IFH 449: How to Making Money Distributing Your Indie Film with Ben Yennie

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Our guest today is no stranger to the show. Ben Yennie was my very first guest on the podcast and he returned this week to discuss the current state affairs of film distribution and his newest venture, Mutiny Pictures which is a full-service film distribution firm.

Ben Yennie is an author, film distributor, and producer rep with a high offer rate on films he’s represented at the American Film Market. After forging a successful career as a producer rep for some of Hollywood’s big talent names in the biz, he opted to go the distribution route. 

He is also the author of The Guerrilla Rep: American Film Market Distribution Success on No Budget, The First ever book on Film Markets, and used as a text at about 10 film schools.

Mutiny Pictures was launched in June 2020 to build transparent, modern development, sales, and distribution relationships with big pay-TV providers, and physical media retailers – prioritizing diverse filmmakers and stories to help move the industry into the world post-COVID-19. 

There are rapid changes affecting film distribution via theaters for independent filmmakers amidst COVID. Adjustment to new distribution models is a top issue these days.

We discussed the proliferation of virtual cinemas (PVOD) and building infrastructures towards that focus because theaters can not survive these COVID times and they may not meet head-to-head with VODs post-covid. So how can independent filmmakers adopt and better position themselves to the evolution of film distribution?

Enjoy my conversation with Ben Yennie.

Alex Ferrari 0:47
Today on the show, guys, we have returning champion Ben Yennie. Now Ben is a film distribution expert, and has been on the show multiple times talking about film distribution, one of my favorite subjects. Now in this episode, we're going to talk about what is going on currently, from his point of view in the film distribution game with COVID. And what's going on, and he just opened up his own distribution company, and is doing some really cool things with that. So we wanted to dig into what it's like right now on the street during these turbulent times in film distribution. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Ben Yennie. I like to welcome back to the show returning champion Ben Yennie. How are you doing, Ben?

Ben Yennie 3:12
Very well, Alex, thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 3:14
Absolutely. As I think this is your third time

Ben Yennie 3:19
Yeah, third time, right.

Alex Ferrari 3:20
But you have the distinct, distinct honor of being my very first interview ever on indie film hustle, not the first release, but I think you were the first interview I ever did. If I remember correctly.

Ben Yennie 3:34
I think I might have been the third but I was the first that wasn't your own personal friend.

Alex Ferrari 3:39
I think it's something like that. I remember you were you're one of the first two or three that got released. So you were you you humbled me by coming onto my little podcast all those years ago now we're over 400 episodes it's gotten insane

Ben Yennie 3:59

Alex Ferrari 4:01
It's been it's been kind of crazy but you've been you've been busy as well for everybody listening. Ben is an amazing wasn't amazing sales rep but has since jumped over to the to the I guess to the good side of the Force. It all depends on how you look at it and become an became a full blown distributor which we're going to get into as well. But what I wanted to bring you back on the show man to talk about it's insane times we're living in and how they're affecting our business. So how has it how has COVID affected film sales from your point of view, domestically and internationally?

Ben Yennie 4:37
It's a weird mix for COVID it's much more affordable to be starting a sales and distribution company because we don't have to worry about market sees, which also means that we don't claim as oops, but we don't have to worry about actually traveling to Berlin, France and France and even LA for me now. We just Jump on zoom calls all a lot. And beyond that, we've also been able to get a lot of development executives on the phone a lot more easily than we think we would have. Although, on the same note, we had a big pitch, one of the big, big Kids TV channels, the day that everything shut down in LA in March, and if that had, if that had gone differently, I think we would have I think they would have bought that film, which ended up not happening.

Alex Ferrari 5:34
But of course, because it went upside down on that at that moment.

Ben Yennie 5:39
Oh, indeed, yeah, so that was a that was less than ideal. But we're still in talks with a lot of people about that good, takes longer than I would have expected.

Alex Ferrari 5:50
So the thing is that that's the, that's one area that I've always had to had a real big sticking point is those fees, those market fees that you need to recoup as a distributor, and they're still charging them now, even though there are no market fees. Arguably, I mean, AFM cost what this year to go in virtually, it didn't cost much at all.

Ben Yennie 6:11
I think we went as we had both a booth and everyone on my team had buyer badges because they were completely free. The Booth was something like five or $600. And we got a bit of that our total cost was right around 900. And we included a bit of MailChimp subscription, and that too

Alex Ferrari 6:31
Right? So then, so let's say a grant, let's say a grand total.

Ben Yennie 6:34

Alex Ferrari 6:35
Which is generally a price of doing business as a distributor, you generally wouldn't pass that on to this, to do your filmmakers. But before, how much does it cost to go to AFM.

Ben Yennie 6:46
Uh, I've had booths before, the very cheap end of it is 30 $500, which is just for the booth that's not including any advertising with

Alex Ferrari 6:57
or travel or food, or if you bring somebody else and all that stuff. So it could it could go up to comfortably five to 10,000. If you get bigger booths, it could go up to 50 or 100 tops.

Ben Yennie 7:09
Now easily. Yeah, um, yeah, it's a, it is much more affordable to get started now. But I'm sure you know, on this front, because it's something that you talked about on both in your book and a lot of podcasts that the for free, when it's that cheap to get started, the competition becomes really intense really quickly, if you don't know what you're doing with. And that took a bit of a double edged sword.

Alex Ferrari 7:36
So right now. So that's another thing you're seeing, you're seeing a lot of distributing startups coming up really quickly. Now, as before, it's like any part of our business like before, it used to be 100,000 to $200,000 for a camera. And now you can make a film with you know, for under five grand comfortably with a, you know, beautiful 4k image on a black magic, let's say or even on a red, that's a much smaller red, you can go for under 10 grand. So it now allows a lot of people to get into the business. But now the competition becomes a lot more. So the same problem that filmmakers are having with distributors, distributors are having to put themselves

Ben Yennie 8:12
a little bit yeah, it's a I mean, it's not as much of a problem because so much of being successful in this business is based on relationships, and long standing relationships. And those aren't something that really ever had $1 value attached to them, except that you had to travel to these places. So it's the biggest thing I actually worry about for the long term health of the industry. health of the industry, as it stands right now is finding a good entry point for the bigger platforms. And if markets like AFM have a big sea change in them, I worry about where you could actually go to start to come up if you haven't done anything yet.

Alex Ferrari 8:55
Be the as a distributor,

Ben Yennie 8:58
as a distributor or a filmmaker, frankly, I started going to AFM as a filmmaker and then became a producer's Rep. And then now I'm a distributor and something of a sales agent too. But we just got a partner on that to take some of that off my shoulders because I was doing too much. Um, but yeah, I don't think that I the biggest thing about becoming a successful filmmaker is hitting the point where you're actually broken enough that you can get attention and get an agent if you want to go the studio route. As opposed to the more film enterpreneur route, which I know you advocate night do too. But I don't know what the path for that would be. Now that there isn't something like the AFM where you can actually meet people who can get your film on Showtime or if you're a distributor, you can find those. You can establish those relationships with those buyers. So you can be That junction point.

Alex Ferrari 10:02
So it must Yeah, I understand because I've been to AFM a bunch of times and I get that like you just run into people, you have dinners, you meet people at parties, you make those relationships, you start, you know, you start building rapport. And that takes time, takes years. Like I think originally when we first started talking years ago, you were telling me that like when you show up to AFM no one's really gonna do business real business with you for a few years until they really like, Oh, this guy's still showing up. He's not my by night and, you know, takes those years of time where now that that avenue, at least as as of this recording is not there. Do I mean? I mean, I had Jonathan wolf on the other day on the show as well to talk about the future of of an AFM and markets in general. I mean, I think personally, I think they will come back in one way, shape or form, but they were hurting. They were hurting prior to COVID. So I'm not sure how, you know how? Well you and I knew, I don't think we're gonna go back there. Do you agree?

Ben Yennie 11:06
Yeah, I completely agree. I don't think that it's going to ever be what it was. But I mean, all the old timers I know, in the business have been saying it's not what it was, since I started going. And I mean, like, the apparently during like the 80s and early 90s, it was basically printing money. Because if you have access to a VHS player, you could just hand over fist, man. I mean, in the DVD, everything became much less expensive. But people were still making so much money on physical media, that it was a great time to be in sales and distribution. And then when the bottom fell out after 2008 it's been a lot rougher since then. And I'm sure you know, this is something that I believe I've heard on your podcast once or twice. I do still actually listen to your podcast.

Alex Ferrari 12:01
And I appreciate that, sir. Thank you. Yeah, no, Agreed. Agreed. I mean, I always tell people, there is no place for physical media, no question. But it's not what it was. And it's niche. It's much, much more niche for for physical media. And I think overseas, there's still physical media is still somewhat of a thing, or is it not, I'm not sure how much physical media is overseas anymore.

Ben Yennie 12:28
Depends on the territory more than anything, um, like the territories that are more technologically repressed, they're still a little bit of it, except there's a really interesting story in Africa as a territory, in that they just kind of skip televisions altogether. So they're straight on mobile and VOD, they just skipped physical media for a lot of the populace, which is interesting unto itself. But it is, it doesn't help your physical media numbers. I mean, mutiny is doing okay, with physical media. Still, we've got three Walmart releases coming up in the next four months. And one of those also as Best Buy, as for exclusive for blu ray, because it's a horror movie. And we know how horror likes their physical media. Um, and, but the only reason that we're able to do that is that we have an output partnership with. Yeah, I can say the name with Mill Creek. Um, and if we didn't have that, we would not be doing those wide releases there. Because the returns are terrible. If you make one wrong move on that it can bankrupt you.

Alex Ferrari 13:40
Were there that was going to save. I've talked about this a lot in my course, and I think even in my book that the Walmart idea that the myth of a Walmart release, or Best Buy release, is that like, Oh, my God, they just bought, you know, I just sold 3000 units. But they get to return anything that doesn't sell right. And that could really hurt. A distribution

Ben Yennie 14:01
is not. It's not even that they buy them and then you might return them, it's that they can sign off. So you paid to replicate sometimes 20,000 units, and that's on you until they sell there. And that is brutal.

Alex Ferrari 14:23
So as a distributor Why, why do that? So like, let's say, so let's say Walmart, let's say my film on the corner vehicle and desire. So let's say I had a Walmart deal in Walmart, and I'm going through mutiny, your distribution company and they go look, Walmart wants 20,000 units, they really think it's going to sell because it's Sundance, and a lot of people could buy this blu ray at Walmart because it's a Sundance time and all this kind of stuff. And, and you and you actually you incur the cost because the filmmakers that generally incurring that cost is Or am I wrong on that?

Ben Yennie 14:57
On we charge it as an Again, we deal through Mill Creek. So we don't actually have to bear that cost. That's part of why we deal with Mill Creek on this. But they also take a huge slice of the pie for taking on that risk. And

Alex Ferrari 15:11
Right. Yeah, that makes some sense. So then they so they take the cost, let's say they buy 20,000, or they replicate 20,000 of the movie, if 15 DVDs are sold, and, and the rest of them are just like, sorry, we can't use them and they return them, then you and millcreek have to eat that cost, right?

Ben Yennie 15:36
Yes, and no. One of the other things about dealing with millcreek is extremely established in this they've got I think, over 18,000 titles that they've released, so that having that that will now find the book does help a lot. Which also means that they, the unsold discs for them do go to places like Dollar General or Big Lots or anything like that. So you don't, you still lose a little bit per unit, but instead of losing like a buck 25 you're losing 25 cents, which makes all the difference in the world when you're doing a number

Alex Ferrari 16:14
A nickle. A nickle is a lot of money at that point. Every save is good, right? Yeah, that's a big lots we'll buy 5000 units at a buck apiece and then they'll sell it for 399 or 299 in their stores.

Ben Yennie 16:26
Something like that. Yeah. So that's how that's part of how they're able to cut risk. And that's the only way that this model makes sense right now. And frankly, if it were just us we wouldn't do it we would we deliver to red box on our own. And we also

Alex Ferrari 16:46
That's a straight out buyout, though, right?

Ben Yennie 16:48
Like they bought that freed up buyout, and you only have to replicate discs, which gets

Alex Ferrari 16:52

Ben Yennie 16:52
In a way. Yeah, um,

Alex Ferrari 16:55
You need spindle.

Ben Yennie 16:57
Exactly. And the we also, when we're not dealing with Mill Creek, which is somewhat rare, we can also deliver to some of the smaller chain so Midwest tape and family video in places like that

Alex Ferrari 17:12
film a video just shut down, though, didn't they?

Ben Yennie 17:15
Did they? I am embarrassed on that

Alex Ferrari 17:17
Yeah, they just I saw an article that came out family videos. Like they just they're showing their stores, which is sad.

Ben Yennie 17:22
Yeah, I know. That's a while we were dealing with family video, and they I knew they had shut down in Canada. I didn't realize that they shut down in the us too. But that makes sense. It doesn't seem like a safe time. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 17:35
it was. They had a video store chain that was still working. Like that's amazing.

Ben Yennie 17:40
Yes. I agree. I and I'm yet now I again, this is actually as I'm hearing about and I'm a little sad.

Alex Ferrari 17:48
But sorry. I didn't mean to break the news on air, sir. I just I fly by I was like, oh, family video. No. Like it was the last hope. But there's still that last blockbuster. Don't forget there's that last blockbuster. You could still sell one or two units.

Ben Yennie 18:04
It's that in Washington or Alaska.

Alex Ferrari 18:07
No, Alaska shut down. It's the one in Washington. I think Alaska was shut down because that was the one that Louis Oliver or John oliver sent that codpiece from Russell Crowe's codpiece from Cinderella man as a way to drive people. And it didn't work. So there is one more blockbuster left in the United States that's still alive. And it's now become a tourist attraction. It's just you could actually Airbnb there. By the way. You can you can, you can sleep over and sleep in. I would absolutely sleep in a blockbuster. Overnight

Ben Yennie 18:47
You are not alone. I would do that, too.

Alex Ferrari 18:50
So they're figuring it out. They're figuring out what to do. Because it's obviously the rentals is not the biggest thing. So they're trying to build up other and I'm gonna have the director of the movie on soon to directed the documentary on called the last blockbuster, which is doing really well as well. But But yeah, so. So wanted everyone listening to understand the physical media Gambit, it's still there. But there's some. There's a little it's a little weird, to say the least.

Ben Yennie 19:18
Yeah. And then the big reason we do it and the big reason that we still seek out these deals is just that. Having that physical presence does have an impact on your VOD sales as well, just the fact that people are going to the store if they see a non on an end cap, even if they don't buy it there, which is generally what we ideally want them to do. They're more likely to click through and buy it if they happen to see it when they're browsing movies on iTunes or Amazon or wherever else. So that's why we keep pushing out even though it comes out at Better than a wash, but not significantly better than a wash. When we're talking about all the money that is a potential between all of the returns, mill creeks, cotton, the other things there. I am not, it's not as much money as you think it is, like I

Alex Ferrari 20:22
So you were saying you still work with Redbox? how robust is red boxes business model at this point? Are they still like growing? And I mean, I still see their kiosks everywhere. And I think they are the only guys who figured out how to do physical media properly, because there's no overhead like it's barely any overhead. So that's why they're able to do and it's there's no employees. There's, there's no there's nothing, it's just a machine. So how robust is it? And how are the sales going to them?

Ben Yennie 20:51
So we had a red box. It's not exactly a red box exclusive, but it's a red box early release that happened earlier this month. And this was a small film with hardly with no extremely notable cast. But it had the first week it was out it did the first day it was out. It was number four it Redbox nationwide, and number four or and number one in horror for the entire week. And then nationwide on the rental charts. The first week it was number 12. Which is Yeah. And that's just Redbox. So that is something that in that film is I am Lisa because that's already out. I can say that. But the but it will be going to one of these other things later. And thanks to how well it did on red box, we've actually been able to get some international traction with it too. So it is

Alex Ferrari 21:54
What is the typical deal? Like what is the typical buy on a red box deal? Like 5000 units? 3000 units? 1000 units?

Ben Yennie 22:03

Alex Ferrari 22:04
35,000 units?

Ben Yennie 22:06
Yes. Is the full body?

Alex Ferrari 22:09
Full body? Do they do partial biser?

Ben Yennie 22:10
Or they will do the least I've seen is a half by and that is yeah 75 to 20 somewhere in that range. They also do double buys. So that's

Alex Ferrari 22:24
All to have extra copies.

Ben Yennie 22:25
They have extra copies because they have about 40,000 kiosks in the country. So

Alex Ferrari 22:31
40,000 kiosks no

Ben Yennie 22:34

Alex Ferrari 22:34
No wonder so they have to fill those kiosks even so and if you're buying in if you're doing you're replicating so you're doing other application but there by the way if you're if you're replicating 20 to 35,000 DVDs, DVDs, or blu rays or doesn't matter

Ben Yennie 22:51
yeah DVD they don't do well they raise from us I don't know if they actually do offhand so

Alex Ferrari 22:57
so if it's this a 30,000 35,000 DVDs I'm assuming you get those for 75 cents 50 cents.

Ben Yennie 23:06
Now it's more like do when you're dealing in that volume it's more like anywhere between 17 and 25 cents a day. So yeah, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 23:15
and then and then and then buying them out I don't know if you can tell me Alex I can't tell you that number but what is it like is there a ratio give me like a just because I'm just curious maybe I'll ask you off air but I'm just curious

Ben Yennie 23:28
Um, I don't know if I'm allowed to say that number public

Alex Ferrari 23:31

Ben Yennie 23:31
So I should be I should not I yeah.

Alex Ferrari 23:35
Given I don't don't say that number publicly but that but yet still see that there's a profitable there's some profit,

Ben Yennie 23:41
Oh it's very profitable.

Alex Ferrari 23:42
Yeah, it's a profitable as a profitable place. And it's a buy. So if you could get a Redbox deal as an independent filmmaker, you're in a good place.

Ben Yennie 23:51
Oh, yeah. It's a lot harder to that right now than it used to be they are also feeling a bit of a crunch to they used to buy about four times as many titles a month as they do now. So that is that can be difficult, man, but we seem to be doing decently well with it. So um, but we are. I would take Redbox deals are among the most profitable domestic distribution deals that exist right now. So

Alex Ferrari 24:25
I would imagine because God knows Amazon, isn't. And again. Yeah. And I want it I want I want to put something to rest here and I want I want someone like yourself to say it publicly on air with me. T VOD is dead for independent filmmakers unless you can drive traffic to the platform that you're doing the transaction to and then that and traffic of customers who are willing to purchase or rent your film. Is that a fair statement?

Ben Yennie 24:57
Yes, however, if You can drive enough people there to buy your movie to actually get picked up in the algorithm, you can get spillover sales from it. It's just but you have to do those upfront numbers for it to work out. All right, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 25:14
Yeah, with with that with iTunes, and Amazon and all those, yeah, if you can get into the top 100. And then if you get into the top of 50, and then if you can get in the top 10 of a category, not even the top 10 of all ages, then the algorithm will pick you up and kind of give you a little bit more of a boost. But that's, that's not easy.

Ben Yennie 25:32
No, it's not. um. Not at all

Alex Ferrari 25:35
And most filmmakers don't have that sophistication in audience or targeting or marketing or the research. Like it's a rarity to find filmmakers that have an audience and in the kind of movie that hits and, and you know, it's It's rare for my experience just doing what I do all these years. I don't see it very often. Does it happen? Yes. But someone won the lottery the other day. So you know, it happens. But by the way, it wasn't me. I didn't win the billion dollars. So if anybody was just wondering, I'm sure I'm sure you didn't. You probably wouldn't be on this call, sir. If you wouldn't want.

Ben Yennie 26:16
I'd be buying my own private Cayman Island, and just retiring.

Alex Ferrari 26:19
But I would say I'm out bitches, it just dropped it. I can just run.

But yeah, because a lot of a lot of filmmakers still think that T VOD is is an option. And they they they spent all this money on aggregators getting their films up on iTunes and Amazon and Google Play and God forbid Fandango and PlayStation and Xbox, which, I mean, it's so rare to generate revenue there unless it's a specific kind of title. But you really need to drive our audience. Do you agree?

Ben Yennie 26:57
Yes, the two that I've seen the best with from more of a, honestly from more of a producer's Rep. place because we haven't really started our VOD launches besides Amazon Muni, yet, but I've seen a lot of back end reporting. From my time as a producer for up. I was surprised, second to Amazon. YouTube and Fandango were often towards the top for the films that were going out through these aggregators. iTunes was hit or miss

Alex Ferrari 27:30
on iTunes is not Yeah

Ben Yennie 27:30
Yeah. I mean, I heard from somebody I've worked with a couple times that apparently, even for distributors who get much cheaper aggregation rates than standard filmmakers do. A lot of times when you aggregate to iTunes, I think it's something like eight and 10. Don't even make their aggregation feedback, which is atrocious, really?

Alex Ferrari 28:01
8. Only 8 or 10. I would think it would be 9.5 out of 10. I mean, it's, it's, that's why I always tell people like okay, should I should I spend 2000 bucks to get my film up on on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play? I'm like, do you think you're gonna, your movie is gonna make $2,000 in transactional? In all of those platforms, in the next 30 to 90 days? If you say yes, go for it. If you say no, why in god's green earth, I would spend that money print DVDs and sell them out of the back of your truck.

Ben Yennie 28:36

Alex Ferrari 28:38
Like go go door to door, go to flea markets. I mean, you're gonna make more money, you're gonna make more money doing that

Ben Yennie 28:45
You might well, you're right. I mean, like I yeah, it's, it's ridiculous how hard it is to actually make enough to move the needle enough that you can make any significant money from any single platform, which is why Amazon is just kind of the default because it doesn't cost anything to get you out there.

Alex Ferrari 29:08
But But the thing is that with Amazon, it doesn't cost anything to get up there. And also, everyone listening I want you to understand, too, that the reason why you want to have your film up on an Amazon or iTunes is because people feel comfortable. All they have to do is click a button, their information, their credit card information is there. That's why I always go against Vimeo or gumbo or gumroad or platforms for films because you're like you're asking someone to put their credit card in there's too many layers of entry, blocking the entry to like give you a reason not to do it but with Amazon's a click iTunes, it's a click. Even Google if you're if you're it's a click YouTube is a click it all depends on where you feel comfortable. It makes sense to put it on those platforms. But if you can't drive traffic man, it's it's useless. But with Amazon specifically You know, I want you to tell people why they're paying everybody. It's only a penny. Now for the work like, you know, it's a penny per hour streamed. And I think for my understanding is like the 50% point, like, if you hit like a certain point in the algorithm or the engagement, if you're under 50%, it's a penny, if you go 50 to 60 is like two pennies, like to get like the magical 11 or 12 cents. That'd be like, essentially, Avengers.

Ben Yennie 30:39
Yeah, and you've got to be like, you've got to be driving so much actually engaged traffic to watch your movie that most filmmakers will never realize anything more than the cent per hour mark. Um, specifically, when I said Amazon, though, I was actually talking about Amazon to Amazon. Yeah, if you're doing transactional through Amazon, that almost always makes sense for a window for S VOD. You, there's more you could talk about but the but the biggest thing you can do to help yourself on Amazon, either for transactional or S VOD is a get all of your friends to watch and or buy the content as close to release time as possible. And actually wash it through if even if they've already bought it or seen it somewhere else, or lately in the bank. Just leave it somewhere while you do something else. let it play there. That will actually help you rise through those rankings at least a little bit. I mean, again, unless you have that kind of a vendor's money, it's gonna be really hard to get to the point that you're making anything really, really good in terms of money? And I don't think it's ever good. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 32:01
Would you recommend if someone had $1,000 for marketing? Do you recommend calling all of your friends everybody and go rent, buy the movie, watch it all the way through, send me proof that you purchased it and watch it all the way through, leave a review, and I will refund your money. So that way, there's absolute engagement, you're paying for the engagement. And that way, at least it kind of boosts it up a bit. I'm not even sure if 1000 will even the link, make a blink of it. But it might do something to get it into the algorithm.

Ben Yennie 32:34
If it did, if that would happen over this over your launch weekend that might move the needle a bit. But I'd be remiss if I didn't say that. Amazon might well know that it's you doing that,

Alex Ferrari 32:49
if that happened, if it's with different accounts, though, it's different people's accounts different all around the country?

Ben Yennie 32:55
I mean, I hope that that is Yes, that is true. But I don't know. So we've actually had several of our filmmakers who were trying to rate their own movie, and also get friends to rate their own movie that actually had their they were no longer able to do ratings for that title at all. And that is a thing that happens. And I believe what you're talking about here, Alex, might actually be against the TLS on Amazon, but who actually, like,

Alex Ferrari 33:26
I'm just trying, I'm just trying to hack. I'm just trying to hack the system, sir. So yeah, sure. If it's legal, not legal. I you know, according to Amazon, I'm just trying to help a filmmaker.

Ben Yennie 33:35
But I completely agree, I would not be

Alex Ferrari 33:38
I would never do anything like

Ben Yennie 33:40
that. Or do or things such as that.

Alex Ferrari 33:44
I never do anything like that, sir. That would be wrong. But there are people out there that might and would just float in a balloon. Anyway. So I wanted to ask you, there's this bit, there's been a big hoo ha ha about Warner Brothers and HBO Max's new release strategy. It is. It is split Hollywood down the middle. I'd love to hear what you think about what they're doing. And how do you think it's going to affect things moving forward. And for everyone listening, if you don't know what Warner Brothers has done, they're releasing all of their theatrical big movies. And in the theaters and on HBO Max, at the same time, and you don't need to pay any more on HBO max. It's included. So Wonder Woman was the first big test of that. Then every month. You know, I think Godzilla vs. Kong, the matrix, and I don't know about doing I think they're fighting Dune. There's so many of these movies are coming out like this. What do you think's going to happen?

Ben Yennie 34:49
I think theaters have been in trouble for a bit. And I think that, especially with COVID, we're going to see a massive change in that infrastructure. Structure coming very, very soon, several of the big chains might not come back at all, which is, which means that studios have to experiment and try new things here. From a consumer perspective. I think that removing the barrier for people who are worried about the Coronavirus to see your content, and legitimately worried about it. Um, I think it's the smart play from a humanitarian perspective. And I think that there is going to be goodwill that's generated from that. And I think the people who are really, really, really into your IP are still going to go out to the theater,

Alex Ferrari 35:53
I'm gonna go, I want to see a Marvel movie, I want to see I want to see bond in the theaters, like I don't want to see it at home only, I don't want to see Top Gun at home. I don't wanna see the new top, I don't want to I mean, I will. But I'm also not going to risk my health or my family's health to go see a movie. That's me personally, no, there's others that don't feel that way. And I also live in Los Angeles, which is the epicenter as of this recording, you know, maybe some other places in the country in middle of Wyoming somewhere, it's not that big of a deal, but where I'm living, it's a little bit more of a risk. But but it's, it's very interesting how the, the mindset is changing, because now people are going to almost expect it, it's gonna be it's gonna be like, you're changing everyone's mind or changing everyone's model of how they consume the content. Now, you gotta tell me like, in a year or two, the students are going to try to change it back. It's going to be it's gonna be it's gonna be tough. And you were saying the theaters were in trouble. It for the last 10 years, it's been, it's been going on a steady decline. If you pull Marvel out of magical experience, theaters would never survive. That look at the numbers. Just look at the numbers without Marvel movies, specifically Marvel movies, which is he they released, I don't know, 20 Films they are responsible for, I don't know what 35 40% of the box office over the last decade. It's insanity. If you pull out Disney, if you pull out Disney total, then they're responsible. 60 percents 65% of all box office. So it wasn't it wasn't going in a good direction, in the first place. And for generations, like you and me, we, you know, we grew up with theaters, we grew up going to the big screen. You know, my kids, they liked the movie theater, but they're just as happy watching it at home. And it's sad, but it's just the way people I mean, I don't want to watch Top Gun on my iPhone. That's wrong.

Ben Yennie 38:03
I agree. I think my big TV with my seven with my seven one surround sound is adequate for Top Gun, frankly, you need a screen

Alex Ferrari 38:15
I need I need like a personal like Quentin Tarantino screening room to enjoy like, you know, a bit like a real projector, a real screening room, to be able to to enjoy something like that at home. And I'm not rolling that deep just yet. So I can't afford it. Soon, but not just yet. But it's it's it's really interesting to see how our business is just changing. And whatever happens at the top, which is at the studio level, it is going to trickle down to you guys to the to the to the you know, B and C and smaller distributors. Because before theatrical was a tough sell for independent films, period, right? Before COVID.

Ben Yennie 38:57
Okay. I mean, we did, you did some of the articles we did for last year. And that's a I mean, we did them specifically for a press. That was really it. Because if you actually have any degree of press, any degree of a screening in a local market, you can generally get it reviewed, which helps it get discovered online, because they like back and it's all about SEO at that point. Um, we are still looking at doing a couple this year. But pretty much everything we're doing now is geared more towards virtual cinema because a lot of times it will actually help to suit that need. And there's not the health risk involved. There are a couple times we're looking at actually doing a physical one because of the title one we've just closed today. That I don't want to say the name of it yet, but we're actually doing a full day in date with it. Um, but we're not going to be releasing it for free anywhere on that day and date. It's going to be theaters virtual Cinema and some other platforms with the same day as theaters. And because

Alex Ferrari 40:05
Can you explain to everybody what virtual cinema is.

Ben Yennie 40:08
So virtual cinema can mean a couple of different things. But in general, it's a partnership with a theater chain that enables that is essentially just premium video on demand. But because it's partnered with theater chain, you can report it as box office to places like the numbers and Box Office Mojo. And that starts to make a difference for international sales and other things. And that's part of why we've been using this model. Um, the other thing from us is the virtual cinema model we use when we're partnering with local independent theaters as theaters as opposed to a big chain like longly, or Alamo, AMC or something like that, yeah. Where they have their own platforms. But when you're partnering with the local guys, we do it through Vimeo, Ott. And we just create a separate product that is film name at theater name.com Theater name. And we give the theater 50% of the take for sending it out. And we keep the rest. But we also capture the emails for that exact sort of consumer type. So for selling horror movies in to a theater in Kansas, all of a sudden, we have a list of poor consumers in Kansas, which helps

Alex Ferrari 41:29
huge so yeah. That's interesting. It's it's fascinating to see how, you know, the smart distributors are trying to do you got them, you've got to do something you got to you can't just sit around and wait for TV sales from Walmart like it's like it's it's it's constant change. And that's why I wanted to have you on because I wanted to see what you were doing and what you know, you got you definitely got your nose to the grindstone on what's going on, you got your hand on the pulse of what's going on, like daily, and the thing is changing daily, like it's almost weekly or monthly. There's something new happening, you know, something else is gonna happen, or there's a new model is a new thing. Like, you know, who would have told if I would have told you last year drive ins were gonna be a thing. He would have laughed in my face. But drive the drive ins have become I think one of the biggest revenue generators right now. Right?

Ben Yennie 42:25
Yeah, I will say that. I've always loved drive-ins by after the pandemic goes away. I don't think they're going to stick around. Which Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 42:35
but they wouldn't establish it to begin with. They're like, nostalgic, you know, squared. Because these are stylistic. And then that drive in theaters are even more nostalgic. I mean, it's like, like, I really want to go to a video store but I only want to rent VHS like okay, you've now you're going to multiple levels of nostalgia here sir. Only I only I only watched beta tapes like Betamax I think I read this Betamax. So

Ben Yennie 42:59
hey, LaserDisc man, don't forget about

Alex Ferrari 43:02
laser, Hey, I just saw my laser disc collection. And I'm still kind of sad about it. I just, it was sitting there, I had all my criterions and I had my laser disc player from high school that still worked. And I just like it, I'm never gonna watch this. Let me just and I sold it for a few 100 bucks to a collector. And I must have been easily like to $3,000 a day retail is you know, so if I got anything for it, I was so happy. Um, Now, another big question I get asked all the time, is how relevant are film festivals anymore? To the distribution model or marketing or things like that? My feeling has always been that they've been going down. It's not, I think I think film festivals are still riding high off the 90s the relevance of film festivals in the 90s, which was set the Sundance movement and that's when film festivals became kind of rock stars because before the 90s there's the film festivals in the 80s that mattered. I mean, and obviously in Berlin and some of the bigger older, you know, more established film festivals. But there wasn't like 5000 film festivals in the US back then. And filmmakers still have that mentality that film festivals are where I'm going to get found by a distributor you're a distributor. Do you look for Film Fest? do you look at me obviously you probably do look at film festivals. But is it if I if I won Best Picture at the Internet moosejaw International Film Festival which I don't feel that that's a real festival. If I want that festival I won Best Picture at the moosejaw International Film Festival. I put those laurels. Do you give a crap? Does it put anything to the bottom line?

Ben Yennie 44:42
It doesn't really put anything to the bottom line? No, unless you're doing the top, let's say 20 film vests in the world. It doesn't really matter that much to distributor. Um, I actually wrote a blog on this about my site specifically about why Your why you won't get distribution from your festival run. I think it's almost exactly that title, which is more there, but the gist of it is, while you're covering, there are too many festivals, there are too many films being made, and distributors don't have the time to track all of them. Um, now to largely reverse what I just said, mutiny actually has a invitation only a festival first look program. So we'll partner with a festival. And if the filmmaker opts in, we'll review their movie, and we'll take it, we'll make a what we think to be a fair offer for it. Um, and we do that because part of this game, being successful as a distributor is about finding the best content as early as you can. Because anything that's really in demand, there's going to be competition for there will be multiple offers for pretty much everything I chase, somebody else has an offer in on as well. And most of the time, I have to not so subtly say why these other people why we're better than these other people. So

Alex Ferrari 46:11
just send them you just send them over to the protect yourself from predatory film distributors, Facebook group and go do a search for their name on that group. And let me know what you find.

Ben Yennie 46:23
Yet, No, I haven't actually done that yet. But I probably will.

Alex Ferrari 46:28
You should that you should definitely answer. It's an easy. You don't have to say you don't have to be the bad guy. I'm like, No, that's just just go look, you know, there's a Oh, that bit or that other big guy who loves to buy independent films who will remain nameless. Oh, that guy. Oh, just go and do a search for them in that group and see how he how that worked out for for a lot of the people.

Ben Yennie 46:48
That that's that's a good call.

Alex Ferrari 46:51
I'm here to help. I'm here to help. And I'm here.

Ben Yennie 46:54
But yeah, I mean, so on that same level, we try to be ethical about that. Because most of the time when you get a distribution offer from a festival you should run. They're really bad. They do happen. Are you familiar with this?

Alex Ferrari 47:06
I've heard of it, vaguely heard of it. But it's just such an obscure weird thing, like the only festival that I know of that has a real release situation is Sundance. Like it'll pick up a film and they will release it through their through their banner and the Sundance TV and I have I know filmmakers who've gone down that road and but that's kind of like a lottery tickets, like a 20 for picking up your film, like 12 movies a year or 13 movies a year. Like, it's very selective.

Ben Yennie 47:35
Yeah. So the ones that I've seen and I ran into this a fair amount is rough. It's almost like the white labeling disturber I think some of them actually, at the time, were just white labeling disturber which, and then taking, you still make those, you still pay those fees. And they also take something so an absurd amount of the tape on it. So it's,

Alex Ferrari 48:00
it's that's a new one I it doesn't surprise me, but I hadn't heard that specific situation. So for everyone listening, who is not familiar with what the words that are coming out of Ben's mouth, it's basically this, a film festival will say, Hey, we're Film Festival x district, and we're gonna we'll distribute your movie under our banner, film distribution x company. And all they'll do is call up distributor or a film aggregator. And if you don't know who distributor is, just do a search for distributor on Google and you'll find a lot about them and probably see my face there. Then, then they'll pay for then they'll charge you what they're going to get paid charged to put their films up on iTunes, Amazon, whatever. And for the pleasure of that, that will also take 35% or 25% or something like that. Yeah, that's so abusive isn't even funny.

Ben Yennie 48:56
No, that is very much what happens and that that had I've seen those sorts of things. I can't confirm that it was a full white label of that, but given what they were offering, and given how long I've been in this game, it looked at a hell of a lot. Like that's what they were doing. And my lips were on your podcast.

Alex Ferrari 49:14
Generally, I don't like it but if you want to throw a couple f bombs in I'll allow it.

Ben Yennie 49:23
Yeah, so that is a I will try to refrain from George Carlin's most famous bit

Alex Ferrari 49:33
Yes. But um

Ben Yennie 49:37
so yeah, that is so the reason we do that and the the film festivals we target are the sort that um, attract the content that our biggest domestic buyers are looking for. Like we generally know what Showtime is looking for because we're really close with them. We know what stars is looking for, for the same reason and Satan for Re box, same for all of them. He's so in order to help us better find this content so that we can sift through and get the ones that we know we can really do well with and make sure the filmmaker does well out of as well. It just allows us to find those people more quickly by having those relationships with the festivals.

Alex Ferrari 50:22
So like, so, like some genre festivals, like some horror festivals or things like taxes, that's, that's an easier sell for you with your desk, your distribution, model connections and things like that. You can sell that fairly easily. But if I, but if I have a period drama, with no stars in it, it's going to be a little bit difficult to sell.

Ben Yennie 50:44
Yeah, yeah, that's that's a good way of putting it to say which period? Like if you were able to make, let's say, a Roman epic for 10 grand, and it doesn't look like total crap. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I could sell that. Oh, no,

Alex Ferrari 51:00
you could sell that. Yeah, I'm saying Okay, let's, uh, 70s. The 70s 70s inside an apartment. melodrama, no stars. Decent production, decent production, solid production. Acting solid. Let's just say in the right let's say writing, acting and production. directions. All solid? Not like Scorsese. 1976. But, but some, but solid. You're not going to sell that.

Ben Yennie 51:31
No, it's gonna be really difficult. Yeah, it's a Yeah, I have had to have more conversations about why traumas are hard to sell or care to on high places. Like

Alex Ferrari 51:45
I'm doing my best bro. I'm doing my best. I'm doing my best to preach the word man. I've been I've been yelling at filmmakers. I'm like, don't do drama with a movie star is hard to sell. It's hard. It's hard. Unless, unless it's niche. If you have a niche, yes. If you have a niche, that's a different conversation. But you're talking like a generic, you know, be family drama. No,

Ben Yennie 52:15
no. Defined family.

Alex Ferrari 52:19
Exactly. Because it could be a niche. It could be, you know, it could be dealing with autism. That's a niche, dealing with you know, but it's just and we don't want to get into the weeds on this. But generally speaking, if it's just a general drama about a family, you know, you know, just doing family stuff in the 70s. It's not, you're not going to sell, it's gonna be real. It's gonna be tough. And I've seen those movies, I've seen $250,000 dramas with no stars in it, and they come to me and they go, what do you think we could do with this? I'm like, I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, man, that's gonna be a rough sell. Yeah, and Oh, we got this deal from this big distributor. I'm like, you're probably not going to see a time.

Ben Yennie 53:01
Yes, it's,

Alex Ferrari 53:02
it's, it's true. It's sad. It's sad, but it's true. What do you What are you getting for Avon right now like, are you getting is Avon turning into a revenue, a real revenue stream for independent film in films? Because I know Avon is making a lot of money for studios established movies. But for in your world from independent films, how is it doing?

Ben Yennie 53:25
depends a bit on the on which genre in which niche you're talking about. Urban films are doing extremely well be they independent or big studio pictures on a VOD, you just kind of have. But in general, I'd say that Avon is probably going to be the biggest sector of growth in the industry in the next at least a year. Um, the there was just something that I think I actually saw it in one of your groups. That was to be dropping their numbers. And they've seen just gargantuan growth in this and I don't think that growth is really going to go away. Sure. It was aided by the pandemic and it might go down a little bit after this, but I don't think it's going to really I don't think it's going to completely retracting I think people are going to be I think A VOD for everyone under 35 is going to be the nail in the coffin for traditional cable is really where it's,

Alex Ferrari 54:28
yeah, I agree with you 100%. But the funny thing is I find about Avon is like, the advertisers are advertising to people who can't even afford a subscription A lot of times, so is that gonna, is that model Make sense? Or is it just more brand awareness? Because if you do it, I'm not saying that all people who watch A VOD can afford that. I'm not saying that. But generally speaking people who do consume A VOD are people who are not purchasing or don't have Disney plus HBO, Netflix and Hulu and some other platforms or has cable In general, so if I'm advertising a product on Avon that is, you know, higher priced. Does that make sense? So that's that's a much deeper question that I don't think you and I have above our pay grade.

Ben Yennie 55:19
More than likely, but I would put one, at least thought process on that. Um, some of the biggest ads vendors are companies like Coca Cola, you can afford a coke. It's a and other sorts of brands that are at a similar price point to that. So I think that Avon, I think in if TV ma spend tons of money on TV right now, if they're looking to access the key demographic, and they're all moving to Avon, I think they're going to start spending money on Avon.

Alex Ferrari 55:55
Yeah, I know, the Super Bowl this year is there, there's a lot of people who are not going to advertise, like Budweiser for the first time in 38 years is not going to advertise on the Superbowl. That's

Ben Yennie 56:07
Yeah, that's definitely a sign of the times. That says it's beer.

Alex Ferrari 56:12
Yeah, I doubt that beer is taken a hit

Ben Yennie 56:15
beer, though.

Alex Ferrari 56:20
The, the, the views of our guests and not that necessarily represent the views of the host or the show.

Yeah, no, but you know what I mean, it's it's alcohol that we can agree upon it is alcohol. But it's but yeah, so I doubt that beer is taking a big hit during this time. I'm assuming this. I haven't looked the numbers, but I'm assuming beer and alcohol sales have probably gone up a bit because of what's going on in the world, which is not a good thing. But why wouldn't they be advertising there? Could you get for that five and a half million dollars that you're gonna have for that 1/32 spot? If you do five and a half million into an EVA sequence? Like,

Ben Yennie 57:08
how much did so many impressions? I can't imagine.

Alex Ferrari 57:14
I mean, so think about that. Like, if if I'm gonna spend five and a half million for 30 seconds. Mind, you're gonna have 100 million eyeballs on it. Or you can have eyeball after eyeball after eyeball for probably months for that price. On Wednesday, and on a Pluto and those kind of places. It's it's pretty insane.

Ben Yennie 57:34
Yeah, I mean, I'd like if you use YouTube as an example. Um, it was actually pretty decent on this. I think it's something like 10 cents per full video view on YouTube. 10 cent times? Like, what? That's 50 million, easily. Right there. That's, yeah. That's actual views. That's not counting the skip after six seconds. So I, imagine they are

Alex Ferrari 58:02
I think the whole the whole world is changing so fast and so rapidly, that it's just difficult to keep up. And I think independent filmmakers are just, I just want everyone listening to understand we are not in the 90s anymore. We're not in the early 2000s we're not even a year ago. We are in a completely different world and it's changing so rapidly that by the time I know that some people started their movie before COVID with one business model and after it they're just like, oh my god, it that's how fast things are changing. And I do think and I truly believe this is going to happen but I would love to hear your thoughts. Amazon, Netflix, apple, Facebook, someone is going to buy not only some smaller studios because MGM is up for sale now they're that library and I saw that coming and someone's Apple doesn't buy MGM I don't even why wouldn't you why I don't understand why you wouldn't buy MGM at this point their libraries massive. But they're they're gonna buy out Sony's probably gonna go next. That not that TV, but the theatrical side because it's for years. Lionsgate is prime as well. That's another that's another potential acquisition. So those acquisitions, but then also would Netflix, or a company like Netflix, purchase regal or AMC and do some sort of mixture. I always said and I'm not sure might be Netflix but I said if someone like Disney bought AMC that makes a lot of sense because now there's a Disney Store and every single theater and and they could have Disney themed restaurants instantly becomes a completely different business model because now they're not it's not even about sharing money with the revenue but the movies, it's their movies. It's with that does that make sense?

Ben Yennie 1:00:11
Yeah, no, I think that from Disney's perspective, I can see that entirely. And that's assuming that we just that we have just stopped caring about antitrust laws, which we have. So that's,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:23
yeah, that's, yeah, that the whole

Ben Yennie 1:00:25
thing. But the, but I think it makes a lot of sense for Disney with someplace like AMC. I'm not 100% convinced that regal is as hurting as AMC is the AMCs just

Alex Ferrari 1:00:39
bigger, they just a much bigger.

Ben Yennie 1:00:41
Yeah, and they also kind of overexpanded for a bit there. So that was the thing and regal was not a victim to that. So they have a bit they can weather more of a shock than AMC good. Um, and so I think Disney and AMC would make a lot of sense. I think that you're right on Apple and MGM app. I haven't looked at the subscription numbers for Apple TV plus lately. But I can't imagine they're doing that well, on a lot of

Alex Ferrari 1:01:11
Yeah, because they're not taking it seriously yet. I don't care what they say they're not taking it seriously. This is kind of like, Apple. for them. It's, it's it's a line item. It's nothing. Like they're like, Oh, we spent 5 billion on content. That's nothing for Apple that's like literally, it's like craft services on an independent film. Like it doesn't mean anything to them. But if they're serious, and they want to, I think the second that, that Apple really becomes. They say, you know what, we want to buy Netflix. We then when they're sick, I don't know when they're going to be serious. But I think someone someone's going to do that.

Ben Yennie 1:01:50
Yeah. And I think that I was pretty convinced that they were gonna buy Netflix a few years ago. But I actually I think the last time I was on this podcast, I was also pretty adamant

Alex Ferrari 1:02:01
that Yeah,

Ben Yennie 1:02:02
yeah, the, but I'm less convinced of it. Now. They've actually done pretty well out of the pandemic. And they're in less of a dire financial straits than they were. But I am. But I do think that in order for Apple TV plus, to actually gain any major traction in the marketplace, you're right, they need to start buying up libraries, they need to look at, if they take over MGM library, they can afford to input it a lot of it is exclusive on Apple TV plus, overnight. Yeah, the entire James Bond collection overnight, that's that you can run a campaign ad campaign on that easily.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:44
And just on that, and they have multiple, Rocky, like, there's just so much stuff that they have, that they own. And then Lionsgate is another, another catalog, massive. And, you know, they dropped down 567 billion on it. It's not it, you know, I were talking about it, like you and I rolled like that, but we don't but, but for companies that size. It's it's not that big of a that's not that big of a purchase. So it's just all about a bigger conversation. But, um, so let's talk about why you decided to jump from a producer's rep to a distributor Like what? cuz I've only known you as a producer's rep all these years and then all of a sudden, you told me that you have a distribution company. So what what made you made the jump?

Ben Yennie 1:03:38
A lot of sales agents and distributors shifty as hell. And

Alex Ferrari 1:03:42
stop it stop.

Ben Yennie 1:03:44
I know, it's out here, right? Um, but the in even as a producer's rep, I was much better, like, part of the issue is that, um, there's a massive discrepancy in information for filmmakers versus a sales agent, having a producer for up, doesn't fully alleviate that, but helps a lot in alleviating that. And especially if the producers are rapidly working closely with your lawyer. But the but even then, pay a contract is only as good as the people who wrote it. So if you're dealing with a bad disreputable sales agent or distributor, even if you get the best contract in the world, it's not gonna matter that much.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:31
They don't pay you

Ben Yennie 1:04:32
so yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:34
yeah, I had that I had that one. One filmmaker, unfortunately, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, who had an contract that said that we're going to pay you $100,000 mg, and he spent all his money, get into deliverables ready sold this car because I got 100 G's coming then never got paid. Still, to this day

Ben Yennie 1:04:56
and that one's actually a pretty easy one to enforce. Because it's a Actual mg as far as these go. It's not I mean, I'm speaking copper like, it's obviously he's having trouble. And I don't remember actually heard that whole podcast. But it is. But it's much easier to chase down an mg or a license than it is to chase down royalty payments, is the big part that I'm going for there. And most independent films just don't get an mg or a license for it. And if you're in the producers rep position, I'm constantly having to pound sales agents and distributors for even just reports, not even money necessarily just reports. It I realized with how much of my time I was spending on I realized that I'd really like to get more into direct distribution. And then the opportunity presented itself where some of my favorite people to work with found themselves without companies, so we made one ourselves.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:04
So and that that's work. Yeah, so how, how do you guys do releases, how do you release during this insane time your films,

Ben Yennie 1:06:15
we take it a little bit on a case by case basis. But we always try to emphasize our we always tried to bring the things we do best every release we have, and the things we do best, our deep relationships to big pay TV providers, and big physical media retailers. As well as publicity, we're really good at publicity. We've only been around since June, which as of this recording is about seven months ago. And we've already been covered in Rolling Stone, The New York Times LA Times variety. Hollywood Reporter THE rap, I really could miss magazine, I could go on for a long time on this. And part of what we bring to the table as a full service PR firm with that actually gives you attention. And we don't touch pitch fees. We charge a percentage of press gotten. And it's capped at a frankly ridiculously low number. And then we are also really, really good at bridge booking. And because we're really good at bridge booking, and bridge booking is essentially short, like we know most of the independent theaters in the country. And we call them up a couple of weeks before the actual booking is to start. We secure the big markets, New York and LA further out. But after that we start trying to get stuff closer, because they find these theaters sometimes find themselves with holes in their schedule. So we just filled that hole. And it ends up meaning that we can do a 15 screen theatrical run this on, essentially, on I think, without paying a single rental fee. I'll say that I don't want to say exactly what the PNA spend is because that's separate. But you don't have to pay a single rental fee to the theater.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:26
And that's so that's, that's built on relationships.

Ben Yennie 1:08:28
Yeah. So that's part of what we do. We don't do a theatrical for everyone. We did, like I said we did for last year. We're kind of putting a little bit of a hiatus on it, because we don't necessarily feel right pushing theatrical when we ourselves wouldn't go to a theater. And there's just kind of a moral issue there.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:49
Yeah, like you're a butcher, but you're vegan. Like it's it's never off. Yes, exactly.

Ben Yennie 1:08:59
So that's why we do that. But we but even with that we still do virtual cinema we do. We work with millcreek to set a release date. Some days, we will do software, some films, we'll do an early Amazon release before we do a wider physical and VOD release. And then we do our absolute damnedest to get picked up by one of the big boys in pay TV. We have Yeah, we've already got a film. on Showtime we have some others coming to some of the other people but since they're not on there, and they haven't made an announcement yet, I'm not gonna say who they are. Um, but for the right films like this one I've alluded to a couple times to just close today. Some of the big theater chains still talk to us about getting a much wider release. And that is a and that's basically what we do for each film and after and depending on what we negotiate for. pay TV We'll, after the when the window allows us after the S VOD and pay TV window, we'll do a bomb. We've got a lot of contacts in that space, too. But the big thing about to be is you need to upload 100 films at a time right now. And that's why you kind of need to go through somebody if you're going to do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:21
So gotcha. You can't aggregate yourself onto to me. Yeah, unless you have 100 Films you've directed, and then that's a conversation.

Ben Yennie 1:10:30
That's not as easy as you might think it is it I hope you don't. Easy.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:33
Now it's not it's not at all from what I understand. Now, the most important question, I always like to ask any any distributor that I bring onto the show, how do you pay filmmakers?

Ben Yennie 1:10:46
So we are different in this and this is something that kind of I wrote, most of them uni contract myself, and then our lawyer punched it up. And then I went back and rewrote some of the lawyer bits. And we did that like three times. But the basically, we are, we tend not to pay minimum guarantees, just due to risk aversion, the fact that we're still a small young company, Mo, but we structure our contract in such a way that filmmakers are paid from the first deal. So that is no, we include a corridor that's equal to our commission in the first phase of the waterfall until we recoup. So that would be let's just say 25%. On commission right now, that's not always the case. But that would mean we take 25% after the uncapped and other recoupable expenses, and like the uncap, recoupable expenses, which would be things like DVD replication would be a cap,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:54
sure, because that's, but that's a sale. So you're only spending that money if money's coming in. So that makes sense.

Ben Yennie 1:12:00
Yes, and there's something like that, too. And also, we have a blanket, you know, policy that we grant access to the filmmaker, for that we charge a single flat fee, the first time we deliver something that requires and that is

Alex Ferrari 1:12:16
probably cheaper than me going out getting it myself.

Ben Yennie 1:12:18
Yes, granted, this thing is still it's significantly cheaper. I've looked into it. But the The other thing I would say there is, in general, you might still want to get your own because ours is tailored to protect us and the buyer more than you, but generally, it but yeah, so I would just say that for legal reasons. But the but it means that you are not required to do that, under some deals, which you would like pay TV, you always need that. So that's why we do it that the and then the other level would be so right, then it would be 25% to us, 25% to you, the filmmaker, and then the remaining 50% to our kept recoupable expenses, which as of right now are 10 to 1510 to 15,000 depending on whether or not we do a theatrical with it.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:17
And you're reporting all of those expenses and showing where you're spending money.

Ben Yennie 1:13:22
Yes, we are. And line item reporting even so shocking. Are you kidding me?

Alex Ferrari 1:13:27
Stop it. I just I literally just got off, I literally just got off the phone with a a filmmaker. I was consulting about about this. And they were like, Hey, I got this deal. They want to they want 40,000 expenses kept. And I'm like, but we asked them because we watched your course Alex. And we we asked them for Are you gonna report? And they're like, no, we're not gonna tell you what we're spending our money on. So I'm like, think like, straight up. They're just like, yeah, we're not going to give you any reporting.

Ben Yennie 1:14:00
Like that.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:01
Come on. And it's and by the way, it's a larger, it's a larger it's one of the larger ones.

Ben Yennie 1:14:07
That's just shocking.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:09
Shocking, I'd say it's, it's, it's the larger one that we all know. And it's like Voldemort, we don't say the name.

Ben Yennie 1:14:17
Yeah, that makes sense. Um,


Alex Ferrari 1:14:23
so I'm glad you do it. I'm glad you actually are showing reporting and things like that. So so you seem to be a little bit more transparent than most distributors?

Ben Yennie 1:14:30
Yeah, we actually we're kind of a founded on transparency. It's not I don't think it's any Republic, but it's on a lot of internal documents as a brand and core value.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:41
So we should probably put it publicly that probably is a good thing to do.

Ben Yennie 1:14:44
Probably should I just have like, too many responsibilities. But yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:51
Oh, man, Listen, man. It's been a pleasure. Talking to you. Where can people find out more about you and your company? What you do?

Ben Yennie 1:15:01
So the best places to find out about us are mutinypictures.com. And in general. Most of my content right now is through medium, which is just [email protected]

Alex Ferrari 1:15:22
Okay, fantastic, man. It's a pleasure to talk to you as always, sir. And next time we talk, the game will have changed again.

Ben Yennie 1:15:30
I'm sure we're talking next week.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:32
Yeah, exactly. But be well, stay safe, man. Thanks for everything you do. I want to thank Ben for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs, as I knew he would. Thanks again, Ben. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at indie film hustle.com Ford slash 449. And if you haven't already, please head over to filmmaking podcast COMM And leave a good review for the show. I really need your help to get better and better rankings for that darn algorithm to pick up this amazing content and help as many filmmakers as possible. And guys, the next episode will be Episode 450. And I promise you that this episode is going to be one of the most epic episodes I have ever released. I've been teasing you guys about who is going to be this mystery guest. But it is going to be a whopper. I promise you. The only hint I will give you is he was one of those 1990s lottery ticket-winning filmmakers who took off and blew up after screening at Sundance. That's all I'm gonna say. I'm not gonna say anything else. You'll just have to wait till Thursday. Thank you guys again for listening so much. I'd love teasing you guys. This is great. I'm so excited about this episode. I can't even just contain myself. I want to tell you so badly. But don't worry. There's the morning you guys will know. Thanks again for listening guys. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there. And I'll talk to you soon.

IFH 318: Confessions of a Producers Rep with Ben Yennie

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Today on the show we have returning champion Ben Yennie. Been has the honor of being the very first guest I ever recorded for the IFH Podcast. He is a wealth of information so get ready to take some notes. As Founder and CEO of Guerrilla Rep Media, where I’ve gotten distribution deals for more than 8 films, that will soon be appearing on Starz and other major outlets across the globe.

Ben is also the Founder and Executive Director of Producer Foundry, as well as Producer of more than 50 events on film finance and distribution.  He’s worked with people like Lew Horowitz, the inventor of Indiefilm Gap Financing, Jeff Dowd, Executive Producer of Blood Simple, Fern Gully, and inspiration for “The Dude” from the Big Lebowski. Ben co-founded Global Film Ventures, screened business plans and advised the Film Angels and is the former chapter leader for the San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Vancouver Chapters of the Institute for International Film Financing.  And screened business plans for the Film Angels.

Ben has also worked in the tech industry. Co-Founder of ProductionNext, a new set of next-generation tools designed specifically for the Movie industry.  Previously, he’s been VP of Sales for Taal, a Mobile video interview platform for the hospitality industry.

He is also the author of The Guerrilla Rep: American Film Market Distribution Success on No Budget, The First ever book on Film Markets and used as a text at about 10 film schools.  He has also contributed to Office for One, a Sole Proprietor survival guide, and is the author of the upcoming book “The Entrepreneurial Filmmaker.”  He also manages the blogs for ProducerFoundry.com and TheGuerrillaRep.com.

Enjoy my conversation with Ben Yennie.

Alex Ferrari 0:04
Now today on the show, we have one of our original guests, Ben Yennie, who is a producer's rep and also an author, and also the CEO and founder of gorilla brep media, as well as the producers Foundry and the amazing resource production next. I mean, he is a busy, busy dude. He is a hustler to say the least now, today we're going to talk about not only many of the things that Ben is working on, and how the industry is changing, and how movies are being made, and how you're making money making movies. But we're also going to get into what a producer rep does, how he does it, you know, kind of a confessions of what he's gone through over over his career and really give the tribe some insight to how to hire producers rep, and how to deal with markets and selling the movies and making money. It is just plumb filled with a lot of great, great, great information. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Ben Yennie. I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Ben Yennie. Man, thank you so much for coming back on the show, brother.

Ben Yennie 4:11
Thanks for having me, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 4:12
It is been it's been a minute. It has been a minute you were you were one of the very first I think you were my first interview. But you were like the second or third released. And I think you were episode and I think we were talking about 15 or 16. Now we will put it in the show notes but and you still get action from that three, three and a half years ago. Yeah.

Ben Yennie 4:38
Yeah. Now like and I think you've gotten some I I yeah, I think you've gotten some reaction on that indirectly as well from like Josh and Michael.

Alex Ferrari 4:49
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, these guys that the film of parts of the indie film hustle tribe that reached out to you. And actually as of this recording, Josh, his interview is going out today. I'm actually going out today. So I'll make sure to link to Tibet to your original interview that got you that they got you that gig. And thank you for reaching out with that. But I wanted to bring you back on the show because a few things has changed in the last three and a half years. Since last we spoke about about the business in general. So today, well, first I want for everybody who doesn't know who you are, just give us a real quick update about who you are, what you what you do in the business.

Ben Yennie 5:32
Yeah, I am primarily a producer's rep and executive producer, I'm in the Bay Area, I do a lot of kind of low budget stuff now. But there's some stuff I can't quite talk about, that's much bigger. That's should be coming through early next year. Um, and the, but ya know, I help filmmakers with financing, distribution, marketing and bit of packaging to also, in addition to that, I started a company, I helped to start a company called production next, but we'll talk about that later.

Alex Ferrari 6:06
Cool. And you also wrote a book about the American Film market.

Ben Yennie 6:11
I did write a book about the American Film market. I've got a couple of books that I've done on that. One is the gorilla wrap, which is also on audio book, and in its second edition, and then the state of the film industry report, which is a macro economic study of the film industry itself.

Alex Ferrari 6:37
Very, very cool, which is one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you about won't have you back on the show because of that amazing book called The state of the film industry. And I wanted to get because you went in with, I mean, three years of research for that book, and you you ask answer a lot of questions. I'm going to ask you a bunch of those questions in a minute. But first, all the all the experience you have in the business, you've met hundreds of 1000s of filmmakers over the course of your career, you've worked closely with them through your being a producers rapper, being an executive producer, or just even hearing stories, like I do every day of filmmakers doing things sometimes, right? Most of the times wrong. What is the biggest mistake you see filmmakers make when distributing their films.

Ben Yennie 7:26
Um, I think the biggest mistake that cost the filmmaker the most is probably signing with the wrong sales agent or distributor. And that happens a lot. I'm still more a fan of traditional distribution for most filmmakers by I do understand that it's much better, much, much, much better to self distribute your film than to end up with the wrong distributor or sales agent. The trick is coming up with the right ones who can open some doors that you probably can't open yourself.

Alex Ferrari 8:09
And that's no good.

Ben Yennie 8:13
Unless you have a huge following on social media, which is probably the other thing is a lot of I've talked to a lot of filmmakers who think social media is just a waste of time and establishing community. And all of that is not worth the time you have to put into it. And that's just flat out wrong.

Alex Ferrari 8:28
There very much without question, and I actually been speaking a lot lately about self distribution versus traditional distribution. And there are pluses and minuses on both ends. But self distribution is not for everybody. I think you would agree with that. It's not for every film, it's not for every filmmaker, you got a filmmaker who made a half a million dollar movie has no stars in it has no online presence, and yet says I'm going to self distribute this and I'm gonna put it up on iTunes and Amazon and let the money roll in there done. Would you agree? I would totally agree. Um, yeah. Now what, what are the dangers filmmakers should look out for when signing with a with a distributor? Like what are those kinds of things that you just go Hmm, every time I read this in a contract, that's not a good sign.

Ben Yennie 9:21
Okay, there are a couple of key points on there, which are really good to look for, um, the biggest ones are the percentage the distributor takes, if it's anything or the excuse me, I shouldn't say the sales agent takes not the distributor. It's a bit of a different game when you're talking about distributors. But for sales agents, if they're taking more than 30 or 35%. It's probably already to the point that you don't really want to be doing that contract with them. Because you can never negotiate that down. And if they're starting at that level, It's generally indicative that a lot of the other things in the contract are going to be bad as well. It's not the only thing to pay attention to. And it's not necessarily a deal breaker, it just means that it's likely there's going to be at least one other deal breaker along the way.

Alex Ferrari 10:15
And then as far as, as far as you just explained to a lot of people who don't know what the difference between a sales agent and a distributor is, can you just tell quickly what that is?

Ben Yennie 10:24
Yeah, sales agent deals with distributors and generally works with local distributors to sell the entire world. And the local distributor will actually distribute generally within a specific territory, or sometimes only specific rights within a territory, depending on what sort you're dealing with, like, stars or Showtime, or HBO would technically be a distributor who are primarily dealing with us pay TV and svod. rights. So got it. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 10:57
And then, so then, so 3040, so if someone's asked if your sales if you're a filmmaker and a sales agents asking for 30 35%, which is insane, for for rate, then that's probably a telltale sign each party should not be doing that deal. How about if you're a filmmaker going straight to a distributor, which a lot of filmmakers most filmmakers go straight to a distributor, go sales agents that sometimes are great for certain films, but sometimes, you know, if the movie costs 15, grand, right, don't need a sales agent. If a film, you know depends on the kind of film it is, but on a on going straight to a distributor, what are those kind of telltale signs that you're like, hmm, these guys are not going to do anything for me.

Ben Yennie 11:39
So yeah, the going straight to a distributor is tricky, because as much as you really like to go to good distributors straight off, it's actually a lot of times very difficult for a filmmaker to do that directly. A lot of times, they you will need to go through a sales agent or a producer's rep to get to them. Um, but in the instances where you don't, that deal often looks more like 30 to 40%, if it's a revenue share deal. And it's not necessarily bad right there. But one thing you definitely need to look at is what the size of the minimum guarantee is, if they're not offering you a minimum guarantee, you need to understand what their marketing and distribution plan is. And you also if they're off, and sometimes people will offer you screens without a minimum guarantee. If you can get the screen the theatrical screens, that can be worth giving up the minimum guarantee, because you can actually end up making significantly more than you might be able to, if you just get the minimum guarantee, however, if somebody is if you made a 15 to $20,000 film, and somebody is offering you a $25,000 minimum guarantee, more than likely just take the $25,000 minimum guarantee.

Alex Ferrari 12:58
Amen, amen. Amen. If someone's giving you $10,000 more than you may get paid for the movie. I mean, I mean, just man that's that, you know, as well as I do, that does not happen.

Ben Yennie 13:11
Ray actually relates to film, because somebody else offered that I'm doing a bit of us, direct us myself now. Okay, so the I actually may have lost the film, because that happened to them. And then as soon as they said they had that, I'm like, Yeah, I can't be that offered.

Alex Ferrari 13:26
They'll go Yeah, take that. Run.

Ben Yennie 13:28
Yeah, yeah, just go. But the even though I was offering to do a limited theatrical for them, but that was just like, no one in hand is worth at least two in the bush.

Alex Ferrari 13:41
At least, at least without question. Now you and I saw each other again at AFM this year, which is always always fun to see each other. We see each other think maybe once a year for lucky. But, but AFM even the few years that I've been going, I've noticed the change in the shift. Everybody was talking about Oh, is it ot Ott and Ott s VOD t VOD, a VOD. And of course there was still the traditional stuff as well which is you know, selling overseas and, and selling you know, that kind of stuff but is changing in your opinion, how is AFM changing? And how is it kind of moving in the future.

Ben Yennie 14:25
So, the way in order to understand how it's changing, you kind of have to go back a little bit. Because the way AFM and other similar film markets came to be was actually with the rise of VHS replication back in the 80s. And the way it was so profitable and the way you can afford all these massive market Feess, when it started, you could make a VHS for between 10 and $20 and wholesale it for 100 and move a lot of them and then over time that number dropped and dropped to drop. dropped and then DVD came in and replaced VHS. But because it was so cheap to replicate DVD, you could still make a huge profit on each unit. And also it really opened up the market for smaller content to actually become more profitable. Now people expected blu ray to take over for DVD and it really didn't blu ray did come in and take on okay market share, but it was nowhere near what DVD was and T VOD, Avon and s VOD just don't pay the same way that T VOD, that physical media pays. And, uh, so that is really what happened to that's kind of how the bottom has fallen out. And a lot of the older distributors don't really never really adapted their old systems where you could actually charge these huge recoupable expenses and still make money. Now, you will never hit it. Most small indie films. I hate to say this most small indie films only end up making about 20 to $30,000 over the five year life of their film. There are lots of exceptions, of course, the but the general rule is you've got to kind of figure that it's more like 20 to $30,000 for the film itself over the five year life of the film. And that is a and that's just not really sustainable. Because the Nope, no, I said no. Go ahead. Um, so yeah, the over. So you can't really make a business that actually pays filmmakers on there anymore. And I think that's really coming through. And that's why a lot of sales agents and distributors who go to AFM often get a bad rap, even if some of them are not necessarily bad sales agents or distributors, it's just their models are bad. The that's not to say there aren't people who are bad salespeople distributors,

Alex Ferrari 17:09
There are many.

Ben Yennie 17:14
But the but yeah, so that's kind of what's going on there. And now that everybody's only really looking for Avon s VOD, or T VOD. It's really did it's really become more game of marketing than it has a game of sales agents or distribution because really the direct local distributor, the way you can tell whether or not they're good is if they can actually get your publicity and actually have a list to market to and a brand that they can market the content they acquire to

Alex Ferrari 17:50
How many? How many? Let me ask you how many distributors Do you know that do that? There's very few that I even know of even some of these big boys that say they do it? When you when you look behind the curtain? Even Look, look, if it's the big if it's a big boys, obviously, if it's a major if it's Warner Brothers if it's Fox Searchlight, if you're talking about those kind of guys, it's different. But I'm not gonna I'm not gonna call out the distributors I have in my head right now. But, but there are these guys that promote themselves as like, we're the big indie guys, like, you know, I'm not talking about a 24, or the orchard or any of these kind of guys, I'm talking about some other ones. But that they say they're gonna do a lot. And they have this reputation of saying they're gonna do a lot. But at the end of the day, I've talked to filmmakers, again, and again and again, and they just don't pull up. They just don't do it anymore. So just curious, what is there any any distribution companies that you could call out? There you go, you know what, these guys are pretty good in my experience.

Ben Yennie 18:48
Oh, yeah. So I will actually call a couple of good people out more for distribution man for sales agencies. But the parade deck films, Michael Ingram I've worked with directly and I've worked with pretty extensively directly. And he's, I was a big fan of working with him, and I would work with him again in a heartbeat. I'm another one that I think is really good. And there's something of a hybrid between sales agency and distributor. They do most of the VOD, in the US directly, but they also do some international sales for the right projects. That's Leo Mark studios. I think they're great. And they're recoupable expenses are really, really low, which is great. And their commission. I don't want to say what the commission is, but it's all very low. So So those are a couple of the people that I would deal with and I think they are a little bit better about publicity than some of the other ones. In terms of who actually does well in marketing and developing their brand. I think devil works is great at marketing and building their brand. And they actually do pay. Um, and they are a, Matteo and Samantha are great. And they are very good about publicity. I think they, they have at least one publicist on retainer that is just constant, I think they do bigger market pushes when the time comes. Again, they're more of a sales agent than they are a distributor, but they are very good at what they do. That's

Alex Ferrari 20:39
that sounds that sounds awesome. Because generally, what I hear is, you know, distributors are just like, Oh, yeah, yeah, we're gonna cut we're gonna charge you 30 or $40,000, for recoupable expenses for marketing and going to the markets and all that kind of good stuff. But at the end of the day, all they do is they put it up on their social media, which is pathetic. And, and, and they just put it out on the platforms. And that's the end of it. And then the filmmakers like, why am I not making any money I signed everything over. I've locked up my film for seven years with these guys, and they're not doing anything for me. So that sounds refreshing by these, what you're telling me?

Ben Yennie 21:10
So what Yes, and I'm not trying to paint too rosy a picture here. Those are the people that I've dealt with, personally, I and I follow them closely, because I've worked with them. That's not to say everybody who says they'll do this will not actually, or will actually live up to what they say they'll do. The So having said that. Another thing you should be doing as a filmmaker, and this might have come up in the last podcast. But it's something I almost always negotiate in for my clients is, in a lot of times I structure my acquisition that I'm going to then sell to somebody else in such a way that I can't actually give it to this other person. But always, always, always retain the right to sell the film for your website. No, always. And even if all you have is Vimeo on demand or Vimeo Ott, through your website, always, always, always keep that.

Alex Ferrari 22:10
And generally, distributors don't really fight too much on that.

Ben Yennie 22:15
Now they don't, I've never had somebody really fight me on it. And the most they might say is okay, we're okay with you doing that, but keep us but let's keep an open dialogue about timing with it. Sure. Like,

Alex Ferrari 22:29
yeah, right. Yeah, that makes perfect. So

Ben Yennie 22:35
um, but that is the big thing there. And that's, I think that's fine. But if you don't do that, you shouldn't be doing that. And I think it's just my my distribution contract has gone through a couple iterations. But I believe the current draft actually has that as an automatic exclusion for you as a filmmaker for us, so I'm

Alex Ferrari 22:59
very cool. Now I wanted to just talk a little bit about the the 5000 pound gorilla in the room, who's big his first name begins with net and ends with flicks. Literally have changed. I mean, I've never seen a company come in and completely disrupt the entire film industry in a way that is so I mean, they have now become the big studio in town. I mean, they are making Netflix I just read are making 90 feature films in 20 1990 released films, and a lot of them are ranging from 20 million to 200 million, including like Scorsese and SATA Berg and these monster Ben Affleck's new movies covered like, it's like the Will Smith and all these big stars are going there. And also this big behind the scenes talent. I mean, Roma might get an Oscar nomination this year, and it's going to be a Netflix film by affonso. So I'm curious from your perspective, because you you were here before Netflix showed up. You were working in the business a bit before Netflix showed up and how it's completely up. Just changed everything. What's your opinion on where they what they've done, what they're doing and what they're going to continue to do? moving forward.

Ben Yennie 24:26
Okay, um, this this is going to be I don't think this is the answer. You're expecting good, at least the end of it, but the first bit is, I think they definitely have changed it. I really don't like their acquisitions, strategy. Um, they pay far too little. Um, I have a number that they paid, but I really don't want to say that.

Alex Ferrari 24:53
I know that number two. It's not a not very good.

Ben Yennie 24:57
No, it's not And they also tend to acquire all rights world rights for that even though the most even though most of the time, they just use domestic domestic svod for the area they acquire from not even like us. But I've heard the same coming out of like Brazil. So I don't think that that's really a good strategy that helps the industry as a whole. And it doesn't help filmmakers actually make money with their projects. Now, that is only talking about their acquisitions model. And I think just the ubiquity of Netflix has made it desirable for a lot of filmmakers. But I do think it needs to be later a later distribution window when you work with them. If you work with them at all, even though it's likely to be an even smaller distribution, an even smaller deal, then you won't be able to get otherwise, if you can even get it at all, because lately, they've only been acquiring things that have had a theatrical release of at least a quarter million dollars. That's what I heard last. But the other one, but now that's their acquisitions process, their original process is very interesting, and that it looked for a long time, like they were basically going to become the next studio. Now, the issue with that is that they haven't really diversified their income streams, all comes, all of it comes from their subscription payments, and they have been taking on a significant portion of debt. Um, I haven't looked at this number in a couple weeks, so it might be off. Um, but I believe the amount of debt they're holding right now is between eight and $9 billion. And that is something that I would be worried about, especially with other 50,000 pound gorillas entering the market like Disney. Yes. And a lot of other people, I don't know if Netflix is going to be able to maintain their first in advantage, because that's a lot of what they've built. So far, they were the first people really successfully doing this sort of streaming. And I that advantage doesn't last forever, which is why they're trying to innovate with new content. But a lot of the other people who are entering in have have a much more diversified business, where they can lose money on this product line as they're getting it out, which is a lot of what Amazon Prime did, when it was really trying to establish a foothold here. Now, I think the now this is the part that I'm not sure will be a popular opinion. But I would not be surprised to see a Netflix acquisition in the next in 2019 or early 2020.

Alex Ferrari 28:07
I've heard of that. And

Ben Yennie 28:08
yeah, and I'd be guessing that it would be by Apple, Microsoft or Facebook. And I also wouldn't rule out Disney as a possible one, because Disney has acquired similar technology, even in the past, even when they take a loss from what they've developed so far, but I don't necessarily think that this sort of acquisition is outside the realm of possibility for Disney.

Alex Ferrari 28:39
I would Disney I mean, because what we'll do, it will be the cost of buying something like Netflix, it's not going to be a few like it's not going to be under $10 billion. It's gonna probably be in the 60 5060 $70 billion world if not more, and there are few companies. The ones you just said all pretty much almost quit. I'm not sure Disney could right now. Especially with what they're doing. But Apple could write a check and not even blink tomorrow if they wanted cash reserves. Yeah. Oh, man, they have cash reserves. So they could I mean, they could they could buy Netflix tomorrow and not even think twice about it. Microsoft would be interesting. I'd be curious to see how how they would do they would really be making a big jump, but I'm not sure they're personally I don't think they're that innovative. I'm an apple guy. Sorry. I agree. Also, I really hope it's not Microsoft because I can guarantee you they'll destroy putting on Netflix. Yeah, it'll just be Yeah, they'll destroy they'll destroy but I agree with you. And this is a very interesting conversation because you're right with their business model isn't diversified. I mean, sure they have some some IP stuff that they you know, they license out for like Stranger Things and Narcos and other thing like t shirts and hats and gray that's all nice and dandy, but that's not a huge revenue stream for them. They if they're going to survive the long term. They are going to Need some sort of other diversification in their business model because Disney, if Disney plus doesn't go Disney doesn't go down. If amazon prime video doesn't go, Amazon can give two craps. You know, they're, you know, all these other company Hulu is Hulu, they I think they fall in that same kind of world of, but they're such a weird, they're owned by like three or four studios. It's just a different beast. But Disney plus will be an interesting thing. Apple, Apple is just waiting. Because when Apple wants to go, they are the they are the big. They're the big guys. And they could crush it. They could crush all of them in a heartbeat like Apple could buy Disney. like Apple could buy Disney. You know, yeah, they literally could buy Disney if they wanted to. That's how big apple is. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. It's just they haven't decided to go down that road. They keep putting their toe in with you know, Apple Music and Apple, this apple video. They're just trying to put their toes in right now. But when they come they're gonna come hard. I'm curious. I'm curious to see how Netflix agree. But I've heard about the from distributors actually, that they're taking forever to pay because they are had they have so much debt. And you know, even if someone if even if they give you 100,000 bucks for your movie, they're gonna pay it off over the course of the next two or three years. So it's only a handful of 1000s every month every quarter. Which is horrible for the filmmaker. I had to deal with that with Hulu. But their debt is something substantial. But you know what? So is Amazon's for a long time.

Ben Yennie 31:45
Yes, it was but Amazon had a much more deserved diversified business model even back then. That was a and a lot higher customer lifetime value than Oh, net. So yeah,

Alex Ferrari 31:59
yeah. And I'm really curious to see what Disney plus does because I want to sign up for Disney Plus, I mean, it has everything I want my kids gonna want to watch stuff on it. It's you know, of course the two Star Wars shows that alone opens the door for me as you can see my Yoda in the background. So there's it's gonna be really interesting to see how, how it all plays out. But and also I mean, and I'll throw I'll throw my hat in the ring indie film, hustle TV obviously, is up there with not joking. But, but no. But in all honesty, though, running indie film, hustle TV, which is an S VOD platform, and a T VOD platform, dealing with distributors dealing with deals, looking at content, how content is treated by distributors? how, you know, from people who have signed with people who have not signed with, how it's running through my system and how revenue is being generated. For those filmmakers. It has been eye opening, you know, being on this side of the fence being a little very mini Netflix, in my world within the film, hustle TV, it's been so educational. It's so eye opening in the business. It's fascinating. Fascinating.

Ben Yennie 33:14
Yeah, no, that sounds good. Um, the, I think in 2019 is going to be in a really I think it's going to be a really eye opening year. And it's going to I think the industry is going to be in for a really interesting set of change. I also am among the people and there are a lot of us, who are almost certain that we're in a recession before the end of 2019. Oh, absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 33:49
There's no question. There's no question at the end of the year, we're gonna we're gonna hit get hit with something so hard. People have no understanding of it. I already I already. Yeah, it's happening. No question.

Ben Yennie 33:59
Yeah. No, I completely agree. And the last time that happened was in 2008, going back to the film market thing a little bit. And that was the last major change for the American Film market and film markets in general. And they still haven't fully recovered. They kind of started to get a little bit close this year. But that but if we have another huge hit to the economy, I don't know what's going to happen to that sector of it. And I think it's going to be really interesting to watch and,

Alex Ferrari 34:33
but wouldn't it be interesting though, like, if you know, when this next recession does hit, Will people drop their Netflix? Because that's going to be the most affordable and the most affordable entertainment they're going to have? You know, are they going to drop their YouTube TV you know, like how much because they're gonna look even in the worst recessions, movie business always stays. TV is people watching TV, all that kind of stuff. But, you know, 1099, or whatever Netflix isn't 1299, whatever it is now, it's not that expensive for a lot of content, and then amazon prime and all that kind of stuff. I'm curious to see how much of those are affected as much as going into movie theaters may or other other kinds of media.

Ben Yennie 35:23
You and I are very much on the same page. I'm thinking that it's that aswad that Avon is going to rise. VOD might rise a little bit, but won't be huge. And I think but I think t VOD theatrical and couple of other things going on. And cable subscriptions are going to take an even bigger hit than they already have.

Alex Ferrari 35:45
Oh, no. My quarter ready to take aeolus? Yeah,

Ben Yennie 35:49
I know. That's I think it's just the last little bit of God, I can't afford this anymore. It's so easy. We're going to get people beyond the age beyond like, currently, it's under 40s don't have much cable at all, I think we're going to be looking at even like under 50s, and possibly even under 60s not cutting, which is that that's or that's pretty substantial, because that age group tends not to change a lot.

Alex Ferrari 36:16
So without question. Now, let's get into the state of the film industry. I know we've talked a little bit about the state of the film industry. But I want to get into a little bit about your book, and what, what insane stats you were able to get. I'm gonna ask you a handful of questions from the book and see how much you can and cannot tell me without people buying the book. But there's so much information in there. I'm sure these questions are not going to hurt people, but people want. So how many active filmmakers are there in the US as as you see it? Because that's a number I always wanted to know, personally. Because my main my main market is filmmakers I want I want to get my information out to filmmakers and my content out to them.

Ben Yennie 37:02
So I believe that numbers between 120 and 130,000, but I don't actually have a copy of the book in my office. Right. Okay. This is one that normally I reference, I actually took my copy home last night, and forgot to bring it back. So normally I

Alex Ferrari 37:21
ask, so it's about really that I thought it would be more than that. I thought it would be a lot more Well, that's just filmmakers. That's not people interested in content creation. That's a whole other number.

Ben Yennie 37:32
That is a different number. I considered active filmmakers who make at least one short film every year, or have at least in the past year. I think the other number was, that was the easiest way to quantify it. And the way we came to that number was, we took the number of one question we asked was how many film school grads? or How did you graduate from film school as opposed to our entire sample. And it was about 37% or so that a group did graduate. And then I was able to find a total number of film school graduates from the National Education Association, and then do algebra to make an estimate based on how many active film new active filmmakers there were per year. And then I was able to do more algebra based on a different question to figure out the average career life of a filmmaker which turned out to be around 8.3 years, and then figured that out. And we ended up with that number, which I believe is 120 to 130,000.

Alex Ferrari 38:39
And then from there, there's also people who are screenwriters who are interested in screenwriting, who are interested. So there these are active people, not people who are interested or are actively trying to get into the business. These are people who are actually doing things.

Ben Yennie 38:54
Yes, they are self identified as a filmmaker, not an interested person, not a content creator. Got it specific as a filmmaker. Got it. Got it. Now,

Alex Ferrari 39:05
how many films are made a year? How many independent films are made a year give or take? feature? Around 10 to 12,000? pets? Yeah, that's just us. That's it. Yeah. By the way, everyone listening this is just us numbers. We're not in worldwide, these numbers will balloon. I can tell you that from my audience alone that I know. So much interest is overseas, as well. But the 10 to 12,000 this year alone, 14,197 films were submitted to Sundance. That's how many isn't it? That's including shorts. Yes. That's including shorts as well. But total was 14,200 basically. And that's insane. Now how many shorts Did you have a shorts number that has to be in the

Ben Yennie 39:59
Yeah. There was a short number, I didn't commit that one to memory though. The so it is a actually the slide, I'm just going to pull it up on the production next blog real quick, you can find this in a lot of the report for free on the production next blog, by the way, which is where I'm going to go now. Um, but the, uh but yeah, the last, we actually measured web series TV episodes, shorts, and we tried to get an estimate of web content. That's one that I'm not super sure of. Because it's such a variable term, depending on where you draw the line, but the total number is

Oh, I'm sorry, I'm I vastly understated the total number of filmmakers it's actually closer to 200,000. Okay, um, but the. And I also understated the indie feature films, we're actually looking more like 18,000 on 18 to 20,000. Okay. A total project is the total number of corporate and industrial movies is around, or films that are made or is around 130,000. Web new media is around 275,000 shorts is around 120,000 and TV episodes, this one is very high level, the margin of error is much higher on this than other places. It's around 55 to 103,000 TV episodes that are made. That's

Alex Ferrari 41:49
That's a lot of content. But the 18,000 feature films really is kind of like scary, because now you are trying to compete every year with 18,000 other feature films, trying to get attention from eyeballs, and trying to get their movie so and how many I would love to know the number how many of those never see the light of day? Like I'm sure there's many,

Ben Yennie 42:15
too, but the Yeah, that is, um, I would love to do this again. Um, this data was originally collected in 2014. So doing is,

Alex Ferrari 42:30
oh, this is five year old that data so then oh my god. So then the numbers have definitely could even be much, much well, are much, much bigger than they are now. Without question. That's insane. Now, how much do filmmakers make generally a year and I love to know, like, what's the average money that they actually can make a year?

Ben Yennie 42:52
specifically from their content? I I'm on the slide now I haven't gotten to it yet. Oh, what do you know? There it is. filmmaking content most people make less than 10,002 thirds of the market makes less than 10,000. From filmmaking. Yep. Um, and the average is somewhere near 20,000. Total. Um, our data skewed a little, a little a little. Young, just because we how we got it. Most of our results came from indie wire data, and there is a little young, but the squirrel. Um, but yeah, the biggest interesting thing is that filmmakers, household income, as opposed to their filmmaking is actually fairly substantially higher than the national average. Um, whereas filmmaking income from filmmaking is very much lowered. So So. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 44:04
so you're saying that people that work in the business have a higher income than, you know, just in general, like, you know, guys who work in post or guys who work on set or, you know, girls who are writing or doing other or doing cinematography or whatever, those those household incomes are, are making more money as opposed to just revenue from the content they create?

Ben Yennie 44:28
No, this is actually more. I would have loved to be able to estimate that metric, but we didn't ask the right questions for it. We had originally planned this as a two part survey, where we did the wide one, which is when we got out now and then did a smaller one that answers more of the questions that you're asking about right now. But unfortunately, we ran we didn't get quite enough of a sample size. To be able to effectively do that it would have been more of a focus group. And I didn't want to publish anything that wasn't bigger than. Yeah. So that was the big thing there. We did get this is not a tiny sample size, though, I think the total number of completed surveys was around 700 or 675. And the total number of started was around 1100. Okay. So the so it's not, it is a representative sample. Um, but the, that's actually approaching the size of most Gallup polls, just as a reference.

Alex Ferrari 45:43
Now, he, let me ask you a question. Does film school matter? According to your metrics, sir.

Ben Yennie 45:54
Yes, in ways I didn't necessarily expect, you're more likely to actually have filmmaking be your primary source of income. If you graduate from film school. If you drop out, you are less likely to get it than having not gone to film school at all. However, you're more likely to have a higher household income, including money from other sources, if you go to a school, besides film school itself. Even if you primarily identify as a filmmaker,

Alex Ferrari 46:27
So then film school, are filmmakers going to film school? More and more? You said, I remember you saying 37% went to film school.

Ben Yennie 46:36
A graduated from film school total went is a different number, because we tracked both on the biggest, where is that metric? Um,

Alex Ferrari 46:50
that's an interesting number I was I wouldn't have expected that as much. I thought that film school would be going down attendance would be going down on film schools in general.

Ben Yennie 47:02
Keep in mind that this is from 2014. This is reporting 14. And I think the real emergence and being able to educate yourself as a filmmaker online has come since then. So that is the thing this report was largely on funded, and I did most of the analysis in my limited spare time. That it took years to get it out. But um, the so that is a Yeah, and most of the time filmmakers did. Yeah, the most startling statistic here is that if you graduated from film school, I'm 58% of the of the respondents primary income was from filmmaking. What Let me read that 58% of respondents took their primary income from filmmaking. And if you dropped out that number is about 30%. And if you do other education, it was about 35%.

Alex Ferrari 48:21
What? Well, obviously, this was taking you so long. 2014. So indie film, hustle didn't come in until 2015. So obviously, all that education for free. Has would have skewed numbers of today, obviously.

Ben Yennie 48:36
Hopefully, yeah. No, yes. No, it is a good Go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 48:47
No, no, you go ahead.

Ben Yennie 48:50
Um, another interesting thing about the economics of being a filmmaker as relates as it relates to going to film school, um, filmmakers who went to film school are more likely to be paid across all departments than those who didn't. Interesting Um, but yeah, as are. And actually, the inverse is largely true for people who went to other forms of education, they're even less likely than to be both active and paid than people who dropped out of film school. However, there are some notable exceptions particularly as producers and just other production members

Alex Ferrari 49:47
Got it then we're talking about in these numbers are for filmmakers, these are directors, these are people who are making content, not cinematographers, not other crew members, not post guy Not first ad none of these kinds of people were talking about these numbers are strictly filmmakers content creators within the film business correct.

Ben Yennie 50:11
Actually, there are a mix of them most the by by, by far the most people who responded identified as producers and directors. However, we do have a surprisingly strong showing from people we labeled camera department, which tended to be cinematographers. As well as people who were kind of trying to rise the ranks through other production and post facilities. So yeah,

Alex Ferrari 50:39
Now how much money is actually spent on indie film projects every year? Do you have that number?

Ben Yennie 50:45
I do. But I have to go back to it on the I have a total market spend for this is specifically for the long tail. The overall last I checked, which I think was around 2014 was around 85 billion domestically, specifically for the film industry. But most of the vast majority of that goes to places like Disney chill Netflix, sure show those but but talking about the long tail. It's around a $6 billion industry of independent feature films. Wow. Um, 5.8, of which about 2.46 are indie feature films, the next biggest chunk is on surprisingly corporate and industrials.

Alex Ferrari 51:41
So 2.5 billion are spent a year on independent film projects. Features features. Yes, and that was again in 2014. So I can only imagine where that number is today. As well, it just gives us a good reference, it gives us a good reference on what's being spent, how is it being spent? How is it being recouped? Someone not man, bad, man, thank you, man for, for giving us those numbers and doing all that hard work. Because I've always wanted to know if a bunch of these numbers and even though they might not be completely totally up to date, it gives you a good good reference point to start from. And just add five years to it. And you can see how much it could actually have blown up since then. Um, now, I want you to also tell me about production next. And what you guys are doing is, you know, with with the platform with the blog, and what you're doing with that's very exciting stuff.

Ben Yennie 52:40
Oh, yeah, production. Next is a project management system specifically for independent film, video. And all the sorts of projects we alluded to here. It's meant to be one place for literally everything in the film industry. And it is a, it has three primary components. The first is all inclusive project management. And by that I mean we do break down strip boards, budgets, call sheet generation, actually, we designed our call sheet, I think really in a really cool way inside, in that you can, with about three clicks, generate a call sheet with all of the information, all of the addresses, sign up some downtime, based on your GPS location, as well as weather by the hour based on your GPS location in about three clicks, and send it all to your to your entire crew that's scheduled to be there in about a day, or with another click. And that's that. And that's a lot of the design philosophy on this, we're trying to make a lot of the things that are kind of tedious and can be made simpler. And we're doing as much as we can from that. On a technological level, and it's completely cloud based. So your entire crew stays up to date, you're always looking at the most recent documents and the most recent information. And that's the project management system. The second system is a company management system. That's what we're calling it. It basically lets you keep track of your real world assets. Because as a filmmaker you acquire props, wardrobe equipment, set dressing, access to locations and large contact list. And we let you keep track of all of those real world assets and then plug them directly into your project while the second conflicts so nothing's ever supposed to be in two places at once across multiple projects. And then the other one is a community feature which We are, which is basically to help you find the stuff you need, but don't have including information from our blogs, including a lot of stuff. We also have groups, I believe you have a group. Alex,

Alex Ferrari 55:14
I do that we have an indie film hustle group there.

Ben Yennie 55:17
Yeah, and we will be and we can put a link to join that in here, I believe, um, and the, so you can just join there. And it's a good way to keep in touch with other people, other filmmakers who have similar interests, as well as post classifieds. Ask questions of people who actually would know the answer, like, if you're asking a financing question you can ask it of executive producers. And if I'm in that group, or that area, there's a good chance to get an answer from me. Um, and the. And you can also do other things like just hold threaded discussions, and even keep up to date with information with basic profile information of other people in the group and other projects in the group. Of course, you don't see the budget or anything like or anything sensitive like that. It's a it's very similar to what you'd find on a project website, or Facebook page.

Alex Ferrari 56:16
Got it. So you got a lot of stuff going on to production next.

Ben Yennie 56:20

Alex Ferrari 56:24
Now, congratulations, I know you've been working on it for years now. And trying to get it up and running. And it's, it's, it's doing well now. So definitely anyone listening or watching, definitely check it out. It is it will help you with your projects and, and, and help you make life a little easier for you as a filmmaker using the service without question. Now, I have a few questions I ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Ben Yennie 56:57
Learn how to produce, even if you want to be a director, even if you want to be a dp, learn how to produce, there is people even people who identify as multiple things, you're much more likely to be successful if you identify as a producer. And I do actually have data to back that up. The so that's the first thing. Second, build your social media presence. Any sort of content driven career these days requires you actually have a community and a social media following if you're going to do it successfully. And finally, learn as much as you can and get your network as big as you can get it you never know how one you never know what contact might pay off. later on down the line. Amen. surprised by it.

Alex Ferrari 57:55
Amen. I mean, look, you did a little podcast. That was an episode 15 three and a half years ago and it's it's still paying off. Now, can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Ben Yennie 58:16
I I feel like it's not cool to say my own book because it's actually did it but it actually really helped grow my career a lot. So aside from that, I'm probably Freakonomics

Alex Ferrari 58:33
A great book, a great documentary to love. Yeah, Doc. I love that Doc, too. Now what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Ben Yennie 58:54
While there's always stuff to be done, I'm working 6070 hours a week consistently is not generally the way to do it. And my wife still has to remind me of that one sometimes

Alex Ferrari 59:10
As good as good wives do, sir, as good wives. Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Ben Yennie 59:20
I'd say a Knight's Tale.

Alex Ferrari 59:28
I love that movie.

Ben Yennie 59:39
Gattaca is also up there

Alex Ferrari 59:41
Another good one

Ben Yennie 59:42
And may be The Princess Bride

Alex Ferrari 59:56
Of course. Great movie. Great movie. Rest in peace William Goldman It was such a great book I'm gonna go no they're great book but a great movie I know where can people find you sir?

Ben Yennie 1:00:10
Ah, easiest is probably through my Facebook page which is either facebook.com/thegorillarap or facebook.com/productionnext and then there's probably also thegorillarep.com and I give away a free film market resource pack through there and you can join production next for free and we can show much away for free there at the at productionnext.com/ifh

Alex Ferrari 1:00:49
Very, very cool brother thanks again man for jumping back on and dropping some knowledge bombs on the tribe today. I truly truly appreciate it and hopefully we won't wait another three and a half years to have you back. Want to thank Ben for coming on and dropping some major knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Thank you. Thank you so so much Ben. If you guys are looking for a good producers rep who's honest and does what he says he's gonna do, definitely check Ben out his information is at the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/318. And guys, thank you for all the tribe members that came out to the sigma workshop that I was on a panel at and kind of came up to me and talk to me about their experiences with indie film hustle with bulletproof screenplay. Thank you guys so much. It was really a joy to meet parts of the tribe. I love talking to the tribe members out in the real world. So thanks for coming out and I really do hope you guys come out to the new filmmakers la screening of on the corner of ego and desire. It will be the last Los Angeles screening for for the foreseeable future. The next time we'll be screening will be a week later at brave maker Film Fest up in the San Fran area and you'll be able to get tickets at the same link at indiefilmhustle.com/screening after the 25th and I'll be going up they're going to be doing panels I'm going to be doing a full blown talk at the courtroom. The courtroom that they actually shot Mrs. Doubtfire in where Robin Williams the late great Robin Williams shot that scene in so I'm going to be there talking about shooting for the mob about how to break through your fears about making your first movie there'll be a book signing as well. And of course a screening of on the corner of ego and desire and that will be the final public screening of on the corner of the ego and desire before I release it on ifH TV on Amazon and all other cool places that it will be available and I cannot wait for the tribe to see this movie. It is so so part of my being and I just want you guys to see it so so bad. And if you haven't already and you haven't heard then you haven't been listening to this podcast but if you haven't heard about my new book shooting for the mob how I almost made a $20 million feature film for the mob. please head over to shootingforthemob.com it takes you straight to the Amazon police take a look at it buy it it is a great companion piece to Robert Rodriguez Rebel Without a crew. And if you have a read it please please please leave a good review on Amazon it means the world to me. So thanks again guys, so much for all your help and support. As always keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.


IFH 240: How to Work the Film & Television Markets with Heather Hale

Today’s guest is Heather Hale, author of How to Work the Film and TV Markets: A Guide for Content Creators. Heather Hale is a film and television director, screenwriter and producer with over 50 hours of credits. She is currently under contract to direct an indie romantic comedy.

She directed, produced and co-wrote the million-dollar feature Absolute Killers (2011) which was marketed by distributors at Le Marche du Film and the American Film Market. She wrote the $5.5 million dollars Lifetime Original Movie The Courage to Love (2000) which starred Vanessa Williams, Stacy Keach, Gil Bellows and Diahann Carroll.

Heather’s new book How to Work the Film & TV Markets: A Guide for Content Creators was just published this summer by Focal Press/Routledge while her Story$elling: How to Develop, Market and Pitch Film & TV Projects will be published in 2018 by Michael Weise Productions.

For over two decades, Heather has served as an international keynote speaker, teacher, moderator, panelist and custom workshop facilitator for film and TV markets, festivals, writers workshops, colleges and universities and Chambers of Commerce around the globe, including creative adventure weeklong retreats such as StoryTellers on WalkAbout.

Enjoy my conversation with Heather Hale.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:34
I'd like to welcome to the show. Heather Hale, thank you so much for being on the show, Heather.

Heather Hale 2:50
It's my honor. Thanks for having me, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 2:52
So before we get into it, I really want to know how did you get into this crazy business?

Heather Hale 2:58
Oh, gosh, people always ask your breaking story. And you probably know, well is anyone we all have like five times do we have to break back in and you know, you can never rest on your laurels. And so I don't even know which one you know

Alex Ferrari 3:12
The first one. Let's just start with the very beginning.

Heather Hale 3:14
I don't even know what the first one is. I will say the who knows. But what most people look at as my break in was the courage to love which was a lifetime original movie. And the speed version to that was my aunt passed away. So this is a top total Hollywood Story. So with, you know, dog groomers and hairdressers. My aunt passed away she and my parents became executives of her trust and that we became we had to handle a townhouse in Pasadena. And foolishly I didn't grab it because you know, I wanted to live in LA not Pasadena. And selfishly, I'm such an idiot. I such

Alex Ferrari 3:56
I would have taken that bran

Heather Hale 3:58
I'm an idiot. I appreciate that now gorgeous garden jacuzzi. Like, I'm an idiot. Okay, we've established I'm an idiot. So anyway, that we became executives or trust, and my parents couldn't afford to debt service that and their own mortgage and all that. So we had to rent it out and we had to rent it out ASAP. And so we're literally like, packing up the garage of a woman who never moved in 40 some odd years, while we're grieving while we're dealing with the wake and all of that, while there's a moving truck with the other people moving in like it was that crazy. So as I'm moving banker's boxes out, and the new renters are moving banker's boxes in. They one of the wife says, hey, I've got a great idea for it. That would make a terrific movie. I understand you're a screenwriter. And how many times have we all heard that like every Hey, I have an idea. You do all the work. And you use all your relationships and resources and we'll split the profits and probably I'll sue you for stealing it. Like it's just never out. But I sat her down and I said, Okay, like, I don't want to do this, but let's do it. Because I'm an idiot. We've established Yes. And we literally sat there with a plate of brownies and ice tea, and I handed her a legal pad of paper and a pen. And I said, Let's write a deal memo. And I want it in your handwriting. So we can't say you didn't know what this was. And we wrote out this deal memo. And I was really careful. She claimed that her son was Vanessa Williams music producer. And how many times have we heard people say, I couldn't get it to so and so I can do this. Yeah, so I had her put, you know, my name is XYZ, Heather is XYZ. My son is Vanessa Williams music producer, and she put his name in there. And I will get this script to this. Vanessa Williams, like, that's that that piece was what made me do it. And so then I told her, I would mentor her and help her and support her and she wanted to write it. And I was just going to help her as a friend from the sidelines. And so over the next three months, I read and read on the research junkie, you know, most writers are voracious readers. So I knew everything about New Orleans in the 1830s. And this woman is amazing. The first African American nun ordained by the Catholic Church is really powerful story. And over the three months, she wrote back and faxed me This tells you how All right, me. That's me, like five pages describing a room. And that's as much as she had done in three months. And she begged me, Heather, can you please write this? And I said, Okay. And so I wrote this outline. And we got the outline to Vanessa Williams. She kept her word, she was good to her word. And then Vanessa Williams got it to Emily. Gosh, Gershon, at the William Morris at the time. And Emily called me we had sent her a five page outline, which bear in mind was really well researched, it was historically accurate adaptation was a powerful story. And we sent it to her and my associate, in her zeal and enthusiasm. I don't want to say lied, but eagerly told her wait till you read the script. It's fantastic. course, there was no script, of course, right. It's just an outline, just a five page treatment of what the beat outline was really well written in prose, really, really engaging of what we were going to do. Sure. And so I get a call from Emily Gerson Sainz, who says, I understand the script. No, I didn't get a call. I was told. Emily wants to see the script. She and Vanessa are going to be at the Cannes Film Festival in 10 days. So could you send it to him?

Alex Ferrari 7:55

Heather Hale 7:56
And there, it was a god moment. And I literally picked up the phone before I had time to think and quit my job. Wow. And I told my boyfriend, I'm not leaving this computer. Until I have that script. Done. Like, this is my break. It was scary as all get out. And I called Emily, which was very terrifying. Like one of the first people I've ever called, was like the head of William Morris, who's waiting for a script that's not written from me. And I gently said, so how firm The date is that deadline? She goes, she goes, Oh, bless her heart. bless her heart. Oh, honey, it's not from not for me at all. I I love the project, the NASA loves the project. And Vanessa and I are going to be in Cannes at the same time, loving the project. So I'm not sure when that will occur again, when the two of us will be together interested in your project. At that moment, we will be and so I went, Okay, thanks. I got the phone. And then I realized I didn't have 10 days I had nine because I had FedEx it. So I literally wrote and wrote and wrote and then I would hit print fall asleep. My boyfriend would read I had girlfriends, people writers group. So I would like email them the 12 pages I'd written I would email them the 17 pages I'd written I, I would sleep and then I would wake up and I get back at it. And I would put in people's notes, fix all the typos keep cranking so I had literally copied the treatment, threw it into final draft first script I'd ever written and just went for it. And it got set up. And it was a five and a half million dollar feature on lifetime and 2000 and then you know, I had to break it all over again. But let's call that my break.

Alex Ferrari 9:51
That's that was the most passive aggressive way of saying the deadline is the deadline. Right? But but good for her because It was true no and you know what and you know what? Yeah but that description that for people listening that that description of how she she spoke to you eautiful is exactly how people in LA talk in those positions, though then general everyday No. Generally never say no. They're generally never like they are there are the you know the art golds of the world. There are but but a lot of them will do this kind of passive aggressive. Yeah. And it's, it's honestly an art form.

Heather Hale 10:34
It's an art. It's like on my vision board to be unflappable. And if you ever if you've listened to Shonda Rhimes, his latest book, I listen to it on audio tape, I love to listen to like Tina Fey and Amy Schumer all their books, Andy kailyn on when they narrate on their audio books. But so listening to Shonda Rhimes, which was awesome. I, you know, she coined the word badassery. She said, you know, they say it's not a word unless it's in the dictionary. But in my Microsoft Word, I right clicked and added it to my dictionary, so it's a word. So I have like, unflappable, badassery on my vision board. That's my goal is to be able to not cuss and swear not raise my voice, not lose my temper, but say so eloquently. And maybe it's passive aggressive, but it is an art form exactly what you mean and still be smiling and look like you're being courteous in such a team player when you're really laying down the bottom line.

Alex Ferrari 11:30
And that is an art form. And this Yeah, without question. So So let's talk about markets, film markets, television markets, that's one of your expertise is, which it all started there, right? Because I had to get it to cat you have to get the cat. Exactly. So can you explain to the audience what the difference is between film festivals and film markets?

Heather Hale 11:51
Sure. I think that's actually one of the least understood and even people who have been in the business forever. Because you'll have people say, it's funny. I never know whether it's can or con because I get corrected no matter how I said someone's gonna correct me. So they'll say they're going to Cannes. But are they going to the festival of the market because the festival in the market are on opposite sides of the cross that you know this promenade, and they're going on at the exact same time. And people can fly around the world and realize that they have credentials, they've paid two or $3,000 in here and there at the festival when they meant to be at the market and everybody they want or or worse I mean at least that you can probably Jerry rig but what if you're in the wrong city at the wrong week, you go to the Berlin you know, the main event to go to the European film market. And you ended up at Berlinale at you know and or you're at the different the TV markets and you're in the wrong week. Everybody you paid 3000 or 5000 to go see is not even there. Yeah, so I think it's really important. So so so real clearly like festivals, we were talking about Sundance before we went live fest. If you think of show business, you can think of the festivals as the show and markets as the business of the entertainment industry. great analogy because festivals are open to the public. Usually, they're all about audience enjoyment. They're all about the craft, they celebrate the love of the art. It can be about a specific genre, or locale and it's all about community. So film fans and TV lovers from the public can come and enjoy premieres fun parties, they can vote, you know, especially for audience awards. But these competitions are curated by taste making gatekeepers and they award prizes based on their judgement of quality. And the audience response and critical reviews is what everybody's looking for. And that's what can launch these surprise breakout hits are dashed the hopes of what everyone thought was gonna be a winner. And as you know, there are no prizes at markets.

Alex Ferrari 14:06
The only prize is a check.

Heather Hale 14:08
There's no prizes, right and the press are often blocked from the screenings because they don't want spoilers leaked. So markets are the entertainment industries trade shows and like everything else in show business, they tend to be more glamorous, faster paced and more intimidating than any other business sector. And so these markets getting on the market floor is typically restricted to accredited industry professionals. So you have to have bought a badge you have to be a player to get on that floor. And then those products or content, the film and television things you might have seen shown at film festivals or television festivals are what is bought and sold business to business and then turned around and parlayed to the to the wider public. So there is this symbiotic relief shipped between the two circuits. So it's possible that a film that does fantastic at Sundance gets picked up by a distributor and is then sold internationally, like a cute little Little Miss Sunshine is bought at Sundance, and then they turn around and sell it to Europe, that European film market. So and then the same, the same thing can be in reverse. Maybe a product does really well at a market. And they choose to use the film festival platform as their promotional marketing to create some audience awareness and create buzz. So

Alex Ferrari 15:36
It's at Sundance every year,

Heather Hale 15:38
Every year, Toronto, Midnight Madness, you name it. So one of the things I think that helps put things in perspective is the size and scope of the material presented. So if you look at like a typical Cannes Film Festival, there's like 21 films that are in competition officially. And then right across the promenade is Lamar Shea to film, which is the Cannes Film market. And there's 3030 500 films at the market. So that shows you the size and scope because what's being sold at the market are shown or screen or viewed, is literally the entire year's inventory, and a backlog of the year before and what. So it's a good year to three years worth of assets that are competing in this incredible, incredible den of noise, to try to make a blip on the radar for anyone to notice you like it the one of the most humbling experiences ever, is to walk on a market floor with your little one sheet. Right? And think My poor baby. And I will tell you, it kicks you in the teeth and says, Is your logline strong enough is your pitch like you're competing with George Clooney on the market floor looking for money, right? Like that's there. I mean, you don't normally run into them, but they are they're raising money. And so your materials have to be so not just slick and professional. But the concepts and the execution has to be so viscerally grabbing, that someone's willing to risk money on them. And so it really does make you take a step back and check yourself that nobody cares about your hopes and dreams and aspirations. They care about are you bringing them something they can make money off of?

Alex Ferrari 17:31
Can you talk a little bit? What can you name a few of the big markets that people should look out for?

Heather Hale 17:36
Well, of course the can the Lamar shaida film is the Cannes market. The European film market is probably the second largest now the American Film market is the third. And then and then there's there's a ton of others. There's the Hong Kong film art, there's the Asian film mark, there's TIFF, com, then titanosaurs, the Latin American one, but another thing that's kind of bubbled up, which I think is really fascinating and helpful for independent filmmakers, is you have the film markets over here and you have the film or the of the film and TV markets over here. And you have film and TV festivals. Oh, and for the just real quickly for TV markets. You have Nat p, which is the National Association television program executives, you have real screen you have kids screen again, the Hong Kong film art is both you have the MIPS we call them the MIPS sweet, so there's mipi mc doc MC formats. And then you have like Nat p in Europe, there's just a ton, Bogota has one. And but in between, you know, you've seen I'm sure that the independent film arena that was such at the golden era in the 1970s people are talking about the Renaissance that we're seeing, and the golden era of television that we're seeing, which is really kind of the shift of independent filmmaking going to television because we have this convergence of film and TV, where the what we call over the top television, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, these, you know which are almost telcos right there, they're almost ISP fees that are offering this is all the issues of net neutrality, but that that is an opportunity for them to create these they create content and deliver content. So in the middle, where the independent filmmaker can often get lost because the studios are doing the huge blockbusters and the networks are doing their channels. What's bubbling up is this co production market scene. And that's where things like cinema in Rotterdam and the Berlin Berlin all a co co pro market, which is over like while the European film market is going on. And while the Berlinale Film Festival is going on, they kind of seamlessly overlap with the Berlinale co production market, which is where independent producers can find financing where they can find production partners where they can find distributors were willing to see projects that are works in progress. And so here's another difference between film festivals and markets. People will tell you, like, you know, as a screenwriter, never send your script out until it's just kick ass as good as it could possibly be. Right? That's it. Okay. So with films, they tell you never to submit to a festival until it's perfect, right? Because it's being judged. So a lot of people miss perceive that and come over to the market space and say, Oh, I can't show it to them. I can't do this because it's a market. Well, they're accustomed to seeing things with holes, and placeholders. And we're going to do the special effects on this. And, you know, they've even done studies where people had missing scenes or animation, they didn't even know that the animation wasn't there, because they were so caught up emotionally in the moment. So a market there, they're happy to see a talent reel for a possible reality show host or a character that we're going to build a world around in their mail you, they're accustomed to seeing, like, let's say you're shooting an independent film, and you're not going to be ready by the market. But your opening sequence is awesome. You just show that as your sizzle reel or trailer or just some selected scenes, and at the market that professionals use to scene products in every stage of development. So that's yet another difference that people you know, will come with the wrong misperceptions that limit their opportunities.

Alex Ferrari 21:39
Now, who should attend markets in general? As far as filmmakers are concerned? Like, should it be at what level of of the process should they go?

Heather Hale 21:48
Well, I think it depends on what your goals are and what your product is. So you will see on the net p floor or you know, MIPCOM IP TV, on the TV markets, people who are not in the industry at all, who might have a sizzle reel on themselves often, or an idea or concept. And they're trying to sell a game show they're trying to sell a reality show they're trying to sell some nonfiction thing like Adam ruins everything, you know, some sort of an edutainment type product. And even if they all they have is a one sheet that's a good one sheet and a good concept. They can literally you know, buy a badge and go pitch almost door to door You know, they're going sweet to sweet. That's another thing. You know this, but maybe your listeners don't. You look at something like the AFM at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. They literally move every bed out of every room. And every suite becomes a sales office. So some market floors have booths like a trade show, where you know, you go from booth to booth to booth on a market floor nappy has these towers where you go up to the suites, and again, they've moved the beds out. So you walk in, and there's the table and chairs, and there could even be cubbies set up with offices for receptionist and all that, actually at the Loews hotel. I was one of two people sleeping there, during the AFM, which was you talk about the shining light, step out into an empty hotel, and you're the I'm not even like there's no room service. There's nobody there. Just closed down. It's It's surreal. So that's, I think. So anyway, to answer your question, Who goes, so if you're a director, you want to go over to festivals, because that's where they're celebrating you. At the markets, it's largely producers. So you might be a writer, producer, director, producer. So if you're wearing a producer hat, and you're trying to raise money, or you're trying to initiate distribution interest, that's a really good place to be another way a lot of producers can use markets that they may not be aware of, is not on the first few days. But on the last couple of days, you can go in with your really great one sheet or sizzle reel. And when the distributors are have gone through the bulk of their meetings, because remember, they've paid 30,000, probably to be there. So you show up selling them and they've paid a ton of money to sell. You're in their way. You're in their way. But the last few days, they are thinking about the next market and they're trying to build relationships as well. And the cocktail parties are all great opportunities for this. But let's say you come in and you've got your indie film project, you got a million dollar project and you have a hit list of 10 stars that you think are really good. It's really a good idea to take that simple bulleted list. don't bore them just go in. Here's my one sheet. Here's my logline. These are the 10 stars I'm thinking of, and you might be blown away where they say this person's not marquee value. This person will never get distribution. I like this person, this person is really good. And someone on that list you might not be aware, is really huge in the breath block or the mint, the new MIT, you know, might be something that you weren't aware was a company, a person who would really attract the Chinese market, you know, I'm always trying to think of the other markets. Or they may say, Oh, I like all of these eight mafioso, guys, these character actors, and they're all really good. Have you thought about x, y, z, and they adds names to your list. And that is priceless information. Because it and they may tell you look, if you get any one of these people off this list, come back to me, and we'll talk about a distribution. It may not be a distribution commitment, because you know, it's hard to say, Yes, I will distribute your film when it's an unknown commodity. Of course, it's not in the can. So that's, I mean, that's the thing is your your film is probably never worth more than when it's nothing yet.

Alex Ferrari 26:03
And to a certain extent, you're right,

Heather Hale 26:05
Right. Everyone can imagine in their mind's eye the very best it could possibly be.

Alex Ferrari 26:11
But a lot of times also do you do you agree that depending on the cast, yeah. If the cast is big enough, there will be commitments to distribute then in there purely because they know if you can afford Nicolas Cage? Yes, you're the project is going to be at at least a somewhat of a benchmark that I know I could sell, because you're not gonna hire Nicolas Cage and do a $20,000 movie.

Heather Hale 26:37
Right? Well, I will. Yes, I agree. But I will say that there's two parts to that. One part is that if you get Nicolas Cage, like I got Vanessa Williams true. It's not you getting the money. It's probably Nicolas Cage, or Nicolas Cage is contacts, resources, referrals. So one of the things I suggest people do is make their hitlist for who they want as their stars for lead actors, and look and see who's got a production company and go get to the production company of the star you want. And let them be partners with you because now they're that much more financially incentivized to come on board and be a real partner. And then that's when the ball starts rolling. You know, my dad always used to say that the most precious asset in Hollywood is momentum. its momentum, you know, and its traction getting people to have it's, it's making your enthusiasm contagious, so that you can get some traction so that you can create some momentum momentum because you can work for 10 years on a project and blow dust off of it. And if you get the right people to shine their light, man, things happen fast, you know, that's the overnight success. So I think that is a huge part of it. And then the other part I will say, is, a lot of times people make their hit list and they're hit the hit list reveals a lot about you. If you have Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep on your hitless. They exactly they may be very polite because they're so polite, but they're laughing at your neophyte ism, right, because it's so delusional. But if you come in with some really amazing actors from say, Breaking Bad, or you know what I mean? Like, some animals obtainable? Yeah, if you mentioned their name at your family holiday. No one else at the table who's not in the business will know who you're talking about? Or maybe you show them their picture and they go oh, yeah, yeah, I know that guy. But the difference is with a distributor, they know that the caliber like David Morris, if you remember, if you know who he is, he was in the Green Mile. He's a fantasy or Freddie Highmore. You know, right now in the in the good doctor, and he was in Bates Motel. So Freddie Highmore at a holiday function. The average person not in the business, Michael, I don't know who that is. Well, do you watch the good doctor? Oh, yeah. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 28:59
I do. Okay, that's about Rob's rush,

Heather Hale 29:03
Obvious rush. He deserves a Lifetime Achievement Award already. I love him. But what I would say is that when you come to a distributor with someone like that, they may not be, you know, cinema marquee value that he can open a movie by himself, of course. But what that tells the distributor is the caliber of acting is going to attract other very strong actors. It's going to attract good directors, it's going to attract people who are going to that's going to raise the bar of their, of their work. So that so if you came with a feat, it's like, in the old days, you needed your Sylvester Stallone or Van Damme to sell DVDs in Asia. Sure, right. But it's changing. It's changing a lot. So now the mass, you know of YouTube competition. It's quality that rises up So having a good concept well written, well executed with really good stars. I think our star culture while it's still hugely important, you look at any advertisement, it's all about celebrity. But it's changing because of the fragmentation of the dial and what the Internet has done to revolutionize our business.

Alex Ferrari 30:18
So you mean Steven Seagal versus mike tyson is gonna have problems? Not if they're fighting. That was the that was the most AF me. AFM movie. This year.

Heather Hale 30:31
You remember when it was a couple Emmys ago where they put all the YouTube stars on the red carpet? No, I didn't. Okay, this was a couple of years ago. And they took all these YouTube stars with millions of followers. And they thought, oh, we're gonna tap into their site, guys. And what you realize is asking questions on a red carpet is a skill set that Ryan Seacrest and the people who have earned the right to eat, they're like, they didn't know who they were talking to. They were disrespectful. And they thought that their 15 minutes of fame was going to carry them on red carpet. And people forget, this is a business. Right? And so I think it's fine to stop cast, maybe one YouTube slab. And if you are a YouTube celeb, then then cool, that's you. But make sure you populate that cast with rock solid actors around you. Because everyone in the business can see through a fame run.

Alex Ferrari 31:27
And it's getting it's getting like before, it was all about how many followers you have. And I have to a certain extent, a lot of casting decisions now are made on social media. If the if there's two actors of equal caliber, equal credits,

Heather Hale 31:44
That's assuming they're equal caliber and equal credit. Exactly. It's not usually that case,

Alex Ferrari 31:49
Usually not, but if you assume that they're, you know, at the same playing field, yeah, I'm gonna go with the one that has the bigger social follow.

Heather Hale 31:55
Absolutely. But they also have ways of assessing your digital footprint. Like I have a widget in mind when I look on Twitter. I know how many of your followers are fake? I mean, you bought?

Alex Ferrari 32:11
That's before?

Heather Hale 32:13
Yeah. And a huge thing is your engagement. Like are you perceived to be authentic in your engagement with a legit tribe? Right, you know, we have our our mutual friend, Richard bato, the are bound stage 32, his crowdsourcing for filmmakers book is all about that, like it's being authentic to a community. So I think it's really important that people, like it's really important to have a social media following and a social media presence and be authentic. But it's like anything else that, you know, it's the quality of how you do it, you can't just buy a million followers and slap up promotional stuff. Because first of all, those million followers probably aren't even real and don't care. So they're not going to leave in droves. But the real people are, if all you ever do is throw up, you know, JPEGs of your book that you're selling,

Alex Ferrari 33:01
Right! A perfect example I always use is there's this filmmaker that I was working with on a project years ago, and they spent I'm gonna say they spent like about four or $5,000 buying views. Yep. of their trailer. Yeah. And nothing and we all know it. Right. So but they thought the like the end, I think they got I think it got up to about a million and a half 2 million views that they spent money. It all spent. Yeah, nothing organic, no interaction, no anything. But they were touting that to distributors. Like, look, we've gotten 2 million hits on our trailer, give us money for our movie. There's an audience out there for it. Yeah. And that might have worked in 1995. Exactly. But not today. And people can definitely tell when it's, look, it's not hard to find out if you're if they're fake or not. You just have to look at the engagement. And even the engagement they're trying to fake now. And it's still so difficult to fake real engagement.

Heather Hale 34:00
Yeah, I know someone a very high profile author, producer, TV person. So I am and they've passed away and they were very beloved. So I won't throw them under the bus because that would be disrespectful. Sure. But they hired friends of mine to go online into the chat rooms and take on this was way back in the day. So it is not new. You said chat. Yeah. Yeah, take on personas. So they would have three, four or five different personas each and get into debates and arguments with themselves, right like and be trolls and jerks and you know, so that other people would jump in and then they'd get out of that chat room and go start somewhere else. So that Pete that there was buzz and engagement. But I think that, you know, first of all, people are really savvy to that now. And then the flip side of that is too bad because the person who really busts their tail to get a million or 2 million followers legitimately and then goes to Bandy that about the marketplace. Now everybody's pretty jaded, and even if you earned them and spent 15 years creating that following that, like, yeah, yeah, but that that comes back to the quality of the content and the material.

Alex Ferrari 35:08
You know, and also and also, and I know we're going on a tangent with social media, but it's important in regards to what we're doing is also the the proof is in the pudding, you know, like, yeah, you know, I'll tell you right really quickly, if you're real or not purely buy a bike, do a post, yeah, do a post and we'll see how many retweets they get, or how many reactions they get, and see how much traffic I can generate off of it. If it's something that's adding too much. I'll tell you in a second, like, Here you go, boom. And, you know, so when people find people who are actually real and authentic, they gravitate to respect.

Heather Hale 35:42
Absolutely. I'll tell you something beyond the social media is also your assets, your marketing assets. So I help people create pitch packages, sizzle reels, practice their pitch and all that. And I've been a judge at you know, nappies player, TV player contest bondage for a bunch of things. Yeah, forever. So one of them at one market. And again, I don't want to, you know, hurt anyone's reputation. I just share the spirit of the story. This gal came in and she was competing. And she, the first round ever, there were three rounds. And the first round was to pitch verbally. And so this girl came in and pitched her heart out on I think it was a mafia comedy, like a sitcom. She was so hysterical. We were like wiping tears, though. I think there were eight or 12. I don't know, several judges, I don't remember how many judges about eight, let's say. But we were laughing, literally slapping our needs wiping away tears cracking up, she had us eating out of her hand and we loved her. We loved her project. We loved everything about her. So then she made it to the second round. And in the second round, she brought in her sizzle reel. And in her sizzle, she had spent $250,000. No. And she had I don't know if it was friends or I don't know who these actors were. But in this sizzle. The production value was awful. The timing was awful. The acting was awful. The costumes were awful. And 250 100%. And that is not the only time I've seen that I've seen people do better with zero budget than 250. I've seen lots of bad how

Alex Ferrari 37:28
I'm just figuring out how do you spend a quarter of a million dollars on a sizzle reel? Like how do you do it happens all Oh my god.

Heather Hale 37:37
So because companies want to get paid. And they I think prey on delusions. So. So what happened was and I'm proud of myself, I'm not bragging but just it's hard to find people who will tell the truth in Hollywood and I do always get in trouble all the time. So I will say I'm here at it when it helps. So she was gonna get knocked out. And I spoke up in the, in the voting round with her in the room and said, I got to tell you, I said I'm going to point out the elephant in the room because everybody was giving her feedback on the sizzle reel. Yeah. And I said to her to enter the fellow judges, I said, Look, that sizzle reel, unfortunately, you have wasted $250,000, you know, on her face had she's almost in tears. You shouldn't be she was almost in tears because everybody was ripping the sizzle reel to shreds, and she was going to get knocked out of the contest. And she had spent all this money. And I said Look, I said I'm gonna vote to put you through on the caveat that you pitch verbally, again, because you had us, you had us imagining your vision, and this sizzle reel is going to kill you. So you need to never show it. Anyone again ever. I don't care how much it cost. I don't care how much lead tears went into it. It's going to shoot you in the foot. It's an albatross to your project. Let it go consider it a mistake. And and and she everybody changed their votes. And we put her through and she pitched verbally. And she did that she didn't win. But she was like number two or number three. And she was really grateful. And I mean, it's heartbreaking to tell someone that but it's true.

Alex Ferrari 39:19
You got to you've got to tell the truth. And it's not even up for debate. It was just like, Look, this was horrendous. Yeah, you're hurting yourself by

Heather Hale 39:28
To acknowledge how fantastic she did without even a piece of paper. That that shows the integrity of the idea, her passion, her personality, her ownership and authenticity with that material. As the writer she had earned the right to stand up and bolus over and it was so well executed on the page. It is not her fault that the collaborators didn't rise to the occasion and she can find other collaborators because she owns the intellectual property. It's her baby.

Alex Ferrari 39:58
Absolutely, absolutely. So How How should someone with a digital series approach to television market in today's world? Because now, as you said, everything's going towards television? What How should someone should they do a pilot? Should they just come in with the idea? Should they do have a full series produced? What do you What's your suggestion?

Heather Hale 40:19
Well, I think all of those you know, it's like Hollywood How do you break into Hollywood? Well, let's give you the 2000 ways we all know friends who've done it, you know it there's no right or wrong. I will say there probably some quicker avenues than others and then the minute you say this is the way you do it, then there's some breakout Blair Witch success that you know, it's this stuff that happens the angry orange, I don't know if you're familiar with that. I mean, I, there's a ton of examples of stuff. But one way they do watch just as we were talking about earlier, within social engagement, there are people who put up Twitter accounts that are in the voice or the point of view of one of their characters and then voice and that's, I think, how eight things about my daughter eight roles about my daughter got done was started off a Twitter feed, you know, it was that such a unique, authentic voice. So coming up with ways to select I think was angry orange was a little two minute thing that was an orange, literally an orange. marquee face drawn on it. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 41:18
He's. He's done very well.

Heather Hale 41:21
Yeah. So they were like 32nd two minute things, but they were so freakin funny. They went viral. And you know, I forget who it was. pretty famous gal. I should remember her name. But she said viral is not a business plan.

Alex Ferrari 41:35
Like Sundance is not a distribution plan. Sundance is not a distribution.

Heather Hale 41:39
That's like saying, I'm going to buy a lottery ticket. Yes. Somebody, somebody who buys a ticket will win. But your odds, like that's not the business plan. Go ahead, throw the penny in the crib.

Alex Ferrari 41:52
I'm quitting my job today. Because my next year, I'm covered because I'm going to do the scratch off.

Heather Hale 41:57
Exactly. Yeah. So I mean, I pro pennies and fountains and I'm all about superstitious little rituals. Cool. Do it by your lottery tickets. I all the more power to you. But Call me if you went please sleep call that

Alex Ferrari 42:10
Five projects. Yeah.

Heather Hale 42:11
Yeah. So but some of the things they can do one, of course, if you're like, I judged the Marcee web Fest, several years back, and that was fascinating, because you know, Josh Gad, yeah, of course. Okay, Josh, Gad one. Oh, lover. Yeah, yeah, he's all off and Buting the beast, but he also had 1600 pen, if you remember that as a short lived series. So right before with Dharma, the girl who played Dharma and Dharma and Greg, right before that. He was submitted into the Marseille web fest. And it was me and I think the Warner Brothers digital VP, bunch of really cool people. So we were, you know, sequestered in a room for 12 hours watching nothing but websites went to a web series, one after another. And there were people who had fantastic business plans, and ancillary marketing and Merchandising, and it was so well like sales and marketing 101, like, or not even that PhDs and sales and marketing. But we weren't engaged by their content. So what difference did it make, right? And then you had people who had years of seasons and seasons, like hundreds of episodes. And then you had Josh Gad with like two little three minute sketches that were practically SNL. And again, we're in hysterics. So I think it comes down to the quality. So if you have, let's say you have a web series that's won some awards, don't expect someone to watch eight episodes of it, grab the, you know, 30 seconds or two minutes of the very, very, very best footage. And don't feel like it needs to be five minutes or seven minutes or any of that. If it's if you have a really good two minutes, that's the beginning, middle and end. And there's a little bit of weak stuff, when in doubt, cut it out, cut it out, cut it out, if it is not very, very, very best cream of the crop. You know, they say Shakespeare threw away 95% of his stuff. I don't know how anyone knows that. But you know, I believe it as a writer,

Alex Ferrari 44:07
I'm sure and I would love to be in that trashcan.

Heather Hale 44:10
Exactly. But that's what I'm saying. You got to throw away kill your babies, kill your darlings, and then only take the cream of the crop and then that tease, you know, you sell the sizzle, not the steak, you want to elicit their interest and intrigue them to want more. And you may not show them more. You may get into a room. They're really engaged. They have their different ideas and you go in their direction because he who has the gold wins. Don't feel like you owe it to the material to bring in your old crap that they might not what find what tickled them because it might be different, like what Spike TV is interested in is going to be quite different than what the sci fi channel is interested in.

Alex Ferrari 44:50
Sure. Exactly. And that's a problem for a lot of creators is that they spend so much time so much money creating something they want to show it all exactly. It's and you just like maybe pictures, right? It's your baby, you want to show baby pictures to everybody. I try not to do that. But But every once in a while, just for, you know, exactly. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. But at the end of the day, you've got to take off your Creator hat and put on your business hat, put on your marketing hat and go, Okay, what I got to look at this with clean eyes, and you can't have someone who can do it for you

Heather Hale 45:36
And ditto your YouTube channel, maybe you have a YouTube channel that's got all of that on there. But you have a branded YouTube channel that only has the best of the best that represents the show, which is, you know, you think of what you put on social media, especially what you're putting on that is projecting to the industry is your 24 seven shingle. Don't put crap out there. And if you do, like, hide it in a way that only friends and family can see it, but if you're gonna put it out there on your website, anywhere, you know, it's way better to have three great two minute clips, then something that's, you know, really, two hours of bad. No, that's what they say the greatest sin in Hollywood is to be boring.

Alex Ferrari 46:21
Yes. And there has been plenty of that going on at the movie theaters lately.

Heather Hale 46:25
Yeah. And on the market floors and at the festivals and co production markets. You know, I used to joke that, you know, the perfume of Hollywood is desperation.

Alex Ferrari 46:35
Oh, God, that's a great line. And it's so true. Yeah. And you and and because I used to wear that, that Oh, we've all worn it. We've all to desperation.

Heather Hale 46:45
Yeah. And the purse and the deodorant. Like it comes out. It's the Bo of Hollywood. It's desperation also.

Alex Ferrari 46:51
I mean, it is something that you can smell on someone. Yeah. So fast into the room into a ballroom you can smell and and I used to, I used to just just it would it would rain around me. I should spring out of me like, what's his name from Charlie Brown? The guy who's always dirty? Up rock? Yeah, he would just always walk. Yeah, it was around me all the time. Yeah, I would meet someone when I first got here, I would meet someone, you know, at another level, higher level or just a place that I could? And I'd be like, I hate doing it at the end, you would just go after them. Yeah. And they could just be like, Okay, he's that and that would be the end of it. No. And I happened to me a bunch of times till I finally, I don't know how I did it. But naturally, I just stopped it and became more giving and more of service to people I meet trying to be.

Heather Hale 47:42
And that I think is the is the to me, networking is the highest form of service. It's what do they need? How can I help them and you hope that by the time it pays forward 10 times somewhere it comes around back to you. Right? But you know, when you're trying to intentionally network, you know, one of the most prudent things is to ask them about them in their projects, because and that's the thing you have to be careful of with you is because when someone asks a writer about their project, oh, no. Right? We love our babies, we want to talk about them. That's all we want to talk about. So you really are it's kind of like being on a first blind date after a divorce. You don't really want to talk about your ex, right? So you want to listen and ask questions. And if the conversation comes back around to you be locked and loaded with a silver bullet. That's really quick and easy than kills.

Alex Ferrari 48:30
Right! But don't don't but don't walk up with that bullet in hand just yet. Don't shut it off.

Heather Hale 48:35
Z or the machine gun. Yeah, God on silver bullet.

Alex Ferrari 48:40
I it's, it's it's just so funny. And I meet and I was my next question was gonna be about networking. And I think we're on that topic now. But like, sometimes I'll be speaking and, you know, people will come up and they'll just, they're just kind of like, you can tell that they're they're just wanting to their I call them energy suckers, even successful people. Right? Yeah, just energy suckers. They just want to obsess Empire, vampires, they just want to start from you. And, you know, you as you get older and you've been in the business long enough, you'd become attuned to that. That frequency very quickly, or your hair goes on and as they come up as they approach you, yeah. Oh, desperation. There's the odor desperation. There's the O of BS. You know, I'm not trying to do anything, but I'm just trying to impress you because I've done this, this and this. I know this. I could definitely get your project that this person because I cut their hair.

Heather Hale 49:37
I'll tell you two quick little stories about that. I was I you know, I'm not a vain person. You know, we all get beat up so much. I guess you just don't have time or energy to be vain. You just working hard

Alex Ferrari 49:51
Not on this side of the camera, at least.

Heather Hale 49:53
Yeah, yeah. So I was at an event. It was a women's event and I was talking to a group of women and you know, I'm a I'm a first I'm a, I was a first time director, I think I've done two things now. But you know, I'm really still a rookie, I really am trying to break in as a director. So I was at this event and I have done I had directed a million dollar feature, which on the one hand, anyone in the business knows like soup to nuts. That is, that's like an ultra marathon series like that. It's a huge accomplishment, whether it made any money or not, it got in the can. And it got picked up by two distributors. It was at the AFM and right, huge, it was at Walmart Best Buy. Okay, so who cares if it's any good or made any money like that, just the fact that we got from point A to point z, and I did not die or kill anybody, right? So and it had meatloaf and Ed Asner and Eddie Furlong, so I'm at this event. And I'm feeling like simultaneously proud and scared, shitless and insecure and blah, blah, blah. And these girls are talking about all the stuff they've directed, and they're posing and dropping names and being all the all this. So I'm just sitting listening because I really need to network and I really need to learn a lot more. And I need to expand my horizons, blah, blah, blah, blah. Well, I can our listening to them give all sorts of advice and tell me what I should do. It comes around that one of them his entire directing oeuvre was a PSA. And he had done a short film. So I sat there and not that I'm all bad. But I sat there respectfully listening to all and and then when they asked me what I had done, which like the event was almost over, and I was like, Oh, you know, just a million dollar feature with meatloaf. And yeah, and then I walked away because they like seriously put their lap late. Like I said to her, they they had done a free public service announcement for 30 seconds. And that was what they directed. Sure. The flipside of that I was going to say is when people are posing, you know, the, if you have to get a catcher's mitt out to catch the names that they drop, no, odds are, they're full of it. And if you call them out on it, well to have two stories. I had a guy who told me and I won't say who he is, because he's kind of a power player. But he told me he Ma, it'll be too obvious. He had directed a little movie called and then I won't put the movie in, but it was a huge movie. Sure. He had no he had he had line produced a little movie called insert huge movie here. Sure. And I was like, Oh my god, I better check my ego. And so I sucked it up and let him treat me like shit because he was a misogynist. He was awful. And then I optioned my material to him, which was a huge mistake. And then I googled because nowadays you can I am in the bathroom like now I've learned like, excuse me go to the bathroom, IMDb the shit out of their lies, right. But it turned out he had second unit line. Oh, no, he had told me he had produced it. But he had second unit line produced it. Which is he's basically Yeah, producers like finding the money soup to knotting it. And second unit line producing is someone who was hired to cut checks for a couple of days.

Alex Ferrari 52:58
Second, not even the main line producer the second

Heather Hale 53:00
Second unit line producer when he told me he produced it. But then the third I was gonna say because it goes the other way, too, is people who drive the flashy cars and have the gorgeous, can sometimes be so so encumbered and sold, leased and so fake about what they're projecting is their image, that they don't have the money to scrape together, change out of their depth for iced tea at a McDonald's, right? Yep. And sometimes you'll be with someone who's driving a beat up car, and they're not inexpensive shoes. And they do not offer to pick up the tab that's on somebody else's expense account. And they are the person who owns 21 homes free and clear and could actually find your film, but they're not trying to impress you, and they are cheap. And the reason they're rich is because they're cheap. And that doesn't mean they won't invest in your film. So I mean, it goes both ways.

Alex Ferrari 53:55
I do find and this is against only from years of experience, that the people who are the big loud mouth, the people who are the boasters Yes, there are those guys, you know, that are the Brett Ratner's of the world that are those kind of people, you know, and do actually know these people and actually have the money and stuff. And I threw bread out there because he deserves to be thrown out there. And I have no problem with that. But there but most of the times you're going to you know if you see the guy quiet in the room, and he's in the room, first of all, she's in the room. That means that they've done something to be in that room. Yeah. And generally speaking, they're not going to be the boasting guys and not going to be the ones dropping names. If you see Steven Soderbergh's car. He drives like a 2005 2008. Pre Buffett does too, by the way, right? Exactly. Because they're not trying to impress anyone. They're damaged. Yeah, they're very, they're rare in LA. They're in the business in general, you don't meet those people very often. They're rare on wall street there were Nashville's, ya know, they're everywhere, and they're very vague in every industry, but in our business, you know, you don't meet those people. So what I do actually meet people like our be Suzanne Lyons who's, you know, like you as well, people, you know, people who are actually doing what they're saying they're doing and are not boasting about, hey, I've got you know, 300,000 followers and you know I have this or I have that the proofs in the pudding. Yeah, like, Look, you just, you know, go and look, you know, look me up, I don't care, you know, look, or they'll say, look, you know, I want to talk about it.

Heather Hale 55:38
And that, quite frankly, is the value to your website and social media, you know, the more I feel like it, my website's not perfect, but I try really hard to have it projected good image. But I think that's good, because you can have a conversation, give them a business card, and then they can do their due diligence on you. And they can check you out after the fact they can check your bio, they can check your credits on IMDB. And so you can just be a human being involved and engaged in the conversation and not be trying to spit out your resume. So, you know, that is that's how I think you can be using your marketing and social media and those things to, to back you up with this 24 shingle that's out there all the time, but just be a human being when and be present in those conversations.

Alex Ferrari 56:24
Now, we've gone off off the rails a little bit in this interview, because we were talking more about markets. But this all works into the network. It all works out. But can you add, can you throw a few insider nuggets of things that we should look for at film markets, things that you like, I wish I would have known this doing a market before?

Heather Hale 56:44
Well, there's so much that I wrote a book on it. So like, that's before, that's actually the whole reason for the book was because you said you had gone to one of your first markets recently. Really kind of like blown away and overwhelmed. I think anyone in this business should just get on a market floor as fast as possible. Because you what you learn and how humbling it is, will really put things in perspective for the rest of your career. So whether you sell anything, Oh, go ahead,

Alex Ferrari 57:12
No, it's a product. That was the thing I said in my review of AFM like, it's so humbling, because they don't care about the craft. They don't care about the artistry they don't care about. It's a product. And yeah, and as soon as you understand that changes your perspective, a whole I don't care what your personal project, they don't care about it.

Heather Hale 57:30
Yeah. And they're not being mean either. They're just, it's not even callous. They're just so Matter of fact, and they can smile while they're just eviscerating you. painful. Leave a case you know, it's art to us but they don't care. They don't care.

Alex Ferrari 57:49
Obviously Steven Seagal and Mike Tyson not a lot of art in that movie.

Heather Hale 57:52
So So I will say that honestly, like I I'll tell you like how the book started. And then I'll tell you a couple secrets. I was at the American Film market in 2013. I booked all the speakers and I was helping focal press come up with their line, their franchise line, the AFM present. Sure. And so they had a focal press it said, you know, who do you think would make a good author for one of our books or in our series and who would be a good subject matter expert and is like, you know, you need to get RB to do something on crowdsourcing ad got him on a panel is like you've got to get no but nobody's talking about that. And I gave him all these names of people and I'd gotten another friend Anne Marie Guillen on the finance panel. I just really tried hard to get, you know, some new fresh voices that we needed to be hearing at the AFM. I was actually really proud because people told me later they opened up the full page spread, and I was Hollywood Reporter daily variety. And I had all the pictures for the all panelists. And people, at least a dozen people wrote me privately and said, I don't know how you did it. But it was 5050 female male, and it was every color of skin under the sun. That's because normally we don't see that. So I was really had like my own private agenda to try to really diversify what we saw, so that you weren't ghettoizing like putting all the women on one panel, because we don't know when you can avoid that panel, or all the people of color on one panel, and that's our diversity panel, but get one on every panel. That was my golf. Good. Anyway, um, so. So when I was helping her, I was giving her all these people that I think I got eight or a dozen friends book deals that year. She said, Well, if you come up with anything else, let us know. And I said, I can tell you right now what you're missing. And she said what? I go, you've got the American Film market presents and no one's ever written a book on how to work the markets. And her face just dropped like yeah, da it's like always the obvious that we miss. And so I said, I'll, I'll write it, you know, and I, of course, didn't feel like I was a guru. I just knew I could research and I reached out to at least 200 People I did interviews for a couple years for that book. So some of the things I learned at one at one AFM I was sitting there and I won't mention names of companies, I will tell you privately.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:11
Sure, no problem. I appreciate it.

Heather Hale 1:00:13
Anyway, I was sitting there with a girlfriend and we were going into meet someone I had interviewed, because that was another thing I did. I used it to network like crazy so that I could meet 200 people that were, you know, international sales agents and distributors and all that a financier, as an investor. So are sitting there to meet one of the people who I'd interviewed with. And we were on the other side of this cubby wall, because, you know, they sometimes have these temporary cubby walls and like there's four feet of empty room, you know, that it's the wall is not there. So on the other side was somebody pitching. And on the other side of another wall, were a couple people. So there was an established distributor, who was teaching a wet behind the ears, rookie distributor who was new to their company, of how to do what they needed to do. And I don't know how much you know about, like, I do my own budgets and schedules, and I can my views and stuff. So I don't know how much you know about this, but it hit us. But basically, when you do an independent film, you have to often do a SAG bond, right? Okay, so let's say you have a million dollar film and your budget for your actors is, let's say 200,000. So sag might make you put up 200,000, or 50,000. But you have to put up a bond, so that if for any reason you flake out and don't pay the payroll for that week, sag can dip into this bond, that it's a formula that they make you that they hold the whole time. So if you need a million dollars, you actually need 1.2 million, because you got to put this money up that sits there that you can't touch until you get it back. And so this distributor was explaining to the other distributor, the new distributor, how they could basically make a commission off you getting your sag bond refunded to you, if they use the wording for gross receipts into the account they were managing, okay. So in other words, they're supposed to be selling your film, and getting a commission from Turkey or China or you know, wherever they're selling it. And as those monies come in, they take 10% 20%, whatever their commission is off the Pasha. She was teaching him how to get the bond, the savings account, you raised blood, sweat and tears that you had sitting there to pay your actors, that when you got it back from sag, they could take 10 to 20% of it because it passed through their account.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:35
So let me let me clarify something you're telling me that there are unscrupulous distributors in the marketplace? Can you imagine this? Is this an exclusive?

Heather Hale 1:02:45
And they were training one another down the daisy chain? How to screw independent producers? So I know, shocking, absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:53
I've never heard anything like that.

Heather Hale 1:02:56
Like you're gonna take a commission off my savings account that I barely scraped together to make this Phil Street. What is this? Oh, my God, and then they want us to sign a contract that says, Oh, yeah, yeah, you can handle my money. I trust you. Yes. Yeah. So those are the kinds of things So literally, during the course of writing this book, I will say, I am this probably not politically correct. But we've established I'm an idiot, yes. I probably will make very little money off this, you know, because the publisher makes 80%. You know, funders are bad. Okay, so I don't, people are like, oh, I'll buy your book. I'm like, thanks. Like, what am I like? Maybe I'll see two cents. 10 years from now? I don't know. So I was so frustrated writing this book, because all that I was learning and all of that. And then I didn't even want to do as two years of work for free. For what, right? But what kept me going was storytellers around the world, content creators, people who have a dream, people have a passion, people have a story that is so under their skin, that they're working for two or five or 10 years for free speculatively. And I thought I got to help them. I got to help them navigate these markets. I got to help them stop being screwed. I got to help them save money. And I will tell you, this is really inappropriate. And I love it. I really need to edit it. No, we won't. I was in the AFM series originally in the franchise. Sure. And I was part of that. And it was always going to be that and it was kicked out. Because of many of the things I said of how to save money and how to you know, okay, if you can't afford a badge, here's what you do.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:37
Well, Heather, Heather to A to A to A FM's Kravitz defense here. I'm sorry, but I get that.

Heather Hale 1:04:46
And I edited it all out. You know what I mean? just done, the damage was done. And so the truth is, you know, there's a lot in this book that the markets don't want you to know. And the other thing was by the end of it, I was like, okay, you Here's how you work around the markets. Here's how you take everything you've learned. Yeah, that work on a market floor. And here's how you DIY it. Here's how you do YouTube. Here's how you use social media. Here's how you sell not business to business, but business to consumer, because that is revolution that Amazon and who else there still in the middle, you literally could have your own website and sell your books and your movies and your TV if they're good enough directly to the crowd that you're creating. So I think it was too independent and too irreverent, too real. And I have a problem with that.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:34
No, look, I I gave away. I give away a lead generator for if you sign up to my email list, six, six tips to get into film festivals for free or cheap. Yeah, exactly. And I think I got into over 600 film festivals in the course of my career, and I paid for probably less than 5% or 10% of Yeah, yeah. But you know, sometimes I wrote the film film festivals the wrong way. I'm like, but guys, look, you know, it's awesome.

Heather Hale 1:06:03
It is. It's such a hard business. You know, people are like I would volunteer for variety. sommets I bought I volunteered for everything I couldn't afford to go to. You know, so I'm a little pee on peasant with a name badge, but I get to hear the studio execs telling it like it is to, you know, be a fly on the wall to the $5,000 a seat thing I can't get into. So you just we one thing about independent filmmakers is we are scrappy. We are resilient. And we are pitfalls and we need to learn to be unflappable badasses.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:35
No. Can you say that? Can you talk? We spoke about the book a bit, but what's the name of the book? Where can they get it?

Heather Hale 1:06:42
It's called how to work the film and TV markets. And it's available on Amazon. It's available. You know, it's actually add a lot of the markets the the publisher took it to the AFM and it sold out in the first day. I'm sure so yeah. So my website is HeatherHale.com and I will put a plug because it's not even cost them any money. But on HeatherHale.com, I'm pretty sure it's /howtoworkthefilmandTVmarkets is all sorts of giveaway stuff. Like it has a calendar of the map of the markets all around the world, co production markets festivals. And I'll tell you that that calendar, that matrix took me forever, because I had to line up what was going on simultaneously, what was an ad junk event? What was going on? Like if you're going to another country? What could you also hit while you're there, it's a really great calendar, I've got the facts on packs. So who's got housekeeping deals where I've got them archived, so you can look back who used to have a deal with what studio and what distributor, it's got so many different sets of information. So and that's all you know, it's got a global map, it's got all the market statistics, it's got some great full color, key art examples. It's got a Union's low budget matrix, because if you can ever make sense of that game of Sudoku, good luck, right? So it's got anyway, it's Heather hale.com, how to work the film and TV markets, and it's got tons of giveaways. And then and then also on there, there's a 21% off on Amazon and 20% off the publishers like a code. So you know, it's gonna make my two cents go to one. But you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:08:20
I love the honesty, it's awesome. And I'll put all of those links in the show notes. So I have a few questions left that asked all my guests, all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker or screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?

Heather Hale 1:08:36
Oh, we have another hour. Now. Honestly, this is gonna sound really cliche and soapy. And but it's so true. It's just so frickin true. And you remember, you get reminded of it every year and every decade. And that's just be true to yourself. Be true to yourself, be authentic, and know who your friends are, because you will learn over and over and over again, who they are and who they aren't. And, you know, if you're going to be miserable, working around the clock at two in the morning, you damn well better make sure it's something worth working on. And I would say also, you know, when we create film and television products or content, I mean a lot of people artists hate to hear it referred to as product and content, but at the marketplace, that is what it is. It's a art over at the festivals. But whatever it is that you're creating, that you're generating, you are essentially exporting our culture. So I would beseech you to please be careful that you're really espousing values you actually hold not lowering to pander to the lowest common denominator of what you think you can sell. Because you could have a breakout hit with something that's actually meaningful. You know, you look at Shawshank Redemption and Groundhog Day and you know, there are films out They're and there's nothing wrong with entertainment, like cult hits, like there's so much good stuff out there. But, you know, do stuff you're really proud of. And that really means something to you. And it's cool if it's comedy, Thriller, Horror, whatever it is, but I mean, even look at alien aliens. Those are real horror, like in silence of the lamb and the believers, like there's some scary shit out there. And it's still entertaining. So I'm not saying it has to be g rated Disney answers for sure. I'm just saying, make sure that what you're saying with your art is really what you mean, because it's easy for it to get, you know, going through that gauntlet to get like GMO two headed shaped weird. That's not what you meant at all right? You know, stay true to yourself, stay true to your voice. And, and one thing that is good about Hollywood, there are many, many, many, many, many good things about Hollywood. But one of the things I love most about it is it is a society and a culture, where Everywhere you look, people are following their dreams everywhere. And it is exciting. It's entrepreneurs, I call them everywhere you look as people who passionately believe. Usually they're scams and posers and flakes, and felonies and all that. But most of the heart that beats in Hollywood, is people who have a mission for something they want to say that so under their skin, that they're trying to figure out a way to say it and hold true to that. And, you know, it's like I always say, you know, I'm a I'm a voluptuous girl. So I'm lucky because I'm very thick skinned, because you need a rhinoceros skin to survive in Hollywood. But one of the hardest things is to keep your heart open, and to stay responsive to the communal consciousness and to have empathy for other people's worldviews and points of views. So if you can, don't be a dick,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:55
That's, that should be on a T shirt. If that's not it, don't be there. That's like the best advice you could have in Hollywood. Don't be just don't be a dick.

Heather Hale 1:12:02
Yeah, be a nice person. And that doesn't mean be a doormat. It means be an unflappable badass who can cheerfully tell the truth and be honest and be you know, have good intentions and, and, and write great stories because the world needs them.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:20
Amen more now than ever. Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Heather Hale 1:12:29
Oh, boy, this is gonna reveal my libertarian roots. And probably Atlas Shrugged or the fountainhead. Okay, really? I know that's not an industry book. But sure. Oh, it's all about golf coach.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:46
I gotcha. I gotcha. I gotcha. No problem, no problem. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Heather Hale 1:12:56
Oh, my goodness, there's so many out. I'm not sure I've learned them all. Um, okay, well, I'm stealing this from my dad, but I think he would allow me to, and I'll probably cry because he recently passed. But um, you don't have to make every mistake personally. Interesting. And that you can surround yourself with mentors, and mastermind groups and friends. And you can learn from other people's mistakes and advice. And that doesn't mean, you know, don't have to make every mistake yourself.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:32
If you're smart, you can learn from others mistakes. And yeah, because I mean, why wouldn't you? Sometimes Sometimes you have to learn it by sticking your hand in the fire. But if people tell you, hey, I've been burned there, don't put your hand there.

Heather Hale 1:13:45
And that's why you have to know who your friends are. Because there are a lot of people who are going to tell you, Oh, don't put your hand in my cookie jar, when really you can build your own cookie jar, and they shouldn't be in your kitchen. To know who your friends are. Because your friends. And I'm very blessed to have a few who will tell you when you're being a shit. Who will tell you when you're being myopic, who will tell you when you're not seeing the forest for the trees. And and then there's times where and I've had this happen many, many, many times, where you know, you have an email and you send it to a few friends to make sure that they vet it to make sure it's not too emotional or you're not saying anything that could be slanderous, or whatever. It sometimes you can have. And I had this happen to my fact that it's an old story I've told many times, but I wrote to Sherry Lansing once, and everybody in my circle said no, don't send it. Don't send it. Don't send it. No, you'll embarrass yourself. No, you're reaching too far. No, no, no. And guess who called me Sherry Lansing,

Alex Ferrari 1:14:47
Really? Now by the way, can you tell everybody who doesn't who Cherie,

Heather Hale 1:14:51
She was the first woman to run a studio and she repairment like Titanic and you name Yeah, she was behind.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:58
She was a beast.

Heather Hale 1:14:59
Yeah. Like Behind every successful film for like a decade and a half? Yes. So all I'm saying is that there are times when all your friends and fans and champions who have your best interests at heart, I'm not saying they're wrong, but they are not seeing either how big you could be no, or the path that you're seeing through the trees. Or sometimes you know, it's not a lottery ticket, sometimes it's just luck and you reach out and with this sharing Lansing example, I'm I can give a million others. It was some connection I had, that I knew she would respond to, you know, you can see someone's Achilles heel, you have a tender spot in your heart that you know that that thread will connect you to them. And if you authentically speak to that, and sometimes your rage, I mean, I've had, you know, knock down fights, not fights, but verbal, with people who I loved and adored, who were eight, we were able to come back around, because we spoke our truth. And we realized we were like, kind of out of sync. When we both heard the other person's point of view. We understood it and got it and we got our friendship back on track and, you know, that could have been derailed, and it's the stronger friendship for it.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:16
And what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Unknown Speaker 1:16:19
Oh, for sure. I have to say my Groundhog Day and Shawshank Redemption.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:24
I was gonna say those two for sure.

Heather Hale 1:16:25
For sure, for sure. But I'll say a couple others. One of my favorites, a little teeny, teeny film, waking that divine love waking that I'm in love with. That is one of my all time favorites. And I have to say this won't be those would be my top three. I'll leave it at that. Those are my top three.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:45
Yeah. Heather, thank you so much for for sharing with the tribe and dropping some very big knowledge bombs on us. It's been an absolute pleasure having you on the show.

Heather Hale 1:16:57
Thank you. It's my honor. And my pleasure. And I hope that everyone learned something, or at least had a good laugh.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:03
Thanks. I really want to thank Heather for dropping some major knowledge bombs about film and television markets on the tribe today. And if you guys have not had the opportunity to go to a market like AFM or Cannes, or MIP, D or MIPCOM, definitely, if you have an opportunity go and do it, even if you have nothing to sell. Just go and understand talk to people understand the process of how independent film and Independent Television series are sold. And the more you understand about that process, and about the business of selling your product, you will be so much more successful and get to your goals faster and faster. Trust me, I learned not only a ton with this as Meg but I had already learned a lot about selling movies and going through that process throughout my career. But I learned so much more just doing with this as Meg as well. And now in the new film on the corner of ego and desire. I'm taking all that knowledge and bringing it to that project. So the more you do, the more you learn, the better it is, I tell you when I went to AFM when I've gone to Toronto, at their mini market, there's so many amazing nuggets of information you can get. So please, if you have an opportunity, do it cuz you will not be disappointed. If you want links to anything we spoke about in this episode including links to Heather's book, head over to indiefilmhustle.com/240. And if you haven't already guys, if you love the show, please head over to filmmakingpodcast.com and leave us a five star review. It really really helps me out a lot helps out the podcast a lot to get it ranked higher, to get more people to see it and listen to this information. So please just head over to filmmaking podcast.com and leave us that five star review. Thank you so much. And as always keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.



  • Heather Hale – Official Site
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”1138800651″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]How to Work the Film and TV Markets: A Guide for Content Creators[/easyazon_link]
  • StoryTellers on WalkAbout


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