Joseph Alexandre

IFH 509: How to Make Money with Short Films with Joseph Alexandre


Right-click here to download the MP3

It was a pleasure having today’s guest on because, as a self-proclaimed hustler, I recognize another when I see one, and for the best part of his career, Joseph Alexandre has hustled hard in this line of business. 

My guest today is director, writer, and producer Joseph Alexandre. He is most known for films like The Starck Club Documentary-The Final Cut, Back Home Years Ago: The Real Casino, and The Early Inauguration.

He’s made his way in the indie filmmaking world with shorts and documentary shorts. We do talk about his 2021 short, Ralphie’s Blue. But we dive more into his career and how shorts have played a massive part in generating revenue. 

Joe used a lot of filmtrepreneur methods—way before I ever wrote the book.

He’s written, produced, and directed the pilot for the reality TV show, The Body Shop Cop, which focuses on Rocco Avellini, owner/operator of Wreck Check Car Scan Centers, which provides consumers with vital consultations for Auto body collision repair and diminished value.

Joe’s filmography includes, Split Screen TV show, The Devil Takes a Holiday and almost a dozen others.

Ralphie’s ‘Blue’, which he wrote, directed, and stars in is the story of a hapless but likable, regular guy named Ralph Monti, a man with two strikes against him. One, he works nights and weekends as an umpire, but he can’t seem to get past little league. Two, it takes him a fistful of meds every day just to keep it together. Ralph’s game takes a dramatic turn when he meets Chase, the charismatic leader of a “men’s group.” Chase takes Ralph under his wing, introducing him to his group – The Order – at a weekend retreat in the mountains. Ralph encounters a committed band of dangerous white nationalists, more accurately, White Supremacists. (Ironic, because Ralph has a black girlfriend, but Chase has an “alternative” approach to Ralph’s medication, which proves tantalizing to Ralphie.) Chase intends to shape Ralph into a dangerous weapon to be used by The Order as part of their plan of attack. Can Ralph help foil the event before it’s too late?

His work is featured on the SVOD platform Fandor. You can stream them exclusively on there.

Enjoy my conversation with Joseph Alexandre.

Alex Ferrari 0:12
I'd like to welcome to the show Joe Alexander. Man, how you doing Joe?

Joseph Alexandre 0:15
doing? Well, thank you. Thanks for having me

Alex Ferrari 0:18
Yeah, man. Thank you for reaching out, man. You reached out with a witch which normally I would never in a million years read. Like the like the email. Pitching if itching to get on the show. I was like, I mean, it was it was war in peace, man. But then I but in the first few sentences, we have a mutual friend, Joe Carnahan. And then I was like, Okay, let me just give Joe a call. And that was that was and then once I called up, Joe, Joe, this guy just emailed me the Bible. Can I have him on the show? And Joe's like, Oh, no, Joe's freaking awesome. You should have him on the show. Like, okay, let me go back and read everything and that I had to kind of break down like, dude, let's, let's, let's let's pitch and let's get this down to a place where we can have you on the show for something. That was great. So and then as I didn't wear more research into what you do and what you've done, I was like, Oh, this will be a great conversation. So we're going to talk about your career. And also how shorts have played a really big part of that how you've generated revenue with shorts. You were using a lot of futurpreneur method ology before I ever wrote the book, you know, you are hustling hard, because hustle recognizes hustle. So you've been around the business for a little bit. So how did you get started in the business?

Joseph Alexandre 1:42
got started really, it was a lengthy, lengthy even though it was a long circuitous route. You know, I grew up back east. from Long Island, New York originally came from kind of a, you know, upper middle class background. parents went to Georgetown. I went to Marquette University and but I was like a, I was a jock. I was a baller. I was not the kid with the super eight camera. You know what I mean? It was not it was, you know, people to it. My dad would joke. It's like, you know, when we, when I expressed interest in the business, he's like, what do we know about movies? We know to go to a movie. We don't know anything about movie. You know, it was it was kind of like the Upper West Side. Kids are, you know, like, Christine vishawn. Going to brown and studying semiotics. That wasn't I didn't have an end. I didn't know anybody that was really in the business. And like, a lot of us. A couple things happen. One of the big things, of course, was Rodriguez. Right. And then the book that I don't know if as many people talk about, it's this book by Eric Schmidt.

Alex Ferrari 2:49
Oh, yeah, they use car prices. Of course. I spoke I spoke on a panel with Rick years ago. He's an interesting fellow without question.

Joseph Alexandre 2:58
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it is. And he talks with some guys like john Joseph, who's kind of a, you know, I follow him on Facebook. He's kind of a legendary kind of, you know, ruffle there dude, you know, but was making really interesting, our house kind of criterion channel type films with himself. He was the crew, you know? So, you know, it's like, oh, maybe this is I had always harbor and you know, this is people don't realize like, you know, when I was at Marquette man you know, they had they keep couldn't just go there was they were video stores up blockbuster hadn't really gotten traction. There were local video stores and then you know, you would see like an art house like in a warranty Rafa, God, Hertzog or you would see in a cave, but you couldn't just access any film you wanted. And so if I was interested in like, if I would see, you know, Stanley Kubrick, like, I'd have to read the book and then wait till at one one semester, they really there, they had a special screening of the Clockwork Orange, you know, yeah, it's cool sometimes, but, you know, saw that theatrically blew my mind, you know, and then I would read up on Kubrick or read up on Fellini satyricon, but it wasn't easy to just go.

Alex Ferrari 4:18
Extremely difficult.

Joseph Alexandre 4:21
Right? And that made it almost more intriguing when you finally do get to see the film and he finally you know, you read about it, the making of and all these guys in Scorsese, you know, and obviously, when Goodfellas came out, you know, I was in Milwaukee and this will tie in to the real casino but working in some mob Joyce kind of living that life and seeing Goodfellas and realizing like this is real man, but this guy has you know, the Godfather is great, but it's fantasy. It's like Dude, stop it. There's not a wise guy there is not a mob boss who went to him. Harvard, like Michael, the this is Shakespeare, this is linear. And that's great, right? But if you know that world, it has nothing to do with reality, like, a lot of these wise guys tried to fashion themselves over brand on all this stuff. But really he realized quickly that Marty just play. He nails it, you know. And then that was, ah, this is interesting and Oliver Stone's JFK was another film. And then the year later successive years and it's like, oh, he'll marry it with this guy did you know and then oh, you find out he shot wedding videos and all that. So really, my I was really the only thing I knew about anything even semi related was I did print work in Chicago. You know, my dad was in the retail business. They You know, one of the advertising people saw a picture of me saying I you know, we're gonna fly in these guys from New York. Well, you know, we're just going to gradually I guess I did some in front of cameras stuff. But it wasn't until I saw that there was a pathway that was accessible to make a film that I finally started and took my friend I was ended up in St. Louis took a little junior college class on filmmaking, and they shot super eight. And we actually edit it on the actual super eight delay. It was like a little mini Mineola with the tape, you know, you would make the cuts and tape it, you know, do all that stuff. It was awesome. and transfer it to three quarter one on like voiceover and using and Oh, man. Yeah. And then right from there, right from this kind of mediocre short is when I made my first feature to sit effort to do it. High eight, super 816. reversal color negative. It's still kind of has its own fan door, as it's called psychrotrophic. overload. It's kind of bizarre, Todd Haynes in thrillers, I wouldn't, you know, you probably really need to light up, you know, some hybrid to really enjoy that. You need to be under the influence.

Alex Ferrari 7:19
I mean, so I mean, Robert, I mean, I've spoken about Robert, on the show at nauseum. He's one of the he was one of those guys for me as well. And for a whole generation. I mean, once everyone saw mariachi, everyone was like, wait a minute, this can be done. And then it was just moving after me. It was slacker and, and mariachi and clerks and brothers macmullan. And all those and then even even when you got to Joe with blood guts, in the late 90s, you just started seeing this energy of like, Oh, we can we can get into the into the business. So I completely understand. But one thing that you did with your short film, the real casinos, you actually made money with it. So tell me about real casino and how you generated money with a short at a time it really I mean, shorts are always difficult to make money with. And I was I was able to generate six figures with my short in 2005.

Joseph Alexandre 8:13
I bought about that. It's brilliant.

Alex Ferrari 8:20
It was, it was so so I always love to love giving stories about shorts, power, because I started my career off of a short really, I mean, I did commercials and music videos and stuff. But really that short was the thing that kind of launched me into opening up a post house and all the other things I was able to do with it. So how did you get real casino started? And then how did you generate revenue with it?

Joseph Alexandre 8:43
It's the first thing that was really critical was getting the launch from john and Janet Pearson, you know, they had a show. They were ending their producers rep career I had just done another feature. It was kind of a hybrid doc feature about a struggling filmmaker who loses his mind and

Alex Ferrari 9:06
as we all do, as we as we all do,

Joseph Alexandre 9:09
and I sent that to john Pearson not really knowing where he was in the business big I had read spike Mike slackers and dikes books where he talks about all these films and and his address was on there. So I'm like, you know, I sent him a film with a little trailer, my first feature, and he's like, Look, I'm kind of out of that business now. But I have this show split screen at Initially, it was going to be on the Sundance Channel, but then, I don't know, there was, I guess it was when Redford still control that or whatever it was an issue. And then he went to IFC, and he's like, Look, come up with a short concept and pitch it for the show. You know, this is like the, I think the first season was just coming out. So I watched the show. And one at that time I was up in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and one of the filmmakers up there who It known john as well. did a few he did a film called The real finding the real Fargo. And it was out whether or not Fargo had really liked the idea, you know, as a very nebulous that any of the said says it's loosely based on a true story, but they're like, dude, none of this stuff ever happened. But the Coen brothers are from, you know, Minneapolis and that whole deal. So it kind of spirits something because here it was I had a connection to these guys, you know, in Milwaukee and Chicago when I was in college at Marquette University. This big trial was going on one of the main mob bosses, was a guy named Frank balistreri. He was one of the guys who had was involved in this scam of the Stardust in the Fremont. Right. And, you know, it's Milwaukee. And you know, the main bosses are in Chicago and the trials taking place in Kansas City, but it's like, the movie is far away. Nobody knows what Yeah, what is it just some wise guys on trial doesn't mean anything to me at the time, until years later, and then I ended up in Chicago, I'm getting a lot of sorted characters. And I read the pledgee book, and I realized, Whoa, did I know a lot of these people? directly or indirectly, you know, and I pitched john a few things and nothing stuck. And so this I kind of had in my back pocket. It wasn't my first choice. Because it was dicey. Yeah. I mean, these were really wise guys.

Alex Ferrari 11:28
You don't have to tell me about you. Don't have to tell me about why this guy,

Joseph Alexandre 11:32
sir. Right. Right. And so as I had and I, you know what? Let's do it. piston IDs, like bingo, here. And you know, before he knew it, you know, he sent me a check. And I was trying to get a little more money. And he's like, No, no, this is it. Just make it for that. Let's go. So, you know, I go down to Chicago and Milwaukee, I interview a bunch of people and basically, he only wants a seven minute segment, I cut something longer, because I think it's Marty Scorsese, it's a three hour movie. You want me to boil it down to seven, you know, so I cut it 12 minute version? No, no, no, no, seven minutes. Okay, seven minute version. It comes out on split screen sometime like late or middle of 98. And then I cut my own 30 minute version, I start sending that around the festivals. And I get into a couple but I didn't understand that whole short, short thing. Recommend, like, dude, when you make a long short, done, yeah, it's it's hard, right? But you know, I keep plugging away. And I get it to the PBS affiliate in Chicago. And they see the 30 minute version in there like wt Tw, they have a thing called image union where they had a lot of different local related type stories. Listen, get rid of the Milwaukee angle. Make it about 25 minutes, we'll buy it right. So this is my first sale. This is almost a year after I don't really I got a little bit of money on this company in Burbank Big Film shorts, they sell it on DVD, nothing. Not even worth mentioning. I got the brand, right. That's my first real thing. Then now I'm still doing the festival circuit. Dallas video festival wants to show up. Like they want a shorter version online because they do part of it online. And it's like, I don't want to send them 14 minute version has music issues. So now I cut or the 12 minute version routes. Now I cut 14 members, right? This is I think my fourth version. Right? So the point is, dude, flexibility. hustle. A lot of filmmakers would have just said Oh, hey, I had my moment in the sun. I'm on IFC done. Right, huh? Oh, yeah. It's like, right. Got it. There's something here. There's traction. There's this people are watching this thing. I got to keep going. You know, that 14 minute version eventually ended up with a company called hypnotic. And they gave me an advance. They put it online. It was in the days of like atom film. Yeah. hypnotic, was owned by Universal. And then they sold it to, you know, Air Canada, Air France Delta. I mean, I started seeing some real money quarterly, you know, within this period for a couple years. They had it, you know, several $1,000. Then they were bought by Wellspring, which was owned by Steve Bannon, and then eventually, it ended up with shorts International. This 14 and this was kind of clever. I had so many different versions. I would do a contract that was exclusive to them, but it was just the 14 efforts. And so then I had a longer version that I sold to a company that they put up an official DVD with these different versions, right? It was not a very good deal. I never saw any money from them. But I had a DVD with artwork, right? So now I could just take that and sell that myself, right? on Amazon CreateSpace. And early, like, you know, 506 ish. This is several years after now I've got another revenue stream.

Alex Ferrari 15:25
So let me stop you there for a sec, I want to kind of, you know, kind of break, get dive deep, deep dive in a couple of these elements. Okay, so you have a documentary, and I love that you're cutting multiple versions of this thing and selling multiple versions and licensing multiple versions of this thing. Did you ever get any pushback for that?

Joseph Alexandre 15:45
No, here was the beauty of it. It was you know, I just had a little bit, you know, it's basically the real guys. It was fair used stills and stuff like that I kept, you know, there was a little bit of footage. And then my cover was, which happened right around the same time, probably around two or three, I sold it to tf one in France, a TF one was a co producer casino, they co financed casinos, so they put out and they co financed many American films, right? Well, clues, you know, kind of things. So they had the right, so they bought my film to put on a three disc DVD set. So whenever this came up, I just show my TF one contract. It's like, No, no, I have that. Right. They call finance a foul. Everybody be like, Okay, no problem. Sounds good. You know.

Alex Ferrari 16:44
So what I also love about this is you're using one of the various core principles of a film shoprunner method is leveraging an existing audience with your product, which, I mean, you're literally not only hitting, you're hitting two demographics, one fans of the movie casino, and two fans of mob movies in the real real crime and all that kind of stuff. So that's when you leverage that. Brilliant, right? And now you've been able to continue to do and to this day, you're still generating revenue with that, and didn't you just read license it somewhere else?

Joseph Alexandre 17:19
Yeah, several places. I just, you know, you know, Chuck in, right,

Alex Ferrari 17:24
of course, a friend of the show.

Joseph Alexandre 17:27
We're talking with him. YouTube, just put it on, you know, it's on zoom on TV, all of these fast channels. It's still to this day, from the very time that I did, I always tried prime, right, you know, I got on either through CreateSpace. Or then when it was video direct, I ended up getting years later, cut a final kind of 40 minute version, the longest version of it and put that on, on T BOD. Along with it. The other was a 24 minute version. I own different versions,

Alex Ferrari 18:08
six to seven, there's 14, there's 24, there's 30, there's 40. But did you have the 23 and a 24 minute version, like

Joseph Alexandre 18:19
this seven minute versions on criterion channel on the original day, so it's done all these two? Well, eventually what happened on Amazon? Is they forced you to kind of okay, because that 24 minute version was on TV, and physical for years and years and years. So then when I cut this kind of final 40 minute version, I had the kind of shoot isn't that you know, all that's redundant, you know, so it became the 40 minute version, but from basically Oh, six to now. And I don't know why I can't explain it. It's just t odd. 100 Plus, you know, I mean, we're talking close to 20 grand, every month in and out 150 to 200 a month. 150 160, sometimes less, but then it would be made up every single month for almost, what, 15 years, 14 years TV, TV, I tried prime. I tried prime for three months, it didn't do anything on prime, go back to T VOD. You know, I'd get it like 20 3040 bucks. I mean, it would get more minutes viewed and all that but I was like, go back to prime it would take a month, it would still be low. I'd be back at my 101 5160 you know, 8090 you know, 170 you know, t flat the whole time guys never move traffic. I you know, it was just one of those things where, again, dude followed the money followed the hustle, find, you know, where's the audience put, you know, okay, okay, this is where they're going. Then I'm going to go this way. Right and you know, it was just putting it in again. I see so many filmmakers that Do something that does have an audience, right? Especially when I was in Minneapolis, St. Paul, it was a guy there who was just leaving, he had done a feature, they raised a million bucks. He got a Disney fellowship. And, you know, it was a really nice film and had some real nice names in it. And you can't find that film today. You know, what are they they raised a million bucks, they put it out and got into la Film Festival. And I can't tell you how many filmmakers it's like, they do things at festival. It's here, sir. never see it again, under the next thing, you

Alex Ferrari 20:33
know, and it's I've worked on films like this and post production that I would see them they spent a million million and a half dollars, and then I go back years later to look forward. It's nowhere. It is wrong. They're just gone. And filmmakers don't understand that you can continue to generate, like, I still make money. With my short film from 2005. You know, it's still I still make money with my other short films that I did my animated short, my action short that I did, like 10 years 11 years ago. I still generate revenue with all these things. It's just you got to keep keep hustling. Gotta keep keep pushing it out there. I mean, I can't cut 45 versions of my shorts because their narrative. I mean, that is actually a genius move my friend. I I mean, I do I do applaud you on the the 35 verses that you license to different people. I gotta say, That's amazing. I've never heard that one before. I truly have never heard like,

Joseph Alexandre 21:36
yeah, it was like, for me, it was, you know, I wanted to give it the whole full treatment, but they're like, No, we need some shorter now you need to cut this, you know, we need to do that. No, no, no.

Alex Ferrari 21:46
Why not? You? You had the flexibility to customize per buyer. So if they made it they need seven minutes like john did it seven minutes. But then other people like Okay, get them a walkie stuff out well by Okay, great. So you had the ability to do stuff like that you have that flexibility in Docs much more than you do. And narrative narrative is, it is what it is. But in the doc world, I've always said men, the money is Doc's man you can make. I mean, and in my book, I talk heavily about documentarians who built multimillion dollar businesses around one doc if they hit the right niche, right. Did you did you sell any ancillary products off this? Like,

Joseph Alexandre 22:30
didn't really, you know, I really should have I just never I never really did the T shirt thing or you know, I mean, it was all you know, I mean, you know, the physical, the DVDs, you know, but probably should have done a T shirt. But you know, I didn't feel that it kind of segues into the next Doc, you know, which was about a club which was that was a T shirt crowd

Alex Ferrari 22:57
before we get so before we get to that, how did this short lead you to Joe Carnahan?

Joseph Alexandre 23:03
That was interesting, because that came kind of early. It was really IFC. It was the IFC connection and that you know, out of all this stuff, thank you for bringing you know this, this is one good at this do. Do it Oliver Stone, you know, he's given us all this great stuff, but you want to bring it back to john Daly get back. Why are you really good at this? Thank you, man. Appreciate it. Yeah, no, seriously, I listened to a lot of people it's Yeah, it did. That was the most important thing did I get a six figure script? Right. And, and, and Joe at the time, was kind of blood guts was with next wave films. That was a division of IFC, they were getting money to take following was one of the films they've done several others. And you know, like filmmakers are you know, it's like it was he was hearing a lot of blowback like Ah, this new film, it's just a rip off a talentino you know, and I've been reading you know quite a bit about it. And finally saw it I caught up with it. When it finally gave it the shittiest release, you know, it really should have done much better but I think it was Lionsgate they just dumped it gave him an X lakhs release and saw it on DVD and I was like and I had met Peter Broderick who ran next wave and

Alex Ferrari 24:30
I'm laughing because you just said x lakhs release I never heard the term x lakhs times feeling that it is just No,

Joseph Alexandre 24:44
no, yeah, just you know, just like, you know, and just like Dude, I'm sorry. It is by far I'm not denigrating it blows following away. I'm just a just different dialogue, that action And then he imbues it with like a certain there's some there, you know, it's not just a mindless exercise. He's kind of commenting on those films. And he's putting something in there meaningful. It's interesting at the end, I was just like, Dude, this is great.

Alex Ferrari 25:15
And for everyone listening, he talking about Joe's movie blood guts, bullets and octane. Well, that came out in 9899. If you're on there, alright, so you met Peter Broderick, who's also also friend of the show.

Joseph Alexandre 25:30
Right? Right. So, you know, talk to him. And I just said, you know, hey, I finally caught up with blood guts. I was talking to their people because I had a couple films I was trying to get finishing funds for. And I just say, Hey, man, I just saw blood guts. And like, all these people were shitting all over and I was like, This is great. Like, this is really well known. He forwarded that to Joe until reached out to me, said, Yeah, I was having a bad day. And then I got this, you know, and it was kind of cool to read. And we just formed a friendship and I was ending up going out my then girlfriend at the time was a vet, and she graduated kids that were up in Minnesota and ERISA Minnesota, ended up going to Sacramento. Joe live right now. I was just right in his area Carmichael's real close. And so got to know him pretty well. And that's when he was going back and forth to LA. You know, off writing. Yeah, narc. He was actually I remember talking to him when he was out in the Hamptons. He was working with the O'Connor brothers. He was writing pride and glory you know and that's what Gavin O'Connor drag that's about their dad is in New York City cop and so I was seeing all this from a kind of like a front you know, front line Sure. Front Line view like Wow, man, you know, and you know, it took a while to get an arc off the ground and Dude, that's a whole story.

Alex Ferrari 26:58
He told us he told us the story. Yeah, it's insanity

Joseph Alexandre 27:01
to hear and I mean running out of money while they're shooting and this at the end you know what this and this is why sometimes I wish I would have been right there co pilot you know, it's like, I kind of feel like he got sucked in. You know, I don't know if it's really my story to tell but I'm gonna just tell it you can edit it if you want but when they were doing ticker and I think it's instructive because it's it's relates to everything we're talking about, you know, when the post for ticker is up in Lucas's company and they were talking to in our mutual friend Leon who was approved or that was telling me this story, and they were talking to Rick McCallum was the second in command up there to the whole Star Wars. He's like, Joe, these guys are gonna lick your ass, they're gonna stick their nose so far up, it is going to feel really good. But if you're smart, stay up here and make your own stuff. Don't go for all that big stuff down. You know, and it was just like, first thing out of the bat. You know, it was a walk among the tombstones. You know, it was jersey films. And you know, it's funny because their friend Leon was saying, When Joe was trying to get narc made jersey film, they kind of were kind of decks about as well. It's just an episode of NYPD Blue. Why should we do this? You know, it's like, cool. Dude. This is one of the best screenplays I've ever read. I mean, it's really dark. The screenplays is unbelievable. Oh, absolutely. Why would you get involved? These guys, you shouldn't I you know, but because it's money. And it's this and it's that and then it was, you know, I have my three and then never done. You know, in our case. The film I was writing for him was about this kid who was a drug dealer up in Blaine, Washington, right on the border of British Columbia. And it was kind of like if you could imagine taking the world of City of God and transposing it into like Terrence Malick days of heaven. Jesus Christ. Yeah, that was the teenager right? When I went to research it up there. There was a big bus there's some kid had 60 pounds in his locker, there was like 100 yard tunnel underneath there were like, I had la plates. And I had all this research and they just saw the LA plant in California plates. They pulled me over just because they see this like thick thing or research on this kid about all these drugs. It's obvious like buddy, I hope you don't come back then. You know. And it was like, but there was killing Pablo. Right there was killing to the pig $70 million beast, you know, on the back end, you know, I just always felt like it is a bit who he is because he's the action kind of guy but it's also you know, I think it's kind of like the ocean. It pointed him in this direction. Kind of, you know, instead of maybe I could see him being like a PTA. You know, Paul Thomas,

Alex Ferrari 30:02
man? I'll tell you, I'll tell you what man and I told you this. He is easily one of the most underrated writers in Hollywood today. I think he's a really brilliant writer. And he's a brilliant filmmaker. And I think if they could ever just give him the keys to the f1 car, and let them drive the way he needs to drive it, he he's going to shock everybody, honestly, because he's always had someone sticking their hands in moving things around like it's always that if he could just get like a Netflix deal or something where they just go here Joe, here's the money go make your movie. Get back to us when you're ready. I'm wait jazz. Why jazz needs to be made why jazz needs to be made?

Joseph Alexandre 30:49
needs to Yeah, that looked like the one that could have been that kind of follow you know, late especially. What's when he's at his best is when there's that special like narc has that special meaning of like the guy who's just trying to protect his daughter? Greg is really just the gray is the best case study on leadership because he leads in the completely wrong direction but charge right. He took charge you know, and said thing, you know, Band of Brothers. It doesn't matter if you leave them in there. Right? But you gotta leave. Right? You gotta you know, and it's just that scene with his buddy Frank Rio down where he just comes to peace. Like there's all these this is what makes is it? Yeah, the intense action is always when he's at his best as he has those quiet moments.

Alex Ferrari 31:39
Yeah, no. Absolutely

Joseph Alexandre 31:41
can the shower with a little infant, right? He's in the ocean moment.

Alex Ferrari 31:46
But that's the emotion right? The emotion the best action movies have emotion to it. Like you care about the character. You know, john McClane rigs, you know, these kind of characters that are, you know, epic characters who you just care about. You just care about him and with all this insane action and all this kind of right,

Joseph Alexandre 32:06
but funny minutes to get real quick on on. And this is why I feel like 18 was good. He put what makes diehards, so great hands, hands now and Rick. I feel like he needed that Alan Rickman, and whatever. That's a whole different story. But But you're right, that's, that's, you know, again, Hollywood, kind of getting their hands in it and pushing it another direction. Yeah, you know, you get all these these meddlers and you know,

Alex Ferrari 32:41
it's but it's the game, it's the game that we all you know, everyone plays in Hollywood, there's very few that can be changed. You know, or Spielberg or Nolan, or you know, that they could just come in and just, they have the keys, and like Kubrick before them. And I mean, Kubrick was one of those guys as well. But anyway, so but I just wanted to bring Joe into it. Because this short film led to a relationship with Joe Carnahan, it gave you a gig writing a script. And it all started off with the short, which is, a lot of times filmmakers don't understand it's not only just what the short can generate, by itself, it's what it can generate outside of it. I've said in I think I said it in my book, that my short film not only generated six figures in sales, but also generated seven figures in the course of the next 15 years because I launched my post production company on the back of that, and people kept coming to me because of that short for years. So I got so many other revenue generation off of that, because of all the cool, you know, whatever I did action wise, and visual effects wise and that's short.

Joseph Alexandre 33:48
Think about Jim Cummins Thunder Road, I'll be blunt. I thought to win Sundance, whatever, okay. It's not the point. But okay, so he can't monetize that, because of the song was Springsteen, you know, he just puts it up free. Hey, Bruce, can you just let me put it just for free. But what happens? Oh, Vimeo, hey, do for we'll give you money to do for single tape films. The one I think is best is the one where it's like the guy who's the Department of Corrections who's doing CPR and realize, Oh, he's being transferred to prison or whatever, you know, then it's flipped into a feature. Now he's done another few now. He's done How many? Dude? It's all based on that short, all of it. So it's able to monetize that short but the right then what came has right and

Alex Ferrari 34:38
that's always the dream with short films. The short film is always like, you're gonna see my short film and you're going to give me a shot at a feature, you're going to give me a screenwriting gig or you're gonna it's going to move my career forward. That's what shorts have always kind of been. But what we're talking about here is yes, there's always the upside potential like with any investment, in you know, in real estate or in the stock market. Entering gold bullion or whatever you're investing in. There's always upside. But there should be fundamentals to at least recover the investment in that product, which is the generate the budget of the film. And if you can continue to generate money like you have with that short, yeah, you were able to get the upside and you were able to cover your cover your night, essentially. And that's how filmmakers need to think with shorts. They need to think about how am I going to cover my nut, and great if Steven Spielberg sees it and wants to hire me for the next project, all the better. But you can't plan on that lottery ticket. Because you you getting that six figure deal with Joe to write a screenplay. That's a lottery ticket. That's not that that's a scratch off. That's this guy. Robert Rodriguez won a lottery that's a scratch off. It's a really nice.

Joseph Alexandre 35:49
That's why I love I really love listening to Jay Horton. Jason Hartman, you know, when he talks about that, my strategy is is a different kind of more of boob Tiki kind of thing. He cranking them out like Walmart, right? Like, he's just, you know, I mean, you know, five features in a week, you know, I know. Yeah, yeah. Like,

Alex Ferrari 36:11
he popped them out like water. He pops him out, like, Well, yeah, but he's, he just go he just is like, hey, I need 400 revenue streams making $20 a day. I'm great as opposed to three making $500 a day. And that's right. And it works if it worked for him.

Joseph Alexandre 36:31
And he has in its this kind of specific genre kind of thing, which is that he's trying to run it goes into niche right. For me, you know, my approach was what not necessarily always conscious but what interested me what you know, again, more of kind of setting up a little bit of a boutique on Montana Avenue, rather than you know what I mean, it is but still something that I know I'm interested in because look man, I've made we've all made those films. It's like I really liked this one thing I wrote with a buddy we took a pitcher was a cross dressing Hitman. It was the seven minute piece it was first flub cut it down. Buddy, my commercial director put avid magic on it. And there were a few sound issues. I thought it was I loved it. No, nothing. At the move on just, you know, move on, then cost very much have to write you know, and but when you're really the other thing, too, we get into discussion of warriors of the discotheque. The short giving me the canary in the coal mine. Is there a feature here? And how can I market to that, right? How can I use what I'm learning on this? I'm engaging with the audience. How much bigger is the audience? Is this ancillary? You know is this

Alex Ferrari 37:53
so let's talk about words that the discotheque talk about what the story? How did you get involved with that short and then what did it lead to?

Joseph Alexandre 38:01
So this was happened to be in Dallas, my parents moved down there and split up and my mom stayed. And when I was, you know, still a kid, I kind of snuck into this place the Star Club. It was Felipe starts first design in the United States and being from Miami, you know, all the Ian schrager hotels, start with all those. He designed the mondriaan you know, that became his kind of thing. And so there's that. Speaking of boutique E. There's that cachet right there. Felipe star, right. You know, it's called the Star Club edition that happened to be people debate this, but it's really not. I mean, the truth is, it was ground zero for the popularization of ecstasy. Right. It was there was a guy I mean, it was it was again, you know, ecstasy was actually isolated by Merck pharmaceutical 1914 at languish this dude in the Bay Area, Alexander Shogun us, it became kind of a gay club drug in the late 70s in New York City. But really, there was a seminary and former priests guy named Michael clay who kind of was popularizing it and then when Star Club open it just, it just, I mean, it was on the cover of Life magazine. I mean, it you know, they basically made ecstasy illegal because of what was going on Stark in 1985. Lloyd Bentsen is a senator and the HW Bush was vice president and you know, all these kids that went to SMU or whatnot. Aaron hanging out with trans with Joey areas and you know, drag race whatever Yeah, was was hanging out there. I mean, the music you know, the second kind of British Invasion dead or alive, all these elements were there and it was like, off of the when I was writing this thing for Carnahan, there was a guy who was based in Dallas who was going to do a feature on it. And I kind of approached him he and had a film that had been in Sundance and we went back and forth. We ended up becoming rivals. He ended up making a documentary as well. But I realized, look why. Stick around with a feature screen. Let's just start off and make a short video. I did a little teaser, five minute teaser. Within a week, I had 10,000 this is back in like, Oh, 908 10,000 views on YouTube. Like, that's, you know, I mean, it wasn't a cat video, dude. It's hard to take something of legit. Quick, quickly, right? You know, it's not this little 32nd thing. Like, oh, there's an audience there. Right. Do the short do it like a 19 minutes short. You see a trend here. second version.

Alex Ferrari 40:55
We had the 16 and a half minutes short.

Joseph Alexandre 40:59
Go to USA Dallas, which by the way with your interview with Rick Linklater, Bakker USA was the first festival that he showed slacker in Dallas. Nice. Katie Yeah, you know, so it was great to went down there. Like they they were Academy accredited then. Holly shorts, I think stole their accreditation. I'm pretty sure. I end up getting Holly shorts later. I know Dan's a great guy. Um, so you know, they flew me down there and a whole bit for me to theater was packed, like packed right off the bat. Like oh my god. DVDs, t shirts, posters. They, you know, didn't have any of that prepared, but it was right here. Oh, look at this. Look at what I could do. You know. And as soon as my short was over, more than half the theater cleared out. It was really sad because then film after was a short documentary, kind of a longest short documentary on the legendary commercial director, Jill settle Meyer. He's the where's the beef guy to legend? Great comedic director. They did a thing about that. And then long story short, that experience I ended up doing Holly shorts, I ended up doing quite a few different festivals. But I learned right there. Here's my audience. This is where when I come back, I'm going to do a feature. And I'm going to be prepared this time, because I really easily made a grand in cash. Just having, you know,

Alex Ferrari 42:35
stuff. feature. Yep. So that so then you see you parlayed the short into a feature film right away. And it took the body

Joseph Alexandre 42:43
it took actually two I was trying to raise money but because of this rival tort, they had the original owner investor who was a big corporate CEO, this company, I shouldn't get into detail. Anyway, he they had him and some other guys they were able to go interview Felipe they raised 200k film never came out 200k. And so for lack of a better term, it kind of cock block me from getting money. I ended up having to use some screenwriting money from another thing to eventually go down there and shot the end to like a year and a half later, did most of the shooting down there and then had it ready for I had a date before I had the finished film, which was like the end of April 2011, USA. And it's funny because it still needed some work. I knew I just people just wanted to like the film if I reached a certain modicum of certain level of quality that's only needed. This was not having been down there. It was not a market fest. It was not a distribution fest. It was not like there were all these people are gonna snatch it up. Yeah, I'm gonna meet Malcolm McDowell, which they did for them. Yeah, I'm gonna meet there's tribute, right? You're gonna meet great people. But there aren't a lot of people are gonna buy your film. So it was strictly a marketing opportunity. And I focused on that. I put a lot of my energy on the T shirt, the poster, the CD, the DVDs ready to go a little bit early. Go to a friend. He's like, dude, you should spend a little more time on the film. And I'm like, I'll be able to fix that later.

Alex Ferrari 44:29
And there's multiple versions coming. Right? Yeah. This multiple Don't you worry, sir. I'm gonna have 16 more versions of this damn thing. I just need to get something out now, sir.

So you, you you are ready to come on board. Don't worry about it. There'll be at least six seven more. Don't worry about that, sir. So but so you walked in like off the short you saw that. There was Audience there and you're like, wait a minute, I can leverage this. There. You have a hungry niche audience that wants to see this film. And you're like, I have an audience. Let me feed that audience and not only feed them with the movie, but with all these other products like it, but you did that. You figured that out early on off the short off off that YouTube little four minute pizza five minute video upload, you're like, wait a minute, right? There's something here. And then you tapped into that. And and then how have you still been generating revenue with that film?

Joseph Alexandre 45:33
Dude? Yeah, that's, that's the one, you know, dealing with shotcut. It's Yeah, film hub. Went through multiple distributors microsystem International, they went out of business that I you know, did the prime thing again. I mean, it does, it was doing pretty well via film hub, because they're getting a better Oh, and by the way, when I say prime, I was getting the full 17 Stop it Stop. It still wasn't making that much money. I was still doing way better

Alex Ferrari 46:07
on tv live. That's That's it, doesn't it? It does.

Joseph Alexandre 46:11
It doesn't make sense. But I we experimented with it multiple times. And another one again, it always seemed to be doing better on TV, except for Avon on to being you know, obviously, in that situation, much better. You know, you know, but again, you know, it's this thing. I read another book, too, that was very helpful. This guy named john Reese, he wrote this book called think outside the box office, which is really interesting. And really talks about this stuff. Like, a lot of, you know, it's that old school that you harp on over and over and over this thing about where you go, Oh, you know, I'm gonna just show it, you know, try back on, you know, then I'm gonna get it. Like, don't do

Alex Ferrari 47:00
not 1992 anymore, man.

Joseph Alexandre 47:02
It's great on your merge use this. This is an opportunity, you know, and everybody Oh, I'm going to focus mainly in and it's going to be blah, blah, blah. It's like, Oh, no, no, no. This is your opera. And I wouldn't have known that on my own Really? Had I not done this short first. That was a trial. And also, budget lies. These guys who made that rival doc spent that money they raised they did a Kickstarter alone. 40 something grand for the music rights alone. They were flying blind. They didn't know their their strategy was you know, Sundance. Yeah. On drive back all the big boys. That didn't happen. There was basic it you know, they didn't know it outside of Dallas, unfortunately, even though it has complete national and international implications, and has done well. It was really, I had to taper my budget, and everything around the fact that it was not a slam dunk outside this core audience and this core audience was in New York City. It was in San Francisco, it was in LA Dallas. It was in Europe, people like, right, but Dude, it's not like it was not as big as some people thought it was. But the thing is, reflected that.

Alex Ferrari 48:27
That's another, that's another thing I'd like to point out is that you like okay, I'm not going to spend 200 grand on this, because the audience is not going to reflect that. And as much as I might think it is. It's not you had a niche product, and a niche audience. Now it was an it was it wasn't wide, but it was deep. So you had a lot of people who were interested, but at a certain month at certain, you know, a certain price point, it makes sense. And that's what a lot of filmmakers and I hope everyone listening understands that. You've got to justify the budget that you're spending, just because you want it to be a million dollars doesn't mean that you ever have a chance to get that money back. I consult all the time and coach, and when I when I get some of these sees the filmmakers and they'll come in, they'll go, Oh, I just made a movie. It's a drama period piece, no stars, and we spent 1.5. And it looked and it looked good. It's like and we hired this dp who's beautiful, and I looked at it, I'm like, Oh, it looks nice. You'll never make your money back. Ever, ever. And then they're running around.

Joseph Alexandre 49:33
You may not make any money.

Alex Ferrari 49:36
No, ever No, no, nothing. Nothing. And the thing is,

Joseph Alexandre 49:41
I realize that, like you say that, but I don't think they're filled. They never make

Alex Ferrari 49:46
any money. We are the only business in the world that could spend a million dollars on a product that never generate any revenue or has no it's centric instead. value to it. If you spend a million dollars on a home, you've got the home, you spent a million dollars on a car, you've got a car, it might be an overpriced car, but you still have something that you could recoup your money. There are no parts of the film that you can chisel off and sell, like like that, you know, it same way that you're no product. If the marketplace says no, no. So film, like the example I just gave you $2 million, don't never make a dime. Now if they would have made that more niche, maybe changed genres. And it might be a little bit but that that movie justified a $50,000 budget.

Joseph Alexandre 50:37
Right. And the other thing, other thing too, that's really important is in the research. You know, when you're doing these names, you know, you need someone like our definition of a name is really not like the you know, some kid who's on a 23 year old kid who's on the show, has 500,000 Instagram followers, right? He wants to submit but you have to research that too, right? And I think a lot of people aren't doing that homework. There's a whole level of that where you think why did I never even heard it? So So yeah, he's got 1,000,005 followers. Oh, there are people out right on that right, you know, and the whole film so you've got your so much you have to do. Oh my

Alex Ferrari 51:19
god. Listen, that I know guys who are making six figures a month that you have never heard of, who are just killing it. And they have a million followers, million and a half followers. Some of them even have like three or 400,000. And they're still off of that niche. They're killing it, killing it. So and also Donald and people listening with shorts. Think also about shorts as a YouTube channel, you can continuously make more and more content, eventually monetize it, sell product, if you're within a niche. The riches are in the niches as both those films that we've used as examples here have done. Joy, we can keep talking for a while. Man, I want to I want to give you a couple more questions. I asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into this business?

Joseph Alexandre 52:13
Oh, man, there's so many things. You know, the the one is I think that Ismail Gomez said Don't take it personally. You know, you got to keep going. You got to keep going. And you know, when I got into the Writers Guild, there were three people there in like an introductory talk to the guys had made it written films you'd heard of, you know, with people, you know, there, they'd been there. You know, they were a little older. There was a woman there was a TV writer. And it was so hot. She's like, you know what, find another way to have residual income. I got my real estate license. You know what? I had to wait eight months to 10 months to get paid on a thing because they didn't you know, I took that initial money. I got a real estate. I don't sweat it. I gotta you know, there are stories when I joined the guild there guys who were having a sitting into blobby at the finance office at Fox you know, screen I'm not gonna leave here and like, you know, dude, when you get these deals sometimes. Yeah, you're talking monster. You're talking years when you're getting is that I mean, it drags at a glacial pace. Having something it's hard to create. You are under stress, financial stress.

Alex Ferrari 53:30
Amen, brother. Amen. Amen. You know,

Joseph Alexandre 53:33
I'm move coming to LA to us, Minnesota and table TV, great theater thing the Shubert Theater is you know, Chicago, you're going to St. Louis, Dallas, they're these towns that have you're in one obviously, Austin. I mean, that's gotten really, you know, yeah, the secrets out there. But I'm just saying, you don't have to come to LA unless I had 30 grand in the bank and already maybe had a manager or already had a lot of stuff. I came out here with my eyes wide open. I already been in a couple festivals. I already had a dude, it was five times harder than I thought. And you're all these people who start out wanting to do this and then they're a manager at a catering company and they're bitter and they're this and that because they didn't have time to develop. Right? They didn't on they didn't understand you got to be out every single night and every single event talking to every single person you can and then at the same time, you have to be creating a body of work. It is hard to get stuff together in LA to get you can get actors easily. But to put it all together, there's so many other places in the country.

Alex Ferrari 54:46
Absolutely. You know me being in LA for 13 years I can speak firsthand about this. La is wonderful. It's great and you will be able to grow at a much faster rate than you will in smaller markets. Media. The learning curve in LA is so much faster, because you're dealing with just people who have more experienced than you. I did, I came from a small market in Miami and then went to LA and I learned, like I've said before, the first year in LA was like five years in Miami like it right? It get but but after a certain point, you need to figure out like, Is it worth for me to stay here anymore? Or have I ever established myself enough? Could I go back, bring my overhead down, use that extra money that I was generating? How am I generating my money? Is my money being generated by the City of Los Angeles? Or can I generate an online business? Or am I creating residual income other ways that don't have to live in LA anymore? All that kind of stuff. But it's I agree with you 110%. I when I went to LA, I had, I think you probably have heard this story that I bought out a Hollywood video and I had four or five right? Before five giant boxes of DVDs. And that was like, Well, if I can't get a job, I'll sell these. And I was lucky. But I also was coming into la not with like a dream. I was coming to LA with skills.

Joseph Alexandre 56:06
I was I was opposed to Los Angeles, dude. I mean, what year did you come here?

Alex Ferrari 56:11
I went to LA in 2008. I had already probably had 10 years under my belt. But I was it was 10 years in Miami years

Joseph Alexandre 56:20
after broken, right, which was exactly 2005 anybody heard a broken man? In the business, and you were following these things? You're like, didn't you at this film? And but what I'm saying that's kind of what you needed. And even then, it was like, tough.

Alex Ferrari 56:42
After broken man, I mean, I got I did the water bottle too. Or I got called by Oscar winning producers. I mean, I've gone through the gamut so many damn times, I can't even tell you. But I showed up. I was like, I just need to be an editor. I need to be a colorist. I need to just be able to make a living. And then once I established myself that way, within I think four months. I was at a Holly shorts party, because I knew Daniel and feel from because I was in their first festival with broken.

Joseph Alexandre 57:12
Remember it? Yeah, I remember it because it's going to space and all that dude. Yeah. Oh, yeah, we really needed another festival. Right? Right,

Alex Ferrari 57:18
exactly. So I met somebody there. And four months later, I shot another short, which was kind of a nightmare. But I got something else on my, my, my plate to show people like, Look, I've just shot this thing with a known face that people would recognize and some other actors. And then I and then I gathered enough, you know, nuts to put together my $50,000 ridiculous short film, without thinking of anything that we've discussed in this episode. Just going, Hey, this is the thing. Everyone's gonna recognize my genius now. And it didn't work out that way. But I still generate, but I still generate revenue with that film. And that film got me a lot of gigs as a director doing commercials and music videos and things like that. So it easily paid itself off over the years. But it didn't do what I intended to do, which was to, you know, to do a feature and all this other stuff that I've been, I wanted to do with it. But hey, it's not easy, man. This whole thing is not easy. everyone listening. It sucks. It's hard. And I love what Rick, Rick Linkletter said, When I asked him the question, I go, what's it some advice and he's like, whatever you think it's going to take, it's going to take twice as long. And it's going to be twice as hard. And I was like, such great, great because it's true. It's absolutely true. Maybe three times sometimes three times depending on the project. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Joseph Alexandre 58:44
Okay, it's so simple, but you're probably patients. That's mine. Yeah. I mean, it just you know, and also, you know, it's funny Have you seen Val? Oh,

Alex Ferrari 58:57
oh my god. I don't even get me started on Val because Val has a very special place in my heart for other reasons, but that movie is haunting. Right. It dreamlike. It's, I just sat there tear, I was crying. I was just tearful, what he was going through, because I was such I'm such a fan of vowels. I'm just such a fan of vowels.

Joseph Alexandre 59:21
I was at the Chateau Marmont, my sister was there. Shoot, she loved it. And he was kind of holding court at the pool. And to be honest, he is a little bit of it. It was not one of his better days. Hey, and, and I didn't know anything about him. And then the first whatever. 10 minutes of when you realize that brother died, who is like his creative? Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's like you don't know people's story, man. You know, it's it's like, it's like the, you know, the Kevin Spacey thing swimming with sharks, you know, but you know, it's like, yeah, my wife got was you know, she had a flat tire. Someone shot her in the face. He's like, Well, I didn't know your buddy didn't know something, right? It's like, you don't know, like, you know, so and so you don't know what people are going through. And you don't know. You know, it relates to that thing. It's like he might draw an opinion of you, you know, it's like, you know, just kind of just hold back, you know, hold back, pause, you know, pause you know a bit Don't take it personally. Don't get bent. Just keep going keep doing what you can do. You know, and it's so you know, I think we get everything so pretty because it is it's a bitter business in genders a lot of bitterness and this guy FM and that guy, you know, and, you know, it's it's a big thing to keep.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:48
Now and what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Joseph Alexandre 1:00:52
Oh, dude. Goodfellas is one. I'm gonna I'm gonna cheat. Andre tarkoff skis. Andre roob live in this Russian film called common see World War One of the greatest films about World War Two. It's brilliant. And throw throwing period Linden Stanley Kubrick. I got it.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:18
Stanley is Stanley. Don't get me started on Stanley. I could talk for hours hours, Stanley Stanley. I appreciate you coming

Joseph Alexandre 1:01:27
through one more thing in the documentary I met I met Leon Vitaly at the Kubrick exhibit in the Polian very Linden room. Yeah. And you watch filmmaker, this is really important for filming. I understand. It is huge. It is exactly what we've been talking about. It's what you've been talking about. And he spends almost all his time curating his work, right. This thing to view, you know, I mean, yes, he's presumes, you know, but it's not like you just oh, you know, oh, we had a new kid. Oh, it's three months old. Oh, throw it away. Like dude. 40 years later, they're still okay. Well, what are their specs on the 2001? Like, he's like, we have Vitaly was spending almost all his time making sure the ad was right. Making sure the print was right. Making sure the transfer was right, right. And that's something filmmakers need to keep in mind. Do you have something that is going to be out there forever? Keep if there's something there, keep nurturing it. Keep. Keep honing?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:30
I'll tell you what, I'll tell you my story. I actually at Holly shorts saw a 35 print of Full Metal Jacket. And right and Leon Vitaly sat behind me, and I'm watching Full Metal Jacket with Leon Vitaly sitting by me, and then afterwards I stand up. I'm like, I just, I just had this right before. This is around the time filmmaker came out. I hadn't seen it yet. But I'm like, I can't wait to see your documentary. He's like, Oh, thank you. Thank you. He's such a pleasant man. Right? Oh, yeah. Oh, no British hippie is great. Right. Right. Right now where can people look up your work and get a hold of you and and all that. You can

Joseph Alexandre 1:03:10
go to jfa films calm. You can go on one of the shorts and had mentioned the early inauguration. You can hit that on shorts, TV sometimes. often see the other the real casinos on zumo TV Plex, the short, very few have criterion channel. It's on the split screen. One of those seasons, the seven minute version, Amazon, Amazon, of course, you can find all those things on

Alex Ferrari 1:03:42
and all the versions are out there. Right. Yeah. Man, it has been a pleasure talking to man, thank you so much for being on the show. I appreciate you, man.

Joseph Alexandre 1:03:53
Yeah, thank you, Alex. Keep it up.



  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)

Free Training of The Week


How to Produce a Profitable Low Budget Feature Film

By Suzanne Lyons

Join veteran producer Suzanne Lyons as she shows you the three key secrets to produce a successful and profitable independent film.