IFH 429: Hybrid Self Distribution in the Times of COVID with Peter Rader


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Today on the show we have returning champion Peter Rader. Peter has been working with his wife Paola di Florio to help filmmakers connect with audiences and generate revenue for their projects.

The story of how they self-distributed their run-away hit AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda from booking theaters to SVOD is remarkable. They did it all on their own and the film has been viewed by millions. I wanted to bring Peter back on the show to discuss how they are distributing film during COVID, methods for audience building, social media marketing, release strategy, and much more.

Peter has worked as a film and television writer for 20 years. His first scriptWaterworld, was produced by Universal in 1995. He has developed numerous projects for other studios, and industry leaders such as Steven Spielberg, Dino De Laurentiis, and John Davis.

On today’s show, we are discussing the new film Infinite Potential: The Life and Ideas of David Bohm, which his company is helping to self distribute in the hybrid model.

“Infinite Potential: The Life and Ideas of David Bohm” is a feature documentary about the man Einstein called his “spiritual son” and the Dalai Lama his “science guru.” A brilliant physicist and explorer of Consciousness, Bohm’s incredible insights into the underlying nature of reality and the profound interconnectedness of the Universe and our place within it are truly transformational.

Enjoy my conversation with Peter Rader.

Alex Ferrari 2:20
Now today on the show, guys, we have returning champion Peter Rader. Now Peter is not only the screenwriter behind the legendary Waterworld, but he's also become a self distribution guru using hybrid self distribution. Last time he was on the show, we talked about how he was able to turn a little little documentary about the life of paramahansa Yogananda, the Indian guru that brought yoga and meditation to the west into a blockbuster independent film. And I wanted to bring Peter back on the show so he can share with us how he is distributing his films during COVID. The methods that he uses for audience building social media marketing, the release strategy during these crazy times and much, much more. And we discuss his latest film infinite potential, the life and ideas of David Boehm. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Peter Rader. I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Peter Rader. How you doing my friend? I am very well Alex. No, of course. Thank you for coming back. You, you, you and your and Paolo who were on before to talk about one of my favorite documentaries of all time awake. The life of Yogananda you guys have been one of my favorite episodes. It's actually one of the most downloaded episodes of, of both film entrepreneurs podcast and indie film, hustle podcast. And, and I just, um, you know, how big of a fan I am of you guys? And what you do specifically how you did distribution with a week. So what can you tell the audience? What have you been up to since awake?

Peter Rader 4:08
Okay, well, first of all, I want to say that I am here representing the both of us, my wife and the company, founder, partner, Debbie with us, but I am very happy to be here representing and one of the things about awake was that we we learned a lot from doing that. First of all, not only do we make the movie, but we self distributed the movie, because we realize the thing that most indie filmmakers know, which is no one knows your audience as well as you do. So, you know, even if you got the best distribution deal, they're on some levels, going to find it in, you know, they're not going to do the 110% version of your distribution. They're always going to do the, you know, 72% version

Alex Ferrari 4:56
And that's the best case and that's the best case scenario.

Peter Rader 4:59
Exactly! And there's like, you know, you know, two, three people on your team, they're handling six to eight films, and you know, they're spread thin, and all sorts of buckets, you know, balls drop, all sorts of things are not getting executed to the level that, you know, you always like cringing a little bit, oh my god, that's the artwork they're going with, you know, there's all these decisions that are made, that are not exactly representing the film in the way that you would want it to be represented. So we learned that early on with awake, I mean, you know, we thought about traditional distribution or whatever. You know, there's a whole bunch of guys out there at that point that were already preaching the gospel of hybrid distribution. There's Peter Broderick, of course, who you know,

Alex Ferrari 5:38
A friend of the show got a friend of the show.

Peter Rader 5:41
Yeah. And, you know, john Reese, also, you know, think outside the box office, you know, a lot of people have been saying, Do it yourself, or do you know, Peter Broderick is a big fan of what he calls co exclusive deal. You can carve out your rights, you know, you can do a DVD deal over here, you do a digital deal over here, you do the article deal over here, but retain rights retain the right to also do it yourself? Well, that's what's called the hybrid model. And we did it with a week and we did it very successfully, it actually exceeded everyone's expectations. You know, we ended up playing theatrically in 65 markets in America. And in certain cities, we played seven weeks in New York City, which is a tough market. On opening weekend, we were the number three film in America, you know, in terms of per screen average. And then certain markets like Pasadena and Encinitas. Encinitas, of course, is ground zero for a Yogananda film. We were there for 23 weeks, and and it just kept going from there. overseas, we were theatrical in 50 plus screens in seven countries for a documentary for a spiritual documentary. He does these, it's like, that doesn't happen that often. So we're starting to think, wow, there's an audience out there. There's an underserved audience out there. And after a week, we started doing a whole bunch of research in this area, in this area of you know, so called conscious filmmaking, you know, spiritual films, uplifting films, films about, you know, your true nature, and you know, what it means to be a human being and how do you find your life's true purpose, those types of films, which were very interesting to us after making awake, we realized, wow, like, here's some statistics that are going to blow your mind. The United Nations recently did a survey of the number of people practicing yoga worldwide. It was published in January. I think yoga journal is where I found it in January. Yes, you're a yogi.

Alex Ferrari 7:44
I mean, I don't know. 100 million people, 200 million people. If you throw in India, then it could be a billion people.

Peter Rader 7:53
Let's say 2 billion, 2 billion, is what the United Nations projected. That's some form of yoga. I don't know what they're defining as yoga.

Alex Ferrari 8:03
Could be. It could be goat yoga, it could be actually more traditional yoga.

Peter Rader 8:09
Yes. So it's like, wow, wow, that's one quarter of the population on the planet. Also, you know, the Pew Charitable Trust did a study and they continue to do this study. America is always considered to be a Christian country, you know, God, God, Christian, Jesus, Jesus, right? Yes. But the pew research study said that one in three Americans identify as being spiritual, but not religious.So you know,

Alex Ferrari 8:39
And growing and growing, that number is growing.

Peter Rader 8:41
Yeah, yeah, like new wage, or seekers or whatever not, in other words, not necessarily wanting to go to a traditional church, but consider themselves to be you know, you know, woke and looking, seeking, you know, that's kind of a thing. So, we're like, we want to reach those people. And those people are underserved, they're underserved, you know, the movies are not getting made. And when they are getting made, they're not. They're not either ready for market or they're not quite reaching the marketplace in the way that they need to. So you know, we started seeing this after Awake, awake, was at the inaugural illuminate Film Festival in Sedona illuminate is the first, you know, conscious Film Festival. So it's been around, you know, five years or so. And, you know, we were blessed to have received the Audience Award. And then, you know, we really aligned with Danette walpert, the founder and her vision for the future of conscious media and how she was mentoring and creating workshops and stuff. So we just kept coming back and back and back. We were, you know, we're consultants were luminate call source to screen how to how to tap into what source the universe is trying to express through you and get into a screen get to the screen of your choice. So We have a three day workshop that we do at counterpoint films called source to screen. We've done it a bunch of times in Sedona and Ohio a couple places. And then we started to consult, we started to consult on like minded films and with like minded filmmakers, and in in two capacities. First of all, filmmakers always need a second set of eyes, you know, we always hire consultants, we always hire we always do. You know, certainly, whatever audience testing, you know, we do, we throw up our rough cut, we bring in a, you know, an audience that we start to calibrate the film. And then we also bring in editorial consultants outside set of eyes. So, one of the things we provide is, is outside set of eyes, so filmmakers who are close to feeling like they have a lock film, well, it's never, it's never quite finished, here's two rules about films that we've learned. One is films are never finished. And two is that films are either between 10 and 30 minutes too long, everything.

Alex Ferrari 11:05
Fair enough, fair enough.

Peter Rader 11:08
So, so we we, you know, helped get films ready for market. And then the second component is reaching your audience reaching the market and the way that you want to. And in this, you know, hybrid model where you are, you know, controlling the, the, the way, the film gets out into the marketplace. So we did that, it just kept sort of building, I'd say, maybe two dozen films, we consulted on and mentored, and some of them have been extremely successful. One of the big success stories is the Harry Krishna movie, which is similar to awake the life of Yogananda because it's, it's well, the narrative is very similar. A guy from Bengal comes to America and spreads the teachings of India wildly successfully. So much so that, you know, George Harrison is like, you know, saying Harry Krishna at the Concert for Bangladesh, and Madison Square Garden is the first thing he says to the audience. Alright, Krishna, everyone's like, Oh,

Alex Ferrari 12:14
It's, it's, it's amazing. Yeah. And I'm dying to see I actually got to watch Harry Krishna as soon as this interview is over.

Peter Rader 12:23
But, um, for instance, you know, the filmmakers came to us, knowing that we had done awake, and they and they were like, oh, what do we do with this film? It was unwieldy. It wasn't, you know, so one of the things we did was we, we were editorial consultants, you know, we just said, Give us a film, give us a film for about a month? Let us you know, work on it for a little bit. So, outside set of eyes, less preciousness, you know less. Yeah, the, you know, the thing about these types of films is, there's a temptation to kind of elevate the teachings and the guru or whatever, and put them on a big pedestal and make them you know, just Sanctify them in a way that's actually a little bit of turnoff to the uninitiated. So there's always that challenge of hitting the sweet spot, the sweet spot between, you know, the choir, and the not the uninitiated. Like, you got to go in that middle. So it's like, there's plenty of points of entry. So that's one of the things we did with that film. We just made it less precious, we help them out. And, and then we basically gave them the awake playbook. We literally said, Okay, here's what you need to do. You're gonna need a poster, your trailer, you need a website, you're going to need this, you know, first of all, step one in hybrid distribution is identify your core audience. And actually, you know what, before you even start making a movie, identify your core audience. Before you even write the script. Who is your core audience? preach? Yes, not necessarily preach.

Alex Ferrari 14:02
No, no, no, you preach, preach the word of what you're saying. And I preach to them a use or preach? Yes, you need to find an audience. Amen, sir. Amen.

Peter Rader 14:12
So, yes. indie filmmakers, you know, you've probably read the blog 1000 true fans,

Alex Ferrari 14:21
Of course. Oh, yeah, of course. I've mentioned it many times on the show.

Peter Rader 14:25
Yes, that that, you know, you kind of start there, which is, you know, you want to be an indie filmmaker, you know, you want to sustain a long career. You got to find those 1000 true fans, what is the narrative your career what's you know, as a as an exercise your take out your journal? And you know, like, don't just tell me your next film. What's your next three films? Like? what's the what's the sequel? And then what's the, you know, follow up or whatever? What's the Encore after that? What and what are they? What are the themes of those films? What's the common thread? Who are the people that are going to love your film? Where are they can you reach them? If you can answer all those questions, you're already a mile ahead of the game, you know, because then it can start to inform even your creative process. Like let's write a film for those people. And oh, you know, the other exercise that we do and we do this in sources screen is right, you're right, you're right, your Amazon review right now. Write your five star review and write your one star review. Okay. Yeah. And what so what's the takeaway? What do you want people to feel? After they finished your film, you can do this exercise, even when you only have a logline or you know, just a character idea started start. It's a great creative exercise, you know, we always talk about Go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 15:43
Well, so tell me about your latest project, the infinite potential and how and how are you applying a lot of these concepts to that project?

Peter Rader 15:51
Yes. So recently, we were approached by the Fetzer Memorial Trust, to consult with them and help them distribute this film, infinite potential and infinite potential is about the physicist David bone. Are you familiar with David Boehm?

Alex Ferrari 16:06
I'm not, I'm not.

Peter Rader 16:07
Okay, I'm going to give the elevator pitch. Okay. He was one of the most brilliant thinkers of the 20th century, and yet he was shunned by the scientific orthodoxy. Shocking, shocking, shocking. His ideas were so threatening to the status quo. But here's the thing. Without getting too wonky on you, there's been a disconnect between Einstein's theories and quantum mechanics, quantum theory, they never could reconcile the macro the the theories that describe gravity and the cosmos. And, you know, with the micro, the theories that describe a subatomic activity, they don't speak to each other. In fact, they're contradictory. They're contradictory. And there was a missing component that everyone was looking for. And this guy, David Boehm, who was Robert Oppenheimer's thesis students, the father of the atomic bomb. And he was also, you know, Einstein considered him be a spiritual son invited him to Princeton to actually teach with him. He started thinking talk about thinking outside the box, he was like, we got to go outside of science for this answer. And the taglines that we created for infinite potential, our mystics have known about it for millennia, modern science is catching up the infinite potential, the quantum potential that he theorized that underlies all of reality, both the micro and the macro, is consciousness is a field of consciousness. And it is it has information in it, it informs both the micro and the macro at all levels and connects the universe in a non local way. So an electron in the Andromeda galaxy is connected to, you know, the electron right here and my cell phone. Somehow, somehow those two things are connected in a way that defies Einsteinian relativity, because in Einstein said, Nothing can move faster than the speed of light. Well, then how could these two things be connected instantaneously? Well, it's called the quantum potential. And he actually wrote mathematical equations to describe this. And they're on the verge of proving that he's arrived.

Alex Ferrari 18:23
Oh, it sounds like an amazing, amazing film. Alright, so then, how would they see like, Harry Krishna and Yogananda they have large audiences. How are you planning to go? Is there an audience who you going after how you identify the audience? How are you? How are you doing this?

Peter Rader 18:42
Okay there is a gigantic audience for this. In fact, in the less than one month that we've been in release, we premiered on the 20th of June, we have 300,000 views

Alex Ferrari 18:58
On which platform?

Peter Rader 19:00
YouTube

Alex Ferrari 19:01
YouTube Oh, interest like traditional YouTube?

Peter Rader 19:05
Traditional YouTube.

Alex Ferrari 19:06
Interesting. This is getting much more interesting. Go ahead.

Peter Rader 19:09
Okay! Here's what happened. The foundation that's supporting both the film and its release approached us, I guess, in February, whatever we're like, yeah, that's totally in our sweet spot. We love that science and spirituality, the intersection of science and spirituality. That's Yes, absolutely. Yes. Yes. Yes. That's a yes. So we're like, okay, they're like write up a distribution plan for us. So we're like starting right, right, right. Right, right. You know, three weeks later, COVID. Boom, locked out. So we're like, hmm, how can we make lemonade out of this? Well, there's a fantastic way to make lemonade out of this because it's the magically, completely appropriate, Let's release, release this bill virtually, in the field that connects us all in a digital version. Have the quantum potential, let's actually market that, let's make that be the message that we're sending out there. And the great thing about the arrangement that we made with Fetzer was that their underwriting of the distribution allowed us to offer the product for free. Okay? So that's huge, you know, this payment is always a little bit of a barrier entry. But I'll talk a lot more about that in a moment. The filmmaker was a little nervous about that, like, what we're going to give away my film for free. And we said, one thing that we did, by the way, as we read cut down his his Director's Cut, he had a very long cut of the film, Paul Howard, his cup was 110 minutes long. And for moving about quantum physics, that's, that's a little unfortunate. A little unwieldy. So we said, Give us a shot at creating sort of an entry level version of this movie of a market friendly version. And he was kind enough to trust us. So, you know, we went and, you know, kind of did a little tweaking, and Well, a lot of tweaking, and we cut out 38 minutes, we have one minute version of the film. So and we basically rejiggered our our marketing and distribution plan to say, you know what, first of all, one of the things that we say to all of these, it's it's never one product, and it's certainly never a film, it's always like a movement, every film should be considered itself to be a movement, there needs to be a destination website, there needs to be a call to action, social activism or something, there needs to be a book, there needs to be a sequel, there needs to be a, you know, a lecture tour, there's a whole bunch of components add on, add on add on is what we say, you know, because you can't really make it with just one product, you need to really like spread it out.

Alex Ferrari 21:52
So I know you haven't I know you haven't read the rise of the film entrepreneur just yet. Even though I do use you as a case study in the book. But what yours talking about is an integral part of the entire philosophy and formula of a film entrepreneur is the movie is a lost leader. Or it can be one revenue stream, but it cannot be the only revenue stream in an independent world, you should be creating ancillary products, lines, services, products, all sorts of things that generate more, but it's basically Disney. It's what Disney does on an independent scale. Is that fair to say?

Peter Rader 22:29
Yeah, so you stole our idea?

Alex Ferrari 22:31
Oh, no, I What? No, no, no, this idea was based upon, it's a base upon. You know, the concept is the same. But the difference is that look, Disney the concept what I talked about in film trip earner is Disney, basically, yeah. It's what Walt Disney the company does, and they're not a movie studio anymore. They only 50% of their revenue is actual box office or revenue from exploitation with them, the majority of the money is made exploiting the properties. So I just took that and shrunk it down to the independent level and actually show tools that are available today. We're an independent film that cost 3000 bucks could actually go out and start generating revenue, with all of these concepts in the tool sets that are out in the world today. That's the difference. But the concept is basically Disney.

Peter Rader 23:21
Yeah, yeah, it sure is. Yeah. And so yeah, so we said, we created we brought together Actually, we, most of the team that worked on awake, distribution, awake is now working with us infinite potential. So that includes publicists, a social media team, you know, producer of marketing and distribution, you know, a whole bunch of people graphics, you need a lot of social media assets, you constantly need to be generating content that keeps your audience engaged and interested. And giveaway, giveaway, giveaway, give it all away, give it away, or certainly part of it needs to be given away. In this case, you know, we had the luxury of being able to give away the short version of the film for free. And, you know, we're basically using it as sort of a marketing tool and positioning and get getting a mailing list, you know, to allow the filmmaker to then monetize his director's cut a little later in the fall. We're gonna have him What's that?

Alex Ferrari 24:18
No I'm thinking of everything I'm gonna kill. So I'm assuming when they monetize the director's cut, they'll probably be extended interviews in that package and other things like that, to make that back. Because if you saw the 72 minute version for I've done this, I've seen movies like this, this this system is rare. It doesn't happen very often, but when it's done is done extremely well, is you watch a short version of it, and you're like, but I want I want more. I want to get in there more and think, Oh, you want the full all of the full hour long interview with this guy and the full hour long movie with this guy. They did it with What the Bleep? Yeah. Back in the day as well.

Peter Rader 24:50
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. In fact, Betsy chassis is one of our partners. Yeah. You probably interviewed her.

Alex Ferrari 24:56
I haven't interviewed but but I know Betsy. We've been trying to get it. We just haven't scheduled But yeah, I know, I know, we know a lot of the same people. It's a small circle of people. But Betsy, and the director I've met as well, I met him at Sundance.

Peter Rader 25:07
Yeah,she's about to promote infinite potential on social media. And, you know, we'll circle back to the whole thing about partners partners are absolutely. Partners partners. Yeah. I mean, we just did a thing with the Dalai Lama. And, you know, I managed to get him to actually promote something on social media, which he never, never, never does. We got one tweet, and, and one Facebook post, and we got like, 6000 people on our mailing list, you know, within five minutes?

Alex Ferrari 25:36
Well, that's the Dalai Lama, I'm assuming. So they're not a bad social media partner in this space.

Peter Rader 25:43
Exactly. So bottom line is we assemble this team. And we, we basically picked a launch date, we decided on on June 20, which was a Saturday, and that we were going to do a virtual online premiere. And we, you know, kind of researched various streaming platforms, our product is 4k, and it's widescreen, it's 235 to one. So it's sort of a particular product that, you know, we looked at stream yard, and we were a little iffy about that. We ended up going with demyx. And we got, you know, technicians who were familiar with that. Because, again, all of our screening events are the film and the panel. And it's their thematic. So we had our premiere, then we had a Dalai Lama events. You know, a couple weeks later, this Saturday, actually, we have a science panel with some really heavy duty scientists who are looking at you know, it's called quantum theories of consciousness, it's all these different scientific approaches to, you know, what the heck is consciousness? And can we quantify it? You know, can we explore it? Can we measure it, you know, all of that. So, it's going to be quite cool. So, you know, with a global virtual premiere, one of the challenges is like timezones like what times on a human being, you know, like, you know, this is where you use Google Analytics, and you're very much looking at your audience and saying, like, where are they predominantly, so are most of our audiences here, here in the US and North America? So our premier, I believe, was we didn't know we did noon Pacific, three in on the east coast and not so late for Europe, you know, Central Europe would be nine o'clock. So good, but forget about Asia. For that one, you know, on the on the Dalai Lama birthday event that was even more challenging because we had Robert Thurman, you know, Robert Thurman?

Alex Ferrari 27:46
I know name? Yeah,

Peter Rader 27:47
He's Thurman's father, and he runs to that house in New York. So he was on our panel Plus, you know, this guy in like India and a couple of other things. So, we had to skirt like 16 timezones. So we did it at 6pm Pacific, which would be like 6:30am in in India, so it will be on the Dalai Lama's birthday in India, though it would be the day before.

Alex Ferrari 28:11
Right, Right. Right. Right. Right.

Peter Rader 28:13
So, um, and what we did was we, you know, what you always do, which is you drive anticipation and awareness, and you create a buzz, this film is coming infinite potential you how long and how long before? Um, not as long as we would have liked, but it was sufficient to be successful. So let's call it four weeks of a solid campaign you know,

Alex Ferrari 28:37
And what does that campaign kind of look like? Are we talking about three posts a day on all social media platforms? Are you leveraging other people's social media platforms? Have you created your own social media platforms for this project? How is that kind of look out? I mean, without giving away too much of the secret sauce, but you know,

Peter Rader 28:52
No, no, how can you give it away, you always have to give away something for free. That's okay. Good, traditional platform. So we're on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. And not to two to three posts a day, that's too many at first you ramp up to that, you know, it's more like one a day. And you're absolutely enlisting partners. In fact, you create social media toolkits for every single partnership. So that it's basically ready to post for them. You literally write the language for them, every single partner that you enlist, you just say, you don't have to do anything. Just take this put on your platform,

Alex Ferrari 29:30
Copy, paste, copy, paste.

Peter Rader 29:33
Exactly. And I'm going to tell you some tricks about tracking URLs in a second but you know, so you create generic posts, and then you customize them to each partner that you're that you're approaching. The most effective thing that we have found is list buying. So mailing email blasts, dedicated email blasts are the absolute best way to promote something in terms of conversion. You know, so for instance, for the Dalai Lama event, we went to tricycle magazine, which is a Buddhist magazine. And to get a dedicated email blast from their list, which is robust, I think it's around 80,000 or so is $1100. So not too bad, not too bad for one blast. So we wrote the copy, we created it. And we have analytics. Whenever we do this, we create a trackable URL. So we know that this blast is going to go to our website through this portal that will tell us exactly how many conversions we had. So on that thing alone, we got 3003 and a half 1000 signups from that one blast. So it was like 32nd, third 30 cents a sign up, which is a really.

Alex Ferrari 30:50
Yes We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. That's actually so it's actually better. So a lot of people for conversions, they look at Facebook ads. So they would say, well, maybe we spent $1100 in Facebook ads. But generally, with Facebook ads, when you're trying to deal with conversions, even if you're giving away something free, you're still in the dollar 50 to $2 range. And that's good. If you can get it below $1. You're like winning. So at a 30 cent price point per lead. That's an amazing thing. But I want I want to point out is what you're doing is and I hope everyone listening is taking notice of this is you you understood who your niche is. So you went to an authority in that niche who already has the audience you're looking for. And you're paying for the privilege for the one time interaction with that audience through their email list. And it's the ROI is fantastic.

Peter Rader 31:50
Yes. Right. Yeah. And and we're giving them it's like a win win whenever you can do a win win with a partner like that. In this case, it's like, you know, we were hoping it. We were hoping that the Dalai Lama himself would show up, you know, somehow, but you know, he's he's 85

Alex Ferrari 32:08
Yeah, he's busy. He's, he's playing. He's blessing the planet. And there's I mean, the planets going through some stuff right now. I'm sure he's extremely busy right now sending out good vibes.

Peter Rader 32:19
Yes, but we got like, you know, Robert Thurman, and we got his, his translator, this guy, jinpa thumping, who is just, you know, the Dalai Lama's English translator for 35 years. And we got this guy named Nicky breeland, who was a Abbot, a Western, the first ordained Abbot of a Tibetan monastery from the west. He's a guy who literally went to NYU film school, he thought he's gonna be a filmmaker. Then he went to India, and he never came back. So he's one of those shaved his head. Now he's an Abbot. So we had a really cool panel that, you know, the audience was was hungry for. So you know, for that event for our premiere. And for that event, we ended up getting 17,000 signups on our mailing list. That's when we, when we inherited this bill, we had 200 people on the mailing list. Now we have 40,000. Okay, and not Navin, it's just been one month. But it's by making each one of these events unique. And then, as you said, finding partners right in that sweet spot in that space. And you know, either going paying for their list or you know, doing harder, yeah, partnering cross promotion of some kind. So another one was Bobby Roth of the David Lynch Foundation, who's kind of, we're working with him on a couple projects. So he's kind of an ally, and he was gracious enough to tweet and post and you know, they're like, within, you know, an hour of that we had like another 4000, signups for the premiere, he promoted.

Alex Ferrari 33:47
But also, the thing I want people to notice here is that the the space or the niche, like I always say, the riches are in the niches, that the niche that you're talking about, is extremely underserved and starving for this kind of content. So of course, the second one of these leaders in the space like David Lynch, because I am for any of you don't know, he's not only a great filmmaker, but he's a big proponent of meditation, and has really pushed that angle for years. So you get talking about him and the Dalai Lama. You post that one little thing and they're like, Oh, god, yes, I want that. Yes. And I find myself like that, too. Like, if another Yogananda documentary would show up, I'd be the first in line. I'm like, I as I've seen awake, but what else is there? Is there another angle to this? This is another part of his life that I'd love to go into. So yeah, they're hungry. And that's what a filmmaker should really be focused on is finding that starving niche and feeding it.

Peter Rader 34:42
Yeah. underserved, underserved. Yeah, you know, you every one of us has a unique voice, a unique sensibility, a unique story, a unique narrative. And, and there are and there's, like, you know, 10 million people just who will resonate with that story, and all you have to do is reach out You know, point 1% of them and you have a career.

Alex Ferrari 35:04
Exactly. Okay, so continue you were saying?

Peter Rader 35:09
So, um, so yes. So we said, you know, when we sort of rewrote our distribution plan, we said, okay, here's what we're gonna do. June 20, is our launch, it's film's unavailable. Until then we'll build anticipation, we'll create our partnerships, you know, cultivate our partners get everything, you know, queue queued up, and then boom, we open it up to the public. And then at that point, we also made it freely available on YouTube. So right after the premiere, it's now freely available, but that's not what we're promoting. We're actually promoting the next event, which is two weeks later. In this case, it was the Dalai Lama's birthday celebration. The Dalai Lama, by the way, was a huge fan of David Bohm, he considered David Bohm to be his physics Guru is science guru. And they had many discussions about you know, because Dalai Lama is actually a scientist, he loves science. So it was just a really great opportunity to sort of, you know, so when, when, as I said before, so we are even though the film is freely available, and you know, takes two clicks to find it, we're not promoting that what we're promoting is the Dalai Lama event, and it becomes marketing for this other fact that the film is now freely available, and you can share it and you can pass it around and all that,

Alex Ferrari 36:25
Are you monetizing the event?

Peter Rader 36:28
No it's all free. It's all free. And that's, that's, that's a real luxury. So this is a unique situation, you know

Alex Ferrari 36:35
So without,So without the foundation, how would you have changed this process?

Peter Rader 36:43
Great question. I'm a big proponent in giving things away for free at first, or at least part of the film. So you don't want to give value of some sort. Yeah, if you don't want to give away your whole film giveaway, 20 minutes, you know, there's a What was that? file sharing service?

Alex Ferrari 37:07
Oh, megaload or Napster? Was it BitTorrent? No. Yeah, that was a bit torrent technology. But yeah, the sites are based around that. Yeah.

Peter Rader 37:16
Right. Well, anyway, there was there was a way there was a whole platform that allowed you to give away the first 20 minutes. And then if you want that, and then there's the paywall, so watch it for free, if you want to go in then you know, and then a reasonable point of, you know, entry, not not, you know, 199, or something to go further, because you're capturing data, data is the most valuable thing, you have to realize that there's different ways of capturing data. And in this case, you know, what we're doing for that filmmaker is, you know, he's gonna have a phenomenal platform with which to release both his Director's Cut, and also his next product. So now he has a mailing list of 40,000, we're gonna take this thing through October, and by then, you know, he could have 100,000 on his list. And, you know, maybe a million people who have watched this thing, social media presence, everything, you know, in place for him to launch the next product. So you have to have sort of a long tail view of this. So when you asked me what, what I would do different, maybe maybe nothing based on how well this is going, um, it takes if you know, you have investors that you have to pay back and all that it's it's tricky. The math is kind of tricky here.

Alex Ferrari 38:30
So my case is a case by case. It is it is a case by case so but the thing that you're talking about, which is is what I've been preaching for a long time, is having other product lines, other services, and it doesn't have to just be a T shirt. That's that's low hanging fruit. You can create extended versions, you know, special editions, it works a lot better with documentary Dennett does with narrative, as far as it's just different because people become it's more of an educational and, and a lot of ways documentaries can become deeper. You go you cut much deeper than you would with a fictional story. I mean, don't get me wrong, official stories do also cut deep, but there is just a different way it's sold to the you know, it's a different way it's consumed. Like I just gave away 10 minutes of my my film away for free. My let my latest film I put 10 minutes on YouTube. And I saw I think, spike, I was like, why don't I do that? Like a year ago. I just like, that's just me. I just forgot. But I put it up. I'm like, Oh, yeah, I haven't put up 10 minutes in my film. And I started seeing the sales go up. And I started seeing the traffic come in. I started seeing the data. I was like, Well, why doesn't everybody do this?

Peter Rader 39:40
That's you know, a great case study is Heal you know Heal right?

Alex Ferrari 39:45
Oh, yes, of course. I haven't met the director. Yes.

Peter Rader 39:47
Yeah. And Kelly and Adam schomer out of their friend of ours. We consulted on heal two and you know, one of the things that they did brilliantly terms of monetizing is creating These online healing summits like after the release of the film clariel again enlisted the perfect partner on which is Hay House, you know, the public company publisher. Because they had such heavy weight interviews, I mean, they had Deepak Chopra, they had Joe dispenza, they had, you know, every single, you know, guy in the space or woman, powerhouse powerhouse interviews with all these people. And they could only use so much in the film in a 90 minute narrative, all the outtakes, where they can do the outtakes online healing summit, you want access to the full Deepak Chopra interview? Come into the healing summit, you know. And here's the other part that was brilliant. For 24 hours, it is free.

Alex Ferrari 40:48
Yeah. So yeah, just the summit, the summit, the summit. business model. Yeah. It's free live. But then after that, you can if you want access for life,you pay.

Peter Rader 40:59
Yeah, if you want access for life, to the entire catalogue, all 24 of these interviews all you know, whatever, they're one hour, two hours each, then it's, you know, a significant price point, like 99 bucks or something. Yeah, they monetize the heck out of that. And not only did they go ahead, they built up a list, I mean, their list is just enormous. It's like 400,000, right now,

Alex Ferrari 41:21
Jesus Christ. So now, because they've done that the next project they do, they could just put it right into the funnel, put it right into that into that ecosystem that they've created. And that's the thing that's so interesting about, about this kind of, you know, formula of doing things, it goes completely against traditional distribution, it goes completely against what Hollywood does, because, and I, I'm going to speak for you for a second, I feel that you might feel the same way is that the distribution space is not generally set up for us. Correct. It's, it's never really been in the favor of the filmmaker, it's always been in the favor of the distributor or the studio. And now with the technology that we have today, and the access we have to the audience today, if you're smart, and you start implementing these things, you can actually explode much more than like, if you would have sold awake to a distributor. Or given, you would have never seen the kind of revenue that you saw off of your theatrical run, which was fairly impressive before you ever even touched online or DVDs or anything.

Peter Rader 42:28
Yes, yeah. It was unique. And you know, but back in the day that we actually still had theatrical, you know, there's this amazing disruptive theatrical technology called, you know, theatrical on demand, which is like, you know, Uber for theatres or whatever, which is, you know, you basically take that Tuesday night slot that is going to be empty anyway, and say, let's take down Spider Man and put in awake for one night, you know, what, what's it going to take? You need $650? Fine. So all I have to do is sell, you know, whatever, 100 tickets at 650, boom, then I can have that screening. So you can get the attribute distributed anywhere in North America actually, in the world at this point, using this technology? That is if we if we go back? And

Alex Ferrari 43:15
So with so with COVID, you know, do you wouldn't have gone down this road. Without COVID, you would have probably tried to go down the more awake standpoint of like when the theatrical doing self distribution, or do you have gone that route? with this? Yes, we would have done both. We've been in different, but there would have been different windowing at that point.

Peter Rader 43:32
Yes Yes.

Alex Ferrari 43:33
You would have tried to you try to generate as much revenue as you could in the theatrical space first, why wouldn't you? Let's just do that build up time build up audience all that stuff, then do the same strategy you're doing now but you just cut out the theatrical puts it doesn't exist anymore. For time

Peter Rader 43:50
Theatrical is not just about revenue. It's also about you know, reputation. Yeah, I mean, you know, one of our, you know, recommendations was for wall in New York, you know, buy out a theater for for a week in New York, which is going to be you know, between eight and $12,000. And that can get you a New York Times review, it won't guarantee you a New York Times review, but you know, you can do the same thing in LA and you can get, you know, one or two substantial quotes, you know, when with the New York Times All you want is like if you can get one adjective. Great. That's

Alex Ferrari 44:23
Great. That's dot dot dot great. Like, that's all it was. And because it a great pile of steaming poop, but but you just use the word great. That's awesome.Now, dude, are you going to? Well, I don't even think you can I can't partner with a traditional distributor on this. Like you did partner with certain traditional distributors on awake if I'm not mistaken for parts of the process, right like DVD. I remember you did and things like that.

Peter Rader 44:56
Right Right. Kino lorber wrote the deal. So they They got to market it to their list. We also were able to sell DVDs to our list, which at that point was substantial. Because we also had the Self Realization fellowship list, which is Yogananda organization. But you know, in the case of theatrical it's not so much that we partnered with a distributor, but we hired a theatrical Booker of Rama Rama, Richard Abramowitz who helped us get into, you know, a whole bunch of theaters in 65. Markets basically.

Alex Ferrari 45:25
Right. But yeah, but that's that's not as much a distributor as is kind of a Booker. So it's kind of like a middleman. But with candelabra, you did that for DVD. And then but everything else you pretty much did yourself. And you went with kin rollover, because it made it made sense to partner with someone who had that strength and that distribution in that specific rights in that little carved out portion that you if you would have just printed, Joan DVDs might have not had the same leverage, if you will.

Peter Rader 45:54
And you're you're basically accessing a potentially another audience an audience that you don't necessarily have an immediate access to their list might overlap your list, but it's going to be a hole. In fact, you know, when we do the exercise of identifying your core audience, and then, you know, what's the audience outside of that? And there's that whole concentric circle model, you know, which is okay, you got, you know, devotees of Yogananda. You got Yogi's, you got meditators, it's more of a Venn diagram, it's more of intersecting circles, like you got these guys, NPR listeners, well, they overlap with yoga, and this and that, whatever, but you know, they're these different sectors, and how do you get them all? Start with your core? And then you know, how's your core gonna lead you to this audience? How's this audience gonna leave you that audience? How can they evangelize? Can you incentivize, you know, any part portion of your audience to bring a friend to, to preach, you know, the gospel of, you know, infinite potential or whatever?

Alex Ferrari 46:48
Now, do you mean, where do you see us in five years? Man, I know, that's hard question to say, but in the distribution space, like, I mean, I've been yelling from the top of the of the mound here for a while that Rome is burning, the distribution model that is traditional, is in trouble and has been in trouble for a long time. And now with the pressure of COVID. In the next six months to a year, you're gonna start seeing companies go down it the model is just unsustainable, because the devaluation of media like they did in the music industry, where a song used to be 18 bucks, because you have to buy the album now is essentially free through the streaming platforms, similar things are happening here, it's just a little slower, but it's happening. The model is based on, you know, projections from the 90s, in the early 2000s, when the DVD was king, and, and there was other ways to generate revenue, I feel that the thing is changing so rapidly, that I'd love to hear your thoughts on where you think independent filmmakers can see themselves in five years with distributions in general.

Peter Rader 47:52
It's a great question. And I wish I could get the max ball, read the tea leaves, but I believe that things have changed forever. Like, we're not going back. Exactly. I mean, we'll go back to a sort of a hybrid version of what it was, you know, my heart goes out to Well, my heart doesn't go out to the studios, but but you know, movies like, you know, the Bond movie, which is not kicked into November or whatever,

Alex Ferrari 48:21
Wonder Woman Black Widow, there's a ton of them. Yeah, Tenant. Yeah,

Peter Rader 48:25
How they gonna? How are they going to recoup like, wow, you know, it's going to, they're really going to have to shift their whole thinking, and they've spent, you know, so hundreds of millions on that

Alex Ferrari 48:35
And it's sitting, it's sitting on like, this is unheard of, we've never had a summer since 1975. When jaws hit, that there hasn't been a sort of blockbuster supper, like that, that was the time to make a lot of money for for studios and for us to enjoy. You know, spectacle. This is the first year that's not gonna happen. And you've got these, like tenant tenants like a 200 million plus dollar Christopher Nolan film, and he's like, you're not going to release this online, you will do this theatrically, or I will never work with you again. And like, but you can't select what you do. Like, it's I don't understand why I was talking to another. I think I forgot who I was talking to the other day about this. But like, Is there a model moving forward? that justifies a $250 million budget film plus another $250 million media by without a theatrical and international theatrical component? Does that even make sense?

Peter Rader 49:35
Not Not, not at the moment, not at the moment. And that's where, you know, we have the advantage. The indie filmmaker actually has an advantage because our costs are so much lower, you know, I mean, whatever, 1 million 2 million, even less than a million

Alex Ferrari 49:51
1000 200,000. There's a lot of Doc's that do very well at that budget entry, a viable product.

Peter Rader 49:56
You know, you need some marketing money, you need some marketing money, you can't do it for free. You know, that we always say, it starts at 250. You know, you know, 250,000 is kind of wild wine what you need to really get eyeballs on suffering

Alex Ferrari 50:09
And well, how do you spend that? 250? What How do you allocate, what do you allocate?

Peter Rader 50:14
So for sure, a social media team publicist within your space, not necessarily these, you know, kind of Oscar campaign publicists that are super expensive, and you're lucky to get like one media placement out of their 12,000 a month, you know, retainer. We, we, you know, we have now cultivated some publicist that are so crafty about, you know, these kind of like, milking an outlet for all it's worth, like, you get a you get a media placement, you get an newsletter, you get a review, you get three things or, you know, whatever, 3000 bucks, you know, a blast, dedicated blast, you get a review, and you get a quarter page ad. So those types of components, you know, marketing consultants are useful. And, you know, it's you need, you need manpower, please budget for a full time, producer marketing and distribution, and one or two intern turns, or an assistant of some kind, because it takes a lot of energy and hybrid distribution is not for the meek, like, if you exhausted yourself on your film, prepare for a battle of at least that magnitude, if you really want to control the destiny of your film. And so when we, you know, when filmmakers come to us, we literally have, you know, the Morpheus speech to them. And we say, you know, you want the blue pill, or the red pill, if you want to just walk away from your film and hand it to a distributor, you know, God bless you, we understand that. Because if you take the blue pill, you're looking at a huge amount of work, it's going to pay off in the long run, but it's going to delay your next film by a year and a half. But it might position you in a much more powerful position to make your next film.

Alex Ferrari 52:02
Right! If you have an if you have a 400,000 person email list, who loved your first film, and you're talking to and have direct access to making the second film will probably be not only easier financing, that film will probably be easier. You could crowdsource it. Yeah, I mean, there, you literally could crowd you could crowdfunding, you could outsource. I mean, absolutely. You know, it's so powerful. And a lot of filmmakers just don't get that that yes, it's gonna be a lot more work. But let's say you put in a couple years after you make your first film, and you build out the infrastructure, you build that product lines, you build out services, you build out other things, they provide a value to the audience that you're trying to reach. And you want to stay in that niche. Let's say you want to stay in the realm of that niche, because you could easily do a documentary about meditation. And, and it'll hit the list you have for Yogananda comfortably, you could do a strictly yoga, documentary, and that list. So you can as long as you want to stay within that, that world, you can build out an infrastructure a foundation that you can then leverage and grow as you continue to grow as a as a filmmaker, or you build a machine that continues to, to pay dividends. And that money coming off of there allows you to go off to the to that horror movie you've been wanting to do psychological thriller that you've been wanting to do. But you need a business, you need money to do that, and have control of that. Is that a fair thing?

Peter Rader 53:28
This is absolutely right, that spot on. But you know, crowdsourcing is actually brilliant these days. Because if you, you know, again, if you find, like, Who's the audience I want to reach what's the what's the unique product that hasn't really been made? Before that will reach that audience? Can I engage them before I even start making it, you know, get to 300 of them to throw in some money, development, money, whatever, then they those guys will become our, you know, our evangelists going forward. And you know, give them some value added, put them in the credits, or beyond that, invite them to the set, you know, whatever. And then, you know, just go from there. And in that, if you do take the blue pill, and you are going to commit to this year and a half or whatever, it doesn't mean that you can't do start keep doing your creative work, you're going to do that. In a parallel track, you're going to get the sequel ready. And the Encore, you know, those next two products, you're going to start thinking about what they are, you're going to start researching them. You might even do some shooting or whatever, in conjunction with this front burner, which is distributing the last baby.

Alex Ferrari 54:30
Now, one question I wanted to ask you that we've been talking heavily about documentary, is there a way forward in this model with narrative?

Peter Rader 54:39
Um, for sure, for sure. There again, you know, you can find you can create a product for a passionate core and an underserved audience. There's an amazing movie that we saw recently called Come as you are about three gentlemen with disabilities with me Different types of disabilities who take to kind of get away from their caregivers and stuff and take this kind of road trip clandestine road trip to Canada, where there is a brothel that specializes in servicing gentlemen with disabilities. That's amazing. It's such a heartfelt cute, fun, amazing movie. And boy, is there an audience for that movie?

Alex Ferrari 55:23
Oh, God. Yes. Yes, you know, and it's a narrative. It's a narrative.

Peter Rader 55:27
That's a narrative. It's a narrative film, I highly recommend it. It's written by a friend of ours, a guy who took our sources screen lab, wrote that film.

Alex Ferrari 55:35
And then so again, that topic in that audience is so under served, like, I know, I've dealt with and consulted with films on autism. And that's a massive, massive audience, disabilities, veterans. Those kind of those kind of sub niches of the of society, you build a narrative around that? Yes, they're hungry for it. I in the book, I talk about the vegan chef movie, it's like you instead of making a romantic comedy, you make a vegan chef romantic comedy where a vegan chef meets a barbecue pit champion, and all hell breaks loose. And the product lines kind of like just spill out and in the vegan audience is so it's a it's I know, a lot of people like it's underserved like it is, especially in the narrative space. There's not a lot of vegan themed narrative films out there,

Peter Rader 56:25
Specially specially if you create an authentic proach portrayal.

Alex Ferrari 56:28
Correct.

Peter Rader 56:29
In mainstream narratives there. It's always like, it's kind of a bit of a cliche version of that character.

Alex Ferrari 56:35
Yeah, the guy who's like, you know, eating twigs in the background, and I everybody in the show knows I've been vegan now for years, nine years, something like that. And I am far from a stick. And I eat very well. But that's the that's that's the mentality of from the 70s. In the 60s, that's what they did. They ate grass. And they were like this. back then. But yeah, so that's the kind of that's the kind of mentality to think around. Even a narrative. I'm so I know a lot of people listening are narrative filmmakers. And you can do that. But you've got to find the angle of the story. And you might have a, like a perfect example, a road movie. Well, if you if you make those characters more interesting, it's something that we haven't seen before, as opposed to just a standard fare. You have an audience you can tap into and start building building something around. Direct. Yeah. Now. Now, do you use aggregators by any chance? Do you use from aggregators? You do?

Peter Rader 57:36
Yeah. Yeah. Um, you know, we consult with them, it depends, depends on the product. But for sure, you know, you can't really get the positioning or the deal that you want without, yes, a middle person who knows? Who has access and knows how to make those deals. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 57:50
Got it. Well, I mean, the world that we live in is getting crazier and crazier. As the days go by. I know you and I both don't know what's gonna happen next week, let alone next year. I don't know where we're going to be, I think your model and what you're talking about with, with this film, giving things away giving the film away. I hate to say is kind of the future in many ways of filmmaking, where it's kind of like what musicians did before the COVID hit is like, they gave the album away. But they made their money on tour. And they made their money on T shirts, and they made their money on appearances. And that's where the that was where the revenue is, because there's no residuals anymore. An album sales are no one's buying albums anymore. So that's kind of the model is that? Is that a fair? comparison? Yeah, and the heartbreaking thing is that there's no tours anymore. Now they're doing virtual tours. I heard their virtual tours are driving driving concerts are happening now. Which is it's something it's something but it's not it's not obviously, you can't fit 10,000 people you have to do it on a field it's we have to shift we have to adjust and I'm sure I'm sure during all of your journeys, certain certain roads you went down didn't work. And you had to pivot.

Peter Rader 59:14
Yes, absolutely. That's that's the hallmark of hybrid distribution, his ability and willingness to pivot Plan B. This this is working with more resources than that this isn't working. Go go here. No keep keep doing that Bob and

Alex Ferrari 59:28
Bob and weave and not be precious about it. Don't be egotistical about like, Well no, this is the way I'm gonna go. And you know, I work for these other guys it has to work for me why it's and then they turn it into like my movie they don't like me. It's like a no, no, no, just gotta be. That's why it's good to hire a team. Yes. Who's not as emotionally attached? A lot of times unless you can literally compart my eyes. You're here. Your feelings for your art.

Peter Rader 59:52
We are filmmakers so we know. We feel you.

Alex Ferrari 59:58
Exactly. Now what advice would To give a filmmaker trying to break it into in break into the business today, literally today.

Peter Rader 1:00:08
So funny, I've got some writing in this household

Alex Ferrari 1:00:12
Right. Yes. Yep.

Peter Rader 1:00:16
Just in that very question. You know, here's the thing, there are, the future is unknown, but the technology at our fingertips right now is unbelievable, what you can do. Like, my 21 year old son just created this incredible piece of music on logic, you know, right here in the house, you know, he's got, I think, probably not, not that microphone, but similar that like, I'm sure, you know, good vocal mic, he's, you know, he's really good musician. And, you know, he put out this whole thing, you can create your own content at a professional level, on your laptop, you know, there's nothing that you can't do. So I would say step one is start to figure out what what's your voice what what is what is the narrative that is trying to speak through you and start creating bite sized chunks of that content, they can be little blogs or they can be you know, a single or something or whatever it is, start experimenting with putting that content out. You know, plant your flag online somewhere, create your YouTube channel or whatever it is, or your SoundCloud you know, account and, and start to populate it and engage and reach out to like minded people start to find your tribe, you know, people who could co create with you or you know, simpatico or whatever. And eventually, that will lead you to your path and where you can actually start monetizing it.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:43
Now, where can people find out more about you your services, and also the movie?

Peter Rader 1:01:48
Okay, infinite potential.com infinite potential. com is the film and everything is there, including our social media accounts and everything. You'll find it all right there. Our next event is this Saturday. Actually, you'll probably broadcast this app. We're having events throughout the summer. And then our company is counterpoint films and the website is thisiscounterpointfilms.com. My email is [email protected] So

Alex Ferrari 1:02:22
I've warned you before Don't be putting your email out there. But okay, if you want people to email you, that's fine. You might get into dated. But um, Peter, thank you, man so much for the work you're doing and helping filmmakers navigate this ridiculous world that is filmed the film industry. And I'm always excited to talk to you and your lovely wife, Paula, about this stuff. And I'm sure in a year or two less than that, probably we're like, hey, so you want to know what happened? Here. Let's get back on the show. I'll tell you what happened in COVID. Or this new thing that we just discovered. So I do appreciate what you're doing. And thank you so much for coming on the show, and, and dropping the knowledge bombs on the tribe today. So thank you, my friend.

Peter Rader 1:03:06
Thank you, Alex, and I appreciate what you're doing spreading the knowledge. That's awesome. Thank you so much.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:12
I want to thank Peter for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Thank you so much, Peter. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/429. Now before I go, guys, I know that 2020 was a stellar year for amazing guests coming onto the show. We had some really, really big names. Grace, our little podcast last year, but 2021 is shaping up to be a pretty impressive list already. So keep an eye out for the next few months that I have some amazing, amazing filmmakers coming on the show to drop knowledge bombs on the tribe. So keep an eye out for that. Thanks again for listening guys. As always keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there. And I'll talk to you soon.

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IFH 304: The Meditating Filmmaker – How to Be More Creative

Right-click here to download the MP3

Over the years I have mentioned my meditation practice and how important it is in my daily routine on the show. Many of the #IFHTribe have asked me to do an entire episode on meditation and the importance it has in the creative process. Today is that day.

In this episode, I go over:

  • My personal meditation practice
  • Why it’s impossible to CLEAR YOUR MIND
  • How to embrace your minds inner voice
  • How science view meditation
  • Neuroscience and what actually happens to your brain when you meditate
  • How meditation can make you more creative

I discuss practical everyday uses for meditation in your creative life. Some of my greatest ideas and thoughts have come to me during my meditations. I’ll also teach you how to meditate for 10-15 min to start and then over time, you can grow your practice to 1-2 hours a day like I do. Once you start meditating it becomes addictive.

Get ready to open your creative channels to full flow. Enjoy!

Alex Ferrari 1:49
So today guys, we are going to talk about meditation for filmmakers for screenwriters for creatives in general, and I've been contacted by a lot of the tribe contacted me to do an episode on meditation to help them with their filmmaking, or screenwriting. And as many of you know, I've mentioned my meditation practice throughout many, many episodes, and many, many interviews I do that is one of the cornerstones of my productivity, my creativity and what I do on a daily basis here at indie film, hustle. So I thought it would be interesting to do a meditation podcast, not like I'm not going to do not taking you through a guided meditation, though, if you guys want me to do something like that, I'll think about it. But this is more about my process and kind of debunking a lot of myths that come along with the concept of meditation. So I'm here to just tell you how I do it, and what I've been studying and what works for me, which is not the traditional way of doing meditation. Now before we start, I will tell you one thing, the second I started meditating, and again, I meditate anywhere between an hour minimum a day to two hours, sometimes longer. On any given day. It has changed my life, it has changed my perspective on things. It has been such a powerful, powerful thing in my life. It has centered me a lot of the anger and frustration and things that were before just consuming my soul consuming my day to day experience. And I just just needed something to help me get out of that. And the second I started meditating, I saw changes almost immediately, I was thinking clearer. I was becoming more creative, I was becoming more focused, more productive. All these things started to come into being anytime I had a question that I needed an answer to, I asked it in my meditations. And a lot of times, those answers would just come to me while I was meditating it, it helps me answered deep problems that I might have in my life, or forks in the road or where I should go. It is pretty transformative. And and there's a reason why so many big entrepreneurs and CEOs and billionaires and all these guys, about 80 to 90% of them all have a regular meditation practice. Now I'm also not going to talk about just the spiritual side of it. I'm going to talk about the science of what happens to your mind into your body when you go into a meditative state. And because I've been doing a lot of research lately in regards to neuroscience and what the actual you know, the things that happen to your mind and what happens to the way your mind reacts and your brain reacts. And meditation has been proven scientifically again and again after research after research after research, that it does help with so so so many different ailments, different stresses and so on. So let's Let me tell you a little bit about my history with meditation, I've been trying for the better part of 20 years to include meditation into my daily life. And throughout those 20 years, I knew the benefit of it, but I always tried it and just never could really get my excuse upon my mind around it. Because I would sit down, and my mind was just going a million miles a minute, and I could not clear the mind, I could not empty the head as so many people have said in the past, and I just felt like a failure. When I did it, it just didn't, didn't resonate with me. So I then tried to do it maybe for five minutes at a time, and maybe eight minutes at a time, 10 minutes at a time, you know, and it just never stuck, I just never found a lot of value in it. Even at that point in my life, I just my head was too, I was just too clouded with so many other things. And then about a year and a half ago, I, I sat down and had a meditation teacher, that I that is an old friend of mine. And we started sitting down and she kind of taught me how to meditate properly. And, and the value of longer meditations and things like that, which I'll get into. And from that moment on, I started meditating for 10, or 15 minutes at a time, then 20, then 30, then an hour, to my record of a day in one day, four and a half hours of meditation. And I'll tell you about that day later. But for the first time of my life, when I started to meditate in the way I'm about to tell you, doors started opening up, I started seeing benefits right away, all sorts of wonderful things started happening to me. So I want to break a myth right now, at clearing the mind, as so many meditation instructors say, does not work because it's impossible. It's like asking your heart to stop beating, it is not a possibility Your mind is active all the time. It is swinging ideas and thoughts and everything, it's just not possible to clear the mind. So what I do is I allow the mind to keep going, I embrace the activity in my mind and your mind should stay active during your meditations. As your thoughts come in and out, hold on to them and then let them go. There is no clearing your mind. What happens to me in my meditations is when I just start thinking about things, it's kind of like when you about to go to sleep, you start thinking about things, think about things and then all of a sudden, you're you're gone, you're in your lala land. But when I meditate like that, I have ideas coming in and out, then all of a sudden, the noise starts to quiet down a little bit. And I start focusing on one series of thoughts or one thing that I'm thinking about or two things I'm thinking about. And it just kind of pairs everything down. So the noise starts to go away a little bit. But you're always thinking about something. And then sometimes I've gotten to a place in my meditation where I I actually just start, I go in deep, so deep that I don't even know where I'm at, I go into another place in my mind. I'm in such a deep meditative state that I'm still thinking about things but I lose track of time I lose where I am, to the point where I then get up, you know, an hour and a half to two hours later. And I wasn't planning to stay that long. Right before I did this podcast. I was planning to meditate for an hour, I ended up meditating for like an hour and 30 minutes. And I don't even realize when I didn't get like I didn't know I didn't know where the time went. And that's when you are so deep in where you are in that wonderful state in the meditative process. And that's where a lot of the magic that I'm going to talk about a little bit happens. Now, what is the best time to meditate? A lot of people always ask me early morning is historically the best time right when you wake up because your mind is still in that alpha sleep state. It is easier to meditate then it's easier to fall back into that state because when you meditate, you go into that alpha state. So when you just get up, get up, go to the bathroom, come back to bed and start your practice. Now all you got to do is sit up when you meditate so you can sit up in your bed with your back straight. It is extremely important that your back is straight. You could do it on a couch, sit up on your bed on the floor with a pillow against the wall. if that helps. Whatever you do, just keep your back straight. Now as you start to meditate, just become aware of how your body feels. Focus on you're breathing if you like, do you have an itch, scratch it. It's another thing. By the way, if you have an itch, there's no place in the rule books that say you can't scratch it, it's not like you're going to break out of a meditative state because you scratch an itch, scratch it, scan your body, scan your body with your mind to see how you feel, is there an ache is or hurt, sir tingling is your heat is or cold, started doing that in your mind will start flowing with it. And as thoughts come in and out, just flow with it, don't fight it, grab on to a thought. And if you want to go down that path, go down that path of thinking of thoughts. If not let it go till another one comes in, and so on and so on to you, you will start seeing that your mind will start to quiet, the noise will start to quiet and it will allow you to focus, focus on one thought focus on one or two thoughts, ideas, things like that which are so so important. So it does clear out the noise. But it's not clearing of the mind, you're always thinking of something, you're always thinking of thoughts. But there's not 1000s of them going off at a time. And this might take a little time to do. But this is just how it works for me. Now, if you hear a noise outside or outside the door or outside your window or a siren going off, okay, just ignore it. And keep just keep going forward. What I like to do is I put on headphones. So I block out all noise I have some like, you know, waves playing, you know, ocean waves or a noise machine, or something like that to kind of clear it out. I also even wear an eye mask, like a sleeping mask. So I literally cover my entire all my senses, my hearing in my eyes. So I'm really deep in like, so light doesn't affect me, sound doesn't affect me. And it really helps me go in deeper and faster. And I've been doing that since the very, very beginning of these last almost two years of meditating. Now, another question I get all the time, how long should I meditate? Well, I compare meditation to a train leaving the station. The longer you let the train travel down the tracks, the farther and deeper you can go into your meditation. Every time you stop and start a meditation meaning like you know, you've stopped for 10 minutes and you leave, come back for another 10 minutes you leave all that kind of stuff, it's kind of like the train leaving the train station from the station every single time. It doesn't pick up where you left off. In your journey, it's started the exact same time. So the longer you could stay in, the more benefit the cooler the things that can happen to you the ideas of creativity, all the things that I talked about, the longer you're in, the more benefits you will reap. Now the more you meditate, the faster your train will be able to travel as well. So it's not just like Chugga chugga chugga at the beginning, the deeper you could get into meditation, the faster you can get in like I can get in probably within a couple minutes. And I'm deep, I can go in deeper really quickly. I've trained myself, with my practice to go in that deep, it used to take me 30 minutes to go in that deep. And sometimes it does take a little longer depending on where my mind is during the day. When I meditate on By the way, I said mornings are always best to meditate. I personally like to meditate throughout the day. I meditate in the afternoons, I generally don't meditate in the evenings every once in a while I'll meditate in the evenings. But I generally either meditate in the early morning, or afternoon some time during the day, when I find it's easier for me to do it within my schedule. And what I like to do because I'm a morning person, so my my juices are flowing really heavily in the morning. And I find that when I meditate that early for me personally, it's not as beneficial as when I have maybe run the tank out a little bit after lunch or something like that, where I could do that. Now if you start to meditate, meditate for 10 minutes at a time, just the beginning 10 to 15 minutes is fine. Your goal should be to get to 30 minutes, that should take you month, two months, whatever works as long as you keep that practice going. If you have to spend six months to get the 30 minutes, that's fine. But as long as you stay with those 1015 minutes a day, keep going at it, then you will go for longer and longer stretches. And the longer you're in I promise you the more amazing you will feel afterwards. Now, I wanted to tell you about my four and a half hour day. I went in so deep that the things that I saw in my mind and the things I experienced in my body. Were pretty remarkable. And I tell you this because ideas started coming at me problems that I had deep seated problems I was dealing with in my life at the time Answers started to appear for me. When you have a problem, a deep seated problem in your day, then even deep seated, if you have any kind of issue with someone, or with something, when when something you're carrying with you, or a goal you're trying to achieve or something along those lines, if you ask the question during your meditation, you'll be surprised that the answers that will come back at you, it is pretty, pretty insane. From my experience, at least. Now, mind you, I don't have a meditation group. I don't talk to a lot of other meditators that are as deep as in it as I am. And by the way, I'm not as deep as monks or any other kind of heavy meditators are I you know, I don't know a lot of other meditators. So a lot of what I'm talking about is from my own personal experience, and from what I've studied. Now, I also do something I like to call little mini meditations throughout the day. Now, this is not included my one to two hours a day of full blown meditation. But I've noticed that after 15 minutes to an hour, my battery starts to run down, I consider my energy pack of the day, very much like an iPhone battery. If you don't charge during the day, or wear down lower and lower and lower, and as it gets lower, lower, my productivity starts to fade, and my concentration starts to fade. So every hour, so I'll take five to 10 minutes, and just go to a couch, sit down and meditate for those five or 10 minutes. And I can't tell you how beneficial, those five or 10 minutes of meditation are. If you're just starting out, just close your eyes for five minutes, and breathe. That's it, you'll be amazed at the energy that you come back with you, you become clear your mind starts. It's like like literally plugging your iPhone into a supercharger. And it charges it charges me up every, like every time I do it. It's really, really remarkable. And it's really helpful. There's a lot of studies and research that says that to be more effective in your day to day productivity, you should take breaks, you know, especially if you should never do anything more than 90 minutes without taking a break. Again, this is not possible for everybody, but try to do the best you can every 15 minutes or an hour, take five minutes you get you get breaks, take five or 10 minutes, go somewhere quiet. And just meditate for those five or 10 minutes, I promise you, you will get a lot more done during the day than you normally would. You won't feel as beat up and as tired especially for those in the tribe who are doing those hour commutes or two hour commutes. As you're listening to me, right now I'm sure you want to charge that battery up because you will wear that battery down. And as you wear that battery down, that's when things start to break down, your temper start to come up, you become shorter, you'd never become shorter. You don't think very clearly, you don't. Don't allow yourself to filter things that come out of your mouth. A lot of arguments and fights happen because of this energy drain. And if you're able to do these little technique of maybe a five minute or 10 minute meditation every hour, hour and a half throughout the day, it will help you get through the whole day more productive, more balanced and more centered. Now I was going to talk a little bit about the science and the science is so so clear, and meditation they've done so many studies on meditation and the benefits of meditation. So I'm going to list off a few things that the science says about meditation, you do become less stressed, oddly enough, right? your stress levels start to drop. And when your stress levels start to drop, during your meditation or in a meditation practice, your body has time to rest. It has time to repair itself, your mind becomes clear. You can produce more you can become more artistic, more creative. You can write better when you when you drop that stress. And it's as simple as sitting down and being quiet. Sitting down and doing everything I said earlier in this episode, and meditating, you'll be amazed at what happens when you drop that stress out of your life, that fight or flight stress out of your life. On a side note, in regards to stress in regards to fight or flight, chemicals that run through you every time you're stressed out. It could be anything in this world that stresses you out can be your boss could be your wife could be your traffic that you know your commute your kids, whatever it is, when you have that stress, the the chemicals that create fight or flight. And if you don't know what fight or flight is, it's something that's been programmed in us since the beginning of our evolution, where if there's a tiger, that Tiger will try to attack you and eat you. You create all these chemicals rushing to you to defend yourself and run you either gonna fight it or you're going to fly you're going to take off now in our evolution that was only supposed to be released when There was danger. But because of the world we live in, because of all of the stresses in our life, whether it's financial, whether it's everything I just said, that fight or flight, chemical bath that our bodies and our minds are in, are on almost all the time. So when that happens, you get sick more your immune system goes down, you can't think clearly you can't be creative, you can't do anything. And that is one of the biggest things that is happening to our society in general. But I'm talking specifically to my filmmakers and screenwriters and my creatives out there, that you won't be able to be creative, you won't be able to write, a lot of you guys will say, Oh, I have writer's block, or I can't just get through that one big thing that I need to get done. This is one of the reasons to stress that you have if you can release that stress, with meditation, a lot of things will start to open up, you'll get healthier, you'll be sick less, and your mind will be clearer, your mind will be able to focus on the tasks at hand, whatever that might be. When I say about clearing your mind, your mind, at least for me, at least when I'm stressed out, your mind becomes clouded almost in a fog. And you can't think clearly. So then you go into instinct mode. When you're in that instinct mode of of survival, you can't create. That's not a place of creation. You ask any of these us really accomplished artists, writers, filmmakers, when you're in that kind of pressure cooker, mindset, it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to be truly creative, or at least as creative as you could be, your potential drops dramatically. And no one talks about this kind of stuff in our in our world, because it's just not talked about. But that's why I'm here I'm going to talk about a goddamnit. That's something I want to bring to the table. And I just see how it's changed my life. And I want it to change yours as well. Like I said earlier, meditation also charges your battery, your mental battery, and your physical battery, you cannot underestimate that power of what that can do. Now another thing that's happened while I've been meditating is my need for sleep has dramatically dropped. So as many of you have heard in a performer episode, when I talk about my daily routine, where I wake up every morning, around four or 4:30, to go work out, I and I go to bed around nine 930 every night, those six hours of sleep or so that I get is more than enough. I've been doing this for months now, working all the time, during the day, hanging out with my family and all that kind of good stuff. And I've been able to make it work. And meditation has allowed me to do that because I don't need as much rest, because my battery's more charged than I used to be. Now I know I've spoken to meditators, and specifically my meditation teacher who can work 1820 hour days, without even sleep, some of them are at a point where they don't even sleep for 24-36 hours. And they just meditate during the day. And it gets them going. I'm not at that level yet. I hope to be one day, but it's not where I'm at yet. But that's pretty amazing. And I've seen it again, in my world of what I'm able to do with it in a small in the small doses of what I'm able to do. I can only imagine being able to do that, like my meditation instructor, she does that. She's also been meditating for 30-40 years. So it's a big difference. She's much, much, much farther along than I am. Another benefit of meditation is amazing things will begin to happen in your life. And when I say that, I mean that when you are able to clear your mind when you're able to focus. So many other dominoes start to fall in your life in a good way. You start seeing things, clear opportunities start presenting themselves, you will start attracting certain amount of type of person to you. And it's pretty remarkable. I can't explain that to too deeply. But I will tell you that. Just trust me things will happen in your life. You become more self aware of your own body of your own experience. And you become more intuitive about what you should or should not do in your life in your career. In your art. You will begin to ask yourself questions you've never thought of before empowering questions because the answers to those questions, start to change your life in one way, shape, or form in a positive manner. Again, because you're able to clear out the crap, things are starting to be able to shine through that were just muffled before and it's it's truly truly amazing. I have an issue in my life. I asked a question during my meditations. And I'm always amazed at what my mind will say when you're able to go within and focus on the end Inside, remarkable things happen. I truly believe that all answers to any question you might have lies within you, not outside of you. It all lives within you. And meditation is a way to get it to it. Now, I hope this little mini introduction to my meditative practice has helped you guys and will help you along your journey as a filmmaker, screenwriter, or creative of any sort. And I want to offer a book up to you guys to guys to read and help you along this path a little bit. It's called the code of extraordinary mind by vision, the honey. Now the book did not help me specifically with my meditation because I was already meditating by the time I read this book, but I can see the value in it and what he brings to it. He talks a lot about his meditative practice. He was teaching meditation for almost five years, 10 years. He has one of the biggest animation apps on on Apple's App Store. And the book itself teaches you to think like some of the greatest nonconformist minds of our era, to question to challenge to hack and to create new rules for your life. So you can define success in your own terms. It is a really, really remarkable book and I can't recommend it highly enough. I'll put a link to it in the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/304. Again, I hope this helps you guys. You've been asking for it for a while. So I've brought it. It's a little bit outside our regular scheduled programming, but I do believe it's going to be beneficial to a lot of the tribe out there. So if you haven't gone already, please head over to indiefilmhustle.com/mob and pick up my new book shooting for the mob based on the incredible true story of how I almost made a $20 million movie for the mafia and Hollywood. It is a insane, insane ride. So definitely check it out. And that is it for another episode of the indie film hustle podcast. May your meditative practice help you on your filmmaking, screenwriting and creative journey. As always, keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

LINKS

  • [easyazon_link identifier=”1401944590″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter[/easyazon_link] (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSION)
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”1572245379″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself[/easyazon_link] (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSION)
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”1401953093″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon[/easyazon_link] (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSION)
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”1401938094″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself[/easyazon_link] (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSION)
  • Alex Ferrari’s Shooting for the Mob Book- Amazon Link

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IFH 283: Building an Audience for Your Indie Film with Paola di Florio & Peter Rader

Right-click here to download the MP3

Today’s guests are Oscar® Nominated writer/director Paola di Florio & and producer Peter Rader. They worked on one of my favorite documentaries in recent years called AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda.

The film is an unconventional biography about the Hindu Swami who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. Paramahansa Yogananda authored the spiritual classic “[easyazon_link identifier=”0876120796″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Autobiography of a Yogi[/easyazon_link],” which has sold millions of copies worldwide and is a go-to book for seekers, philosophers, and yoga enthusiasts today. (Apparently, it was the only book that Steve Jobs had on his iPad.) By personalizing his own quest for enlightenment and sharing his struggles along the path, Yogananda made ancient Vedic teachings accessible to a modern audience, attracting many followers and inspiring the millions who practice yoga today.

Filmed over three years with the participation of 30 countries around the world, the documentary examines the world of yoga, modern and ancient, east and west and explores why millions today have turned their attention inwards, bucking the limitations of the material world in pursuit of self-realization.

Archival material from the life of Yogananda (who died in 1952) creates a spine for the narrative, but the film stretches the dimensions of a standard biography. The footage includes stylized interviews, metaphoric imagery and recreations, taking us from holy pilgrimages in India to Harvard’s Divinity School and its cutting-edge physics labs, from the Center for Science and Spirituality at the University of Pennsylvania to the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, California. By evoking the journey of the soul as it pushes its way through the oppression of the human ego and delusion of the material world, the film creates an experiential immersion into the unseen realms. AWAKE is ultimately the story of humanity itself: the universal struggle of all beings to free themselves from suffering and to seek lasting happiness.

The story of how they self-distributed the film from booking theaters to SVOD is remarkable. They did it all on their own and the film has been viewed by millions. I wanted to bring them on the show to discuss their methods for audience building, social media marketing, release strategy and much more. If you want to the IFH Video Podcast version of this interview go to IFHTV Video Podcast – Building an Audience for Your Indie Film with Paola di Florio & Peter Rader

Enjoy!

Alex Ferrari 1:47
Now guys, today on the show, we have filmmakers Paola Di Florio and Peter Rader. And they are the producer and director or co director of one of my favorite documentaries of all time awake the life of Yogananda and many of you guys have been listening to me for a while I have heard me talk about a paramahansa Yogananda who is a spiritual leader and I brought over meditation and yoga from the west from the east to the west. So without him, there would be no yoga, there would be no meditation, he introduced it to the US into the Western world in general. And this documentary goes deep into Yogananda and what he was doing, but on a filmmaking business side, I wanted to bring these guys on because they self distributed their film. And what they were able to do was extraordinary, with the way they were able to do theatrical releases, to do community screenings, to do their own DVDs to do i mean getting booked, traditionally, in movie theaters by themselves, it was absolutely remarkable. So when I heard the story of how they actually were able to distribute this film, and made money and continue to make money, sold it to Netflix, and sold it to Gaia, and and all sorts of different things. We go deep into the weeds on how they were able to, to do everything. And they give us a blueprint on how they did it. So I really wanted them to come on and drop knowledge bombs, and boy, did they ever. So if you guys are even even slightly interested in self distribution, which this film was a perfect, perfect candidate for, then definitely get ready to take some notes. And like I've said before, self distribution is not for every film, it has to be a certain kind of film and certain kind of filmmakers for that to work properly. But if it does, and it's in and it's a good mix, and there's a good match, my God, you could do really, really, really well as I've given multiple examples on the podcast before. And also guys, if you are interested in seeing this interview, you could of course watch it on indie film, hustle TV on the indie film, hustle video podcast, and it is a great one. It just says I love this interview. This is a great interview. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Peter and Paola. I'd like to welcome the show Peter and Paola documentary filmmakers extraordinaire. Thanks for being on the show, guys.

Paola Di Florio 4:23
Thanks for having us Alex.

Alex Ferrari 4:25
I am a huge fan of of your work specifically the movie awake, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to have on the show, not only because of the topic of the of the movie, and it being one of my favorite documentaries, but also the the process of how you made it how you get it out there and we're gonna go into all that kind of stuff. But before we get into that first, how did you just get into the film business in the first place?

Peter Rader 4:51
I got the bug in college, I took this I was searching for what I wanted to do. I started like in physics and math. Then I went into the Economics I thought that was gonna be practical. And then I just took this one filmmaking class and the light bulb went off was like, Oh my god, this is it. This is what I want to do my whole life. So then I just had it for Hollywood and, and then I met Bella.

Alex Ferrari 5:13
Now how long you guys have been you guys work together? Correct?

Paola Di Florio 5:16
We do. And my background was really in the news with Italian television. And, and you know, it was I just before that when I was a kid, I was an actress. And so the whole idea of slipping into other people's shoes and seeing the world through other points of view is been like, I think a part of just who I am. And so the natural progression from short form to long form and then really wanting to have a voice and tell the narrative, to really, you know, storytelling. In nonfiction, having a stronger narrative was what I was attracted to. That's what brought me to documentary films.

Alex Ferrari 5:55
Now, how is it challenging working together as a couple because I had a business with my wife. And it was, and it was, it was wonderful. But it's challenging. So how, and we weren't creative. So I could only imagine the discussions. So how is it working together as how do you work together as a couple,

Paola Di Florio 6:16
Divorce is not an option.

Peter Rader 6:20
What's what's fun about our story is that our we made a film during our courtship, we actually met, and we actually connected on on the level of sort of union archetypes within our first 30 minutes of talking to each other. We're talking about union archetypes. And I was like, Okay, this girl is cool. And she had this burning desire to tell a story about expression, the need to find your voice as an artist and to express and she had a perfect vehicle for this for this story, which is this violin virtuoso that Ella, you grew up with.

Paola Di Florio 6:58
I grew up with not just learning. Sonnenberg was a world class violinist. And her mother was my piano teacher. And I just, you know, it was always far more interested in her than it wasn't my piano lessons. So that's kind of what spawned the idea of making my first independent film speaking and strings, and I had just met Peter. Um, and, you know, Peter was a huge impetus for me actually diving into that. So I was working on it. I was trying to do it, but I was waiting for everything to be perfect. The funding to come in and all of that. And he's the one who just said, let me shoot this. I know how to shoot. I was like, clapper loader. Do you live? Do you know, dilaurentis? You know, let me do this. And I think we started out with just like nachos coming to town I needed to do I needed to take him up on his offer. And that's how we started first working together. But during the course of making that film, you know, we were dating and then we were traveling together then he popped the question. And then we had all during

Alex Ferrari 8:00
All during that movie?

Peter Rader 8:01
Yeah. All during the movie

Paola Di Florio 8:02
All during the making of speaking in strings. And then we went to Sundance.

Peter Rader 8:05
You left out the marriage before having a baby. There was a wedding, there was a wedding. Then there was a baby. And we're like, you know, we got the baby in the Baby Bjorn. at Sundance, at the q&a

Paola Di Florio 8:18
I was pregnant at Sundance, we brought Matteo our first son we brought around with us to you know, festivals because he was you know, sleeping in a drawer and, you know, just that kind of effect

Alex Ferrari 8:30
Amazing.

Peter Rader 8:32
Because I was a big believer, you know, if you just dive in, you just start you start, you know, you don't you can't wait, nothing's perfect. It's never perfect. It began that film on literally a little you know, you know, consumer high eight camera, it ended up you know, being nominated for an Academy Award.

Alex Ferrari 8:50
It's amazing.

Paola Di Florio 8:51
Peters, a hugely inspirational coach and teacher, like I have to say he's taught at Harvard and some other places, and he's just really very inspirational. And so part of why I think it works for us to work together is that, um, you know, it's, it's just that keeping helping to keep the inspiration alive in each other. So he loves the process of filmmaking, but he was a writer. I was a filmmaker, and I just, you know, maybe it was more like, not as dive in, you know, we're insecure a little bit trying to find my way and here's this guy, he's just like, guidance, let's do this. And, you know, I'm gonna do it with you, you know, that kind of thing. And, and I really did find my voice in the making of that film. So

Alex Ferrari 9:43
That's awesome. Now, Peter, when you when you said you took a film class early on, what made you go to documentary as opposed to narrative?

Peter Rader 9:51
Um, so I went to Harvard, which is the opposite of a film school.

Alex Ferrari 9:56
I was about to say I have not seen many Harvard film school grads, that It's

Peter Rader 10:01
What they all they have this total bias towards documentaries and not just documentaries, highly personal documentaries. We the joke was at Harvard, you have to make a film at Harvard, you have to grow a beard, do a personal documentary that involves the birth of one of your children. And make sure that you pan across a mirror as often as possible to show your beer. That is a Harvard documentary. And many people at Harvard were making those in fact, Ross McElwee, Sherman's March, you know, created that form with the movie, you know, the diary cam, this was a movie that really transformed mentary filmmaking he still teaches at Harvard, but there was a whole generation of us that really were kind of wanting to go to Hollywood and go to fiction, you know, and we really wanted to make commercial movies, not these really, you know, esoteric, artsy documentaries. So, I started out on a fiction track and, you know, I made some low budget features. As a director, I did some music videos first and then kind of fell into writing. It was sort of a dead end, this genre, low budget, you know, sort of AFM features, were kinda like, do I really want to put my name on that? You know, so I, and I had Beginner's luck, I saw my first script, and it became a big studio movie. And then I was kind of on that studio writing track, sort of the development hell writing track, until I met her, you know, I basically got far away from what I fall in love with, which is actual hands on filmmaking, you know, that's what I love is the actual you know, we I started out with Bill cutting on you know, on a steamer. So, so when when Valentine that she was like, you know, let's let's, let's go to Sundance, let's, let's see real filmmaking. I'm like, Yeah, let's do that. Yeah, so that was a breath of fresh air.

Alex Ferrari 11:45
You guys seem to be very young and gang for each other. Just Just by the small amount of time that I spent with you already. And just this conversation, you guys seem to balance each other quite well. Your question is, who's the Yang? And who's the Yeah, well, that's a whole other question I will not get into right now. On Wednesday, you know, it's just depends on the day. Now, you guys did an amazing documentary called awake, which is arguably one of my favorite documentaries of all time, and I watch it all the time. I told you this when I met you guys a while ago. And it's such a powerful film for me, because I'm such a lover of Yogananda. paramahansa Yogananda his work? Can you talk a little bit about what how this film came into the world? why you decided to go down this path? And honestly, there hasn't been another documentary if I'm not mistaken, correct. about his life?

Paola Di Florio 12:37
No, but there have been many people that have gone to the SRF, and to the organization to try to get the movie made. I think that, you know, what happened was that the direct disciples had been slowly passing away. And that first hand information, you know, from those who actually lived with Yogananda, while he was here in the flesh, was it was very important, and I think it was important historically, as well as to his, to his deputies. And, you know, we made the film with Lisa Lehman, who co directed and co wrote with me, and, and co produced with us. And, you know, initially it wasn't, I mean, you know, you when you make a film, you dive in, and you're living, especially documentary, you're living with the film for years. So it's not something that I certainly take lightly. And I wasn't really sure that this was something that I wanted to do until we were sitting in a room with the monastics. And I was very impressed with the people that we were sitting with. And there was just something that happened in the room. I don't know, I don't really know how else to say it, except for it was exploratory for us, but I'm impressed with them and impressed with something about the timing of Yogananda. He know he brought Kriya Yoga.

Alex Ferrari 14:06
Can you can you real quick before we continue, can you explain a little bit to the audience who Yogananda was because I know you probably all know who he is, but the audience might not know his work. Sure.

Peter Rader 14:18
Sure. So Yogananda is a Bengali Swami who was born in Calcutta in the 1890s and was the first sort of Hindu Swami to sort of moved to America permanently. He lived here for 30 years, he arrived in 1920. And he brought basically yoga and meditation. He introduced it into America. There had been some other Swamis. But Yogananda was the guy who stayed here the longest and really was going town to town, you know, concert hall to concert hall, basically giving these free lectures on yoga. And this was the era before radio before television, so there was not a lot you know, it was actually kind of a thrilling thing to do to go see the long haired Swami with a turban. You know, talk about these exotic practices in the east. And, you know, he was so magnetic and so charismatic that he would just like trance, you know, electrify a room. There's a famous incident at Carnegie Hall where, you know, he actually got, you know, 1000, whatever, 1500 New Yorkers to chant with him for an hour, it's getting in Sanskrit. And he just, you know, was doing his thing. And

Paola Di Florio 15:25
He brought the teeth, these ancient teachings, he brought them and made them, you know, practical in day to day life, he really gave how to live teachings, you know, how to be the best businessman that you could be how to how to live with maximum amounts of energy, you know, that he would take sort of daily, every day, challenges of being human, and he would apply the Sanatana Dharma teachings to that. And I think that that's what really hit home. But more importantly, he was teaching Kriya Yoga, which, you know, is a type of yoga, it's that works with energies and spine. And, you know, the idea of, he would say this, that this the altar of God is, is, is the brain, essentially, the spine and brain is the altar of God. And what an interesting concept that we as human beings, can, you No, actually activate energies within the body that connect us to a higher power. And that is really true, true freedom and true independence. So the notion of that it was easier to understand these concepts of energy being accessed like that, and worked with because of what was happening in science at the time. And so quantum physics was coming into play. And this was a new idea. And so people were connecting what Yogananda his message was and what he had to say about Kriya Yoga, and it was making a little bit more sense, they were able to access it a little bit better, because of what was really unfolding in science at the time. And this and for everyone listening, you have to understand that this was what the 20s

Alex Ferrari 17:20
Yeah, I mean, because now, everything you just said, We completely would fall right into a lot of the conversations that are happening there. But he was the way he looked back in the 20s. Can you imagine no one had ever seen. It made heads? It was head spinning, exactly. You're talking about.

Peter Rader 17:37
Even the notion of you know, he took Christ and Krishna and put them side by side on his altar and said there this basically the same dude, there are two sides of the same coin, you know, and he would he worshiped the divine in the form of the feminine Divine Mother, that was also a radical concept. You know, we were Christians, and we were, you know, basically indoctrinated with this idea of the sort of bearded God with the lightning bolts, you know, and that was your only access point in it. You know, in Vedanta, there's this very expansive notion of divinity. You know, divinity can just be a feeling, it can be the feeling of peace, you know, that could be your God, you know, you can cultivate devotion to, to whatever your point of entry is, it's a very attractive philosophy. And, you know, Yogananda went on later in his life. And in the 40s, he wrote this sort of seminal book Autobiography of a Yogi, in which he talked about his own quest for his guru, and as a boy and running around Calcutta and looking and searching and wanting to connect with this feeling that he, you know, was longing for. And it's, it's such a popular book. I mean, it's been translated into over 30 languages, I think 30 million people may have read it. And you know, one of the most famous is Steve Jobs. And he wrote, read that book all the time. And apparently, it was the only book on his iPad at the time of his death. He also gave out 800 copies at his memorial service. So it's one of these gateway books that many, many people read. So

Alex Ferrari 19:05
And it also changed the Beatles life as well, if I'm not mistaken. We wouldn't have had Sergeant Pepper, I think without his visit to India, right. Or was it before after surgery papers before? We wouldn't have had the put the gurus on the cover of note that Yogananda is on the cover of surgery.

Peter Rader 19:24
Yeah. But it was before they went to India. For 67 they went to Indian 68. But we wouldn't have you know, across the universe and let it be all you need is love and you know, Exalted songs. Yes, we're part of the

Alex Ferrari 19:39
So so you taking this undertaking of of telling the story of this immense figure in history. There's a lot of I would imagine a lot of pressure on you to do it, right. I mean, there's people like and you like you said, many filmmakers and many other people have tried to do this and gone to the center of self awareness. Where, where's basically the hub of all things? Yogananda and they've been rejected. So when you guys got the keys, the lunatics run the asylum in a way. How did that feel? And and, and again, why did you want to tell the story as a documentarian?

Paola Di Florio 20:19
Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, I would say, you know, funny, ignorance is bliss, in this case, you know, because I think and to the credit of the organization who opened up their archives, I mean, they had to be a part of this, because they had to open up their archives. And there were outside, you know, devotees that had wanted to see the film made, right. And, but they wanted, they stipulated that it had to be outside filmmakers. So I thought that that was really interesting. That was that was an entryway that was certainly of interest to us. The fact that they were seeking outside filmmakers made it really attractive to us so that there was an interest in in sort of beginner's mind. And beginner's mind is a beautiful thing. And, you know, we don't have that anymore. We've been like, you know, deeply entrenched in his teachings now, and so it's a whole different thing. And, and I think they're, that that's, that's what we were looking at. So we were filmmakers, we knew how to tell the story, we had a certain openness to this, we had been yoga practitioners, meditators, Lisa, as well, um, you know, so we were all coming from a place of meditation and yoga being a part of our lives. But I think, for me that this the sort of yoga as a science, which is the way it's often seen, you know, in the east, I mean, that that was very interesting to me that there was this methodical approach to self realization that you could actually take a, you know, these techniques, and apply them to your life and do them and just kind of see what happened, that you the human being was, you know, you were your own scientist, and your body was your laboratory, to take these things and try them. And like an experiment, just notice and observe and see what was unfolding before you. So that was very attractive to me, especially given the times that we're living in right now. You know, I would say, it's so obvious that we are living out of balance on this planet. And it doesn't really matter what side of the aisle you're on. You know, it's um, it's almost like, you know, science and technology, we've advanced so much in that regard. But we haven't really balanced it out with our spiritual acumen. So, yoga is really the, it's the science of balance, it's the sun and the moon, it's the energy of opposites, it's bringing balance into our lives. And harnessing, you know, the, the these energies brings us brings the self to the highest self, right? It trends, it trends, what's the word I'm looking for it, it's transcends, it transcends exactly, it's a way it's transcendence, we can transcend the limitations of the body, and of the mind, in that process.

Alex Ferrari 23:22
Now, when you guys got Peter?

Peter Rader 23:25
I was just gonna say that, you know, one of Uganda's quotes, great quotes is that, you know, the ideal future would be a combination of the ancient wisdom of the East and the modern advancements and technological material progress of the West, you know, this idea of synthesis that we're so skewed towards the material paradigm now, I mean, in terms of the message that was blasting across all the media channels, and everything is by by by Me, me me more and more, acquire, acquire, you know, that's your, that's your, that's where you can get your contentment. And yet, there are these ancient teachings that are so much more profound, and ultimately lead to a much more content state of being. And if we can balance the two, you know, then then we really have hope here in the future. So that that was a really attractive aspect of his message. And, you know, one of the things that he wanted to bring in to the film,

Alex Ferrari 24:17
And I think that nowadays, there is definitely something changing. I mean, from the time that where he was around to the point now, where meditation is now, not a weird thing. You know, yoga is not a weird thing. It is in some parts of the country, but in a lot of places, it's still something that's spoken of, and that's basically from his Genesis from the work that he put in. So, again, I think the undertaking of what you guys were going after was pretty massive, pressure wise, as

Paola Di Florio 24:44
It was a huge challenge. And I think that not knowing or understanding quite the pressure that we were under there was I think that that's the only way you get through these things, right. They say it's like childbirth. You shouldn't know what that's like. Because you won't do it,

Alex Ferrari 25:02
You wouldn't ever have children if you actually knew what was gonna happen.

Paola Di Florio 25:06
And I think that the challenge was also I mean, the three of us very often sat in the editing room really grappling with, you know, some of the biggest questions in life, you know, about the human condition. And just, it was great to have different points of view, we're all bringing different things into that as our entry point. Now, what is your process when

Alex Ferrari 25:26
You do a pre production on a documentary? Since I know the narrative pre production process? I have no clue of the documentary process? How do you prove how long is pre production? What do you do? What's the process?

Paola Di Florio 25:38
It really depends on the film I look at each film as its own, has its own identity has its own needs, you know, and you really look at the needs of the film. But in general, there's, you know, a pretty hefty research process, you really, you really need to go into understanding the subject that you're researching, and to read and to take in information to organize that information. But at the same time, you're really coming, what you're doing while you're doing all of that is you're just dating this process of what is that? What is the narrative that's trying to be told, I look at it as, for me, projects often are choosing me, even if I think I'm choosing them, you know, like with speaking in strings, my first film, but really, it was choosing me because it was trying to draw out from me, something that I had to experience and go through it, I'm saying and I really believe that that's, you know, so much with the creative process is really all about. So, you know, um, you end up just bowing to it, you know, you do your research, and you're trying to at the same time, put your antennas up and listen and receive what the messages are, what is that narrative that's trying to unfold here. And in this case, we, you know, we put together a treatment, it was a massive, you know, thing to try this together. And so, you know, we did about six months of r&d phase,

Peter Rader 27:09
We literally call it an r&d phase. And we've done that on several projects. Now, it's such a sort of a healthy way of jumping in, which is, okay, for the next three to six months, we're just exploring, we're gonna do some exploratory shooting, we'll do a couple of interviews, maybe some shoot some, you know, sequences, we're also going to do, you know, hire a team and start getting in there, and, you know, doing research and archival research, and then we're going to start creating a palette of what this film could be. And, you know, start to, as Pamela says, What is the film that is wanting to emerge? And one of the things you know, Pamela has been a great teacher to me, in all of this. You know, since I started in the narrative form, where you begin with the script, here's the script, now, we're going to go make the movie. And here's the template, here's the blueprint for the movie. Well, in documentaries, it's the exact reverse, which is the script is the lap, you write on the timeline as you edit. And, you know, the organization kept asking us for a script. In fact, I think we even have a contractual obligation to produce a script, and we're like, we're not writing a script, you know, well, the script will be the transcript of the Final Cut, when when we have locked cut, we can transcribe it. And that will be your script, because the film needs to be discovered, you know, it to prove to be authentic, you know, it needs to be found.

Paola Di Florio 28:25
There are different ways to do it. I mean, you know, you're if you're cranking out documentaries for TV and stuff, you know, you just script and you're using B roll, you know, but I think that this was more of an exploratory process. And we went from, you know, treatment to outline to discovering the language of the film on the timeline, and then actually starting to create cuts.

Alex Ferrari 28:47
Now, one of the things I love about the movie too, is the, the reenactments are so beautifully done, and they're so wonderfully placed throughout the story. How important do you think that is? In your process, and it's something that more documentaries should have, because I always love reenactments, when they're done well, when they're shot. Well, I've seen some that haven't been shot. But if you shoot a

Paola Di Florio 29:12
Thing that that is, so that is so awesome that you appreciated them. I mean, it was it was actually a big battle to get the reenactments done.

Alex Ferrari 29:20
In what way?

Paola Di Florio 29:22
Well, you know, I'm, in other words, we weren't really in agreement, as a team on on, you know, whether to go down that route. So it was a little bit of like trial and error convincing. And I think that I, you know, here's the here's the deal. You have to feel we were trying to make an unconventional biography, right. That's why there are two things that felt to me like the the language of the film that would help us really feel the presence of Yogananda and that was to really feel the presence. sense of him as a boy, that one that the seeker that the one that hadn't been realized the one that was just still going into, you know, saints homes in Calcutta and trying to get the wisdom and trying to find like, you know, he's so hungry for the wisdom.

Alex Ferrari 30:16
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Paola Di Florio 30:28
The seeking part of him, we really wanted to be able to show that to express that to manifest that in some way on the screen. And then his voice, you know, it was trying to really harness his voice, I couldn't believe that, you know, how many people do you know that remember, when they were born, they remember, into the womb, they remember. They remember how, you know, they actually felt coming out of the womb, and we're cognizant of the be feeling torn between two worlds, but spirit and like being material in the material world. So those two things, finding his voice, and using recreations to me were two tools that we could use to help the audience really feel that they were in the presence of of yogananda.

Alex Ferrari 31:18
And that's something that really, I felt I reacted to that when I watched it, because I did feel that, and I've seen the movie a bunch of times now. And every time when I hear that voice, and I see those images, it really does, it just brings the whole thing together in a way that just that interviews and B roll would have done.

Peter Rader 31:35
And we didn't really have a choice in the matter, you know, there's only like, what is it a dozen photographs at most of him in his youth and his family or whatever, and, you know, visual medium, so we needed some method to tell the story. And, you know, we talked about metaphors and visual metaphors, you know, we talked about all sorts of ways, how do you convey a feeling? How do you convey a feeling of longing, you know, and ultimately, you know, you do need actors and, you know, you need to look into people's eyes and have, you know, convey that feeling. But, you know, as you said, Alex, when recreations are good, they're fantastic. And when they're bad, they're so

Paola Di Florio 32:14
There was the risk of it being bad, you know, so that was the thing, you just had to have a lot of, you know, to see it, and then just really try to reel and Arlene Nelson our dp, I mean, I have to say, I just hand it to her, because it was just she, she really got that. And, and then, of course, we treated them and did all these things in post as well. And, you know, we just had a really great team of people that helped us realize them in the way that that, you know, we really envisioned it.

Peter Rader 32:43
We study a lot of films, you know, one of the films that inspired us was man on wire, like the great movie. I mean, it really makes the film. So it was, it was really well done. recreations was our point of, you know, that's what was our aspiration.

Paola Di Florio 33:00
And the magical realism, I think came from a Spanish film that Lisa had found the beehive the something that would be the title of that spirit of the beard of the beehive. Yeah, beautiful film, and, and it kind of had a language of very, very subtle magical realism. And so, you know, that was a really great resource that that we used as well.

Alex Ferrari 33:25
Yeah, very cool. Now, now that you got the movie done. Now, I'm assuming you guys were thinking about marketing and distribution, and how to sell this movie during the process, or I have to believe you were doing it during the process, as opposed to at the end going, Okay, now, what, what was the marketing plan? What was the distribution plan to get this out there into the world?

Peter Rader 33:47
So, we were blessed with making a product in which we had a very clearly identifiable core audience, you know, have Yogananda devotees, and there are, you know, by some estimates, around 300,000 people worldwide who consider Yogananda to be there who are very, very devoted to his teachings and his message. And then there's another number that we sometimes reference, which is, you know, the number of people who read the book, which is around 30 million. So we have a target, we want to speak slot was between the 30 300,000 and the 30 million somewhere in there was going to be our audience, and we had to figure out, you know, how to reach them. And we consider,

Paola Di Florio 34:30
You know, the goal was to go beyond that job. So, in all in all fairness, it was really our mission was to make a film that went beyond that crowd, not to alienate that crowd but to go beyond that. And so we were really looking at the number of people practicing yoga. And and you know, we had the statistics of how many people were practicing yoga just in the us a couple 20 million and now we have the you know, we have these Statistics worldwide, which, you know, are above 350 million. So, you know, there were, there were those numbers that we knew if we could just tap into even just like 1% of that, you know, we

Peter Rader 35:12
Would have an audience. And, you know, while we considered very briefly, actually, you know, going with a traditional distributor and sort of handing the film over palla, you know, on a previous film, we had consulted with this gentleman named Peter Broderick, who coined the hybrid distribution. And, you know, he's been talking about it for 20 odd years now. And we realized that this was kind of the perfect villain to do that. So So we, we decided pretty early on to self distribute, that we would, you know, um, carve out rights, you know, separate out all our rights and kind of window them out in a sequence that made sense for us assemble a team, we had around 20 people on our distribution team that we were basically managing, you know, on a standing weekly call, and we created a distribution plan, a strategy of how we were going to roll out these various windows and and take advantage of, you know, what Paolo was saying before is okay, so you identify your core, but then there are these concentric circles or a Venn diagram of overlapping circles. So you've got your Yogananda devotees, you've got your meditators, you've got your, you know, wellness community, you've got this, how are we going to get to them all? And how, you know, are we going to go, you know, from town to town, and, and roll out. And so in other words, it was something where it was kind of a yogic distribution plan, because we were learning about it as we were doing it, you know, it was really amazing.

Alex Ferrari 36:39
And how did you guys do? Because I remember you, when we spoke before you were talking about your theatrical, which I thought was in a very interesting way that you guys released your theatrical? Can you talk a little bit about that process?

Paola Di Florio 36:49
Yeah, I mean, I just want to also say that we were realistic about the fact that it would probably be challenging to get this film distributed through a traditional distributor

Alex Ferrari 37:00
You would have no idea what to do with it.

Paola Di Florio 37:01
Exactly. So you know, I think it's important to kind of just start with that. And because they think that when you make a film, you kind of need to know already, you know, number one, who your audience is, you're working backwards in a way, you know, just strategically if you really want to get it seen, and then you know, you have to know what you have in your hands. And we were playing with something that really hadn't been done before. And so, you know, we were prepared to take this route, we had talked about taking this route of, you know, doing the hybrid distribution model. And the advice, you know, that we were getting from Peter is, you know, so I really love the strategy that he has, which is dipping your toe into, you know, a market. So starting with New York, we, you know, we and we've actually for walled in New York, and LA,

Alex Ferrari 37:53
Can you can you explain to the audience for walling is?

Peter Rader 37:56
Sure. So what we did was, the first thing we did was we identified which dozen cities have the most concentration of our core audience, you know, in America, and that's where we're going to start. And so New York was one of them. Los Angeles, obviously Encinitas, where, you know, Yogananda had an ashram, there was a couple of other places Northern California. And for walling is where you basically, book that you rent the theater for a week, you rent the right to show your film for for four showings a day for an entire week's run. And for in a place like New York, that will cost you around $10,000. But if you know you can fill those seats, you can actually make a lot of money doing that. And we did you know, in New York, I believe we made $34,000 in that first week. So we had a $24,000 profit just from that one engagement. And then the theater held us over, they said, Oh, my God, this film is really performing. I want to book this film. So we ended up staying another six weeks beyond that in New York

Alex Ferrari 38:55
Without having to pay for it. They actually have traditionally

Peter Rader 38:58
Exactly turned into a traditional booking, same thing happened in LA and a couple of other markets. In fact, unbelievably, we played 23 weeks at the level is in Pasadena in La 23 weeks.

Paola Di Florio 39:11
On Sunday afternoon. It was just some people just kept coming. So they just kept it going. And on a Sunday afternoon. It was great.

Alex Ferrari 39:18
Yeah, that was ended. So you did all of that without thinking well, you weren't you decided to spend the time to do the theatrical run first, and then you were going to roll it out. So what was the next rollouts? Because you didn't do everything at the same time? Obviously,

Peter Rader 39:33
Actually, can I back up? Before theatrical which is even before theatrical? We we started to create buzz and awareness. We attended a couple of conferences, for instance, wisdom 2.0 in the Bay Area, where like high tech meets higher consciousness, and we figured this is ground zero for us, especially with the whole Steve Jobs connection, right. So we convince the organization to give us 500 copies of the autobiography for free Which we just gave out at that conference, we had a big display, you know, stacking the books with our postcard in the book. And you know, our film postcard in the book and it says, This is the, you know, the book that Steve Jobs had on his iPad all the time at the time he died and it's yours for free. And they like just went like gangbusters. Do the same thing at the yoga journal conference in San Diego. And we were basically getting to, you know, sort of celebrity, you know, yoga teachers and trying to get them interested in the film. And then they started telling their classes about it.

Paola Di Florio 40:31
So it's kind of considered grassroots in a way we were doing like, you know, pre screenings to kind of create buzz.

Peter Rader 40:39
We also did Bhakti fest and Joshua Tree in September. And coincidentally, the Smithsonian was having a museum, a traveling exhibition on yoga and the ancient teachings, and we just pigtail on to that

Paola Di Florio 40:52
The timing was amazing. You know, I do have to say Timing is everything. And we this movie took a long time to make and we kept asking ourselves, like, Why is it taking so long? Why is it taking so long? And, you know, just the kinds of things that happened in that time that it got, were the things that helped mobilize the film when it went into distribution, but go back to like the, because he's asking what we were doing

Peter Rader 41:18
Magical on demand, along with, right, so So in addition to traditional theatrical, some of it for walling, some of it you know, booking the numbers in New York, made everyone suddenly look at us and want to book us so we started to get incoming calls, which was fantastic. And we had Richard Abramowitz of Rama Rama was our theatrical Booker and did a fantastic job. concurrent with this, we were also doing what's called theatrical on demand, which is how it's like Uber meets, you know, indie film distribution, which is, you can actually get an AMC to show your movie on a Tuesday, because they're going to make more money, if you guarantee them 700 bucks for that eight o'clock screening, then if they show you know, the rerun ups or whatever, the remake of some blockbuster that's only gonna have 20 people in the audience. So you can actually get your film into practically any theater in America, if you get enough people to pre reserve tickets, and they have an algorithm and a widget that fits right on your web website, we use a company called gather. And there's another company called tug, allow you to you know, really get your film. It's all these cool disruptive distribution techniques that where you can get straight to your audience, cut out the middleman, and you get your data, you get the email addresses of all those people who showed up. And then you can market your ancillaries and your other, you know, components to that list. And that becomes a very useful list. So we have the article, we have theatrical on demand, and community screenings. We were also selling DVDs to show in your churches or your yoga studios. And we were just pushing them out on a grassroots level. But this is before the for a massive release on DVD or on an SBS spot right? This is before way before almost one year of this okay. Optical theatrical on demand and community screen ratings. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 43:15
So and then I'm assuming during that process alone, the movie became got into the black. Are you still in the red when you win that final movie before you even got to SVOD?

Peter Rader 43:26
Um, well, it did very well. We're under sort of an NDA. We can't really disclose fair enough. It did. It did very well. It exceeded everyone's expectations. We had 65 markets theatrically 65 markets in North America. We had 350 theatrical on demand screenings. And also overseas was crazy. In seven countries. We were in 50 plus theaters for an indie doc.

Paola Di Florio 43:55
Yeah. So it was an IT mean, we did, it definitely exceeded our expectation, because most documentaries don't really do this kind of numbers in theaters. So you know, we we figured that TV was not going to be probably one of our windows. So we really melt the theatrical and because of the magical work, it really helped with the DVD sales as well, of course.

Peter Rader 44:20
So then, you know, Netflix came around and kick the tires.

Alex Ferrari 44:24
As they do as they do.

Peter Rader 44:27
We it's there's a love hate thing with Netflix and indie filmmakers. I mean, but back then it was it was thrilling to be, you know, in acquisition talks with Netflix licensing talks. What was great though, is that we delayed that deal. We said, you know, we're in no hurry to make that deal. Let's keep showing them the legs that this movie has and between their first offer, and you know, whatever it was a few months later, when we finally closed the deal, they have quadrupled their offer. Netflix had, and what was more important is that they agreed to the following windowing. We said we're gonna do DVDs first, digital second, and Netflix third, and, and even in the DVD deal that we made, we had to deal with Kino lorber. To You know, do brick and mortar DVDs, but we had a co exclusive deal, which is we were allowed to sell our own DVDs to, and self realization fellowship. Yogananda his organization has a whole publishing arm where they sell books and DVDs. So we created a companion book, we created our own DVDs. And we basically began with our exclusive window for one month it was if you wanted to buy the film, you could only buy it from us. Then Kino lorber kicked in, then digital, then Netflix, super smart guys.

Paola Di Florio 45:51
Had help from people like Peter Broderick, you know, we have consultants that we were working for you

Alex Ferrari 45:56
Because you had you because you had a product that was in demand. So yeah, I mean, this doesn't work for every movie, like, this works for films that have an audience that really want that material. Because like when I heard about it, it was already on I saw, I think the first time I saw it was on Netflix. The first time I ever heard of it, but I could only imagine if I would have known about it prior, I would have probably been like when Can I see it? When can I see it? Where can I see it? Where can I see it when I see? So that kind of want and need by the audience is what makes this kind of platform? Yeah, yeah. Without question now, as far as marketing, did you market on digital? Did you go social media? Did you do big? billboards out? Did you market this to those audiences? That would have been cool, right? Wouldn't that be amazing? Just like driving on like, that we wanted to see Yogananda you know, up on Billboard on Sunset Boulevard just right. Yeah. You went up on our marketing?

Peter Rader 46:54
Well, yeah, I mean, we quickly quickly realized that, you know, this was not a traditional film. And we were going to be connecting with our audience in the sort of disruptive, direct way. So obviously, social media was our main friend here, we did, you know, do a few print ads here and there, but they were mostly strategic partnerships. So for instance, yoga journal, and La yoga was was one of our partners where we said, okay, we had these really good marketing consultants who said, Let's make a creative deal with la yoga. One, let's get them to review the film to let's get in your bio, you know, one page ad in the magazine, same issue that they're reviewing, and three, let's get them to host one of the evenings in LA. So in the cities where we were for while in the film, we would get partner hosts to say, you get the eight o'clock screening, you can do whatever you want with it, you can do a little presentation afterwards. As long as you broadcast your list and fill that house, it's yours. And, you know, by doing that, we basically just guaranteed a bunch of sellouts and got really robust numbers. Yeah. So

Paola Di Florio 48:04
And that's something that has worked also with with some of our clients, our consulting clients, because we, you know, that is something that's kind of your grassroots build, you know, I think if you mobilize, it takes a lot of work to do this kind of stuff. And we don't recommend to people that they do it on their own, it will totally wipe you out and exhaust you, you need a team. And so you have to actually build this into your budget, you know, you need, you know, a few assistants, you need a social media team, you need publicist, you need marketing people, you really need to create, what a distributor would create. And you'd be the difference is that your hand picking it, and you this is your baby, so you're gonna really go the extra mile that your distributor may or may not do if they don't get immediate results. Right. So it's the consistency with which you will shepherd and nurture, you know, your film into the world. That's the idea behind the hybrid distribution model.

Alex Ferrari 49:03
And I think what you mean with this kind of film, it is it is a poster child for self distribution. I mean, it has everything that a self distributed film needs to have in order to succeed because I consult all the time. And a lot of times, they just don't have an audience or know how to get to that audience or have a strategy, you know, and they're just like, well, I'm gonna sell, I'm gonna put up on iTunes, and that's enough. I'm like, No, everybody should have Yogananda in their film. That's, that that is the key. That's the key to every successful film, obviously.

Peter Rader 49:34
I know another thing, Alex is that we had two Facebook pages. One was sort of public facing open page, you know, which started you know, really to mushroom and get a lot of traction. And, you know, our social media team was was really good at sort of organically building a really robust group NACA media, yeah, aka media when and Angela Alston. And the other thing, though, is that we had a private page that was only by invitation and That was for movie captains or anyone who was willing to spearhead a community screening or a gather theatrical on demand screening. And you were only invited into that group after you had, you know, initiated a screening request in your community. And then in that group, we gave you all the kind of secret sauce stuff, you know, like the playbook and the flyers and the templates. And you would also be able to engage with other captains and share secrets and share lists, and hey, you help me promote in this city and I'll help people in that city.

Alex Ferrari 50:29
Do they? Do they get a cut of that? Or is this just pure love?

Peter Rader 50:32
Not not in the gang together, not in the gather, model and tug and tug? in tug, they are given 5%. But in the gather model, it's really just for the love and the bragging rights. You know, having pulled off the screening and stuff in your neighborhood or in your in your town.

Paola Di Florio 50:50
Yeah, I mean, it is a pretty cool thing. If there's a film that isn't going to ever come to your town, and you get to actually host a big party. You know, you just have to get people there. But it's your it's your, you could do what you want. Like they come you can speak to your audience, you can it kind of is your own little personal party.

Alex Ferrari 51:08
Did you guys go on tour with this? No. Because like in the movie in general, did you go to different cities and talk about

Paola Di Florio 51:16
A couple of things here and there. But mostly, we were pretty much delegating it to we did a lot of Actually, you know what, we did do a lot of Skype and zoom calls. With we that we did do but we didn't actually go on tour with all the you know, we just couldn't we were so tired from having done all of this. We will zoom in you know,

Alex Ferrari 51:38
We'll we'll Skype it in guys. That's fine. It's perfectly fine. Now with your so when you release it, you release t VOD first, right? transactional first, then you had your Netflix deal. And that Netflix deal lasted a couple years if I'm not mistaken, the two year deal.

Peter Rader 51:54
And now we're in our second SVOD, which is Gaia as bought it, you know, for a second run of subscription VOD.

Alex Ferrari 52:03
So, and then that's locked up for a few years. And then after and you're still selling DVDs.

Peter Rader 52:07
Yeah. And we're still having theatrical screenings. When, like, two weeks ago, someone said, I want to do theatricals. greevey Lee,

Alex Ferrari 52:16
That's one of those movies that that makes like you want to community you want that that communal experience to watch that kind of movie.

Paola Di Florio 52:22
That's right. And I think that one of the things this is the lesson for, you know, our business because, you know, distribution, you can't distributors, we end we tend to put blinders on and say this is the only thing that will sell, right. But if you do find your own audience, like what we found is that this audience that came to see awake is actually a vast audience all around the world. They are hungry for a certain kind of product that isn't really being produced and isn't being distributed, which is part of the reason why we really wanted to help other films get off the ground in this arena. Because you know, there's there's a there is room for this not only is there room for it, there's a demand for it. So, you know, you just have to find your way into that distribution model and then it all then the rest come.

Alex Ferrari 53:16
No, and you guys that create ancillary products, which I purchased the book goes on, I definitely purchase the book. I love the companion book. I haven't bought a companion book, and God knows how many. I think the matrix was. wasn't cheap. That was nice of you know, yeah, no, is it because I just loved the movie so much. And I was like, I want something else. I my daughter's got it for me for Christmas last year. And how did you guys go about that? It was because of through Self Realization company that they had their arm and they had their marketing to do it.

Peter Rader 53:48
I think also it was actually inspired by you, I believe, you know, the Washington Post gave us this really juicy quotable little line which it said that Pamela and Lisa were masters of atmospherics that they were masters of atmospherics, and we realized that there was sort of a quality, this magical realism thing. You know, that was in the movie. And there was a monastic and self realization fellowship, who was kind of a Photoshop whiz. And he just started doing these page layouts, which was capturing the feeling of the film, you know, in this in this other form. And we realized, boy, there's a making of a book here, we can basically have the transcript of the film. Then we wrote some, you know, introductory essays and some sort of epilogue, epilogue essays, you know, to sort of bookend it, and it became this kind of beautiful product.

Alex Ferrari 54:40
He did an amazing I mean, yeah, it's a beautiful book. It's a stunning, stunning good coffee table book. It was really well done and did it do well? Did you guys sell a lot of books very well? Oh, that's amazing. Could you like you said it's not cheap. It's not a cheap gift. And then one other thing I want to talk about, about the sound a soundtrack of the movie because you actually sold this soundtrack. But when I'm listening towards the end, I'm like, is that Alanis Morissette? Like, how did they get a lot more set for this? How did you get a lot of stuff to do to get the rights of that movie?

Paola Di Florio 55:12
Oh, amazing, thank you, alumnus. She, I mean, she just, she had given me a song of hers, and in one of my prior films, and I'd written to her and, you know, she was like, I'm not really sure how you see that being used. But you know, she gave it to me anyway. And I used it. And I think in the end, it just was just worked so perfectly. And with this, I just remember I was going on walks, going on walks, and listening to all kinds of music that would spark something for the movie. And that that song still is so

Alex Ferrari 55:48
beautiful. I remember when it came out, it was

Paola Di Florio 55:50
So beautiful, and she is so you know, deeply attuned to these teachings. And, um, you know, it's in, it's in all of her music. I mean, she is like, a teacher of her in her own right. And I think she's actually teaching, you know, spiritual giving, giving conferences and, and, and she's a spiritual teacher, right. So I think that she understood the connection with the film she gave, she was just generous.

Alex Ferrari 56:20
And yes, but you just wrote a letter originally, you just wrote a letter to her and said, Hey, wrote a letter. And you know, a little persistence, we also got, we also got it number one, tap in like that.

Peter Rader 56:33
I mean, and then we also got, you know, a number one hit single from George Harrison, Olivia Harrison, you know, was generous enough to give us the use of Georgia song and, you know, that's kind of a one two punch at the end of the film, which is, you know, in still, she's kind of singing from the point of view of God's singing down to humanity, which is I love you still no matter what you do, no matter all these things, you mess up. I love you still. So here's that singing down to humans. And then you know, we go our end credits we have this exalted give me love give me peace on earth man singing up to God, you know, so beautiful. Those those two songs back to back.

Paola Di Florio 57:10
Yeah. And still also has the just the metaphor of stillness, you know, in all of it, too. So it's still it's the persistence and the perseverance of that sort of self realization, but it's also just, you know, you find it in stillness, you know, so, and it's funny now that you mentioned it, I realized that I actually kind of stopped her I went to a new she was, ya know, I'm remembering now that wisdom 2.0 at the conference, we were giving away those autobiographies. She was on the she was one of the speakers. And so I six degrees of separation had a connection through my friend Nell to allow this and, you know, no, it was like giving her giving her the, the, you know, it was like a little connective tissue to her at wisdom. 2.0 where, you know, she texted me and said, Come say, Hi, I'm, I'm leaving. Now she left from her thing. I had to catch her, like in her limo on her way out just to say hello. Nice. Since the deal.

Alex Ferrari 58:09
That's awesome. That's awesome.

Peter Rader 58:11
That's the thing about still is that, you know, one of the monastics who was part of the film team is actually you know, cureton singer, and he just loves music. And it's very steeped in traditional classical Indian music. And he pointed out the fact that that song is actually in a traditional rock form, that it is in Iraq. I forgot the name of the rod. But, you know, he she used she was clearly influenced by India. Yeah, no, that's

Alex Ferrari 58:38
Amazing. No, so what's up, Next, what's next for you? Guys?

Peter Rader 58:42
This is a good one.

Paola Di Florio 58:42
Well, we that, that I mean, the movie was made and released in 2014. We've worked on anything since then. And we are working on a big project right now. That's a piece and and music festival in India in Rishikesh, India, and it will have documentary component to it, and a live stream and it will hopefully, be another uplifting focal point.

Peter Rader 59:13
That's awesome. It's called come together. It's in honor of commemorating the Beatles going to India 50 years ago, and how they move the needle and shifted the paradigm for so many of us, you know, just open those doors to kind of a new way of thinking.

Alex Ferrari 59:29
I mean, know, when the Beatles went over there, I did absolutely. Like, you know, because you had the biggest band ever introduce you to a whole new world, in many ways, their career, peak of their career.

Paola Di Florio 59:41
And I think that idea is that, you know, if they had everything right, they had reached the pinnacle of success and for them wasn't really enough. And so, it was the idea that, you know, finding another way to explore our purpose. In life and finding balance in life, so it's really putting a focal point on how to live on the planet.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:07
That's awesome. And I'm gonna ask you a few questions I asked all my guests. First one is what advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Peter Rader 1:00:18
Jump in your phone, you know, these days, the meet the means the barrier to entry have disappeared, you can edit it on your laptop, you can shoot it on your phone, jump in, start Do it, do it and see if you really want to do it. Because it takes a huge amount of work. So, so figure it out, figure it out by doing it. And the other one is, don't go to film school.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:43
Especially in at Harvard film, school, I mean, seriously,

Peter Rader 1:00:46
Waste all that money on film school, learn about life, study philosophy, join the Merchant Marine, that's what john used to know. He said, join the Merchant Marine, you want to be a filmmaker, go visit, you know, learn learn about the world. And then you can figure anyone can figure out how to make a film.

Paola Di Florio 1:01:00
And I think for me, it's it's, um, you know, there's so much emphasis now, in the result, the result? The result? The result? And I think it's really impacting process. And I just, you know, I just think that, you know, I'm looking to young filmmakers to find a new language to find new stories to, you know, really break the mold here. And I just think that, you know, don't, don't be result oriented. Let the process if you're drawn to filmmaking, it's because you're really needing to have expression and a voice and you have something to say, so have something to say. That's kind of where I put it put the focus and having something to say,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:45
Now can you tell me the book that had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Paola Di Florio 1:01:49
Hmm. Interesting. I mean, I don't know about if I could say it had an impact on my career, but a book that has always stayed with me as The Grapes of Wrath. I just wow. By Steinbeck. Yeah, of course, the journey, that it talks about a path for a metaphor for the path of life. Um, you know, it just was such a journey of survival, and love, and finding a way forward, finding a way forward with such elegance and grace and depth. So that that movie has always stuck with me. That movie that that book, I actually haven't seen the movie. Right, but the book really stuck with me. And I don't know if it influenced my filmmaking, but it influenced me as a person. So of course, it influenced my filmmaking.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:49
How about you, Peter?

Peter Rader 1:02:51
Um, you know, I'm just going to plug I'm so sorry to do this. But I'm going to plug my book. I have a book out right now, to look at the gods.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:58
What's it called? What's it called?

Peter Rader 1:03:00
It's called playing to the gods. And you know, I spent the last three to five years on it. It actually started as a script. It's got a long story. But anyway, it's a book. Now it's on out from Simon and Schuster. And it's about the birth of modern acting. A great rivalry occurred about 100 years ago, the theater between these two icons. One is Sarah Bernhardt, the great actress of the 19th century, who acted from the outside in, she acted by imitation, there were books, there are manuals that showed you how to pose on any given line. And then there was this sea change, which is we needed to figure out the original way of acting, which is inspiration from inside out, and this other actress Eleanor dusa, kind of rediscovered original acting, and they had this intense rivalry that went on for decades. They stole each other's plays and lovers and all sorts of things that did a great job. It was make a good movie. It's being it's being adapted as we speak.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:56
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Paola Di Florio 1:04:04
Love myself

Alex Ferrari 1:04:06
Oh, that's a good one. We beat ourselves up a little bit too much sometimes.

Paola Di Florio 1:04:11
Yeah, it's just that it's the it's the thing that these teachings have really transformed. in me, which is just to, you know, surrender and to allow, and that has a lot to do with loving yourself.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:31
How bout you, Peter?

Peter Rader 1:04:32
I would say yeah, and well kind of related to that kind of get get out of the way. Get out of the way. You know, let it happen without the ego, you know, like, that's, that's, that's a tricky one. I'm still working on that one.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:49
And the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time?

Peter Rader 1:04:55
Well, I always begin with the Godfather. It's still It's still on my list. What else do we have? You know, I grew up in Italy. So I'll go to Bethel Lucci, you know, 1900 or certainly some of the Fellini movies that were so influential. You know, I'm record Rama Casanova. I've seen the mall and just amazing filmmaker.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:22
How about you Paola?

Paola Di Florio 1:05:24
Well, uh, two documentaries that really had an imprint on me where Chrome and

Alex Ferrari 1:05:30
Chrome love Chrome,

Paola Di Florio 1:05:32
And Harlan County, USA.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:34
Oh, yeah, that's a good movie.

Paola Di Florio 1:05:37
And, and, you know, I would say The Princess Bride.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:43
What a classic movie. Oh, that movie. so wonderful. And then where can people follow your work and follow what you guys are doing?

Peter Rader 1:05:54
Our website is thisiscounterpointfilms.com, okay. Because there's another counterpoint films in Ireland.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:03
This is

Peter Rader 1:06:07
And we got

Paola Di Florio 1:06:08
We have a newsletter. And so you know, that's the that's the best place. If you sign up for my newsletter, we don't send many out. So it won't be annoying. But that's that's the best way to

Alex Ferrari 1:06:20
Guys, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to the tribe today and really share your process, and a little bit of Yogananda, his wisdom with with everyone. So thank you again, so much.

Paola Di Florio 1:06:30
Thank you so much for the opportunity.

Peter Rader 1:06:32
It was a pleasure.

Paola Di Florio 1:06:34
It was a pleasure.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:35
They truly are an inspiration. Peter and Paola. Thank you so so much for being on the show and dropping some major knowledge bombs on the tribe today. If you want to get links to anything we discussed in this episode, head over to indiefilmhustle.com/283. We'll put links to them how to contact them, as well as links to the video podcast on IFH.TV, and of course links to awake the life of Yogananda and if you guys have not watched this film, it is worth your time. It is one of my favorite documentaries I've ever seen. I watch it every few months. That's how much I love this thing. It is really, really great. It does give you a great introduction to who Yogananda was his teachings and what what he did for for the world. It's pretty remarkable, honestly. But it's a great documentary, and not religious or anything like that. Just pretty cool ideas that he talked about. So if you haven't already, please head over to indiefilmhustle.tv check out what we're doing over there. It's amazing stuff that we've got going on this month. releases were about 30 hours and it was crazy amount of stuff that we put out there. And we're going to be putting more and more stuff. I just got some big stuff coming. I got some big announcements come in this month. I just cannot wait wait, wait to tell you what's coming up. So thanks again for all the support guys. And as always, keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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