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IFH 585: What is the Controversial Indie Film NFT Franchising Method? with Cameron Van Hoy

Cameron Van Hoy is a veteran in the entertainment industry. After a stint acting, he wrote and produced films such as Treasure of the Black Jaguar, Tooken, and Sharkproof. He really came into his own producing the hit horror comedy Tragedy Girls, which hit theaters around the world and has gone on to become a cult classic.

His debut directorial feature, Flinch, was released early this year to great acclaim and theatrical distribution before finding a digital home with the tech giants of Amazon, Apple, and Google. The film continues to accumulate a loyal following and Van Hoy has an affinity for gritty stories documenting love, family and crime in an epic and timeless way.

Cameron created the indie film called Flinch that was are released and franchised via NFTs. It’s a controversial method, but we are aiming to be trailblazers of the industry and help mitigate the controversy surrounding NFTs by releasing it with a solid foundation.

It stars Daniel Zovatto, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Cathy Moriarty, Tom Segura, Buddy Duress, David Proval, Steven Bauer, Michael Drayer and more. It is a crime thriller that tells the story of a young hitman who lives with his mother and a girl who witnesses them commit a murder.

The backbone of any film growing a supporting audience is the community behind it. NFTs survive and thrive off of their communities. We are creating 9,999 original art pieces that are representative of characters in the universe. Community members will have the opportunity to purchase these for a set amount each. The funds from these NFTs will go into making the sequel to Flinch. Upon selling all of the NFTs, the film immediately goes into preproduction.

A dedicated audience of nearly 10,000 have an interest in ensuring the film succeeds. Those who hold these NFTs can be verified and are rewarded for doing so. After parties with the cast and crew, special Q&As with the director, early access to the script, visits to set during shooting, and red carpet premiers.

They gain exclusivity. Additionally, as a reward, 50% of the income generated from the movie will go into a shared community wallet. The NFT holders can vote on how to use these funds. They can use it to market and promote the film, create additional IP (comic books, TV shows, etc.), or whatever else they want to do with it! It gives holders “skin in the game” of the art and movies they love.

Joe Doyle (Daniel Zovatto) is a young hitman following in his father’s footsteps. Quiet and reserved, he is observant and careful, making him very good at what he does. While studying his new target, city council member Ed Terzian (Tom Segura), Doyle develops a distant crush on the councilman’s assistant, Mia (Tilda Cobham-Hervey). After she walks in on her boss’s assassination, Mia is caught by Doyle who must decide whether to let her go or to dispose of her for good.

As Doyle aims the gun at her head, Mia doesn’t flinch, bringing him to a crossroads. Unsure of what to do, Doyle brings Mia to his home where he lives with his overbearing mother Gloria (Academy Award Nominee Cathy Moriarty), and holds her hostage until he can gain some clarity.

Doyle’s boss, Lee (David Proval) and his son, James (Buddy Duress), start questioning Doyle about the missing girl, and slowly he comes to find that Mia might not be entirely who he thinks she is. This brings Doyle to make the ultimate decision: does he kill the girl who didn’t flinch?

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Cameron Van Hoy 0:00
When I came in, I quickly realized I'm not going after anyone that's in web two. I'm really going after people on web three.

Alex Ferrari 0:07
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Cameron Van Hoy 1:00
Good, how are you?

Alex Ferrari 1:01
I'm good brother. I'm good. Man. Thank you so much for coming on the show you guys reached out to me about what you guys are doing in the NFT space in the indie film space. And apparently, I have now become the podcast to go to for this stuff. Because I have been doing a lot of these NFT episodes lately. And it's just interesting, man. There's some really cool stuff that filmmakers are finally cracking the code and the technology and everyone's trying new ways of doing things and figuring things out. I mean, it's very, it's it's internet. It's the internet circa 2001. I think with the space.

Cameron Van Hoy 1:35
Yeah, I certainly is. And it's I think it's I think it's the most exciting thing to happen to independent film in a long time.

Alex Ferrari 1:44
Yeah, absolutely. Well, we need some help. That's for damn sure. Drop out there. It's rough out there for the independent filmmaker. So before we get started, man, how did you and why did you want to get into this insanity? That is the film industry?

Cameron Van Hoy 1:57
Well, movies, you know, I love the movies I I always loved storytelling and filmmaking and films and drama from I was very young. I started off as an actor at a very young age, like, you know, I grew up, I was one of those kids in theater and doing all that stuff. And then I this was in San Diego. And then I got an agent and I was on a show called Hey Arnold. And I did some movies. I was I was in this movie when I was 14, where I rob a bank and Burt Reynolds is the police negotiator and Nisha

Alex Ferrari 2:35
Cop and a half?

Cameron Van Hoy 2:37
No movie called Pups.

Alex Ferrari 2:39
Okay, okay!

Cameron Van Hoy 2:40
Movie called pups. And so like I had an introduction to Hollywood then. And then of course, I always had a video camera. I was one of those kids that grew up with a video camera. And then I moved to New York, went to the High School for Performing Arts, continued studying drama theater, really fell in love with movies. They're like World Cinema. Up until then, you know, I was in love with Rambo or Indiana Jones, or just all the great movies that we grew up with. Sure, sure, and Disney movies and all of that. And then in New York, it was at the Brooklyn Library that I started renting like all the great movies and I was going to the theater school, I'm surrounded by the culture of New York City and really dove into like World Cinema and just fell in love with the movies and was making little films with my video camera. And then I decided I was going to move to LA to make movies and so I moved to LA and I've been out here making films ever since.

Alex Ferrari 3:39
Very cool, man. Now what what made you decide to go into the NFT space with the new film Flinch? What are you doing that's unique in this in this space with NFT's?

Cameron Van Hoy 3:53
Yeah, so I guess Okay, so I made flinch pre pandemic, right, I was making it leading up to the pandemic. And then we were doing post production through the pandemic. And you know, the world really changed during that time. And then I also even before I knew anything about NFT's I knew that I wanted to own my movies. You know, I had done a film previous to this movie called tragedy girls, which did really well was in the festivals that had a great cast Josh Hutcherson Zenit Craig Robinson Zenit Alexandra Shipp, to horror comedy was received incredibly well. It's on Hulu now, you know, have a deal with Hulu. But I you know, before that I did a film that I sold to Netflix or licensed to Netflix and like it just I saw the business get tougher and tougher for independent filmmakers and the streaming deals worse and worse. And then you have these like other companies that come in licensing movies for like 10 to 15 years. It's just not the deal. Suck and so When I knew I wanted to own my films, and I just was like, There's got to be a better way. And I was familiar with filmmakers like Jim Cummings and other people who were owning their films, putting them on iTunes themselves, putting them on Amazon themselves, which seemed really great the idea and spirit of ownership, and like distributing yourself and you know, the technologies here, now we can get our films out there, you know, on our own, we don't have to sell them. But But still, the economics of that is very tough. Those streaming services, those tech platforms don't give you any data whatsoever, right. Their fees are egregious, or just I think, maybe egregious is too strong of a word, but it's not great. And then I learned about and I've been in crypto for many years, just buying Bitcoin and Aetherium and tons of other coins for many, many years. So I've always a believer in blockchain. And from early on and was very excited about I always kept my ear to the ground. And I heard about NFT's and this guy named vol. Ravi Kahn, I like to listen to his podcast sometimes. And he was talking about how the technology of NFT's is really about communities, owning projects, and through that community ownership and involvement, the value that can be created and what that really means for the future and how the future will look more like a world where projects are owned by communities developed by communities, the values are turned back to those communities. And that this is a real paradigm shift. And that was my aha moment. And I said, Wow, you can replace a movie studio with an NFT community. Right? Because when I first heard about NFT's, of course, I'm thinking through the framework as a filmmaker. But you know, my first gut reaction was like, well, the movie can be an NF T. That doesn't work, right? Yeah. Yeah. Yet, yet. Sure. Yeah. But I was more excited about the idea of community. And so I looked at flinch. And I said, Okay, well, I'm releasing this film. And I want to do it as a franchise to crime film, and I wanted to do it as a three part crime franchise. So I said, You know what, I'm gonna release it to an NFT community, I will take the film, I will release it to an NFT community. And then when the mentors complete, we go and make part two, and then hopefully repeat. And that was the initial like thought, it's like, okay, I could build a franchise with a community via NFT's. And then when I started really getting into it, and learning about the space and seeing what was happening in the film, NFT space and just the empty space in general, it started really taking shape. And it's incredibly well.

Alex Ferrari 7:33
So our it's so explicit. So if anybody and by the way, anyone listening who doesn't understand what blockchain or an NFT's are, there's multiple episodes on the show that you can go back to and just do a search. Because I don't want to just every episode explain what it is, in every episode explain blockchain, which is difficult to understand for, for a lot of people. So it's, you got to wrap your head around it. You know, I've, I've done a tremendous amount of research on in blockchain and NFT's I've, I've sold a few of my own ft. NFT's. And it's really an interesting space. But again, it's just very much like circa 2001. Internet, like people are just like, what's a web page? How is the web page working? Like, how can I get how can I get paid to do this? There's so many different technologies that are just starting to try to get ironed out. And there there is literal. I mean, we're in we're in dialogue. Right now, in the scope of technology, like we're in dialogue, we're at a really fast mode, and but we're still not a DSLR a DSL or, or cable or ether, you know, like none of that. So what our internet is our versus the internet analogy versus where we are with NFT's and blockchain, there's still like, really, there is a block in the technology to get it to where we all know it's going to go in 10 years, but it's getting there. It's even in the last three years. It's, I mean, NBC just did a five part series on blockchain and crypto, you know, so it's, it's becoming a more, it's becoming much more in the zeitgeist. So you decided to build a community around a movie? How did you find as the original movie?

Cameron Van Hoy 9:14
I find is that the way that I financed any of my other films with private equity? And some yeah, I've done things that tax credits foreign sales, this particular one I did with private equity investors that I'd worked with on my previous films.

Alex Ferrari 9:28
And then And then while you were in post is when you decided, hey, I'm gonna, I think we're going to try to do this NFT thing. So are you are you, how you distributing this film?

Cameron Van Hoy 9:37
So part one exists as like a utility for this project and for the community. So I've put it on iTunes, I've put it on Amazon. I've also built my own decentralized cinema for this project, which works on Polygon even though the NFT's will be on the Etherium network. So anyone who is in the web three ecosystem and has a smart wall All of our crypto wallet, they can connect to our site, send over to Matic tokens and have access to watch the film there. And also by doing that you are on our whitelist in order to mint or NFT's. So I have like a web three way to watch the film. And then I've put it out domestically via web two platforms like Amazon, iTunes and places like this.

Alex Ferrari 10:21
So what so everybody understands what web three is. Web three is basically the NFT crypto blockchain space. Right? Yeah, I say that. I'm just saying, Yeah, because people I get you, I understand where you're at, but like a lot of people listen to like, what are they? Are they talking another language? Because if we, if we just start going straight geek, we can go hard, and then everyone's gonna just turn off because they're not gonna understand what the hell's going on.

Cameron Van Hoy 10:46
There are it's very interesting. So what I'm finding in the spaces, yeah, there is a whole culture and economy and community in web three, right? There are people with smart wallets, crypto wallets, and Aetherium and blockchains and NFT's and they are operating and they're buying NFT's. They're getting involved in projects, the ecosystem really exists around Twitter and discord, your people are finding out about product projects on Twitter. And then they are joining those projects discords getting on whitelist, which is access to buy the NFT's early on oftentimes for a cheaper price. It's like that, you know, going public moment for a project. And they're, they're, you know, changing their profile pictures, they're building together, they're participating in games together. One thing that we've been able to do, since we have Part One complete as we do movie nights for other NFT communities, because this ecosystem, we're talking about this economy, whatever you want to call it, it's very, like you said, it's closed off, it's hard to get into, you have to take the time to understand the wallet, set up the wallet the right way, get some eath in your wallet and start buying and trading. And then you start realizing the community aspect and how these communities rally together build value by hyping up other projects, so their own projects, and then in turn, you know, their price of their NFT's are rising, and people are playing that game by buying multiple energy, right? So there's a lot of people in that world already. I shouldn't say a lot. It's probably a drop in the bucket. But it's a thing. It's a world. And so, you know, people are building games and Metaverse is in film franchises like what we're doing and clothing brands. And there's insane amounts of value being built around these things. Of course, I think the larger goal is that these things that communities build, eventually are utilized, explored, understood or purchased by the general public, right? But but within this community they're building and so when I came in, I quickly realized I'm not going after anyone that's in web two, I'm really going after people in web three, you know, so it's like, I'm going to a bunch of NFT de gens or tech forward thinking people and saying, Hey, let's build a franchise together. You know, and this is part one, you can watch it. And if you like it, you can be a part of building out this larger franchise. So yeah, that's how I've kind of approached it.

Alex Ferrari 13:07
Do they have part ownership if they buy the NFT?

Cameron Van Hoy 13:10
So the way that it works is they get governance access and value, right? So obviously, anyone who has the NFT owns their NFT. Right? That NFT's on by that are NFT's are generative characters that exist in part one, two and three of the franchise, right that generative. They're criminals, crooked cops, Femme Fatale, we are crime franchises. And so if you hold if you own those entities, you own the IP rights to that character. What we're doing is the franchise the larger ecosystem is allowed to use any of these characters at any time within the films that we're making the games and then any other ancillary that we derive from it. But you as the holder of the NFT also have the IP rights over that character. So you can go make a spin off about that character if you want. Oh, really? Yeah, you can make a YouTube podcast channel where you're interviewing people in Avatar of that character, you can make your own Instagram account around that character and speak and post in the voice of that character. You can do anything you want. The only thing we ask for is like Movie Studio is a first right of refusal with a first look deal with anyone models and NFT. So if you've developed your specific character to a point where you feel there's an audience and a story and lore, you want to go develop it, you come to us first and see if the community wants to use its community funds within the wallet to finance whatever project you're doing with your character. So that's kind of the ecosystem around the NFT's and then there's the central franchise that the project makes. So we already have Part One complete we're going to go into part two we do that with the community. They're involved in the creative process they have access to control the creative meetings, these things are token games you have to hold an NFT in order to get in right so witness watch partake in the discord like I'm there all the time communicating with everyone and there was a real team, it's building and people are coming up with lore and ideas and all sorts of stuff happening. We have like location channels where people drop Location images and ideas and car images and soundtrack, concepts inspirations. So it's really like creating communal creativity. And then a percentage of whatever comes back from these films, the value from their exploitation goes back to a community wallet, that the community governance, so it's the return of value back to the community. And the community can decide if they want to save by the floor price of the NFTs, which is subsequently just boosting their profits like returning it right to themselves almost like a buyback in a way. Or they can put it towards more marketing to get the word out there about the project in a larger way. Let's say we've made part two and we watch an early cut of it and decide that we want more action, well, we can decide to go back in and do some pickup days with that community wall. Right. So that's, that's how the ecosystem works. And then the goal is to make a native token, so that within this franchise ecosystem, we're just you know, X movie, we license Part One and Two to Netflix, say, in a year, Netflix wants to get on the web three thing, they license these two films from us put them on the front page, and it's just throwing numbers out, it's a million dollar deal. They're excited about web three. Well, a percentage of that million will just come right back into the ecosystem going wallets and if we have a native token can just be exchanged for that token and air dropped into everyone's wallets. Same with what three exploitation, right? Like if the film continues playing, or we are able to build out like a play to earn game and there's, there's some form of cash flow from that those native tokens can just automatically no one has to do anything, because of smart contracts in the blockchain, just drop into everyone's wallets. So the goal is that you create this ecosystem and like a real, real value, ultimately, so that's

Alex Ferrari 16:50
So then, so then, if I if I can translate, you're building a community of like minded people who are interested in this franchise, they're, they're buying the NFT's by buying the NFT's, they are not part of this community, that's their entry point to the community. There are smart contracts that state everything, you just said that, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, all that stuff. So then if, let's say, you get a million dollars from Netflix, great. A percentage of that, I think, is I think I read somewhere 50 50%. Like goes. So if it's $500,000 goes straight into the community wallet for everybody to kind of govern. And then 500 goes to the you guys that set this whole thing up, which is fine. actually convert more than fair. So then, let's say there's a video game spin off, that video games spin off as bought by by Blizzard for $20 million, 10 million goes to you 10 million goes into the community wallet. And then we start building out what and then everything else other ancillaries other exploitations of the movie, whatever they might be, when that money comes in. It goes in splits 5050 goes into the into the community, and then you start building from there. So you it is in the best interest of the community hold the token holder or the excuse me, the NFT holder to promote the living hell out of this to try to get the word out because the more people buy, they have more control of what's happening with the project. But they don't get a percentage. They're not part owners of it. They're part owners of the community. In other words, is that that's that's the that's how you guys putting it together? Yes. It's a very interesting concept. How many? How many NFT's do you have for this film franchise?

Cameron Van Hoy 18:36
Doing 9999 Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 18:41
Okay. Are they all mented already?

Cameron Van Hoy 18:44
No, we haven't done anything.

Alex Ferrari 18:46
Oh, you haven't ment that anything? Yeah. So you're slowly going to be

Cameron Van Hoy 18:48
You just been building our community. So like, obviously, in this space, it's very important to build your community first, it's very hard to just drop something and have it mapped out because you don't have any awareness at first. And the other incredible thing that I've learned about the space is that you're able to build communities of people that want to get in on these whitelists, as they call them, we call ours a hit list, because it's about a hitman, obviously. And so there's real value in getting in early. And so you start getting all of these people that are doing exactly what you're saying. And they don't even hold the NF T's yet. But they're building and passionate about building and supporting and promoting and marketing because having that early access means you're gonna get a lower mid price, right, you're gonna be one of the early adopters. And so we've been able to build out a really large, powerful community like we are one of the leading films in the NFT film space at this point. And, and I think that's because of you know, I don't know what it's because exactly, I think we're doing things right. I think we're using the technology in the right way.

Alex Ferrari 19:49
Well, I think it's also I think, from seeing what I saw of your of your work I mean, it's solid, it's a it's a well, it's Welsh as well directed well shot has a good cast has it's a great genre. So there's, you know, it's not like a period drama piece. Like, you know, it really hits within the niche of people who would be tech savvy, would be interested in a crime franchise. You know, they wouldn't be interested in the dog says, dog sakes that saves Christmas movie. Like that's not probably the NFT ideal. So it is genre based and everything else you I mean you got time so Gordon and your movie, right? I am like the biggest fan of Tom segura. frickin love Tom.

Cameron Van Hoy 20:29
Right! He's amazing. Yeah, he's amazing. We've got Academy Award nominee, Cathy Moriarty, who's got Danny's avato, who's an incredible young actor tilde Kevin Urvi. Putting duress is in the movie. I mean, it's a wonderful cast. It helps us a lot like being able to enter the NFT space and drop the movie and show them say, Hey, this is this is what you're signing up for. This is the team that's surrounding this project that's going to help to spearhead this in the right way. Yeah, it's been really helpful for us, I think we're the first that's done something like that,

Alex Ferrari 21:03
Would you would it eventually, in I'm just gonna like pie in the sky here. Eventually, when the technology gets to where we want it to get to in the in the blockchain and NFT space, would it be simple, it wouldn't be this would be a workflow, let me know I want to just throw it this workflow at you and see if it works. You would create a community based around an IP, whatever that IP is, and you can have images sizzle reel, whatever it is to sell and finance the film through NFT's and smart contracts and get funding that way, make the movie, then release it on the blockchain, where then anybody who buys or rents or accesses it, when they pay all the money automatically gets split among all of the investors and yourselves as a creators, all automatically. And then as new revenue comes in. The smart contracts handle all the distribution, and there is no funny business. There's no Hollywood accounting, there's none of that while and there's no middleman

Cameron Van Hoy 22:08
Is that that's where we're going. And it's all all the systems are in place. The only one that is probably just not profitable yet is the distribution side of it simply because that smart wallet most people don't have smart wallet yet. And they're not operating in this web three world. But what is perfectly in place at this point is communities minting providing the liquidity to the project and then supporting and building together. That's there right now. That's happening. I think over time, as more and more people become native to this yes, then that distribution will we'll probably see a flip at a certain point where more people are connecting wallets to watch things than they are using the username and password to get in to watch stuff. And when that happens. Yeah, it'll be it's going to be awesome.

Alex Ferrari 22:57
But it'll be it's we're still a little while away, because we just need mass adopt adopt, you know, adopting of this technology.

Cameron Van Hoy 23:06
So, and for us, it's important, like, Look, our goal would be to get, you know, like 500 screen release in AMCs for the next year. You know what I mean? Like, and I'd love to see the community like tweeting the hell out of them saying, Hey, we got party ready, let's, let's roll them out name. See, that's a very tech forward thing, you know, with these communities, I imagine a lot of these big corporations and companies are going to want to have a pulse on what's happening with three more and more. So as this continues to grow, and and I want that I want the film to play in theaters. I wanted to play with a major stream where I want it to be accessible to everyone. And I think the community wants that as well. Right? Because that provides more awareness for our project more value back to the community. So we're not trying to say you can only watch it in web three. But yes, but I do believe over time, more and more people will watch within Web three, and then that what you're talking about transparency will become the norm.

Alex Ferrari 24:00
Yeah, it'll become the norm. It's something that's so I think the studio's will be pretty terrified by it. And distributors will be terrified by it, because it kills the basically, you can start I mean, when you imagine if the Rock who could finance a film if he wants to does this and goes down the road all the way and does everything we just said and he pulls in a couple 100 million himself. That's a better deal than he's getting from studios. It's gonna get to that place, I think, I think eventually will

Cameron Van Hoy 24:34
Not only will it get to that place, but there's something new happening here, which I think a lot of people don't recognize, which is NFT's themselves are a new art form. As it's entered here, there are stories being told to these entities, there's games being played for these entities, just the process of purchasing NFT's, making them waken an avatar representation of who you are giving them life giving them names and backstories. And then like purchasing multiple types of NFT's based off of their rarity within collections, and then the groups that are formed around those specific NFT's. And then serums. Many times like with the port apes, as an example, like ours, our version of a serum is gonna be a burner phone, because in the film, the central character uses a burner phone to get their jobs, there will be a burner phone that has a variety of jobs smuggled across the border, take care of this person, be the getaway driver for this job. And you'll be able to mint one of those burner phones, then if you want to advance your character and have tea, you will have to burn the burner phone, which is getting rid of that NFT sucking it off of the market. But then you advance your character. And this sounds crazy to people who are not in web three. But there's a lot of fun in it for people, it's important to new form of entertainment, and game and investing that we haven't seen before. And I think it's a whole other market outside of just the movies, just what's happening with characters and serums and playing them against each other. And where that can go is a new thing. And then there's this secondary royalty that comes into the project from that in and of itself. So you start looking at a franchise, it's something that has multiple verticals, there's the movies, but there's also just the NFT's are a thing. They're more than just a way to provide liquidity to make the films

Alex Ferrari 26:42
Right. You know, no, it's really interesting, because it's it's the equivalent of where we were, you know, again, I'll go back to like, when people were afraid to put their credit cards on the internet, you know, that they were like, that was the technology like now everybody just literally opens up an app and buys whatever they want, and it's at your doorstep. But I'm old enough to remember where there was no internet. That's how old I am. But But during that, yeah, exactly. So but you look fantastic. So so no, but the but I still remember, like people were like I can't, there was like full full news sections. And like, don't put your credit card on the internet. This is what happened. So that was a complication. I think I think that as we move forward, and if these are pretty complicated right now, everything's a little clunky, the technology is a little clunky, you really need to have your tech in order in order to even buy. I mean, Coinbase has helped a little bit if you want to buy Kryptos, it's become a little easier to buy crypto with with your credit card, which that that's only within the last couple, what, two, three years that hasn't been like that way always. So it's becoming a little bit easier. From what you're saying in regards to the investment and you know, getting residual back and all that kind of stuff and gaming within the NFT space. It's kind of like, you know, you're playing fortnight or Roblox or something like that. But the money that you're buying or selling and making is real money, it's crypto. And you can actually use that in real world purchases while you're playing in the web three space. Is that is that a decent analogy?

Cameron Van Hoy 28:23
That's, that's that is the whole premise of web three is ownership. Right? Web two was reading, right? Right, what one they say was just read, you can just kind of dial up and read things when two is username and password to get into a centralized organization that held and owned everything and you can comment like and share posting videos is a two way street, web three is connect your wallet and own.

Alex Ferrari 28:49
So in, in theory, what we're talking about is that a movie project could be for lack of a better word, a stock, a company that you're investing in. And in the, in the grand scheme of things, let's say I'm investing and I want to get a piece of a piece of you know, there's a piece of the residual payments back kind of like dividends. So I let's say I put in $100 is that, you know, let's say this NFT, there's a lot of shares. So it can go around millions of people to purchase it, let's say, then, as you invest, the movie goes out, it's your best interest to promote it because it's your stock, you're part owner of this. So you're gonna put it out so then the marketing costs start to go way down, because now you're putting it all out there. So it's kind of like creating a word of mouth on a project, but you're getting paid for the word of mouth marketing, and then you can invest in that and then as the movie just continues, it's it's it's pace from now until whenever the world ends, and the computer stopped working. There's a residual payment that is set up through the through the smart contracts that automatically win money. He's made, it goes right into your account. And you could start investing into any kind of projects you want. So if you wanted to invest, quote, unquote, into a Marvel movie, let's say the next Avengers comes out and you can invest $100 In the next Avengers, you might be able to pull $100 back out eventually, or vice versa. But it's an a part ownership of the project as opposed to the norm. The normal way of doing things is that there's a studio that owns everything gets all the gets all the benefits of it, and barely even plays the the creators like they pay them upfront, but they generally don't get paid afterwards because of Hollywood accounting, and so on. So is that a setup?

Cameron Van Hoy 30:41
It's democratized venture capital is democratize, investing and ownership is democratizing filmmaking. And like, it's just democratizing these things that used to be so you know, there's no way into them. They were operating these giant centralized organizations, whether it's a music label, or a movie studio or right, you're a clothing brand. I mean, you see a lot of these projects now that are building clothing brands, and people are going to wear those clothing, because the more again, that they're promoting that as they're walking around, that's, it's it's a direct connection to the value that NFT that you hold, which has a marketplace that you can sell it at any time and see what the market is valuing that at. So yes, communities work together and provide value back to themselves immediately. That's the paradigm shift of it all, you know?

Alex Ferrari 31:31
Yeah. It's it's pretty, it's pretty exciting. I mean, it's a pretty exciting idea. Again, some of the things that we're talking about are available now. But not everything we're talking about, because the technology is not there yet. But this is where everything is going. There's no doubt in my mind that this will happen within the next 10 years, if not faster.

Cameron Van Hoy 31:51
No, I think it'd be faster. I mean, we saw all the streaming. I mean, all the Yes, streaming companies, tech companies, social media platforms just destroy all media or bookstores like old retail, it's somewhat what how long did that take? 10 20 years, right? I think this will move quicker. I think web three will rattle those cages, because again, this is about ownership. So if you don't provide that to people, you have a very hard time iterating. And then also your point about communities and the power that they have for marketing? Well, it's it's almost similar what happened again, with the social media phase of web two, where the people who had the followings who got the likes and got the comments. And they were they became very valuable, right? They were the marketing juggernaut now, so much so that most companies want to spend more on that than they are in traditional ads. Right? That's going to be the other shift that happens where people are going to value communities and projects and brands that hold communities. That's going to be the next wave, right? Because once you start realizing like that you can directly receive value from the things that you're supporting and liking. I mean, that's, that's a skin in the game as a drug that's going to be hard to take away from people once they have it.

Alex Ferrari 33:03
Right! And it's kind of like we're crowdfunding was when it started. But crowdfunding doesn't give you any ownership.

Cameron Van Hoy 33:10
Crowdfunding is patronage, you know, crowdfunding is this is completely different than that.

Alex Ferrari 33:15
Completely. Exactly, exactly. It's more like equity crowdfunding, which is like you're getting a piece of the pie by donor, putting money into the piece. And there's a, but this is done, not by contracts, but by smart contracts, which are interesting.

Cameron Van Hoy 33:31
Anyone, you didn't have to trust the company to make sure that the funds go here. It's, there's no, it's trustless it just happens.

Alex Ferrari 33:39
And I think that is how that's going to how the governments of this world are going to allow this to continue is fascinating to me, because they're literally starting to, I mean, once you decentralize money, which is the power of a government essentially used to control their money. Yeah, you know, it's, it's pretty interesting.

Cameron Van Hoy 34:01
I was buying Bitcoin at a very low price. And I was afraid of this every step of the way. I was always I was a big believer in Bitcoin and blockchain but I was every step of the way, just going, they're gonna they're not going to allow this right for that exact reason, right dominance over the dollar. And it's so interesting how all these combos ultimately become like an economic even political conversation certain point because it's such a thing. But you know, they haven't stopped it yet. It's very hard to stop. And I hope they don't because, you know, America has always been strong because we've been able to innovate. And I mean, look what um, tax it right, they gotta get the they gotta get their tax dollars, let them tax it, but hopefully, they let the innovators just, you know, play within the rules, but but, you know, continue to grow and develop,

Alex Ferrari 34:46
I think, I mean, yeah, just El Salvador just made Bitcoin their national currency. So that's pretty insane.

Cameron Van Hoy 34:54
Yeah, yeah, it is. It is for sure. I mean, I think America's stance has been pretty cool with it also. Far scary games there seems to be pro Bitcoin and watching. We'll see how it shakes out. I think it's I think the cats out of the bag.

Alex Ferrari 35:09
Oh, no, you can't you can't put you can't put the genie back in the bottle with this. But now Now we got we got institutional investments into Bitcoin and into crypto coming in I mean, we're talking about like, you know, there's there's funds, there's crypto funds by major, major financial institutions, so they're all gonna get into it. So in we're talking about crypto a little bit guys, because that's kind of like the blockchain is the base, but in order for money to be made, you can't send dollar bills back and forth.

Cameron Van Hoy 35:39
Yeah, through swift systems or through these old systems with middlemen, right, like it's just it sucks value out of it. It's, it's it's friction.

Alex Ferrari 35:50
Exactly. I mean, where you can have a where you can have a crypto wallet that's earning you five to 10%. In Me, I mean, I have I have crypto right now that's earning 5%. That's better than any bank just sitting there. Now mind you, the crypto is a little bit volatile. So that's that's just a little, just a little on the points.

Cameron Van Hoy 36:11
But you know, there's another cool thing to speak about as well that's happening. It's also a paradigm shifts and a revolution outside of blockchain, which I think is two things happening in conjunction with each other as enabled. What's going on here to be so strong, which is Twitter spaces, Discord, right? It's again, it's the communication, it's the ability to communicate. But within Twitter, there's these things called Twitter spaces, which is so much of the in the NFT world called Alpha sounds like such a general I'm a film guy just talking at a theaters now. But you know, people get together in these Twitter spaces, it's like clubhouse, and they're talking. And they're just communicating, sharing ideas. And that ability for us to share ideas so quickly. Just communicate and like work together and pick up on trends and execute on those trends. Is fire right? It's really amazing. And then these these platforms like discord that allow communities to be whole and work together and organized with channels and like execute on things as groups, but from around the world. I mean, Twitch at this point has a team of filmmakers, Blockchain developers, collaborators and marketing people, devs, moderators, mods, I mean, just so many people from all over the world, and we are every single day like it just doesn't end it becomes like hive mind, where there we're using the discord as the centralized operating space. We did a table read for someone else's screenplay and a lot of directors writers people send me their scripts to look at and now my go to is always just jump in the discord get involved. So we've always called filmmakers that are jumping in there. One of them wanted me to read the script. I said, let's just do a table read with the community. We can talk and get it from the community right. And so they they jump in, we cast out of the community with one of the actors from flinch and amazing actor Michael Dreyer has been everything he came out, read the lead role in it. And then like the rest of the community was like, filled out the other roles. And we read this person's screenplay and gave them some feedback. And for them to hear it. We did it just like we're doing right. So it's like, we're working together to build and support each other. And that communication, that connectivity, coupled with like live value, whatever you call it, like the NF T's being able to, in live let the market determine the value of what it is that you guys are doing as a group. It's just wild.

Alex Ferrari 38:37
Yeah, it's pretty insane. Now, I also saw that you guys are doing practical, or real world products, like VHS and a couple other things. First of all, where do you get your VHS? And how are you getting done? And secondly, how is that connected to the NFT space?

Cameron Van Hoy 38:56
It's just merch. Yeah. Collectibles. So yeah, we made a VHS. We made a VHS. We've made VHS. VHS. We made a tape cassette. Yeah. And it because it has like a digital download. So you can also get the soundtrack digitally our soundtracks done by Miami knights 1984 One of my favorite synth wave groups, awesome. Fire. We've got CDs, posters, shirts, like and the community just bombed them and loves them and is wrapping them. So yeah, it's just it's merch like anything else.

Alex Ferrari 39:37
You know, it's connected but it's connected to NFT's as well. You have to buy NFT to get it or how's that work? No, no, just normal normal just normal merch. Merch is just accessible. So where do you get your Where did you get your VHS is paid. I have to ask.

Cameron Van Hoy 39:49
There's like one VHS manufacturer left in America. I think they're in America. Again. You want to remember off the top my head. But we dealt with that. Oh, we did a vinyl Press two we have vinyls of the sound. Yeah. Right. It's also tough to get like a good vinyl press. There's not a lot of companies that

Alex Ferrari 40:07
For independence, but like as I see vinyl everywhere now,

Cameron Van Hoy 40:11
Maybe for independence, I don't know. For us it was there was back halt, you know, and everyone was back halted, when might it be a COVID thing as well.

Alex Ferrari 40:18
But that's really that's so and it goes along with the kind of film you're doing. So VHS makes

Cameron Van Hoy 40:24
The movie, the movie flinch has a very 90s vibe to it. Right? It's like, it's got that vibe, and like a crime film from the 90s, you know, an era and a genre that I personally love. And so all of this plays into the aesthetic of the movie.

Alex Ferrari 40:39
Yeah, that's, that's awesome, man. Now, at the end of the day, what's the goal with the NFT's and the community, you just want to build out two more films. And then let's say let's say you get the other two films done. And you've got a three part you know, trilogy, what next? What do you do with this? One that's all played out? What do you do with this community?

Cameron Van Hoy 40:58
Now the goal is to do a full year, and then let the community just run wild with it.

Alex Ferrari 41:04
It's not just about Flint, you're building a community based around projects that you want to continue to build out and build out as a community.

Cameron Van Hoy 41:12
So I want to see flinch, go on and become this kind of epic crime web three franchise that was birthed of the metaverse, but enjoyed by the world, that the community is constantly adding to I think very soon the future is going to be like imagine a writer who wants to write for film and television now and they're not they're not in the film business, what do they have to do move to LA New York, write spec scripts, try to get an agent try to get them in front of people making these TV shows and movies and then get hired on to be a staff writer get their thing picked up to be turned to have. So I think the future is going to be binding 50 to a film franchise get in right lower for that franchise, get involved in the creative process of the franchise, get hired to write part eight of the franchise, and then maybe direct part nine, you know what I mean? Like you're gonna work your way up within these communities that you're actively involved in that you understand the lore and the characters of we're already seeing it and flinch. All sorts of creative people are coming in, that are actors and writers and directors aspiring or working and going, Hey, like, Let's build this together. And yeah, I'll read a role here. And can I put myself on tape for that? You know, and I'd like to write some lore for this character, I have an idea for part two. So I think it'll, I think it'll continue, I think that's the plan is that it becomes, it takes on a life of its own so much to the point where I can step away and go do whatever it is that I want to do next. Outside of the flinch thing, although my focus now is executing this successfully. But yeah, that's that's the vision for it. And that's why you give people IP ownership, so that they can spin off. Imagine a world where the way that like Blumhouse wants to go to a Halloween movie, they have to negotiate the rights for Halloween. Well imagine a future where they could just buy several NFT's from these characters and make films around those characters within the universe of free lunch. Right? If a studio wants to build a mini major, like, who knows, maybe it'll get there to that point where this IP has such value that people are, you know, you want to make your first film as a first time filmmaker, make it with in a franchise that already exists that you own an NFT and, you know, like it's it's kind of a different way to think about it. But I think you can get there.

Alex Ferrari 43:23
No, I agree. It's like, well, it's kind of like what Stephen King does with his his short films he gives you you can license his short films for $1 and make a short film out of it. I didn't know that. Oh, yeah. See if it's he's been doing it short stories, any of his short stories that are not already licensed, or you know, sold. You can license it for $1. And all he asks is that you send him a copy of it when it's done. So then you can so you can you can direct a Stephen King short film to get your stuff go. So it's a franchise, which is Stephen King's cool. And he's been doing that for, I don't know, 30 years. I mean, Frank Darabont did one when he was starting out that's how old this this Oh, yeah, that's how we got started with with Steven was Frank Darabont did the one short film for and Steven loved it and then he came up in the business and he called up Steven again. It's like, Hey, can I can I look at that Shawshank Redemption thing.

Cameron Van Hoy 44:20
Well, that's, that's awesome. And the man's a genius clearly, and that's what this tech is enabling. I think that's where these call them NFT franchises are gonna go. I think creative people, aspiring filmmakers and working filmmakers. I mean, imagine when a really cool filmmaker with a track record comes in and does Part Four on the franchise for us. The community hires someone dope to come in and take over the you know, it's like, and they take their crack at it. Like I think that's where this can all go. I hope it's work goes That's certainly what I'm gunning for.

Alex Ferrari 44:52
Yeah, it's really it's a fascinating placement. It's a fascinating it's a fascinating thing that's happening for independent film and I agree with you at this point. Probably the most exciting thing to happen independent film. This is worth it since I don't I mean, cat since the 90s. Essentially.

Cameron Van Hoy 45:10
I always say this, like the revolution isn't in digital technology. Everyone's like, oh, anyone can get a camera and make a movie. Now we've had that for 30 years. Yeah, I mean, like anywhere people are cameras are accessible. The revolution is going to be in this distribution and financing. We can make these things outside of the centralized systems, and hopefully, wonderful originality comes out of it, you know.

Alex Ferrari 45:32
Right, because you don't have

Cameron Van Hoy 45:34
Studios or they're afraid of originality. You know, they're afraid of everything.

Alex Ferrari 45:37
They're afraid of everything. And nowadays, you can't say anything, you can do anything. And you can be as outlandish as you want. You can go as far off off the reservation as you want on on these projects, because it's the only person you're beholden to is the community.

Cameron Van Hoy 45:53
By the way, that's what's working in this space right now. Anyways, okay, we're not seeing the Looney Tunes NFT's popping off, right? It's doodles, it's board apes, it's ZooKeys. It's like, you know, kaiju kings, it's original things, because they're able to provide ownership to people, it's when you provide that ownership, that you rally communities around them. And so we're already seeing the birth of originality. So I think it's going to be really exciting. As more and more films and filmmakers come into the space and use this tech in this way. The originality is going to be off the charts against the like the 90s. Again, we're just we're going to be come out with bangers left and right. That was dope, you know,

Alex Ferrari 46:34
Back back in the day was with me back in the day in the 90s. I mean, it was like every month, there was a new there was there was there was Robert and there was Tarantino and there was burns, it was Spike Lee and, and the list just goes on and on the list goes on the course, like every month. So it's like Aronofsky and like,

Cameron Van Hoy 46:55
Just like everybody weird little franchises like spawn and like the way of the god and like just

Alex Ferrari 47:03
Yeah, it was the wild wild west. Yeah, it was, and they could do and they could do whatever they wanted. Because it was kinda like what happened in the 70s when they when they let Spielberg and Lucas and Coppola and all those guys. They're like, we don't know what the kids want. You guys go all out, we'll give you the money. And that's basically how that all that cool originality. And now we're gonna get to that place as well. I have to ask you. So let's say a filmmaker wants to start this process. I got a project what do I do? How do I start this whole process like what you did?

Cameron Van Hoy 47:35
Well, you got to learn you got to you got to take the time to learn went through. Right. That's the thing is you have to and there's a lot of people that hate it's okay, I see vitriol in people's posts, even celebrities post about it. Like our artists who did our art is a very popular artist online. She's got a big following. For a long time. She's incredible talents, fetish Avena kindred are NFT designs. And she when she posts about it, like there's so many little NFT we're gonna hate you, you know, like just vitriol. And so I would just encourage anyone to like can't try to look past that look past the hype. There's a lot of crazy hype, we hear these stories about apes JPEGs, selling for millions and millions of dollars. And it's just like, what, and explore what the technology is, that's the first step is exploring, getting involved getting jumping to our Discord, just meet the people in their talk, you know, like try to take the time to learn it. It's probably one of the best investments that you can make in the world today

Alex Ferrari 48:34
Understanding the web, the web through space, but also then to just getting a general understanding of blockchain getting a general understanding of crypto if you don't want to read there's a ton of documentaries really great Doc's about this

Cameron Van Hoy 48:47
YouTube videos of the best authors. It's our matrix that's like plug in the back of your head and just like get like, just everything has culminated for us to just like have this leap this quantum leap as a society between blockchain communication those YouTube videos, I've learned so much from YouTube videos, if you can just like Be your own algorithm and like kind of search what you need and put the keywords and fine and then you get all the info that you need. I that's that's how I did a lot of my education in space was YouTube videos.

Alex Ferrari 49:18
Yeah, and there's and there's documentaries on YouTube about these spaces as well that just kind of like feed you're gonna give like a 30 minute doc on blockchain real produced because I watched all of them. I literally watch almost everything. I literally went and like for like three weeks I just went and just got I went down the rabbit hole on crypto and down the rabbit hole on blockchain and really tried to and I read books about it. And I really tried to understand what was going on with it because it just seems so exciting. And then it's like, okay, we're not there yet. But again, it's just like the internet circa 1990s. Man, it's just it's worth it. We'll get there. We see it. It'll get there much faster than the internet. It'll get there much faster than that. Stream ended,

Cameron Van Hoy 50:01
I think when you see what people are building in the space and the amount of value that's being created around projects, right? I think the creation phase is here. And I think it's just the early adopters are going to have a leg up because they're in a building. Right? So I think there are certain brands, many that are being established in the space that are going nowhere. They're going to be here for the for a long time. So yeah, I you know, I think it's happening.

Alex Ferrari 50:29
Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests, sir. What What? What advice? Would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business?

Cameron Van Hoy 50:36
You have to put all of yourself into it. You can't, you can't dip your talent. Really want to do it? You have to go on.

Alex Ferrari 50:51
What what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Cameron Van Hoy 50:55
Make sure you have a really solid second act.

Alex Ferrari 51:01
This is as you get older, you you start thinking about the second act. You mean, like in life, or in or the actual project? And three of your favorite films of all time.

Cameron Van Hoy 51:15
Godfather one, Godfather two,

Alex Ferrari 51:18
That counts as one.

Cameron Van Hoy 51:20
I agree. I don't know. Apocalypse Now is coming to mind. So Coppola stuff. And then also third, it's impossible to say I guess, easy, right? It was very informative, for it was like a big part of my life, even though I wouldn't call it a favorite film. But it's one of those.

Alex Ferrari 51:39
It's one of those movies that when you watch it, it hits you. Especially if

Cameron Van Hoy 51:43
Yeah, that's the independent spirit. You know, like that charged me as a young man.

Alex Ferrari 51:48
That was the movie that scared the hell out of the studios with that came out and that was like a three or $4,000 movie or something like that, at the time, and it was going to completely independently it made millions and the studios were like, making Heaven's Gate. You know, like making bottling complete bombs, like wait a minute, we got to let these kids these kids know what they're doing. Let them go off. So and where can people find out more about your NFTs and what you guys are doing with Flinch?

Cameron Van Hoy 52:18
flinchthemovie.com is probably the best source for our Twitter Flinch NFT.

Alex Ferrari 52:24
Cameron has been a pleasure talking to NFT's in crypto and blockchain and all sorts of geekiness with you today, brother. Thank you again, man. I appreciate you coming on the show and helping you know hopefully inspire some other filmmakers to go down this space because it is an exciting space and that's why keep keep doing episodes about different aspects in different ways people are using it because there's not just one way there's multiple ways you can use this technology to to make your movie so I appreciate you my friend.

Cameron Van Hoy 52:53
I appreciate you and all that you do. I love I love the hustle and really glad to be here.

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Film Distribution Survival Guide (How to Actually Make Money)

Over the years, by far, the single most significant area where I have seen most filmmakers stumble on is film distribution. There is not a lot of information out there about the inner working of the film distribution process, let alone indie film distribution.

We have all heard the horror stories about and indie filmmaker signing a horrible distribution deal from film distribution companies, never getting a dime and losing control of their film for ten years to boot. As crazy as that might sound, it happens more often than you might think.

These stories are not outliers or exceptions; they are the rule. Most filmmakers have no idea what to do when they get into distribution of their film. For this reason I put together this Film Distribution Survival Guide to help guide you through these uncharted waters. I hope these few tips you are about to read will not only help you but save you time and money.

Traditional Distribution

As I stated earlier, most filmmakers suffer heartache when they deal with traditional distribution companies because of a few reasons.

    • By the time they get to this point in the filmmaking process, they are exhausted.
    • Filmmakers are ignorant about the entire process.
    • Filmmakers have no idea what to ask for or look out for.
    • Many times filmmakers never did market research to see if their film had any value and when the harsh reality hits them they have very few options, so they sign a predator distribution deal to get a digital release of their film.

Now not all feature film distribution companies are immoral or predatory. I’ve run into many good players in this game, but I’ve also dealt with some predator distributors that I wouldn’t trust to carrier my groceries up the stairs.

Here are some essential tips when looking at a potential film distribution partner.

Please note: You should always seek legal counsel when deciding to sign any agreement. The information I layout in this book is based on my experience being in the film industry for over 25 years and should be a starting point of discussions with legal counsel.

Do Your Home Work

Anytime you speak to any independent film distribution companies, always do your homework. Contact filmmakers, they have done business with in the past and ask them about their experience.

  • What did they do for the film?
  • Did they pay you?
  • How often and detailed are the quarterly reports?
  • Would you work with them again?

This one tip could save you years of heartache. I would call at least 3-4 filmmakers and compare notes. You can go to IMDB Pro (if you don’t have an IMDB Pro account get one ASAP) look up the films they have distributed before and reach out to the filmmakers of those films.

How Long Have They Been Doing Business

One of the easiest ways to see if the company you are talking to is better than most is to see how long they have been in business. This method isn’t perfect since I know distributors who have been around for years that I would never work with, but this does weed out potential problems.

If the company is new and the filmmakers they have worked with are giving them good reviews, then do homework on the key players of the company. Many times the CEO and founder has been in the distribution game for years working for a larger company, and he or she is opening up shop. The key is doing that homework.

The Devil is in the Details

Now you reached out to a distributor, have done your homework and you have a beautiful indie film distribution contract sitting on the table for you to sign, all your filmmaking dreams are about to come true, not so fast. You need to go over this agreement over with a fine-tooth comb.

First, have an entertainment attorney look over the agreement. Please do not use your uncle Bob who is a real estate attorney; he will not be savvy enough to understand the little tricks and fine print you will find in most distribution agreements.

Out of Control Expenses

Distribution companies usually will charge you for expenses they accrue in the process of distributing your film. Depending on the distributor this could cover, trailer editing, poster design, film market travel, final deliverables, E&O Insurance, Close Captioning, and many others.

The key is to demand a cap on expenses, which means that you are not responsible for any costs above a certain point. Let us say we cap the marketing fees at $20,000. If the expenses are $25,000, then you are only responsible for $20,000. So the first $20,000 made from sales of the film go to covering those expenses.

If you do not cap these cost and leave them open-ended, then chances of you ever receiving a dime for your film is extremely slim.

Length of the Agreement

I have seen distribution contracts that are ten years, some ever fifteen to twenty five years long. In a nutshell, the distributor owns your film for the length of the agreement.

If you have not signed a smart deal or made an agreement with a distributor that will try to sell your film, then you have given you movie away as a gift to this distributor. You can not generate any revenue from your hard work, let alone pay back investors, or recoup your expenses.

I have signed film distribution agreements for as little as three years, not the industry norm. Most arrangements are between 5 to 7 years. So make sure the deal you sign is a good one because you will be in bed with this company for years to come.

Audit Rights

In the agreement, you need to make sure you have the right to audit their books. I know of a filmmaker that insisted the company put this in contract and years later that filmmaker went into their office and checked their books.

They found thousands of dollars that owed to them. Most reputable film distribution companies will not have an issue with this.

BONUS PRO TIP:

This tip could save your film from falling into a dark prison that you cannot break it out from. Make sure there is a clause in the agreement that if the distribution company happens to closes, is prosecuted or goes bankrupt that the rights of your film return to you automatically. Again, most reputable distribution companies will not have an issue with this.

I know Sundance, SXSW and Cannes filmmakers that had their films locked up in the courts for years because of a bankruptcy. Trust me you do not want this to happen to you.

Paperwork Deliverables

Here comes the fun stuff, the paperwork. Most film distribution companies will ask for a mountain of paperwork to be delivered with your film. The paperwork is there to protect you, your film. the potential buyers and the distribution company.

Some of the paperwork you will need is the following.

Licensor must provide the following items to Sales Agent:

  • Contractual Credit Block
  • Synopsis
  • Production notes
  • Layered Key Art
  • High-Definition Frame-grabs
  • Digital production photographs
  • Lab Access Letter
  • Quality Control (“QC”) Reports with an “approved” grade must be delivered for all 
      high definition masters
  • Errors and Omissions policy maintained by Licensor for five (5) years
  • Complete chain of title comprising the following:
    • Copies of copyright registration certificate filed with the U.S. Copyright office with respect to the screenplay and the motion picture
    • Copies of a Copyright Report (including opinion) and a Title Report
      (including opinion)
    • A complete statement of all screen and advertising credit obligations
    • A statement of any restrictions as to the dubbing of the voice of any player, including dubbing dialogue in a language other than the language in which the Show was recorded;
    • Copies of all licenses, including, but not limited to: fully-executed master use and synchronization /performance music licenses; contracts; assignments and/or other written permissions from the proper parties in interest permitting the use of any musical, literary, dramatic and other material of whatever nature used in the production of the Show;
    • Copies of all agreements or other documents relating to the engagement of personnel in connection with the Show including those for an individual producer(s), the director, all artists, music composer(s) and conductor(s), technicians and administrative staff;
    • Final shooting script
    • Chain of Title Opinion
    • Certificate of Origin
    • The dialogue continuity script
    • Music cue sheet

What is E&O Insurance

Most film distribution companies need E&O (Errors and Omissions) Insurance. E&O is the insurance policy that buyers of your film need to have in place. If you have a scene in your movie with someone dying at the hand of a Coca-Cola bottle while the killer is wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, you are going to have a problem.

The E&O Insurance policy protects buyers from any legal issues your film might have. The insurance company will watch your movie, flag any problems then sign off once everything is to their liking.

Physical Film Deliverables

Film deliverables are the elements that the film distribution companies need to represent your film for sale. Deliverables is a deep subject, but I will give you a brief overview of the basics you will need to budget for when delivering your film. You will need to plan for the following items.

Digital Masters

You’ll need to deliver a Master ProRes 422 HQ Master Quicktime File of Your Film in 1080p and possibly 4K.

Textless Master

You’ll need to create a textless master as well that removes any on-screen graphics (i.e.: locations, time of day, credits) that are graphically placed on the film. These graphics need to be removed so foreign distributors can replace them in their language.

You audio will need to be in stereo and 5.1 surround. You will also need M&E (Music and Effects) separate audio masters for foreign sales (more on this later).

Trailers and Posters

Many times a feature film distributor will pay for new key art and trailer editing. If you feel that you can present the distributor with both then do so. It will cost much more if you have them pay for these deliverables.

Digital Cinema Package

In its purest form, Digital Cinema Package or more commonly known as a DCP could be seen as the digital version of a 35mm film print. Its main advantage is that you can present it to theaters to enable them to project it via a digital projector.

A digital cinema package is recognized and accepted all over the world. The digital cinema package comes in a briefcase. The case is usually either yellow or orange, but many theaters download the DCP from the cloud.

Does every film need a DCP, no? DCPs are just for theatrical exhibition. Do not spend the money on creating a DCP unless you know for sure you will use it.

Below is a typical list of deliverables you will need to provide to your film distributor.

Schedule of Delivery Items Required

LAB ACCESS: Licensor must provide lab access to Sales Agent throughout the active term of this Agreement for both the Feature and Release Trailer in each of the formats listed below. These elements are in addition to those to be delivered to Sales Agent in the following sections of this schedule:

  • Original Negative
  • Original Soundtrack Source
  • 35mm Interpositive or Digital Intermediate
  • 35mm Internegative
  • 35mm Stereo Optical Soundtrack Negative
  • 35mm Final Answer Print from Negative
  • 35mm Check Print from Negative
  • 35mm Textless Sections Interpositive
  • Reel-By-Reel Fully-Filled M&E
  • MASTER FILE: a 2K or High Definition Apple ProRes 422 HQ
  • PROJECT FILE: Final Cut Pro, Premiere or AVID file (including all sound files)
  • PAL 25fps 4×3 Full Frame masters on Digital Betacam (DBC)
  • 23.98fps or 25fps HIGH DEFINITION (HD) master on an HD-CAM SR tapes


THE ITEMS THAT FOLLOW ARE TO BE DELIVERED TO SALES AGENT

Film Items

All elements listed below must be provided for both the Feature and Release Trailer. These elements are in addition to the prints being kept at the lab and may be used on loan to distributors:

  • 35mm Internegative
  • 35mm Stereo Optical Soundtrack Negative
  • 35mm Textless Sections Interpositive
  • 35mm Release Print

Video Items

Masters must be provided for both the Feature and Release Trailer by Licensor to Sales Agent for all items listed below:

  • PAL 25fps and NTSC 29.97fps 4×3 Full Frame masters on Digital Betacams (DBC).
  • PAL 25fps and NTSC 29.97fps 16×9 Full Height Anamorphic masters on DBC
  • 23.98fps and 25fps HIGH DEFINITION (HD) 16 X 9 Full Frame masters on a HD-CAMSR
  • MPEG-2 files in both PAL (720×576 pixels / min 5000/448 kbps) and NTSC (720×480 pixels / min 5000/448 kbps)
  • HI-DEF Quicktime files
  • CLOSED CAPTION files time-coded to agree with both the NTSC and PAL Digibeta masters in. CAP format (this can be expensive but I have a hack for you, see below)
  • BONUS FEATURES on a DVD video disk in both NTSC and PAL

Sound Items

Licensor must provide continuous audio elements to Sales Agent per below:

  • 29.97fps and 25fps sets of PCM or AIFF digital audio files
  • Sets of 5.1 digital audio files, either PCM or AIFF

As you can see, many distributors will ask for EVERY deliverable in the book. Sometimes the reason behind this ridiculous is just plain laziness. The company has an intern or office assistant email you an old deliverables list from the ’90s. If they are asking for Beta SP masters, then this is a dead give away.

Always ask what they need before spending money on deliverables you do not need to spend money on before writing that check.

What is Closed Captioning?

As any filmmaker who has ever delivered a film or video to distribution knows Close Captioning is a big and expensive pain in the butt. The process is convoluted, confusing and most of all  PRICEY.

The cost to have close captioning created for your movie, television series, web series or youtube video can range from $8-$15 per minute. On a 90 minute film that could cost filmmakers up to $1350!

Closed captioning (CC) and subtitling are both processes of displaying text on a television, video screen, or other visual display to provide additional or interpretive information. Both are typically used as a transcription of the audio portion of a program as it occurs (either verbatim or in edited form), sometimes including descriptions of non-speech elements.

Every feature film that is going to stream on iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or any streaming service must have close captioning by law. There is just no getting around it. So you’ll need this.

I’ve been using Rev.com for a while now. I tested the service first with my first feature film. This is Meg, and it worked like a charm. I recommend the service to any filmmaker or client that will listen to me.

Every time I receive my close captioning (CC) from Rev, they have passed QC (Quality Control) for all my streaming options, including super strict platforms like Amazon, iTunes, and Hulu.

Good Luck

I hope this guide has helped you on you film distribution path. There are many sharks and predatory film distributors out but there are also many good, honest distributors out there as well. You are ultimately responsible for any deal you sign so do your homework and get ready do some work.

There is no magic film distributor that will come along, pay you a ton of cash, do all the heavy lifting in getting your film marketed and you just sit back and collect check for life. It doesn’t work that way.

If you want to do a deeper dive into film distribution, try enrolling in our FREE Film Distribution Crash Course. You can find how reserve your spot below.

Top 15 Indie Filmmaking Podcasts (Oscar® and Emmy® Winners)

Indie Filmmaking Podcasts have been so important to me over the past few years. Indie Film Hustle entered into the podcast space in 2015 with the launch of its first original podcast series, The Indie Film Hustle Podcast.

The response to the podcast was so amazing that after a few short months the show became the #1 filmmaking podcast on Apple Podcasts & Spotify, and still maintain that honor. I’m truly humbled and thankful by the response.

The show is only as good as the indie filmmakers who listen to it. Thank you all for the support. I have put together the Top 15 Indie Filmmaking Podcasts from the IFH archives. This list will be updated every few months so keep checking back.

Click here to subscribe on iTunes,  Spotify, Stitcher, or Soundcloud.

1. Oliver Stone

Today on the show I bring you one of the most influential and iconic writer/directors in the history of cinema, three-time Oscar® winner Oliver Stone. Throughout his legendary career, Stone has served as writer, director, and producer on a variety of films, documentaries, and television movies. His films have been nominated for forty two Oscars® and have won twelve.

2. Joe Carnahan

It’s been a hell of a year so far. I’ve been blessed to have had the honor of speaking to some amazing filmmakers and man today’s guest is high on that list. On the show we have writer/director Joe Carnahan. Joe directed his first-feature length film Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane. which was screened at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, and won some acclaim.

3. Richard Linklater

We are joined by indie film icon and Oscar® nominated writer/director Richard Linklater. Richard was one of the filmmakers who helped to launch the independent film movement that we know today with his classic 1991 indie film Slacker. As a bonus, we will not only dive into the extraordinary career of Richard Linklater but also that of collaborator and longtime friend writer/director Katie Cokinos, the filmmaker behind the film I Dream Too Much. 

4. Edward Burns

Today’s guest is a writer, director, producer, actor, and indie filmmaking legend, Edward Burns. Many of you might have heard of the Sundance Film Festival-winning film called The Brothers McMullen, his iconic first film that tells the story of three Irish Catholic brothers from Long Island who struggle to deal with love, marriage, and infidelity.

His Cinderella story of making the film, getting into Sundance, and launching his career is the stuff of legend. The Brothers McMullen was sold to Fox Searchlight and went on to make over $10 million at the box office on a $27,000 budget, making it one of the most successful indie films of the decade.

5. Jason Blum

I’m excited to talk to a fellow low-budget independent filmmaker today.

Granted, he does low-budget films on a completely different level than I or most people do at this point. But if we are going to talk about budget filmmaking, it is only fitting to have expert horror film and television producer, Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions.

That is a testament to his company’s high-quality production. Blumhouse is known for pioneering a new model of studio filmmaking: producing high-quality micro-budget films and provocative television series. They have produced over 150 movies and television series with theatrical grosses amounting to over $4.8 billion.

6. Edward Zwick 

We have been on a major roll lately on the podcast and this episode keep that going in a big way. Our guest on the show today is Oscar® Winning writer, producer, and director Edward Zwick. Edward made his big shift from his childhood passion of theater to filmmaking after working as a PA for Woody Allen in France on the set of Love and Death.

7. John Sayles

John Sayles is one of America’s best known independent filmmakers, receiving critical acclaim for films including Eight Men Out (1988), Lone Star (1996) and Men with Guns (1997). He’s also written screenplays for mainstream films such as Passion Fish (1992), Limbo (1999), The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) and did a draft of Jurassic Park (1993) for Steven Spielberg.

8. Neill Blomkamp

Ever since I saw District 9 and learned of all the mythical stories behind the short film becoming a feature, I have been a massive fan of today’s guest, Neill Blomkamp. Though Neill is here today to talk about his new sci-fi horror fiction film, Demonic, we also chatted up about his other films that have been successful over the years.

9. David F. Sandberg

So many times we hear those mythical stories of a filmmaker who makes a short film and uploads it to Youtube in hopes of a big time film producer sees to and comes down from Mount Hollywood and offers him or her a deal to turn that short into a studio feature. Today’s guest had that happen to him and then some. On the show is writer/director David F. Sandberg.

David’s story is the “lottery ticket” moment I speak about so often on the show. His journey in Hollywood is remarkable, inspiring and scary all at the same time.  He created a short film called Lights Out. That short was seen by famed filmmaker and producer James Wan (Furious 7, Aquaman, The Conjuring) who offered to produce a feature film version at New Line Cinema.

10. Albert Hughes

I can’t be more excited about the conversation I’m about to share with you. Today on the show we have filmmaker and indie film legend Albert Hughes. Albert, along with his brother Allen began making movies at age 12, but their formal film education began their freshman year of high school when Allen took a TV production class. They soon made the short film The Drive-By and people began to take notice.

After high school Albert began taking classes at LACC Film School: two shorts established the twins’ reputation as innovative filmmakers. Albert and his brother then began directing music videos for a little known rapper named Tupac Shakur. 

These videos lead to directing their breakout hit Menace II Society (1993), which made its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and grossed nearly 10 times as much as its $3 million budget.

11. Taylor Hackford

Sitting down with one of the big names in this business this week was a really cool opportunity. I am honored to have on the show today, Oscar® winning director, producer, and screenwriter, Taylor Hackford.

Taylor’s has directed films like An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), White Nights (1985), Proof of Life (2000), Dolores Claiborne (1995), Against All Odds (1984), Parker (2013), the iconic Ray Charles biopic, Ray of 2004, and The Comedian (2016) just to name a few. He also has served as president of the Directors Guild of America and is married to the incomparable acting legend Helen Mirren.

12. Troy Duffy

I’m always looking for success stories in the film business to study and analyze. Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullan) Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi), Kevin Smith (Clerks), and Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) come to mind. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the cult indie film classic The Boondock Saints but many of you might not know the crazy story of its writer and director Troy Duffy.

Well, prepare to get your mind BLOWN. I had an EXCLUSIVE discussion with Troy this week, and let’s say, he did not hold back. Nothing was off-limits – from his instant rise to fame to the brutal fate he met – getting blacklisted, all of it. He wanted to set the record straight because there is always another side to the story, and what better side to hear than that of the man who lived this brutal Hollywood adventure?

13. Barry Sonnenfeld

I can’t tell you how excited I am for today’s episode. I had the pleasure to speak to the legendary director Barry Sonnenfeld. We discuss his idiosyncratic upbringing in New York City, his breaking into film as a cinematographer with the Coen brothers, and his unexpected career as the director behind such huge film franchises as The Addams Family and Men in Black, and beloved work like Get Shorty, Pushing Daises, and A Series of Unfortunate Events.

We also chat about the time he shot nine porno films in nine days. That story alone is worth the price of admission.

14. Alex Proyas

I can’t be more excited to bring you this episode. On today’s show, we have the legendary writer/director Alex Proyas, the filmmaker behind The Crow, Dark City, The Knowing, Gods of Egypt, and I, Robot.

Alex Proyas had a huge influence on my filmmaking life. The Crow was one of those films I watch a thousand times, in the theater, when I was in film school. He began his filmmaking career working in music videos with the likes of Sting, INXS, and Fleetwood Mac before getting the opportunity to direct The Crow.

15. Sean Baker

Sean Baker is a writer, director, producer and editor who has made seven independent feature films over the course of the past two decades. His most recent film was the award-winning The Florida Project (2017) which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was released by A24 in the U.S. Among the many accolades the film received — including an Oscar nomination for Willem Dafoe for Best Supporting Actor — Sean was named Best Director by the New York Film Critics Circle.

His previous film Tangerine (2015) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won an Independent Spirit and two Gotham Awards. Starlet (2012) was the winner of the Robert Altman Independent Spirit Award and his previous two features, Take Out (2004) and Prince of Broadway (2008), were both nominated for the John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award.

Bonus: Eric Roth

This week, I sat down with one of the most legendary and successful screenwriters/producers in Hollywood, Oscar® Winner Eric Roth. Over a 50+ years career, he’s well-known for writing or producing films like Forrest Gump, A Star is Born, Mank, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Munich, Ali, and the list goes on.

Bonus: David Chase

The legacy of the crime drama television series, The Sopranos remains a defining art of storytelling for mob TV shows. We have the genius behind this hit TV series, David Chase as our guest today.

As expected, Chase is a twenty-five-time Emmy Awards-winner, seven times Golden Globes winner, and highly acclaimed producer, writer, and director. His forty-year career in Hollywood has contributed immensely to the experience of quality TV.

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of Chase, let’s do a brief of the HBO 1999 hit show, The Sopranos: Produced by HBO, Chase Films, and Brad Grey Television, the story ran for six seasons, revolving around Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini, a New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster, portraying the difficulties that he faces as he tries to balance his family life with his role as the leader of a criminal organization.

Bonus: Billy Crystal 

There are performers that impact your life without you even knowing it and today’s guest fits that bill. On the show, we have comedic genius, multi-award-winning actor, writer, producer, director, and television host, Billy Crystal. We’ve seen Billy’s versatile work across all areas in the entertainment world, stand-up, improv, Broadway, behind and in front of the camera, feature films, television, live stages like SNL, and animated movies.

 

IFH 496: How to Make Money with PSD Self Distribution


Right-click here to download the MP3

Our guests today are filmmakers and developers, Zach Lona and Anthony Gibson. Zach is the founder of Chicago-based film production company, Eleusinian Productions studio that invented the Patronized Self-Distribution (PSD) model. The Patronized self-distribution (PSD) uses NFTs essentially as an alternative film distribution model from traditional Hollywood distribution. It hoists and redefines the status of independent films to that of fine art while targeting the film’s specific audience (art collectors/patrons). 

After finishing up his feature mockumentary film directorial debut, He Who Lives In Hidden Lakes, at the end of 2020, and being reluctant to go the normal film distribution route, Zach sought an alternative and along with his team, invented the PSD model earlier this year. 

The fanatic beliefs of an internet mystic, a cult leader, and a rookie cop who went rogue are tested on the hunt for the “Hidden Man” — an elusive forest-dwelling cryptid that terrorizes their idyllic suburb.

He Who Lives In Hidden Lakes is now listed as Eleusinian Production’s first NFT auction on OpenSea NFT online marketplace. The NFT model is a huge incentive for independent filmmakers because the increase in viewers will lead to an increase in passive income and NFT value.

As you can tell, this is a deep dive topic. So, I wanted to bring them to the show to talk about how all of it works. Efficient ways to implement Patronized Self-Distribution, Who really benefits from Patronized Self-Distribution models, and more.

Enjoy my entertaining conversation with Anthony and Zach.

Alex Ferrari 0:11
I like to welcome to the show Anthony Gibson and Zack Lona. How you guys doing?

Zach Lona 0:16
Doing Excellent. Thanks for having us.

Alex Ferrari 0:18
Oh, man, thank you so much for coming on the show man, I, you guys reached out to me and I get reached out to on a daily basis to be on the show. And I get pitches constantly. But when I saw what you guys were doing, I was like, This is interesting. And of course, you hit a very sweet spot right now, which is blockchain NFT, these new alternative distribution models using technology to empower the filmmaker. Because there's been a slight history of filmmakers being taken advantage of by distribution. I'm not saying many, but some say just just a couple. I mean, it's it's not the norm or anything. But yeah, I want to bring you guys on the show to talk about your amazing new way of distributing through the blockchain through NF T's. But before we even get to that, how did both of you guys get into the business?

Zach Lona 1:13
So we actually met each other. In Chicago, we were a bit both based in Chicago at the time. And Anthony has since moved to LA. So we met through our cinematographers at Green on a feature like project, which was my directorial debut is called he lives in hidden lakes, which is the subject of this project here. And then Anthony, and I have since worked on that very closely with his his production skills.

Alex Ferrari 1:40
Cool. And that's how you guys got together. And what made you get into the business? Anthony?

Anthony Gibson 1:45
Oh, yeah, I mean, what made me get into it. I just love movies. My grandpa used to chase me around his house wearing wolf mask brought me into the world via horror movies.

Alex Ferrari 1:57
Grandpa, that's an amazing.

Anthony Gibson 1:59
Yeah, he was big in horror, big and westerns, it's one of my first memories were like in his kitchen, and he's chasing me around on that mask and would have been, it's interesting to have a first memory of feeling like you're about to be eaten by a monster, and feel like that's informed the rest of my life basically attracted to his exact movie here So

Alex Ferrari 2:17
I think this is, this is where the therapy begins. Anthony.

Anthony Gibson 2:20
Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 2:20
So so. So you guys just came up with this new idea called the patronis self distribution model using NF T's essentially, can you explain to the audience and we've had other episodes about this, but just want to kind of carry it a baseline? What is an NF? t? In the simplest, simplest terminology?

Zach Lona 2:39
Yeah, this is always a tough one, right? Because it's so new. And it's like, I'll give out Anthony. I'll give my definition. And then I've thought a lot about about how to position this. And essentially, how I think of it is it's a immutable function on a blockchain that represents a asset, like a work of art, a film, a house alone, something like this, where it's universally verifiable. So anyone, no matter who you are, where you are, you can come into the blockchain code, and you can verify that this token, this NFT represents this, whatever it is. So basically, that's more confusing than it was before. So now, I'm actually more confused about what an NF T is. And I know what an NF T is. No,

Alex Ferrari 3:29
I'm joking. So you you don't quit your day job? No. Basically, to my understanding, you guys can explain to this and NFT essentially, is a digital baseball card, a digital comic book, a digital painting, as a one off, or multiple versions, or limited edition prints of something. So there's a 5050 limited a 50 of this, or only one of this. And it's just a digital version of spider man number one, but there's only maybe one of them or there could be 100 of the market be 1000 of them, depending on how many you you release out there. Is that a fair? exponential? FTS? Yeah,

Anthony Gibson 4:06
you know, I think like, for me, the term in my mind is like digital, physical, or physical, digital, it's like a thing that exists, like, as itself that you can sell as a singular item, the same way that you would have any other merchandise, you can do that with an entity. It's a way to buy and sell means.

Zach Lona 4:24
Yeah, it's a it's a way to facilitate digital ownership of something.

Alex Ferrari 4:29
Right? And then when you were saying blockchain, I mean, I know what blockchain is. So you know the basics of blockchain. If you want to know about the basis of blockchain and what NF T's are based on, I have multiple episodes, and I'll link that in the in the show notes on on blockchain explanations of it, and what it all means in our world, because that's a long conversation, and I think I've ever had that conversation. So I just really want to focus on what you guys are doing, but I'll put that in the show notes guys. So tell me then what is a patronized self distribution model? Or a PSD model?

Zach Lona 5:02
Yeah, so patronis self distribution is a way to not necessarily actually release your film, but it's a way to verifiably own the film as a work of art. So a lot of projects that have been experimented with NF T's in the film space have been sort of in a in an addition or in a like a, you could like you were saying earlier, you could buy multiple versions of it, like you have like a limited DVD release, or something like this, what patronis self distribution does is that it It means a scarce token of your film. So you're not thinking of your film as a fungible asset anymore, where everyone can go to Netflix or Amazon Prime and see it, now you're thinking of it as almost like a piece of fine art, like a unique one of one painting. So then that is then mapped to the token. And then, on top of that, you can sell that token as a sort of non fungible piece of art. And then the economic aspect of it that we've designed that comes into it grants the owner of that NFT, which is representing your film, in all of its singular artistic glory, and all the blood, sweat and tears you put into it, it also gives utility to the owner. So usually, that's going to be mean like an economic benefit, like a perk. You can also have like crowdfunding type benefits with it with, you know, maybe you can have dinner with the director and producer. But really, what's what's what, what's going to make it the most powerful book for both you as a filmmaker and your patron, is the sort of economic benefit to owning this token.

Alex Ferrari 6:57
Right? So when you're saying, so basically someone, let's say, I buy your movie for five grand, you're NFT, according to what I read in your, on your on your website, you whoever buys that token would also get 50% of all streaming revenue, from here on to eternity, essentially, in perpetuity. Oh, yeah. Okay. So then they would come in, so now, I own it. I bought it for $5,000. And then now after I've purchased it, it releases the film, because the film would have not been released at that point yet,

Zach Lona 7:30
right? Yes, exactly. So there are many ways it really the sky's the limit with what you can do with NF T's, which is really like the power of it is like this is completely untapped potential. And there's use cases for this stuff that no one has even thought of yet. So this is a new one that we thought we would experiment with, where we're saying, okay, we're gonna mint our feature film as a one on one token, which hasn't been done before, to our knowledge. And then we're also going to give an economic benefit to owning the token. And that just exists in perpetuity. So the the potential that that unlocks is you can trade the token again, it's, again, we're thinking of the film as like a painting or a piece of fine art now, where you can now there's now a secondary market for that, for that film. And along with the economic benefit, that which transfers on the resale of the token, the new owner of the film token will then receive that 50% cut. So we can get into a little bit more, but it's, it's, it's powerful.

Anthony Gibson 8:35
Yeah, you know, it's really like an exploration of incentive, and figuring out, like, what we can do within this new technology to explore new models for small business. I mean, I think of myself as like a small business filmmaker, right. And this is like, like, this new modality is allowing people to enter a space and be new and to define it, and to set up new new norms, which is really exciting. And so I think, like, in this case, it's like, well, we had this feature film that we had produced, and we wanted to see what we could do to distribute it ourselves. And that was like, along came this conversation about annuities. And we just kind of racked our brains around like, Well, what does the incentive look like? And what could scenario be that would put something in the hands of the person who bought it, but also give us an opportunity to have an entirely new platform? And that's what's awesome about these aggregators is like, you can self distribute your movie, you know, and the terms that just happened to be attached to our NFT was, we're not going to touch the aggregator until it's purchased. And that was the term.

Alex Ferrari 9:37
Right. And the thing is to that, well, I'm assuming that the budget of the film was at a point where a $5,000 nF t made sense because if you spent a quarter of a million half a million dollars on a movie that doesn't make financial sense to give half of your streaming revenue away, so it's kind of like you know, it But let's say for example, that I have a movie that has a star in it. Even Not, not Brad Pitt, or you know, Leonardo DiCaprio, but just a basic, you know, a star power that has a fan base. And then we put it up for auction, as opposed to locking it in. Did you you guys locked it into 5000. Right? Well, we

Zach Lona 10:19
did. Oh, yeah. We put it to auction. So we actually got a couple bids in. And our starting auction was one ether, which I think at the time was a little under 2000. Yeah. Yeah. So we got a couple bids in there. And it went up to 2.25 ether, which was the strike price. So that was really cool to see the bids come in for this thing. That means that there's definitely like an inkling of a market forming around this stuff. But yeah.

Alex Ferrari 10:44
So Alright, so then, so if we put the bid out, and let's say that bid gets up to 75,000 $100,000, that's a very feasible thing, especially if you're guaranteed 50% of streaming revenue coming in, and that's a massive, it could be massive, depending on the kind of revenue you're creating. Where you're being put up on is that, you know, transactional? Is that a VOD? Is that s VOD, is that P VOD. What you can define all that in your NFT. Is that, is that right?

Zach Lona 11:12
Yeah, that's correct. So with ours, and I'm sure everyone is listening is thinking like, what are these guys doing? Giving a 50%? Like, we haven't gotten into like why we did? That's a good deal, right? But yes, you can define any of that within the economics of your token. It just so happens that we're including, like, you know, a VOD t VOD. Every anywhere it's streamed, the owner of the ift gets a 50% cut of our production company's gross. So not like the entire gross. So just what we take home.

Alex Ferrari 11:43
So the So then the question is, why the hell did you do this? And how does this make it make any sort of financial sense?

Zach Lona 11:50
Yeah, so it's it's an expense, like Anthony said, you know, it's an experiment in incentives. And maybe do you want to take this one.

Alex Ferrari 11:58
But I'm assuming it's an experiment, because I experimented to my first one was five grand my second film was three grand, I experimented because my budgets were extremely low. I didn't experiment with 50 or 100. Grand, because I'm not rolling that deep just yet. So I'm assuming that the budget justifies this kind of, of risk, or this kind of experiment. Does that make sense? Totally. Yeah.

Anthony Gibson 12:18
Yeah. I mean, and Zack can probably share more about where like the budgets coming from and all that stuff. But for us, yeah, we were very much in a place where you know, a, a one ether deal at a certain point for the one to one NFT was more interesting to us than maybe recouping a any money, like all of the funding back within the actual purchase of the NFT. But also to give away 50% of the streaming rights, I think for us with most interesting about it is the experimentation and saying look like we're trying something new, we happen to have something that we're willing to take a risk with. And it's like, hey, like, if this means that more people would watch it, like, the idea of like giving up more money was okay, because it's actually just about the piece of work itself. And also what this could mean for the future. Because everything every project you get out is like a case study in like business and economics and all these kinds of things. And it's every project is going to have a new audience. And it's like, someone who's buying soap and someone who's buying toothpaste, but they buy different kinds of things, you have to find another way to sell to that person. And it's like, well, the only way we're going to get to that knowledge is if we take the thing that we already have and put forth and say we're putting it all we're going all in on our chips here, because something on the other side of this is going to tell us what to do next.

Zach Lona 13:37
Yeah. And to be specific about, you know why we're actually saying this is the utility that we're going to grant with this NFT is the trying to capitalize on the incentive of either someone by an out of the gate, or on the secondary market of someone who it's almost like a like a High Renaissance artists patron relationship where the kind of person who has the money to allocate to this kind of, you know, merchandise or artwork, they might have in influence in the greater world, where we call it in the crypto space pumping their bags, you know, so you're like, Okay, I just bought this NFT I want to show it to everyone. So the more the meme gets out there that this is a movie, and you should watch it, the more valuable that the original NFT becomes. So the idea is the person who buys this, either one has an incentive to sell it to someone with a with a large audience essentially, or some influence, or the person who acquires it outright, can acquire it for a cheaper price. Like say $5,000, which if we're talking about artwork isn't really that much. But then they can say, Okay, I have an audience of, you know, maybe a million people. Maybe I'm like a big YouTube streamer, I could drop $5,000 on this film, you know, shill it to my audience. And then within a couple months, I've made my initial investment back. And also now the now that all of my audience has seen this film, more people love it. More people love it. The more cultural gravitas that the film has, the more countercultural gravitas that the film has, the more value that the original film and ft can capture on the secondary market. So it's almost like an incentive engine to keep things going and pump the bag essentially.

Alex Ferrari 15:32
That's, it's I know, a lot of people who listen to this, like, what are these two guys? What are these three guys talking about? This is these guys are insane. But look, we're and I told you guys, this before we started, I've said this a million times on the show before is that we're in the internet 1996 we're still trying to figure out what HTML is we're still trying to figure out what JPEG is, we're still trying to get faster than dial up modems to log onto the internet without stealing an AOL disk from a magazine in a Barnes and Noble. That's how old I am. So, you know, that's where we are with NF T's with blockchain. With all this, we're at a very, very basic beginning level. And it's been around for how since 2008, when Bitcoin showed up, and the concept of blockchain showed up. It, we were we were around, it's been around that long. And it's taken that long to get to where we are now. And people are starting to figure things out. And again, we've talked about NF T's at nauseam at some of these episodes. So you can go deeper into that. But I'm curious, okay, so obviously, the budget made sense. The benefits make sense for the investor who buys this. Now, something that people might not understand is that if I buy your NFT, I resell it for 20 grand, you get 10% of that for perpetuity, if that sells for 20 grand, and then a year or two later, it sells for 40 grand, you just made another 4000 bucks. And and it keeps going and going and going and going. And hopefully your next movie is you know, taxi driver, you know, circa 2021. And then you blow up as a filmmaker will the value of that NFT astronomically goes up. And I think you use the example of George Lucas, George Lucas added theory M and NF T, what would the Star Wars and if TV and and I've said, What is it? What would taxi driver be? What would be amblin? You know, Spielberg's first short film as an NFT? What would that be worth today if it would have been treated as such? And the technology existed when that came out? So is that

Zach Lona 17:35
right? Exactly? Yeah, we're so I come from a from more of a fine art background, myself, I didn't start in film, I just sort of arrived at film as a consequence of feeling like that, that was the best medium for my creative ideas to live. So I'm coming at it from I'm trying to kind of combine these two worlds, where now we have an opportunity because of this NFT technology to assign cultural value that translates to economic value to like these priceless film cultural artifacts. I mean, film is such a big part of, you know, our culture. And you know, you can argue that it's, it's sort of got a lot of competition these days, which it does, but that's an opportunity for independent filmmaking at this level to sort of ascend socially in terms of its social status. So I see feature films going more of the way of like the opera, or, or the theater where it's kind of more of a niche interest, but it's got a very high, it's got a higher class, social implication to it, which if we're, then if then we're assigning Fine Art value to the film's and that can be traded. Yeah, the value of these tokens could, you know, seriously be worth a lot in the future. And also, because of the technology, we get a creative royalty on each of those secondary transactions. So if you know one day this sells for a million dollars on the secondary market, we just pocket $100,000 you just automatically,

Alex Ferrari 19:04
right, exactly. And I mean, imagine Wizard of Oz, or Citizen Kane or you know, if you want to talk about fine art, you mean that's the equivalent, you know, or you know, of the earlier chaplains first films or something like that as NF T's treating film as fine art, which no one's really ever had that opportunity to because film is a next film has always been something that you needed to sell a lot of tickets in order to make it financially viable. And that's the entire business model. This allows that to continue. But this is just another revenue stream for like, I was telling people I'm like, Wait till Marvel or Disney jumps in on this. Like, what it what is what is the Avengers? What is what's the Avengers? And if t worth

Anthony Gibson 19:49
Yeah, you know, it's interesting, like the idea of like, the the concept of reproducibility is dramatically changing right now. Like there's a seismic shift that is happening. Understanding what like means even are and like essentially what we're talking about is like a meme engine, like a cultural, like cultural currency being added to financial value of like singular internet objects. And it's like, the film has a one to one identity. Now, the film is films have always up until now had this concept of reproducibility films are not plays, you know, right there, they're not a fine art piece. This is that convergence of, it's both now, it's simultaneously both at the same time, if you're approaching it with this model.

Zach Lona 20:33
Yeah. And it's the same exact concept, as you know, the, the Nyan Cat NFT selling for hundreds of 1000s of dollars. I don't

Alex Ferrari 20:42
like I don't understand it in the least. But

Zach Lona 20:45
well, it's that's the cultural gravitas of these memes that are being sold it because it's coming from the people who are actually, you know, who created the meme off the bat. So not only is it like, it's the official sort of meme version. And then the more that people share the memes, the more valuable that original NFT becomes. So it's the exact same concept.

Alex Ferrari 21:07
I mean, you guys are a bit young for this. But Garbage Pail Kids. Yeah. If you don't if you knew what Garbage Pail Kids were, but I was a young guy when Garbage Pail Kids came out. And I remember the first series of garbage, it's a sticker, man, it's a sticker on a piece of cardboard. That was not Mickey Mantle, which was not Spider Man, it was a garbage. And they were selling for hundreds of 1000s of dollars, Pokemon cards, baseball cards, comic books, these things have value to the audience that they're to the to the tribe that is in invested in that to my wife, a number one first appearance of an Amazing Fantasy number 15 first appearance of spider man is a bunch of paper. To me, it's like, oh my god, that's the first appearance of spider man. And there's a complete disconnect. Like she was like, how much is that gonna cost? I'm like, I don't know, probably a million dollars. But you know, but to me that's valuable. And so art is whatever value you put on it, period, regardless if you agree with that or not.

Anthony Gibson 22:09
Yeah, it's funny to think to like, like that the interest economy of how like that's localized, like you have a look like it's like a, imagine a local economy where like, value is interspersed amongst itself and has its own definition outside of something that exists over here. And it's like, things that exists on the blockchain with NF T's like we have this dollar value that we can apply to it. But it's like, it's funny to think, yeah, like, you can have one thing over in this corner. And that can be worth so much to one person. And then you come over here, and it's worthless, but it's validating those interests. It's saying within those communities, these things matter, and they get to matter even more now.

Alex Ferrari 22:46
I mean, all you got to do is go to Comic Con, and you can figure that out real quick. I mean, I mean, like I've I took my wife to my first Comic Con deck a decade ago, and she was just in her mouth was on the floor. She's like, I see these price tags on these on these little books, what is what's going on? She's completely at no idea she that people are dressed up, like these are these are grown adults. And she would stop them like, what do you do for a living is like, I'm an attorney. What, like, but that's, but that is the world and that's the value that that world puts on, on those pieces of art, where you can walk into a fine art museum or gallery. And I wouldn't, I would look at something like that, that doesn't doesn't float my boat, but the person right next to me, like, I'll give you $100,000 for that because he knows or she knows what that's valued in their community. So this is just another the beginning, just barely starting in naeba level of this this market for for films. And I think independent filmmakers have the ability to really cash in and create not only revenue streams for themselves, but to provide some cultural, cultural art for for the society at large. And like, like Sundance like Sundance winners, SXSW winners con winners, you know, these these things that have these kind of labels like what would what would an NF t from the winner of Best Picture at Sundance be worth today cuz that that director could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars later on because of all I got there for Imagine if you had Sex, Lies and videotape. The very first 1989 basically the beginning of Sundance, this is when Sundance blew up at the moment that Steven Soderbergh sold their movie, at Sundance for a million dollars or whatever it was back then. Imagine if there was if you had that NFT what would the NFP be worth in or slacker or El Mariachi or or clerk? Imagine if you had what would those be worth and they would only be worth something to like my generation, your generation people will understand what that is. The older generation will be like that. It depends.

Zach Lona 24:56
Well the fact that we're talking about these films in this context and we're realizing like, wow, how much would that be worth? I mean, it speaks to, I think the viability of this this model that we've come up with here too. Because, you know, we're talking about, you know, why are these you know, pieces of paper worth so much? Not only is it from the the meme and the the cultural aspect of it, it's also the scarcity of it too, right. So like, there's only so many, you know, holographic chars are, there's only so many Spider Man first appearances, like the the filmmakers will do very well to understand these principles around economics, incentive and scarcity. So the decision to mint a single NFT was also driven by the scarcity question. So there's only ever going to be we're not going to mint you know, in addition, after this, of, you know, maybe other kilos and hidden lakes, and EF T's that film is only ever going to be mentioned as a one of one NFT. So that means that that's just automatic built in scarcity, there's only ever going to be one. So that's that the dynamic of that makes it much much different than if we said, okay, we're gonna mint, you know, 50 of these, or 100, or 1000. So what that does is, you know, there's much good work to be done in designing incentives around those types of additions. But what happens then, is that you have to manage each one potentially being worth less and also, in less demand as well. So it's, it's, you gotta you gotta look at your trade offs with with this kind of stuff, too.

Alex Ferrari 26:30
Yeah, and I don't know if you guys knew this, but I jumped into the NFT market. When I did my first in my first interview, and I put out, I happened to be the first film tutorials ever on YouTube. Yeah, which makes me old as dirt. But I happened to be I looked at I looked, and I looked, I'm like, I think I'm the first guy ever to put an eye and I'm, I might be the first movie trailer. I can't. I can't say that for sure. But I beat like Sony classics, which was like four or five months after I released my movie trailer for my first short film in 2004. So I don't I can't find any movie trailers prior to that. But I don't want to say that because I'm like, that would be insane if I actually released the first movie trailer on YouTube. But I don't know I, I can't say I don't have an NF T for it. But But I did put an FCS out for the six videos that I put out on that day tutorials. And I put the first three out just to see what would happen they sold out within two days. If I only sold for 100 bucks, but still was just it was an experiment. Like, let's see what's going on here. So I put the rest of them out. And there's been slowly selling and it's just like, wow, that's because that's kind of cool. Like you have the first filmmaking tutorial now Who is that important to filmmakers, or friends of mine, you know, like something along those lines. You know, again, it's based on the perception of what that is valuable, what's valuable. There's YouTubers, like, you know, whatever, cutie pie, who's got whatever, 150 million followers, I'm like that to his followers, he puts out a scribble on a piece of paper. There's value attached to that, which you and I would pretty much be like, let me put my drink on that. But it's all about perception and value and what people think the value is. It is a very, it is NF T's and your model of NF T's as as ludicrous or genius as a piece of cardboard with a picture of a baseball player. Yeah, and someone attaching value to that. Yeah, it's, it's just a piece of cardboard with a picture on it. But

Anthony Gibson 28:40
the goal is to turn Zach into a human Pokemon card.

Alex Ferrari 28:44
Nice. Except no less than 10. We're working on the holographic shirts right now. That's genius. So So what are some tips that you can put, give the audience when they're creating a using the PSD model? What are certain things that should be in place for for a good successful PSD model? And?

Zach Lona 29:09
Yeah, I would say I would say, again, scarcity is looking very closely at the kind of utility that you're including with, with the NFT because you want to make sure that you're not giving away more than you're willing to lose, right? It's like, you know, the old rule of investing is, you know, don't don't invest more than you can afford to lose. So we went about it, we said, okay, 50% of our streaming revenue is an acceptable trade off for getting this you know, upfront fee, whatever it may be, because we tried to listen for 43 ether and then we put the starting bid at 12 ether. Now, I happen to think that it's still worth that much like we were just talking about, but because it's such a new thing. The market isn't willing to dip its toes that far into it yet. So I would say Make sure that you're that you're the utility is not only beneficial, mutually for you and your patron, but also that your patron isn't. They don't have to try to minimize the work that they have to do in order to capitalize on it. And also, like I was, like I said at the beginning, you know, dinner and, you know, tickets to exclusive premieres and stuff. Oh, that's cool. You can include that. But keep in mind that if you know you resell it, do you want to offer that to the new owners of that? How often do you want to, you know, keep that going. It's stuff like that is less quantifiably valuable to an investor or collector. And I also want to note that when I say investor in this context, much different from your investor, that's going to give you your budget to do the film. So

Alex Ferrari 30:48
to an art invest. It's an art investors different.

Zach Lona 30:50
Yeah, it's it's much different. So you don't you don't owe them any money. Unless you want to like where we're going or investor or patron money. That's why I call it a patron and not not an investor. But there's also the the next project we're going to be doing is kind of exploring how we can incorporate this model and do like a hybrid PSD crowdfunding model because we, we came into this already having the movie done. So it had never been released before. We just finished it in, you know, the tail end months of 2020. So we had already had the budget, and we you know, did it and you know, that's all done. So we were in a position where we could say, okay, we will have to pay anyone back now because we were self financed. But now how do we use this stuff to viably? crowdfund.

Anthony Gibson 31:39
Yeah, well, what does it look like to explore the nooks and crannies of incentive in development? And how, you know, you know, Alex, you were talking earlier, like, you know, if you have a star attached, you know, that's, that's often how distribution deals are made, you know, said, Oh, I was able to attach XYZ actor, which, you know, these kinds of audiences like this actor, here's, here's a way of shoring up your investment, because, you know, you've done the calculus, and you're like, this will fit, you know, the likelihood of this exporting value is higher because of this thing. It's like, Well, what does that look like, in today's age, with so many different corners of value in the internet? Because what does it look like when someone who does, you know, video tutorial podcasts? Or? And also someone who does fashion and makeup videos, someone else? Who does video game streaming? And you say, Hey, I'm going to put you all in the same movie? And what does that look like now, when now you're tapping value from all of these different areas? To say that, yes. And also, we're incorporating the NFT universe. And instead of incentivizing with, you know, like various crowdfunding perks and saying, you get a T shirt and those kinds of things? No, you have an NF, you'd like what if there was a way to create an NF T, that could have value on the secondary market. And so it's all about finding all of those different areas of incentive. And for anyone that's looking to make projects considering this as a model, you know, it's there, there are so many ways, it's ultimately so creative right? Now, you can do so many different things, and work right now are just getting nitty gritty for our next project about what that could look like.

Alex Ferrari 33:21
Right? And you can I mean, in a crowdfunding site, you can use, for example, someone, you could crowdfund an NF T, and then just give them a percentage of based on what they give a percentage of the final gross or the final this or the final that some sort of incentive and that way, so it's almost like more of an investment than a gift of a crowdfunding. So it's now you're you're actually sourcing it out and it's all could be done on the on the blockchain, which would be ideal, and I hope one day we get to the place where all distribution is done on the blockchain. And all payments are done on the blockchain. Yeah, everything's done with smart contracts and and we don't have to deal with this bs anymore that you know, distributors do this or distributors do that or, excuse me, let me rephrase predatory distributors do this. Do that with with not all distributors are bad? by any stretch, there are a lot of great ones out there. But we focus on the predators.

Zach Lona 34:21
Exactly, why let's let's talk a little bit about how distribution actually like functionally comes into this. Right. So like, for anyone who's still kind of like, skeptical a little bit about it, about this model we've done, I mean, we sold it, so we made, you know, $5,000 off of this, which is comparable to a minimum guarantee, you might get it from a distributor,

Alex Ferrari 34:39
if you're lucky, if you're

Zach Lona 34:40
lucky, if you're lucky, if you're lucky. And now, well, now you get the secondary, you know, revenue stream from secondary sales to but, you know, think of it like that, you know, it's like we can because the other thing that's happening with this is that we are retaining all the rights to our film. We're not giving away any rights whatsoever with this Because the revenue stream and the NFT itself are reason enough, obviously, for someone to collect it. So now, we could say, Okay, now we're going to go to a distributor and collect a minimum guarantee from them. So that's, you know, another possible avenue for so yeah, essentially, like you were saying earlier, Alex, this is like a another revenue stream for the film that will also work to hopefully automate some of the marketing lift that you have to do by virtue of being this transferable meme capture

Alex Ferrari 35:33
unit, so to speak, right. And if you had a, let's say, you did 1000 units, let's say, just throwing that out there 1000 units, and that those 1000 units are worth 10 15% of, of your revenue jumping in there, I'm just going off the top here. So you put away 15% of all revenue is going to go to these, this 100 units that you're going to sell on crowdsourcing of crowdfunding, excuse me. And then all of a sudden, all that all those people who buy those 100 people, they're going to be incentivized to market the living hell out of this. Yeah. And get this out in the world. And if you did that with 1000, and broke them that 15% accordingly that way, then you even have more. So it all depends on what you're doing. And then you could also put a price tag on all of that just to get in the game. There's so many different routes you can go on. It's it is it is essentially the wild wild west right now it is. It's the internet circa 96. Man, it is like the wild

Anthony Gibson 36:32
wild west, take a look and see, just like, like what's happening on the internet? How are people communicating on the internet? How are people pointing a camera at themselves? How are people quote unquote, influencing? And then, like, how can an taking a look at that and being like, hmm, there's some serious untapped potential, through this communication mechanism for getting new ideas, getting new films out into the world and seen by people. And it's just about connecting the dots. It's just saying, you come over here, you come over here, let's do this thing. It's, you know, in some ways, uses the same philosophy is like, you're if you're a YouTuber, and you want to, like, go on someone else's show to get to get some of their audience to come see your thing. And you cross pollinate. I mean, that's, essentially it's taking that and it's scaling it up, and using the blockchain in order to do that. And it's, it's all like Zach, and I love to just like, you know, one of our favorite things about this whole thing is that it's just, it's all memes, memes mean, everything is it mean, and like, that is like pretty like, you know, core to our philosophy. In all of this. It's like, what can we do with means? What can we do to make people think about memes? And that's a cornerstone of the mythos that we're trying to create with the bigger world that we're actually working on.

Alex Ferrari 37:45
Now, you guys also created a physical version of the NFT to send to the person who purchased it, which I think is awesome. How do you How did you create it? Because it looked awesome. From the pictures I saw. What was the cost? If you don't mind me asking like that? That's a customized situation. So what was that situation done?

Zach Lona 38:04
how he's done? So it that was a nightmare to put together? But I'll just be upfront upfront and get this. So our collector wishes to remain anonymous for now. But they told me like, hang on to it. I'll redeem it. One I feel like it so I still have it. Like it hasn't left my house yet. Which I'm fine with because, you know, I appreciate that. Like, it's, it's, it's gorgeous. We're pretty proud of it. No,

Alex Ferrari 38:29
it's stunning. I was like, That's gorgeous. Like that looks like a special special, special freakin criterion. The, you know, to the nth degree kind of one on one and drama is beautiful. Okay, you're making us blush. It is.

Zach Lona 38:45
Appreciate that. Um, yeah, very proud of it. But in terms of the logistics, yeah, it was. So not many, you know, packaging manufacturers take one off orders. And then the ones that do are pretty pricey. And see, here's the thing too, is that we didn't have to do that. Obviously, our patron doesn't even really want it right now, which is something it's a phenomenon that's happening in the crypto art, collectible space with NF T's where it's like, you know, there are artists who offer you know, the physical painting with the NFT and collectors will say I don't want any physicals I just want to I just want the JPEG in my wall. And that's totally cool. So we went into a kind of half expecting that but for me, you know, like, you know, I mentioned earlier I come from a fine arts background. I like having like a physical artifacts for for the film that I've created. But you know, obviously though it I'll put it this way, it was a lot of money. Probably more than I would recommend for someone else who's trying to do this, but it is a very cool thing. And when it's in a museum, you know, 20 3040 years. That's a nice little museum. Now. I'm just kidding.

Alex Ferrari 39:50
And when everyone understands my genius by then, I mean, hopefully I won't be Van Gogh when I'm dead and they'll go out Zach I get I guess, no, no, no, I'm sorry. I just saw I saw a clip from I don't even watch Doctor Who. But I saw a clip where they brought back Van Gogh, and they brought him into the museum. Oh, I've seen that. Oh my god, that's so like, you just start tearing up like an art. It's just like, oh my god, it was so cute. Anyway, sorry, geeked out for a second guys. Sorry, apologize. That was so. So did you, but am I wrong? Did you not create any other NFT things for like, you know, stills of the movie? or other things? Or did you? You know, you're getting into sort of the next chapter for us.

Anthony Gibson 40:43
And, you know, we're working on a big part of, I mean, I can let Zach take over sort of talking about like, the content of the movie itself, because I think it's specific to like, it's kind of amazing what work ended up working out what we ended up having in our lap at a time when crypto was around. It's kind of came to the mainstream. And our film is about a cryptid like a Bigfoot esque Sasquatch, Ian, figure cryptid cryptid meets crypto. And it was just like this perfect marriage of like, what can we do with that? And I feel like it led to that kind of take over there.

Zach Lona 41:20
Yeah, I mean, there's so many places to go from that, you know, it's like, so one of the ideas we have is, you know, Bill, so essentially what we're trying to get at now the phase that the project is in, is we are taking this feature film that we have, and we're trying to use these community incentives to build an audience around the IP itself. So you know, we can get into like the specifics of the plan, but we're going to be minting more NF T's around the, the the fiction and the lore of this, of this, you know, essentially a monster movie, mockumentary IP so you know, like minting specific clips from, you know, the film like, oh, here's a found footage. So the cryptid is called the hidden man is a proprietary monster that we came up with, you know, here's a, an eight millimeter still, or a film clip that we that we use, yeah, we actually used an eight millimeter camera for some of it. So, you know, a nice little badge of honor there. But yeah, like minting stuff like that, and then using that to sort of, do, you know, add more value into the IP through those specific items of merchandise, where it's like, at a lower level, you know, you're never gonna you're, you're only one person can ever have the actual film NFT but you can own pieces of the film, you can on merchandise of the film, that also give you like, community benefit within the community that we're trying to build.

Alex Ferrari 42:45
So I'm gonna pitch you guys something for an NF t please bear with me. This is a real thing. This is a real thing. This is not making this up. But there is such a thing called Bigfoot erotica. Now, wait for it. Wait for it. Wait for it. My friend told me about this. And I'm like, oh my god. This is genius. anyone listening right now when you're done? Listen to this episode, type in Google Bigfoot erotica, and just just lose your mind at what you'll you'll find out. There's not it's not just like pictures. It's like stories, like books, novels, ebooks, about it is amazing. I can't believe you guys have known about this. But the best but the best part was I had a friend of mine who's like, man, my brother's really giving me a hard time. I'm like this what you do? Go to his house. And he's married. He goes go to his house and go on his computer and just start doing a lot of Google search for Bigfoot erotica. And leave it on this. Leave it on his on his thing and let his wife find it. It's exactly what exactly what happened. And he left he loved that his wife and like, his brother calls him like, dude, did you was you were you searching Bigfoot erotica on my computer? My wife thinks I'm doing I'm like, I have no idea what you're talking about. You're sick and disgusting. And he hangs up. Wow. So that's sad. That is does savage but that's that's their relationship. I don't get involved. But and it is a tool to ruin a marriage. Yeah. Or just or just, uh, you know, hidden man erotica. I'm just throwing it out there. Just throwing it to the in technically, proprietary world of the IP. Why not? Well, exactly speechless. If anyone listening if it was listed by sees next face, it's just like it all right now he can't even speak. Like.

Zach Lona 44:47
Yes, obviously, obvious is the thing that should happen. Oh, it's funny, actually, in the early days of the film, when I was exploring ideas, I was like, What if we had a romantic interest counter,

Alex Ferrari 45:01
tell there's a whole market that you guys are not serving sir. There's a whole market, you could be just selling this stuff to him just we're not saying there isn't a romantic encounter. There might be there might be there might be

Zach Lona 45:17
like, God, here's the thing. Let's get into me and Anthony have you know, we've got a very specific idea on how we can take this even further. So a new concept, a new blockchain concept that people maybe are not as familiar with is, is a doubt a DA, oh, have you heard of this?

Alex Ferrari 45:36
No, I haven't said

Anthony Gibson 45:38
decentralized autonomous organization.

Alex Ferrari 45:41
Well, I've heard of decentralized for banks, but not for organization. Okay, so talk to me about that.

Zach Lona 45:48
So there's been defy, which is decentralized finance. And that's very cool. The next step after d phi after NF Ts is doubtless, so decentralized, autonomous organizations. And these are essentially corporate structures or business structures, where it's not really run by anyone, there's not really a corporate hierarchy. And the governance of the organization is equally spread out among all of its members. So essentially, anyone can come in, buy the governance token, the, you know, the currency that's native to the Dow organization, and start working on projects and getting paid for it. So is that we're still doing a lot of research on how to

Anthony Gibson 46:30
imagine a decentralized production company where every all the fans get to vote on what the next project is, that's what we're working on.

Alex Ferrari 46:38
And they're paying and they and they pay for, and they'll pay for it by paying into things to help finance it creates a liquidity pool, essentially. Yeah,

Zach Lona 46:46
yeah. And they get rewarded for financing the production. And also what's going to happen is we're gonna we're creating. Now this is this is very early stages here, but we're really excited about it. The core component of how this data is going to work is essentially it's going to manage the hidden lakes IP. So you know, the, our film is just the first installment of this IP, we're going to be making sequels and stuff. And part of how we're going to get that done is that we're going to fractionalize and decentralize licensing to the IP itself. So we're going to say, okay, we're going to mint a set of 10,000 tokens, you buy a token, you can send it back to the Ethereum contract. And so it's, you know, not in our control. It's in you know, the the contract itself. And for as long as that's in the contract, as long as you're, you know, in this tank, you get in return a license to use the IP however you want. Thanks, man. pornography. Yeah, I mean, the

Alex Ferrari 47:49
thing is, like, erotica, sir, erotica, there is a difference. Let's clarify that right now. Between Bigfoot porn and Bigfoot. Radhika erotica can make porn. Very cool. There's a difference. There's a difference, sir. It's, it's, it's what kind of suit people are gonna think like, I like joy. I'm the one that started this.

I know right now I know somebody right now listening to this. It's like curving off the road laughing at like the Bigfoot. Oh, Jesus. No, this all sounds great. But this is the thing where we're so early on in this whole this whole experiment of NF T's and blockchain everything. I've said this before on the show. I'll say it again. blockchain is as or more important than the internet is the human civilization. And people, people who don't understand that statement, you will just the same way. As people in 1996 said, the internet's gonna change everything. Just like that guy who shot that rocket up into space the other day that looked like something that I won't say it looked like Bigfoot erotica. His rocket looked like Bigfoot erotica. That guy said, Hey, I'm going to sell books on the internet. And now he sells everything. That that's the same thing that blockchain is going to do. We're just not there yet. And we will get there. And it's getting there. It's growing fast. And there's issues and I think you said it in your article as well. Zach about you know, theory will become cheaper, it will become greener to sell a lot of electricity that runs through to get all this stuff. So it's gonna it's it's just like dial up man and 9695 and before it's like dial up it's like how can anyone can even think or conceive that I could buy something on the internet? Remember that? How old are you guys are younger that much younger than me? So I remember the time was like, people were like, I'm not putting my credit card online. Like that was people were like I'm not putting my credit card online that they're going to steal my identity all that was the mentality back That's where we are right now with blockchain I think in five or 10 years, blockchain will be at a completely different place crypto I think will be probably at a completely different place. And what you guys are talking about and defy and and dow and all this these kind of concepts I think are really going to help not only the world but an our little microcosm of independent film. It's getting a lot of power back to us.

Zach Lona 50:21
Yeah, that's what I was gonna say is that like this, like the the paradigm shift that's happening that mirrors the internet revolution, that's the the main people who are going to benefit from it are independent creators. So what this technology does, is it it cut out the middleman, it cut out the big centralized institutions that tell you yes or no, it's really going to power the empower the individual creators who want to, you know, contribute things to their favorite stuff and make money in the process,

Alex Ferrari 50:49
and you and use it, so you give away 50% of all streaming rights, but as of right now, you still have to do the accounting. In other words, the money has to come into an account, and then you've got to convert that into aetherium, or whatever, you know, whatever, stable coin or whatever you're going to use to pay. Yeah,

Zach Lona 51:06
that person. Exactly. So that that goes to show how early we are where you know, in five years, that won't be able to be able to get done on chain right now. The there's not really a solution for that. So we ate, you know, for however long that would take, and we'll just say, okay, we're just going to do the accounting ourselves. You know, that being said, you know, it may be that not only is the smart contract upgradeable in that we can automate that, you know, from the token on chain, or we could we could find a crypto powered streaming platform, which is also new territory, where the film will be online and you can watch it for free and also maybe even get paid for watching it. And it also probably give us a better rate streaming wise than, you know, amazon prime or Vimeo on demand. Does you mean a penny a penny for an hour? Is

Alex Ferrari 51:56
that not fair? I think that's more than fair. I don't know. I mean, didn't you hear that? That Jeff Bezos thanks that's all for having him go up into space? Yeah, don't built on the backs of independent filmmakers. Oh, don't even get me started. He made that rocket happen. We made that was all us. We started off at 15 cents. Now he's down to one cents. What happened to those 14 cents boom into space? Bigfoot erotica, anyway. So so another big player jumped on the scene in the NFT world, which is Kevin Smith, and he came on with his film Kilroy Was here, but he did the opposite of what you guys did. He's literally selling or giving his his distribution rights away to this film. What do you think of that? And how do you think that model is gonna work? Didn't even sell it yet? I don't even know if he sold it.

Zach Lona 52:47
I don't think it's online. So we didn't we that was actually his announcement. Or that was actually the reason why we press the Launch button on this project, because we've been building it since like, March. We're like, Oh, no, we gotta we gotta beat him to the punch. But yeah, I don't think it's online. But again, it's like, it's it's very similar to what we're doing. But there's also some key differences that kind of make it I preferred to not take that approach, simply because, like I was saying earlier, you don't want to make your patron work too much to exercise their, their utility that you give them. So with Kevin Smith's NFT, which also is being minted on the fantasma chain, which is different from aetherium, and we can maybe get into, you know, what chain you should actually meant on. But regardless of that, that's very technical knowledge. Essentially, the the the best person who's gonna want to buy the Kevin Smith and if t is a distributor, so like, if you come come at it, from our perspective, where we're our target market for this NFT is a private individual collector, they're not going to know how to how to distribute this thing, right? So if you're giving them the entirety of your distribution rights, that's cool. Just know that your market is much more different. And you're probably it's it's like, if you're selling to a distributor and you're looking to give the distributor your rights with the NFT you probably don't even need an NF t like that's pretty much just the exact same thing is a deal he would strike in

Alex Ferrari 54:15
I think he said I think he's just trying to get some hype over it and that's all it was because he's actually selling like, you know, James Island Bob NF T's and he's making a mint with them. You know, all those like cool little memes and stuff like that. He's not stupid in that sense. He definitely I mean, he was one of the first podcasters he was he jumped on the podcasting bandwagon, years ago, before it was cool. And and everybody had a podcast and people tell me I'm like, Oh, you jumped in early and I jumped in six years ago like Kevin Smith jumped in like a decade or more ago like it's it was insane. Like the oh geez for you got a Joe Rogan frickin he jumped into like, oh nine he like couldn't get the damn thing to stream. I saw the first in the first podcast. He was just like trying To make it work, and it was like, like 320 by, you know, by 40 videos like it was horrible. But, but he just made 100 million bucks and snap at it, okay. It's good, good ROI. So I think

Anthony Gibson 55:16
like, you know, anyone that's doing anything in the NFT space is just like adding to the value of everyone else that's trying to work on it. Like, we're all just trying to, like I said, like, for us, it's an experiment. Like, we're curious about other people's case studies, we want to see what they're doing. We want to see like, what models of incentive, they're developing and kind of like, you know, work some magic. I mean, we're all really excited about the new technology, we need people to know about it. This is still super inaccessible to like, an audience. Like they don't most people don't understand this stuff. And so it's just like, we need more people to be interested.

Alex Ferrari 55:48
I mean, I had to I had to educate myself. It took me like half a day to figure out how to mint something like the technology so plunky it's just so clunky to get stuff done. Now I'm like, Oh, my God isn't someone figured this out to make this a little easier. Like it doesn't seem that difficult, but it was like an I use mental because it was the easiest open seat was like too expensive. They want a gas freeze up front, mental to gas freeze on the on the now we're like talking in languages that nobody else understands. But, but yeah, but it was it just and even then miserable, was still like a pain in the butt to figure out it just it's still so early, then. We're still so so early. Now, one thing I wanted to ask you is, we're talking about all these NF T's and independent film and all that stuff. Not every projects gonna be a good candidate for an NF. t. So what make how do you how does a filmmaker know if their project makes sense for this world?

Anthony Gibson 56:43
They know this is an awesome question. I think Zack and I probably talked about this every day. And I think what makes particularly like, understanding like Internet communities, like if, if and who you're from a development perspective, who are the people who are going to be investing in your project to actually like, make it happen. So you can go into production and those kinds of things. Who is your like, financing audience essentially. And like, our film, specifically is targeted towards like, like, Village Voice mythmaking, and where does that happen? happens on the internet. We're doing that every single day. And so dramatically, our project is designed to be talked about on the internet. And it's like, self conscious of that. And we think that that, in itself is interesting to people who are on the internet, creating and sharing memes and using that as a form of communication. And so specifically for this world that we're building out, which is like, like, like a modern mythos, basically, using the internet as like, as like a community standpoint, people are moving money on the internet, people who are in crypto communities and want to see content that is more directly related to them and their user experience. Those are the people that we think right now, because it's the initial audience in this world that are going to be interested in funding projects and seeing things that reflect back like interesting elements to them.

Zach Lona 58:14
Yeah, I would say if you're trying to build a community like that, and you're trying to build an audience into the IP, and it's like the shared experience, this is definitely NF T's are definitely the route for you. And I think, you know, to for on a moral logistical point, this is definitely geared to like, like the PSD model itself, it's assuming that you already have, you know, you already have a completed film, first of all, and that film is probably going to be low budget, like we were talking about earlier, it's probably going to be director driven. to, you know, take the fine art sort of box. And, you know, like we were talking about before, you know, maybe if you have like a decent name, talent, maybe you don't need you know, the the boost that this PSD model would attempt to give you, but at the same time, maybe that's an incentive to grab an even more, the higher price at the auction, right. So like, oh, Brad Pitt is in this one of one NFT movie, I'm an art collector, I have a Jackson Pollock and and Mark Rothko in my collection, I can throw million dollars at the new Brad Pitt movie NFC, that'll be $50 million in 50 years. So

Alex Ferrari 59:25
what would what would a Kubrick be worth? What would be what would what would it Kurosawa would be worth? And now we have Nolan Fincher Spielberg Scorsese in what what's the Godfather worth? Like? It's just it I think, once mainstream Hollywood and some of these directors start figuring these things out, they're gonna go Oh, wait a minute. We and we can make not only can we make some money with this, but we can actually insert ourselves into the conversation, culturally. But yeah, it's it's it's worth that I think once filming makers are able to these higher end filmmakers are doing things like that. You know, what would a Fincher and FTP worth man? What a no. And what are the Nolan? You know, what would tenant be worth? You know?

Zach Lona 1:00:13
Yeah, like, that line of thinking again is very different from saying, okay, we're gonna, you know, we're gonna have NFT tickets, where you know, that might still be worth something that's more like a like a collectible, you know, Pokemon card or like a Beatles ticket from like, 1969 or something like that. So it's like almost like two different asset classes. You have the scarce sort of fine art and FTS and you also have the fungible, quote unquote, like ticker merchandise and

Alex Ferrari 1:00:40
FTF. Collected collectibles. Yeah,

Zach Lona 1:00:42
exactly. Yep. So there are two different asset classes. And when we're thinking about what is a David Fincher where there was a Kurosawa worth, like that, to me is the fine art. Like chars are for sure.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:54
Yeah. And obviously, Bigfoot erotica. So I'm Pokemon card. Game Freak, guys. So I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked by my guest guys, what advice would you give filmmakers trying to break into the business today?

Anthony Gibson 1:01:11
You take that one. And the advice I would give you is focus on what's in front of you and figure out how to, like build a team around the things that you're stoked about. And, like, don't be afraid to just like, not sorry, I'm blanking ongiving advice. What I'll say about this is that when I was in college, there were classes that were offered to me. And I felt like that wasn't meeting the needs of what I wanted to get out of my education. So I figured out that I actually had the agency to create my own class and get credit for it and bring people on and make the movies that I wanted to make. And I didn't have to wait for anyone to tell it to give me a curriculum to do that. So get creative. There's tons of opportunities out there you don't have to just follow what's given to you.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:05
What is that? Oh, no, go ahead Anthony. And fleet perfect answer for that. What is the lesson that took you guys the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life tax credit financing to say sir, to Shay, to Shay, it's a as a very fine, fine, fine lesson to learn Tax Credit Financing everyone Tax Credit Financing, first time, in almost 500 episodes that someone said Tax Credit Financing is something about how valuable it is. And it's actually big on that. tax credit, and three of your favorite films of all time.

Zach Lona 1:02:49
Oh, mine are weird. I like 2001 I like Napoleon Dynamite and the third one is a toss up between Mystery Men and Badlands.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:00
Well, that's a hell of a combination of films there. I'm trying to put connecting dots I'm like I connected to and I connected to mystery man. Wow, Mystery Men first time on the show Mystery Men. So I love I love mystery minute. What a cast wasn't it? Same cast.

Zach Lona 1:03:17
They had the production design like the writing Smash Mouth Smash Mouth. Smash Mouth, man. Oh, man. Yeah, so that's that's mine. About about you, Anthony.

Anthony Gibson 1:03:29
I'll see Princess Mononoke A Little Miss Sunshine classic indie. And I will say Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone probably if I'm

Alex Ferrari 1:03:42
sure Hey, yes, nice. Nice. Nice. Can I use the magic of childhood in Yes. And it's in it's a nice Christmas movie. It's like every time it's I always watched it during Christmas that's when they get out. So I always associate Harry Potter movies with Christmas as well so and where can people find out about your NF T's about your films about your projects and so on?

Zach Lona 1:04:04
Yeah, so you can learn about the film and the NF t at who is the hidden man calm that's where all of our links are and also follow hidden ones Tao da o on Twitter you can join our discord to to get the drop on that cool Dao project that we're doing which is the next step of this oh and also the film is live on Vimeo on demand too. So you can search for he lives in the hidden lakes on Vimeo on demand and it'll be prime video as well soon

Alex Ferrari 1:04:33
and you're and you're using film hub as well right

Zach Lona 1:04:35
yeah, we are using film have discovered them through indie film hustle so thank you to that

Alex Ferrari 1:04:40
Yeah, there's some good doing some good work over there trying try and everyone's trying. It was trying to like I said everyone's trying to bring you know, you know, break that nut. No one's can crack it No one's cracked the nut yet on on on the perfect model. I think it's always shifting and moving and, and but this is awesome, man. I thank you guys so much for coming on the show. I'm excited anytime I hear new ways that filmmakers make money with their films and especially when it comes to the blockchain I'm, I'm all about it. So thank you guys so much for for coming in and jump in.

Zach Lona 1:05:10
Yeah. Thanks for having us, Alex.

Anthony Gibson 1:05:11
Yeah. Thank you so much.

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IFH 454: Self Distributing Your Indie Film with AltaVOD with Robert Schwartzman


Right-click here to download the MP3

On the show today is LA native, music artist, filmtrepreneur, filmmaker and actor, Robert Schwartzman. Robert comes from a long line of musicians and film talents. He’s related to industry names like Nicolas Cage (cousin), Sophia Coppola (cousin), Jason Schwartzman (brother), Francis Ford Coppola (uncle), etc. Growing up with these influencers, he ultimately went the same route – acting, studying film editing, and directing music videos. 

His career tipped slightly towards his passion for musicals he became the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the band Rooney.

We did a deep dive into Robert’s newest venture, AltaVOD, a self-distribution platform for feature films. It’s a split structure, direct-to-consumer video-on-demand platform that eliminates the middleman (buyer) to support creators directly. I put Robert to the test and asked him hard questions about AltaVOD and he passed with flying colors.

When he is not building tech companies to help filmmakers, Robert has been known to act a bit. He began his acting career in Sophia Coppola’s short film Lick the Star and her directorial debut The Virgin Suicides. Even though these were Robert’s first acting experiences, he had already learned much about behind-the-camera technical skills. He shadowed and learned from Sophia and other relatives as much as he could.

A clique of school girls devises a secret plan that they code-name “Lick the Star”.

The Virgin Suicides is about a group of male friends who become obsessed with five mysterious sisters who are sheltered by their strict, religious parents in suburban Detroit in the mid-1970s.

In 2001, director Gary Marshell offered Roberts a role on box office success, The Princess Diaries as Michael Moscovitz, Lilly’s older brother, harbors romantic feelings for Mia (Anne Hathaway).

Mia Thermopolis has just found out that she is the heir apparent to the throne of Genovia. With her friends Lilly and Michael Moscovitz in tow, she tries to navigate through the rest of her sixteenth year.

He’s utilized his music career to produce soundtracks for shows like Late Night With Seth Meyers, Pretty Little Liars, Switched At Birthed, Demi Lovato: Live at Wembley Arena, Princess Diaries, and many others.

It was cool chatting with Robert and bringing you guys (tribe) new avenues and resources to share your work cost-effectively.

Enjoy my conversation with Robert Schwartzman.

Alex Ferrari 0:02
Well, guys today on the show, we have Robert Shwartzman, who has launched a new service to help independent filmmakers make money with their films, his websites called ALTAVOD. And after doing some due diligence and making him go through an introductory interview to make sure everything was on the up and up, I was really, really impressed with what altova was doing. It's a new way of self distributing your film. And he really just wanted to put together a platform to help independent artists and independent filmmakers. Because Robert comes from a long line of artists and being a musician, a very well known musician, as well as having his brother Jason Schwartzman, an actor, very famous actor in Hollywood, his cousin, Sofia Coppola, Uncle Francis Ford Coppola and Nicolas Cage, another cousin, and so on. So he comes from a long line of artists, and he saw that there was a problem in the marketplace and wanted to kind of help. So we came on the show to talk about his platform, how he sees distribution moving forward, and what independent filmmakers can do to use what he learned in the music business, and transferred over to the movie business. And that's something I've been talking about for a long time include into my book Rise of the film entrepreneur, as using the the music model and independent artists in the music industry as a model for independent filmmakers in the film business. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Robert Schwartzman. I'd like to welcome the show Robert shwartzman. Man, how you doing, Robert?

Robert Schwartzman 4:05
Good, thank you. I'm great. I'm with you. So I feel better.

Alex Ferrari 4:11
Anytime there's some sort of human contact Rory.

Robert Schwartzman 4:14
Yeah. No, I just wanted to say how Ferrari is the coolest last name. I think anyone could ever have so

Alex Ferrari 4:22
Well, I appreciate that. It is it has been good for the brand. It's been good for the branding. You know, it could have been Alex Pinto, and it wouldn't have nearly had the same ring to it.

Robert Schwartzman 4:34
Have you spent time in Italy by the way?

Alex Ferrari 4:36
I've never I've never been I'm dying. I'm dying to go to I've never been to Europe. I can't go the year.

Robert Schwartzman 4:42
Ah, yeah, I'm not right now.

Alex Ferrari 4:44
Not not good times right now. I'm right now. But maybe in the next five years, six years, hopefully we'll be able to travel over to Europe again, like, like my wife and I just went to like, live in Barcelona. For like, yeah, three or four months. You know?

Robert Schwartzman 4:59
Go Italy and just bend if you're going to go to Italy Just take your time and just go to Italy and just explore the country like it's something people are like let's go to Italy then but just there's so much to see in Italy between the North and the South. But when you go I guarantee you this you'll remember this conversation but you'll check into a hotel, Mr. Ferrari, but it was like it's just clearly you have that name because they're gonna freak out and they see that

Alex Ferrari 5:29
am I gonna Am I gonna be able to open it that doors are gonna open I'm gonna get a get reservations a lot easier

Robert Schwartzman 5:35
everywhere you go.

Alex Ferrari 5:37
So a fun side note before we get started with this interview, I actually sold olive oil and vinegar. I had I had the largest gourmet shop in LA that I was relative. It was just olive oil and vinegar and it was originally called Ferrari olive oil which then I later changed the name but yes so if you need to know about olive oil or 18 year aged balsamic vinegar from from from Adana. Then I will I can I can talk to you for hours about it.

Robert Schwartzman 6:08
Either way, I've been to Modena Medan Oh, by the way.

Alex Ferrari 6:10
Oh, it's it's Yeah, that mean? That's the only that's the only balsamic Yeah, I mean, come on.

Robert Schwartzman 6:15
Yeah. But I will. I will. I might. I'm gonna text you about what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna hit you up about it. By the way. There's a whole world of olive oil out there that no one even thinks about.

Alex Ferrari 6:25
Oh, I know.

Robert Schwartzman 6:26
And it's like a it's a real it's like fine wine. Oh, I never understand it.

Alex Ferrari 6:30
I understand

Robert Schwartzman 6:31
Much respect.

Alex Ferrari 6:32
Thank you, sir. I appreciate that. I know some people listening to the podcast. They've heard me mentioned that I used to. I used to have an olive oil company. They're like, what?

Robert Schwartzman 6:41
Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 6:42
What? Yeah, it is. That's a whole other. That's a book. That's a whole those three years of my life. It's a whole it's a whole thing. I was in Studio City. I was right on Ventura Boulevard.

Robert Schwartzman 6:52
Where Yeah, what year what was the Oh God,

Alex Ferrari 6:55
what's the big the big the big one that goes to the other side. Um, the big God. Ventura something. Which one?

Robert Schwartzman 7:02
Oh, like van. or something

Alex Ferrari 7:03
Vanice? Yeah. Yeah. Was on Oh, yeah. It was right by the band eyes. So Ventura van is a big the big crossword. You know where the, the studio fart was? Do you see the farmers market is?

Robert Schwartzman 7:14
Yeah, yeah

Alex Ferrari 7:14
Right there. That corner.

Robert Schwartzman 7:16
Okay. Okay. No. LAUREL. LAUREL.

Alex Ferrari 7:18
Laurel Canyon. Thank you. Laura.

Robert Schwartzman 7:21
That's that's the strip.

Alex Ferrari 7:22
Oh, yeah, I was Oh, yeah.

Robert Schwartzman 7:23
Yeah

Alex Ferrari 7:24
The rent was very affordable. But anyway. I'm sorry, guys. We went on olive oil side note here, you know, but so first, before we get started, man, how did you get into the business?

Robert Schwartzman 7:37
Um, so I grew up in Los Angeles, and which is which means something right. Because the city you grew up and there's an Indus, we, you know, this world is divided up into industry. And certain locations were where certain things came out of, you know, like, if you go to Pittsburgh, they're called the Steelers because there's steel. And and it changed. But I've been in Pittsburgh, and you see where things were shut down. And it's a bummer because it was incredible industry there. But you know, this city we're in now. Los Angeles was really founded by an industry called Hollywood film industry, where people came to make movies and pursue their dreams in Like Show Business or Chairman, coming from places like New York where people were like, on the stage, people came out here and had a career on the screen. And or radio personalities, things like this. But so my family has been in LA for many years. And they were all a lot of them were filmmakers and musicians. My grandfather was a film composer. And he started off really just as a as a as a flutist for some great composers in New York, great conductors. He traveled as a touring musician and then settled in LA to score movies. And he ended up teaching music like in high school as a way to pay the bills and then eventually got sort of his break eventually, as a musician writing for film. And I'll go back to that in a second. But my mom is an actress. She came out to LA from New York. She's a Long Island. Born in Long Island, and she would travel with her father, the conductor came to LA, saying her she's an actress. Her name is Talia Shire is her stage name.

Alex Ferrari 9:24
Oh yes. I might have might have. I've might have heard she's been in a few independent films. Yes.

Robert Schwartzman 9:30
Actually, Rocky was considered independent.

Alex Ferrari 9:33
It wasn't. It wasn't No, it wasn't a way it was an independent fair. Fair. Yeah. So she was your grandmother? She's your grandmother?

Robert Schwartzman 9:40
My mom.

Alex Ferrari 9:41
Oh, that's your mom. Oh, wow.

Robert Schwartzman 9:44
That's amazing. And, and her brother Francis is a director that we know Francis Coppola.

Alex Ferrari 9:50
Sure.

Robert Schwartzman 9:50
And he came to LA as a screenwriter. And then he's a real theater. They're all like real Thespians. You know, my generation. They were schooled in theater and then ended up taking that skill set and put it on the screen. But, so that was what drew them to LA was to sort of be in this industry. And then I, we, I was born my brother, we were all born within that world of that next gen version of LA. And, you know, I grew up wanting to make movies as a kid, I would shoot movies with my friends that we took very seriously, we thought we were making, like the next real Robin Hood action movie in our backyard. This wasn't like, it wasn't like just a sit, we really we wrote scripts, we cast our friends, we got wardrobe, we picked cameras out, we shot stuff. And then we screened it for people we cared about the opening credit sequence and the scroll ever made it feel more real to us. But I ended up going to film school to study Film Editing, and directing, made some like a music video short film. And then I got swept up into the music industry because I started writing songs. My other part of my life was music. Because as you know, we have a grandfather who was a composer. With a very musical family, I think, I think our film side of our family is very much influenced by the musical part of our family. But as you know, musics is such a big part of those movies. But so anyway, I got swept up in in the music industry for a long time. And then I found my way back to film by sort of stumbling into a couple acting roles, which was pretty cool to kind of be on that side of the camera, but always with the hope of directing and writing and creating projects from the ground up. Because I never really felt like I was getting all of myself out creatively if I was just showing up as an interpretive like artists performing somebody else's work, which I respect that process. But I just felt like I wanted to throw more of myself into the process of creating movies. And also now television, which is now there's a big thing to do. But storytelling, and I think songwriting is very much like storytelling, when you write music. It's these are like short stories, you're creating very much a similar process of communicating emotions to audiences, so that it's all it kind of like tied for me. But and we'll talk about it today. But now my life is like spilled into the world of like, how do we help filmmakers like reach audiences? How do we help create a new distribution world out there to really take care of film. That's where all the VOD was created this platform, and my company utopia is also acquiring and distributing feature films. So, you know, it's like I get to create, and I get to help be a part of other journeys of filmmakers, and just try to throw more opportunity into this world so we can really raise all ships, you know, together. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 12:41
And you you start in your cousin, Sophia. Again, another little known Coppola. This, she asked you to be in her first short film, when she had never directed anything, right.

Robert Schwartzman 12:57
Yeah, she did. She, she was he had like a fashion brand called Milk Fed, which was really cool. If anyone's watching. know, me, it was such a cool brand. She spent a lot time in Japan, like, you know, sort of chasing the world of branding and fashion. And then ended up moving into directing. And, you know, to kick things off, she shot a short film and up in Napa, where that's where she grew up in like wine country. And it was called lick the star for all this sort of film fans out there. And I played just like a kid in high school, just like a snot nosed kid or whatever you'd say. Like he just like a kid in this because she, I think she you could see in her work. She likes to work with young actors. So I was just kind of like at that age at the right time. And she put me in her film. And then she was then adapting Virgin Suicides into a feature her first feature, she envisioned me as this Italian kid I slick my hair back I braces. And I lived on set with one of the most valuable things that not only just being a part of it as an actor, but of the Virgin Suicides, but I just I got to I stayed on set with her pretty much the whole shoot. And I lived with her and I just watched her shoot. And it was more of like, for me just to be a fly on the wall, and just kind of learn and be a part of it. She was finding her way and figuring it out, as I think every director does on any movie at General if you ever stop figuring it, finding it, but I just got to sort of shadow her and also be in a couple scenes and you know, just kind of like just was all these are just growing little moments of inspiration. You know,

Alex Ferrari 14:36
that must have been amazing. And then you get and then you fall into working with Gary Marshall and Princess Diaries. And

Robert Schwartzman 14:43
Yeah, well I Gary was doing Princess Diaries and I was obviously we're all we all love pretty woman and Gary's like a comedic legend.

Alex Ferrari 14:51
Sure.

Robert Schwartzman 14:53
An icon and he I was a young kid in high school. I was about to go into senior year. My High school, I was also writing songs and playing concerts under my band, Rooney. But Gary had me I got a random request. Like, hey, Gary wants you to come read for this movie called The Virgin, The Princess Diaries. And I was like, oh, like, Cool. Awesome. He's again, he saw you in Virgin Suicides and really liked you. And that was quite a few years after, you know, like, it was many years later. So it was cool to he asked me to come in and read with many other people had been reading, but I just kept going, I went for it. I tried my hardest to get this role. And you know, I went back many times he had me read again and again and again and again and again. And then by the last read, I was walked in and like Anne Hathaway was cast as, as Mia. And I, I got to read as a chemistry read with her, they shot it like a movie actually in his Falcon studio in Burbank. And, and next thing I know, I was like, Oh, you're you got cast in this movie, but it went on to become a very well known movie, because it's part of a book series as well. Sure. But I didn't know really, I again, I was like, Nah, I just wasn't like, prepared for what that world was what that was, you know, even though I grew up around filmmakers, I wasn't like groomed to be like a filmmaker, like you will be a filmmaker son one day, you will act in movies. Like I wasn't. I wasn't thrust upon us. We just went around it. We went to set I move tables and refill the peanut bowl. And like, I got a summer job. Like that was I just was around it. You don't I mean, no one was really pushed into it. You see a lot of young actors today who grew up like fully as a baby, they're bam, they're an actor. And they're just like young adults. They know it. They're like, wizardry, like they know, acting like that. They're on the Disney Channel. They're like, masters. That wasn't my mentality. I was like, Yeah, cool. Like, I want to make music and direct movies. And yeah, I'll be in this movie. And, you know, I mean, just kind of finding it. Anyway, so.

Alex Ferrari 17:08
Yeah, it's, it's Yeah, because I mean, it's kind of like, you know, you you work up, you're, you're born in a logging family and they just log on, they will, chances are, you're gonna understand the logging business, or, you know, the restaurant business or whatever. It just happens to be that you were born into, you know, the movie business and arguably one of the most, you know, prolific families in cinema history. I mean, as a as a family unit, I mean, in between Rome and in Sofia and Francis and Thea, I mean, your mom. I mean, it's just and it just keeps in a Nicolas Nicolas Cage. And there's more. I'm sure there's like this. There's hundreds of you guys.

Robert Schwartzman 17:47
Well, it's interesting because our Well, there's other there's other family members, you know, who work on the other side of the camera who aren't in the spotlight as much. Our brother john Schwartzman is very successful cinematographer. He just shot the New Jurassic World. He came up with Michael van schottel. Michael Bay movies, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor. Yeah, he's like, John's, like a top like dp and he's the he's he's so good. And a lot of like, you know, people who work on cruise don't get as much love sometimes but but you know, we have an incredible family who also span outside of just, you know, walking the red carpet is

Alex Ferrari 18:20
Sure no, yeah, exactly.

Robert Schwartzman 18:22
It's it's cool to be around them for myself, because I get to, I get to pick their brain and I directed a movie called The unicorn and john was nice enough to come lend his cinematography skills of any co shot it with another dp. But he, like, you know, I mean, like, it's cool to have that camaraderie because you can kind of share thoughts and ideas with other fellow filmmakers.

Alex Ferrari 18:45
That's awesome, man. Now, you reached out to me a while ago about your new platform, ALTAVOD. And I'm assuming you did your research on on me and what I've done in the distribution space when you reached out to me, and I was very hesitant to even talk to you about and I'm like, you know, man, I can't form another, another effin platform. You know, so I actually grilled you for an hour a pre interview, before I put you on the show, because I can, I can smell I can smell it when it's like, okay, because I get hit up by platforms, literally, every week now, new streaming platform here knew this there. And it just all so when you reached out to me, I kind of wanted to go into it a little bit. And I was very impressed with just the the aesthetics and what you were trying to do and what you're trying to do with the platform. So uh, once I got the details, I was like, let me have you on the show. And, and I'm going to grill you on the show too. So filmmakers can really get an idea of what you have to offer. So what and what is Ultra Vod

Robert Schwartzman 19:51
so ALTA Vod is a direct to consumer video on demand platform. So it allows somebody who either a filmmaker who shot a film and owns the film and can sell it to people, or a distributor, or a producer that might have a bunch a bunch of fact titles sort of library titles, to onboard movies themselves. So like, you know, you have a direct line to release movies to audiences, without having to go through a middleman like a buyer to aggregate to place like iTunes or Amazon, for example. So it's there are many transactional video on demand platforms, aka t VOD, for all the sorta terminology. T VOD is a non compete type of arrangement where you don't have to have exclusivity over that film. That's why you can see movies the same exact title available on so many platforms like iTunes, Amazon for rent. But as people out there know, if something's new vailable for free. On a subscription platform, it's typically exclusive to that platform, because that's what makes the back that's what gives that platform an edge to bring you the customer in to pay a monthly subscription fee.

Alex Ferrari 21:04
Right.

Robert Schwartzman 21:04
So it's about has two entry points. There's the b2b side. So businesses like filmmakers can onboard movies and make them available for rent or purchase at their own price point. And I'll go into the secret sauce of like why we love autobahn. But I'll just boil it down to the simplicity of it, right. It's a place to like watch and discover new movies, typically from from from filmmakers that aren't getting to share those movies across other platforms. And they do they do better as far as the split structure. So you're directly supporting the creators of those movies, you're not having to go through all these different streams to get to that person financially. They take the biggest cut, so filmmakers make the most money on our platform. And then there's the other side of it, which is the consumer. So the film lover, the film watcher. So if you go there, there's no cost to go there and go window shopping. You can just see what's on the shelf like an old Blockbuster Video. And which I missed, by the way, just the experience of like, I want to get this movie tonight. But I don't miss the late fees, because I always pay late. I don't

Alex Ferrari 22:11
I don't miss rewinding late. I don't miss reminding. I don't I don't miss I don't know, an atmosphere winding I do not miss going to getting into the car in the rain driving going inside. And they're out of the new release that you're looking for. I am not. Exactly. And I'm gonna chat and I'm gonna challenge you on the video, sir, because I worked in media for five years. So I think there's a nostalgia in our heads of how awesome it was. And it was, and I think it's awesome. But the practicality of doing that. It's not practical. It's so you know, it's, it's the equivalent of you could download it on iTunes quickly or play a record. And it's not even that because a record is still better, in arguably better quality or different kind of aesthetics. Right, VHS VHS dude, it sucks. You know, comparatively, when you watch a DVD is laser despair. Yeah. So I know there's a nostalgia, especially of guys of our generation, and I'm probably older than you, but it just who remember what a video is. Right, right. But you know, if it was open, I'd go see, I'd go to one just for fun.

Robert Schwartzman 23:19
Yeah, just for fun. Um, well, so you know, as somebody who people watching are here also who just like love movies, discovering new movies, what we all forget, is that there are a lot more movies out there than the ones that are available to us. So and that's because and I'll go into sort of that problem, which is why we started all about ultra bottom, we worked our way back from problems, we didn't work away to solutions, they came from existing problems. And we truly are here to help solve a problem that I think is sucks, and I would love to fix it, you know, or be one of many solutions. But you know, for consumers, it's, you know, it's another place to watch movies. Hopefully you like the movies we have, we're getting filmmakers are uploading movies, directly to Alta VOD, and they're only from what we see on our platform. So that's cool, because you're discovering movies that you might not see everywhere else. And look, if you lease something, I buy a lot of stuff on Amazon, I do a lot of online shopping. There are certain products that I know I'm going to get I'm not just looking for whatever, and I'm going to pick whatever's hot on Amazon. You know, I'm somebody who if I know what I want, I'd rather buy it from the people who make the most from it, then pay it pay to a third party like a department store. Sure, of course. So there's a lot of eating of fees on the way back to the office. Right. So also But again, it's like if you know, you want to watch a certain movie and we have it watch it on our platform because you know, it's gonna benefit the people who made it or brought it to so anyway.

Alex Ferrari 24:47
So then, so what's the major difference between Alta VOD and Vimeo?

Robert Schwartzman 24:53
Yeah, so the main difference is, we got to you know, Vimeo has been around for a bit and you know, as a filmmaker myself, like I've been reluctant to put my movie on Vimeo. And I always ask myself like, Vimeo is amazing, like, what they built is great. They have really good technology and it works, you know, 99% of the time or whatever, every everything has bugs and problems. iPhone has bugs and problems. But I was gonna make a bad joke about bugs. My house bugs underneath the video Zinio, the issue is that, you know, as a filmmaker myself, I want my movies to exist in a world in a network that's just all about movies, I don't want to I don't want to be in a place that has so much stuff that's not movie related. Like, for example, you know, I watched like a lot of camera tests on Vimeo, I watch somebody use, you know, shoots like a lens flare with like a lens and a camera to show you what it can do if you shoot this way or that way. And I don't want my movie like next to that video next to music video next to short film, next to random episode of something. I'd rather my movie live within a world and network of other like minded people who are making movies for that's what they do. It's a better way to discover movies, I'm more likely to be discovered on a platform where people are coming here to watch movies. So that's one big thing, we actually have a better split structure than Vimeo we and it's not a competition, by the way, I'm not they have other tools that we don't do. But you make more, you know, per sale than like Vimeo, it's a 91% to the filmmaker, you know, instead of what's really 1% difference, but instead of, instead of 10% to like Vimeo, the other thing with Vimeo is, again, going back to the network effect. You know, your movie, when you put on all of our lives on a platform of lots of movies, it's not like you're going to embed your player on a random website, right. So what we're trying to do is help filmmakers get rid of the need for a website. Because look, you have to go get a GoDaddy or wherever you're going to get your URL, which is a thing you got to pay for that maybe pay for privacy, you're spending money just to get the name.com or dotnet. And then you have to find some kind of hosting platform to build it and someone on your team has to maintain that website and introduce certain tools and update your thing, collect emails, email those people, hey, come to my website, I'm going to put the new indie wire review on there, I'm going to put a link for my movie on iTunes. It just takes more like maintenance, and there's cost to do that. But on our platform, there's no cost to do that. So we've built it to be all the things you would need as a filmmaker. So throw your website away and just create an autobahn page. And the beauty of the ALTAVOD page two is you collect all the data, so you can report back to people who follow you who opt into your your movie. But let's say that you and this is a way I I'm excited for someone to you know, people start playing with it. But let's say you made a movie and it's going to go to South by Southwest, right? There's no guarantee that you're going to sell that movie, if it's not sold yet, right? If it's made truly independently. So we have you have quite a lot of risk now on the table as a filmmaker, right? And your investors are going to be like, Hey, man, did we sell it, you know, you're going to be getting calls already or freaking out. But you're better off just creating an optimized page and starting to push people to the page. So you can start to build an audience early on in the discovery process. Because if you don't sell the movie, for whatever reason, and it's happening more and more today, you can simply upload your movie to that same page and make it available to the audience that you've already established. So it's a way of getting early marketing. It's rare to like start driving customers to your world. And then finishing the thought and making your movie available for for a stream or rental, right if it goes that way. Because we all need we all need like a safety net. Today. It's like a trapeze artist. You don't want to hit the ground, right? You want to know if something's gonna catch you. And I think that like we need tools today as filmmakers to be that safety net. Because if it all goes to sh it not sure if I can say these things.

Alex Ferrari 29:04
Sure you can.

Robert Schwartzman 29:06
If it all goes to shit, you want to know I've got a plan, right? And I think people come to your podcasts and they do their homework on Google and they look for the next way to be independent. And and also there are filmmakers out there that are saying, You know what, I had a movie I sold my VUDU distributor, I'm sick. I don't want to do it again, like screw the distributor. I just want to be my own distributor, right? I want to be the master of that sort of release process. I have my trailer I have my poster. I already paid for it. I made my movie for blah, blah, blah and I have a little bit more extra money in the bank account. I can run my ads online and Instagram. I can do boosting on socials. I can do the same thing a distributor is going to do myself. So why am I just giving giving my my copyright away or whatever for years, if I already have created the tools to go reach an audience and that's the beauty of today's world is Forget autobahn, just everything out there is all about reaching people, right? You can do it yourself, if you want to do it, it just takes a little more elbow grease to want to finish to carry that mentality. autobahn is a way to sort of power the release process and introduce people to a way to rent and consume your content through your own video on demand, you know, process. It's fully customizable. You know, back in the day, when I was putting music out in iTunes, myself, and a lot of musicians were bummed out that iTunes controlled my price point, they were like, you have to sell it. You if you put your album on iTunes, you have to make each song available on a cart. And I was like, Well, what if my albums like an album, and it's a concept record and each song threads to the next one? You and I want you to buy it for X amount of money? No, no, you can't do that. iTunes says what it's going to sell for right how they're gonna buy it. And remember that really rubbed people the wrong way. Because you're like, wait, I slaved over my work. I love my work, I believe for my work. And they get to control my price point. This doesn't feel right. So again, working backwards from that feeling going through it as a musician. We're taking our cues and we're introducing into Autobots. So again, customizable price point, the ability to swap out your movie file overnight. Like why do I have to wait three or four months to onboard my movie to other platforms I wanted out tomorrow. Alright, I just got written up in an article. It's got to be available next week. It's just it's too hard. These big cruise ships can't turn fast enough in this industry that we're living in. And it's true. Everything is just changing every day. The buyers out there the gatekeepers change how they buy when they buy what they buy. It's just it's it's we have to be like flexible today. And I think we built a platform that provides you flexibility and control, transparency, access for you, the filmmaker to run with it and be successful, we're not going to do your homework for you. It's not about our audience, it's about you introducing your audience to your content.

Alex Ferrari 32:00
Now, the very important question is how to filmmakers get paid?

Robert Schwartzman 32:16
Yes, good question. So you, so you go to the platform, you create an account, you it's going to ask you to put a credit card in because eventually there's going to be like a maintenance fee to keep your movies on the platform, which is going to be much less it's cheaper than Vimeo and Squarespace and go and, and gumroad, and all that stuff. So it's just a way to keep your movie on monthly as a filmmaker just to keep your content on there. Right now everything's free. So there's no onboarding cost that is use it. You can log in and see it reports to you how your movies doing like an Airbnb website. So call it monthly reporting. So you can you can access everything, like on the in the minute, you can go see what's selling, you have access to who's opt in. And so you have access to email addresses of your consumers that are watching your movie. And then if you want to release funds, you can release funds, but think about it as like a monthly payout. But with manual login to see what you're selling and when you're selling. And, you know, again, we as a platform take a 9% Commission.

Alex Ferrari 33:24
Yeah, sorry. But so but what is the actual process? Like? Like, is the money going into your account? Are you guys you splitting it out? Or is it going to your throughput? How is it where's the money live? once once I charge a rent

Robert Schwartzman 33:37
Questions, everything. so like, we don't we sell on Autobot, right? We are the store, you sell on our platform $10 all divided uses stripe, which is a third party payment system. It's a secure, trusted system that people have accounts with everyone does. Right. So you can wire funds from the ultimate system to your bank account directly from the platform. So it reports to you your earnings, and then you can take the funds from that platform to yourself.

Alex Ferrari 34:09
So let me talk about so alright, so then basically, money comes in. Does the night so out of a $10 payment does that does 90 cents goes right to you right off the bat. That's it gets split up that way.

Robert Schwartzman 34:22
Yeah, so there's a payment made. We will tally up, you could log in and see how many movies you've rented and sold. And then you would tie your bank to that account, you know, your funds would already be your account will be tied. So just like again, Airbnb, I'm just going to use that usually process. And then it shows you in our reporting statements, what piece has been taken out, you know, against platform fees, and then what goes to the filmmaker so you can see how many you sold sort of gross sales, and then what nets out to you as a filmmaker,

Alex Ferrari 34:55
and that money is sitting in a stripe account. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, the city. So it's not sitting in a ultimate account that you will send out because that's where that's where distribute got into a lot of trouble. That was the problem about it. Well, that was that was a problem, all money coming in would sit in their account, and then they would pay out, which is what most distribution or aggregators do. It's the way the system is set up. It's not set up with any sort of transparency. So it sits in a bank account. And, you know, normal distribution companies who are somewhat honorable, which they know is an oxymoron, is they generally have separate accounts that are dedicated to monies that are not theirs. So it's kind of like separated, and then you would pay out that way. So the stripper did that. But unfortunately, something happened. And a couple million dollars did not make it to the filmmakers.

Robert Schwartzman 35:49
Yeah, I'm guessing what happened was they didn't distribute that fund the funds ultimately, to who they were supposed to go to know from what we understand of the process. They were

Alex Ferrari 36:00
money was coming in, and they were spending that money on advertising and other things. So it was it almost became like a I wouldn't say a pyramid scheme but like they need a new money to come in to keep that the engine flowing as opposed to you we didn't take a percentage so their business model screwed up from the beginning because it didn't take a percentage they only took upfront fees and then after the after for fees, your basis they were basically on the hook for the rest of their lives to do all the all the work of tracking and reporting stuff. It was it was a flawed system to begin with,

Robert Schwartzman 36:30
to also a lot of distributors. And like I there's a there's a foreign sales company that stopped selling and they had screwed a lot of filmmakers because they had sold a lot of movies collected money and never sent the money shocking to them.

Alex Ferrari 36:45
And Astaire it's it's it's I can't believe I'm shocked.

Robert Schwartzman 36:51
So yeah, so to answer your question sales city sit on stripe. They're sent to the filmmaker stripe account. Sure. We take a fee on the way

Alex Ferrari 37:03
on the way on the way out and on the way on the way to the you pull out your

Robert Schwartzman 37:06
holding it in and all devata counters.

Alex Ferrari 37:07
No. Got it. Exactly. Okay. So that was that was the main question I had for you. When we first spoke, I was like, Where's the money? Where's the work? Where's the flow of the money go through because that's where that's where distributors get in trouble. And that's where aggregators get in trouble. That's where filmmakers get in trouble.

Robert Schwartzman 37:20
It's all through stripe is our best friend here with us. It's all you know, I think people can be happy that we're you we've integrated you know, very responsible. Yeah, it's a payment system.

Alex Ferrari 37:33
Yes. Like to PayPal or it's like a bank account essentially is what it is. But it's it's account that everybody I mean, in the in the online e commerce space uses Spotify uses it. That's about Spotify. Shopify uses it and all these kind of places do so. So it's it's something that's very secure. Now, one question I have for you, man, what are the numbers you're seeing in T VOD, because T VOD, you know, is not really the growth area. Unless you could drive traffic unless you can drive traffic.

Robert Schwartzman 38:02
Yeah, um, but it's it's such a great question. And it's such a thing. The, I mean, like, I maybe I'm just like, I'm such a believer, you know, won't go away. I don't think it will. Like I think we always have to have a way to cherry pick the movies we want to watch. You know, like I don't it's and here's, here's maybe a good reason why I think t VOD will always be something that we need to consider but fewer platform, it's it's becoming a new thing that platforms aren't acquiring ready made movies, like their places are starting to cut what they're buying, because they'd rather take all that money there. they've raised through, you know, shareholders and go make their own stuff. And it's it can add in perpetuity. Correct. Right. So, but what that's what that's doing again, going back to the problem is it's making it's it's causing there to be a higher amount of volume of films that need a home or somewhere to be watched. So for that very reason. There are not every platform will take these movies. So there will be what I call orphaned titles out on the market, looking for a foster home or a place to be getting love.

Alex Ferrari 39:19
I gotcha. I gotcha.

Robert Schwartzman 39:21
And I think that, you know, a place like, ultimately what we created was, again, we're seeing that, you know, again, we talked about this in the phone, filmmakers have access to tools to go make movies sit back, like you can go make a movie on you know, your iPhone, or whatever. And if you have a great enough concept and you execute it properly, you could make something pretty magical that like scale is beyond your wildest imagination. And so that's a reality we have tools. And now let's go to distribution. Like what happens when you make that movie? What if it What if there's no buyer for it? What if there's no plan to release it? What are we going to do? So what we're seen as we're seeing more films on the market each year, going to folk trying to get into film festivals, we see more festivals, cutting what they're taking in, you know, it's like harder to get into a festival I think today more than ever, because the other shitty thing is, festivals are also and I'm not dissing them because I respect them. festivals are also taking first dibs from places like Netflix and these really big powerful companies. Yeah. You know, like the most iconic, influential festivals have less slots for really big distributors and big companies that already have a put on or on in their lineup, and it's all still star driven. I'm not knocking again,

Alex Ferrari 40:37
it's about assets, but it's assets and seats. They need assets and seats and stars do that. Yeah,

Robert Schwartzman 40:43
right. So we but we truly want I mean, you me everybody who supports the right you know independent film, we still need a place to take care of independent film independently minded people. But what happens to all these titles, they're not going to go to S VOD companies, subscription companies, because they don't value that content. There's no stars in it. Not enough, the production value is not big enough, right? They're not getting into some flashy Film Festival. So it's already off my list. It's not like an Ivy League college. I'm not going to recruit you to my company, right? So again, going back to T VOD, why is t VOD important because people need to build their own world and sell directly to audiences. And the subscription subscription companies can't take care of this amount of volume of titles. They can't reward those companies with enough advances. It's not financially doable for them. The only return the only solution could be a VOD. And you'd have to again, find third party aggregation companies that can really you can afford to get it to get in the ballgame to pay them a fee.

Alex Ferrari 41:42
And even then, and even then now to be in Pluto and peacock. They're not. They're not accepting. They're very very picky, very picky,

Robert Schwartzman 41:50
right? It's hard to get on those channels, right? slim pickins. Because they're, those channels are selling to advertisers. And they need star driven talent and big name talent at a Sundance. And so again, we have a big chain of event problem here. Any way you slice it, we have the same problem. And it's just the it's human nature. And that's the problem of like, you know, visibility, easy access to audience, like, Look, we're all victim of going online looking for a movie to watch every night and being seduced by like, a movie with a big star in it or a big director, right? But, you know, again, we think that T VOD. And ultra VOD is the best solution to take care of 1000s and 1000s of filmmakers who need direct access to sell their movies tomorrow to an audience. And look, I think that audiences will still pay to rent movies if the price point is right. Like I don't want to pay 20 bucks to read a new movie on Amazon. It's too much money. I just don't want to do it. So but I like the movies that are coming up, but I don't want to pay 1999 for it. So look, if you find the right price point, the right marketing campaign and the right project, you can really sell and make a lot of money transactionally there are movies that are doing very well transactional

Alex Ferrari 43:01
under there's Yeah, it's not it's not a question if they could, because I've had stories here of filmmakers doing two $3 million in transactional but the difference is that they have audiences that they can tap into, or they know how to drive it, or it's a niche film. And I wrote a whole book, specifically about the power of the niche because and I use the vegan, the vegan, like a vegan documentary. You know, when that movie was a game changers came out, which was on Netflix, I did everything it was about vegan athletes, and I wanted to see it, it cut through all the other noise in Netflix world and Amazon world and Apple world. It didn't matter. I was gonna, so I wanted to watch that film. So because of that I rent the second was available for TiVo. I rented it, obviously, three weeks later was on Netflix, and I was upset, but I wanted to see it right away. But get that but that niche was the power. So it's either niche audience that you can tap into our audience you can gather is the only way TV works, you're not going to be found, like organically through TV. It's impossible.

Robert Schwartzman 44:07
Because by the way, that that's what's great is you kind of took the words out of my mouth as far as what gets asked of Autobot as a platform. When we talk to distributors, people say well, how many users how many people watch your movies, and how many users do you have? And I always have to say look, it's not about that's not the question we should be asking. Because even if you're on any other TV platform, you still have to be you sell to people have to know what they want to watch going into find your movie, unless you're guaranteed prime front paid placement, but that's a slim pickins today because there's too overly saturated market with a lot of distributors getting first dibs on front page placement. If you as a filmmaker, like I want to put my movie on iTunes, I want to pay an aggregation fee of close to $2,000 for a couple platforms, right? There's no you're it's most likely you're not going to get on the front page of iTunes, right? So you're still gonna have to just be in a bucket of content, that you're gonna have to get really smart about how to drive people to that place. Right. And again, that's what I'm a big believer that filmmakers are going to become like musicians, and that they're going to become like marketing geniuses have to, that you have to keep up with this right to stay afloat to keep your head above water, you have to have a really smart way of reaching that audience. And again, having been a distributor with utopia and sitting on that side of the fence, through it, the playing field is level, we still have to think about how to reach people, where are we going to spend a little bit of money here and there, but what's our message? What are assets, these are things that any filmmaker could do tomorrow, if they put their mind to it. And it really sounds like, like an after school special to say to put your mind to it. But it really is true, like, just like, make your movie. But hold on to it, don't let go of it. Take it all the way across the finish line. Be brave, be bold, don't just sell short and give it to somebody and say thank you distributor. Like I hope you do something great with it. Like chances are they don't really care about your movie, you're one of like many, they're just going to be another name on a statement that they can't even see because their eyes can't even read that far down the page. And but you don't I mean, so it's like, I feel like in that case, the point is, we need to take more chances we're built, we're in it. We're in an industry now where people need to be bold and take chances. And I believe that technology is fanning the flames of taking chances and taking risks. And again, we are not with all divine claiming to be like this is it, this is the one and got to use it. We are hopefully one of many new tools in the market that could be supportive to you, as a filmmaker to get your movie out there. Can you reach an audience? I believe in you, I think you can.

Alex Ferrari 46:47
It's but it's up to you. But it's up to them. It's up to the filmmaker, it's up to the filmmaker to do it. I mean, I remember when I was working at the video store that I I lived in a time and I know this is so difficult for anyone listening. But I think you can understand. I remember a time where I watched everything that came out every week. Like right, I would watch five or six movies every week. Amazing. And they were brand new. And that was but that was all that was released. That's all your thought. Right? Yeah, that was all that was released that week from the studios from independence. That was the that was the work. That was the flow of contents. I remember, like when Bill and Ted came out, and then there was Bill and Ted assault of the killer bimbos. And like three other like it troma films, and that was, you know, and that was it for that week. And then next week was predator. And you know, like, there was just so little amount of content that you can consume everything. So you had that the video store and you had the ability to find stuff and discovers that he now it's just you, we have a tsunami of content on a daily basis. So without being able to cut through all of that with either niche with either targeting an audience, finding an audience, so you're basically what you're doing is you're just giving people the tools and a platform to be able to monetize it, when they but they have you're meeting them halfway there. Like you're not the platform is like, we're gonna get it and we're also gonna have we have a million people who are watching, you know, horror movies and those horror movies, and then they're gonna, like, it's, you're not that you're the platform. And that's actually great. I mean, VHS before they bought, were bought by Vimeo was a great platform, it kind of started doing a little bit of what you were doing, and they were wonderful. But that kind of went off off the deep end, but, but that that is that's the future. So I do agree with you, I think t VOD will will have a place but it's all about audience and in building that audience and I'm doing that but from what I hear from what it sounds like what you guys are doing, you're giving some nice new tools and and for everyone listening I've seen the the aesthetics of the site and the aesthetics of the site are solid. I'm very much anyone who does anything that anybody watches my work. What looks at my websites, I'm a stickler for design.

Robert Schwartzman 49:05
I'm so with you,

Alex Ferrari 49:07
I am too I mean design. It's like you could do good design good titles on a movie, good color correction. Like you know, nice trailer cut. I mean, it's like putting lipstick on a pig. It could be a bad movie, but at least you faked it enough to get you through the door. And that's what a good website does regardless of the content and that's what Alibaba does kind of out of the box which I think is Yeah,

Robert Schwartzman 49:33
I mean, it's you know, again, I have some other things we share with when we talk about Autobot like DVDs i like i like I really enjoyed dv I like the physical like I was my my generation I liked it and the generation before me was vinyl. But you know ever since DVDs have become not like the go to for everybody what you know what happened, all the special features, all the content,

Alex Ferrari 49:56
audio commentaries.

Robert Schwartzman 49:58
So all of that now can be a place to celebrate all that additional content as well. Because look, well, I had a long talk this morning with a producer about onboarding his movies and what we talked about he's he's like a he does genre film. So he's got a lot of great content and director's cuts and other versions. But you know, that movie you make just go everywhere. All these TV. Fandango now, iTunes, Amazon, Ben Google Play. It's typically the same experience when you go there. It's like my, the the argument, I can rent it, watch the trailer who's in it? Oh, Rotten Tomatoes. Oh, cool. Like it's the same thing. But we wanted it to be a different experience. We wanted to give you a different type of experience with that film. So what we're asking filmmakers and producers to start doing is to think about using ultimate in a different way compared to other platforms, meaning put it version of your movie, put it a director's cut, put special features, at the end of the movie, make it a different experience for your audience, as a reason to go there to watch it. Because these other platforms don't really embrace all that other stuff to the story. And also, when you sell them to the true distributor, they asked for BTS they want behind the scenes, photos, they want deleted scenes, they want all this stuff, but they never really use it anywhere. Right? So it's kind of funny to me, it's like we built the platform to also embrace all of that extra stuff. Because that's part of your that's part of your journey. You need to share that with an audience for people to be more emotionally engaged. Right? So again, these are that's why we kind of did it but if you go to the platform, it each paid is almost like your movie website, where you can watch the movie rent the movie, read about the movie, see who's involved, deleted scenes, you could upload extra video content trailers, bonus footage, you can upload BTS images, you can link out to press you can put your your laurels from your Festival on there, so we can see what movies been, you know, it's just it aggregates your experience your journey to give people more of an interesting piece of your life.

Alex Ferrari 52:05
Now, I'm gonna ask you a question. That is, it's a tough question.

Why? Why do physical out?

Robert Schwartzman 52:18
Take the physical challenge.

Alex Ferrari 52:20
Take the it's about that you can take that it's a Pepsi challenge. It's a Pepsi challenge. So no, this is a general question. And I'd love to hear your thoughts. Why do most films fail to make any money? Because they do know majority of all independent films lose money even the majority of big films sometimes lose money. And you know,

Robert Schwartzman 52:41
yeah, so you Your question is more about just film in general, not just independent movies.

Alex Ferrari 52:45
Well, I'm gonna say independent film, which is that's who listens to this, this this thing but but movies in general? You know, I mean, the studio's Look, they they're all right. I'm not worried about Warner's and Disney and universal. I'm more worried about independence. And even not only like the guy who's making a $50,000 film, but I'm talking about a guy who made a million dollar film million and a half on a $2 million film, your film The argument? What was the what's the budget, you might be asking secret budget, it was a secret under 25 million Got it? It was under 25 million. It's what I always like to say it's under 25. So but so yeah, so these these kind of budgets like how, why do most of them just fail as far as financially, not artistically financially?

Robert Schwartzman 53:26
I'm going to answer your question. And I'm not when I answer your question. I'm not trying to be like a politician right now. like dancing around it. I will answer the question. So, but I'm going to work my way in So okay, the word fail. I think it's subjective. Because I would I will, I'm a true believer that just making your movie is purely success. Like I agree. If you made your movie. Absolutely. should sleep at night going. I did it. I made my movie. Yes. Your movie is lucky enough to come out. Yes. And rent it or watch it luck. Yeah, way to go. You just entered a whole new class of somebody you got your movie out, right? Someone rented it. Oh my god.

Alex Ferrari 54:06
Oh, huge.

Robert Schwartzman 54:07
Thank you know you Omar from a failure and

Alex Ferrari 54:10
someone who's not your mom or your friends?

Robert Schwartzman 54:12
Yeah, whoever someone like you, you're at the end of the day, you different people have different reasons why they get into this stuff. If it's about making money and buying like an Alex Ferrari, or eating sashimi every night or whatever your goal is then maybe success and what it means to have made it is a whole other different interpretation of what that journeys heavy. If you just want to make your movie the way you want to make it and see your vision, live and shine through and not be compromised along the way. That's a wonderful other goal that people have and just to get that movie made and out there is a what is a great success. If you're talking strictly financially, strictly financial. Now we're thinking more as a producer as an investor. Sure. I mean, because arguably a director really the job is to stay They focused on the movie and make a great movie. Whether it sells or not, was, ultimately we shouldn't make you feel bad about it. If the movie doesn't work, and it doesn't achieve what you set out to achieve creatively, maybe there was something you missed along the way that could have been better. But I think that the issues can be so many. It's such a hard, it's such a great question. And I, again will answer it. But the answer it has many threads of answers here. It can fail because people overpaid for it like a distributor, again, again, in the eyes of who, the distributor or the producers or the

Alex Ferrari 55:38
so I'll make it very clear. Why do I'll make it clear. So there it is very broad, so I'll make it clear. So if Why do filmmakers who invest money in their film, generally, most of the time, do not recoup their initial investment in the quote unquote, product?

Robert Schwartzman 55:57
Fun? Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 55:58
whatever. If it's self funded, or investor funded, if you make a million dollars, and you had someone spend a million dollars, the chant, you know, you know, this as well as I do, the chances of generating a million dollars with the film, that's not star driven. That's not niche driven. There's not genre driven. I mean, you start knocking off chances of that movie ever making $1 back because of because of the general distribution model that's out there right now. And also just the world that we live in, right? I mean, Warner Brothers is having problems trying to make money off with their slate this year. So

Robert Schwartzman 56:32
that's Yeah, no to but even mentioned, Warner Brothers is actually a good thing, because it shows you that at many levels of this work, there's a lot of the same problems we're finding. So you're not alone. You know what I mean? Right? Right. So that's a comforting to know, like, even if you make your movie on your laptop, you know, in your bathroom, you still have the same problems as Warner Brothers.

Alex Ferrari 56:56
But they are they arrived, but they but they arrive at their problems and much more style than I do, sir.

Robert Schwartzman 57:00
Take a lot longer. Yeah. But um, yeah, I think the problems can be this, if it's strictly money, I made a movie I paid for it, I want to make my money back. Usually, when you sell to the distributor, now your waterfall, now you're behind them in the waterfall. So you sit behind the distributor, now they have to recoup their marketing or their mg. And they have to make their distribution fee off the top of the recoupment of first dollar n. So they're taking it a distribution fee, the rest goes into your recoupment, you know marketing spend, which goes to market your movie. So it's like, I mean, that's great. If distributors take risks and work really hard to support filmmakers. Typically, it's not everyone's bad or something. But the reality of the beast is once you make your movie and finance it, it has to do pretty well financially to get through the distributors collection process to then hit you. It has to have made money somewhere along the way t VOD s five A VOD, some, you know, the article. And don't

Alex Ferrari 58:01
forget that don't forget, there's like if it's on Amazon making money, Amazon gets a piece. So now another another piece

Robert Schwartzman 58:07
exactly, then that hits a distributor, it's just the nature of the beast is that we live in a world where in order to tap into all these tools, you there's got to be some kind of rev share along the way. And then that rev share has to then flow to you the filmmaker. So that can sort of whittle down what you make if people spend incorrectly. Like if you make your movie for too much money, like you've over budgeted or overpaid for something, I can put you at a financial risk of ever making your money back. Hopefully, you made a better movie because of it. But sometimes the product doesn't even get on the screen and you got stuck with all these extra fees. But so it can be a problem from the budgeting. The concept was definitely outside of the League of the budget level, like we did not do it properly. The distributor, we got involved with overspent on the marketing campaign foolishly spent through good money after bad, and we'll never see an ROI on their money, which means I'll never make a penny. And I'll live in recoupment, like,

Alex Ferrari 59:05
like in perpetuity

Robert Schwartzman 59:08
unless your contract has the ability to buy yourself out of it or something. But typically, it's renewing every year until you've recouped your money back. But it could just be everything from the people who you work with or yourself. Maybe didn't take the right steps didn't make the right decisions to the people you're working with. wasn't the best relationship to support your movie where they really tried and it just didn't connect or COVID happened or world took swept out the campaign. Again, there's so many layers to this one, but you know, I mean, but what are the here's the common thread and all this is we've got to be smart. We've got to be tactical, we've got to be aware, we've got to be educated. You've got to think like the other person. We've got to be open minded. We've got to be understanding. We've got to be flexible like in action. Anything I described you, you've got these personality traits are really important. Yeah. Because I think you could do your best to avoid these pitfalls, you know. So you're like, I'm a filmmaker, I love to make movies. I think every night about the next movie, I want to make every movie idea I think about I, I kind of know my budget level already, based on my idea, I know what's going to cost me a lot of money. I know what seems to not even right, because it's going to be way too much money for that budget level. I know that it's a genre that if I get this actor, it'll do really well in certain international markets, of doing my homework along the way. And conceiving these ideas already thinking about the release strategy. You know, I mean, and again, that's not everyone's doing that. But I think that I think we're heading into a world, as I mentioned before, where people are going to start doing this, you got to to really protect their products. before you've even made it, you've put everybody in the best position to do really well. And that's all we could do is give, give ourselves the best shot. Right.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:01
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. One other question I wanted to ask you, because I mean, I wrote in my book in regards to the music industry, it what happened in the music industry, is currently happening in our industry. Without without the diva and I call it the devaluation of art of, of content, where before used to cost 20 bucks for an album. Now, it's, it's essentially free. I mean, you're paying, you get a Spotify account, and you're listening to the entire catalog of The Beatles, which used to cost hundreds of dollars, if you want an entire catalog access it. Yeah, to access it even at even at $1 of song, even at 99.9 9999 per album, it was still some revenue. Now I heard somewhere like Beyonce is making like 3.3 cents, a stream or out of 1000 streams or something like that. It's like insane the way the way artists are being paid. So I just modeled what the music industry was doing. I'm like, Guys, look. Musicians figured it out where and I just want to ask you because you are a musician, and you've kind of seen this firsthand, where it used to be the album used to make money, then well, then it was about touring. And really the real money was made around to unless you own the publishing, if you own the publishing, you got radio play, you can get paid off that and residuals you could get paid. I mean, Billy Joel still doing very well. off of his off of his catalogue. We're now newer artists don't have those options. So then it was all about touring. And then now it's not even about touring as much is like merchandise. And it's not even merchandise, it's access. So now after, after, after the after the gig, you sell $150 tickets for fans to come in to take pictures with you and get autographs. And this is things that musicians had to do to survive. And then sponsorship deals if you're big enough to get a sponsorship deal. These are the things that musicians have to do. We're filmmakers, we're still living in the 90s. Thinking that Yeah, in the sun. In the Sundance days, were all lottery ticket, I'm gonna get the lottery ticket. And I kind of brought this model and like as you've got to understand all these other avenues, and you also have to create other revenue streams for your film school. So what so from your point of view in the music industry is everything I just said? pretty accurate?

Robert Schwartzman 1:03:27
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I got signed in 2002. I was one of I was one of those like last record deals at the time, it was becoming streaming mostly. I was signed by Jimmy ivenn. Scope records, he became a mentor. And I sat with him while he vented to me about illegal downloading. Yeah. And he's like, and Rooney is right in that audience that likes to download records for free. What are we going to do? And I was still going to Best Buy city signings, there was still a physical side, we still had CDs, I sold them after the show. Yeah, I mean, I was I was an artist at a label, watching the industry change outside the window. And then when I finally was led out of my deal, and I could go do whatever I wanted to do. I embraced this new world of independent music, and I became an independent musician. I recorded my records myself. I basically did them in my own studio, and they were free to me. And then I put them out through CD Baby or tunecore or an aggregator and I marketed them myself and I luckily, I had enough fan through Rooney that I could keep bringing them new music and they were excited to hear it. But I mean, look, it's really hard music is real another level of hard right now because people forget, because torian By the way, taurine is so expensive. I think the music music industry definitely I call it like stepped on land landmines. And the film industry is now walking down that same path. And hopefully is going to know where not to step. You know, I think that the music industry, everything we do at Ulta, VOD has completely taken our cues from music industry recovered from the sort of uphill battle of people want content right now, how technology is influencing it. And I think the music in the film industry, as you said before, has been really old school and ready to adapt to new times. And actually, I see it every day, because we take calls every day of, you know, promoting our platform to new distributors. And it's really hard to get people to really understand that we need to be thinking differently today. And I think that that problem, by the way, it's like, we kind of we, the industry, actually feed the beast of our own problems. And I think we as an industry need to become more open minded to change and taking chances. And whenever anyone asked me about where what's working out there, what platform where am I seeing success, I always put everybody on what I call the all the above strategy. On a multiple choice test circle, that last little box of the all of the above. Because the truth is, there's not one silver bullet way to have success today. And to make money and to reach an audience, you have to just try everything, you have to be willing to try everything, you have to be willing to say let's take chances and risks of how we take our movies and where we how we market them and put them out. And I think people are sometimes too precious, with their film, kind of sit on the sidelines waiting too long to get a distribution deal or find the right buyer. And sometimes they can really miss a window of opportunity. If they had just sort of been bold and taken a chance and been more open minded. I think distributors are learning the hard way right now that I need to change. And I really, like a long time ago, these big studios had a window years ago to really make more of a competitor to Netflix. And to build an S VOD platform. Oh, it's crazy how long it's been but took 10 years to tell you that 10 years, that money. And all those titles, still were slow to get into the game, just in the same way as the major labels were slow to get into the digital music streaming world. They waited on the sidelines. And then here comes, you know, apple, and they said, Here's iTunes go screw off. And everybody's like, oh, now we got to play nice with you, you know, apple, and Spotify, everybody. I mean, the difference with Spotify, is that labels actually took stock in Spotify. So they had an interest in Spotify success, not in their own artists success. They were making money on the success of the platform over the success of the signing. And that's a conflict of interest if you think about it, because you should really be taken care of the clients you sign not the places the own stock in a whole other conversation. But again, everything we're doing it all divided. And I'm glad that you had me on because you felt like there was something I was doing that was worth sharing with your audience, which I really appreciate you know, first goal for me ultimately become successful and that were helping filmmakers reach audiences and had had a distribution alt alternative to their to what they wanted to do with their movie. I think there's way too many movies out there. And I say that anyone watching if you made a movie, and it's sitting on a hard drive, and it has never seen the light of day, I don't know what you're waiting for. Put your movie out like tomorrow, there's really no point in waiting, like what is the point? Pretend your movie blows up on ultra VOD distributors are going to be coming hit you up to try to sign you after the fact to try to flip you to an Escalade or an international deal, because they're gonna see natural traction, organic traction on autobahn. And by the way, if you talk to any a&r guy, right now at a major label, the way that they find artists is by seeing what's blowing up organically on Spotify, and then they assign you or YouTube or social media, they look for artists that are already proven success, so that you're less risk, right? So films are like the same thing. Put your movie out, show audience show growth show traction, because that's hard to do. And P and then go shop yourself to people and say we just sold 10,000 rentals on auto VOD. And we just got three offers from eight from the UK for like a streaming platform on there. Like and now people are gonna want to sign you are you another offer? Yeah

Alex Ferrari 1:09:26
Are labels I don't know enough about labels. I I dabbled in the music industry very, very early on in my career. And I was in the studios and I okay, that's a whole other conversation I don't want to get people don't even know that. I used to that. I used to write songs and stuff back in the day. That never mentioned that on the on the show before but I did. I did. I've done a lot of the olive oil songwriting. It's just

Robert Schwartzman 1:09:53
you got to share it. Why don't you do a bundle where you sell some songs.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:58
My songs my songs do not deserve vinyl that I could promise you. But But I did. I played around with the label with labels and stuff. But are they as notorious as distributors for not paying artists for reading? You know, all of that kind of I don't know enough about that is it similar is like, Oh, I'm owed so much money, but but the label screwed. I've heard of the label screwing artists, that's not a new thing. But on the financial standpoint, is it is it that is a general statement, you know, like, because you can say, generally, there's a lot of distributors out there who screw over filmmakers, period. I mean, that are that are predatory. But are labels in that, you know, a portion of them as well. Yeah, I

Robert Schwartzman 1:10:48
mean, I think, again, I think that you I see or hear of terrible stories, like in many industries. I mean, there's stories of contractors not getting paid for the work they did, you know, this story of in, you know, building homes or wherever, like, there are stories in many industries where people somehow got stiffed, or like prom, and and keep them I mean, again, I think that's human nature. It's a it's a problem. I think it's like a human problem. Not just an industry specific problem. But you know, look, we're the good thing about technology is technology is also getting so getting better about reporting earnings to you. Yeah, so there are better ways to account to account, right. It's not just like someone sitting in an office with a bunch of stack of papers going like you made, blah, blah, blah, today, like probably in the old days, it's pretty easy to log in and see like what you made and be like, Hey, I can point to something and you should pay me this. It's kind of hard to dispute that, you know. So that's good. That's a layer of protection. I've heard of more problems in the music industry with money based on what you mentioned earlier, which is the royalties structure, where people aren't really getting their fair share of like earnings from like a success of a song. But the tricky thing is with bigger companies, and I hear this with filmmakers that are doing like studio level movies, the stories, the horror stories that I've heard about not getting paid, are more with the bigger scale projects, because there's higher levels of PNA marketing spend. So it's harder to track how much they really spent, versus how much really came in, and how much they're getting, because you could they could keep you in recruitment night for like, they could keep you in a hole for Yeah, like you'll never make money unless you truly know your movies, such a hit, that something's amiss here. Like with what I'm getting, then you can really audit and becomes a whole thing. But those are the stories you hear about in the music industry. It's really like mega mega success stories. But it's it's hard to really challenge accounting, if a movie, you know, your movie, or your music didn't really make much money. Like I released an independent record, I put a couple songs out through a third party aggregator, and I swear I got a check for 20 cents. One time in the mail. I swear. And I By the way, and I'm not even like contesting it, because I know that that song no one even heard it. So I just thought it was funny that I just got my 20 cent check in the Senate.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:21
Yeah I was going to say, about the same cost with the stamp costs more than the actual it's like a bad side fault. It's like a bad Seinfeld episode. Like do you remember that one? What do you got the penny residuals and he had like, 5000 any residual checks?

Robert Schwartzman 1:13:34
Yeah, that's when doors. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. It's hard to get angry. If you're like, you know, you know, your thing didn't really meet like a great commercial success. Where something's like you don't really, you're not really upset. You don't think somebody stole money from you. But it's really the stories of like, those indie darling movies that became like a mega like Napoleon. Yeah, you

Alex Ferrari 1:13:57
read my mind. Napoleon? I was gonna say it was a huge lawsuit with the element. Yeah.

Robert Schwartzman 1:14:01
Right. So it's those kinds of movies where I think they end up going to a distributor, I don't know who put it out. But I'm guessing it's a distributor that was able to create scale, meaning it wasn't such a baby company that couldn't keep up with scale. It was probably like a Focus Features, or I think it was virtualized, I

Alex Ferrari 1:14:19
think it was searchlight that did it, I think

Robert Schwartzman 1:14:21
something like that, right? Because that's what that is. It's a company that looks for indies that they can slip to a bigger audience, but they have the means for big distribution, but they can start small and spread the wildfire if they're showing traction. But the but those companies probably are the kinds of ones that can also keep you in recruitment in the hole if they want to, because they can throw money at you magical and those are the days to find diamonds. We're still a bit old school. I think I look today. I think that every distributor there's good and bad out there. I started we I'm a founder in a company called utopia. And we're we are acquiring movies every day. And we're releasing them as a distributor, we're putting them on all the T VOD platforms, we're showing them the places like HBO, we show that we sell them in international markets. We do we do well with those movies internationally, we find homes for them. We do all types of deal structures with filmmakers, sometimes they, they're able to work with us in a way where it's our opinion and not about upfront advances. So they're not in the hole right away. We're really open, open with what we spend. We're gonna work through that at it. Yeah, see if it works. Like we're really open with like, where do we spend? Why are we spending filmmaker? It's more of a like a nice hands on experience with artists. It's a

Alex Ferrari 1:15:38
You mean, you mean? You mean, it's like a partnership, like it should be?

Robert Schwartzman 1:15:42
what you could call it like we care about filmmakers. I think that of course, there are some films like as we scale as a company, we can't not every movie gets as much time is yours, but we're very much worth, we disclose that, then we feel like filmmakers hopefully will feel they sort of got what they signed up for. Because it's all about expectations, right? Like any company out there, if you get in business with them, you might, in your mind have an expectation of what you're what's going to happen with your movie that might not even be on this planet, it might just be from an old book you read or something someone told you. So it's important to check yourself before you wreck yourself in terms of expectations that you set Sure, with these deals you get into and look, you as a filmmaker have the right to ask questions. Or you sign the deal. I mean, it's a collaboration, like everybody in this in this climate right now is trying to stay afloat. like nobody's got it. Like every company is really working hard to make sure they can stay keep their lights on. Yeah, so you're gonna work with a distributor, talk to them. They're humans, they're people, they have a team, get to know get to know them. And we have someone on our team named Brooke, who's our who deals with filmmakers everyday. She's like the the focal point of every campaign, we talked to Brooke, right? We tell Brooke, Brooke, filmmakers work their ass off to make their movie, you are everything to them, you're this you're the person, you're the face, who acquired the movie, you're talking to them, show them respect, get back to them quickly. When you talk to them, like make them feel the love, like make them you care, right? We're a distributor we care about you. Those little things go such a long way. And unfortunately, we've lost our maybe distributors lost themselves along the way, which is why we which is why I founded utopia was to put back the human emotional part of being a distributor, right? The collaborative part of you, you're not just a robot, right? These aren't just like hamburgers, these are movies. So like give a shit. And I think that that's what I can say I stand by that as a company. As you I'm proud of what we build, because I think we've really put some great movies out. And people can again go discover movies, but you know, again, put the heart back in the job kind of thing.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:55
Now, where can people find more about autobahn and utopia and everything else you do?

Robert Schwartzman 1:17:58
Yeah. altaVOD com ALTAVOD comm you can sign up right away. As a filmmaker, there's no cost to get involved. You don't even have to put your movie on. You could just create a page and use it later. You can discover some great movies, tell your friends about it. If there are movies that you want to see that we have buy from us don't go to another place because it goes to the filmmaker. We're getting some wonderful distributors who are trusting our platform and we have some great movies on there from top level distributors. So it mean that says something that we have a good tool set for them. utopia distribution calm. We put out a great documentary called bloody nose empty pockets by the Ross brothers one of the top picks of last year as best documentaries. We have the new Martha Cooper grape street photographer coming out there was a Tribeca Crestone all about SoundCloud rapper is coming out next month 1982 by a great up and coming new filmmaker again what you described like he put his money into his movie. It's a really touching story that went to Toronto Film Festival. We acquired it. It's technically sort of a foreign film. But it just came out in 1982. Highly recommended. Anyway, just keep in touch with us. I mean, you could follow me, Robert shwartzman on on Instagram, and I post all about autobahn and utopia. You could follow the movies on Instagram. But anyway, I really appreciate you trusting like me to come on here. And if anyone has questions about ALTAVOD, like, you know, hit up [email protected] you can we answer your questions. We have humans there. It's not just like these are people from distributors from filmmakers, fellow filmmakers. These are people who care about movies who created a platform for you. And we sort of are working backwards from problems to solve them. And if you want to write us about a problem that we should solve, we will hear you out.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:56
Brother, I appreciate what you're doing and And you can hear it in your voice, the kind of love that you have for what you do. So I appreciate you trying to help filmmakers out and hopefully we can do a new platform can help some filmmakers get paid. So thank you, my friend.

Robert Schwartzman 1:20:12
Appreciate that. Thank you for having me. Thank you guys for watching.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:16
I want to thank Robert for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Thank you so much, Robert. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, including how to get access to alt avadh. Just head over to the show notes at indie film hustle.com Ford slash four by four. And if you haven't already, please subscribe. And leave a good review for the show at filmmaking. podcast.com it really helps us out a lot. Now I have been in the lab working on some very big surprises for the indie film hustle tribe. So I need you to keep an eye out for that. Not only are we bringing amazing guests on the show to help you guys on your filmmaking journey, there might be some other surprises I'm working on as well. So keep an eye out for that. Thank you again so much for listening, guys. As always, keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there. And I'll talk to you soon.

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

Right-click here to download the MP3

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
Yeah

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
Yeah.

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
Yeah

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
35,000

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
Yeah,

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
Okay

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
Yeah.

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,

so,

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 444: How NOT to Get Ripped Off by a Predatory Film Distributor with Orly Ravid


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Today on the show we have attorney and film distribution expert Orly Ravid. Orly is committed to helping artistically and intellectually rigorous and important films reach their respective audiences via a financial model that is sustainable for filmmakers.

Having established the theatrical, festival, digital distribution, and educational services, presently at TFC, Orly works primarily on distribution, sales/licensing and contract/negotiation services with a focus on new media digital distribution. She also oversees theatrical releases, the various educational services, and the organization overall.

Called a “big picture” thinker, Orly founded The Film Collaborative in response to a dominant and overarching structure that favors middlemen, not filmmakers. She is passionate about protecting filmmakers’ rights and revenues as much as she is about the good film.

Having worked in the film business for two decades, Orly’s past experience ranges from programming to all aspects of the business of film. Orly and discuss the current state of distribution, what the future holds, and how not to get ripped off by a predatory film distributor.

Enjoy my conversation with Orly Ravid.

Alex Ferrari 2:22
Now today on the show guys, we have film distribution expert Orly Ravid. Now Orly has been in the film distribution space for a long time, and is the founder of the film collaborative, where she has been fighting the good fight, trying to help filmmakers get distribution and navigate the shark infested world that is film distribution. Organization launched a best selling book called selling your film without selling your sold, and more recently, how not to sign a film contract. The film collaborative is the first nonprofit focused on distribution education and uses three taglines that really encompasses what she believes in filmmakers first nonprofit on purpose, and we don't own the rights you do. Not Orly and I sat down and had an amazing conversation about film distribution in today's world what's going on with Coronavirus and how that's affecting the world and what we as filmmakers can do to get our films out there because things are changing so rapidly. Amazon is dropping documentaries now and no short films and you know, these platforms have just so much power and we need to figure out what we can do as filmmakers to make a living doing what we love. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Orly Reed. I like to welcome the show Orly reveals how you doing early? And well how are you as good as I can be in this crazy mixed up world that we live in? So thank you so much for being on the show. We I how we have not met officially over the years is considering we're both Oh, it will our good friendship head who introduced us Finally, he he's like we need to build an Avengers team of distribution, you know, fighters and like, you know, early, we'll be on it. I'll be on it and you'll be out of Alex. I'm like, that would be awesome. So how we have not literally crossed paths and all the stuff that we do individually is beyond me, but it's a small world.

Orly Ravid 4:34
So as soon as she can introduce this and then obviously we were bad and all of a sudden it's like when you learn a new word and you see it everywhere. Then every all of a sudden you like Oh yeah. Do you hear the new indie film hustle podcast and the latest episode? I was like, Uh huh. Yep.

Alex Ferrari 4:48
Yeah, yeah, it's it's Yeah, exactly. My wife all of a sudden she's like, Is it just me? There's a lot of Tesla's around and like, she was like, she was like thinking like, Oh, I just looked at one the other day and like, yeah, like, that'd be nice. But not yet.

Orly Ravid 5:04
I'm down.

Alex Ferrari 5:05
Yeah, well, she wants the big. The big station wagon one. The one. Yeah, she wants to station wagon one for the family. I'm like, give me a minute.

Orly Ravid 5:14
Yoda needs his own row. He's

Alex Ferrari 5:16
obviously a Yoda. Yoda my co pilot in life, sir. so first of all, how did you get in the business?

Orly Ravid 5:25
Oh, that's a fun question. Um, I mean, when I studied in college, I did take film courses that weren't business related, but they were more sort of fear, critical theory and screenwriting and I did externships or internships, they call them that were film related, but I wasn't in the business. And I didn't ever think that I would be in the business. And then I moved from Manhattan to from Manhattan, New York to California, although I did a quick stint in Chicago on the way and like you had other film involvements. But the first job that I ever took in distribution in this town was with a international sales company. And I just thought I was going to be their office manager. That's what I that was the job that I took, I had done some film festival programming, work it out fest and the Israeli Film Festival. But that was my first like job in the industry. That wasn't an internship. And the office management job turned into me creating and running the domestic distribution arm, because the my boss that I own, the company said, well, international sales, it was really hurt in the Asian or Asian crisis back in the days it was, you know, after the 80s, boom. And I really need some business revenue to offset any downturns in international sales. And so could you help me launch this domestic distribution arm? Which I did, and back then there was VHS? So all those things? That's how I got started in the biz.

Alex Ferrari 6:53
Yes. And then after VHS, the boom of the DVD market, which was Oh, man, the money was flowing, wasn't it? Oh,

Orly Ravid 6:59
yeah. And so I was doing, I did VHS, I did DVDs, all of that stuff. And I also still did international sales. That's how I learned both aspects of the business. And at the time, folks, were like, oh, you're such a go getter. You should be an agent. But I decided not to be an agent.

Alex Ferrari 7:16
Smart. I think smart move, I think smart move. So with, with in for people listening, you have to understand, like, when the DVD boom was happening, that's when you can make sniper six and seven and just pre sell it. It was just done. Like, all you needed to do is put it out and was three to 5 million. Guaranteed.

Orly Ravid 7:37
Yeah, and that time was so lucrative for the business to business folks. That's when you know, deals were done on napkins in Canada. And it wasn't weird to have big parties. And it was just the cost of doing business because a lot of business was being generated, a lot of money was flowing, at least to those folks in the business.

Alex Ferrari 7:54
Right. Not to the filmmakers as much. Okay, exactly.

Well, let me let me ask you that, let me ask you that question. Because, you know, I've been I've been yelling from the top of the mountain for a while now that I feel that the the system has the film distribution side of the business has a systemic problem that has been there pretty much since the inception of the industry where distributors have and in the distribution contracts. And the way that whole traditional model is, is set up not to pay really or not to take care of the artists not to take care of the filmmaker. I mean, I remember it was it Chaplin and fair banks and Pickford, they opened up United Artists, because they kept getting screwed out of the business side of things. It's been going on forever. Do you think it's it? I don't think it's getting any better, do you? I mean, there's more knowledge out there, but I don't think it's getting any better. And why is it? Why is it that way? Because you've been in the business for a while?

Orly Ravid 8:52
So I'll answer the why it is that way first, which is, you know, American culture is very commercially focused. We don't support our arts in this country, with government and public funds, generally. I mean, these are some exceptions. And and we don't treat distribution as a mission, we treat it as a business and people in business. I mean, you know, they're, they're, they're billionaires buying up mobile home parks, and evicting the tenants, you know, their landlord, you know, the people who ratchet up rent, I mean, big businesses, big business. And that's just the culture that we're in, in in with film. I think the disconnect for folks is that because independent films, feel like they're doing artwork, you know, working to do something important, artistically important, culturally important, that it should be treated differently. And I agree that it should be but if you're going to do a deal with a traditional commercial distributor, I mean, they're not obviously all the same, but certainly the whole is oriented to make money for the for the for the distributor and and take rights. For a very long time and that kind of thing, and it's just a different system here that we have that that's that Walmart or sorry, just, you know what the way Walmart approaches, vendors, you know, push very hard to get the best price. And if we don't sell it, you're going to take it back. Right? The business is taking care of itself.

Alex Ferrari 10:18
Got it. And it's just, it's just the brutal nature of this, this, at least this this in America. And I know the UK is not too far behind that there's a lot of guys doing that kind of deal. But internationally, because you worked internationally as well. is a different distribution deals or is it like, you know, when you're in Cannes or at AFM? I mean, these deals are similar in overseas, like in France, or in Germany or in other major, but is that just a general way of the business is done period?

Orly Ravid 10:47
Well, yeah, I mean, they're the all rights distributor deals in Europe, and in Asia can be for just as long of a term. You know, and there can be similar accounting issues. Certainly, we've noticed that. But at the same time, the difference is a lot of the European films are financed by public funds. And frankly, the filmmakers are not so worried about as long as the distribution happens. They're not so they're not always getting the money back. So and then the, you know, the public broadcaster's that are funded by public funds, and even on sales companies that can get public support, like in France and stuff. So, but I will, because you had a second part of the question that I didn't yet answer, which is, I think it is getting better not because necessarily distributors are going to book two things, I think there is a movement that I like to think that I'm part of having started, which is creating other distribution opportunities for filmmakers that are not deleterious that are not going to be harmful. And I think that that different ethos, and a different push for more transparency, and for better terms, has shifted the market a little bit, because they're now there are services that accommodate that, you know, for example, I love working with giant entertainment. I think they're, they're an example of a way to get VOD distribution done without giving your rights away for a really long time. But also, the fact that, you know, there's a bunch of distribution folks can do themselves, right? People are booking theaters themselves, people are, you know, getting someone on their team to do it, or hiring a service. People can get onto VOD platforms through aggregators, which is a much safer way. There's a there's obviously the marketing question there. But in other words, what before distribution was so much more cost intensive, there was also a barrier to entry for the filmmakers, right? It was to make 35 millimeter prints was expensive to traffic them as expensive to an employee that was, you know, gatekeeping. And you weren't going to be booking theaters yourself. Although I think Cassavetes did it. So I guess you could have done it, when could have done it in the 70s. But now, it's a lot a lot less expensive to make the movie, it's also a lot less expensive distributed. And I'm not talking about, you know, $100 million campaign, you know, on a few 1000 screens, but just for the, you know, an indie film, and that happens all the time. There's service deals, right? So the model, there's plenty of those opportunities where you can just pay for a service to help you accomplish your goals. And you'll have more control and ownership and keep your ownership of the right.

Alex Ferrari 13:19
So as as we obviously in the middle of a once in a generation pandemic, which is obviously ravaging not only our industry, but the world. But specifically in our industry. How do you see COVID affecting distributors moving forward, because my feeling is that the financial pressure hasn't even begun yet. In my in my feeling, I think it's gonna get a little bit worse. And I feel that a lot of these distributors, especially the predatory ones, will become more predatory. In regards to it. And again, not all there are good. And I always say that there are good distributors out there. But a lot of them these deals are very predatory. And I've been sad. I mean, we could talk about predatory deals that are just, Oh, my God, I'm sure you've read a couple over the years, like, how is this legal? You know,

Orly Ravid 14:06
but how do you see over the years, but I mean, I've been involved with, you know, because I'm an attorney, I help clients see their distributor? Well, I, you know, I don't disagree that, you know, there's going to be even greater desperation to have distribution by on the part of filmmakers who, you know, there's just also just so much more. I mean, I also think filmmakers are kind of going into this not always being educated about, you know, what distribution is how to get it when it can work, and when it can't, not every film has a big audience, right. And that's just the truth. I will say that distributors that I knew and do deals with are seeing a surge in home entertainment consumption, right? I mean, fit VOD generally is I think up 40%. So there's a lot of positive impact and just in terms of extra consumption is also more content than has ever been produced before. And, and the you know, the buyers are more and more commercially oriented. And there's more emphasis on series and less on independent film. So that's the Plus, you know, I think it depends on what you're creating that you may even have more opportunities than you would have before. In terms of though theatrical and having an impact there. It's obviously tremendously diminished. festivals, the ability for a film to break out and launch out of a festival is tremendously diminished. I mean, I'm so fascinated to see what happens at Sundance this year. Right and virtual festival, you know, I mean, I guess there's some live components, but, and there'll be virtual festivals for months to come. So I think that it, it creates a glut right films that were premieres itself by are meant to like premiere again, and it's just it is definitely stacking the competition, time, several fold, right, because there's like that many more films going to try to compete at the same time. For note for attention and for distribution, I think that's hard. And I, you know, I don't know what else to say about it, but I think it's gonna be an eye as far as predatory. You know, people should not sign deals with distributors without checking right, you've got your podcast, your Facebook group, and we are going to rejigger our distributor report card early next year. And then, you know, just always so what

Alex Ferrari 16:24
can you can you tell me what the report card is?

Orly Ravid 16:27
Yeah, it's, you know, we have a suite of digital distribution, educational free services. One is the digital distribution Guide, which is a guide to platforms around the world. You know, if you made a certain kind of film, you can see what platforms are available to take the film. And then there's case studies. And then there's a very information rich blog and our social media, all this stuff is free information that or is oriented to VOD distribution, distribution that weren't in VOD, reverse. The distributor porkers, the only thing that I started that I didn't successfully finish the film collaborative, because was getting it was meant to be the Yelp for distribution, right. You know, having transparent information from filmmakers to experienced step distributor, distributors, oh, it was very hard. People just didn't want to comment and want to share even when they could be anonymous. So we're doing it differently. Now we're kind of just going to interview distributors as well to get their representation of what they do and what they do well, and what they're looking for. But also comments from filmmakers about what went well, what didn't go well, to enhance sort of synthesizing that. So instead of it being like, you know, anonymous filmmaker x, right, or, you know, meaning we're just going to synthesize it all. And then I just have my own years of experience, right, like, there and it's not, it's not black and white. There's some distributors who are perfectly fine at this, then the other thing, but not the best at this, or no going into this, you know that this is what this look, this is what it ultimately is. Excuse me, then there are other distributors that are flat out predatory and like, never do we deal with them

Alex Ferrari 17:59
straight up. Don't Don't do it. Yeah. And because I've been, I've been trying to figure out a way to do something like Yelp for distributors, because that's been coming up constantly in the Facebook group that like, Hey, is there a place, we can just go see if this and our Facebook group is a good is a good reference and resource because people just type in? I'm like, Look, just type in the name of the distributor and and the search, and people will let you know, it's not hard to do research on distributors. I mean, you just got to call a few filmmakers up, and they are very honest about it.

Orly Ravid 18:29
Exactly. I always tell every filmmaker don't just take my opinion about what I know, my data points call filmmakers, not just the ones that distributor told you to call, but other ones, and usually you'll hear, but I also think it's to know how to receive the information. I mean, that's part of where hearing the distributors perspective is also useful. It's like, what they're actually able to deliver and what they're promising versus what's not, you know, they're going to do and no one is going to do. Right. And so, you know, you got to get real about what's available in the marketplace as far as distribution for small films. But there's just the flat out predatory ones where like, it doesn't matter. Like just don't do that deal. And I would love to, you know, love to collaborate with you and anyone else on expand, this is a free service that's just meant to correlate. Yeah. Real, real, real experiences that filmmakers have had, you know, and across the top, we're gonna focus on the US first, like, you know, the top 25 to 40 companies that the topic the biggest but rather the most commonly at issue in India.

Alex Ferrari 19:30
Yes, there's a couple of and you know, to be you know, and I beat up on distributors, especially the predatory distributors a lot, but to be fair, you know, a lot of filmmakers go into a distribution deal with very unreasonable expectations, because like I say, There's never an ugly baby there no ugly babies in the world. And that's the same thing with with film like, well, but unfortunately, the truth is, yes, there are ugly babies, and, and filmmakers don't want to hear that they just spent a year and a half, making an ugly baby, and they don't want to hear that and then of course who they Gonna play, they're gonna blame the distributor, whether it's their fault or not that there is there is that? Do you agree with that?

Orly Ravid 20:07
Oh 100% and I and I asked myself or not, I don't only ask myself, I asked them. I mean, you're choosing the most expensive art medium in the world as, as less expensive as it is now than it's been, it's always been more expensive than poetry and painting, and, you know, and playing instruments and everything else. So, you know, and you're usually not just using your own money, you're usually using other people's money. And so if you're just gonna give, if you're gonna have a business plan around your film, it's only looking at the most successful films with anything similar, but really not punch, not a fair comparison with respect to cast over budget or

Alex Ferrari 20:43
genre or time of when it was released.

Orly Ravid 20:47
Right? Well, I mean, genre that usually kind of sure a line in terms of a businessman, but yeah, time when it was released, right, it was released in the heyday of the 80s. When, you know, we just talked about that, or in the 90s, which had its own boom. Um, you know, the difference is, I mean, the difference between then and now is that there's a lot less business to business guaranteed transactions, like when VHS and then DVD were new, the stores needed stuff, and they were going to buy anyway. And now you just don't have that. In fact, now you have so much data that the platforms have themselves, they simply only license but they you know, iTunes, anyone get onto iTunes, without, you know them curating you have provided you meet the tech specs, and other criteria like that. But it doesn't mean you'll sell a guy Damn. Oh, no, absolutely

Alex Ferrari 21:35
not. And Amazon's purging right now they're purging, like, just whenever they feel like it like, Nope, sorry. And you're just gone. Because they don't, they don't need data. They don't care. They don't care. They're selling socks, they make more money selling socks, that they do deal with independent filmmakers.

Orly Ravid 21:50
Well, and they tried, let's get real, they tried to do an independent film initiative with festival stars program. And it didn't last because it wasn't revenue generating. And presumably, if it had been, they would have kept it going. Right. And so and so that's the other thing is like to be realistic about, you know, you know, a film club, but we really try to help folks get clear about where they are in the landscape. If you've made a film, that would be a studio film, if only it had a much bigger budget, a top director, who's, you know, famous and a less cast? Well, but you haven't made that you've made this other thing that, you know, how are people going to know it exists? And what's going to motivate them to watch it? And then the answer is, you know, sometimes it's extraordinary. And it's a breakout, and that's a great thing. And an alias festival can help get you there. And sometimes that happens even without that. But still, you know, what's the data around that? And so and just and the other thing is, filmmakers ask themselves, how many independent films do you view? Right? Like, not studio films, not series, just small films from not famous people that like that you're just like discovering and paying for, or you know what I mean, right? That's when people get really real about it. But again, I kind of don't, I have screwed me in that speech. But I also understand, because they want to make their work. They're artists, and we don't have a kind of funding support in this country. They're just going to get it financed privately, and then try to figure it out.

Alex Ferrari 23:25
Right, and you said something earlier, and I want to kind of touch on this because there's a myth out there that I'd love for you to help me debunk a T VOD transactional video on demand. Everyone thinks that all they need to do is go to an aggregator and and put their films up on iTunes, Google Amazon and and they will be discovered because their film is genius. And the world of TiVo will get the S VOD and Avon in a minute but T VOD in. And I have examples of films making half 1,000,003 million dollars off, off transactional. But two things have to happen. One, one of those examples was in 2010. And they were one of the first movies on iTunes and they had a TV star in it. And they were two very popular directors. So that's an that's out. That's the outskirts. But the other one is you t VOD only works if you have an audience that you can drive to it that actually generates that actually is willing to pay, purchase or rent your film. That's the only way to VOD works. Unless your studio print independence, I feel that it's pretty much dead. What do you think?

Orly Ravid 24:31
I think you're right. Every distributor that I've talked to, um, well, I mean, they're not saying like, it's completely dead. There's still

Unknown Speaker 24:37
trickles.

Orly Ravid 24:38
So yeah, yeah. It's just not the boom that it was for some in the beginning. Because again, when you know, I mean, when cable VOD was a new thing that was a big piece of business. That was like the biggest part of video on demand revenue. And we were ahead of the whole world in terms of video on demand revenue, and then of course, the transactional platforms like apple and stuff like that. And You know, there was a time when there was a reasonable amount of revenue for certain films with the marketing tracks with the audience. Now it's completely really, really died down because there's just so much content available for no extra charge to the to the audience, because, you know, that's streaming or a VOD. And you know, people just don't feel the need to pay for anything other than, you know, the big studio stuff, or maybe some stuff for kids where they want to be able to keep watching it and, and it's not on a streaming service. Or watch without ads, whatever it is, but it's very Yeah, the revenue now for independent films on T VOD is very low. It's the lowest ever been. I've there are exceptions, but they sort of prove the rule. I know that there's one film that companies taking on it is, you know, very VOD focused. And that film is a low budget indie, but it happens to have people in it with huge social media followings that are very supportive, right? It's got to have that or niche right. And I you know, like free solos, a doc that I think did quite well on T like, it's got to have a thing, you know, sports enthusiasts enthusiasm, a certain subculture, right, where people really want to rent it and buy it. And that's all that's available at the time, right? There's the window created to make people to drive those sales. Yeah, if you don't have if you're just that small, would be a studio movie only at a bigger budget with a famous director. And you have no like clear marketing, and even the niches that used to be such a slam dunk like LGBT, which, you know, I know a lot about I've worked for two LGBT distributors, we have a lot of those films that film collaborative, I'm lesbian, you know, like, it's like something I really about even that is no longer like a slam dunk, like any movie will work well, because the the, the population is not desperate for the content anymore as it once was. Right. So

Alex Ferrari 26:50
yeah, because I mean, and you know, in my book, I talked about the power, the only power I feel that filmmakers have, especially small Indies, is niche, that you can target an audience that is very passionate about a subject matter. And that cuts through a lot of marketing that it they'll cut through $100 million, with a marketing of the studio stuff, because I always use the example I'm a vegan. So when that that the game changers came up, I was just clamoring to see that the game changers documentary when it came out, which is about athletes, vegan athletes, which was brand new, no one had ever really done anything, or at least marketed properly. And it did have some heavy hitters behind the head, James Cameron, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, and a couple other big executive producers behind it. But I was clamoring and everything just wiped away all these other content. I was like, I need when is this release and I paid for the rental. And then of course, three weeks later was on Netflix. I was like son of them. But I didn't tell you that, but they didn't tell you that right. And it was also but I was also very passionate about that. So that is I think the only hope we have as independent filmmakers is to do like LGBT is is a sub genre. And if you're able to, to focus on that, and target that audience and really build something that's a value to that audience, that's the only hope you have you can't make a broad comedy anymore. Can't make a broad, you know, drama.

Orly Ravid 28:08
Unless Listen, I mean, at the

Alex Ferrari 28:11
end level at the end, like it's gonna

Orly Ravid 28:13
end by the way game changers, you know, great example. But a lot of money went into that, too. I mean, that movie was not marketed just with like, grassroots there was like,

Alex Ferrari 28:22
Oh, no, that was a big, that's a big example. But I'm just using the concept of the niche.

Orly Ravid 28:26
Yeah, like 100% and, and yet, I would say after you have a few movies within the niche, it's not enough to just make the movie in the niche. So so so that was a unique movie at the time. There's anything since but there's for other other niches there are plenty of movies that are that are covering, you know, the subject, I mean, but there's plenty of different niches, you know, different interests, like musician type, you know, music interests, ballet,

Alex Ferrari 28:51
sports, DMX, but there's so much,

Orly Ravid 28:55
you know, Cannabis, I mean, but but then and then it's also like, what else is happening within that niche? Is your work going to really satisfy? And is it going to really, you know, and then, and then there's that, you know, just building community around the film early on, and knowing that if you're not going to have $100 million, you're going to need to spend a lot of time to reach even though it's a more streamlined approach. I'm with you. I'm all about we're all about niche and our case studies, evidence that now broad comedy, I mean,

Alex Ferrari 29:25
$100,000 broad comedy with nobody in it.

Orly Ravid 29:28
Yeah, it's, unless it's something that's going to go viral, because it's so fun.

Alex Ferrari 29:33
But that's but those are outliers. those are those are lottery tickets.

Orly Ravid 29:37
Those are the outliers. And if you're that talented that you can make that then you're going to be successful, even if you even if that movie isn't successful, cuz you're gonna get discovered and you're going to become a comedy writer.

Alex Ferrari 29:46
Right, right. Comedy director, whatever. Exactly. But, you know, again, the niches The thing that I feel that low budget, independent filmmakers have a chance if you can make a series and that's the thing now right now is series if you can create long form series like even six episodes broken up 20 minute episodes, that is more valuable right now in the marketplace. Would you agree? We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show

Orly Ravid 30:19
you Yeah, I think the marketplace is looking for series, but at the same time making a series that nobody consumed is also not useful. So right, if the, if the work doesn't lend itself to be a series, but you know, of course, as its filming, you know, because that's a struggle, I think, you know, it's also like, it's not like all the platforms are just buying up every series that's available, right? They have their pick, and they're buying very little relative to what's available. Right? Well, how much they could buy. So but I'm with you yet, it's it's definitely a time for series. And if you have a series, that's what they want, that's great thing. But there's plenty of docs. And I think, in terms of comparing doc features to doc series, the good news is with docs, there's also so much financial support, that is philanthropic that you can get your work made, and have it be the right format for the work and not and then and then even have impact. I mean, we're all about distribution, that that is not about money making but impact. We're launching a global VOD distribution initiative that is looking to philanthropic and corporate support to get movies out into the world for creating impact without it needing to generate revenue and have the support that came into making the film simply extensive releasing it. But But back to the broad comedy, then there's no issue there. Right? So it's like, we're back to like, what kind of content are you making? And how are you going to find an audience for it? If it's an issue oriented film, if there's a niche, these kinds of things, you can see a marketing plan. If it's just, if it's just entertainment, I don't think just

Alex Ferrari 31:47
then, but but it is just because there's like, I mean, I go on night, and every night I go to Netflix, I got Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, Disney plus I go through, I'm like, What am I gonna watch tonight, and sometimes I literally watch because there's so much new stuff, but I can't. This is what this is my, this is my and please tell me what yours is. When you're scanning through your streaming services. If you see something that you're familiar with either an actor or a genre, specifically an actor, or director or someone like that, you'll feel more comfortable going to that, because you just feel confident. That's why Adam Sandler has a career. It's he's one of the biggest stars on Netflix, because anytime you skip on you go Oh, that's an Adam Sandler movie. I know exactly what I'm going to get with an Adam Sandler movie. There's no surprises unless you're watching punch drunk love. Other than that, it's generally and that's why people might not admit it in public, but they're like, you know what, this is just gonna be silly and funny and, and like that new one. He just said, Halloween hoobie or whatever. Huge. They're like, going to make a sequel for it. Because it was such a big, big hit. But when you're going through, like for me to trust an unknown is tough for me. And even if I do give it a shot, I give him five minutes. And they don't get me out. So that's why it's so difficult to stand out. As opposed in the 90s. Do you think El Mariachi clerks, slacker brothers mcmullin? Do you think they would ever find a voice today? No way.

Orly Ravid 33:12
I agree with you. I agree with everything you said. I do. One thing you didn't mention I think is also true. I'm sure for you to like shits Creek, the show I would have never known or heard about. And but it's also because of a social media phenomenon or word of mouth. I do think there's that that's happening now. Which is like, there's so many series. I mean, if I did nothing, but watch the content available, I would run out of time before I died. Of course, if I lived a very long life. So you know, you just kind of like what's you know, people are raving about this and that and

Alex Ferrari 33:43
but ya know, they're all the platforms, all the platforms have their name and look at speaking of like, niches look at Disney plus, what Disney did is, I mean, we saw it coming. And we all kind of felt like, there's something here, but they just have killed it. They're they're taking over and they just released the finger few weeks ago that released that we're like, yeah, we're restructuring our entire business model for streaming. Yeah. Because they go, this is the future. This is where it all began. And you just started yesterday, they released that Wonder Woman. Yeah. on HBO for free. On December 25. That's a what $150 million film. I mean, wow. That is I mean, I know COVID is up is definitely fast tracked all this stuff and forced us to do it. But yeah, I mean, the business model solid.

Orly Ravid 34:35
Yeah. Well, I mean, it's different. The technology is there, especially in this country, but it's also obviously developed in many other parts of the world. And where people are home, and it's working and actually it's less expensive is slightly less expensive than doing a theatrical campaign. So you know, yeah, I'm with you. I have some Disney stock. I like I'm happy like this is doing well. You I totally agreed, I think. And so and then there are the times when it's back to the COVID thing where an indie filmmaker, I mean, just think about, like the filmmakers who got their careers because of having a short or a feature breakout at Sundance or there to get discovered there. I do think that's another thing that's going to be challenging now is the discovery.

Alex Ferrari 35:19
But the thing is, though, and I've been kind of breaking down the Sundance myth for a while is like, that doesn't happen as much anymore. It's not the night like in the 90s. It happened. Every month, I felt that there was a new story, a magical mythical story. But now, like, I haven't heard of a lot of short filmmakers breaking out of Sundance, I know many Sundance winners who didn't make money on their films, and they're still struggling to get their next gig. Like it's not the automatic golden ticket that it was in the 90s. You know, like,

Orly Ravid 35:48
I think it was an automatic golden ticket in the 90s. I just think there were enough successes that your odds were better than they are. Now. I definitely agree with you. The it's definitely not that anymore. Now, on the happy note, there's so many more buyers than there have ever been, right? Oh, yeah. Right. And, um, and it's less expensive to make the work and less expensive to distributed, and there's so many more buyers. And then there's also a real push for diversity. And there's, I've seen my clients on the legal side, like people getting jobs that they might not have gotten in the past. Not that they didn't deserve it. But you know, I mean, given opportunities that they were overlooked, for, they shouldn't have been overlooked for. And I think that that's what's great now, so there's a plus side

Alex Ferrari 36:29
to Oh, no, absolutely. And there's so much more opportunity now. But this is what I feel that a lot of filmmakers now, and I see this in my work on a daily basis, I see filmmakers, making movies producing films, thinking that the distribution landscape is set up, like it was in the 90s. Like, that's their bit, the business model is set up like, oh, we're gonna do this, and we're gonna get this amount of money in there. So these pre sales and like, it was tough. In December 2019, it was tough, let alone now like now, nobody even know,

Orly Ravid 37:03
literally looks like it was written in the 90s. Like I've seen, I worked for someone who is even in the 2000s had marked, you know, a conception for the films that were way overblown. Were like the budgets were twice as big as they should have been relative to how much money could be made? Yeah, I think people need to adjust. And they need to get honest. I mean, I do think that there's sometimes a willful blindness on the part of the filmmaking community, because it works to raise money and it needs to not feel, you know, you know, like, it's not doing the right thing. And then it's just becomes, you know, and if you're investing in film, you just need to know that you might not see your money back. And that's okay. As long as you know that and you're happy to support it should people putting money behind film should be doing it, not because they're going to get rich. But because they wanted to support the artists. I've always thought of an interesting model of invest in the artist for a period of time, right? Like, imagine if you'd bet invested in you know, carry for an hour, Chris Nolan, like you don't I mean, like, back in the day before they first made their first films. So I think that's another business model that I've just sort of fantasized about, but I've never employed. But I do think that what you're talking about if people like, just deliberately not inquiring as to what the economics of film are today, it's just,

Alex Ferrari 38:26
it's, it's foolish. Like, I mean, I talked to a filmmaker the other day, who made half a million dollar horror movie with one older horror star that only horror fans would know. And it was a half a million dollar movie, and they're like, Where can I go? I'm like, you're never gonna get that money back. Like,

Orly Ravid 38:44
they have no audience? Or is it very glad to know her expert, but when I I've sold some art in the past, and the distributor will tell you there's a there's a lot. I mean, there are deals to be done

Alex Ferrari 38:54
in half, but half a million for No, no stars. And it's like, it's gonna it was well produced. It's like a well produced, nice horror, but that, look, if you could have made that movie for 175, you could probably make a profit. But

Orly Ravid 39:12
you know, something about it. I mean, again, breaks it that was about that level of deal. But it involved other elements, I think, right? There's got to be, there's way too many of those movies is wastage of that content unless you have something that's going to break out. And there's a reason that it's going to be special and make that and generate that revenue. Because I mean, there is there are still pre sales, but for cash driven films,

Alex Ferrari 39:35
it has to be cash revenue has to be cash driven.

Orly Ravid 39:37
And and and the genre stuff is also quite I mean, it's still in demand, but there's so much of it that it's like there's a lot more that isn't sold than there is that is

Alex Ferrari 39:46
Yeah, without question. Now. We talked about t VOD, the S VOD world is pretty much I mean people now the golden goose is not DVD but getting that Netflix deal and getting that Hulu deal or getting you know Those kind of deals. And those are lottery tickets nowadays. I mean, again, that flicks isn't buying a whole lot of I mean, you tell me better than but they're not buying a whole lot of especially independent films that they stopped that for a while ago, right. And Amazon isn't either, you've got to have a very big cast. Yeah, you have to have a very big cast, if they're even going to look at it.

Orly Ravid 40:22
Well, or you have something that they want to adapt to be something bigger, or you have something fits in niche that that that tracks their data, what really well, I mean, they're very data driven. I mean, they're, they're buying, but they're buying very, you know, I have a client that whose movie they bought, there's also you know, it's a global market for them. So there could be content that really works. That isn't, wouldn't work here, necessarily, but it's going to work in different parts of the world, that's a big, you know, a market that they're developing, right. So I don't want to completely undersell the ability to sell to Netflix. But it's certainly the case that I mean, most movies out of most festivals they will not buy. So that whole thing of like going to a good festival, even Sundance, you can go and not get sold at all, let alone to Netflix. So and just being a tiny little movie, without other clear elements that they're looking at me, because the best way to know about what Netflix wants is what Netflix has, right? What if they just like, you know, scroll through everything they have it relates to your movie and see what it is. And then you'll see, you know, I mean, obviously, they could have stuff, it's no longer tracking well, but they're very data driven. And you know, I've sold to them before, and yet I've been told no a bunch to and there's no sales agent who hasn't been told no a bunch, right then. And I every, by every single big platform,

Alex Ferrari 41:42
I know, I just want filmmakers listening to understand like that that's a goal. But that's not a business plan, there's no guarantee, there's not even a high probability you have to it's kind of like winning Sundance or excuse me getting into Sundance, like the probabilities are hard. So you have to adjust that, you know, I always try to talk about, I always try to be real and raw about the truth, with hopefully with a positive swing, but I just don't worry, they're gonna get, I think I've been saying this lately, like, you're going to get punched in the face, okay, like, we all get punched in the face in this business, it's, we're all going to get it. It's the difference between, I'm going to tell you, I'm going to punch you in the face. And you're seeing the fist coming to you slowly or getting cold cocked. That's how, and I just want you to be prepared for it when you get to it. Because I've got a lot of shrapnel, as I'm sure you do in this business.

Orly Ravid 42:32
Ya know, and it's been nice to hear you talk about your sort of tough talk because I actually in the same very, you know, straight talking New Yorker, yes, is it means words and news. And sometimes I get thanked for being so honest, I often get thanked for being so honest. But I do think occasionally, it's, you know, receipts is just sort of negative, and I don't want to be that. But at the same time, I really don't want to participate in any false, you know, assumptions, and any puffing that is going to lead to people being disappointed later. And so I rather err, on the side of being a little tough. But, you know, I just yesterday had a conversation with someone who I was like, Look, I don't see a big international potential for this. And they were explaining to me what they do. And I always say, I'd love to be wrong. But, and I really don't mean this in an ego way. But I really am. And I really, I think when those words come out of my mouth, I don't think I've ever once been wrong, where I've made a statement like about and then been proven. And part of it's also people. They don't think of it in terms of Okay, like, actually how many films are submitted to Sundance and how many are selected? How many films are pitched to Netflix, how many are selected? And what are they buying? I talked about, you know, whether this film will work internationally, like, what does that actually mean? Like? how, you know, the buyers need to buy it in order for the audience's to be given the opportunity to see it? And is that likely how many American films are they buying in the first place? What types at what prices? It's that kind of stuff that people are? They're not looking at the business of it all right now, and and the math behind it, like the sheer volume of competition. And what they're doing is is what they're doing is focusing on all the positive press that they read over the years of people just being

Alex Ferrari 44:30
the lottery tickets, the lottery tickets,

Orly Ravid 44:32
but they haven't thought about all the entrance, right? All the tickets that weren't that weren't winners.

Alex Ferrari 44:38
a lottery ticket logo is that every week someone wins the lottery. But every week, millions of people don't. And they only show you the lottery ticket winner and that's what they show up because that's the good marketing. If they just said up another 200 million people didn't win the lottery this week. No one would buy a lottery ticket.

Orly Ravid 44:53
And the lifelong amount of money spent by people pursuing that and not never getting it right. How many people who could have been better of saving that money getting interest on it, or even investing it in the stock market,

Alex Ferrari 45:05
buying a house and renting it like I mean, there's, look, if you're in this business, this is not a money making, I mean it is. But there are so many other places that are better suited to generate revenue, you're in this because you love it. And you have a spark of madness in you. I mean, we all are a bit crazy just to be in this business. And the ones that we'd like you and I've been in it for, you know, many years, where we should be certified at this point, because there's no excuse we know better. But for some people young coming in, you know, it this is you have to be a little mad. And that's okay, because this is an artistic medium. And artists are crazy in the first place. And you have to look at things differently, you have to be outside the box, and you have to, because that's what makes art art. But I feel that you know, you were you were saying something earlier that triggered a thought in my head, which was filmmakers are taught in film schools and by Hollywood that you need to worry about the craft, and they teach you how to to bake the cake, but they have no idea. They never teach you how to sell the cake. They never teach you how to build a bakery that actually is profitable, they just show you like, look at the cool font on look at the

Orly Ravid 46:20
business right there. Also business if they told you that all the tuition you were paying might be a big fat risk. But I'll also say this, I'm never surprised anymore by the power of a passionate filmmaker. I do think you know, it's important to combine the passion with empowered knowledge, and in and be and be real. But when people are absolutely obsessed with with getting success, they often do. It just might not be exactly the version that they thought initially right, the Netflix things happen like that. But I will say there is something to be said for me, especially when they're talented. I mean, the intense passion without any talent is a little bit. Not great, but very talented. And you're very passionate, you know, often more often than not good things will come from that. It's just maybe not exactly how you first division. I also want to be clear about the you know, just back to Netflix. I mean, I worked at a distributor with a distributor that sold to Netflix before they even had a streaming service. There was a great boon back then, because similar to the you know, model of the retail stores, buying physical media, they were buying stuff just to have it to offer to build their business. So every so often, there's a new version of that, right there, you know, VHS, and then DVD and blu ray, and then VOD. And there was a window of time where there was a lot of business being done just because the business was being built up. And people needed stuff. It's just that we've passed that into the question is now what's next, because it's hard to imagine yet another thing in life when he was in an interesting experiment that obviously failed. And I think it was probably destined to fail, regardless of pandemic, but then the pandemic happened. And I do think that, you know, on the positive side, there is kind of these like, every, every 10 years, or whatever, every number of years another kind of boon in the business that keeps things going. And another boon of people willing to invest in it, right was like, real estate people, dentists, I'm forgetting the order of calm people, right? There's like new wounds of people. It's a sexy, attractive space to be in. Crazy people attracted to it all the better. But, so there's but but not, you know, where are you in that landscape? Right, in terms of, so I guess what I'm getting at is, I think people always find a way to get their movies financed and made, and then they always find a way to get them distributed to some extent. But they do need to be I think they need to be real about not to assume that it'll come from an easy a less festival acceptance and an easy, big deal,

Alex Ferrari 48:56
right, or just an easy distribution deal, which there is no such thing as an easy distribution.

Orly Ravid 49:02
And many distribution deals these days, or, yes, we'll take all your rights for 10 to 15 years, and we'll give you no money upfront, and we will recoup expenses and if it's successful, you'll make some money or maybe, maybe, right depends on the deal, right depends on their expenses and, and how much money they're allowed to recoup and what their distribution fee is, and whether they're accounting, honestly and accounting at all. at all, I've seen people just stop accounting. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 49:28
oh, yeah. Or the hip pocket deals or cross collateralization. And there's so many little, little things you can do on a deal to make sure you never get paid

Orly Ravid 49:40
middleman that you didn't know existed, to figure it out right to actually don't do any VOD on them that this happened quite a bit where the companies didn't do the video on demand on themselves and someone else did in that company took a fee and

Alex Ferrari 49:53
it just keeps going and keep you'll never make it you'll never make a dime or the the with cross collateralization with Walmart buyback. Like you who's gonna eat that? Not the distributor, you're gonna eat that.

Orly Ravid 50:04
If that's in the contract.

Alex Ferrari 50:05
You're eating it. You're reading it now with what you were saying. Like there's always that next thing I feel that it was t VOD, then it turned into s VOD, but I do. I do believe now. It's a VOD. Yeah. A VOD is the thing now that we're filmmakers are making money. But if you notice, in everyone listening from VHS to a VOD, the the ROI has dropped

Orly Ravid 50:29
substantially. It's not it's because a VOD isn't like. Okay, so when to be, you know, launched? I mean, first it had I think films, not even licensing but, you know, it was a boon. A lot of filmmakers got on there. And similar to what you're saying, like when you're early on the platform, there's a lot of money, nice big check. And distributors who had like master distributors take you know, rights for so long. Because every time there's a new transition in the marketplace, they have a big basket to deliver. And, you know, they get in early, they make money. Um, so there were people there were a lot of people that I think did well early on, but now they're getting just to select it right. And at the same stuff as that was true before, just like with Netflix, where in the beginning, it builds up to you know, curate for indie film lovers to get people to subscribe, didn't need to do quite as much of that same thing, right? All of a sudden, to these folks, some more commercial stuff, not everything is going to get on there. Not everything is going to transact not everything's gonna get on the homepage. You know, it's it's so Amazon It was also a big boon for films for a while. But stars initiative was awesome, then that was discontinued. Prime change its its its rates right down to one cent. Um, you know, it's so I think if you're a distributor, you're gonna keep chasing where the money is and have make a living because you have a lot of volume, where you're the individual film, if you don't, if you're not a commercial film, or film with a very clear niche, you're just not going to drop it.

Alex Ferrari 52:03
But it means from so from the from the inception of the film industry, to let's say, the late 70s, early 80s, the distribution model was fairly the same. It didn't really change, you made a movie, you went off theatrical, you maybe redo a reissue every few years, and that that was basically the way and then maybe some MTV showed up, and we could sell the rights to TVs and there was foreign sales, but it was all fairly stable. Then VHS showed up. And that was the first kind of shift, really major shift. But then it was a slow, we're talking a decade, 15 years, then DVD. So as you notice as time goes on the the shift is much shorter. Now it's monthly.

Orly Ravid 52:48
But it's not you're choosing to break out the VOD category with with the types of VOD and I will just say that really, if you think about it, t VOD is DVD but less expensive, right as it is TV by race. Correct. And Eve is TV that in different ways, right? Everybody's just the TV with ads. And as far as cable, you know, right? It's

Alex Ferrari 53:11
just online. It's just a different version of it. But I remember when a VOD was a dirty word. Like you went to a VOD, if you were you had nowhere else to go. And you're like, sorry.

Orly Ravid 53:20
You've done everything else. Now.

Alex Ferrari 53:22
It's like I know, distributors are going straight to a VOD. Like,

Orly Ravid 53:26
I think it depends on the movie. Yeah. But I think there's some films that are still doing it kind of traditional in that there is enough business potential to do transactional first, or and or there's enough of a big s5 sell potential that that's going to happen instead of a bot. or event. What happened only after that window, you know, but But yeah, fair enough. Yeah, I think that's right. And I and that's why it's important to stay on top of what's happening in the business, and where your film fits in with that. Right. So my other words, just hearing that Avon is a big boon. Now, it's not for everything. So are you making a film that lends itself to that? And is it going to come out in time? You know, and then the other thing is, there's a big surge in home entertainment, revenue, and VOD. That's happening under COVID. Well, what's going to happen when there's a vaccine released in and things shift, again, are things shifting, we're gonna like, be like, okay, I was in my house for a year. Now, I'm not turning on. I doubt that's gonna happen.

Alex Ferrari 54:23
No, no, it will. But that's a good question, though. So do you think the theatrical obviously, in business has completely been devastated? And even when this when we get out of COVID in let's hopefully, let's say within the next 12 months, 12 to 18 months, maybe completely out back to somewhat of normalcy? Many of those screens are going to be gone. They just didn't make it during this time. So the screen capacity is going to be less though I think someone will buy these screens and maybe do something with it. But do you think that it's going to get to where it was before because it wasn't ready? Going down. I mean, if you pull Marvel out of the last 10 years, there is the box office would be in a very bad shape. So it was definitely on it's a downward slope. But this just just accelerated everything. Do you think theatrical is going to be what it once was even at 2019 levels?

Orly Ravid 55:19
No, I have no reason to think that i think that i do think that in the same way that privacy, a lot of flying happen after the pandemic is behind us. I do think that, you know, for the studio films, it'll be super blooded, that there'll be a business, great business for the studios. But for the independence. No, I think if anything, people will just have been trained to see that much more of that content, if at all, on at home, and that there won't be a reason, a good enough reason to go out. I mean, I, you know, I think festivals will still be thrive, will thrive and events, screenings, and all that kind of stuff. But in terms of the decline that was already happening to theatrical generally, especially for Indies, there's no reason that should be reversed. I don't, I don't see that at all. And it doesn't even make sense. Because, you know, a lot of the time the home experience, other than not being communal is no worse technologically than depending on with what theaters we're talking about.

Alex Ferrari 56:14
So, sometimes it'll be superior.

Orly Ravid 56:17
Yeah, exactly. And, you know, but I think the community experience of a festival and community screenings, yeah, event vehicles and all that stuff, especially that worked for niches or issue oriented films, or certain kinds of community communities, all that stuff will be I think people wish it could be happening now. And it'll go back but but but a theatrical indie hit that it's like, oh, this tiny, little $3 million movie generated way, way, way more times than its budget. I think that will be it'll happen, but I think it'd be rare.

Alex Ferrari 56:47
All right. Now, I have to ask you, can you give me an example of the best distribution deal that you've ever been a part of or seen, and the most predatory that you're like, I can't believe this person is walking the earth?

Orly Ravid 57:04
Well, what I can say is, I'm very proud of how much right splitting I did. For one film. You know, we actually turned down, I'm not gonna name the name of the film. But we turned down in this case, it's very rare for me, I think the only time I turned on a worldwide Netflix deal into instead do a very significant television deal. And another very significant VOD deal, both you know, real money, and then an airline deal and a home video deal. And then additional educational distribution and additional. And then a number of territory sales and until additional television sales. So that that it was that it was like so much. Right splitting, that was successful, where the film, filmed in festivals for over two years, and made a whole bunch of money that way through film collaborative. And so that was where each distributor was willing to do what it did best, and let everything else be carved out and have a really wonderful, robust combination of deals. And I've done that to different extents a few times before. I love the giant entertainment, giant pictures of deals of just three years, I think giant is kind of a hybrid between aggregator and distributor, I don't think they would purport to do a ton of marketing, but they're not absentee about that. They're just sort of partner with people on marketing. So I, I I've done those deals that I think are wonderfully, like beautifully filmmaker safe. Um, you know, and then there's just a whole bunch of other in between, right, where, like, the distribution deal wasn't totally predatory. But it wasn't totally amazing why the distributor didn't like do incredible stuff. But there's other good deals that I've done over the years that are that I'm that I could say the distributor did everything that they said they would do now in terms of, I mean,

Alex Ferrari 59:05
the most credit, like the most predatory thing, you when you read it, you're just like, oh my god,

Orly Ravid 59:10
I mean, green apples deal is predatory. Oh, wow. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 59:15
What is what is green apple?

Orly Ravid 59:18
Yeah, and I mean, maybe they'll sue me for saying it, but that's okay. I think it's predatory I charging a marketing fee of 30 Grand i think is in their contracts. Okay. You know, I, you know, take you right, I mean, that's, it's it's that kind of thing, to me when you have marketing feed. I mean, it's one thing for a sales agent to have a market of a market fee, saying okay, instead of us doing this countless complex accounting of figuring out exactly what how to amortize. You know how to prorate you were just going to charge this thing. I still think you drill down into that and you don't just accept it at face value. But But you know, when you're just like taking filmmakers writes without promising anything in return in terms of the degree of release the marketing to be done, right. There's no actual commitment unless you know, a boy or made them change their content, which I'm not sure they would. And you just on its face, the contract is like, yep, we're taking your rights, we're going to go back to a $30,000 marketing fee and not make any promises.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:20
And how was it? What was the length of it? What's the length of the deal? 10 year?

Orly Ravid 1:00:24
I don't, because I never I mean, my clients never did that deal with me having been their lawyer prior to that. But I've seen that deal after the fact that people came to me after they signed it. Yeah, it was like, it was like 10, it was, I could double check. But it was more than seven years, probably more like a 10 or 15 year deal. But even if it was, I'm almost positive it was in four or five years. But the bottom line is, I've heard the filmmakers complain later, they're unhappy, right? Nothing that they were told was going to happen happened. And you know, they're never going to see a penny because there's not enough money coming in. I mean, you know, I'm not saying that the distributor is incapable of distributing the films, I'm just saying the deal on its face is almost always going to be hideous for the filmmaker. If, and frankly, I don't even understand the logic behind simply charging that kind of a fee without doing the marketing. without, you know, without having a real promise and commitment that's worth that

Alex Ferrari 1:01:23
we get little or break it down. Like Yeah, we're gonna buy $15,000 of Facebook ads, and we're gonna get some billboards, and we're gonna do this kind of

Orly Ravid 1:01:29
thing. I would bet money that that never happens where they never actually spend $30,000

Alex Ferrari 1:01:35
No, of course not. No, that's well, and nowadays, like before, it was like, Oh, we go to the markets we go to Can we go advocate but no one's no one's flying anywhere.

Orly Ravid 1:01:43
That's the other thing I'm seeing in sales agent deals those same that, you know, where I said, it's not necessarily unreasonable, but you need to drill into it. It's like, You're not going anywhere. There's no flying, there's no booth, there's no nothing. It's never been less expensive to do sales. And apparently, no, because it's a virtual market. Not to say that that will stay forever. But that's the thing is don't just sign these things. So, you know, and I tell filmmakers, the term is not, to me the biggest issue not because I love doing long terms, I love giant for their three year terms. But not to say that just because a distributor has a seven or 10, or even 15 year term, that's so terrible, because there's a logic behind it for from their perspective. But also, the value of the film really, like a car really goes down so fast right after it's been released. a year or two later, very few films are generating enough money for it to be back for it's a bit of a thing.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:33
So then what So then why hold it for so many years?

Orly Ravid 1:02:35
Well, because what I said earlier, right? I mean, the distributors perspective, a, they will have spent money on it. So they want to not be at risk of not recouping and making money. But also because of that, then they have a nice lock, brakes time, there's a new thing, they have a basket to start with. I mean, that's a good thing. If you're a distributor like Netflix launch is great, I've got 50 or 100 movies, I can license you to be great. Like they're in a best position, if they didn't keep the rights for a long period of time, they wouldn't have that library. Right?

Alex Ferrari 1:03:04
But that's not helpful. Now for to the filmmaker, it's more helpful to them.

Orly Ravid 1:03:07
Well, it can be both. I mean, I can't I don't want it to be so I don't want to be so tilted. Got it can be helpful. The filmmaker in that tube is not coming to individual filmmakers, right, you know, Netflix, I mean, or you know, I'm not saying it never happens. But mostly these platforms, these new buyers are only going to go to a place where they can get a lot of content at once not just one offs. Plus, it's a really big one off. And in that way the filmmaker is helped because it's an opportunity that otherwise they wouldn't get it's just a question of under what terms? Is there going to be part of that? Or is if there's going to be the question is what happens when that film just isn't doing any business? anywhere? Five years into the term? Will the filmmaker get the rights back? And the distributor will say no, because, you know, we still wanted the opportunity to keep monetizing to the extent possible, and is the distributor, do anything to keep giving life to that film after you know, the first year of release? So these are the things to drill into? What are you getting for giving up the rights for that period of time? Are they committed to always pitching your films? every platform? Are they really marketing thoroughly?

Alex Ferrari 1:04:11
What are they doing to the consumers all that stuff? Yeah,

I had a deal. I was consulting once and they came to me with this deal, which was 20 year $50,000 marketing fee yearly. Oh, wow. yearly, yearly, a 20 year so it's like okay, so $2 million. So that's a million dollars over the course of the term. So you'll never ever gonna see a dime and then we put I go, let's just play it was 25 years excuse was 25 years. 25 year term. And let's push back let's let's see what happens and we pushed back and they're like, okay, okay, okay. 15 years and 10,000 a year.

Orly Ravid 1:04:52
What is this in here? It's just in there. You know, and I you know, some of the things I do understand from Like I said, I've been a distributor. But it's also true that even the distribution expenses, it was really expensive to make VHS is indeed Yeah, how it's not expensive to do VOD, it just isn't right. I mean, I'm not saying it's free, I'm just saying it's hundreds of dollars or a few 1000. It's not per platform, it's not, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:19
a 10s of 1000s. Yeah,

Orly Ravid 1:05:20
and don't put my film on 100 platforms at my expense, unless it makes sense. Like, you know, this film actually gonna get onto those platforms and actually perform. So I think those are the things to look to, but I, I just, you know, I think it's important, this is part of what the distributor portraits meant to do is not just only have red flags, and also, you know, happy you know, blue ones, whatever the color would be, for good, you know, for good and bad work on distribution, perfect, to also have perspective on what why things are the way they are, in what what you should push back on, and what maybe isn't so necessary to push back on, you know, I will say, you know, whenever wants to be in a queue media or tug or distributor like scenario where you can't get your rights back when they become insolvent, or file for bankruptcy. And similarly, I don't want to not be able to get my filmmakers rights back, if the if there's uncured, material breach, you know, but if they have distributors, that everything they said they would do, and honor the contract, but you simply haven't made as much money as you hoped. There's not going to be happy to just hand you your rights back.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:26
Right. It's it there's there's a balance there's there's a balance with everything. Now, can you tell me really what is film called? collaborative and what what is it? What do you do with it? What's the work you do with it?

Orly Ravid 1:06:37
It's a nonprofit, that is focused on educating filmmakers about film distribution, facilitating film distribution without taking their rights, I founded it. At the end of oh nine, we launched officially 2010. And we have a lot of educational information on the website. And in our books about distribution, I recommend folks go to the film collaborative.org some of those resources I've mentioned earlier today, speak English, or we have something always replaced. Anyway, we have all that free educational information about distribution. And we also have membership. consulting services for folks, if they want, like, you know, one on one or one on two, let's say two of us to watch the film and advise about it or three of us, it depends. We do festival distribution, I think better than anyone, we, you know, help with the festival strategy, we submit the films to programmers that we know personally, there's no code submission, there's no paint to submit. And we also monetize the funds on the festival circuit that can sometimes generate six figures, sometimes more often than not five figures, that we share that money with the filmmakers and then we're never taking rights. So any deal that's done with us can be cancelled at any time. And we also do sales, but in a very, very boutique fashion. So I don't want to oversell the sales practice. But we can definitely help with that service of pitching the right places and helping to do the deal and collaborate with a sales agent. Like we also play well with others. So if we provide a distribution service, but you're also working with, you know, you name it, the sales agency, or you want help doing international sales, which I don't do anymore, very often. On purpose, you know, we'll pair you with folks that we think are trustworthy. So we basically can help with every single aspect of distribution to one extent, or either completely or in part without taking rights. And we're launching the TFC group global VOD impact initiative that I mentioned earlier, which is that's going to be documentary focused. And that is going to be taking films that are that really are meant to have an impact around the world that are, you know, meant to educate and inspire and impact and getting them widely distributed, including on VOD platforms around the world. There's like 3000 VOD platforms just in Europe. Not saying that film needs to be on all of them. I'm just saying there's a whole world out there. That's not just the big squads that you know, and TV ads in a box that we know of in the States. But having films reach audiences around the world with a goal of impact, not revenue generation and have the revenue come from philanthropy and corporate support.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:20
Very cool. I'm so glad there's something like you in the world. And I love to spotlight that kind of stuff I've been, you know, I've been fighting the good fight over here for a while now. And I'm glad that there's other Avengers out there we have to unite to take down predatory distributors and educate filmmakers as much as possible on on the process. I know. I was just talking to a filmmaker yesterday. Like Alex, you saved me from going with this trimmer. Like I was literally about a day away from submitting and paying when you came out with your podcast and broke that story. And I'm like, Oh my god, I have no idea how that makes me feel and being able to help filmmakers, get them rights back or get their money back. That whole situation was so rewarding, but it is, you know, I, I tend to be sometimes a little bit too raw and too, too brutally honest. But I feel that the business is brutal. And I rather you hear from me, then you lose $500,000 on the movie that you borrowed your money, or at least, you know, took a loan out on your house for which I'm sure you've heard those stories. And I have to,

Orly Ravid 1:10:25
Oh, definitely, no, I totally agree with you. And I think what you did, there was great. And if we had a distributor like service, and I'm really glad that we did not do to filmmakers were distributed. But it made me rethink even our service to make sure because we were working with another service provider transparently, and a less expensive version of the exact same service to distribute. But I never want to be in that place if I don't have total control to make sure that they never get harmed. So we've adjusted that to, you know, and it's knowing what you're doing is great. And, you know, I think the thing is, at the end of the day, if filmmakers just get the knowledge ahead of time, they can make a choice, they can make a choice to proceed anyway, even knowing they might not make the money back, or, you know, knowing they might not be discovered to become an A list director, but at least know that what's possible and and what it takes to get there. And and then, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:16
enjoy the process. Yeah, absolutely. And I appreciate everything you do at the film collaborative and fighting the good fight for the last 10 years now. Plus, working and helping filmmakers. So I appreciate you and thank you so much for coming on the show and, and dropping the knowledge bombs on the tribe today. So I appreciate it.

Orly Ravid 1:11:34
My pleasure. Thanks so much for hosting me. I really appreciate it's been fun. Good luck to everybody stay well.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:41
I want to thank Orly for coming on the show and dropping those distribution knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Thank you so much early. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, including how to reach Orly, head over to the show notes at indie film hustle.com forward slash 444. And if you haven't already, head over to ifH tv.com and check out the world's first streaming service dedicated to filmmakers and screenwriters. We have over 2200 videos there to help you on your filmmaking journey. Just head over to eye f h tv.com. Thank you so much for listening, guys. As always, keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.

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IFH 410: Why Most Independent Films NEVER Make Any Money

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I’ve been thinking about doing this podcast for a long time. In the tradition of Why Filmmakers are Always So Damn Broke & What They Can Do to Change It this episode is going to be a cold bucket of water over your head if you are not ready for it. In the insane world, we are all living in today, filmmakers need to break out of the mindset that we are living in the golden age of indie cinema.

The rules have changed dramatically since the 90s and even more so in the last 8 months of the COVID pandemic. The rules aren’t the only thing that has changed but the game has as well. The film distribution infrastructure is broken and has been broken for many decades. It is not set up to help filmmakers make money. It is purely designed to put more money into the pockets of film distributors.

I have written extensively about this in my book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business. I want to put together one of my hard truths episodes to help filmmakers better understand the indie film marketplace and how to best position themselves to actually make money.

There is so much talk about new cameras, lenses, rigs, post-production software, and other more interesting aspects of the filmmaking process but when it comes to selling and making money with movies filmmakers rely on old information that is no longer relevant in the current marketplace. I hope this episode empowers you to not only make more movies but to also make money while doing it.

Strap yourself in because for some of you it will be a rough episode to listen to. Be well, stay safe, and keep that hustle going.

LINKS

SPONSORS

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  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)

IFH 408: How to Attach a Bankable Movie Star to Your Indie Film with Steven Luke

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Today on the show we have writer, producer, director, actor, and Filmtrepreneur Steven Luke. Steven and I discuss how he attaches bankable movie stars like Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Chuck Liddell, James Cromwell, Thomas Jane, Sam Worthington, Tom Berenger, Ron Perlman, and Billy Zane to his independent films. We also discuss his misadventures in film distribution, how he presells his films and if he actually makes any money with film distributors.

Steven also has a Filmtrepreneur mind when it comes to his film productions. He has found his niche, war films. Understanding his niche market he uses the films he produces to advertise his company Man the Line. It is the internet’s number one source of recreating war!

Man the Line is a small South Dakota business offering original militaria and quality reproduction uniforms and headgear for collectors, reenactors, and film productions. By doing this Steven has created additional revenue streams for himself by using his films. This is the Filmtrepreneur way.

His most recent works include “Souvenirs” starring Academy Award nominee James Cromwell and “The Deep End,” for which he earned a Best Actor recognition at the 2011 Fischgaard Short Film Competition.

Steven’s work in the short film ‘Paper People,’ has also earned him the Best Actor in a Short film, for the 2012 Best Actors in a Film Festival. When not in front of the camera, Steven utilizes his skills as a historic military technical adviser and supplier for the motion picture and television industries.

Enjoy my conversation with Steven Luke.

Alex Ferrari 2:24
Now today on the show, guys, we have writer, producer, director, actor and film trip earner Steven Luke. Now in this conversation Steven and I discuss how he attaches bankable movie stars like Dolph Lundgren and Mickey Rourke, Chuck Liddell,James Cromwells. Sam Worthington, Tom Berenger Ron Perlman, and Billy Zane to his independent films. We also discuss his misadventures in film distribution, how he pre sells his films, and Does he ever actually make any money with these film distributors? Now, what I also find fascinating about Steven is that he has a brilliant film supranormal mind. He has definitely found his niche with his filmmaking and that is war films. Understanding his niche market, he uses the films he produces to advertise his company, man, the line, which is the internet's number one source for vintage war, props, costumes, things like that. And it's pretty remarkable how he's been able to build out a business based in South Dakota by focusing on the war niche and specifically like World War One World War two kind of film, Steven was fascinating and an inspiration to say the least. So without any further ease, enjoy my conversation with Steven Luke. I'd like to welcome the show Steven Luke, man, how are you brother?

Steven Luke 3:50
I'm doing excellent staying. COVID-19 free up here in South Dakota. So

Alex Ferrari 3:58
Yeah, you don't have too many. You're not like LA. You don't have it's or New York.

Steven Luke 4:04
I mean, we literally have like the population of like, one high rise building in New York. So we're pretty pretty safe out here. For the most part.

Alex Ferrari 4:12
Are you are you staying quarantine? Are you?

Steven Luke 4:16
I mean, I guess this is gonna be recorded. So yes, I'm very quarantine safe. Secure in a bunker and, you know, old missile silo from the 60s? Yes, no, we're, we're kind of Yes, we kind of have, you know, doing the social distancing. But trying to like is a little bit kind of like normal here. So,

Alex Ferrari 4:37
Got it. Got it. It's fair enough. Yeah, you're a little bit more spread out than the big cities. takes two months to get to us. So I'm sure in August. That's where you're gonna have some stuff going up. Well, um, thank you for being on the show, man. Before we get started, how did you get into the film business?

Steven Luke 4:53
Okay, that's no, that's a fun story. So I think like with everyone else, you start off when You're young, and you kind of just the magic of cinema hits you. And you get really excited to, you know, see films, and you want to tell stories. And I think that's kind of how I wanted to get involved. And, you know, wanting to tell stories, and you know, just kind of progressively working up to that point throughout my life and career and how to just kind of, you know, tell stories and make movies and getting bigger and better.

Alex Ferrari 5:29
Very cool. So you were bitten by that bug, basically.

Steven Luke 5:33
And you can't get rid of it. No, it's, it's, you know, it's like that artists lifestyle, right. So like, if I wasn't doing this, or I mean, whatever I'm doing, I'm sure I'd be doing something artistic. So

Alex Ferrari 5:51
No, but you also got into the acting side of the business, as well.

Steven Luke 5:55
Yes, yeah. So I always, you know, I do act. What's fun about the film business is it really is a business. And there's lots of pieces that come come to that. So the acting stuff that I do, I consider that usually, like my art, like, it's more of an art form. To me, if I come in and act, it kind of gives me a chance to dive into a character and develop them and be someone else. And that's very, it's fun for me to do that. Some of the other parts of the film making experience are more business related or more kind of world building, or writing or something like that. But the acting is, is an art to me. And it's, it's always kind of fun to get to jump in someone else's shoes.

Alex Ferrari 6:37
But did you start off as an actor and then moved into producing? Or did you start off as producing and moved into acting?

Steven Luke 6:45
I think I mean, acting, you know, in high school, you know, you do plays and stuff. The acting was kind of always kind of that, what you want to do, I kind of realized really, right off the bat, right, as I kind of graduate high school that I wanted, that I could act and produce, those are my two things that I enjoy doing the most. So I kind of found myself, when I produce things, trying to find, you know, pieces, you know, is a part that I can play to kind of kind of have some fun with it as well, because producing for those that know is a little stressful.

Alex Ferrari 7:18
Bit a bit a bit, and you've got to wear like 1000 different hats, and

Steven Luke 7:23
You got to know the industry really well. So it's like when you get to act, you know, you kind of can just one character and then no one bugs you either, you know, like I don't want to disturb him when he's in character. Like, yes, yes. So leave me alone. Until, until that's over, then you can deal with all the craziness.

Alex Ferrari 7:40
It's fun, because I've always been, I've always worn 1000 hats in any of my productions. It's just the nature of what I do. I'm a jack of all trades. So when I get to just do one thing, it seems so light. Like,

Steven Luke 7:54
Definitely does, well, you sit there and you're like, like twiddling is like yeah, it's like to be doing for bed should be helping someone. So

Alex Ferrari 8:03
Yeah, from from my really micro budget films where I'm doing a lot to where I'm working on a, you know, on a series or something like that, where I have a full blown crew. And like, I don't have to worry about lighting. I could just tell someone to go light. It's just kind of, what am I gonna do? What am I doing here? I don't. I'm waiting. 30 minutes for the lighting setup to set up. I'll be like, what do I the actors are ready? Like, I don't know. It's crazy. Yeah, I guess I'll sit down. I guess I guess I'll relax. I guess. I don't know. I'll have a coke. So then how did you get into you know, producing full features, because I saw you did a lot of shorts prior to kind of to get your your feet wet. How did you get into doing full blown features?

Steven Luke 8:46
Yeah, so I yes, I always think it was important to do some short films, tests, test your craft, do some, you know, make some mistakes, learn a lot. To me in shorts, were kind of a great way to do film school. I never I didn't go to film school, I took more of the business side of things than got up, you know, kind of when I was in college got a business degree because that was what I felt was going to be more helpful to me just in terms of what I kind of wanted to pursue. But yeah, short films a great way to kind of hone your craft. And then you want to make that leap to a feature film, if you know your goal. And there's lots of goals, obviously. But if you want to try to tell bigger and better stories, if you want to try to make money, I mean, relatively speaking, that you kind of the feature film game is where you need to be. And naturally, that's kind of the next step that a filmmaker should try to pursue. It has its own I mean, making a feature film and a short film, they almost they almost have the exact same challenges and go through the exact same steps you just our feature film takes is longer days. So it naturally was that next step that that one takes.

Alex Ferrari 9:58
So one of the reasons I wanted you on the show is because a lot of the lot of the movies that you've produced have been with, you know, named talent talent that actually brings money to the table. And, and I always wanted to have someone on the show that has produced these kinds of films, worked with talent like Dolph Lundgren or Ron Perlman or Mickey Rourke, Tom Berenger, Billy Zane, these are like kind of go to character actors who have have a following and also have a value of monetary value in distribution and overseas. So I wanted to kind of dig into the how you do this. And I also want to take away a lot of these myths and illusions that a lot of filmmakers have, like, Oh, I could never afford, you know, adopt, you know, Dolph Lundgren, or Mickey Rourke, or, or Ron Perlman, or these kind of actors, because they must be billions and billions of dollars to to get, and I've been in the industry long enough to know that that's not true. But I wanted to hear it straight from the horse's mouth. So how do you go about first of all attaching named talent like this?

Steven Luke 11:03
Right? Okay. So I think the I'm a big proponent of this always, the first step with named talent is your script. Now, obviously, that kind of complain a lot of key points with a lot of things. But if you have a script, that, obviously is what you feel like a winner, something you enjoy a story you want to tell, that is definitely like the number one way to get talent to say, yes, they've got to like that script. And, and so kind of hand in hand with that the role that you might be offering them, it has to be a role that, you know, like, you see that person, you know, like, okay, like, take, take, Dolph London, like Dolph will have fun with this role. are, you know, so like, when you come to those towns that and sometimes that might mean you adapt your role a little bit for the specific person that you're going after, but like, they have to like, Okay, if they read this, they've never done that character before. Or maybe it's a character that they enjoy doing. I think really tailoring your story and the role that you're going after, before you present it to them. is, is, is vital. Because if it's just generic, you know, office worker, you know, they're going to pass on that.

Alex Ferrari 12:20
But unless, unless the paycheck is extremely high.

Steven Luke 12:24
I mean, that's gonna take probably double what maybe they would actually cost to pay me that. Like, why would you?

Alex Ferrari 12:32
Why would you bring Duff longer does the office worker, unless it's a comedy? And then yes,

Steven Luke 12:37
If you have the budget to do it. And that probably actually would be hilarious. Dolf is a great guy, too. I mean, he's a fantastic actor, and super smart, man.

Alex Ferrari 12:51
No, I hear he's like, he's like, genius level. He's like, really, really smart. Even when he did The Expendables, they would make jokes about it in the movie that like, what do you have, like a rocket scientist? Like,he is like, literally, he,

Steven Luke 13:04
He is that smart. And so like, when you first kind of meet him, you when you talk to him, it? I don't wanna say it throws you for a loop. But, you know, most people grew up with, I will break you. And when he talks to you, you're like, geez, this guy's way smarter than me. Right? Not like that. I'm filming. You're just, it's just, it's a fun story. Okay, so back to so you got your script, you got your, you got your role for these guys. So probably that, like, they always talk about, like the gatekeepers that come that are in Hollywood, yes. Or the talent, it really as their managers and agents, I mean, manager, agent, they guard those guys and all their clients, which is that that's what they get paid to do. So we try to probably the best way then to like, you know, to get an agent manager, okay, you know, having a producer that maybe has worked with them in the past, having, you know, maybe a sales rep that has worked with them in the past. You know, personal contact, emailing them straight up on IMDB, sometimes even can get you to the door. I mean, I hate to say that, but like you're only having to sit, but they read, they read, I mean, they have an assistant, they process that stuff. So that doesn't necessarily mean you know, you're going to get darklands in your film if you just email them with an offer because they don't work that way. Or it doesn't work that way. But if you have a level of if you're attached to someone that maybe has worked with them, the legitimacy of that offer of the script and the role and maybe the price tag that you're offering them, it they they will take it to their client, that they're they're required to take those things to their client if they feel it's actually a legitimate thing. And so by having someone and I'm just going to use like me, for example, like I've worked with Delft, London, you know, for me to maybe put up Like a filmmaker, in touch with his manager and saying, like, Hey, I think that, you know, that, you know, x y&z wants to, you know, it's interesting having dealt with the role, you know, I'll let you, I'll let him present it over to you, they will take that as a sign that I've vetted that person, I wouldn't be doing that. Unless it was a real thing, just in terms of of real because if I do that,

Alex Ferrari 15:25
You're Donnie Brasco in it, you're, he's a good fella.

Steven Luke 15:29
This is not like a real thing. I might not never get to work with that agent ever again. So that's why it's such a big, you know, it's a big deal to be able to be, you know, when that happens, they'll take you seriously. But I'm not saying that they don't just email them straight up doesn't work.

Alex Ferrari 15:46
Real quick. So let me let me jump on that real quick at one question. And this is this is a big question when it comes to talent. And I've heard both sides of the story, I would love to hear your thoughts. If you have a personal relationship or personal connection to the talent, do you bypass their management and talk to them directly? Or make an offer to them directly? If you have a direct connection? Now, if you're good friends, it's one thing? Yeah, yeah. If your buddies, it's one thing, but let's say my producer, like I know somebody who knows the actor personally. And I'm like, Hey, you look, I'll make you an associate producer, if you make the introduction to me, and then I go have coffee with Dolf. And then, like, Hey, I really like your thing, and I make him the offer directly. And then I've completely bypassed, I've just ended up just throwing out the scenario. Hold on before you say now. And you like talk to them and like, hey, look, you know, like to offer it to you directly. A lot of people will do that for PA, which, in my opinion to you shouldn't offer them directly, unless it's a conversation. And like, I always say, when I'm working with talent at that level, I go, do you want me to submit a formal offer to your agent, or manager? And sometimes they're like, no, what do you want? What do you got? And then they'll just want to negotiate with you right there. There's those those that that that talent? Well,

Steven Luke 17:12
Yes, I would say like, if you're in a situation like that, that that, I mean, they're open to it, that that might be different, I would say, in my opinion, if you were in that situation, where you're like, talking to the actor, and they're loving the role, you know, like just offering role and having them say, I love this, I want to do this is like a win. And then I would automatically go to Alright, great, I will get in touch with your agent and manager and work out the details. Because at the end of the day, you still got to work out the details with the agent manager, because there's not only is that mean? Oh, is that their price, there's their green m&ms that they need, there's their flights, you know, I mean, like, there's an entourage that might have to come. So like, you're still gonna have to work with the agent manager on the deal memo. And so you should at least then that way the agent manager feels, I don't wanna say useful because they're very useful, but that's their job. So respecting them right off the bat and saying like, hey, great. Dolph loves this role. Let me go work it out with agent manager, they will instantly I don't want to say like, you have an ally, but you won't make them mad. Because agents and managers do not like to be circumnavigated. They don't like it. And I can, you know, as much as like, sometimes you wish, you could just go right to it. And you can sometimes when you know the talent, you know, get them excited about the role that's already a win for you. Because you know, that they're going to want to do it, they want to do it, and then go back to that, you know, Agent manager, that way everyone stays happy. And then the actors not having to deal with any you know, the other than the money the other the other things that entail that agent manager can be the good guy, bad guy, good cop, bad cop. You know, there was a it's a it's definitely an industry and I had an eight a manager tell me this. So just you know, like always like, great, you know, the talent. They want to do the role then just come back to me and keep it keeping that line Hollywood very much like

Alex Ferrari 19:15
Yeah, there was a there's a story of a couple filmmakers I knew that were they bum rushed an actor at a film festival and got them literally in the back alleys an Oscar nominated actor. And and the actor was cool. He was like, tell me pitch me and he showed him like this, the sizzle reel, and the actor was very taken by their story. And this actor does not do an independent like he's only studio, but for whatever godforsaken reason, he fell in love with the story and wanted to do it. And he was at over at CIA and CIA did everything to torpedo that deal, like everything, but that

Steven Luke 19:57
Those guys did mean what the thing that those guys got, they knew the actor wanted to do it. So ca lost all those playing cards now they might not have been happy about it. But like that's, that is the one nice thing if you can get around them and you just find out if they want to do it, then you got right, you got to,

Alex Ferrari 20:16
But then afterwards that the actor just turned to their ages like, Look, I don't care what you say I'm doing this. So let's make this happen. And now and that's but that's a risk. you're rolling the dice when you do something like that. That's extremely risky.

Steven Luke 20:30
An actor in a back alley and corner him. I mean, literally, I would do it but

Alex Ferrari 20:36
Right. And they were just they were young, independent filmmakers. They weren't like, you know, seasoned professional season.

Steven Luke 20:41
Not that sometimes. That's literally I mean, you get lucky like that. I'm just lucky. He everything the stars lined up. And that worked out great for him. So I definitely not opposed to having that happen. Because sometimes when you're trying to get your film made, I mean, you got to you got to play hardball. The old that is hardball, man.

Alex Ferrari 21:05
Absolutely. Absolutely. I see you we're continuing. Alright, so now. So what's the next part of the process as far as attaching these guys?

Steven Luke 21:12
So let's story script, contacted agent manager, you know, so then you're you're wanting to it's the it's the money, you know, sometimes it's a lot of this talent, it really does come down to you know, they're gonna assume after they read the script, that they're gonna, okay, this is a worthwhile story script. I can enjoy this character, then it really comes down to their rate, you know, what are they willing to do it for? And it really is, I mean, oh, and let me back up because it is money, but like it like, Okay, well, who's who's who's maybe Who am I acting along with? Could matter to like, who's the director, the director? What's the budget of the film? Like, do I have to fly to Taiwan? Because that makes a big deal to them like, or can I just wake up and roll out of my bed and go 30 minutes over to Pasadena and shoot and then come back. I mean, that's what makes it huge people to do that for them. So like, accommodating them along with that offer with like, Hey, we're going to be you know, 10 minutes away from your house. So all you have to do is just get out of bed and woke up and go, we'll come pick you up. And you know, sometimes like literally, that if the money's good, and doing that and be like, well, I don't really care who I'm in with, and who the director is a day,

Alex Ferrari 22:29
Yeah, it's a couple days, and I'm home, back home to sleep on my bed. So one day, or two days, or whatever it is. So that's the thing that a lot of filmmakers, especially young producers don't understand is that if you have, you know, Dolf, let's say, or Mickey in a roll, and you have them on the cover of the poster, it doesn't mean that you shot them for three or four weeks, you know, you could shoot them out in 234 days or less, depending on what how big their part is. But you can shoot all their scenes out quickly. and affordably. Because if you tried to hire them for three or four weeks, it wouldn't be it would be cost prohibitive.

Steven Luke 23:08
Yeah. And they don't do that either. I mean, they they wouldn't, they wouldn't sign on to doing a three four week thing, unless it was a big studio or per bag or a studio are a big project. If you kind of live in that world of a week or less weeks, and go to court coordinate the character around those those scenes. I mean, a good rule of thumb, I think, right now with distributors is, you know, they need about 12 to 15 minutes of screen time, at least out of those guys, which is about the equivalent about 15 pages. So if you can get 50 I mean, how quickly can you shoot 15 pages? Now, I'll tell you this, like, you know, usually, I mean, I've knocked out an actor, and with 15 pages in one day, oh, yeah. Oh, it's doable. But I will tell you this with the talent, like they will not be happy about that, per se. I mean, they're not gonna be angry. Yeah. But it could take cue cards, and it could take, you know, like hiding their lines in you know, spots, or they can just do their thing, and they'll take your

Alex Ferrari 24:10
Earbuds don't forget the earbud I forget about the earbuds. I literally had a whole a whole VFX job once that I this was an Oscar winning actor who was later in his career. And he had earbuds because he couldn't remember his lines. And we had to digitally remove all the earbuds in all his shots because it was a period of peace. Sure. I mean, it's insane.

Steven Luke 24:38
Yeah, I mean, you. I shouldn't say you would think the actors would come prepared, they usually are prepared, but you know, if you can just get them there. I mean, they know they know, you know, a lot of the actor, you know, like when they're named actors. They understand that it's got to be my name and my face on the poster that sells it. So who cares if I know my lines, I mean, that's not saying that they don't know that but like, you know, you got to accommodate them. Sometimes.

Alex Ferrari 25:00
So this is the big the big question, you know, can we discuss the cost? And now we're not going to call anybody out directly, we're not going to go well Dolphus this much. And then you know, Mickey is this much nothing like that. But can we talk about a range? You know, per day? Because I have, I've worked with certain actors, and I know of prices of certain actors, who are name actors. But what is a range price? Because I think people still filmmakers still think like, Oh, I can't afford that guy, even if it's for three or four days? And you'd be surprised that you might?

Steven Luke 25:34
Yeah, well, I think you're looking at and I don't mind saying these things. Because I think they're, they're stuff that the, you know, the industry should know. And I think, you know, I mean, the more kind of money that can go, like, with projects that can go to actors, I think, always the better. You know, so let's talk about, so let's talk about money. So maybe, let's put a range of say $50,000, to up to $300,000. That is your, that is your budget range. And you might get an actor of a name caliber for one day to eight days, or seven days, seven, let's say seven days. So, I mean, that and to say that, that's, obviously there's a lot of factors and a lot of ranges, that that can play into that. But that's really not it is a lot of money. But for those guys, you know, that that could secure the the rest of your budget, and that could propel you know, your film into going to that next budget level. And like, like, I'm not trying to get down on any micro budget filmmaking, but because I love I mean, that's like, my forte, I love, like, how can we not do it the cheapest, but like, I mean, jeez, you get caught?

Alex Ferrari 26:55
Yeah, get the costume

Steven Luke 26:57
With those micro budgets, you're gonna hone your craft. And if you want to try to, you know, those stars will automatically jump your film out of a micro budget capability, just because of how much they cost, if you were to try to pursue them, just in terms of like, you know, let's say you spend an actor $100,000 on an actor, well, you might have an additional 20 to $30,000, other costs, you know, with different crew lighting, you know, green man's, you know, you should report that there are those days that you're shooting with him. So that's the, that's the fact that you got to you got to play, but I feel like it's it's a, you know, with filmmaking and movies, to go to that next level, and to have named talent, you know, it's a, it's a, that's what it will take, in order to take that kind of next baby step, you know, in terms of like, maybe then moving on to having a studio or distributor, you know, trust you with maybe more money, and with more name, talent, you know, and that next step, and if they can see that, you know, hey, this film with this talent, you know, these guys made this and it turned out great, or whatever, it was profitable, you know, different things depend on what you're trying to do, it will help you just kind of take those steps in a filmmakers journey, if you want to pursue that. So I highly recommended, recommend, you know, all the filmmakers listening to this, you know, that can help really be the next little baby step for you, in order to take the bigger leap to bigger budgets, and, and bigger, you know, productions. That's not to say, you know, there's always that wildcard, you get lucky and stars, new jump, which is every everyone's dream, but you know, baby steps sometimes,

Alex Ferrari 28:46
But you have to look at it as an ROI. So like, if you're, if you're spending, you know, $100,000 on a talent that could justify a $2 million budget, without that talent, you're looking at a $500,000 budget, you know, for the same movie, or less or much, much less, you know, so it all ranges you have to just kind of think about it. So you know, if you have Mickey or Dolf in your movie, you've you've got the movie sold almost done in pre sales and we'll talk about pre sales in a minute but it's almost sold automatically because of their because there's an automatic market for that kind of talent involved. Now as far as ranges is concerned, I've heard you know 50 to 300 1000s of good rains but I know guys who will show up for five grand a day and 10 grand a day and and if they go oh for a week, give me 25 grand and we're good. And they might not be at the level of the 50 100 200,000 but they start peppering the cast and you can it can you talk a little bit about the peppering of the cast where you get these known faces, they might not be box office draws, but their faces. One of the big ones was Trey Hill for the longest time, and now he's Danny. Danny, I've gotten to work with Danny, I've always wanted to try but isn't it by law that he has to be in every movie? I mean, that's law now, isn't it? I mean, he has to be in every movie him and Sam Jackson has to fight by? I think it has. You're right. I think it has I think I think the Supreme Court is checking on that right now. But I think it Sam Jackson and or Danny Trejo have to be in a movie. That's the law, I think.

Steven Luke 30:27
But I, if I remember, right, the law also states they can't be in the same movie together, otherwise the world will be

Alex Ferrari 30:33
the case that space time continuum explodes, I understand completely. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. But um, no, but I remember Danny before, you know, machete, and he was before he became a leading man, he was the character actor, and he wasn't. I mean, he's literally in everything. You know, he just shows up. It's fascinating to watch Danny. And he's the first to say he's like, oh, did you have a check? I'm there. And can I bring my typos? And he has this. And that's not racist. He has his own taco company. Because Trey has tacos here in LA. But it was fascinating. So how can you talk a bit about the value of peppering some of these more character actor faces in a movie, which kind of also gives you a little bit of weight when trying to go after a bigger fish to like, Oh, look at all these other guys who've been in a million things?

Steven Luke 31:37
Yeah. So I would say, if I was approaching, like a film, where we're going to pepper in some, some, you know, decent, you know, some some recognizable faces. So maybe TV actors? Yes, you'd want to try to get as many of those guys as possible. One of the nice things that if you were to pursue that route, okay, yeah, that will help. I always, it's always hard to say like, and then for your next project, but like maybe bigger talent, that you know, for a future work that you do when they look back and they say, Okay, well, we've got all these things. Let's see what they've done. They've Okay, well, they've worked with Danny, and they've worked with this. They're like, Okay, well, they, they've, they've worked with some industry people. So sometimes, you know, establishing yourself of being able to work with industry, people will help propel that next year also be a little bit of a baby step for you to kind of if you want to make bigger things. Now, I'm peppering guys in I would say, Yes, I mean, like the more recognizable faces, you know, obviously, the better. I would also throw this in with a caveat, like, really do your homework and research, because there might be like, Danny Trejo, I'm not super familiar with, like, I don't want to put like actors as if they have values. But I know Danny trails super popular in the United States. So like, you kind of get a distributor to bite on having a Danny Trejo in the movie.

Alex Ferrari 33:02
Oh, with that said that, Can I throw a caveat in there real quick? Sure. Yeah, there was a movie, there was a there was a movie that I worked on, which had Eric Roberts in it. And, and Eric is is the face and distributors generally liked Eric Roberts. And do still, unfortunately, Eric did 25 movies that year. So when so when the director went to go sell the producer went to go sell his movie, every distributor, like I already got three Eric Roberts movies this year, I don't need yours. So there has to be a balance as well. You know, so

Steven Luke 33:34
I think that that's why it ties into like, if you're gonna pepper it with, with with faces, you know, really do your homework, right? Because you don't want to have, I'm not trying to put down Eric rabbits, but like you said, you don't want to be in the season where there's 25 of his movies already.

Alex Ferrari 33:49
Right? He's losing his value. He's diluting his value, losing his value. So

Steven Luke 33:53
Just you know, do if you're going to pepper and use some different faces, which can work great and maybe be easier. Do your do your homework, do your research. You know, don't you know, don't be afraid to call like producers from other films with talent that you're looking at. Yeah, yeah. Yes. I would love to have someone email or message me. And so I can tell Mickey Rourke stories. I don't mean that like in a bad way. But like, I can like, Listen, this is what you need to do. This is what you you shouldn't do, you know, try to do this. Like, I mean, I feel like, you know, when you're in the filmmaking community, especially the independence, you know, we all have war stories and battle scars, and to be able to help the other the next person like, avoid, you know, like, Okay, well, this is a pitfall Try not to do that if at all possible.

Alex Ferrari 34:43
You know, we're Lieutenant Dan, we're Lieutenant Dan, the new privates we're Lieutenant Dan, the privates are coming in. It's like, Don't salute me. Get down, do this. You're gonna get burned over here. Like that's who we are. That's what we try to do.

Steven Luke 34:56
And like a lot of producers, a lot of us are very much Like that, so give him give those give those guys a call shoot him an email message though, they'll shoot you straight because you know, at the end of the day, it you know, the younger filmmakers, like you don't wanna say like who you help could be the next whoever but like it really could be beneficial you know, to just relay some information and and because you paid for it and blood sweat and tears so you know don't let it die Don't let it sink with the ship. So that's my thing.

Alex Ferrari 35:26
So with that said, Can you tell some Mickey Rourke stories or Dolf longer and stories that are, you know, you know, appropriate for the show, and that won't blacklist you from the industry?

Steven Luke 35:38
Oh, boy, let's let's okay. Okay, so a quick Mickey Rourke story. So, one of the things when Mickey work first showed up on my set, he, or at least when he showed up on our shooting location, he arrived late at night and me and my other producing partner Went, went, went to go meet him and we we kind of we brought his costumes and everything and Mickey Rourke, he enters the hotel, and he looks right at us. And he walked right on past us, right on passes and his assistant. Yeah, we were like, Did he did he not did because we had the costume. So we assumed like, okay, we must fit the film. I mean, we said that we were going to be there with the film. And you know, like, well, maybe he didn't see us. I don't know what's going on. And later, his like, assistant came out of the hotel and just said, like, Look, we need the costumers here. We don't want to see the producers like, oh, okay, well, okay, well, okay, fine. And so we, we get the customers in there, they're doing their thing. And later on, like, I don't remember if is later that night, early the morning, we find out like, um, Mickey would not like to have the producers on set. If Mickey sees the producers again, he's gonna punch him in the face. And we're like, not leave his trailer. And we're like, okay, so well. So like, literally the whole day when he was shooting, we were hiding in like a back room. And I, you know, I was a little bit younger than so I like, as an actor in the movie, if I screwed up my face, and I went in with the grips to go meet him. So I met Mark as a grip on my own film production. So that way, I didn't get punched in the face, or you have him not leave his trailer, that

Alex Ferrari 37:19
You hear stories about actors not leaving trailers, and, you know, being difficult sometimes on set, and you hear these mythical stories, you're like, this can't really be true. And, and I go, No, no, it can't.

Steven Luke 37:34
Now, to back that up Mickey was he got through the day, we got all this stuff shot, he seemed he was working great with the director, working great cast members. I don't know if it was more of like, just, you know, sometimes actors they like to say or do things just to see if they can get away with it, or just whatever. But you know, as the producer, you don't want to take that chance, hey, I didn't want my face punched. And B, I didn't want him to not leave his set their trailer. So

Alex Ferrari 38:01
Let me ask you, on a producing standpoint, just on a legal standpoint, if I'm paying somebody half a million quarter million dollars, and they do not perform the service, I hired them to do meaning like they are doing things that are creating havoc or not coming out of their trailer, I always wondered, there has to be some sort of legal ramification for this kind of behavior, right? Or if you don't want to answer that, please don't i don't want to put you in a bad spot.

Steven Luke 38:29
I don't know. I don't think that's a bad spot. I mean, obviously, you have a contract with them. And there's obviously some stipulations. And one of them primarily has been that they have to add

Alex Ferrari 38:40
Should I mean, to be fair,

Steven Luke 38:42
You know, that's where it kind of can get really great. Like, if they show up to set and they do a scene or two, and then they start making demands, and they don't get the day done. I mean, they're not, they can get really great. I mean, it really can with some of these things, like, you know, can you you can't put, you know, like, I'll just say for instance, like state law might dictate that or wherever you're shooting might say, like, Listen, you you, you can only work our normal eight hour day or sag rules. They only are an eight hours a day. They might do eight hours and then say hey, I'm out. I did my day. So, I mean, you just I've never experienced that myself where an actor has has not, you know, they're more, you know, if you treat them well. With respect, with respect, you're doing everything that you can in order to, I don't want to say accommodate them, but you know, just like just like they want to work, they want to work. And they know they know the situation of like what you know, like maybe you have them for three days. They know this, and they have so much they got to do and they're more than willing, if you if you treat them with respect, if you're accommodating if you're you know, going out of your way to you know, make sure that they have a good time just in terms of like experience set, you know, they will go that extra mile for you. Because they they are those I mean, they're the artists they want to they want their work to be good.

Alex Ferrari 40:14
Did you want to look? So did you ever hear the story of Marlon Brando on the on the set of the score with dinero and Ed Norton?

Steven Luke 40:22
Oh, I want to say that I have but please tell it

Alex Ferrari 40:26
Because what's Marlon Brando is legendary for being difficult. I mean, even the Godfather, he was being difficult, because he was already Marlon Brando when he did the Godfather. And he was on this movie called the score which was directed by Frank Oz. Now for many people who don't know who Frank Oz is he's very well known director but he also is known for being the voice of Yoda. And also being the voice of not the voice but he puppet puppeted up Kermit the Frog, he where he became up he came up as I'm up, I'm up at you know, a puppeteer. And and Marlon refused, refused to even let him be on the set. Now, when those two forces like the director, and Marlon Brando, that like in the Marlins, like I'm not acting if that puppet director and you know, expletive expletive, is there I'm not going to work so De Niro had to direct Brando on the set. While poor Frank Oz was in a trailer. radioing directions to Robert, while they would leave and like you're like and Roberts, like, come on Marlon. He's like, No, I'm not gonna work. Bobby, I'll work with you, Ed, I'll work with you. I can't work with this puppet director. I did this puppet guy with this frog frog effort. And he was saying, but I heard this story. And he just like and I've heard it multiple times from different people you just like those are the that's where this stuff happens is where these myths start coming like people becoming difficult. But also what you do that once this is a small business and everyone hears it. And then the next so you know when you're Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando, like what do you what are you gonna do? It's Marlon Brando. But you know, when you're an actor, you know, a paycheck actor, meaning that you've got to work to keep the bills common, he can't be pulling that kind of stuff for the most part.

Steven Luke 42:30
Yeah, and for the most part, they don't bite right. If you have a situation like that you find yourself in with with like Marlon Brando type of situation, you got to pick your battles. And at the end of the day, at least in terms of a producer, like you just got to get their footage, you got to get them shot, you got to get their face on camera, get their scenes, much, you know, I mean, like, just and, and they know that, you know, the actors know that. So, you know, they're being difficult because they know, you got to get them shot. So admission, say they're being difficult just because of that. But, you know, you got to pick your battles. And sometimes you got to, you know, you got to have Robert DeNiro directing with?

Alex Ferrari 43:10
No, I mean, do you find it that a lot of named actors, and seasoned actors in general will test, the director will test the production? We'll test to see how far they can push some things sometimes just to see what happens. I

Steven Luke 43:29
would say, I would say yes. So always be prepared for that. But at the same time, like they're doing next, they want to see how cool how quality you are, like, are you do when they're under pressure? Or is this like a real thing? You know, so don't don't, you know, be hesitant to speak your mind? And, and, you know, challenge them right back? Potentially not like in a bad way. No, no, no, absolutely like a test every once in a while. So be prepared for that. But you know, really, for the most part, like right off the bat, to to avoid, like the testing is to like, if it's the director, the producer, whoever it is, with the main talent, like, Go straight and try to establish rapport, they're almost always if they sign on to your project, they want to talk to the director, they want to know, like, go pick them up at the airport, you know, like you been if it's if it's all possible, I'm talking about maybe more of the director, like, be there, be there talk, I mean, then they have to talk to you in the car, and you can tell funny jokes. And you know, if they've written a book, read the book, read the book, you know, you can talk about their book, you don't do you know, talk about things that they enjoy? And like, Is it the end of the day, we're all human beings, and, you know, they approach like, where, like, maybe for us as independent filmmakers, movies or likes, like, this is my life. This is what I do. But for them, you know, they've been made more established in their career, like, this is their job. So and sometimes people don't like to talk about their jobs, they talk about dogs, they like to talk about their cars, but you know, I mean, like, like about talking about just things and Just kind of establishing that right away with them, that you're, you know, not that the film's secondary, but like, you really are excited to have them there and you just want to connect as a, you know, hey, let's just talk about, you know, funny stories and this and that. And that will really loosen them up to like, okay, they're artistic, you know, because at the end of the day, these are artists, and you just have to really, you know, like, the shapes can be very shy people very, you know, personal people, and to be able to make them feel comfortable is is so important. And it honestly will defuse a lot of the issues that you might have with problems, because if they feel comfortable, you know, then they then they're just they're free to express themselves as artists.

Alex Ferrari 45:42
Yeah, that's, that's, that's my feeling as well, that actress is a general statement, but let alone high profile actors. They want to feel safe. They want to feel that they're in good hands as a director speaking from a director's point of view, and that the second that they see that there's some buffoonery going on, or they don't feel that they've directors got their back, or they can't, they're not safe. That's when the acting up happens. That's where I've seen that happen, and they start because they're defending themselves. They're like, you know, what, if this guy's not gonna take care of it, this girl's not gonna take care of me that I'm going to take care of myself. And this is how I'm going to do it.

Steven Luke 46:16
And I always say, like, anyone can put up with anything for one day. Now, that's not to say that you need to abuse people by any means, but like, you think for a day. So, you know, like, when it comes to just, you know, be be upfront. And like, you if you're having issues on onset, I mean that with being like, oh, to the actor, apologize, say, hey, we'll work on you know, just, yeah, just work it out. And, you know, put up with it, if they know that you're, you know, they're not there. They know what, that they know that they're not on the studio set. Right. And that's not down what you're doing by any means that you understand. And if you are, you know, responsive to them, as such a being cordial that you won't have any issues.

Alex Ferrari 47:03
Did you ever listen to that? That vo session with Orson Welles that legendary vo session with you have heard that one isn't that brilliant? isn't for everyone listening Orson Welles did a vo session for I think some sort of commercial as a wine commercial or something. And this poor vo director oh my god he just ripped him for like 30 Let's just it was like a train wreck you couldn't you couldn't look away like that with the Christian Bale and all that was that was that was that was brutal. That was that was brutal. Now, let me see. Oh, the well Do you have any other fun stories? Dolf story Ron Perlman story.

Steven Luke 47:51
Intel so one, fun one London story is and this will kind of tie in with we're shooting with off and I happened to be in a scene with him as well as if we were knife fighting. So we only had him in for the hour, we were doing a knife fight. And we didn't have any practice space. And he was only available for two hours. So we literally brought him into the production office this little like 12 by six to block the knife fight. So we're with everyone else running around blocking the knife fight and, and I was literally like, on the phone with sag, like right before I was supposed to talk to him. They told me it and I won't go into the details. But basically, I still need to get the actors cleared. So they let me know that I need to get the actors cleared. And then I had a knife fight doll. And then as soon as I got done knife fighting dolphin the tournament's were steps I'd get back on the phone with sag to try to clear, you know, the actors and Dolf to actually be in the film. So that was kind of a fun he was and like, for, you know, obviously Dolf knows what he's doing in terms of action. Yeah, and I mean, we're like, in a production office, like basically a little room, everyone's copiers going and we're blocking our knife fight scene. And, and I'm just thinking this whole time, like, there's no way that he's not that he couldn't remember it, but like, there's no way this is gonna look good. Or, you know, like we're, but no, like, we shot it seven days later. And he knew it. He knew that knife fight, like as if he had been practicing it for like, you know, months to prepare for it. And like, knew every step and he was just like, dude, like, he knew it. And we literally had 20 minutes in an office. So I thought that was just professional. Talk about a professional.

Alex Ferrari 49:26
So let's talk about financing. Because, you know, this is all sounds great. You know, we got a great script, you've talked to the actors, the agents are happy, and they're ready to go. Then there's that whole money thing. You've got to pay them and also have money for the budget of the film. How First of all, how do you finance the film? How do you finance most of your films in what part of pre sales come into that? And secondly, when you're when you're trying to lock in an actor, a lot of times they need proof of funds or something along that Correct, correct?

Steven Luke 50:01
Yes. Um, so, at least for me and kind of what I've gotten blessed to be able to do is with a lot of with pre sales movies, and, you know, kind of your so the financing then in the distribution in a pre sales movie are kind of tied hand in hand. So let's, let's say, we'll do we'll use Mickey Rourke as an example. You might go to a distributor and say, Hey, if I get Mickey Rourke in this movie, so let's, let's take it say it's a horror movie. And if I get Mickey Rourke attached to this movie, what do you think that's worth? What would you give me? And they might come back to you and say, Hey, we'll give you 100 grand to distribute your movie. And so you take that kind of offer. And you go and say that's in the United States. And then you go to Germany and say, Hey, I have this horror movie with Mickey Rourke in it, what would you give me they say, they'll give you 10 grand, okay, great. 10 grand. So right now you got 110 and then you go you so you go to different territories, potentially, and say, Hey, into distributors there and say, Hey, will you give me and maybe you add all that up to say, let's say $500,000? Okay, so then you've got you, my friend have not necessary. I mean, there's, there's some more steps in there. But here you've got $500,000 worth of value with your movie and Mickey Rourke. Okay, so while that might not be money, that is worth something. Now, that's probably worth something to say like, Hey, we could actually probably approach Mickey Rourke. Well, assuming you hadn't maybe approached Mickey Rourke to do the movie in the first place. Let's like, okay, now we know we actually can have some money if we have Mickey work in this movie. So then you go to Mickey Rourke and say, hey, what would it take for you to do this movie, you know, you make an offer, bam, bam, bam. So, you know, and then so once you once you connect the two, pre sales, and we'll just say Mickey Rourke, then you can go to, there's a couple options for you. You can go to a bank, I've lost it. I mean, I want to say like a Los Angeles bank, any bank will do it, like a bank? Could you could take these pre sales with the actor attached and say, hey, how much will you with this? With these kind of offers? How much is that? Would you loan against that. And they might say, hey, we'll give you you know, $300,000. So there, there's your money, there stirner, $1,000, make movie, now you got to go out and find maybe $200,000 more, or maybe you've got, I don't want to say you've got $200,000 in your pocket, but then you got it, you know, so automatically, your ability to then kind of go out to investors, you know, you just you've just added you know, if you go out to investors, and you only need that's way easier to raise, maybe $200,000, than it is to raise $500,000. And as opposed to even having to raise, you know, the budget of your movie without having any of these things, you know, an actor or any, any sales beforehand.

Alex Ferrari 53:15
So two things. One is pre sales is more rare nowadays, rare nowadays than it used to be before you really could do exactly what you're saying, with doesn't even need to be at a caliber of making work. How would you feel that the today's not literally today? Because we're an upside down? But pre COVID? Like, you know, just late 2019? What was the world like for pre sales? And is it Have you seen it become harder or easier?

Steven Luke 53:44
I think it's been it's been better. It's been bigger? I think the giant myth is that pre sales are no longer a thing. Now, the actual value amount of what your presets can be is down. Yes, that is that is true. And that's where like, the value is down. But like that's where if you're like a micro budget filmmaker, that's where your value as being able to do that has just increased, right? Because you know how to do things way cheaper than maybe someone else knew how to do it 10 years ago, because the value the values have come down. And that, in my opinion, is across the board, like on everything. And that has primarily to do with the DVD market, just shrink. And they haven't been able to completely monetized VOD, or, you know, streaming VOD. As soon as your movie goes, you know, on the internet, it's or even released on DVD and released anywhere. It's pirate city and everyone watches it for free. But you know what I mean, give or take. Yeah, he's just now it's available free and now you're fighting pirate city.

Alex Ferrari 54:47
So that's the part that's the hard thing. So then we've got this whole chicken and egg situation where if you go to Mickey works people and go Hey, look, what would it take? Well, we want 250 But I'm sure Mickey is getting hit up by producers in this, I've heard this, I've seen this happen. He gets hit up by producers daily, and they just want his name to go to go raise the funding now, but a lot of them they will not let you attach their name to the project unless they see verifications of them. So you kind of need that money first, in order to attach a Mickey Rourke in order to then go off and get pre sales to get you know, it's kind of like, so how does that work in today's world with you?

Steven Luke 55:26
Yeah, so it That does sound convoluted, and complicated. And it's almost circular. My answer to that is yes. Okay. And it literally, I mean, it's a fine dance. And I would record I mean, that's why I like bringing in having maybe someone a little bit experience and being able to do that is is very valuable to project. Not that they because it it's like it literally is that I mean that that and that is the film system. In a nutshell in a smaller world, because like, I'll let you in in the secret of Hollywood and our cheap right now this no one has any money should so tell them what no one does. tell anyone. And so, but I think that's a fun, that's a basis to start with it. When you know this, okay? It makes it a lot easier to work in the circle to try to get the money to make a project because everyone that's a basic building block of films is no one has any money, and everyone secretly knows this. And so that's why it's like, okay, you know, a Mickey Rourke might say, okay, we won't let you attach your name unless you have the money and then you but you can kind of softly then approach someone with money to get the money because you make you work softly attached. And then it's all kind of tied together. And you just kind of keep working. You just keep working it in a circle until it so I wish it simpler.

Alex Ferrari 57:04
Oh, it should be.

Steven Luke 57:05
I mean, I mean, it should be but like I've done several of these now. And each time I'm just like, it's just so easy. You just know, it's it works in a circle. And you just got to keep the circle going. Right? Because if it stops, things will fall apart.

Alex Ferrari 57:20
Right? The mute if the music stops, you're gonna run out of chairs. Yes. What's the old? What's the old joke in Hollywood? How do you how do you have? How do you? How do you get it? How do you get a small fortune? And how do you make a small fortune in Hollywood? I don't know this. How do you make a small fortune in Hollywood, you start with a large fortune. I mean, it's insane. Now, one thing about actors, and I have a lot of experience with this. And I would love to hear your point of view. And if this is actually a thing, but I my feeling is it isn't but letters of intent. What the hell? Is it really worth? Is it worth anything? Is it just, it's just kind of fluff? You know, because I remember when I was, you know, in my first book about making a movie with a mobster. And well, we have this actors letter of intent. And we had Oscar winning actress letters of intent. And we never got money, it doesn't really mean anything. From my point of view, I'd love to hear yours. Yeah.

Steven Luke 58:27
I would say, like to have an actor with a little letter of intent. The value to that is if you've had someone, and I'm just gonna say like a director that has worked with that actor with the letter of intent. Because then automatically, you know, it's a it's a like, it'll tell investors or like a financing bank, that that's a real thing.

Alex Ferrari 58:51
Because there's a relationship there. There is I mean, they, yes. So if you if you all of a sudden have a letter of intent from Dolf, and for Mickey to be in a movie, and that's what you have, you can go to investors like, well, he's already done movies with them. So this this is a real thing.

Steven Luke 59:06
Yeah, this is a real thing. Yes. Yes. And that's why it's me. I hate to say like, yeah, you need someone kind of like that on your project. It's super helpful. It's very helpful because and not that those guys would then do it because this person's in the project, but like, it adds to that level of like believability, but no, no,

Alex Ferrari 59:30
no, it's, it's it's a smoke and mirrors. It's smoke and mirrors. You kind of like, Look, look over here, look at the dance, look at the dance going,

Steven Luke 59:37
you got to keep that circle going. And if, you know, like, if, if have someone that has worked, I mean, like, I'll give you an example. Like I could message like probably, I'm gonna say Mickey Rourke because I know he's switched agents. But in the past, like, I couldn't leave message Mickey Rourke's agent and say like, Hey, I am doing this project and this and this is Mickey Rourke even available, and he would get back to me because a, you know, we've paid him for something and he would he would at least respond, he would say like, oh, Mickey schedule is, you know, not available for nine months, or whatever that is. And that's why like having that kind of value of a producer or someone attached, the project that has that ability is so helpful because it kind of cuts through all the BS right away. And you can know like, I mean, it's not that Mickey Rourke not interested in your project, it's because he's just not even available. I mean, he could be, you know, on vacation, so, you know, then you can move on, you're not wasting time.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:37
There. Fair enough. Makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Now, with the distributor and pre sales, when you in your experience when you're getting mg. So essentially, you're getting mad and you're getting mg is basically before you're not just giving the movie and doing a profit participation.

Steven Luke 1:01:06
Like you said, like Promise, Promise, Promise letters. Pay you this once the movie is finished,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:13
But they are paying you once the movie is finished. So it's not like this isn't These aren't not speculation. It's not? What are those called? what they think the movie is going to make? This could be worth? Yeah, this would be cash, cash in the pocket. Right? So after that cash in the pocket comes in, you're hoping that all the cash that you're going to make off of the initial MGS is going to be not only enough to pay back your budget, but also maybe make a nice little profit it because do you actually see back end? Do you actually you know, with the way distribution is worked, is worked in the whole system is played out? I don't know. And dude, just say Alex, I don't feel comfortable asking.

Steven Luke 1:01:59
I think this is a great answer. Okay. So they always say in, in when you're trying to do distribution, whatever you're going to make, if they offer you, let's just say $20,000. That's all the money you'll ever see. Right? And I would say that like you, you can take that same to the bank every single time. Because if it but barring, okay, barring that, if your film is like a sensational hit or a hit, and then maybe you can, you'll see some more money later on, like down the road, like maybe two or three years later. And I'm not saying that's a lot of money. But like, you'll see some royalties come in, maybe two or three years later down the road. But whatever they are going to offer you up front is about all they'll see. I mean there, I mean, all you're gonna see from whatever that territory is, or let's just say us just to make things simple. So yeah, whatever, whatever that mg is, if they're offering you know money, and they're going to pay you are off of I'm not saying you shouldn't do that deal. Just like just know that you will not just put that in your brain, you will not see any money ever.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:11
It's what I've been up in the mountains for a while now.

Steven Luke 1:03:15
And I know you have you say in all your shows I want for those that are listening, like I listen to Alex's shows, like from the beginning. So I've taken a lot of his advice to heart. So start at episode one. And then you know, what are you on two, maybe 300 and out?

Alex Ferrari 1:03:32
We're getting close to 400. Now,

Steven Luke 1:03:34
Listen to all them. They're all irrelevant. No, and you can stop fine. And then you can be done. Yeah, there's no you'll learn everything. No, no. So very important. But yes, I mean, please, please, please, please. And that's to say like, if you're if they're offering you just to distribute your film without paying you something upfront, you won't see any money. I mean, the odds of you seeing a money are very, very slim. And so like, and maybe I don't mean to paint doom and gloom on that scenario, because maybe, you know, obviously, you want to try to make more money off your movie, but maybe that just but literally the act of getting distribution for your movie has its own value. That means something when you're ready to make a second one or third one, you know, take it on the to take it on the chin is you might have to take it on the chin it on the chin on the first but you might have to take it on the chin. So just realize that if you're in that situation, you have you know, you might have to take it on the chin in order to get that distribution because that act of distribution literally will help you on the next one that's 100% it 100% will help

Alex Ferrari 1:04:46
Right so if you if you get picked up by Lionsgate or you know Warner home movies or you know or one of these distribution companies like that, that are upper echelon not Yeah, not lower Echelon, but higher echelon

Steven Luke 1:05:00
But even lower guys, I mean, just that act of like, being able to get, you know, I mean, there's a lot of things but like they always say like we can get your movie in Walmart. You know, I don't that might not equal any dollars but it means something

Alex Ferrari 1:05:15
or theatrical or or limited theatrical. Don't even what do you think about limited theatrical? Well, I mean, obviously right now theatrical is a big question mark. But before COVID?

Steven Luke 1:05:29
Like, forget theatrical. Like, if they're trying to tantalize you with limited theatrical, that means they'll play it in if they play it at all. I mean, if they actually do it, they'll play it in 10 cities, and they'll run it on a weekend in some small theater that no one they won't have any press about to play. I mean, it will be limited. And away then to charge you, you know, a lot of money in expenses. So

Alex Ferrari 1:05:59
he just used he used he just use air quotes for people not watching this. There was sorry,

Steven Luke 1:06:04
I forgot. Yes, I put expenses in air quotes. And but I will throw I will throw if it if it means but saying that. Okay. theatrical run a limited theatrical run could help the film out in order to get on Netflix, let's just say,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:23
right? How about how about for foreign if it's a US

Steven Luke 1:06:26
limited me for foreign discipline. So you know it. So maybe you got to take that on the chin as well.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:35
So I want to be very clear about this. everyone listening, you the way that you're making money with your films is by stacking the cast with value that has presale value to distribution companies around the world in different territories. If you don't have that pre preak, that that valuable cast, pre sale value cast, you won't sell your movie, you won't get any pre sale money, you will not pre some money, but you won't even get any offers, you will get no MGS. And then now you're in the world of I'm going to donate my film attacks a non tax deductible donation to a film distributor. Is that fair to say?

Steven Luke 1:07:15
Yeah, I mean, yes. But I like I said, like, maybe that's what you have to do in order to take that next step on to the next one. I'm speaking maybe more for those micro budget filmmakers, right,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:26
you don't want to throw a million dollar movie?

Steven Luke 1:07:30
Yeah, I mean, if you, you know, if you make a film for $5,000, and you're able to go through all these steps and get distribution, and even if you're not gonna make any money, do you only have five grand and you get distribution on your movie, that's huge. That means someone in the distribution world sees value, at least enough for them to even just put on this go, they have to spend a little bit of money to put your stuff out there. Like, that's a huge deal. And, and don't let that discourage you, you know, and you're only out you'd only be out five grand, which is like, huge, because when you get into that, you know, let's say $100,000 Plus, I mean, you could literally you could be in the exact same boat except the out $100,000.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:11
Right. That's why my first film cost me about five grand, and I got sold to Hulu and sold it overseas and, and you know, got it on different platforms and stuff. And it's five grand, my last film was three. And I got distribution for that. I was like, Okay, great.

Steven Luke 1:08:27
And it's a big deal. Because, you know, like, it would it that helps for things like when you approach talent or investors, right? And they're like, Okay, well, at least he got a film to the distributions point. Like, we know, he got out there to start selling. I mean, they Oh, there might be some things that investor might not totally understand. But they definitely understand like, hey, his last movie, at least got to distribution. And I can actually watch it on a physical like on almost a DVD, but they can actually see it going to market. And then you can still get the known the market.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:02
How important are filled markets to your process? Like AFM can.

Steven Luke 1:09:08
I mean, I think they're important. You know, for the producer in me hates them, because all it is is just a bunch of added expense, in my opinion, that film will have to go through, especially in today's world when you can like send out a screener out to just about anyone and they can go watch the film and check out they can see it from their home and if they want to buy it, they'll go after it. If not, I won't, but it is, um, for the industry. You know, sometimes it's that showmanship factor that you know, you got to be in that game to some extent in order to be taken seriously. That's not to say that you're not a serious person. But that's still that part of that Holly perception

Alex Ferrari 1:09:49
is perception keepers.

Steven Luke 1:09:51
Yeah and market you know, with maybe an established sales rep selling your film, you know helps you know What helps you and your filmmaking journey and career do now that might say be financially, but it does help?

Alex Ferrari 1:10:06
Do you use sales reps? I do. And but these are pre built relationships, they have sales rep that you actually trust.

Steven Luke 1:10:14
Yes, yeah, I've got honestly, like, I've got one go to sales rep team that I use for, like all of my stuff. And I've had that relationship since the first movie that I've ever had. And that, you know, if I can give a piece of advice to like, being able to establish, I think there's like a misconception about sales reps. That is partially true, but also built, you know, like, just the nature of the beast. First approaching a sales rep. And your, I don't wanna say nobody, but like, you don't have anyone in your movie, you don't, you know, it's maybe not a genre, that's super sellable. And if they take you on, you know, like, there's a lot of, you know, like that movie, we'll have a hard time selling, like, it's just, you know, and my family's in does real estate, like, I always did real estate, and one of the things that I've always learned is that, listen, I can get up and, and you can price your house, at this price, at the end of the day, I still got to show the house, and someone still got to buy it. So if it's not the house, you know, I mean, like, if the house is not worth it, the buyers will let you know. And so a sales rep company, they they'll give you all the lights, the showmanship and the lights and glamour and the estimates, but at the end of the day, your movie has to sell, like, it's your product that they're selling, they can't sell it for you. Now, obviously, there's some things that they can do to, like help. Like, it's the product. So my my piece of advice then is like, just realize that like it's your product, so sometimes that doesn't mean it's bad, but like then to so pick a sales rep for your project that you you feel maybe comfortable with and trying to build and establish that relationship. And then but and also realize that maybe they're not going to make it have, they're not going to make me any money off this movie. But you know what, that 10 year relationship potential that you could develop with them will pay off in dividends, just because, obviously, you know, like, you'll establish that rapport, they know you're a filmmaker that can deliver a movie, you know, then you kind of go maybe the next one, you have a talent, well, then all of a sudden, you're like, they know you're a filmmaker that can deliver with talent, and they'll help push you. And they'll help guide you into things to help your career along, they will be there for you. But you got to you got to you got to build that relationship with them. It can't be, here's my product, how about you sell it? And when they don't do that, then you you you burn the house down and you leave? I mean, now saying all those things like, yes, are predators out there. And you Oh, that's why it's so important to call other producers. But, you know, there's a lot of really great established sales reps. And you just want to, you know, go in there thinking, hey, I want to start I know, people that sell my movie, I want to start a relationship with them.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:12
You know, I think because I know a lot of sales reps as well. And I know the handful that are I know a handful of good ones I got ripped off by one early on in my career episode, I think number two or three of this show was me ranting about producers, sales reps. Because I was still I was still 10 grand off of me back in the day. But I feel that a lot of times that producers reps and sales reps get bad raps is they'll pick up a movie that has no talent, quote, unquote, no marketable talent. And they try to do their best. And generally the market will say no, but if you but if you show up with a movie with Dolf, or RA, or Ron Perlman or someone have, you know, some sort of marketable talent, it makes their job a lot easier. They can pick up the call and call Germany call two or three buyers in Germany and go, I got a Mickey work movie here. What can you give me for it? And that's the that's why you hire someone like that, because they have those automatic connections to all these buyers around the world, that you just don't,

Steven Luke 1:14:12
yeah, and they'll play ball with you. So like, Look, if your first film totally tanks, just because of the you know, not because it's a bad movie. It's just because it just didn't have the glitz and the glamour that it takes for a distributor to sell. Probably, you know, to the best of their ability. You know that if you kind of if you do approach them with like, hey, I've got this horror film, then if we had Mickey work distributor might go Oh, let me make some calls for you. Right there.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:39
And the guy. I'd work in it. Exactly. Now, which leads us to my final question COVID-19 and how production is going to be moving forward, how the film markets are being affected what you think in your personal opinion from being a veteran in the business. How do you think things are gonna move moving forward, like I know nobody knows the answer to this, but I just like to hear your opinion about first of all production and then also film markets because I don't know about you like, I'm not going to AFM this year, even if I'm invited on, but I'm not going to a public event in 2020, pretty much. So how can you do a film market without hundreds of 1000s of people together?

Steven Luke 1:15:23
If you want my opinion, Now, granted, this is my opinion. And let me give you some background. I'm a history major by trade. Okay, so I always approach things, just naturally, because it's who I am, by looking into the past to predict the future. Okay, let's just, I put

Alex Ferrari 1:15:39
very slow sound advice. Sound Advice, sir. Okay,

Steven Luke 1:15:42
so my advice would be, history has always rewarded the bold, and this is an opportunity for the bold to us, I mean, I, I'm not recommending that you go out there and make your movie. You know, people at risk can pay for all these things. But I mean, they're a whole industry is ground to a halt. And those that are willing to go out and be creative this craft and create will be rewarded. That's just my opinion. So and, you know, and I'm not saying they like, that's a. So that's my right now, I think, eventually, if we looked into the future, I think things by, I think by, like productions will limp along here this fall, like in terms of just what's happening, like there'll be, they'll, they'll try to make some things work. I think by next year, this will all be in our rearview mirror. I think things back on track. I think we'll see a giant spike in you know, profitability, potential off of VOD, because a lot of people are staying at home and getting used to watching now things on TV and streaming. I think that will only help boost the streaming markets from the into into the future. And so that will be which is great for independent filmmaker independent films, because that's been the one area that's been a real big hit on just our ability to make income from our work. Um, I think unfortunately, you know, theaters will have a really hard time. You know, but I, I always foresee like the big tentpole movies, the big budget stuff, you know, the Marvel movies, I think that's the only way to really experience them.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:41
I agree with

Steven Luke 1:17:43
that. relief. So though the theaters will be okay. But I do think it will, you know, very, it won't be it's, you know, it's hard to be profitable as independent doing theaters anyways, I think it just won't be the death be a real death sentence to like, Don't even bother taking two years. That's not to say that there's not some allure to it,

Alex Ferrari 1:18:02
you know, but also, and I'll be, I'll play devil's advocate here, if there isn't a lot of studio product for all these screens, there might be opportunities for iPads to come in, and to intake because honestly, beforehand, the studios are only making 30 movies a year 40 movies a year,

Steven Luke 1:18:23
you've got a lot of great videos on how to market and distribute your movie. And I think that there is, especially with theaters, there's a giant missed opportunity to just focus in on theaters and marketing your film, and keeping it that world. And I could go I could mean that's its own like, Oh, no, it's its own thing. And I have had guests on who've made millions, millions theatrically self distributing, and for walling and booking their own theaters, and it's a thing, but it's a lot of work. And it's a lot. And if you're you know, if you're in the most creatives like to do the project, get it out there and then move on. And that's what I it's hard to, it's hard to you know, like live in your film for another two years, or whatever, you know, oh, no,

Alex Ferrari 1:19:11
I I've been trying to tell people like the the real work starts at the end of the cut. That's when the real work started. Like, the hardest part is not getting the movie made. The hardest part is getting the money

Steven Luke 1:19:23
back. Yeah, well, and so Alex, that's why with the pre sales that we've been talking about, you, you can do that process of, you know, attaching the talent to the you're doing a lot of work. But you're doing it almost before you start shooting it and as opposed to after. And so like the same, it's the same amount of work, except that you're taking that took risks. You're taking that risk away from what you're trying to do, and you're putting it on the front end. And so that's why it's, in my opinion, if you're able as a filmmaker To be able to get to that point where you can like, okay, hey, we're gonna raise. That's why that the distribution and the financing, you can tie together and put it towards the front end of you trying to make a movie, because then you could spend two years in that circular motion. Oh. And it's way better to do that than to have done six months in pre production, trying to raise the money, scrape out money, shoot the film, post production, and then spend two years trying to sell it. It's just,

Alex Ferrari 1:20:30
Yeah, you just want to hedge your bets. If you can, it's like, you know, when, when Apple creates an iPhone, they know that they have a market, they have an infrastructure, they have sale predict, you know, they know that they're going to recoup whatever money they spent to make or design or invent that product. filmmakers never think about that. They're the only business we were, when I use the term business. It's very loosely in our in show business. But we're the only product that's like, I'm gonna go spend a half a million dollars and then figure out how I'm going to get my money back. There's no other business that does that.

Steven Luke 1:21:06
Yeah, no, it's very true. And that's why if you can, if you can take that the business side of things and throw that in on the front end of your movie, you know, yes, will make your life not easier, but it'll be more enjoyable, you'll enjoy the product and so much mean not that you're not gonna have stress. But man, it's a lot easier to you know, only have to worry about maybe, you know, 10% of your budget coming back, as opposed to like, 100% of your budget coming back.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:33
Even just breaking even is a win, win. It's a complete win.

Steven Luke 1:21:37
Yeah, don't you know, if you break even on your movie that is a win

Alex Ferrari 1:21:42
100% win? Again, no other business? No other business is that a win.

Steven Luke 1:21:47
But you know, here's the here's the the other secret, like, you keep at it long enough. And you will have, you will have that catapult and I mean, one of the things I know we didn't really talk about, or maybe like investors, investors, one of the, I always like to tell investors is like, Listen, maybe it's not this movie, I'm asking you for this. And, and, and this is why, you know, this is gonna work. And maybe it's not this movie that we make a lot of money on. And but it's gonna help us get to that next level. And then when we get to that next level, maybe you know, I'm gonna ask you for more money. And maybe it's not that movie, that's gonna make us the money, but I'll get you, I'll get you, I'll get your money back, you'll get on the red carpet, you'll get to meet some stars. And then when we get to that next level, I'm gonna ask you for even more money. But that'll be the point where we're going to hang off really, really well. And you know what an investor can see that, because it's just like any business, they understand the risks. And they see like, hey, this person has got a plan and a future and they know where they're going. And they know that this is, you know, if you're not an investor, I shouldn't say they're not worried about 20%. Because they are, but like, they're investing in movies, there's a lot of glitz and glamour, but they want to have the huge hit. Where they you know, I mean? Like, that's what that's why they're investing. That's why they're investing in the upsell

Alex Ferrari 1:23:09
the upside?

Steven Luke 1:23:11
Yeah, you have to you have to explain that to them. Like that is your goal as well. And but it might not, you know, like, it might not be the project that you're making for him right there at that moment. But you have to get you have to take those steps in order to get there. That's the only way. It's the only way to be able to to proceed forward. Fair, and they'll see that they'll respect that. And it'll add that level of like, I've solidly we'll invest in in the steps that maybe we're gonna take.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:42
Very cool. Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests, as you know, if you've listened to the show yet, these are what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Steven Luke 1:23:52
Collaborate, collaborate, the film, filmmaking is such a collaborative business at all levels. And, you know, even collaborate with everyone on your team. I mean, we all know if you look at the back end of the credits, there's hundreds of people that work on your film, and collaborate with as many you know, of all the people that you know, all the all the people that help you make your film and your project, collaborate with them, they're going to have good ideas, they're going to have bad ideas, roll with it, take it, let it sink in. And it's like producers, all this stuff, because it's such an it's an art form. It's like molding clay. You know, there's things that will happen that you got to collaborate and you got to trust those around you to be immersed in that process. And I think of all the things that, you know, filmmakers have a tendency to lose is just that that art I mean, they don't forget it. They don't forget about the art form, but that art takes others especially in our business, and what bring their bring, you know, other people's, you know, art to life with them and it will just There'll be magic there. And that's when the magic is created. So collaborate, collaborate, collaborate,

Alex Ferrari 1:25:05
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life,

Steven Luke 1:25:11
Perseverance, reservere, don't give up. Don't stop. You're gonna have so many pitfalls in life in filmmaking, and they're gonna seem like instrument hurdles. And maybe at that moment in time, it's gonna seem insurmountable, insurmountable. But with some time, and, and persistence and patience, like, you'll get past those things, life will go on, things will keep moving forward, it's just like this COVID-19 I'm literally sitting here, just like, I have a couple projects that were literally I mean, literally, like I was on a movie that I'm producing, I literally had just driven to Montana, the day before pre production, we're supposed to get started in March to start shooting, like for pre production to start. And that's when the national emergency started, all the dominoes are falling, everything was put on hold. And I just was like, Oh my gosh, we're just like, at that point, this movie is gonna get made, as the Debut Movie was supposed to get made, you know, I mean, like, where everything would have been sealed. So I only tell that because like, you just got to be patient, that your timing will come, your moment will be there. And you just got to be ready for it. And I think that's hard, especially in our business to be able to just, you know, sit still. So

Alex Ferrari 1:26:34
Three of your favorite films and three of your favorite films of all time.

Steven Luke 1:26:37
Okay, so I know you asked this to everybody. And I was like, I have a list of like, like art films, I was like, that are my favorite but and not that I don't want to get those boxes. Like I want to like talk to Lord of the Rings. Which one which one, the whole thing? Fellowship of the Ring, okay. First time I sat in a theater and I saw when those guys when that when the hobbits and everyone was going across the I'd read the book, but I'd seen the book come to life. And I just sat back, I was like, I want to do this. I want to make this whatever this is. I want to do that. So that was a big deal to me. Probably the other one is a Star Wars Empire strike. I know I'm given like generic, generic, big, big budget ones. But you know, like this. They're like ones that I watch all the time. And then a world war two movie called Kelly's Heroes. Yeah. Mmm. Kelly's Heroes. Yeah. It is a comedy. It's so funny. And I would recommend if you have not seen Kelly's Heroes, watch Kelly's Heroes. It's like the best combination of story. You know, historical accuracy actors and comedy. It's great Donald sutherlands in it.

Alex Ferrari 1:27:49
It's fun. It's a it's a good flick. I remember it. And now where can people find you? Like in terms of how they can get a hold of your personal your personal address if you could and phone number now I'm joking. But how can people find you online? Sir? If you want to even put that information out there. Yeah.

Steven Luke 1:28:07
Just get my wallet out. And here you go. Just for people that are going to see the video you get a sneak peek

Alex Ferrari 1:28:14
Social security card will be fine.

Steven Luke 1:28:16
Everything. So the probably the best way is you know IMDb me, Steven Luke on there. I think I got my email on there. shoot me a message. You know, say hi, check in. I'm always open to give advice, especially via email. I mean, that's easy. I say that because I have a lot of stuff going on and emails kind of the best way for me to keep track of like, not what I said but like, Oh, yeah, okay, I can I tuned myself back into the maybe a conversation better that way. So that's probably the best way to get ahold of me. You know, you can some of my stuff is on. I'd recommend you know, I'll do a shout out like, some of my stuff is on amazon prime. Give it a watch. I need the seven cents per hour but because

Alex Ferrari 1:28:58
First of all, you're getting seven cents. Holy cow down to five. It's a penny.

Steven Luke 1:29:04
A penny now?

Alex Ferrari 1:29:05
So it's a between Penny and 12 cents. So if you're good, you get up to 12 cents. But generally everyone's at a penny.

Steven Luke 1:29:13
Oh geez. Well, I've got to film at least at seven so let me give you the wow whoa,

Alex Ferrari 1:29:19
Wait a minute. You've got a seven cents an hour movie. That's quality. Its quality.

Steven Luke 1:29:25
I didn't know that was such a big deal. Now I'm more excited about the seven cents.

Alex Ferrari 1:29:29
Oh you kidding me? Seven

Steven Luke 1:29:31
Check out my films then online. I mean, she's apparently I'm making bucco bucks.

Alex Ferrari 1:29:35
Oh no. Seven euro seven cents an hour filmmaker, my friend. That is something I put on? That's like an Oscar like you're you're up there.

Steven Luke 1:29:45
I don't know about all of my phones. But I've seen one a couple years ago. I don't know. I know. I feel it. You know, it's funny as we're having this conversation. It's like, oh, seven cents an hour. Oh boy. Oh boy.

Alex Ferrari 1:29:58
Do you see what Where this is a ridiculous business. We're in an absolutely ridiculous ISIS button. Since we can't do anything else. We're stuck here.

Steven Luke 1:30:09
That's storytelling, start telling stories. And you know, it all bites us and we all got a story to tell. And yeah, man, best format film.

Alex Ferrari 1:30:20
Luke it has been an absolute pleasure man talking to you. This has been a just knowledge bomb filled episode, which I knew it would be. And I think it's I'm gonna make sure this is mandatory listening for all filmmakers because it, I covered things in this and you and I covered things in this episode that we've never I've never really had on the show before. So it is it's really, really great stuff. So

Steven Luke 1:30:46
Why don't I share with everybody and I want to at least leave with this last like, I am a filmmaker out of South Dakota. I went to Los Angeles for a few years, and now I'm back doing the films where I live. So let that be an encouragement to all those people sitting and saying like how can I do this? totally doable. You can do it from even little state of South Dakota. So just keep hanging in there.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:10
Thanks again, my friend. I appreciate it. Stay safe out there.

Steven Luke 1:31:13
Awesome. You to stay safe. We'll talk soon, hopefully real soon.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:18
I want to thank Steven for being on the show and dropping those knowledge, bombs and inspiration bombs on the tribe today. Thank you so much, Steven. If you want to get links to anything we discussed in this episode, please head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/408. And if you want to sign up for my new course the complete film distribution blueprint. The course is now currently closed but will be reopening sometime in the next couple months. If you want to get early access, head over to indiefilmhustle.com/let me in. Thank you so much for listening, guys. As always keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there. And I'll talk to you soon.

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IFH 397: Predatory Film Distributors – The Netflix Guarantee Scam

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It was brought to my attention that there are predatory film aggregators and distributors out there selling promises that they don’t intend to keep.

Yes, I know shocking. The question on most indie filmmaker’s mind is…

How To Sell A Movie To Netflix?

Specifically, I came across a few film aggregators, and use the term “aggregator” extremely loosely, that were promising filmmakers that if they use their service they could guarantee their film would be placed on Netflix, Hulu, Tubi, etc.

“THIS IS 100% BS!”

In this episode, I’ll breakdown the predatory tactics they use and will follow the money so you can see how the sausage is made using this scam.

Some of these “aggregators” have no experience in film aggregation AT ALL. No history working with filmmakers. I mean they just buy a URL, open shop, use a fancy website and promise indie filmmakers the world. You need to do your homework. You need to ask around to see if you can find anyone who has done business with them. You can reach out to the amazing community of indie filmmakers over at the Private Facebook Group: Protect Yourself from Predatory Film Distributors/Aggregators and see if they have any insight.

It’s just not predatory aggregators, we can’t forget the predatory film distributors.  These companies promise you this and that but never deliver. If it’s not in the agreement it doesn’t matter what they tell you. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Speak to a qualified entertainment attorney with an expertise in film distribution.

As I stated last year, when the economic situation in the world changes predatory film aggregators and distributors will become more and more desperate.

Stay vigilante out there tribe. Sharks are around every corner.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
It was brought to my attention recently that there were some pop up film aggregators. Can you believe this pop up film aggregators, who were targeting independent filmmakers and trying to get them to use their service to get you know, on the on the different platforms. Now, the thing that I was, I noticed about a handful of these that I was actually looking at was that they, they were promising access to Netflix, who to be Pluto, and a couple of other big s VOD, and a VOD platforms. And sure, they also included Amazon and iTunes in there as well. But, but when they were guaranteeing that they would get you in, or at least the way they worded it seemed like they were guaranteeing you to get access to Netflix, Hulu and to be for example, I want to make something extremely clear. That is a straight up lie. There is no company. And I'm saying this very straight, I can't make it any clear. There is no film aggregation company, nor distributor that can guarantee placement in Netflix, Hulu, to be Pluto, or anything like that as a general statement. Sure, some of the bigger studios and some of the bigger distributors might have direct relationships with those companies. And there might be very good chances of you getting in through those companies to Netflix. But the landscape is changing changes so rapidly, especially with Netflix and Hulu, and tubi, where one month, they might want your kind of film. And the next month, they don't. So there's no guarantees, and anyone that says that they can guarantee have them put it in writing period, oh, you can guarantee I could get into Netflix or into Hulu, put it in the agreement, there is a guarantee. And if you can't get into me the contracts null and void or I get a bonus or I get some money back or something along those lines. put them to the test. Because that is the the new way that these predatory aggregators and distributors are trying to bring in filmmakers into their clutches, if you will, by the promise of Netflix, of Hulu, have to be and so on. I mean, I got my first film was was licensed to Hulu. I couldn't do that deal today if I wanted to. If I tried, because Hulu is not buying my kind of films anymore. The one that the my this is Meg, they're not buying that kind of film anymore. They're not buying many independent films anymore, or licensing any independent films anymore, because the game has changed. In 2012, Netflix was buying everything. 2020 not so much. So you have to be very, very careful about what people promise you, specifically distributors, and aggregators. If someone's promising you something, have them, put it down on paper, have them put it down in an agreement. Because if you don't, if they're like, Oh, we can do this. And we could do that. And we can get you on this platform and we can get you on that a bad situation and we can get you this kind of press. If they can't put it in an agreement, then it doesn't exist. It's just lip service. There's no power in your hands, to do anything, any sort of retaliation if they don't follow through with what they verbally said. So have them put it down in an agreement, if that's what they're actually saying. And oh, Let me go back to a couple of these these platforms. Netflix and Hulu, obviously are two of the bigger s VOD platforms here in the United States.

Peacock is coming up isn't is a newer a VOD platform that is starting to come up. It hasn't launched yet as of this recording, but and they are going to eventually start taking in outside content. But that hasn't started yet. But they are going to start doing that I have a good word that that is happening. But the COVID thing has kind of thrown everything into into turmoil for the entire industry in general. So, Avon used to be like to be used to accept anything that you gave them, they put it on, because they needed content. But this is the this is the life cycle of these platforms. At the beginning, they'll buy everything, they'll accept everything. And this includes Amazon, they'll accept anything and everything. Because they're trying to build up their library, they're trying to build up their content, when there's a certain threshold that is hit, that they just have so much content, then they start getting picky, then they even start stopping completely, they even stop accepting new content, because then they start making enough money that they're like, you know what we're going to buy things outright, or we're going to start creating our own content, which we'll own in perpetuity. And I have to worry about these licensing deals, this is the lifecycle of all of these. So now to be in Pluto, are starting started to reach that point where they have so much content that they are now curating where before it wasn't as much curated. Now they're curating content coming in. Amazon prime is a perfect example of that, at the beginning, anything and everything was was allowed up on amazon video, everything. And it didn't care about content and didn't care about anything. And you were getting paid 12 cents, 15 cents an hour of streaming time, and everybody was making obscene amounts of money. But as that world in their their entire library grew so much, that now they're just starting to throw people off, that they don't like that they're not playing anything that has even remotely controversial stuff in it nudity, you know, action that they don't want gone, just gone.

So that is the world that we live in with these platforms. And that a company is going to come in and say, Oh, I can promise you I can get you in this. And that goes for sales agents and sales reps, producers reps, all of those guys, if they say I can guarantee you placement in any of these platforms run away, because there's no guarantee. Now could they submit for you sure, do, they have a better chance than other people possibly. But it's about the wording. It's about how they're planning to do. And I'm going to show I'm going to tell you how these aggregators, these new pop up aggregators are coming up. This is their business model. At the end of the day, they don't really care about you or your movie. Or if you make money or not, they just really don't, they are a service style business. They want to provide you a service. Now, the way that they are marketing to you to sell their service is by promising you access to all of these amazing platforms, all the they're selling you the dream, they're selling you the sizzle, like Hollywood does they sell you the sizzle, but ain't no much not much steak behind it. Now, the reason why they're selling you the sizzle is because their business model is based around a service based business. Meaning that they want to bring in your movie and charge you for QC charge you for delivery, like prepping your files, possibly closed captioning, all these other add on services ala carte services that they can add on to you, and they could charge you 500 bucks, 1000 bucks, that's where they want to make their money. That's where they're going to make their money. And they're going to tell you, they're going to submit you to Netflix. But do you really? And they're going to charge you a bit to try to submit you to this. But are they really going to submit you? Who knows? Maybe Maybe not. I can tell you from the from the distributor debacle that we heard from people that they were charging people that they were going to submit to Netflix and they were never submitted.

So you have to be very, very careful with this. But I wanted you to understand why they're doing it and how their business model works. They're not in the business. They're not making money by you going up on the platforms. That's not where they make their money. They make their money on the encoding, on the QC on the closed captioning. And if you're not educated in the process, they can take you for a ride and their day dangling the golden carrot of Netflix, Hulu, to the Pluto, iTunes and all the other platforms for your movie, they're selling you your dream because they know what you want. They know that you want to be on all these platforms, they know that that's what you want. So that's what they're selling you. So I want you to be very careful with these predatory film aggregators. And of course, the predatory film distributors. And obviously, their business model is, Hey, I'll get you on Netflix, I think we have a really great deal on Netflix, just sign on the dotted line and give me your movie for next seven to 10 years, and no mg upfront. That's what they're using that for. They're using the dangling of the carrot of all these other platforms to just get you locked in and the basically to take your film, and you'll probably never see a dime of their predatory film distributor. So it's all about the agreement. It's all about the paperwork. So always look for a experienced entertainment attorney who has experience specifically in film distribution, to look all over this all all anytime you're dealing with with film distributors, film aggregators, you should be consulting a entertainment attorney that can guide you through this process. All right. So I wanted to bring this guy this to your attention, guys, it is a weird and wacky world that we are living in. And as I said, I was yelling this last year, I kept saying, guys, we are in good economic times, wait until the next crisis hits, and you're going to start seeing more of these predatory tactics start popping up. And what has happened exactly that. And I hate to tell you guys, but we have not seeing the bottom of this by any stretch of the imagination, it's going to get worse. And it's going to get more predatory when it comes to predatory to film distributors, and aggregators, and all aspects of our industry. So you have to be very vigilant in regards to who you give your movie to how you're going to get paid. All of these things be very, very careful, it is going to get worse. This I promise you. But at the end of this, when the the walls of Rome, as I keep saying is burning, when the city is burnt down to the ground when this this old model is finally kind of broken down to its foundation. Hopefully, a new system will be put in place that will help filmmakers have sustainable careers as filmmakers, because they're actually getting paid to do what they love to do. And I also wanted to give you an update that my film distribution confidential course, the course that predatory film distributors do not want you to take is open, I have opened up a launch beta version of the course. And it's at a steep discount. And the for the first 100 tribe members that sign up now you will be helping me build out this course by seeing lessons as I build them. Every week, I'll be adding 1015 lessons as I continue to build out this course and you'll be the first ones to see it and get it at again a steep discount if you want in and it's only open for the first 100 seats after that I will close it and then re release it when it's finally done at the full price. So if you want to head over to indie film hustle.com Ford slash let me in. That's indie film hustle.com Ford slash let me in. Thank you again for listening guys. Be well stay safe out there. And as always keep the hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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