YouTube, and it can put the movie myself on Amazon v. Amazon direct, you know, if you don't think that having a distributor, you know, and, and yes, paid him a 35% fee, if you don't think that they can, with their relationship in press, festivals, you know, experience with marketing, a mailing list of 100,000, or fans or whatever it is, if you don't think that will make you more 35% more than what can you do yourself? not consuming also doing a lot less work yourself? You know, you probably wrong, you know, you probably worth every percent of it.
Alex Ferrari 1:42:49
But the thing is also that is, again, case by case, it all depends on the movie, it all depends on the distributor. So there's so many x factors. With that statement that filmmakers need to it's there is no way the only business that there is no one path, there is no like, I make a bottle of olive oil. I go to the supermarket and I sell it at the supermarket, I go to a farmers market and I sell it at a farmers market, there's a handful of distribution outlets for that product. And there's a guaranteed price point that you're gonna get for that, relatively speaking within. If I spent if I spent $2 to make a quality bottle of olive oil. What type of olive oil Am I making? Is it? Is it gourmet that it's $25 a bottle? Which is what I used to sell my bottles for? Or is it more just a bucks just to get it out the door? But there's a range there in movies, there is it there's just well
Shaked Berenson 1:43:40
there is there is no intrinsic value, right? I mean, if you sell a car, then they you can even if it doesn't run, you can take it apart and departs.
Alex Ferrari 1:43:47
There's there's something there.
Shaked Berenson 1:43:50
But it's the only industry that you can build a car with no wheels and no doors in no windshield. And then walk around and say I'm supposed to be winning formula one with this car. How come I'm not winning? You know, how come this car is not selling? Because that's what we do. Right? When you know, you need to go to school. You know, you can't just watch other houses and say
Alex Ferrari 1:44:11
no watch HGTV houses HGTV that's all you need to do is watch HGTV flip houses
Shaked Berenson 1:44:15
the house is no door and there is no windows and if you didn't actually design it for the land that you have, and you need to like a foundation surveyed the land and figure out what it
Alex Ferrari 1:44:27
is a lot of work. A lot of work in a cell it's a lot of work. I don't want
Shaked Berenson 1:44:30
that anybody can shoot a movie with no audience in mind. No, you know, thought about it. No, you know, just no structure, no pacing, no anything, you know, but and just say that all the distributors don't know. I know the festivals don't know what they're doing because they accept your movie. So
Alex Ferrari 1:44:45
but at the end of the day, the difference is that this is art. Yeah, for lack of a better term it this is it's art. If you're selling art, that's why a guy who takes an old banana onto a wall sells it for a million dollars as an artpiece Okay, that's different. Okay, we can talk about that. publicity more than the No, no, but I i understand. Right, but but the point is that it's still art. Someone added, like anytime you buy art, art has no value to it. It's Canvas paint. Let's say it's canvas and paint, basically. Right? And a frame. And what
Shaked Berenson 1:45:22
No it's a canvas and paint. Yes. And the 40 hours it takes to make an old paint.
Alex Ferrari 1:45:28
Shaked Berenson 1:45:28
And the 40 years it took the art correct. Practice. Owned?
Alex Ferrari 1:45:33
Absolutely, they're absolutely 110% you're absolutely correct. Now, the value that I put on that 40 years of talent is relative. I can look at that painting and go oh, my God, look at the strokes look at the way he did this. Look at the craftsmanship. Someone else will look at and go That's horrible. I don't like red. You know, and, and they will we so that's all about what a person that you're looking at, it thinks it's worth, you know, what did they just sell that? The most expensive? The Vinci they found that the Vinci painting, and they sold it for what $450 million? Or something like that? It was a record breaking change? Yeah. Right. But But when you buy something like that, there's literally probably 20 people in the world. 30 people in the world who could buy that? Yeah, that would would buy that.
Shaked Berenson 1:46:18
So but what's interesting is that, that that because so will increase in value, your your movie will not increase in value. Right? You know, movies. Unfortunately, if you build a house, if you take 5 million and use it to build a house, 5 million and you make it to make a movie, the house that you built for 5 million million will make your rent for eternity, right? Yes, you need to maintain it, you need to fix the roof. You You know decades. But if you don't sell it, you can make rent for your grandkids, your grand grandkids and your grand grand grandkids. When you take five minute make a movie, you can maybe have a big hit for the weekend of opening weekend and stuff. But you know, the value is going to go down. And if it's really good, it's going to have a long tail and maybe you know, like friends or like Seinfeld will make few million a year. But it's still in that scene. Yeah, you know, a decreasing long tail, as opposed to increasing and appreciating and making it consistent and even increasing rent for the rest of your life.
Alex Ferrari 1:47:22
Yeah, like if you look at, like, if you look at mariachi and mariachi, when it came out it had some value to it. And it definitely had a tremendous amount of value for his career. You know what, but how much does El Mariachi bring in a year for for Sony now? Like, honestly, what is paranormal activity? One bringing in you know, yearly, I'm sure it's still making good my swag. This is why I need to keep making sequels to keep keep alive and Pat and packaging it to get like the sauce, like how much the salt one make it that would only one saw. And that eight of them. How you know you can pack it. So there's like how can you continue to make money with these things for long periods of time? But you're right, the most money you're gonna make is at the top. And even now that what to call it because of COVID you know, Jurassic Park Empire Strikes Back these were number one movies at the box office again, we're still talking about a few million, you know, they didn't pull in 100 million. Like, they're not the same. Yeah, their peak is their peak. So you're absolutely right,
Shaked Berenson 1:48:20
those and those and those are brilliant.
Alex Ferrari 1:48:23
Oh, they're just that's the Picasso's? That's Picasso's
Shaked Berenson 1:48:27
Both commercial and his art. Right? They're brilliant on on those two things, right? They might look at either evergreen, one of my favorite, you know, we just watching Terminator, right, the first the first Terminator, you know, they're just so wonderful. They they hold up there to just steal entertainment and still, you know, you know, some of my movies, you know, watch him three years later, and it's like, it feels like a 70s movie. You know, they just don't hold up as much. Don't become classics. Okay, speaking on the network. Should I plug in some of our movies that are out now so I can absolutely, you're fine. So what are we doing right now? We just released a series. That is right now. First for 30 days on Amazon Prime exclusive and then going out. In other view the athletes go to Syria. It's based on their theory Film Festival, which is short films made by female filmmakers. The first season just came out last weekend. And we coming out with the second season next month and we're going to go every month with a new season relative six seasons in work. Besides that, we just released my company we just released a documentary about the Tony Hawk video game pro skater.
Alex Ferrari 1:49:45
Oh, yeah. Yeah, so the trailer for that
Shaked Berenson 1:49:48
it looks great on the top 10 on iTunes right now. It stopped in an Amazon it stopped in in a lot of places. It's called pretending I'm a Superman, the Tony Hawk video game story. I know it's a very concise niche.
Alex Ferrari 1:50:00
It's also a very, that's also a very niche film,which is fascinating,
Shaked Berenson 1:50:05
Very niche, very niche film on one hand, but in the other hand, I asked my mother in law if she knows who Tony Hawk is, and she knew and Tony Hawk is very supportive is tweeting about it as Instagram about it. portion of the revenue goes to his charity, which, you know, gives him an incentives By the way, you know, business people
Alex Ferrari 1:50:26
Business, you know,
Shaked Berenson 1:50:27
He's charities getting a piece of it. It's very nostalgic. It's, it's about the Pro Skater game and how it started. I remember it. Yeah, the new Porsche Gator remaster is coming out by Activision. So we riding on their marketing, you know, they're spending $100 million in marketing. So we do that smart beside that we release our label the horror collective, which is genre films, just with a few wonderful movies, we have a sci fi body Oracle shifter, which is right now, out in beauty everywhere, we just recently released blood vessel which is still in the top 50 or even to any on iTunes in the US. And about to come out in the UK, as well. And a comedy is shown of the day type comedy called two heads, Craig, which is 90% of Rotten Tomato doing very well. Ultimate beauty now, so please check them out, check it out, iTunes, check it out, Amazon, check it out on DirecTV spectrum, wherever you get your films, check them out and do a favor not just for those films, for all independent films, go on the platform, you watch them and give the movie a review. You know, give me four star, give it five star, whatever you feel is is fair, in why to small review, because the best marketing is in platform marketing. And their world today is so customizable. So when you go on Amazon, the movies that are directed you are not the movies that are promoted to me. So if you put reviews on the movies, you like people that like the same things are going to see the same content, and you're going to help the filmmakers get there. So please, you know, if you have filmmaker friends, go and read your movies, if you saw in the movies that you like, or TV shows, please go and review them. Go on Amazon going Rotten Tomato or whatever, write a quick reviews and help other people that have similar tastes. Find the same film, you know, giving a star review and writing a ship review doesn't really help because Amazon or Netflix, they don't recommend you movies that are you know, it's a positive system, right? Sure. Sure. Sure. So support the movies you like and just don't do anything about the movies don't
Alex Ferrari 1:52:40
Appreciate that. Absolutely, yeah. And check in the hospital. And obviously, subscribe on Stitcher or whatever, all those things, you know. And also, if since we're doing this, please everyone who's seen on the corner of ego and desire my latest film, please go on Amazon and leave a review, I get five star review five star review if you don't like the movie, and Alex said, Please, if you don't like the movie, then just just don't don't don't say. And one last question, sir. Is there anything you want to say to the audience about working with a distributor how to deal with a distributor? a myth that needs to be busted? I think we've talked a lot about that in this episode. But is there any parting words you want to give to the tribe?
Shaked Berenson 1:53:27
Yes, um, obviously, you know, we can talk about that for four hours. And we will come back and I will talk about that. But the first thing is, when you look at a deal, or look less about the deal, and ask more questions, it's got to do with the strategy, and who's going to be working on it, right? If it's the owners, or just, you know, just dealing with somebody in the system that get paid to just get the paper sign, that's a deal origination this, once you already have the deal, stay engage with the distributor, and help the distributor because the more you help and you stay, engage, they will be engaged with you. So try to make content not just like, Oh, you know, where's my report? Where's my money? But, you know, also keep working and reposting things and contact and say hey, you know, I'm talking to this my cast? Can we make them available for interviews? Can we make them available to to postings Can Can you share with us information so we can customize it for for a cast to keep their audience and fans engage? help them help you because really, like I believe that a director and a producer, you know, have to work together. The filmmakers and the distributors have to work together as a team. If they're not working together as a team then the movie is going to suffer for sure.
Alex Ferrari 1:54:46
And where can people find juicer if they want to reach out if you want anybody to find
Shaked Berenson 1:54:52
Okay, I'm easy to find them Shaked Berenson on Twitter and Shaked Berenson EP on on on Facebook My name is my personal one but you know I have a Shaked Berenson EP for business one company is in attendance quality it's more b2b but our labels like the hora called Oracle active you know has Instagram and Facebook and Twitter I believe we have a tik tok even
Alex Ferrari 1:55:19
wow Are you a tik toker sir? Are you a tik toker sir?
Shaked Berenson 1:55:22
am nota tiktoker im here to sell film. I will do it then. Write comments right here. Tell tell Alex if we should do a dance together to cell phone because we'll do absolute filmmaking an indie distribution will do anything it tates
Alex Ferrari 1:55:42
Dance, monkey dance, monkey dance. That's. My friend. Thank you so much for being on the show again. And thank you so much for being so raw, truthful, honest, somewhat brutal. I think I was a little more brutal than you which is positive today is a rare statement generally You're the one slamming the hammer but I think your your as you get older your your your mellowing.
Shaked Berenson 1:56:05
I'm happier this day.
Alex Ferrari 1:56:08
I'm becoming more bitter. I don't know why I just more Oh,
Shaked Berenson 1:56:12
Alex Ferrari 1:56:12
I'm not I'm not I'm not
Shaked Berenson 1:56:13
You're building an empire. And, you know, I'm glad and happy. This is I think my third interview with you, like you said, a lot of the forecasts you do one interview and you know, they just disappear, right. So the fact that you can have the same guests coming and giving updates and build the community, not only for your audience, but also for your guests and your speakers. That's wonderful. So my friend, I take my virtual hats and my virtual conversation sir.
Alex Ferrari 1:56:38
Stay safe, my friend.
Shaked Berenson 1:56:39
You too Thank you so much.
Alex Ferrari 1:56:42
I want to thank Shaked for coming on the show and dropping those raw truth bombs on the tribe today. Thank you so much Shaked. And if you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/422. And guys, I hope you are enjoying these extra episodes that are coming out of the podcast tomorrow, there'll be another new episode to a week for the next, I don't know, five, six weeks, maybe a little longer. So I can get all of these amazing interviews out to you guys. I know that 2020 has been a brutal, brutal year for the world as well as for us independent filmmakers, and dealing with what's going on in our small corner of the world. But in 2021 I have a lot of cool stuff I've been working on in the lab to hopefully help you guys on your path and, and get you to where you need to be. So thank you so much for listening. I really hope that this podcast has helped you get through 2020 a little bit better, it is a little bit easier. And I appreciate you and honor the journey that you are on as a filmmaker. Thank you so much for listening, guys. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.
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- Shaked Berenson – IMDB
- Shaked Berenson – Twitter
- The Horror Collective
- Turbo Kid & How to Create an Indie Film Ecosystem
- Finding an Audience for Indie Films with Shaked Berenson
- Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
- Audible – Get a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
- Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)