I am excited to have back on the show legendary writer, director Alex Proyas.
The last time he was here, we discussed his career, working within the studio system, dealing with insane interference in his creative vision, why he was shooting short films. At the time, his movie, The Heretic Foundation, and his misadventures in Hollyweird had just been released.
I’ve been following all the cool stuff he’s been working on social media, his shorts, etc. I’m thrilled for him. It’s nice seeing an artist creating and not waiting for someone to permit them to make.
For those of you who are not familiar with Alex Proyas’s work, he is the filmmaker behind The Crow, Dark City, The Knowing, Gods of Egypt, iRobot, and Mask of the Evil Apparition.
iRobot was directed by Proyas, written by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Vintar. The 2004 Box Office $346 million grossed film received mixed reviews. It starred Will Smith and was a technophobic cop in 2035 who went on to investigate a crime that may have been perpetrated by a robot, which leads to a larger threat to humanity.
Today, we are talking more about his new streaming platform VIDIVERSE. I really wanted to promote what you’re doing because I know it’s coming from a great place. I need to promote what you’re doing because I know it’s coming from a great place.
VIDIVERSE is a new streaming platform that offers a non-exclusive destination for streaming curated content of all kinds. In time, the platform will partner with creators to help produce content.
Most independent filmmakers are getting away from Youtube, and that was the inspiration behind Proyas’s VIDIVERSE. YouTube seems to have developed stricter policies about who derives any income from content. Even though a few people manage overtime to beat the algorithm, most creators get very few views. Independent creators to continue building through the platform. Vimeo, and others that similarly target filmmakers ease the streaming challenge. Still, there’s nothing between those two ends of the spectrum because YouTube seems to soak it all up through advertising.
So, someone like Proyas, who has moved effortlessly between helming TV commercials and music videos to feature films, understands the demand for more targeted platforms and fair revenue distribution models. This is what he intends to develop with VIDIVERSE.
Alex also gave us an EXCLUSIVE UPDATE on the development of his Dark City streaming series. This was a fun conversation.
Please enjoy our guest, Alex Proyas.
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Alex Ferrari 0:08
I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Alex price. How you doing Alex?
Alex Proyas 0:15
Hey Alex, good, how you doing?
Alex Ferrari 0:18
I'm good, my friend. I'm good. Thank you so much for coming back on the show, I was excited to have you back. Because of the cool stuff that you've been working on. I've been following you on social media and seeing your shorts and seeing all the, you know, the cool stuff that you're doing. And it just, it just tickles my my heart to see an artist creating and not waiting for someone to give them permission to create an AI, you are a champion of that. So at first, before we even get started, thank you for being that inspiration to so many people out there.
Alex Proyas 0:48
Well, you're very, very welcome and ditto to you.
Alex Ferrari 0:51
Thank you, my friend. Thank you. So so we're gonna be talking about your new streaming platform video verse. It, which is sounds amazing. And I really wanted to promote what you're doing, because I know it's coming from a really great place. But before we jump into that I wanted wanted to kind of go out a little bit, in your opinion, what are the major issues filmmakers have with getting their work seen? And then also getting paid to get that work seen?
Alex Proyas 1:20
Yeah, well, I think it's, it's kind of pretty impossible, and, you know, YouTube scene for a while to be a kind of a way through, you know, the fact that we could put our content on, we didn't have to ask anyone's permission. It didn't matter what, how good, bad or indifferent. And when money we'd spent how much money we hadn't spent, whether our friends or family were in the cast, you know, it didn't matter. We could get our films out there and get people to see it. But unfortunately, you know, YouTube seems to have kind of developed a stricter and stricter policy about who derives any income from such content, you know, and look, you know, that, you know, there's always a success stories of people who managed to stream their content and get millions of views. But, you know, most people's situations, and there's some good films out there, I know, because I've been looking, they get very few views, they just don't know how to get their, their films through the sort of, you know, YouTube algorithm, you know. So it's really hard for those people who, you know, to keep building their, their films through that platform. And you know, there's obviously platforms like Vimeo, which can be much more specifically targeted, and you can you know, that your films look better on Vimeo, etc. But, you know, there's really nothing between those two ends of the spectrum where, you know, you can, your films can get seen by people, and maybe you can derive what little small amounts of income your film might generate, you know, YouTube seems to soak it all up through advertising, you know, they, they, they make their billion dollars, but the filmmakers very rarely see any of that, you know,
Alex Ferrari 3:12
I think that's a general statement. I think that's I mean, going back to when the United when the United Artists opened up and Chaplin and Pickford and inflammed got pissed off from the studios that paying them that they opened up their own studio. I think that is, it's isn't that kind of the way it works with with, with Hollywood and generally just in the big business, I think big business in general, when business and art get together in any art form. The artist always seems to get the short end of the stick, no matter what medium it is, is that fair to say?
Alex Proyas 3:47
Yeah, always, I mean, you know, the entertainment industry and not just film music and everything else, you know, work on the fact that it's, there's endless streams of exploitable young people coming through who want to be exploited, you know, I want it to be exploited when I was when I was a young pup, you know, I was like, Yeah, come on, exploit me, let me do this stuff. You pay me some sort of, you know, pittance of money, just so that I can do my thing, you know, and that's kind of always been the way and and the industry you know, the, the corporations have always kind of, you know, succeed based on that. Cannon Fodder, I call them you know, and it's still this the same to this very day. I mean, you know, the Hollywood would rather work with some young pup right now then some schmuck like me who's cynical and who gets how the whole business model works and wants to change it, you know, because it's just easier for them, you know, and they'll make all their money and so YouTube, you know, is is sort of a, you know, an offshoot of that it just works on the same Sort of exploitable principles, you know? Yeah, give us your free content, give it to us for nothing. We'll Shut it. You know, that's what you get out of the equation, and we'll make billions of dollars out of it. I mean, what is it about that business model that works for the filmmakers, you know,
Alex Ferrari 5:17
right. And, you know, it's fascinating because even in the 80s 90s, even the early 2000s, a studio would have never given a young pup $200 million, or $150 million to make a temple film. But that seems to happen much more now. Because of what you're saying, like spirit of specifically Marvel. And a lot of they have a machine basically. And I've talked to people who've worked within the Marvel machine, and they just kind of just, they just, it's like, almost the insert director here. Yes, they're guiding the process. And certain directors have more say than others. But generally speaking, they're giving like I remember I read an article with Ridley Scott Ridley Scott's like, I don't even understand how this is like, why would you give a $25 million and not give Ridley Scott or yourself $100 million to do it and you're right is because you guys know how the game is playing. They don't want to deal with you.
Alex Proyas 6:10
Yeah. And it's also because you know, those films not not to spend another session ragging on Marvel. No, no, I do. We do enjoy it. Right?
Alex Ferrari 6:20
Alex Proyas 6:21
certainly enjoy them as well, those those movies kind of make themselves you know, and it's arguable how important the director is, it's kind of like a long running TV series. Everyone knows what they're doing, you know, and certainly the producers of those movies know what they're doing. They've made many countless successes. So they'll just you know, it just kind of rolls along and the director comes in and talks to the actors and you know, hangs out with the actors I guess is what the role is you know, so I'm not my not my idea of filmmaking really. But you know, look good on him I just I just feel like you know, we we need to be thinking of other other ways forward you know,
Alex Ferrari 7:05
yes, but yeah, especially for for Natalie, young filmmakers, for artists in general filmmakers in general that aim to get not only the work seen, but paid for, but I have to ask you, do you have any stories of your misadventures in Hollyweird with with falling prey to Hollywood accounting or something that you know you were like what I what point did you um so I'm assuming somewhere in your journey you got you got a check and you said I'm sorry what?
Alex Proyas 7:33
Yeah, no, it happens to me on a weekly monthly basis still to this day for movies that you've done I I received a you know there were these things called residuals you know that we used to get which were actually really great they kept us alive between movies you know, because the fact is as filmmakers you know, even if you're very successful as a filmmaker you know, you get your payday once every few years and you get paid you know, I was paid very handsomely but then that money is going to stretch out over many many years and it starts to become significant you know, so I was reliant on residuals to keep me alive as were many filmmakers many filmmakers that I knew that I know very well and unfortunately the residuals you know, Netflix in the stream is don't pay residuals so suddenly they've dropped in the last few years to very small amounts of money to the point where you know, I'll get a check for I got a check for dark city a few months ago which was which was you know, of note enough to post on my Instagram account for $7.36 you know, which which is you know, that's a quote that represents a quarter of the all the total residuals that are received for dark city now that's just kind of insulting I personally I'd rather just not get the check. I'd rather they just held on to it. I keep meaning to call the authorities that deal with the residual and say, just hang on to them in your bank account, maybe they can earn a little bit of interest until they amount to something over at least over 50 or $100 you know, because quite frankly, it actually costs me more to cash that check because it's us US dollar Yeah, it cost me $25 to cash it so I actually I actually lose by doing that you
Alex Ferrari 9:22
know oh Mike it's like that Seinfeld it's like that old Seinfeld episode where he got like, you know, 100 or 501 set residual checks he had to sign all of them Yeah.
Alex Proyas 9:33
What are we doing exactly right so that's where that's where we're at you know and and, you know, cut to a few years ago and you know, we could survive between movies on what we were getting from residuals every every year you know, it would pan out to have to keep you you know, pay your mortgage and feed your family you know, so, so that was great. So you can work on your scripts and work on your projects and not be beholden to, to the, you know, the bank manager, the wolves up Door, you know? So yeah, it's it's not a it's not a good situation we're being pushed into creative people are being pushed into these more and more untenable scenarios, you know, at the moment that's been going on for some time.
Alex Ferrari 10:14
Yeah, I mean, if I always tell filmmakers, if you want to see what's gonna, what's happening is going to happen. Let's just look at the music industry. I mean, music is turned into, it's where it has no worth. It's like literally pennies, pennies, wave fractions, fractions of pennies.
Alex Proyas 10:30
Yeah, it's all about, you know, data rates. And we basically follow where music goes, film follows, you know, which is exactly what's, what's going on. You know, the streaming, the music streaming services are doing very well, as are the film streaming services, you know,
Alex Ferrari 10:47
and the labels.
Alex Proyas 10:48
And the and the labels. Yeah, of course. Yeah. As it's always been, you know. And so, of course, you know, we're looking at all this and it's only been exacerbated as we, as we said, it's only been exacerbated by the, by the pandemic, it's become more and more extreme, you know, I went from dreaming of owning a theater one day, like I wanted to, you know, I've always wanted to own like, my own cinema, you know, like a painting, sure, you know, movie house. And I've gone from that to dreaming of owning a streaming service, because I've just got to face the writing on the wall. It's like, it's just not, you know, we're just not there at the moment. You know, we're not when you know, whether whether or not we'll get through this, some, this pandemic, and another some God help us something else will happen. And we'll be locked down again, who the hell knows who can predict the future? Now? You know, it seems like the only certainty right now is on the internet.
Alex Ferrari 11:40
Yeah, and I think that's where everyone's going to eventually I think hopefully, cinemas won't go away like that, the way of the dodo. But I think it will become much more specific, very much like Broadway is, you know, ticket tickets will be better it will be we will still want to have those events, but going to see an independent film in a mass way, other than if it's an art house is not going to happen. It's just too much content.
Alex Proyas 12:04
I agree. And I think that's really the most pertinent point that you've put so so well is it's more, you know, the cinemas will survive sure, but I think they'll be servicing the Marvel's and the and the end streamers. You know, I think though, there certainly is that demand for that big screen experience that will probably never go away as a few recent, you know, releases have shown us but what about everyone else? You know, I think we have to, sadly, embrace the well not sadly, you know, optimistically and hopefully embrace the the, the internet medium and try and make that our own at least, you know, right.
Alex Ferrari 12:48
And there are and
Alex Proyas 12:49
I remember hearing about Radiohead, you know, when, when the music streaming first started hitting hard A few years ago, I remember hearing about Radiohead releasing an album in that way only available over the internet and I'm like, gee, that's kind of a weird thing to do. But now of course I go Well, that was prophetic. You know, they were really trying to wrestle control back into their, into their camp as individual artists, you know, and I think that's, that seems to be the sort of place where filmmakers are out at the moment,
Alex Ferrari 13:22
but I think but the thing is that it's because like you said earlier in the conversation, every filmmaker could put their movie out, and on YouTube, it's tomorrow and anything could go out. But unfortunately, just like the musicians, they have to not only be artists, but they have to be business people, marketers, web designer, sometimes, they have to have so many other things other than being just the artist to be able to survive as as just to be able to survive. And if you're not lucky enough to be a Radiohead that built their entire view their fan base on the backs on the dime of the label that got them to be that big you know like it same thing with same thing with filmmakers. I mean, I've said this many times like yeah, you know, Kevin Smith, a spike lee, you know, Martin Scorsese, we know these names, because they've been working within the studio system for so long. And that was got their name up there. But like the indie guy who has one indie and didn't have, like, you know, studios pushing it, it's hard to get that name going unless you build your own thing up, you know, by yourself.
Alex Proyas 14:26
Yeah, exactly. Right. That's exactly right. It's, you know, and it's arguable, you know, whether, through the current system, will it get any more of those names coming out of the woodwork, you know, it's very, very, it's becoming increasingly increasingly rare. And, and I feel like that's why it's time for something too, for a new a new way forward. You know, you know, the the the the auditor has been kind of watered down over the years, you know, we've been made to the Commercial concerns have tried to diminish the importance of the otter You know, I've actually read so many articles about why the otter theories is wrong. And you know, I grew up with the otter theory that's what I get the sort of filmmakers that I followed as a kid and that's the sort of filmmaker I wanted to become, you know, and, you know, it's been, you know, a pretty difficult road to get to that point through the commercial system. You know, so I think it's, it's, it's, it's, it's very important that we hang on to that original creator kind of approach to things and it seems to me that the indie world is where those filmmakers appear these days, you know, the one that already the, the mainstream otters that are already there have, I think, have done their dash you know, and don't know that we're going to get that many new ones appearing through that system. And I think the indie world is where they're going going to be coming from in the future.
Alex Ferrari 16:03
I mean, I think the only way that happens is an indie person gets a shot of a big studio movie. That big studio movie makes a lot of noise and then they can go back and start doing their own indie stuff like again, although Toro was a good example of that, but that's still we're still going back 1015 years but to Hickey the guy who did Thor and Thor Randall rock to Hickey I can't add new components and New Zealander
Alex Proyas 16:27
Alex Ferrari 16:28
wonderful wonderful that's a new name that kind of popped up he was an indie guy got Thor and then and then now he's he's but even then we're still talking about handful. We're talking about maybe 234 but it's the 90s when there was like, you know, Robert Rodriguez Spike Lee you know all these names just started popping up every month it was insane.
Alex Proyas 16:49
Those days are gone. Guillermo is not Guillermo has been around as long as I have I mean he's not he's not a fresh
Alex Ferrari 16:56
No he's not he's not you know, he's not a fresh puppy at all. But yeah, he started off in the indie world, but he wished he came up in the 90s. And he didn't really pop until in the 2000s. But he's been around for a long time as well. So it's, it's it's it's it's disheartening for and I think a lot of creators listening now, who didn't grow up in the 80s 90s in the early 2000s don't understand what that world was like. You know, to have someone like yourself, do the Crow and then do the dark city and to do iRobot in these kind of films. It's just you know, I don't know it's just it's sad. It's just sad. I
Alex Proyas 17:37
think we may have talked about this on the last podcast we did but the you know, in those days, you know, I was like, Hey, I'm gonna do a film based on an original underground comic book you know that no one's heard of and it's like yeah, great. Sounds like a great idea you know, here have money to make a movie you know you know, it was like there was no question about it wasn't people you know, the industry was still interested in original stuff, you know, with dark city in particular you know, hey, I'm gonna make a film based on nothing based on something that came out of my head you know, in this weird world that doesn't exist you know? Yeah, sounds like a great idea let's go let's do it you know, I mean, this stuff just doesn't occur now. Not it's that sort of budget range at least you know, so so it's um, yeah, it is definitely a new new whole new world
Alex Ferrari 18:31
right now. And I think the only one really doing the only one out there who could who could be the tour and also work within the studio system system is Christopher Nolan and he's the only filmmaker I know that has the juice that he's got right now. I mean, I don't know if you saw the details of his deal but I was like Jesus he's got he wants everything I think this is fantastic. Give that man whatever he wants
Alex Proyas 18:52
yeah that's pretty funny know it's like you know he's he's a very rare exception yeah to anyone is in that situation but look, you know, I mean, we're you're only as good as your last movie. Really?
Alex Ferrari 19:06
Alex Proyas 19:07
you no matter who you are, I'm sure he's worn his deal probably even better than than the one that's been publicized publicize? I think he's probably taken a little bit of a step backwards based on the box office of Denver last film, you know, so, you know, it's it's
Alex Ferrari 19:24
no one no one's bullet rarity. No one's bulletproof. There was a moment in time when I heard people saying, Oh, it's over for Spielberg. He's done because he did a couple of bombs back to back and then of course, he came out with Jurassic Park and Schindler's List in the same year and said and shut everybody up. He's like, Oh, really, let me do this for you guys. But that's just the way the game is played. That's the way Hollywood is. But I wanted to ask you, you know, we talked about YouTube a little bit. Is there a because obviously there's a lot people making money on youtube and you can make money a living is another question, but you can't make money on YouTube. With a massive amount of content in our very specific niche, but I haven't seen filmmakers make money on, you know, like, I haven't seen short films The
Alex Proyas 20:09
real Yeah, yeah, that's, you know, like what you do is perfect for YouTube and and, you know, doing commentary doing reviews, etc, etc It seems to be an information based success story YouTube, you know, and I know from the sort of stuff that I watch on YouTube, I very rarely, rarely go, hey, let's check out someone's short films. I'm only doing it now because of what I'm proposing, you know, but it's not the place to go for short films, you know, having said that, some filmmakers that I know have had, you know, one off huge successes, suddenly their short film takes off, you know, often that's, you know, that's supercharged by, you know, groups like dust, or these these, these companies sort of ideas that basically promote, you know, genre based content, you know, you know, but it's, it's not, it's not a perfect model. And it's, and it's partly because, and nor is nor is Vimeo, a great model, because you never know what you're going to get, you know, you never know as a viewer, what you're going to get when you you know, buy a subscription to, to, to Netflix. You know, it's it's a little less of a crapshoot, I mean, it's that's a bit of a crapshoot. Still, people don't consider it as much because there's so much more available, but you know, there's a certain quality control that goes into what you're going to be able to tune into. And a lot of it's very heavily promoted an advertiser, you kind of know what you're getting, you're getting, you know, when you subscribe, you know, YouTube could never be that because it is a completely scatto random scattershot kind of approach to, to content, you know, so you know, it's always gonna be that little thumbnail, that grabs your attention, someone being angry about something, usually, is what grabs your attention. and off you go, and you're gonna watch the first 30 seconds before you realize, you know, you don't want to watch this thing and go to the next thing, you know, that's a YouTube thing for you, not conducive to watching a story being told, you know. So, you know, look, that's, I think that's really the key. And that's why it doesn't seem to work for people. Other than, you know, some, as we say that some of these stories can be, you know, a guy watch playing, you know, playing computer games, you know, and it's like, well, you know, I don't know I don't being, you know, someone who wants to watch a story being told, it's not really my cup of tea, but it's obviously the cup of tea of many, many millions of people, you know.
Alex Ferrari 22:41
Now, you know, you've you've had the privilege of working on indie projects, as well as giant studio projects, or feature films. But you tend to keep going back to shorts, I wanted to ask you your opinion on shorts as a medium in general, do you think it's something that is valuable, not only for artists to express themselves, but valuable for filmmakers to either grow their careers or experiment? What's your feeling on shorts as a general statement?
Alex Proyas 23:10
I think absolutely everything you've said, I do think they're very valid. I mean, I equate them to being like, you know, as a writer, you write novels, and you write short stories. I mean, people don't turn away from the short story form, once they've written a novel, it's just as valid a form of, you know, create creativity. And I've always liked short films, I like watching them, I've been the many juries to judge short films, I've been to, you know, in festivals all over the world to judge short films and features. But I think they're just as valid in an art form. And the only reason they haven't been considered by the mainstream is developed, or that is, you can't make any money out of them as a as a, as a producer, or as a as a studio. You know. So that's, that's really the reason it's, I believe the art form has ever really taken off. But as an art form, it's completely valid. As a filmmaker, you learn, you know, there's a real art to telling us six things, three, grabbing someone and grabbing an audience and holding an audience for that short period of time is a huge art form. And it's one that you know, I discovered making TV commercials and music videos way back when you know, and one that I continue to explore and experiment with in, you know, narrative, short story short, short filmmaking, you know, and I encourage everyone to continue doing. It's actually interesting. I've noticed a few filmmakers a few feature filmmakers recently, because I've had, I've had a short pop up in a few festivals around the world, and I've noticed others there's some other feature filmmakers out there like me, who also have been, you know, sending their short films out to festivals to, to because it's one of the few sort of outlets for short filmmakers you know, so It's kind of interesting I think a few a few other people are probably think feeling the way I do about them right about the the medium right now, you know?
Alex Ferrari 25:07
Yeah, it's always it's, you know, monetizing shorts has always been the problem, I've been able to do it a couple times. But many times I failed, being able to recoup my money or actually make a hefty profit. It's rare to be able to do if you have something that's focused on a niche audience may be things like that, but it's tough. It's tough. And I've seen so many people try to figure it out, you know, which brings me to video verse. And what you're doing with video verse. First of all, what is very verse And when did this idea come up to you, when you it wasn't when you when the idea came to you? Was it when you decided I can't buy a movie theater anymore? This is ridiculous. I need a streaming service. When did this come up? And what is it all? Look
Alex Proyas 25:49
it's been, it's been on my mind for many, many years. And in fact, I actually tried to create a filmmakers website 20 years ago, called mystery clock, which was, you know, with, with the view to eventually do what we are now embarking on with, with video verse, it's taken all that time for the technology to get to the point where you're not watching postage stamp size.
Alex Ferrari 26:20
Oh, god, oh, so bad. It was so bad.
Alex Proyas 26:23
Yeah. You know, I built a future proofing my my mark world, my filmmaking world going, this is where it's going to go eventually, back then I had that sort of prophetic vision. And I knew that it would take some time, I just didn't realize how long it would take, you know, so that site, sadly failed eventually. But here we are now in in 2021. And this stuff is doable. And I think, you know, for me, the the the idea came from the fact that, you know, we can't you know, it was it was a multi prong thing, what you know, one is very verse wants to eventually be streaming features and everything, you know, but we're starting with short, too, because shorts, to me seemed the real weak point for independent filmmakers, you know, and I and as I say, because I've been judging so many short film festivals recently, a lot of isolation type style film festivals because of the pandemic. I mean, I've been blown away by the quality of the work. It's really outstanding, you know, and I just did one a few months ago here called flicker Fest, that's a big, a big deal in Sydney. We managed to sneak in between the lockdowns and it was a live event, they did it in a sort of open air area in on the beach, near the beach in Sydney. So we could all you know, occasionally pull our masks down and drink our beers as we were watching the shorts, and it was an awesome, it just reminded me again, of not just this power of theatrical presentation, but moreso the power of the short film medium, you know, the audience had a great time watching, you know, a two hour program of short films from all over the world, different genres, different, different ideas, different narratives. But the one thing they had in common was there was a quality to the mall, they were all really high quality. And it was actually really, really hard. I watched, maybe I was judging the international program. And over over about a couple of weeks, I think I've watched maybe 70 movies, short films. And it was really hard to pick winners because there was so many great ones, you know, we actually ended up creating awards prizes for specific films that were the prizes didn't exist, because we liked the quality of the film so much, you know, I think that process I started thinking you know, it's it's just criminal that these films are not seen by a wider audience beyond the sort of the the, the, you know, the film festival circuit. And I started thinking more and more specifically, at that point about creating a streaming service that could program a bit like the way Film Festival works program, a series of short films that were maybe even more had more common threads to them, maybe genre or stylistic threads, that could bring a program of 678 short films together. And then whether there was some way to monetize that for the filmmakers. And also, of course, for the for the platform to exist to create a market and an A for the for this content, you know, but basically saying, Okay, well, we are me and as I said, at the beginning of this call was, you know, at the moment I'm looking at all the films myself, because to me, the curated aspect of this is really important that you know, I initially and her and her Hopefully, eventually others at vt verse can maintain a standard of curated quality so that, that we do have that guarantee to an audience who are coming into it, and paying money to watch these films that may or may not be available in other parts of the internet, that we're saying, if you come to us, we guarantee that you're going to get a package of great content, great film, filmmaking, you know, and that's really the whole sort of, you know, origin of this of this idea, you know, so
Alex Ferrari 30:32
so very verse at the moment, we'll accept you're accepting short films, you're looking at short films, is there eventually going to be a financial, you know, arrangement with for the filmmakers, as far as you know, profit sharing things like that, or right now, is it just purely an exhibition platform,
Alex Proyas 30:51
we wanted to, to have a, you know, a licensing scenario, and we're not, we don't want to exclusively license because, for me, it's all about, I don't want to limit filmmakers, ways of making money. If they, if they're making money from their films in other ways, I don't want to get in the way of that, you know, and some of the films that we're dealing with yet, they are already on other platforms, you know, so we're not about exclusively licensing, but we are about packaging, short film content with other like minded short film content, to kind of supercharge their potential to make money, you know, you know, we'll be cutting trailers that are not just one person's film, but a series of short films that are all part of the program. And that way, as I say, a subscriber or a or a user of this platform, can at least get a you know, if you like, one, you'll probably like the others kind of approach. And, and watch a program that's not just 10 minutes long, that is feature length long, you know, or maybe even longer of short films, but they're buying into the program as such, and any funds that are generated because, you know, the reality is, this is all highly speculative, whether or not much funds are generated or not, of course, now it remains to be proven. But all those whatever funds are generated will be split between video verse and the film makes involved with each with each package, you know, so is this the least So, at least that's what we're embarking upon. And then if we get when we get into features, and we get into, you know, we want to get into, like, if we like specific filmmakers, we want to get into programs of specific filmmakers work, you know, many of these film makers have created more than one short film so if we like one, we'll probably like more. So we're investigating that with a few filmmakers at the moment to to basically monetize their brand and make their brand something in this quest for the otter, the new otter to create a kind of brand identity within video verse, or individual specific filmmakers.
Alex Ferrari 33:07
Now is this going to be is this T VOD s VOD, a VOD, I want to say that it's transactional is a subscription or is it advertising based
Alex Proyas 33:16
what it's probably going to be a combination of things. And we're still were developing it so it's still trying to knock through the the logistics, let's say. And you know, and we're also trying or specifically but it is a process we're going through right now and part of the reason we're still kind of you know, working that stuff out is because we're not certain right now how big a platform we want to launch You know, this study aleksis started off from me going I just want to get my own stuff out there on a on all my shorts, I'm going to take it off YouTube and get it onto a platform let's just launch that and I've got this project called mascot evil apparition which is doing very well on the first level at the moment. use that as a way let's just try it and see right so when from that and like all my other mad projects, it starts off at a very crude fundamental level and then evolves into this monster and so we're in mid transformation into the monster right now with more and more and I was saying I'm a bit fearful about talking to you and you getting the word out because I'm fearful of how many more short films I'll actually have to watch and how much less of a weekend I'll have with my family. So we're trying to balance all those factors before we go yet his subscription model and, and we don't want people to coming be disappointed by how little content there is, you know, I'm saying it's like it's a balancing act, you know, so in May launch, I wouldn't, you know, personally and there are other people involved other other partners involved with this venture who have their word as well, but personally, I want to say See this launch as soon as possible, my, my feeling is to launch it with whatever we have, you know, and make it like a sampler and maybe give people give subscribers a kind of early adopter discount if you decide to subscribe with the small amount of content that we have, knowing that it's going to grow into something much bigger. So we'll probably end up being something along those lines, you know,
Alex Ferrari 35:25
fair, fair enough. And I you know, this seems First of all, he's been fantastic. I love the idea of what you're doing. I love that you're doing it and your taste and your curation is doing this, which is what I love. Because there's been a lot of other streaming services that pop up, I get contacted by streaming services, new streaming services on a weekly basis, hey, we got this new streaming service, hey, we're for the independent filmmaker, and I look at their sites and it just like, I can't even you know, I've been offered like, would you buy our streaming service? Like no? Like, no, I don't want to buy your streaming service. But the but when I saw you doing it, I was like, Okay, this is something more interesting. It just takes everything up to a different level when you're involved. Because I'm such a fan of your taste and of your filmmaking I think what you're bringing in I think your, your, I guess your, your lens, everything's being funneled through your lens and that's what's exciting and like, Okay, he's going out and bringing in this amazing content. I think that's a big selling point for what you're, you're doing but I'd love to ask what do you what do you what's the what's the goal five years from now 10 years from now do you you know, how big do you want to get what do you want this to eventually be for filmmakers?
Alex Proyas 36:43
I hope this can be a real thing. I really think I you know, I hope that we can make it a viable industry that people can actually create their content, put it on this website and earn enough from their content. And that is, you know, that makes it viable for them to keep making content you know, I mean, we're trying to across the board with everything we're doing right now is reevaluate the economic structure of filmmaking, you know, from producing, to making to, to develop from developing to producing to distributing right and very verse for me is the sort of final prong of the of that triangle triangle of creation which allows filmmakers to get their stuff seen by people because as we've always said, if it's one thing that make you film we all this wonderful technology that makes it affordable and easy to do. If no one sees it then it's like the tree falling in the forest you know, so that this distribution part of this is absolutely essential so I hope that this is the final part of that you know, that can make make it a viral ball a new viable way to make films and to survive and to earn a living making films You know, that's a lofty goal and I certainly think that's a few years off because I'm not guaranteeing that any individual filmmaker who's you know submitting their work to V verse at the moment you know, if I if I managed to get them a check for a few bucks every quarter I'll be like yeah, that's a success story you know, but I hope we can build on that I hope as more as we get more subscribers more people interested we can keep building this as an idea you know,
Alex Ferrari 38:38
now but will the residual check be bigger than your dark city residual check is the question well, you can't guarantee but the hope is that you can
Alex Proyas 38:47
make it on those terms right?
Alex Ferrari 38:50
Isn't that scary?
Alex Proyas 38:51
When you when you look at it in those terms you know i i can I've just made this film called mascot evil apparition which is going to be one of our first launched videos so called reverse originals, right we're going to launch it and say you can buy this short film by this this schmuck prayers for you know, 299 or whatever, whatever, you know, 50 cents or whatever we're going to put on a we don't know, you know, or subscribing you get it for free, or whatever we're going to say, you know, and honestly, I would be amazed if I know, there have been so many people reaching out to me from my own followers going, how can we see this film? Yes, we'll pay for it. Yes, let us know. And we'll we're there. And there's maybe a few 100 people and maybe there's more people out there. You know, maybe some of those people are lying. Maybe they won't pay for it when they see the trailer. But it's gonna be more than 795 you know, I mean, I'm gonna get a little bit more I know. So there you go the model already. I believe
Alex Ferrari 39:53
it's already worth the bar. The bar is low at 795 The bar is fairly low that you've got to break for this to be a success yeah you should frame that you should frame that check in the offices video verse like everyday guys every day that's what we're gonna break that 795 yeah now when So when is this when are you releasing this to the world
Alex Proyas 40:19
well that I can't do this with about either we're hoping before the end of the year or early in the new year and again it's about really reaching that critical mass where we go yeah this is great and you know we're we're building the site again we have no there's no financing behind this it's all me waking up one day and going yeah, I'll put some dollars into that I did that stupid idea and I've got my heretic foundation colleagues who helping me create this this thing so it's a it's a somewhat unplanned there's an app it's an unplanned business plan right now so you know that's why it's a little has to remain a little flex
Alex Ferrari 41:03
Of course of course you're still trying to figure this all out but I think the intentions are good of what you're trying to do and the the idea is solid and I can't wait to see what the what you guys come up with every year and I'm so I'm so and cannot
Alex Proyas 41:17
Can I Oh yes, I'll just be clear though, that the the SOP is always open for submissions you know, we are actually accepting submissions from anyone in whoever whoever wherever they are. We were getting submissions from all over the world right now. And language is not an issue for us as long as there's English subtitles on the project. We're getting really cool stuff out of Europe and and Mexico and all sorts of great great filmmaking centers. And so you know, we're open for business in that respect at least to create what that library is going to be before we launch
Alex Ferrari 41:56
that that's awesome. I am I'm excited to see what you come up with i mean i'm so I'm so happy that you know, filmmakers like you are still going up to the plate and taking the big swings where many many don't many just stick to their own work and their own art but you're actually trying to help other filmmakers and try to give other filmmakers voices in the next generation a way to keep doing this in the way that you know you and I were able to do it while we were you know coming up it's like you no way to sustain ourselves as artists so I'm so I'm so happy that you're still taking those swings my friend
Alex Proyas 42:31
Why thank you very much. I mean, I think we have to it's it's a it's a cognitive existential crisis that we're all in you know, we're all together in our respect. So I feel like it's it's it's got to be done, you know, and you know, I I think what, you know, what you mentioned earlier on is important that, you know, my, my, you know, you are seeing stuff through my lens. I've always said over the years, people always ask me what what I think about people's other other filmmakers work and I guide up, I never want to be a critic or a reviewer of other filmmakers work because I don't, it doesn't matter what I think about the work every film is hard to make, it doesn't matter whether it's good, bad, or indifferent, you know, they should be, you know, they should be encouraged because they've made a film, you know, and it's the same with, with every, with every level of filmmaking, I believe, you know, and it's kind of this is kind of my opportunity to encourage films that I really like, you know, it's, it's, for me a really specific way of doing it. I'm not criticizing other films, all I'm saying is that these films are ones that I think are worth looking at. And, you know, they're the, the, the quality varies the the, the budgets vary wildly, the resources are going into it, the acting quality, whatever, it is just stuff that I think is cool, you know, that's really the, at the end of the day. You know, what, what, what comes through all this, this, this stuff, and I hope that we can carry that through. As we move forward, you know, stuff that's cool, and into something that holds you that engages you to make you want to watch the news, because it's doing something really something you've never seen before something it's weird, it's interesting, that's unusual, or just, it's a very, it could be a very, you know, small, you know, real world story that's being told in you know, without any genre kind of influence or whatever. I mean, it really doesn't matter. It's all about just something that is, as I say, cool, you know, the cool
Alex Ferrari 44:43
factor, the cool factor. Now, I really love you to talk a little bit about what you're doing at the heritage foundation and what and your virtual production studio that you're building in Australia and everything because I'm, I'm a huge fan of the technology but you you really kind of spearheaded this technology, so can you talk bit about that. Yeah,
Alex Proyas 45:02
we built this studio. It's close to a year and a half, two years ago now. Which was, it's a virtual production facility basically, it's a way to create Well, it's, it's actually a bigger idea than that it's a way to bring all the aspects of filmmaking under the one umbrella, you know, I say ironically, now, because we've actually just moved into our own VFX facility, which is a kind of a sister company to heretic, it's still heretic Foundation, but it's like, where all the VFX get done, you know, because we're growing, you know, but it's so it's a way to use virtual production to streamline how films are made to still be able to bring enormous great production value, but at a at a lower budget range, you know, when you don't have to move around when you don't have to go to multiple locations, when you don't have to build big sets, etc, etc. You can, you can work faster and more expediently you can bring the the the cost of the production down. Or, more importantly, you can elevate the production value of low budget indie films, which is kind of the real key for me, you know, now that we've actually we've just completed a we're completing our first feature, not my not my film, one for another director, guy called john Curran. It's a film called mercy road, which is, it's basically it's a movie at night, it's set in real time, a guy in a in a truck, it's a thriller, it's a bit like jewel, but it's more Gothic and sort of dark and spooky, you know, and we've created the entire world for this film, we've made the the orders, you know, he's in the truck, a lot of the time that he gets out, and he goes to various different locations, the whole world is basically being created by, by heretic in, in, in virtual space, and we've shot it with a combination of LED screens and green screen in numerous situations, as well, and it's looking fantastic. It's really quite wonderful what the material that I'm seeing at the moment. So that, to me, is a great example of elevating a fairly low budget, thriller, indie thriller, to a level where the visuals are ones you would associate with a very expensive, you know, studio movie, you know. And that, to me is an exciting success story already of heretic Foundation, and one we hope to keep building on we have numerous other projects, lining up that one is a World War Two, film set on a on a battleship, which again, you know, they wouldn't even consider doing it on the budget that they have. And in fact, they've tried to raise a larger budget and be now unable to, and it's the technology that were able to bring to it, that's a making the film actually achievable. You know, and that's really exciting world to be in.
Alex Ferrari 48:16
Now, when you say vert, and for a lot of people listening virtual reality virtual, it's never true, that virtual production. You know, when I think of virtual production, I think of the Mandalorian. And then the volume and stuff, have you if you created similar volumes, and using green screen, so you have a volume. And then you also do some elements in green screen as well. So it's a hybrid, if you will,
Alex Proyas 48:36
correct. That's right. Yeah, we heretic. We're currently building a LED volume, a large led volume with a, in cooperation with a with another company. And we've been doing mainly green screen, our studio has green screen. I mean, it's quite a small, small stage. I mean, our studio is really designed as an r&d stage. But we're building we've just done this one film in another volume, but we're building a dedicated led volume, it will be led and green screen, because it's the combination of the two that works so well. You know, some there are some things that are like Mandalorian LED screens are not actually that great at doing when you're when your scenes are very dark, there's a lot of blacking frame. There, it's not as not as good, you know, as a green screen can actually work a lot better. But, you know, it's certain things it's, you know, ideally you have both at your disposal, we have our our guys who are running the virtual sets in the middle between a green and an LED volume, and you literally move the cameras backwards and forwards, you know, depending on what shot is serviced by tech tech tech, do you know and that's ultimate. That's the ultimate goal and that yeah, that's what You are you're there for the duration of the production, you don't, right? That's
Alex Ferrari 50:03
your, that's your company move. That's your, you're just moving left or right, that's your company move in, that's how I mean honestly, that's happened for a filmmaker, I mean, anyone who's ever been out and you know, on location, and you're like, Oh, we only could do one company move today because we're in the middle of a desert, you know, but you know, but you could, um, this kind of production, you can do that. And a lot of things also in virtual production. I've had friends of mine who've worked on the Mandalorian. And you know, the press about, you know, you just put the camera and you shoot, to a certain extent that's true, but and I'd love to hear what you think. But there is cleanup work. There is seen you have to see the cleanup seems you got it. So there is it's not like you just shoot in the can you're done? Yes, you get a lot more done than you used to. But there is still a visual effects hand that's going to touch it and clean things up a little bit. Is that true?
Alex Proyas 50:51
Yes, that's very true. And you don't hear that from Mandel. Laurie bit the PR, Amanda Lauria makes it seem like it's, it's, it's a really easy to walk in the park, and let's not forget that they have huge budget. Like, I've put this together again, from my own bank account, at least up until this point, you know, and you know, it's very different to having you know, Disney and ILM behind you. But look, you know, I'm grateful to the Mandalorian team, because they've, they've made this, everyone goes ISO Mandalorian, you know, and they're all you know, it's created a whole sort of mini industry, and it's helped my company enormously, so very grateful to you all there a Mandalorian land. But this is not the, you don't need to do all that stuff to, to make a work as we've just proven on a very low budget movie, and we're continuing to prove its ingenuity a lot of its ingenuity. The but but, yes, to To be clear, there is a lot of cleanup work, but it's but you have to be clever about how you do it. Some shots work perfectly well. And other other shots as we say, you swing around in your on the green, and they will work better on green. And the one thing that you have to remember is that it's a double edged sword, having your having your dailies there done in the can on an LED screen, because if you haven't had the time in pre production to, to get your set your environment fully SPECT out the way you want it, you're stuck with it, you know, in the Mandalorians case, they're not because they can just replace it later on, you know, in our case, it's prohibitive to do that. So we have to make sure that we have it to a level of finish that we're happy to have baked in to the to the to the dailies, otherwise, we'll shoot it on grain. And that's our way of keeping costs down, you know, but you know, look, if you do it, right, if you if you do the right kinds of shots on le G, you shouldn't have to do any cleanup work afterwards, you know, it's it should be done, it is possible to bake it all in and get it all done. For example, in this short film that we've just that we're finishing at the moment, a lot of the stuff out, you know, in all the car stuff with a guy inside the car, outside the window is 100% LSG volume. Because there's so many shots to finish all those two composite all those shots in green are would have been really pro hippy expensive and expensive prospect. So we've only stripped out the shots at an absolutely essential that we do on green screen. There's quite a few of those, but it makes it a much more manageable thing. It's just on the Mandalorian they wouldn't care the Mandalorian they do it they go I didn't work out and we'll do it and you know, we'll do it the other way, you know, because they can afford to
Alex Ferrari 54:05
rotoscoped out the shot and and get up and do whatever and do whatever they want. No, it's it's it's pretty amazing technology. And yeah, I'm always I'm always fascinated by all that. And, you know, the thing that's also really interesting is a lot of people think that you have to do if your virtual production has to be this big sci fi world building thing. But no, you're the story you're talking about the film that you're talking about is not it might be genre and stuff but it's not a sci fi world creating dark city style project, which you know, something like reprojection this is basically just really nice rear projection. with with with being able to move the camera and the camera following the parallax on. But I can only imagine what Stanley Kubrick would do with this technology.
Alex Proyas 54:55
Yeah, well he liked he did it. I mean he did it with that's the funny thing about The Mandalorian claiming to have invented I don't know whether they ever did that other people claim that they claim this projection or direction. Yeah, it's been around since day one, you know, and, and look, the thing about virtual production is that what really is the key is not so much of the screen or whether it's led or green is the marrying a computer generated model. That's that to the to the live camera. And as you move your camera, the model will move accordingly. That is what the two production is. And in fact, I know exactly who invented that. And I can't say that it was me, but it was almost me because the first two films that were done using a very early version of, of video virtual production was was Spielberg's AI and my iRobot right now we're the first films to actually use the the technology we you know, at the time that we did iRobot I didn't know that this stuff actually had already been done that I was like, I had a scene with Will Smith running around 1000 robots and I didn't have anything real I only had wheel Smith and one robot which was used as a standard so I go How do we do this scene? How can I move my camera around and now what I'm seeing through these rows of robots you know that we put 1000 cut bits of cardboard our cardboard net cats or something. And they came up with this thing called encoders called encoder care which was the early rudimentary virtual production thing where we had had the model on on the stage my camera on a techno crane could move around town and I'd see this sort of you know, very rudimentary 3d model move as my camera moved and I was like Wow, this is awesome. This is incredible you know? Yeah. So that really was the origins of virtual production and then now that's been combined with as you say rescreen project a new form of risk group project right?
Alex Ferrari 57:17
Because when I robot was around the LEDs, not so much. Not that affordable. This big, this big was about $10,000 Yeah, it was all plasma back then. I hate this I still got my I still have a plasma TV from like 15 years ago and it still looks fantastic and it's still still rockin at 720 p Now one other thing I wanted to talk to you about a little birdie told me that you might be working on a series for dark city is that true?
Alex Proyas 57:52
I have no idea where you look I mentioned that to one to one person and on a podcast a bit like this and I mean it was great to see so many people picked it up as a story so much so much of the the sort of genre based you know industry picked it up as something to have note which is great it just show me that there's a lot of any kind of new there's a lot of still you know interest still strong there in the in the in the wings for for a dark city a continuation of the dark city story but of course you know, I mentioned way earlier than I should have were still with you know, I should have said and I'm trying to sell a dark city and I'm making a dark as opposed
Alex Ferrari 58:44
to like so so when is the streaming and what is coming out November
Alex Proyas 58:49
is it November people assume it's like it's happening already you've shot it it's been in the Can you just imposed I've had some yeah I've had so many actors applying to screen test and and writers applying to write episodes etc so this is kind of me saying Don't you know let's let's take a deep breath down guys and wait a moment before you know before I say anything too much more about it look the only thing because I like you Alex so much as you know the only thing I can say that I know knowing that's the caveat that where we're just where we're working it out at the moment we're not we don't have we're not we're not greenlit we're far from it. You know, we haven't I haven't even written any of it. Yeah, we're still working on our on our pitch on our onset, you know, but what I will say is, it is very much a continuation of the, the original movie. It's, it's not a re it's not a reboot, as a as a more more of a sequel to the original movie. So that's something that that maybe will, you know, is one bit of information that is make people would want to know about and you know I'm trying to I mean it is it's you know obviously in doing a TV series we have to appeal to a bunch of an audience that maybe don't even know about dark city they've got no idea of this film dark city and there's plenty of those people around but at the same time every year that goes pass more and more people are become dark city fans it you know it this has been going on since the first the original release so many people come have come to come to every year going wow we never knew this movie existed This is a great and become new fans you know so I'm also trying to create a story that that makes those people happy you know and be the bit is faithful to the original fans of the series and and works into what they would want to see you know so i think i think we're there I think we've come up with a with a concept that will work for for both sides of the spectrum and and also as I said bringing in you hopefully bring in new a new audience as well you know
Alex Ferrari 1:01:12
well that's exciting news and I I want you to have that that Canvas to play with him to go visit that world because of such a wonderful and rich world and God I would love to see it so I wish you nothing but the best but everyone listening calm the hell down it's he's he's not in post everybody he's not in post in it already. It's not coming out for Christmas everyone needs to calm the hell down.
Alex Proyas 1:01:37
Sadly that's the case and look you know this also feeds into the technology that we've just been talking about because you know dark city was made at the time and I barely could afford it even then they didn't give me a huge budget but they gave me enough where I built the entire thing we had these massive sets built in is kind of aircraft hangar size space in Sydney we built the entire street that we kept reconfiguring much like the film was to service all our all our different scenes you know and you know obviously the The time has gone you know when you could do that on a film like that but now of course this new technology is is enabling me to make that world in an even better way I believe I don't have quite the fun on the set of hanging out on those in those cool spaces but beyond that, you know the virtual production gives you a world that looks every bit as great and again I'm not having to limit my imagination because even on something like this series which will hopefully be financed by you know a legitimate studio with the money to throw at it that that it necessitates that there's going to be a limit there I'm going to you know they're not going to let me go crazy but in the virtual world I can I can do whatever I want I can visualize it however I want to add and so I think it's the right time for continuing the visual aspect of dark city in a in a new in a new form you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:03:18
I have to ask you just out of curiosity when when you are going to pitch a show like this I obviously there's going to be a lot of concept art but would you create like a sizzle reel like using your technology going look this is what we can do kind of Robert Rodriguez did that with Sin City and and you're like when there's new like technology like Look guys, I know normally would cost $100 million, but we could do it for five. And this is what we could do and this is how we do it. Look what it looks like are you going are you planning on doing something like a little sizzle reel or something?
Alex Proyas 1:03:48
No wait because the movie is a sizzle reel. Right? So there's no real reason so so if there are any executives who have my fate in their hands I say to go watch it go and watch the movie you know right right. And you know look fortunately I have I'm I'm involved with some people who who are big fans on the original movie so so that's that's really that's really key. But they you know, yes. If it wasn't for that, that movie existing Absolutely. You know, that would be the The first thing to do. I've got a film called sister darkness that we are there we're trying to finance at the moment. That is we're doing just that with you know, we've created we've actually created a little, a little trailer and all that sort of stuff. And it's all virtual production. Just to show people that the kinds of the way it's going to look, you know, so So. Yeah, absolutely. It's nice having a studio at my fingertips for such things.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:55
Yeah. Very helpful. I've been I was in post for most of my Career and I love having the ability to just like oh yeah I got my VFX team I've got my post team I can just you know do whatever I want I never even on the budget that's so funny whenever I do a project but the budget line for for post I just never even because I use I'm like I'm gonna do the post I'm going to edit it I'm going to sorry Of course it's free I'm going to call I'm going to comment rate it I'm going to master it I'm going to output it for deliverables all that stuff so I never even think about even scheduling How much does that cost? Jesus Christ I've got a lot of value I should charge more for this. Now where it can people submit to video verse and submit their films,
Alex Proyas 1:05:37
it's very verse.com
Alex Ferrari 1:05:41
that's Vi Vi di verse vi
Alex Proyas 1:05:43
d i diverse yeah vt verse. I expect you you'll get a run it underneath
Alex Ferrari 1:05:50
me. I'll put it in the show notes. We'll put it in the show notes. As you do this, I will have my I will have my team if the team is listening the my patina as do it one more time to do one more time. So very, very verse city, the SATCOM makes Yeah, I'll make sure I'll make sure they do.
Alex Proyas 1:06:10
And yeah, so it's all self explanatory. I hope on if you go to their website, it explains exactly what what is required of you. And, yeah, please send us your films and, and, and we can do something great together. You know,
Alex Ferrari 1:06:27
Alex, I appreciate you being on the show. Again, coming back. I appreciate everything you're doing with Vinnie verse. I love that you continue to take big swings at the play for everybody. And you also have a fantastic first name as well. So thank you, my friend for doing all that you do. And thanks again for coming on the show my friend.
Alex Proyas 1:06:48
Thank you Alex. It's been a pleasure again and hopefully we'll do at least one more time,
Alex Ferrari 1:06:53
at least a few that when you when the dark city dark city series releases, you'll come back and then we talk about it that Thank you. Thank you, my friend.
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