IFH 314: How a 17-year-old Director Gets Signed by Amazon Studios with Jonathan Perry



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Today on the show we have 17-year-old scriptwriter and filmmaker Jonathan Perry who directed a large budget short film titled SUBNIVEAN which will debut on Amazon Prime June 12, 2019, making Perry the youngest director on any streaming service. I know, it’s crazy.

After filming SUBNIVEAN in December of 2018, Perry and his team of producers wrote a nine-page appeal which was submitted to Amazon. Amazon accepted Perry’s appeal and formed a partnership with Perry. Perry’s partnership with Amazon includes the release of SUBNIVEAN on the Amazon Prime streaming platform, as well as coverage of select advertising costs. Additionally, Perry partnered with EDM band ODESZA for promotional sound mixing.

Once offered a large sum of money for his script titled SUBNIVEAN, Perry decided SUBNIVEAN may be his golden ticket into directing his first large budget feature film. Perry, still hard at work on SUBNIVEAN, doesn’t plan on taking any breaks after the Amazon releaseRecently, Perry has signed with a Hollywood director and union members for his upcoming 2020 film with a starting budget of 1.5 million.

Director Jonathan Perry is from Sandusky, Ohio and began his early career in the film industry four years ago when he began writing scripts online for other filmmakers by selling the copyright to his work. Now, this is the part that blew me away, after writing nearly 40 scripts over the course of two years, Perry made a total of nearly $10,000. We go deep in how he did this and you will be surprised at his journey.

The film SUBNIVEAN introduces the viewer to two young brothers and their troubled relationship. Perry states in a film synopsis,

“After a vicious chase home from gathering firewood, an innocent boy unknowingly leads his brother to fall through an isolated pond. The boy has to accept and use his twisted hallucinations of hatred as his only hope to break the ice and save his brother in time or die trying.”

Many of the IFHTribe has been very interested in how and where Johnathan sold his short film scripts. Here’s what he had to say:

The website blog that I sold most of my work on was called The Script Blacklist Blog, it is since taken down. That could be the case by the IRS or just the blog environment that did feel illegal in my views. I was not aware that it was taken down until just now when I checked, but well expected.

There are a few more blogs that serve similar public scripts that can be found at https://blog.feedspot.com/screenwriting_blogs/ find one that has a public forum, create a paragraph pitch with a link to your script (My Celtx script is what I linked them to) and take feedback and offers.

Don’t expect to sell to just people on the blogs, build a connection with active members and maybe they will know someone interested, so it can take a couple of weeks to state your intentions and work on a busy blog. Do not stress if you don’t find a marketplace right away, but have scripts ready. Just get it written, before you get it right, so write, write, write!

Enjoy my inspirational conversation with Jonathan Perry.

Alex Ferrari 2:32
Guys, I have an amazing treat for you today. I've I've been around the business for a long time. And I've heard pretty much I thought almost every kind of story about how to get money for a movie, make a movie, get into the business. I mean, I thought I've heard it all. But man, today's guest is Writer Director Jonathan Perry. Now what makes Jonathan very unique is he's a 17 year old film director. Now there's many 17 year old film directors in the world. But what is unique to Jonathan is he is the youngest director ever to be signed to Amazon as a director, and he's actually the youngest director to be signed to any streaming service ever as a 17 year old director. His big budget filmmaking debut will be a film called subservient, which is a short film that is yet to be released. So based on the power of the raw footage and the script alone, he was signed to Amazon, it is a pretty remarkable feat to say the least. But But believe it or not, it is not the most interesting thing. In this conversation. Jonathan did something so crazy, so insanely unique, that I was literally floored, I literally had to stop the interview, because I was like, wait a minute, you did what? And it worked. Holy cow. So I'm not gonna tell you what it is. You're just gonna have to listen to the conversation. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Jonathan Perry. I'd like to welcome to the show Jonathan Perry. Brother, thank you so much for being on the show, man.

Jonathan Perry 4:16
Thank you for having me.

Alex Ferrari 4:18
It's, it's not often I get such a young filmmaker on the show. And you know, so I'm excited to talk to you about not only your success, your process and, and the future of of where you're going. So thanks so much, man. So what First of all, how did you get started? filmmaking like, because how old are you again?

Jonathan Perry 4:42
I am 17 right now.

Alex Ferrari 4:44
Okay, so first, I'm just going to get this out for everyone listening you we all hate you. So I understand that right away. Because no I'm joking. Because when I was 17, I don't even know about filmmaking yet but you were raised in a world where it's all around you so on. dying to know how you actually got started, how long ago you got started in the in just getting started on your journey?

Jonathan Perry 5:06
Yeah, so it was started about four years ago. And I was really just 13 trying to figure out what I wanted to do through high school, somehow thinking advance into life in general. But I knew that I knew I wanted to go into a creative field. So, um, after just filming videos with friends, really, I eventually stumbled upon like this subreddit of just teaching about short films and all that. And through that, I actually started writing my first short film scripts, and it kind of went downhill from there. And we really, I wrote close to probably at least 60, I would say, film scripts. And then I really got serious into that. And I knew that in the beginning, I wanted to actually shoot a movie. But of course, it would have to be a short film to start off with. And they wanted to get into the industry as fast as possible. But they actually discovered that I could sell my short film scripts online. And so I really started taking classes and educating myself. And I really wanted to get on set and actually feel around to see which, because I knew I wanted to go into film production. I just didn't know what department how I wanted to enter and then enter into the industry. And if I wanted to be a director, editor, script writer, I really wanted to what I really liked in the filmmaking process, so starting off as script writer and selling that I really got down to the last two years where I sold about 40 film scripts at that point. And through selling those film scripts. Online, I would copyright them. And I remember my first short film script that I sold, I had a copyright on it, and the guy's like, What do I have to pay to get that copyright off and for me to produce it so I was selling to people that were like me, when I started ride just didn't want to write a script, I just wanted to shoot a movie. I didn't know I was doing. So really, I there's a market there for people that actually just want to shoot a movie and don't. Maybe they just want to go through writer. And what they do is they take my name off that copyright, they put in their name, and they go and shoot their movie all around the world. So I mean, I've seen I think it was 13 Productions so far off my short films, anywhere from Australia to Ireland. I mean, it's kind of weird to see. I'll see a trailer I'll be in connected with the directors, but I can't be affiliated with the movie itself is so basic.

Alex Ferrari 7:49
Okay, so you're basically you have no copyright and I now only collaborate but you get no credit for the film.

Jonathan Perry 7:54
No, no.

Alex Ferrari 7:55
So you literally are ghostwriting?

Jonathan Perry 7:58
Yeah, yeah, really? What I mean, all the while it's, it's, I remember, it's all in education, purpose, really, when I think about it, because I remember, it was the first summer where I like, I knew I wanted to take classes online to educate myself before I really took a summer. And I spent it writing short film scripts and selling them. So I took masterclasses from like Aaron stork and online and all that. I'm just trying to educate myself on how to perfect the craft and actually get better at it. But I figured out that even through a, like $150 copyright, then you had to go through, I did $100 revisions where I send it someone, and then they would send it back, and I'd put it online and sell it, but you subtract that from the profit. And then basically, if they're really buying my idea, not the script, so that's what my copyrights on really the idea. So that's what's great about it. And I mean, it's my I come from a family of inventors, actually, my mom was the youngest inventor in the world are a woman in venture in the world. Back when she was younger, and she invented the glow sheet. So I mean, I come from a really creative and supportive family where my mom saw me doing this and she really supported that flow of ideas and all that going into all these film scripts. And so that's really where I had a giant portfolio of film scripts that I had sold. And I had some that I didn't sell because they were just not good enough but those there was one on the market that was offered because they go for bidding so it's not a set price.

Alex Ferrari 9:52
So stop for a minute, because this is absolutely I thought I've heard everything. I've been in this business 25 years I've thought I've heard Every single hustle I had in the film business, and you are shocking to me right now. So so I want to clarify this for a second. So you wrote 40 to 60, short film scripts, yourself educated yourself by watching online courses, because obviously you can't go to film school yet, because you're literally still in high school. And you literally got the day off of school today to do this interview. Correct?

Jonathan Perry 10:23

Alex Ferrari 10:24
Exactly. Okay. So then you start, you find a way to sell these scripts in an auction based set at seven, what auction? Where do you auction these off?

Jonathan Perry 10:35
So it's not like eBay. It's more of like a blog. But it's, I it's a, I didn't, I didn't go searching for that blog. It was like a blog inside of a blog. It was cheap, and not the dark web. But

Alex Ferrari 10:48
I was about to say you suddenly these other dark web, that's all. That's perfect. That's a perfect add to the story. This itself is a short film, or a feature film story just in its

Jonathan Perry 11:00
Yeah, yeah. So it was deep into like the filmmaking type of blogs. And so people would just comment with their rates. And eventually, they would range from around 600 to $800 per script. And eventually, I worked myself up to like, in a summary on like, close to 10 grand, and I put it into a PayPal account.

Alex Ferrari 11:26
That is I met I, first of all, I gotta respect the hustle, man. That is, I mean, I sold, you know, DVDs and I was doing garage sales when I was 13 years old. I wasn't writing screenplays, so I man respect the hustle.

Jonathan Perry 11:41
It definitely it was a it out of all the summers. I mean, of course, counting vacations on that. But I mean, just I literally spent the summer in my room, just writing the scripts, thinking it out playing, I would actually physically at some points play it out. And I remember I like almost, I think it Brasher part of my hand because it pushed the floor so hard. And actually, I mean, these scripts really, I had to make sure that I was I really isolated myself and got into these short film scripts. And I think that's what people bought them for. Because they saw that emotional connection connected to them, and how much work that went into it.

Alex Ferrari 12:20
You did deep work, basically, you were doing some deep work on these things you'd like locked yourself into a room basically, and cut yourself off from everything. So you can actually work as opposed to checking Facebook every five minutes or Instagram or anything like that you literally just focused on the work what a concept. Yeah. Now I have a question because, you know, as a writer, myself, and and also as working with so many writers and filmmakers over the years, there's something that always creeps in, which is something we like to call ego. And ego is constantly creeping into the filmmaking process. And you at such a young age, were willing to not only give one of your scripts away, but sell me a lot of them away. Without credit, which many people including myself, if you would have told me this when you were doing it, I personally wouldn't advise you against that. I'd be like, dude, at least keep your name on it. Like why don't you just be a writer for hire? Like why are you like literally ghost writing, but I guess you got a higher price? Because you were ghost writing? Because then people could take credit for your work?

Jonathan Perry 13:32
I guess, right? Yeah. I also saw where these people were coming from. Because of course, when you're some of these people were already just getting in the industry, and they really wanted to make something. So making that process easier for them, is helping them along with me. So it's really a win win.

Alex Ferrari 13:48
That's amazing. And that's what I liked about it. So you never do you never had a moment where you're like, Hey, this is my this is mine, I wrote this, I've got to do this. This is I gotta have my name on it. You never had a moment like that. That wasn't part of your strategy.

Jonathan Perry 14:04
I mean, the only time I had that was actually with the short film that I made. And that was so navion because I did have a list of films that I knew were the best. And I was offered the most that I've ever been offered four grand for some navion that made me turn my head at a script and actually take another

Alex Ferrari 14:24
For a short film. Like that's insane. Like I don't you understand something you are blowing my mind because I have never heard of anyone selling a short film script before, let alone at the rate or volume that you did. I didn't even know there was a market for this. So for all these writers listening out there, there is a market for people to buy short films and short film scripts, which doesn't take nearly as much time as writing a feature film script. So I'm assuming you can knock out a 10 page, good short film script and a lot less time. I think a full feature script

Jonathan Perry 14:59
Yeah, remember Producer did like the mathematics of it. And if I were to, I'm not writing them now, since I have my hands full with some nivia. But if a writer were to flip short film scripts each week, on a $500 basis, and they took around four months off, and, and, and I counted that for school and stuff, because I wanted to make it into my scenario, but like four months off, as far as workflow, a full job, nine to five, you could be making around 80 grand a year, just off of flipping it each week, and just getting revisions and taking out profits and all that. So it's, there's definitely a market and as growing for that, because you're doing the work that people like directors that are upcoming in the industry, or don't have those writers connections really can reach out to and start on their next short film. So yes, it's it's a win win for everyone. So

Alex Ferrari 16:01
I mean, it's, that's such an insane story, man, like I told you, I thought I've heard it all. So it's not often that you should, someone can shock me with a new angle at thing. So this is pretty mind blowing. Now, I really want to talk about real quick, your daily routine, because I want people to understand what you did and how you did it. So what was the daily routine to actually get this volume of work done, and then also to get it out into this marketplace.

Jonathan Perry 16:27
So I was literally, I did have a nine to five job that would work. Most of the work was done in the summer. So I would just wake up, I would I really just had a book of ideas as far as when I did the script writing processes, I had a book of ideas where I would just write it down. And anytime they came to me, I would jot it down. So even if I was at work, I would have something go home and write to you. And usually you structure it out, what I did was, in all my films, I made sure that there's no loose ends, there can't be any questioning the audience really has to it's got to be a solid film concept wise. So what I do is structured out in a bird's eye view. There's a new method that came out after that was actually called the story class method where it's a bird's eye view, and you structure it out. And if you Google that you can find out the concept but you're basically making sure that your film is all tied off on the concept and all of the elements, story wise, but the writing process, I would just it was basically a literally you wake up each morning, you write scripts till 12, fall asleep and do it again.

Alex Ferrari 17:47
You would want he would work you would work the nine to five doing it or you would like all day, or you were working another job.

Jonathan Perry 17:55
I would also of course, when I got home, it's not like I'm watching TV, but I'm just going Rachel script writing whenever I get a chance. So

Alex Ferrari 18:05
That's amazing

Jonathan Perry 18:08
I, when we got that subdivision, I saw that someone offered me four grand, I of course decided, Hey, I'm going to put this into production. And that was about a year and a half ago. So with some navion. Not only did we have to do extensive revisions on the script itself, even though it was a really solid concept. I wanted to make sure it was perfection. So as far as the getting it into production was the hardest part I could have imagined and I didn't know how I would have done it. But the first thing I did really was I planned out the whole shoot I said what do we have to have as far as significance based in a winter setting and we have frozen ice conditions for that setting. So of course that let narrows it down. First it's finding a location, then tailoring I knew that I could gather college students, industry professionals based on that location. So I took that location. And I it pointed me up north to Marquette, which is a few miles off the Canadian border way up there in Michigan. So I needed to have 100% chance that it would be freezing conditions when we were shooting and no risk of anything happening. So I first reached out to the college out there and Marquette, they sent over a producer and a few other crew members out of their cinema classes that were about to hop in the industry. And I also the Michigan Film Commission website is a blessing. They have a basically a directory of any person in the film industry that lives in Michigan. So and they have phone numbers and all that. So I called about like 300 People over the course of like three weeks, and

Alex Ferrari 20:05
I just, I just I just love the story Go ahead.

Jonathan Perry 20:09
And that for me, originally, towards the first start of my high school, I was kind of more of a Shire type. So I mean calling up these people, as it's like, you want to do what up and market you want to shoot this fizz, they took a look at the script. This script is the biggest scale script I've ever written as far as production wise, like it's a blockbusters size set that you would have to pull up to actually shoot the movie. So I mean, it wasn't that I wanted to go for ambition aspect, I knew that. If this is pulled off my way, all practical, it's going to be the best short film no matter what. So basically, all that came into effect. And I hired these people under contracts that I made myself, and then how did you make your contracts by yourself? A lot of legal research.

Alex Ferrari 21:08
So you got this is like, the story just keeps getting deeper and deeper. I absolutely love this. So then you you, which is generally not advisable. Don't write your own contracts, always have an attorney, but you didn't have a chance to do it. And on a short film basis, you were probably okay.

Jonathan Perry 21:25
I was able to get some legal feedback, of course, online, there's

Alex Ferrari 21:30
Sure like a rocket lawyer is resigning.

Jonathan Perry 21:33
Now, you can do anything, I was still in my room just calling up. Online lawyers take a look at the contracts. So I mean, it's basically during that time, also, my parents were really starting to recognize that, hey, this scripting is evolving into actually something that is going to be shot into a movie. So they really, I could see that they were questioning my commitment, even though because they don't see all the stuff behind the scenes. They see me on a computer typing on date. So sorry, I'm getting over a cold, but

Alex Ferrari 22:13
No worries, no worries.

Jonathan Perry 22:17
Basically, they don't see any PR, they don't see a product coming out of all this, they see it online. It's all digital money, too. It's not like having stacks of cash in my room. But they I could see them questioning it. So I knew that I had to brand myself as a filmmaker, actually to take get more industry professionals to join the project. And take me seriously, not only the industry professionals, but um, anyone that looks at me making this movie, it's going to question How are you going to pull this off?

Alex Ferrari 22:54
You're absolutely right. I would be the first one to say like, you have good intentions, but you've never done this before. How are you pulling it up? Did you shoot any short films prior to this or nothing?

Jonathan Perry 23:05
No, no, this is my first official short film. But I knew that I had to research of course the whole process. People that shot short films before I had to reach out for their advice. I met a lot of people through the Michigan Film Commission, phone calling Netflix producers, stunt coordinators. At one point I was talking to one of the assistants for like a blockbuster movie like Batman vs. Superman. He told me not to shoot the film, though. It was too dangerous. Okay. It could not be pulled off at all. So um, basically, I did receive a lot of rejection and doubts from the film community.

Alex Ferrari 23:52
How did you go? But how did you break through that man? Because I mean, most of I mean people definitely especially so young, when you get beat up by nose, nose, nose, you can't do this. That's dangerous. That's crazy. What made you keep going what was the thing inside you just said I just I'm not going to let go of this. Well,

Jonathan Perry 24:12
I I digress back to when I was trying to prove my childhood people that I could do this. I also wanted to prove to myself that, hey, I'm really going to commit to this producing this movie and actually commit to this film career and making sure that this is something I want to do for the rest of my life. So I hung out of a helicopter over Pittsburgh and got B roll of the city and sold it online for half the price that it usually is on stock footage. But I had I knew I had to do something to brand myself and I actually made a website and all that. Behind me is one of the websites so people saw and saw that, hey, if he's gonna pull off something like that, he's gonna pull off this film, if it's even a bigger scale, so it's all about getting leverage. As far as even writing short film scripts was my first step, then you can do something bold, at least in my case, I knew I had to just to get people's attention. So I did that B roll over Pittsburgh. And so the next step was some Navy. And so it's all about showing people, these leverage steps, no matter how big or small, so,

Alex Ferrari 25:32
So okay, so now you you shot this thing, which I'm assuming that was an adventure in itself, wasn't it just shooting this thing?

Jonathan Perry 25:41
Yeah, it was. Originally, we had to get to Pittsburgh. I did it with a friend. And I, originally, my parents didn't know about it, until I went on a class trip to over to Italy. And then I launched the website and everything. And then they saw the video me hanging out of the helicopter. And they're like, okay, let's take another look at this. He's obviously seriously about this.

Alex Ferrari 26:09
Oh, so anyway, so the footage of you hanging out the helicopter, you sold that footage, or you sold the footage that you actually shot,

Jonathan Perry 26:17
The footage that actually shot? Originally, aerial bureau over city is very expensive, it can go for like $200, but I just sold it for $100 and sold more quantity over quality, but I thought it was okay.

Alex Ferrari 26:32
So then you have Okay, so you did that. And then you actually branded yourself as you put your you put someone to take a picture of you, obviously, or video of you. So people would go Wait a minute, he's crazy enough to hang outside of a helicopter, he might be able to pull this off is basically your mentality.

Jonathan Perry 26:52
My mentality is Yeah, he's, if I'm willing to hang out with helicopter pieces, we're gonna take him seriously as far as producing this film. And it would actually, I'll be able to have content for my website and all that stuff, social media, I branded myself anywhere, you can follow me on Jonathan Perry films, on Instagram, the website itself. And so I really tried to make it aware that if people are going to sign with me, they're going to be dealing with someone that's actually going to go for it and take something serious as far as this film. So getting all the crew was, once I had the producers sign down some industry, I had one industry and one college, they were able to find all the rest of the crew through college connections, these college kids are right about to get in the industry. So they're local, that shooting area eight hours away from me up there. So we had everything arranged up there. And we planned out pre production with Skype calls every night I was hours on end, Skype calling stunt coordinators, all that. We did everything practical. We didn't know VFX in it, really, and we're only doing we're not doing a CGI and so on. It's all practical. That's Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 28:22
I'm doing practical effects, as opposed to high end CGI or something like that.

Jonathan Perry 28:27
Yeah, I'm, I'm really, I took one of my favorite filmmakers is Christopher Nolan. And I like how he takes that practical effect. And you can definitely tell Oh, God, yeah. Even if it's the best CGI, that's people get paid millions for that you can tell the I can sell at least. And until that evolves, and I'm sure it will, eventually we'll get to some really good CGI. But for now, I'm doing it all practical. And it makes the film quality a lot better to so. And

Alex Ferrari 29:05
So yeah, so you, you you made the short film, then you get It's a deal with the small little started up company called Amazon. How did you get a deal with Amazon off of a short film?

Jonathan Perry 29:20
So we shot the movie. And that was over a four day shoot up in Marquette. And basically, we had no plan for distribution. Originally it was kind of YouTube or Vimeo and or

Alex Ferrari 29:38

Jonathan Perry 29:39
So basically, we knew that with these big streaming services, that's another option. As far as just a hail mary pass to these distributors and we send a nine page appeal to Netflix Hulu and Amazon Netflix denied it. Hulu didn't respond. And Amazon sent back, hey, we're gonna give you a collaboration with a rep, we really want to take on this project and present it as something diverse for our streaming service, even though they do short show short films, they, you have to be there's a bunch of hurdles that you have to go through. If I were just to be 17, that's impossible, because it's 21 age limit. But I mean, to be the youngest filmmaker on any streaming service, as they signed me as, as a big label for the company, and a big step up for their diversity in their filmmaking selection. And so we have Amazon reps that really are following along every stage of post production, editing, advertising, just monitoring, and they really take. They take ownership of that April 1. And they released the trailer, their social media pages, all that stuff about some navion. And we were luckily able to release a bunch of that beforehand. And it's released actually now. So the trailers available now. Oh, not the trailer. But we have social media sub nervion movie.com, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and a website. And so basically, all that we branded ourselves, and we had a social right now we have about 15 members in post production, which is pretty good size.

Alex Ferrari 31:36
Yeah. For sure. Films. Not bad brother.

Jonathan Perry 31:39
Yeah, that's some of them are college students. So it's great for them to start expanding. One of our PR managers is in college, so he's be able to expand his portfolio press while he's releasing, getting press for this film itself. So it's, I made sure that with anyone I work with, that they're getting out of it just as much as I am on there. And so that's why I love college students because they actually show a lot of passion. They're not just in it for the paycheck, they're in it to further their careers and really start the careers just like me.

Alex Ferrari 32:15
So and then you so so then the film will be released June

Jonathan Perry 32:20
12, right. June 12. Amazon releases it on prime video, and may 21. We have a premiere in Sandusky, Ohio, which is my hometown, and locally here. And we also have a premiere, June 4 up in Marquette, Michigan. So if you're local to the Cleveland area, it's Leto just the Midwest in general. You can grab tickets, April 1, when we released the cheerleader on CD and spark, which is our funding campaign that's going to fund us through film festivals. Okay. Oh, we got a lot on our plate with all that to

Alex Ferrari 32:59
say. So. Again, another amazing part of the story is that you had an offer for $4,000 for a short film script, which again, unheard of. I've never heard of anything like this and you decided to pull a Frank Darabont. Do you know Frank Darabont says hi tonight, the writer of Shawshank Redemption?

Jonathan Perry 33:21
I actually do I have been enclosed for the last couple of years I have actually been fitted visited. Shawshank Redemption shooting location.

Alex Ferrari 33:32
Oh, the prison. Have you seen the movie? Please tell me you've seen the movie? Yes, I have. Okay, completely because if not, we would have to end this interview right now. And I don't want to do that to you. Okay, so but the story is, uh, you know, this story is when he wrote Shawshank Redemption he was offered. I think it was like four or $5 million for the script. And he said, No, this is my ticket. And and he only took $250,000. And he got to direct the movie. He basically he basically gave that movie away, but to start his career, so on a much smaller scale it but in the scope of a short film, you've done kind of the similar thing, but you also produce it yourself as well.

Jonathan Perry 34:08
Yeah, yeah. So um, even though we have hard working producers on the project, I do overlook everything, just to make sure that since this is the start of many of the college students in mind careers in the film industry. Of course, it's got to be quality. And we're only putting out that with Amazon looking over us too. Right? So, um, yeah, it's, it's just, uh, I knew that when I denied it for four grand, I knew that it was, someone's not going to offer four grand for a script, just because they have a wad of cash they're going to offer, how much it's worth and how much it's going to put out. And I knew that. I saw that in some event. And I knew that if I did sell to anyone else, they're not going to use. They're going to use CGI and all that they're not going to produce it practically. And I knew that if it did go that route, it would be an injustice. To the film itself, because I mean, it's just such good action sequences. And the story itself is just a solid, emotional story that connects with me and anyone who's going to watch it. So I knew that this one film was something that I really needed to produce and come out of my emotional bias and start to this filmmaking career. So

Alex Ferrari 35:32
You're remarkable, my friend, I have to tell you, you are and you are an inspiration to, to, to old dogs like me, in the business. And I really hope people listening out there because now I'm going to be using you as an example of I'm like, I don't care who you are, where you come from. You have no excuses. Look at Jonathan Perry start.

Jonathan Perry 35:54
That's, I mean, yeah, that's the big thing about it is I do, I have seen a lot of friends and stuff like that, say, Oh, I don't, I don't have money to produce that. I'm, I'm not sitting on wads of cash. I started with just a paper and a pencil, and maybe laptop, just the research the blog. And that's really all you need, really, is just the ideas. And then you build off that leverage. Leverage. Every step is a small step, or a big step, but it's just a step in general. And it's just gonna get you further closer to launching your filmmaking career. So in my case, I'm going for fast paced, I really want to create the next feature, which I already signed for. And I knew I wanted to get an industry as fast as possible take risks at a young age, because I'm still in my living with my parents still in high school. So I mean, no matter what, you have food and shelter on the plate, that's all you need. And so food, shelter and writing scripts is all you need to start off. So I mean, as long as you and especially young people, even if you're older, as long as you have a steady job, if you come home, no matter what, just write scripts, and you have that steady home life and actually supporting yourself, you'll be able to launch a filmmaking career in no time as far as getting yourself out there online.

Alex Ferrari 37:29
So that's, that's remarkable. And I do have to ask you a question, because I can't believe that you are 110% fearless. So I have to believe there had to be some fears along the way, every step of the way from writing the scripts, when you were about to sell them to embarking on trying to make this first film of yours. How did you break through those fears? I mean, because it sounds like your parents kind of jumped on, they were supportive, but they really kind of took it seriously, after you had already done a lot of the stuff. So a lot of the stuff you were doing kind of on your own. So I'm fascinated to find how you broke through that.

Jonathan Perry 38:02
So really, it's using that leverage, as far as I mean, you look at what you've done so far. And I mean, as far as fearless, making this film, it goes back to if anything fails, if I lose 1000s of dollars, if I mess up really badly. I always have my I'm still at home, I'm still here living with my parents. I always have that comfort of home life. But I mean, I mean, it's really just why not? I mean, what's the what's the repercussions? If I were to embark on this giant journey? Even if it fails? I have my family to fall back on. I have just I'm still young. So I mean, it's why not? Basically, it's like Why not? Yeah, you really learn from you also got a when I look at filmmakers, also, I may not know some writers or directors. But I look at how they started and what they fail that. And I really value failure over as far as succeeding because I mean, you can learn from failure as far as what other filmmakers that are not doing, or as far as even if something were to go really bad. I'm able to learn from that and build off that and show other people just so they don't make the same mistake as me. And I think I received a lot of feedback like that. When I called up all these industry people, and they were able to show me, Hey, don't go this route. You want to steer clear that it's dangerous. At least if you're going to do this. hire these type of people and so on. So I'm even writing down your failures just so you don't mess them up again, as far as in writing, or just going through the process in general, we had a lot of failure, like I, there's so many repercussions, or not repercussions, but hurdles that you have to go through. In order to make a film a size. We had to film on our cameras, but you can't rent those cameras at 17. So I had to, I would get calls from all these rental companies. that, hey, you gotta at least hook us up with someone that's over 18 to preface, so they ended up talking to my producers. But it on set, it's, it was weird, because I had to become a different person as far as looking back on. Literally, it took half a year just to get it through production. And I mean, you're not going to let that go to waste. So I mean, we really use that drive to, we're getting this done no matter what. And I didn't think of myself as a 17 year olds on set, I thought of myself as more a director, because I was I did all that work and put it through all that. So I mean, I might as well put myself on a different mindset of leadership. I also, I it's weird, because I'm also an Eagle Scout. So a lot

Alex Ferrari 41:32
Of course, of course, you're an Eagle Scout, Sir, why wouldn't you be an Eagle Scout,

Jonathan Perry 41:37
A lot of that confidence came out of the scouting career and just putting myself out there. And that's really my foundation was the scouting and not only home life, but school. All those people backed me on this. So I, the cool thing is, there's actually, on a side note, there's a lot of parallels with Steven Spielberg, that comes out of Cincinnati, Ohio, that was also an Eagle Scout. It started at like, close to my age. So it was I didn't realize that for like a month ago. But I digress to basically, if you want to get something made, I just start making phone calls and see what it takes to get it made. I would definitely hire college students look at the leverage you already have in the industry. If you have none, then just start making it start small and build from there and show people that what you already have. And even if they doubt that you like I signed contract to the film. So I knew that no matter what these people were, some of the union members have paid. So I mean, no matter what these people are going to be paid off of production that will happen. So it's based off of that, that we really went forward with the project. And once you have, like, I think we had around 25 pre production crew members, once you have all those people working their independent apartments, and you send trust upon them, they're going to do the best job that they can. And they're going to look at you and just make sure that you're overlooking the whole entire production and stay in your lane. That was a big thing on set. I, I had industry professionals. I was trying to help a volunteer, move up, move a piece of wood, and the guy's like, you're the director. You just need to sip coffee and bomb with your actors. And I was like, I'll take that job. So

Alex Ferrari 43:52
Stay in your lane, stay your lane.

Jonathan Perry 43:54
But yeah, production went very smoothly as long as people just stayed in their lane. So I mean, that's a great thing about the onset was people we plan so much in advance down to the minute that we all we had to do. Everybody was trained on paperwork, they had like an inch thick of papers that they had ready on set, but it was a planning and communication was key that if you have those two things I mean, you're set as far as anything in making that film. Where

Alex Ferrari 44:31
did you finance the film yourself?

Jonathan Perry 44:34
Okay, interesting note that 10,000 that close to $10,000 yet again, another blessing of being 17 is that you can't hold a PayPal account till you're 18. So I somehow the PayPal I got a call and they're like, we're gonna hold this money till you're 18 and you can log back in. So now What?

Alex Ferrari 45:02
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Jonathan Perry 45:13
There was a big controversy as far as with PayPal, and cutting off my access to all that money errand during scripts. But I knew that I was at a stage with some navion words, I can't really focus on the legal problems with that. And even if that all blew out in the wind, I knew that some navion I'm, I'm going to at least benefit with my personal leverage with some navy and and getting produced than anything that came out Sq brighting. So I'm sure I'll get scholarships and stuff from some Navy. And but that's not really what it's about. It's about really connecting with filming, getting something made for personal leverage. So I can look back and and say, Hey, I did this, why can I take it a step up and do something bigger. And that's exactly what I'm doing right now. So

Alex Ferrari 46:01
you still haven't touched the money from paper.

Jonathan Perry 46:04
I have not I spent college funds on that. And I still haven't have access. And that's why we're having a funding campaign, April 1, to put us through film festivals. So if you want to support or at least get connected with film, we have not only incentives in our funding campaign, but we have for your listeners, we're doing a program that actually goes through internships through our film. So your listeners, they could email submit via [email protected]. And they can submit their resume. Or even if they don't have a resume, just so they can get connected with the film, they can, we can start on a on a internship basis where they're able to put some work towards the film, and getting it and post production, just working and get some IMDb credit, get their first film, in their name and all that. So we're always accepting internships, but we're also doing the incentives for our funding campaign, where basically, not only do you get tickets for the premiere, but also hello to things as far as merchandise and all that. So basically, if the campaign is successful, which it is. And you can find out more information by texting 55588 and texting some nivi into that to our texts free number. And basically, they'll put us through film festivals, I'll be able to network and really start my own. directing my next short or whatever comes out of film festivals. And I know something well, because I know we're going overseas to,

Alex Ferrari 47:54
to so it's going to really, Amazon releases as first but then they're gonna let you do it on film festivals around the world.

Jonathan Perry 48:01
Yeah, yeah, I'm very tricky. We actually made a decision with the Amazon Rep. Recently with a family, we had to sit her down, because they were like, okay, we handed them a rough cut of the film. And they're like, Okay, um, we might want to actually bypass film festivals and try to go for not bypass, but go for the bigger film festivals because we want to get Academy vote. And that was very shocking to me, because I didn't expect getting Academy vote for my first short film, but then you can't release it publicly on Amazon, they wouldn't be able to release it June while we're we have all our content out already with June 12, the expected date may 21. So also on that end, I'm not looking to spend, we would have to go into 2021. Oh, I can't. Oh, yeah. Oh, I can't spend two more years with the short film. I've been so obsessed with the last like one and a half years. So you just said it's okay. Let's move on. I said, Yeah, let let it run the process. It will, it will get me where it needs to be. And it will be a success no matter what. So I know that I also knew that if they're considering Academy both now. I still just have this short film. So we have a whole career ahead of me. There's no doubt in my mind that I'll definitely see Academy vote in the next four years. Right, which is very weird, but um, it's not about that. I'm really just trying to I mean, it really has become a passion. And it's it's weird seeing what you wrote on paper. Like visually in real life. Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 49:56
It's so cool. It's so cool.

Jonathan Perry 49:59
It's And think that it's an actual job and all that. So I mean, it's no doubt in my mind, I want to do this for the rest of my life.

Alex Ferrari 50:06
Now, what's the biggest lesson you learned in this process?

Jonathan Perry 50:10
The biggest lesson is definitely the importance of communication. And basically, your networking. So no matter how you present yourself, as long as you have your networking in your Not only that, but the networking communication, if you can communicate to all these industry members that I called up, if I were to perfect my communication, I would be able to sign on a few of those more easily. And all that. So perfecting your communication in the industry, and really negotiating with these fellow industry members. Helping you getting your film made, really helps a lot. And then also, it's just that. I mean, as long as you the biggest lesson I've learned with this film, and in my scripts, in general, the work you put in is the work you get out. So I may write a filmmaker or a soundtrack for the entire movie two years ago, and I look back on that, and I'm able to use that still. So no matter, that's just a weird example. But no matter what you're working on with the film, or in your script, writing any part of the process, you're gonna see that later on if you don't use it, and you're gonna actually benefit from that no matter what. The harder you work, the more you work on that no matter what you're going to see it later and see it benefit you. So. And I've seen that with my short film scripts, even though I haven't seen a doubt of that money. People, I, I had an industry member that worked on my short film, that new director that hit me up and basically said, hey, I've taken a look at some of your scripts that are licensed to other filmmakers, but they're secretly my scripts. And basically, I want you to write a Hollywood movie. And there's eight other writers that are competing to write this same movie, I sent him a treatment, along with the eight of the writers, I was selected by him to write the feature film. Very excited for that. And now he's coming. Yeah, I think the starting budget for that is 1.5 million. And that's, I'm glad because I get to spend this summer just writing that movie, like, probably, it's going to be around 300 pages and cut down from that. But I get to write that movie and research and actually experience. Because I'm not knowledgeable of a lot of the feature process of filmmaking. Short films are very different, from my knowledge, thus far. So I get to write that and really make it 10 in my career as far as starting with a feature, and they'll probably, if it's not in theaters, we're not sure what route it's going. It's still in treatment phase. It could be in theaters, depends how they want to take it. I'm glad that I get to write the script, send it over and lay my head back and watch it go into production.

Alex Ferrari 53:42
But you just hired that you just a hired gun for that as far as writing is concerned.

Jonathan Perry 53:46
Yeah, yeah. I'm just the writer for that film. And so I'll be able to see how a real feature film is made, and be able to write it go on set and actually see what all this all the scheduling process and all that. As far as a feature film, we had a professional set person nemean. But it was definitely not the size of a feature film that would be so I would be able to experience that at an early age and start in the industry. And I'll be writing my next film. I'll be again on a note that the work you put in your work you get out. I'll be writing another feature, probably later in the summer that we'll all be aiming to direct just so I can pitch it producers, when sub navion goes into film festivals. So I'm using all that leverage to your advantage is able to propel you through your filmmaking career, and really getting started so

Alex Ferrari 54:50
That's amazing. Listen, you've got one of the best heads in your shoulders of any young filmmaker I've ever spoken to. So it is remarkable and I I will also give you a one piece of advice, you need to reach out to Steven Spielberg. And just tell him the story. I'm telling you, I'm telling you, if you are able to get this story to or have Amazon reach out to them, and just say, hey, just wanted to let you know another, never an Ohio kid, you know, is making good, I thought you'd like to know what's going on. So when the movies done, we'd love to send you a copy, Steven, I promise you he'll watch it. So and that would be an insane, insane story. And if it does happen, you need to come back on the show and tell me how it goes.

Jonathan Perry 55:33
Yeah. So your viewers, they can do, as with their funding campaign in April. And what's interesting with Amazon is, even though they're not a part of the funding campaign, they are a part of sending the trailer and all that they're owning the film really in April. But they're able to buy digital copies of the movie, pre advance in April. And all that. And really, as far as sign scripts, anything from merchandise to, we have a we really want to support the local businesses in Sandusky, where I live, and Marquette, where the filming location is, and we're getting business credit logos with Amazon. So they have your viewers have a business, they want to get their logo and our credits, they can purchase that and get their logo shown internationally with their movie. So it's all I'm trying to write with this production really benefiting a person possible with the scale this in our premiere, may 21. At the Sandusky cinema, is the world premiere. And we also signed with Odessa, which is an EDM band, if you don't know. It's, it's, it's like the second biggest EDM band around there. And so we're putting on a live event with them. They're doing a promotional sound mixing with Amazon. So if you text them Navy into 555, add, you can see a behind the scenes trailer of the whole scope of the project. And that is musically mixed by Odessa themselves. So I mean, a lot has gone into this project, but a lot of work still has to be done with a funding campaign. And we're looking to your viewers also to help support us on that and grab some mirch. And they'll definitely be seeing my name again, in the next four years.

Alex Ferrari 57:37
No, I think I think for many years to come my friend, again, I mean, you're hitting on all cylinders. And you've probably you're pretty much the personification of everything I preach about on my show, you know, never as such a young package, but yet still there. So I'm man, just congratulations on all your success. I'm going to ask you a few questions that I ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker on wanting to break into the business today, which you are trying to break into the business? So I'll rephrase it is like what what advice? Would you give a filmmaker just trying to do something trying to try to do anything in this business?

Jonathan Perry 58:13
So really, it no matter what region you are, there's going to be a local phone commission, either looking at all your options, looking at your writing options, you're producing options, you're directing options, just editing, all the departments, see what if there's a local movie production, looking up, how to write scripts, you can start there online, online, there's a lot of opportunities, you can start making commercials for local businesses, just something that will give you a tiny bit of leverage to then you can take the next step. And basically all those steps are eventually going to lead you to the top of the staircase breaking in in the industry. So it's, luckily, I think with writing my next film, they'll actually be an industry film. So there'll be hiring actors and all that for the industry standard. So I think all have broken in by next by the end of this summer, officially into the industry, when I go into colleges, but

Alex Ferrari 59:22
You are going to you're going to go to film schools.

Jonathan Perry 59:25
Yeah, yeah, that's a big debate because I think I'm going out to California soon to tour a few colleges like USC Stanford, it comes into effect as far as cost nowadays, with film schools, and all that because, once again, if you have a sturdy housing, and you have something to fall back on when you go to bed at night, with food on your plate, and a laptop just to type out a script, you find but with these Expensive Colleges, I'm sure I'll get scholarships, but Use of navion. But it's all about budgeting and all that when I go to film school and how that affects my film career, and I, I didn't expect to sign on for this next film for 1.5 million. But now that I have it's making film school look a lot nicer, and a lot easier to

Alex Ferrari 1:00:23
Yeah, I mean, if you get into whatever film school you get into make sure that they're paying the bill, because there's absolutely no reason why you should pay to go to USC. That's what's my opinion. I've spoken at USC multiple times. And it's a great, it's a great film. It's a great film school, but it's not, the cost is just ridiculous. If you let you get scholarships.

Jonathan Perry 1:00:44
Yeah, it's also coming into effect where we're trying to find a college that will teach me

Alex Ferrari 1:00:49
That's the other thing that, like, You're, you're so far ahead of film school brother, I didn't want to say, but I don't know if it makes a lot of sense for you right now.

Jonathan Perry 1:00:59
I know, it's weird, because I hate the egotistical aspect that has to come with all this as far as signing with Amazon and all that. But nowadays, I'm teaching at colleges in Ohio, they're film students. So it's kind of weird, it's like, I'm not going to be able to I get a friend in college that will actually all learn from and actually go to class and gather some information I can use in the film industry, and film school and all that. So

Alex Ferrari 1:01:27
We'll talk if you want off air, we'll talk about your film school options. If so, is there a book that had a really big impact in your life or career?

Jonathan Perry 1:01:40
Really, it wasn't. I, I did read a few books. As far as how to not make a short film that I read. And a few other books on directing visions and all that. I just look for as many books that will tell me how not to screw up. And good plan. That that's what I learned most from. But I did read, I tried to read three phone scripts a week as far as feature scrim phone scripts. And that's all in preparation to write my next feature film. So that educates you enough. As far as really getting first hand experience, just print out a feature film script, or look it up online, there's databases with all that. And you can learn a lot from that. And taking what you like and examining breaking it down. And really learning from that firsthand. That's really where the experience comes from. So I'll be reading film scripts, probably till I die. But excellent, isn't it? It's always you learn something from every script. So

Alex Ferrari 1:02:59
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn in your life so far? Or in the film business so far?

Jonathan Perry 1:03:08
That's a good question. The the, it really was trying to, because with all this going on, you look at signing with Amazon and going them trying to get into Academy vote. You look at all that. And the hardest thing for me is, like you put in so much work, and you I don't see myself as successful. Like, I see myself as just that works paid off. So it's, I don't know how to take good compliments. And I need to figure out, because I don't feel anything when someone would tell me like, Amazon comes up to you and says, Hey, this is amazing film. And I'm like, Okay, this is I worked hard on it, I guess,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:07
Stay like that. My friends stay like that. Don't you don't have to just stay like that trust. Because if you're able to handle this kind of attention so far in your career, I promise you if I was 17, and I would have had this attention, I would have been an absolute mess. So it's taking me a long time to get to where I am so that you're doing it a 17 is God man. God bless.

Jonathan Perry 1:04:31
It is hard with school to because I mean, I do golf in the summertime and all that but I mean, it's getting home and working on a production till two 3am and waking up at 5am to go back to school, and I'll fall asleep in class and stuff. Usually it's ironic because my mom, she's like, why do you have a C an English class I was like, well, I've been writing my next feature in English class during their entire presentations. And so you'll be fine. You'll be fine. Yeah, it's it's, it's funny because school in the film industry, they don't mix. There's no High School.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:19
No, they don't. And some would argue not even film schools. But yeah, I mean, look, if you know what you would love to do, and you've got a good grasp on it, man, go for it and go for it. 100% You seem to have a really good head on your shoulders. And one last question were what are your three favorite films of all time? That I've been trying to determine that for years down, but I noticed as a as of today, as of today,

Jonathan Perry 1:05:45
As of today, I know that Interstellar is I may not be able to rank it. But I know three of my favorite. I know Interstellar on there. A lot of Christopher Nolan actually, um, we can go down Kirk was on there. And I know the Dark Knight in general, those Christopher Nolan films. Um, I don't just watch Christopher Nolan. But

Alex Ferrari 1:06:13
What you dress what you dress like him, sir. That's how he dresses that's

Jonathan Perry 1:06:20
Well, I think there's a lot you can learn from him in general. And what I do. What I do is actually I look at like David Fincher, I take bits of his directing styles and vitually, Christopher Nolan's and I mold into my own, where David Fincher as far as his aspects of perfectionism, and getting the camera cinematography and all that. And you mix that with Christopher owns a script, writing abilities, timing and all that storylines, you get something that manifest out of significance, that really is something original, and something that is the best of all four worlds, and something I admired. So it's really, I'm able to take and learn from directors, I learned learn from online and all that and take it into my own aspects and becoming the director. I want the feature so

Alex Ferrari 1:07:17
Good for you, man. those are those are not those those guys aren't bad, they're not bad off to say they're not a bad combination.

Jonathan Perry 1:07:25
There was a point in time where I was two months before I shot some movie and a couple months. Or I saw like a movie actually in theaters. So last week, I actually saw a movie and in theaters, and not seeing your movie for four months in theaters. And then seeing your movie. It's like it's it's the most amazing feeling being in that theater just Oh, I know the feeling. I mean, yeah, it's words can describe it. But I got an email. I isolated myself so much these last months with some nervion

Alex Ferrari 1:08:07
Yeah, I got I got you, man. I got you now where can people find you and about Vivian and your work.

Jonathan Perry 1:08:15
So subnivean is on all social media @subniveanmovie on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. They also have a website, subniveanmovie.com. They can find me at jonathanperryfilms.com. And they can actually find the movie subnivean if you join the text, free number, text subnivean 555888 and you get a behind the scenes trailer of the whole scope of the project, see me in action, see what it was like outset? And that also has links to social media?

Alex Ferrari 1:08:51
And how do you spell subnivean so everybody listening Can I know how to spell it

Jonathan Perry 1:08:56
Subnivean it actually means to be submerged under a layer of snow or residing under. And that is spelled subnivean. So basically, they can get ready for our funding campaign in April 1. And that really will propel us through film festivals. And we'll we might be able to come to your local area. depending upon how successful that campaign campaign is, and how much funds we raise. We're going for around 13,000, which is awesome for payments in there. Mix them with film festivals that counts for travel. And maybe I'll be able to meet some of your viewers in the cities and they'll be able to see seven avian in theaters. And I really get the full experience.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:49
That's awesome. Listen, Jonathan, you've been an absolute inspiration. Not only to me, but I'm sure to everybody listening and watching on the show right now. So thank you again. So much you are the personification of what I preach about on the show. And really, man, congrats on all your success. And I wish you nothing but the best of luck in the future brother.

Jonathan Perry 1:10:10
Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:13
I want to thank Jonathan for coming on the show, I am always happy to bring on inspirational stories like this. I mean, this kid is remarkable. And I cannot wait to see where he goes as a filmmaker. And what he does over at Amazon. Um, I'm just really happy for him. And just really goes to show a little bit of hustle thinking outside the box, do what you got to do to make it happen. And that's what it's all about. So thanks, Jonathan for coming again and sharing your story. And if you want to help Jonathan out, he does have a crowdfunding campaign going on right now at www.seedandspark.com/fund/subnivean. And I'll put the link for that in the show notes. If you want to help him out really cool. bonuses and things like that you can get if you want to help him out, he's trying to raise a little extra money for the festival tour and the festival circuit and all that kind of stuff. So help him out guys. He's done a heck of a lot. So definitely check him out. And for the show notes, just go to indiefilmhustle.com/317. And you get links that Jonathan everything else that we talked about in this episode. Thank you again, so much for all your support, guys. And if you haven't already, please check out my new book shooting for the mob, just head over to shootingforthemob.com that's shooting with two O's and find out how I almost made a $20 million film for the mafia and had a big misadventure through Hollywood, all this kind of craziness that happened to me when I was much younger, and it is a heck heck of a story. So definitely check it out. I really do appreciate everyone who's read it and had left good reviews on Amazon. I truly truly, truly appreciate all the support guys. And that is it for another episode of the indie film hustle podcast. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.




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