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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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- Ben Yennie – LinkedIn
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- IFH 015: American Film Market: Selling Your Independent Film with Ben Yennie
- IFH 318: Confessions of a Producers Rep with Ben Yennie
- Producers Foundary
- The Guerilla Rep: American Film Market Distribution Success on No Budget – FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSION
- American Film Market
- Indie Film Distribution Course: Secrets to Selling Your Film