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IFH 035: What Happens After You Win the SXSW Film Festival with Brant Sersen

Have you always wonder what happens to indie filmmakers who win HUGE film festivals like the SXSW Film Festival? Well, wonder no more.

I’ve invited one of my oldest friends onto the show, Brant Sersen, the writer, and director of the SXSW Audience Award-winning film “Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story” starring Rob Corddry.

Some other films he’s directed are ReleaseSplinterheadsand Sanatorium.

Over the years I’ve heard Brant tell me all sorts of stories about his misadventures in Hollywood. So if you are expecting a “Entourage” style story you’re on the wrong website.

What I try to do with Indie Film Hustle is to give you the no-BS info, stories, and experiences you can only get by being in the heat of battle. Brant Sersen’s story is no different.

Brant shares his ups and downs on the Hollywood roller coaster, what it takes to make it as a working filmmaker and shares behind the scenes stories of working with big-name talent. Enjoy the podcast!

Here’s the trailer to Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story:

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:04
Now today, guys, we have an old friend of mine, he's probably one of my oldest friends, his name is Brant Sersen and Brant a director he's been he's he's one South by Southwest, the Audience Award for his movie blackballed and has one ton of other festivals, as well as directing other feature films at different budget ranges. And he's told me stories over the years about his adventures in the film business, so I thought it would be a wonderful idea to bring them onto the show, and have him tell you his stories of what it's really like to win a huge festival like South by Southwest when the Audience Award which is a huge honor. And what really happens to someone after that, what the realities are, you know, it's not like he all of a sudden just got tons of money thrown at him. He went off made $100 million movie and the rest is history, which is where a lot of people think happens when you went big festivals. But what he tells you the truth of what really happened to him is different adventures, and so on. So get ready for a very entertaining conversation with Director Brant Sersen. And, Brat, thank you so much for being on the show. Man. We really appreciate you taking the time out. I know you're you know, very busy, busy. big Hollywood. mover and shaker.

Brant Sersen 1:24
Yeah, big, big time East Coast guy.

Alex Ferrari 1:27
So Brant, I wanted to have

Brant Sersen 1:29
Bigtime New York indie film scene guy.

Alex Ferrari 1:30
Yeah, exactly, exactly.So Brian, I wanted to have you on the show. Because we've been we've been friends for I just did the math, getting close to 20 years. Jesus

Brant Sersen 1:37
It's insane

Alex Ferrari 1:37
It's insanity.

Brant Sersen 1:38
So you're so old Alex.

Alex Ferrari 1:39
I know, I'm so old, even though you're three months older than me, anyway. And I will never let you that I'll never let that go. So I wanted to get you on the show. Because you've lived a very, your experience through the Hollywood system, or the filmmaking experience is very unique. And I've been front row center for most of it, if not all of it, actually, because you kept, we kept talking back and forth over the years about what you're doing. And we've had our long sessions of phone calls that we had while you were going through some of these experiences. So I thought it would be really educational, to kind of break down a lot of myths and also just explain how you got started because it's a fascinating story. So I want to start by asking you, how did we meet? And how did that whole? You know, unfortunately, how did we meet?

Brant Sersen 2:11
Unfortunately, I went to the University of Miami. Now I was at the University of Miami for their film school, which was pretty decent film school back in the mid 90s, I guess. And you know, one of the requirements of the film track that I was in that I had to intern somewhere so there was a list of places that all the students were given and I guess it was called asi Yeah, right. If I film works Yeah, if I film works was one of the places on the list I I was working with someone else. Through asi being a gopher, I don't I forget the guy's name. But he had me driving all around Miami doing the war stuff. But I got to see Miami a little bit by doing that. And I basically after like a couple of weeks of being Terra gopher for this guy, and not really learning anything. I said, I'm out of here. He said, well wait a second. And he introduced me to you. And you were sort of like, I guess that you were like the vault guy. Maybe I was

Alex Ferrari 2:59
I was the dubber slash vault guys slash Mac technician for the entire company. Back in the days when Mac's you know working network together with Apple POC cables. Right so and you came in I remember you came in and you're like, Can I intern for you, man, because like, it seems like you could teach me something. I'm like, Yeah, sure. And we hit it off from that point on and I don't even remember it.

Brant Sersen 3:12
I remember he came in just to introduce me to you and I sat with you for a little bit and I saw what was going on.

Alex Ferrari 3:15
I was editing reels. Yeah, I was editing

Brant Sersen 3:16
Yes, I was like, this is where I need to be not like, you know, picking up detergent and weird stuff. Yes. supermarket. Yeah, it was crazy. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 3:22
Which is which which, by the way if you're getting into the film business that you're going to be doing that a lot of times when you first start out is gonna

Brant Sersen 3:27
But you dont have to.

Alex Ferrari 3:28
Exactly. So yeah, I was editing on a three quarter inch tape on a Sony three quarter inch from deck to deck to editing demo reel for the commercial direct. It was a commercial so we're doing commercial real estate. Which, and then yeah, I didn't I don't even remember what I taught you did? What did you learn?

Brant Sersen 3:42
You taught me how to use a three quarter deck. Alright, cuz I didn't you know, they weren't teaching that in school, you know, and betas and stuff like that. I think that we got betas like, you know, everything was you know, we were doing everything on 16. So, you know, we were in that analog world. So we, you know, it was, you know, I was learning betas and three quarters and like, just it was like, Well, what are these giant tapes? Like, what you know, what is this

Alex Ferrari 5:31
Which is like stuff that you needed to learn for, like, at the time, that was the norm that was like job skills

Brant Sersen 6:06
That was like the Yeah, the three quarter tape was like v tape to pass around your reel on, right. So yeah, so and then it was just, you know, all the dubbing machines and all that stuff. It was, you know, I was not super techie. But like, that was I felt I was sitting in like, you know, the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. It was like, it was pretty awesome. You know, like, just all the machines and stuff. And I was like, Yeah, I want to learn all this stuff.

Alex Ferrari 6:27
And I think and I think you came in, like, after maybe like, for like, three months or two months that I've had the job there. So it was like, yeah, cuz I interned I interned for the guy who had the job before for over three months, working for free every day, and just kind of like busting my butt until finally he left in the like, well, who's going to take the job. I'm like, I'll give it to Alex. He's been here for the last three months. And that's how I got the job. So enough about our dubbing times, let's get to some serious stuff. So after you left with me, you got you got a job offer, I guess, at the legendary propaganda films.

Brant Sersen 7:06
Yes. So I was living. I'm from New York, I grew up in a suburb just 30 minutes north of New York City. And when I went home, I ended up getting an internship at propaganda films, not knowing, you know, I was, I was going to film schools, I want to make movies, you know, I think I was still figuring out like, who I am and what I want to do, I, you know, my, I have to say, my mom was sort of, like, instrumental and pushing me down this road, because she saw early on that, like, you know, I was a big film, like love Star Wars and all those kinds of movies, and I was into, like, special effects. And she's like, you know, you're going to go to Hollywood and be a special effects guy, you know, so that was like, my first You know, that's why I thought I wanted to do and then you know, as you get in film school, you learn like, I'm gonna be a director, I'm gonna be running this stuff. So. So you know, I was a film guy, and I kind of knew someone that was over a propaganda through someone else. And I went there, and I interned for a week during my like Christmas vacation, just for a week. And I think that first day, I was there, interning the guy that I was, so I got an internship for propagandas in their vault. And so I was doing everything that you taught me, I used those those skills, and I brought them to New York where I excelled. I was editing on three quarter decks, you know, back to back betas. And you know, but it was for directors like Michael Bay and David Fincher and Tom Fuqua and then spec journalists and those guys yeah, little did I know that they had, you know, a little smaller company satellite films, which had spike Jones and then they had partisan that had Michel Gondry, and all of a sudden I am sitting in this place where it's like, the biggest directors,

the biggest commercial and the commercial at the time now there Yeah, biggest in the film that

Yeah, none of it made. I think David Fincher was, you know, I think he was just finishing up with Fight Club when I was there. Right. And, and he broke it. Yeah, so it was, you know, but anyway, yeah, so that I have some my first day. They were like, my boss was like, Hey, we're gonna go to this shoot. One of our directors is shooting a music video for Daft Punk. Like, who's Daft Punk, but I'll go, you know, and they're like, Oh, it's spike Jones. I'm like, Ah, what? So? Yeah, it was like, a few blocks away. We walked over and we watched spike Jones shoot a Daft Punk video and

then it's that it's the it's the one we all remember right? It's like that the dog

the dog walking around the East Village. Yeah. So if you look really closely, there's like a couple scenes where you see me like shopping for fruit in the background or like walking by with a backpack. But I was super excited because spike Jones was sort of, you know, when I really knew what I wanted to do, you know, I grew up skateboarding and unknowingly I've been you know, I was watching skate videos and there was one called mouse and one called goldfish and Who knew that spike Jones made those and it made sense because these were like the coolest, like skate videos. And then, you know, he was, you know, pretty instrumental. And you know, where I am now as far as like getting into this business because, you know, I was just sort of like a skate punk still trying to figure stuff out. And then you know, watching those videos was like, Oh, this is what I want to be doing. And then yeah, so then finding out that spike Jones was that propaganda was just like I won the lottery. So you know, now graduates, Yeah, go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 10:29
No, so so and I remember because when you got into propaganda, I was like, super excited. And I was like, Oh, and I think I visited propaganda. Yeah, I was in New York, doing some work and I got to take the tour of propaganda which was so much fun, like walking around that kind of environment. I'm like, Man, you get to work your every day. Yeah, it was super fun. And then I remember you, you were always so kind. And you would edit demo reels of David Fincher Michael Bay, Spike Jones Fuqua all the big direct and you would mail them to me on spin owns on the propaganda dime, which I appreciate and and I would get these like I still have those By the way, I still have them in in my archive somewhere relics, their relics and some of the stuff was like, you know, Michael Bay's commercials that no one's ever seen or David Fincher his early work or spike Jones like you know, I think was is a spanking

Brant Sersen 11:27
Dinosaur Jr. stuff

Alex Ferrari 11:28
Yeah, like this crazy stuff that no one will ever see. But I haven't I have it I have it on VHS so it was so cool. And I was learning a lot while you were sending me though so it was like it was it was like having a connect a pipeline into propaganda which, if you guys don't understand propaganda film was was the largest commercial music video house in the world. For a long time before they they finally there was nobody else like there was no one even close because of the staff of people. I mean, Michael Bay, David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Fuqua, Michel Gondry, and the list goes on and on with these amazing directors. So, it was, it was a ton of fun. So after that, you Yeah, after that, you did that for a little while, and then you jumped over to Comedy Central,right?

Brant Sersen 12:14
Yes, sort of so like, you know, when I was at propaganda, you know, what I started doing actually, while I was in college, so I started doing a documentary. And, you know, I was I sort of discovered music for the first time down there, you know, punk rock, and I started just sort of documenting like the scene that was like around me down there because I was so enamored by it, and I loved the music and I love the people and that documentary, I worked on it for a few years while I was at propaganda and was interviewing bands and people up and down the East Coast for a couple years. Until we finished it. And you know, that was that was my first film you know, I think I did a music video for that.

Alex Ferrari 12:58
Yes, I edit it. Oh, God,

Brant Sersen 13:04
we were just talking about getting over that fun stuff. Right? I forgot about

Alex Ferrari 13:07
it was like a really like was thrash band.

Brant Sersen 13:09
It was a Miami hardcore band called brethren Bradbury. Yeah, we took over a club. I had no idea what I was doing. But I shout out 16 Yeah, the cool thing was I in college, I was in the production track of film, I switched over into the business track because I felt like what I was learning in the classroom, like that would take me a semester to learn, I could learn on like, in one day on the set of one of my friends films, so I switched over into the business track just to like, you know, see what they're saying about producing and marketing and distribution because that stuff is so important, you know, in film, and I think it's like you know, people they don't they forget that or they don't realize at the time when they're making a movie how important that part is, and it was like in one of those classes where I forget the professor's name but he said something about finding your niche and I was sitting there in the seat and I'm like, Oh my god, I know my niche. It's like, I go to these shows every every weekend watch these bands play where like they're skinheads on one side. And then these like, Cuban hardcore guys on the other end surfers and like they're fighting outside, but they're like, total bros inside and it was just a really unique scene. So I started documenting that and interviewing the bands. And one of the first bands I interviewed was blink 182 before they were anybody, and and then from there, the list grew. And, you know, I worked on for a couple years. And then, you know, we played at a film festival, the New York underground Film Festival, which was started by Todd Phillips, and we had a great screening. It was my first taste of, you know, showing a film in a theater with an audience and having to do a q&a and, you know, getting razzed, like left and right, you know, it was great, but I was hooked after that, you know, so then, you know, after that film, which was called release, one of the bands was a New York hardcore band, they sort of hired me to do their rockumentary. And so I spent a year doing that. In between working at propaganda films and Comedy Central, so that was great because I interviewed like, rancid and the mighty mighty bosstones and all these big bands at the time. And you know, and that did great. And these were two, you know, videos that were distributed worldwide through you know, independent video labels like the record labels and they did great.

Alex Ferrari 15:18
And you actually made money with them.

Brant Sersen 15:20
I made I release I made money we the first one, for sure I made it, you know, you know, paid myself back and decent not a lot of money. But no, no, sir for like a 21 year old, I was happy. Right, and then I, and then sick of it all was the band, I, they paid me to do that film. So flat, right, I ended up probably spending money out of my own pocket because they ended up cutting the budget in half while we were midway through and I had like an editor and a visual effects guy I was working with and I don't want to leave them hanging in this film was actually important to me, I was like, really emotionally invested in it. And I wanted to see it done. So I think I just like I threw an extra couple 1000 in there just to like finish it, you know, pay my guys. And then so during that time, I wrote a I wrote this script that got a little traction. Somehow I was a producer in New York, who ended up getting ICM interested, and some another producer out in LA. And it was called Jimmy the dragon. And it was a comedy about these backyard wrestlers. And you know, I just came off of these two documentaries. And now I am like, in on the phone talking to like ICM, this packaging agent. And they're talking about, you know, these million dollar budgets. And it was like, Whoa, and they're like, yeah, and we're thinking about Jenny McCarthy. And we want Jenna Jamison for this part, because she was all big time at the time. And it was like, you know what's going on? You know, we started, we started casting in New York, and I couldn't believe what was happening. I'm like, 2223 years old, and this movie's coming together. And then 911 happened, and 911 happened, and everything fell apart after that, of course, and that's so yeah, so it was just like the brakes were put on the project died, you know, everyone sort of like retreated back to where they were for a little while. And you know, one of the things that I learned during this whole thing is, you know, I didn't have anything to fall back on, I put all my eggs in one basket with this one film. And when this project fell apart, I literally had nothing because I was, you know, generating my own ideas and shooting my own stuff. You know, I wasn't in a position where people were going to hire me to direct anything, because, you know, I did a couple documentaries on bands, but like, you know, I just wasn't at that place. So that is when I took this job at Comedy Central working in their vault, basically.

Alex Ferrari 17:48
I'm responsible for your careers while you're telling me.

Brant Sersen 17:51
I don't forget. Yes, yes. So yeah. You're under your tutelage I learned. Then I yeah. And it

snowballed from there. The Oscar. Did you beta? Of course.

Yeah. Yeah. So then I got this job at Comedy Central. And after I walked in, and I said, on day one, myself, I will be here for three months tops. I just need a little cushion health health benefits. Just to like, keep me you know, the float me for a little while, why I get this, because then I had this idea that came to me like a week before I got the job. And it was like, a little movie that I thought of that I was like, I'm going to shoot this movie. I'm going to do it for no money, because that's the only way I think I could do it. And you know, I'm gonna just beer, you know, for like, no time. Sure. And, you know, I think three months turned into like, three years. But regardless, that film was blackballed. The Bobby Duke story, and that's when I thought of this idea. I partnered up with a friend of mine, who just started to manage some people in New York. And we used to go to comedy shows all the time. And, you know, we spent a lot of time at the UCB theater back in the early early days. And, you know, I told him my idea, and he's like, yeah, let's make this. Like, let's put some of my guys that I'm going to represent in this thing. And you know, it's a win win for both of us. So, you know, I would go down to the theater with them UCB theater, and we'd watch and basically I just sat in the audience and was like, Oh, I like this guy, Rob kubal. For this part, and man, Rob Riggle would be great for this part and Paul Scheer for this and john Ross Bowery for here and john, you

Alex Ferrari 19:28
had like this insane cast

Brant Sersen 19:31
blackballed because my friend Brian Steinberg, you know, he introduced me to this, this comedy scene in New York that, you know, wasn't really big yet, you know, still very small. So yeah, I was up, you know, in the way beginnings when UCB started and saw all those the pillars of UCB like just getting started. And you know, I, I kind of put together this mockumentary paint ball story, you know, and I figured coming from documentary like a nice transition into like narrative filmmaking was like a mockumentary, you know, you know, it felt it felt natural. It felt, you know, comfortable for me to try that first. So, you know, we were we were lucky that, you know, Rob Corddry signed on to play the lead character, Bobby Dukes and, you know, we filled in the casts with, you know, I could go through the list and no all and yeah, and people. And you know, and so we spent one summer every weekend shooting that movie. And, you know, not knowing what we were going to get, you know, I wrote the story, it was like, on 20 pages, and the movie was improvised, you know, a dialogue. And we just went out every weekend based on Rob core juries, his daily show schedule at the time, because I think he just got the gig. So you know, he had to do put in his time and he wasn't messing around with it. So he's like, Bran, I'll give you a Saturday and Sunday here next week, I could do give you a Sunday, the following week, I'm gonna be in Minneapolis covering this. And that's, you know, so it took a while to get that movie done. But when it did, and when we started putting it together, you know, we had something special. And I got the producer who was who set up the Jimmy the dragon movie, to take a look at basically for our rough cut of this of this film. And he was like, okay, we're on board, like, we want it on this movie. And I said, I need you because I'm not a producer. I was able to pull this thing together. But I need you now. And together. You know, we, you know, we started talking about like, you know, what are we going to do when we're like, I guess film festivals, I didn't really know much about some festivals other than that New York underground, and that was sort of like a fluke. So you know, we, he they submitted and, you know, I heard of South by Southwest, you know, I didn't know much about it. And there were some other ones I can't ever remember. And I got a call and I was like, Brent, we we got a call from South by Southwest, they want the world premiere. And it's like, okay, and you're like, like, what? South by Southwest? Yeah. So So then, you know, then it's like, well, let me see what this is all about. And then it's like, oh, uncredible so we we so we saw blackballed premiered at South by Southwest, big audience reaction. And it was one of the best, best moments of huge audience we played in the convention center. It was sold out, it was, I was sitting with caudry and shear and Owen Burke, and a couple guys from the crew. And Brendan Burke was there. And, you know, we have this he-man opening sequence that's like, you know, two, three minutes long for the credits. And after the credits ended, there was basically a standing ovation. We were like, What is going on? It was the people were clapping, we'd have corgis looking at me, like what's going on? was the most incredible experience of my life. Like, I mean, the audience in tech in Austin was like incredible. They, like everyone laughed at the right places. Every single joke hit, like everything worked it. And then it was the biggest like applause at the end of the movie. You know, the movie ended. You know, we were like on another planet. caudry runs out of the theater. I always remember this. I'm like, Where are you going? We have to go do q&a. He's like, no, I got to go to the bathroom. So I'm down there in standing in front of like, 600 people with sheer and are my editor Chris LeClair who's doesn't talk much. And I gotta like this is the first is like the biggest group of people I've ever talked to in my life. And I'm like, Where's cordrea? Like, this is what he does, you know, right? And, you know, so they, the, they start asking questions that I'm like, you know, then Corddry comes running in, he gets a huge applause and we ended up having a great q&a, you know, then we had this after party, after the whole thing. And then, you know, you start getting business cards, Hey, man, I love your movie, you know, what are you doing next? Can I interview you, you know, I got this site, hey, you know, I want to talk to you about this project, you know, that we think you'd be right for and you start getting all these people, like, you know, just kind of telling you all this stuff. And then you know, the week goes by, you know, a couple days go by, and they have the award ceremony and we're like, Let's go, you know, see what happens. And we ended up winning the Audience Award. And that was pretty incredible. And then there was a big party after the festival for that. And then the same thing, get all these people, you know, here's my card. Here's my card. Here's my card.

Alex Ferrari 24:19
So, so so the after after you got your after you won the Audience Award, you're approached by studios, producers, agents, all that kind of stuff, right?

Brant Sersen 24:29
No studios, producers? I don't any agents that I don't know. No agents, not one. Oh, no, sorry. Yes. 181 agent acted me from what agency? He had his own agency, the same name. It was like

Alex Ferrari 24:49
so I guess so.

Brant Sersen 24:50
I think we had the same name because I have an unusual name, but I think his name is Brent. That's all I remember. Okay. And so, so yeah, I just want the audience toward you know South I guess it was getting big I don't know if studios were like you know looking at their shopping you know I don't know if it was maybe a little too early maybe like some of the bigger films now let me remind you sup my cast they were nobodies besides Rob Corddry right they were nobodies no one knew who they were and we shot the this film on the Panasonic I think was the dv x 100 when they first introduced 24 p

Alex Ferrari 25:28
with not even the 100 A the 100 100

Brant Sersen 25:31
yeah 100 100 so and and my my two camera operators they were just like one of them was like a guy I worked with at Comedy Central and then another guy was just like a friend of a friend. So it was like yeah, push this red button, you know, because it's a great

Alex Ferrari 25:49
you know, it's a mockumentary so you can get away with it yeah

Brant Sersen 25:51
you know and you can get away with it but like it It didn't look it looked like an indie you know I'm saying not so so so but to go back to your saying getting I was approached by a couple couple producers mostly like journalists But no, no way no, no like big agents or studios. So

Alex Ferrari 26:13
that was one of the things I wanted to talk about about you know, a lot of people think you went to a festival like South by Southwest or Sundance or Toronto or or any of these big festivals and all of a sudden you have a golden ticket. They write you a check and they go Come this way. Here's your next $20 million movie and so on. Which is the myth it's the Cinderella story that we've all been told. But the reality is that it's not true at this point you've gotten some traction you've gotten some attention and now the real work starts for you as you continue to try to build your career after this it didn't open any it did open some doors for you right

Brant Sersen 26:51
it kind of did you know but you went to a

lot of other festivals after this I remember you telling me like Hawaii festival was really cool when you win a

festival like no no that was splinter heads well when you when you win a film festival what generally happens is like a big festival like South by Southwest you will be invited to play at other festivals you know they waive the cost they don't even like they just want your movie to play at the festival because you you just wants up by Southwest so obviously there's a reason to programming so we we played I don't know we'll be played so many festivals for maybe like the next year after South by Southwest and we want a bunch and we play we play up in Boston we played a phi we played you know all over the country everywhere and we and we want a bunch of awards and it was a real like you know festivals festival goers like love the movie and what as like you know after like maybe like six months it's like alright we're going to Atlanta now now we're going to New Orleans and now we're going down to Sarasota and now we're gonna fly back up to Woodstock and we're going here but like the one call that wasn't coming was a distributor like

yeah I was gonna ask you like I can I can I do you mind me asking you what the budget was on this

we shot senate up sorry we shot blackballed for all said and done maybe $50,000

Alex Ferrari 28:08
Okay, so at this point no one's made any money yet.

Brant Sersen 28:11
No, no one's made any money and no because we haven't made we haven't made one now There hasn't been even a talk about a sale Okay, so you know, my so my producers were working on it. And I guess the feedback that he was getting was that you don't have anyone famous in your cast. You have a studio vibe movie with a with an indie look. And the distributors and there were a couple of distributors I just take that back there were some distributors that the producers were talking to, they didn't know what to do with it. They didn't know how to market it. They didn't know they just didn't know what to do. And that's basically it like it was easy as that you don't have any famous people it looks to indie we don't know what to do with this thing. We're moving on and that's what happened even though we you know, won a ton of garnered all those awards and their audience awards to like it, you know, and it so it did great with the people but you know, but studios didn't see it make any money and they passed. So how did how did how did you finally get this thing distributed? So what we ended up doing is you know, we we did get some like straight to DVD deals that were horrible. You know, it's basically like give us your movie for free. And if you ever see money, good luck, you know, but we decided let's like Hold on tight. We know we have something special and we self distributed and you know, I no one was really doing that back then. But we sort of had like a niche audience. We had the paintball audience, right? That was like and paintball at the time. Like you could walk into a Barnes and Noble and there would be five or six paintball magazines on the shelf. So you know, paintball is actually big, you know? So we were like, Alright, we have the paintball audience and we sort of like a comedy audience because we have these, you know, these comedy guys that we're actually within that year of after premiering south by They're some of them started getting traction like jack McBrayer got on 30 rock and all sudden he was famous and Rob Porter was like oh we should put Jack's face on the cover of the DVD and then we'll sell them you know you know so we did a 12 city theatrical release in small theaters you for Walt it yeah

Alex Ferrari 30:17
we'll be right back after a word from our sponsor and now back to the show

Brant Sersen 30:29
and we hired a bunch of like interns and people to work with us and we sat in an office and we made calls to like or we got on message boards and like local comedy groups in the towns that we were playing we got in touch with paintball fields and we just set up you know we just did that way and we and we played theaters and you know we did we did 12 cities total we didn't do any we did we did actually New York played I think for like two weeks at the two boots pioneer theatre when it was still around and that was and that was great. And then after that, we shout factory a big you know, DVD distributor they wanted to do like some big unique deal with us and it was money to pay back over investors and for everyone to get paid a little bit and we took that deal and they made like a big deal with with Best Buy and you know and and you know financially we everyone got their money back which I was happy about the investors and everyone made a little bit of money but then basically that was the end of that run with that movie like that it ended up like on DVD you know and I remember Netflix and then eventually I then oh then Netflix definitely picked it up. And you know and as these guys in the film have just gotten so famous now Netflix just keeps picking it up and they pay each year or each you know each quarter or whatever it the price goes up a little more which is it's been amazing

because yeah because now there's so much traction on the stars they're huge star yeah

yeah you type in Hot Tub Time Machine, you know for Rob cordrea and then you may see a little picture of you may also like blackballed you know so so it gets a lot of planes so you know, you know so i mean blackballed as a you know i to me I mean that was my my one of the best movie making experiences of my life and you know, it's been a great calling card for me and you know, it's always it you know, it sort of became this like cult phenomenon. I you know, I take meetings and people find out you did blackballed. That was like my favorite movie and you know, I hear stories how the Patriots were watching blackballed on their tour on their bus to different games like I've heard the craziest stories about this movie. So awesome man, you can still search twitter and yeah, people are just discovering it and it still holds up you know it's just it just you know, I had a great great cast and I'm

Alex Ferrari 32:53
gonna put the trailer to all your films on on the show notes and I just actually before we start talking like let me refresh my memory and I watched the trailer to the blackballed and I'm like this that's funny as hell it was it was cool to see Rob I mean Rob 4g was so young I mean he was me 20 years ago almost one on that 2015 years ago or something like that when you did it but it was just fun to see all these guys like super young but they were still them like they have their their timing and their everything was there so I was always I was always not only proud of you for doing that you know but just I was so happy that you were you know seeing a friend of mine kind of get their stuff off the ground and then get traction and then win a big fight like you're the first friend of mine that won a huge like a huge festival and that got a movie release then everything of all the people all my filmmaker friends so it was always like man that's so much fun and then and then starts the whole journey of what happens after like okay so now so be playing blackballed and your movie splinter heads there's a gap of about four years right four or five years right

Brant Sersen 34:03
there it Oh, may I see blackballed played South by Southwest 2004 we premiered splinter heads 2009

Alex Ferrari 34:12
So yeah, five years but five years so what were you doing

Brant Sersen 34:16
between premieres but um right yeah, so I stayed at Comedy Central I was still a comedy I Comedy Central at the time wasn't owned by MTV, which was great and they gave me a leave of absence to go and edit blackballed after we finished blackballed I editing. I went back to work at Comedy Central because I still need to, you know, pay the bills, right? So I stayed, I stayed and I so then I blackballed. We went through the whole thing. I went on all the film festivals, did that for a while, and I was I was working on my other script, splinter heads, while you know, touring with blackballed and working in Comedy Central, and that one was going to be another indie film, and I was working with the same producer that I worked on, I would get blackballed with it. And he was putting together the financing he actually was able to pull the financing together because of blackballed. So as soon as splinter heads got all the financing together, I gave my notice to comedy, and I never looked back. I then I I stepped into the scary world of you know, being a freelance director

Alex Ferrari 35:20
which we could talk about that in a little bit.

Brant Sersen 35:25
Yeah. So then, yeah, then split our heads.

Alex Ferrari 35:29
So Brett, how did you get splinter heads off the ground?

Brant Sersen 35:32
I Well, my producer Darren Goldberg and Chris Marsh they took the scripts they they were doing some other films that were doing fairly well in the film festival circuit and I think that a couple small sales so they actually had some investors that were looking to get into comedy and we were able to pull together we basically Yeah, we pulled together all independent financing for that movie and and that was how we got that one off the ground

Alex Ferrari 36:02
that was a fairly larger budget than 50,000

Brant Sersen 36:05
the Oh yeah. Yeah, you know what that one was, you know, just over a million okay, but for me was you know

Alex Ferrari 36:17
wait a minute that film was over that was that film was just like a little bit over a million bucks Yeah. Oh, that looks awesome. I thought I honestly thought it was like a $5 million.

Brant Sersen 36:26
No, well, look, we're one of the first movies to shoot on the red. Oh,

Alex Ferrari 36:31
and you had a good dp

Brant Sersen 36:32
we were we were and we had a great TP and we were featured heavily on the red website

Alex Ferrari 36:37
I remember being one of the first first movies that's

Brant Sersen 36:41
Yeah, yeah that movie sort of like you know that agents Okay, so you know, so what ends up happening is that movie is I write splinter heads and then we're casting and then you know, we get all of our covering agents at all the agencies and every everyone all the agencies like love it they you know, we're getting some crazy names thrown around. And you know, so I get I get Rachel Taylor who signs on and you know, some of the you know, some of these other names were I don't want to say you know, it's a lot of names were like being thrown out and they are sorry,

Alex Ferrari 37:24
yeah, you're there.

Brant Sersen 37:25
Yeah, sorry. My phone just went mazurka. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 37:29
Alright, started up.

Brant Sersen 37:30
I'm trying to think of I am trying to figure out how to answer this question of like, how this got off the ground

Alex Ferrari 37:34
working from a micro budget movie like like blackball to go into an over million dollars movie like splinter heads. What was the experience like working because I know you told me it was a very difficult shoot for yourself. Can you elaborate a little bit more about why it was a difficult shoot and what was the experience with working on a larger budget and obviously, since it was a larger budget, you must have had less control because blackball you had complete control and you could do whatever you want it because it was you this was a little bit different. So can you explain to the audience a little bit about what your experience was like working on your fur and also your first thing right off of blackballed as well so you're still you're still you're still green, you're still wet behind the ears. Yeah, a lot of ways.

Brant Sersen 38:21
Yes. Especially Yeah, okay. Well, I think in essence they're they're exactly the same a small film and a big film it's just more people and as far as like the like the day like you know, everything is exactly the same like you're the casting the way we went about everything was the same it's just on a bigger scale. And I guess the the big thing is there's there you have more cooks in the kitchen and you have a there's a lot of like levels that you have to get through to get approvals for certain things. I mean, politics You know, this producer needs to sign off on this person's yeah politics you know, like then then investors you know, like this particular movie had one very large investor that finance a big chunk of it and part of I guess the deal that was said with it with him was you know, they had to sort of sign off on certain people and that was difficult for me because they were saying no to people that I liked and so I it was that was a very difficult thing for me because I felt like I was losing control over my vision a little bit and my vision was being taken over by other people that you know, that are that are weren't getting it. And so that were that was where my the frustrations began and continued through because I was right basically, you know, it I also learned, you know, there are certain battles, you got to just really pick your battles with certain things. And I think I was picking some of the wrong ones. And, you know, that was Yeah, that those were like some frustrations with this, you know, I was able to in the end, though I, you know, I put up a huge fight about our lead actor who ultimately went to Thomas middleditch. There were some pretty big names that were circling the roll, and I wasn't feeling them. And I, you know, I saw Thomas middleditch, at this little, this little comedy club. And as he was brilliant, and I saw him and I knew right away, that was the lead of my movie, and I need to somehow make, I have to persuade everyone, I got to do hypnosis, I got to figure something out to get these guys to like, sign off on this guy. And I dragged everyone to a comedy show that he was playing, he had no idea this was happening, by the way. And I filled the audience with like, we had like five producers, a couple investors were all sitting there. And he was brilliant, thank God. And, you know, we had an audition. And we were, that was like, the one thing that I'm like most proud of is that I was able to get Thomas middleditch, you know,

Alex Ferrari 41:14
in that role, and now he's the star of Silicon Valley, right?

Brant Sersen 41:18
And then he just so happens to go on to Silicon Valley, right?

Alex Ferrari 41:22
What do you know? What do you what do you know, I know, what do you do? So that film goes on. And obviously a bigger budget gets distribution. And you also you've also premiered it at South by Southwest and you did a bunch of other stuff with that film correct?

Brant Sersen 41:37
Yeah, so so splitter edge was fantastic shoe, I was shooting on a red camera. It was incredible. I had playback on a movie, which I didn't even know what that was, you know, that it was pretty amazing. Getting some of the gourmet like the tools, you know, I gotta say, you know, that's amazing.

on a on a million dollar budget. You it's not like you just went on to a Marvel set for 200 million bucks. You This is a million dollar budget.

Yeah, no, but you know, for me, yeah, of course. No,

Alex Ferrari 42:01

Brant Sersen 42:02
Like, yeah, that was like, Whoa, I have a giant monitor. I could see everything. And we could rewind it and look at stuff. That was it was incredible. Right. So so we finished up splinter heads. And we were asked to come and premiere at South by Southwest. And so we premiered there, and then went on and did the festival circuit, we picked up a couple awards at different festivals. And then, unfortunately, you know, that movie looked like a studio movie. I think it was a decent rom com It definitely has its fault scenarios. But you know, not not too shabby. But then the recession hit and I don't think that year 2009. I think there were like a handful of sales at Sundance that year. And I think none at South by Southwest. So it was just a horrible year for any filmmaker that premiere movie, I think, right? And that's what I remember. So, you know, we you know, we, you know, we had a digital deal. We had a DVD deal. You know, we did all you know, all those ancillary distribution deals and a couple small little international things

Alex Ferrari 43:09
in the end. Right, exactly. And then and then the movie finally make its money back. No, okay. Okay, fair enough. It. It has not okay. And that's it. It's just it was the bad timing. But yeah, so let me I was Yeah. So let me ask you a question. How was it? How was it working with Marty McFly? His mom.

Brant Sersen 43:31
Lee Thompson was fantastic. Now she was great. And, you know, that was you know, I learned a lot actually from her. Obviously, you know, she's been on a million sets. You know, she was in one of my favorite movies of all time Red Dawn. The original you know, Howard the Duck, you know, she was sharing the craziest stories about stuff but yeah, she was like a real pro. And, like, Alright, kids, get back here. We're gonna do another take, like, you know, he

Alex Ferrari 43:57
was a she was Mama. She was mama hand. Oh, she was

Brant Sersen 44:01
my mom to set for sure. But she was you know, she was amazing. And she was like, really such a hard worker. And, you know, it was a great collaboration with her.

Alex Ferrari 44:11
Sure. Awesome. So then you go from splinter heads, which was a rough experience for you creatively. And then you go to you go back to your micro budget roots with sanctorum and I remember when you called me about saying to me like yeah, I'm just gonna go off and do this horror movie and I'm like, you know, okay, I'm interested to see how it goes. So tell me a little bit about how that guy did you go back to the whole model of blackballed in the sense but just did with the horror movies.

Brant Sersen 44:39
Sorta. So yeah, so the sanatorium was kind of like a reaction to splinter heads. I was really I guess, in the dumps after splinter heads. Like I worked so hard in that movie, and I, you know, like what's up on the screen was not like my vision and was like, really depressing. And I was just thinking, if this is The way it's gonna be like, I don't want to do this, I don't want to do this anymore. And so like I went through like, there was like a little moment there where I remember I I just didn't know what I was gonna do like, what am I gonna do with my life right now because I don't like this and my director of photography on splinter heads was this guy named Michael Simmons, and Michael Simmons after splinter heads, I think basically went on and shot Paranormal Activity too. And it was after coming off a paranormal to, you know, we became good friends. He said, Brent, we should do a horror movie. And I was working with Chris Chris Gethard on the site comedy horror thing. We were like, kind of writing something. And, and, you know, I was I was thinking about it. And I'm like, you know, that would be fun. You know, I think I've never really played in that genre before. But, you know, my comedy stems from, like, practical jokes, like, practical jokes are what make me laugh the most. And, you know, I don't know, I just saw some sort of parallel with like horror and practical jokes. And like, Can I trick the audience? Can I scare them? Because I love scaring people like, and I have stupid videos of me scaring people. I have, like a whole, like, you know, right, next mixtape of that stuff, but um, I just thought, you know, yeah, I want to try this. So you know, Chris Gethard got some other gig. And I took this idea that I that we were working on, which was I took my part of it back, basically. And I teamed up with Simmons, Mike Simmons, and he said, Okay, if we're gonna do this, though, we have to do it for like, $5,000 and I'm like, You're crazy. And he's like, No, no, we got to do something as cheap as possible. So I said, perfect. You know, that's, I'm comfortable doing that. Let's do this. So, you know, I had the story all together, already put together and I went out I basically follow the blueprint of how I put together blackballed. I, I visited the same UCB theatre that you know, I spent a lot of time at I, I, I wanted to cast people that knew each other outside of comedy, you know, just they were friends I wanted you know, I wanted to get that chemistry right. So I put that movie together. We shot it for a little more than $5,000 but not much more. And we just went to one location and we shot this movie in the dead of winter.

Yeah, I saw that I saw that I saw that I saw the trailer. But wait. So how did you get that locations? Awesome. How did you get that location because that's basically your money.

Well, the one thing that everyone really needs to do in this business is relationships and keep relationships and the good thing is I I guess I'm good at that like I become friends with most people that I work with from if they were pa to location scout to a casting person, I always treat everyone with the most respect I admire what every position on every set does. And you know, I you know, because I when I was I piayed for a very short time and I was treated like like I hated the way I felt being a PA how some of these production managers were treating me and I said from that I would never treat anyone like that I would never let anyone treat anyone like that on my sets if I could control that. So you know, I think because of because of that, like you know, I've just fostered these relationships over the years with key people in different departments. So you know, when we needed a abandoned hospital I called the location scout that I knew from splitter heads and I was like Hey Tom, you know this is I'm doing this little tiny movie you know, I'm looking at this thing and he's like, and he was like Yeah, man, let me let me do this with you I'm down let's do it. You know, and it was easy as that and you know, we drove around all around all the different boroughs in New York City and outside of the city until we found this one place just just about 45 minutes north of New York City. And yeah, that's that was our location

Alex Ferrari 49:01
and I have to ask like, did they charge you because I know when I did broken that you know and I did broken that whole my whole movie was based around this one hospital which was not an abandoned hospital was an actually functioning tuberculosis hospital on the floors three four and five but floors to one and the basement were abandoned and that's why I got that cool look and and they originally were going to charge me like 500 bucks, but at the end of the whole week and a half that I was there, they were just like No, just don't pay us it's fine. So I added that $5,000 budget I'm just trying to break it down like what was the cost anything? A little bit You don't have to say numbers, but just the the cost?

Brant Sersen 49:41
Yeah, no, no, no, that that it costs Yeah, it costs something. It costs. I think same thing. 500 bucks. I think it was like, I mean, it's always great when you go you go to a place where films are not shot. You know, people like they love it. They love the excitement. So there were these There are all these abandoned buildings there, there are over 50 abandoned buildings on this property. And three of them were like in use for different reasons. And there was like, you know, someone from the town had their offices there and, and this woman's like, yeah, you can do it. This will be fun. Oh, give me something to do. You know if you guys are here, right? Oh, you know, she's like, I don't know, how long are you going to be here? We're like, three weeks. She's like, okay, 500 bucks sound good. We're like, deal, you know, because we were looking at places that wanted to charge us $10,000 a day of course, which was you know, closer to the city. So we had full rein of they gave us well, there were three safe buildings that didn't have a specialist in them that were going but we had full rein. Yeah, and you know, yeah, that's how that happened.

That's a pretty creepy movie. I mean, did you guys get creeped out in that movie in that and that's it?

Yeah, you know look, we were there. We were three weeks we were we spent most nights in there you know, Ghost Adventures. The ghost hunting show actually did an episode in one of the buildings that we used like you know, six months after we shot and they picked up some pretty crazy stuff during that show. Like Yeah, lots of a lot of craziness. A lot of crazy stuff. So yeah, who knows? You know, we definitely heard some things but like, I think you know, I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 51:21
Did you crazy? Did you jump but yeah, did you jump genres? Because from comedy to horror to kind of prove that you can kind of do that and not pigeonhole yourself into comedy?

Brant Sersen 51:34
No, you know, like there's only so much you could do with the camera with comedy. Yeah, because I did some commercials and stuff to sorry like in between films and stuff. Other comedy stuff you know, I just found like I was just you put a cat you set up your your wide or medium your close and you're kind of just providing a stage you know, for your comedians to perform on and I want to explore with something more visual because when I first got into the business I wanted to do music videos and commercials like I wanted to follow in the footsteps of Fincher and spike Jones and I felt like the stuff that I was doing I wasn't allowed to do that stuff like you don't really see any you don't see me stylized comedies you know rarely see many of them you know you rarely do and i don't know i you know i i never want to just be the comedy guy I don't know how I fell into comedy honestly. But um but I want to explore other genres and you know, and I'm not the biggest like I don't like blood and guts you know, I'll pass out with that stuff you know, but like I love scaring people and I felt like I don't know I just saw a parallel between you know, when you're doing you're setting up a scene to do a scare it was very similar to how you were setting up a joke. I don't know I just found something that was that felt familiar, but felt very different. And shooting Santorum, you know, it was found footage, you know, we you know, we shot this thing. You know, honestly, before the wave of found footage, movies, like, filled, you know, your Netflix queue, we it just took us a while to finish the movie, because everyone was working for free. So my editor was working for free. Everyone had points and that's how we did it. But his schedule was nuts. So it took us almost two years to finish that movie. And in that within that two years, like a billion found footage movies came out. And you know, and you'll see some criticism of my movie like, Oh, this is grave encounters, you know, like, oh, they're copying grave encounters. And I want to just be like, yeah, buddy, we shot this way before grave encounters. We just couldn't get it out, and, and also Lionsgate and ultimately bought the film we had, for whatever reason, we had a little bidding war, between Lionsgate and this other company, and Lionsgate got it and but then they they held on to it for like a year or so. And then we watched more of the same site type of movie come out and it's like, oh my god released the frickin movie already. You know? And then they finally did. And you know, it seems to get positive reviews. But I'll tell you what, Alex, that was like the best thing that ever happened to me because like it like I'm back now. You know, like that movie brought me back.

Alex Ferrari 54:07
No, I did. I actually just saw an interview the other day with the Guillermo del Toro. And he was talking about, it's funny that I've seen, I see a kind of a pattern with filmmakers, that they'll have their first movie that they do, which they have complete control of. It's awesome that people go crazy for it and they'd love it. And then they get offered a bigger movie, which they have a horrible time on because they have no control of and with Guillermo del Toro, it was mimic. mimic was the first studio movie he did after Kronos and Harvey Weinstein just beat the hell out of them. To the point where he almost like after after mimic, he was like you, he's like, I don't want to know how am I going to do that he was completely destroyed. And he realized that he needed to go back to what he knew. So he did Devil's backbone. But the funny thing is he was offered blade to before devils black bone. And he literally said no to new line. He said, Look, if you want me, you'll wait for me because he said that he had to get his creative juices back. Like to get as an artist as a human being he was destroyed his soul. He said, his artistic soul had been destroyed through the process of mimic. And I know a lot of that was happening happened to you now with splinter head. So yeah, sanctorum was kind of like the that kind of response to that. And then his was devil, but Devil's backbone. And then after Devil's backbone, he went right into blade two, but that at that point he got He's like, I would have never been able to make blade to like without that. So which brings us into your next project. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest project you're working on?

Brant Sersen 55:49
Yeah, I could tell you a little bit. Yes. So it only took 20 years. But I got my first I guess they call it open directing assignment. I was a, I know, after doing Santorum, I got new agents and a new manager. And there's been like a little shift in focus for what I like what I want to do and what they want to see me do. I was presented this one project who was looking for they were looking for a writer slash director. And, you know, I went up against a bunch of dudes, a bunch of other directors, and I guess I, you know, they liked my ideas. And I went through, you know, three rounds of basically pitching, interviewing, wooing, trying to convince them that my ideas are great. I got the phone call, you know, it was like, it was kind of like an amazing moment. Actually, I was like, just got home and I walked in the door, I see this Beverly Hills phone number, and I pick it up, and that's the producers. And they're like, hey, Brent, we we'd love for you to come aboard and direct this movie. And it was like, Oh, my God, like, you know, because I really liked the project. The people involved are incredible. And but yeah, an amazing moment. So yeah, it's a it's a it's a, it's a horror film. It's sort of in the vein of I guess you could call it a project x meets paranormal activity. And, you know, we're actually we're casting now, and we're gonna probably go into pre production, and then a few weeks and

then this is us. This is kind of it's a it's not a studio film, but it's a fairly large budget film.

It's a fair Yeah, this will be my biggest budget film ever. And I have some pretty big players. I could just tell you two of my executive producers are Michael Lin and Bob Shea. And the bob Shea, the bob Shea so yeah, they're they they did this little franchise called Lord of the Rings. I don't know if you're but yeah,

for everybody who doesn't know who Bob Shea is Google him. But he basically used to run New Line Cinema,

Bob's and they both did and but those guys they've produced 500 something movies together. And yeah, I think right before they sold new line, Lord of the Rings was their last film. So the way to go out a nice way to go out so now they've started this new company called unique pictures, and they're in the old new line offices. And this will be one of their first movies that they make under this banner. So yeah, pretty amazing.

That's what these guys so your it took you 20 years to be an overnight success is what you're telling me?

Oh, total overnight success. lesson is don't ever, ever give up. Don't ever give up. If you're passionate about filmmaking, just keep doing it. Don't ever ever stop. You're gonna, like, be depressed, you're gonna go through so many emotional stages, but you just got to keep pushing forward. And you know, and know that no one is ever going to help you, the only person that will help you is yourself. And you know, really like stick to your gut and like, Listen to your gut. And, you know, if you don't like an actor for a role, just say no. I wish I said no, you know, but I had to say yes, but I wish I said no, you know,

Alex Ferrari 58:58
And don't be afraid to say no, it's a lot of a lot of filmmakers who when they are giving an opportunity, they they just kind of become Yes Men, because they don't want to lose their opportunity to be in a movie set or to direct, you know, to direct the feature or anything like that. And a lot of times, they just will keep saying yes, because that's it. But the thing is that the directors who make it are the ones who have a vision, who are the ones who do have a strong personality. Like the Guillermo del Toro's of the world and the David Fincher of the world and those guys that just say, no, this is not the way it's supposed to be. And I think you learned that the hard way.

Brant Sersen 59:32
I learned the hard way. I wish I said no. A lot more times during spinnerets it probably wouldn't I would have been more satisfied with the filming. But yeah,

Alex Ferrari 59:44
So last question. This is a very difficult question I asked all of my my guests. What is your top three films of all time?

Brant Sersen 59:54
Oh, God.

Alex Ferrari 59:57
Choose no no specific order. Just go ahead.

Brant Sersen 1:00:00
too I could tell you two off the bat there's a movie Lehane there's a movie once were warriors

Alex Ferrari 1:00:07
Oh yeah once warriors it's good

Brant Sersen 1:00:11
And man the third one it's a tough one man I know it's like do you say like I don't know Ummm..

Alex Ferrari 1:00:17
Just pick one that tickles your fancy man that's it's not about you know you're not getting an award after this dont worry

Brant Sersen 1:00:25
Not like sound film snobby or anything there's just one documentary that really like influenced me a lot It was American movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:32
Oh, I remember American movie Yeah, that makes a lot of sense after seeing a black wall than an American movie

Brant Sersen 1:00:38
Yeah that was that was yeah that was that was like a though I you know it's kind of funny now after saying those those three movies were like big game changers for me they really changed the way that I looked at cinema. And you know, I Pulp Fiction sort of took over the spotlight of once were warriors when it came out but when I was down in Miami we got a free pass to see this movie and I went to see it and I sat there with my mouth open the whole time like yeah, New Zealand it's

Alex Ferrari 1:01:04
A New Zealand film

Brant Sersen 1:01:05
Yeah incredible you know the hain was another one that was just incredible and American movie was Yeah, that those three movies sort of like shaped me That's weird. Yeah, just Thanks Alex. This is a therapy just like yeah, just figure some stuff.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:20
So any other final words of advice to tell young or just a new independent filmmakers trying to get get their stuff off the ground?

Brant Sersen 1:01:29
Yeah, you know don't like like I said don't give up but like you got to you. Relationships are key in this business and if you don't have the relationships it's gonna be hard to do to get far because he can't do it all by herself. Now it's such a collaborative art you know, field that you know just foster those relationships keep them and and just don't ever you know, give up on you know, your dream or your idea and, and say no, every once in a while.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:00
Brant man, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to the indie film tribe by indie film hustle tribe. I really appreciate it was great catching up with you, man.

Brant Sersen 1:02:09
Thanks, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:10
It's always nice to hear other filmmakers journeys to kind of see what other people are going through so you don't feel so alone. In this crazy journey of being an artist and a filmmaker and especially when you're hearing it from an old friend. It was wonderful talking to Brent and I wish him nothing but the best and if you can definitely check out in the show notes. The trailer for Bobby Dukes are about blackballed the bobby Duke story as well as splinter heads and Centurion and you could check out the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/035. And don't forget to head over to filmmakingpodcast.com to leave us an honest review. It really helps to show out a lot. Thank you guys so much for listening. I hope you guys got a bunch of information out of that at least got inspired to go off and tell your own story. So keep that also going keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.




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IFH 024: How I Made Over $90,000 Selling my Short Film + Video Tutorials

Making a Short film can be tough but selling a short film can be impossible. Here’s my story on how I did both.

I directed a small action short film a few years back called BROKEN (Watch it on Indie Film Hustle TV) I shot the short film on MiniDV Tape (yes I’m old) on the Panasonic DVX 100a, the indie film workhorse of its day.

My team and I filmed it in West Palm Beach Florida (not exactly the Mecca of the film industry) and it starred only local, no named actors.

Now once the filming was over I marketed the living hell out of that short film. It went on to screen at over 250 international film festivals, won countless awards and was covered by over 300 news outlets.

That little short film had a life of its own. I even got a review from legendary film critic Roger Ebert (to hear the full story on how that happen to take a listen to this podcast: Getting Attention from Influencers & Gatekeepers)

BROKEN is essentially a demonstration of the mastery of horror imagery and techniques. Effective and professional.” – Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert, short film, short films, indie film hustle, film school, independent film, robert rodriguez, indie film, moviemaker, red camera, arri alexa, cinematography, digital filmmaking, filmmaking, alex ferrari, guerrilla filmmaking, NYU, USC, Full Sail University, Sundance Film Festival, film festival, tarantino, kurosawa, cinematography, short films, short film, indie films, filmmaker, how to make a movie, short film ideas, filmmakers, filmmaking, film festivals, film production, guerrilla film, film distribution, indie movie, screenwriter, screenwriting, short film competition, film producers, short films online, how to make short films, film distribution process, great short films, good independent films, digital video production, list of film festivals, watch short films, marketing video production, indie filmmaking, filmmaking software, short film contests, short film festivals, how to make an independent film

Roger Ebert at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Now you must be asking,

But Alex how the hell did you make money with it?

Well, I knew that no one would pay “real money” for a 20-minute short film, shot on MiniDV, with no-name actors, and from a first time director to boot. So I thought like a Filmtrepreneur and planned to create a guerilla indie film school with over 3 hours of footage, tutorials, commentaries and more. 

By creating all the supplemental material and packaging with the short film on DVD I created a viable product for the marketplace.

VOD (Video on Demand) and digital download technology were just getting off the ground and still very expensive if it worked at all. Youtube was not “Youtube” yet, it had just launched. So DVD was the only way to go.

I went after every message board and film news outlet I could get my hands on. I’d had created so much hype around the release that on day one I sold over 250 DVDs for $20.00 a pop. That’s $5000! 

The orders kept coming and I went on to sell over 5000 copies worldwide (and counting), shipping them out of my bedroom in Fort Lauderdale, FL. 

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Speaking on a panel at the Director’s Guild of America opening night at Hollyshorts! Film Festival

10 years later I’m still selling copies today, as crazy as might sound. I’ve probably have generated well over $90,000 selling that little short film over the years. All because I understood my marketplace and what it needed. 

At the time there was nothing on the market like the BROKEN DVD; no courses on how to make a low budget indie feature or short film with low budget technology. BROKEN has found a new life in Indie Film Hustle’s first online educational course “BROKEN (Watch it on Indie Film Hustle TV)” More on that later.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So this episode today, I wanted to talk about a question that I get asked a ton. It's something that I did almost 10 years ago now was 11, over a little was 11 years ago at this point. And I talk a lot about this little short film, I think in the most, it's the most talked about short film in history. But my film that I did 10 years ago called Broken, I was able to do something very special with that film back then, and continue to do stuff with that film. And my other works today. And I wanted to share with you guys a little bit of how I was able to generate a substantial amount of money selling and self distributing, broken and now my other works as well. So when I created broken, it was a short, I'll give you a quick, quick story about it if I haven't mentioned that already on the show. But the quick story of broke it is that it was a shot as a small short film, shot for about $1,000 shot on mini DV back in 2004. There was no high end technology back then. So I was editing it on Final Cut shot on a mini DV. But what I did do was create a look for the film because of my post production experience. And I took the format of mini DV and did something really cool with it that a lot of people hadn't seen before. So what I did was did a lot of color grading and made it look in a very filmic. And the way it was and a lot of filmmakers started asking me how I was doing it and how I did it. So when when I released the trailer, like when I first started the movie, I had no plans on selling it. I don't think I didn't even understand what I was going to do with it. I just wanted to try to get it out there and see what would happen with it. But as I started posting in places and posting the trailer, in places people kept asking me how did you do those visual effects, which by the way, we did over 100 visual effects in this little short film. So people were asking me how did you do the visual effects? How did you do the had the magic, that camera looked like that I have that camera, which was the dv x 100 A the workhorse of its day. I still love that little camera, they were asking me how I'm able to do it, I can't do it. I have that camera, well, your techniques. So that started giving me the idea. When I first was about to start doing broken, I looked everywhere for some sort of resources to be able to make broken as far as like DVD tutorial something to show me how to make a mini DVD movie editing on Final Cut just something to teach you how to make independent film and believe it or not back in 2004. There wasn't a whole lot. There was actually nothing, I couldn't find a thing about how to make movies for that kind of budget with that kind of technology. YouTube was just it's an infancy was just getting started. And it definitely wasn't owned by Google at the time. So the quality was really horrible as well. It just there was nothing there. So I saw that there was a a hole in the marketplace. So I was like, Well, you know what I'm going to do this. I'm going to learn a whole bunch of stuff on how I did it along the way. And I documented everything I had to documentary crews following us through the entire five days shoot documentary crews being my friends.

And we shot just hours and hours and hours and hours and hours of behind the scenes footage of how we made this movie. So then I went on and spent about six weeks I would imagine to create over three hours or so of behind the scenes tutorials, kind of like a gorilla film school and put it on DVD. Now while this was going on, I was creating a buzz about the movie. For about six months, I was creating a lot of buzz about the movie. I was getting into film festivals. We were winning awards. We were getting written up. We went to Sundance, we've just done a whole bunch of different things with the film. And I was on spin offs to me now I know this now is like you I was doing a product launch. A lot of people talk about doing a product launch online. There's a sequence that you go by and I was doing it and I didn't even know what I was doing at the time. But I was actually Creating a product launch sequence, creating anticipation for the product. So when I started released it, it was very excited about the movie then, when I announced that I was creating this DVD, about how to make the movie, and how I made it, and all the tricks and tips of how I did it, and it was so full of information so full of rich content, the indie film community at the time, really, really just embraced it and went crazy for it and started sharing it and started talking about it. People were already getting excited for I didn't even do any pre orders, I should have done pre orders, I didn't do any pre orders. All I did was like, Hey, if you want to know when it comes out, just sign up for my email list. And I was even getting email lists at the time. And that wasn't something in vogue back in 2004. So I was doing all this kind of instinctually I can't say there was a master plan that I was doing this back then. But so anyway, the day opens that I launch it, all of a sudden, I just hear Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, all my emails keep coming in from PayPal. And we sold over 250 DVDs in the first day, which was about five grand, because we were selling the DVD at 20 bucks a pop, my partner and I had to run to the post office handwrite all all of the addresses hand stamp all the addresses, we didn't have any infrastructure laid out and the printing of postage, nothing. So it was it was pretty crazy. And then it just kept building and kept selling and kept selling. Okay, building a building. But I was able to create a tremendous amount of press and a tremendous amount of energy around the product. But it was all about creating a piece of a product, if you will, that had content for people like I know, I wouldn't have been able to sell the short film by itself. It just didn't make any sense. It has no stars in it. Yeah, it's an action genre. And, you know, there's a lot of visual effects and things like that in it. But there was just no way someone was going to pay 510 20 bucks to buy this on a DVD, there was no digital downloads, no VOD at the time, that was at least accessible to indie filmmakers like myself. So when I was able to do this, I, I was able to create this, this product that had a tremendous amount of content, and people just went crazy for it, and then start talking about it and start sharing it. And what I was able to do is generate a sold, we've ended up selling over 5000 DVDs, over the course of the years have gone by. And it was all because I was able to identify a hole in the marketplace and understand what they wanted and fed my marketplace fed my audience what they wanted. And what they were asking for. It was pretty humbling, honestly, the whole process of what happened with broken so I tried to do something similar later on with our next film sin, where I was able to do some stuff on with some digital downloads through iTunes. But that was a kind of wonky way of doing it didn't create a bunch of content, like I did with broken was just wasn't as big of a movie. And then years later, I created my movie Red Princess Genesis, which is the animated prequel to references blues, which is the live action short for my feature film that I hope to make one day. And I created a whole bunch of content around that. So what I decided to do recently is to create a new brand new guerrilla indie film school encompassing all of my movies, and giving you almost seven hours of how to stuff like how to everything from pre production production post production, how to market your film, I do brand new content on how I marketed the film's how I went through it, how I how I built the websites, what techniques I used as far as theories and the concepts that I used, why I was doing certain things still hold very true today. So I put this all together under the name lipstick and bullets, lipstick and bullets was a Blu ray compilation of all of the stuff I did, and released that in England. I got all the rights back. And now I'm going to distribute them as an experiment through indie film hustle. So indie film hustle will present the guerrilla indie film school lipstick and bullets edition. So it's gonna have a ton of stuff. It's available. Now, if you head over to indie film hacks, calm, that's indie film hacks, calm. And since you're listening to this podcast, you're going to get a coupon for 20% off. Right now I'm selling it for $47 that will go up in the future. Right now. It's an introductory offer, I think it's a super deal for that much content, or you can rent it for 15 bucks. We're doing it all through VH x.tv going to have the the some representative from VH X on the show in the coming weeks as well. So look out for that explaining to you how how to do video on demand or self distribute through their platform, which is amazing. So far, I love it. The coupon code is I FH tribe. That's I F h tribe and you get 20% off the sale price of $47. So it ends up being like $37 and change. So you get almost 10 bucks off. So to wrap it up guys create how I was able to create this kind of amount of money with a short film is these key elements you have to remember. Now write these down, understand your audience, understand where your audience is, go to that area, where they are, where they're hanging out, whether that be on Facebook groups, whether that be in on forums, at film festivals, wherever they might be hanging out, depending on what that group is, if it's about, I always use the vegan chef example. But if they're vegan chefs don't go to the foodie blogs go to, there's so many different places you can go just find out who your audience is, okay? Once you find out who do you audiences, then start crowdsourcing them starting interacting with them start, you know, asking them what they want, when you find that information out, then build a product that you can sell to them through your movie. So whatever that movie is, and I'm using the word product, but it's really your movie. So write the movie around it around what they want, build a product base about what they want, whether that be hats, T shirts, extra extra materials, film, schools, whatever, whatever they want. If it's you're doing a movie about vegan chefs rom com about vegan chefs, my God, you'd be a fool not to create a whole series of videos on how to make vegan like, you know, a vegan chef of vegan recipes, and show them how to do it, because that's what they want. You know, that's something that they would want to do. If you're making a horror movie, it would be awesome to do tutorials about how you're making, you know, the heads explode, how are you doing it, you know, how you making the fake blood recipes, stuff like that, believe it or not, people really, really love, especially if you're focusing on other filmmakers or other people who are trying to do what you're doing. Once you do that, then you sell the product to them. And now how you how you sell that product to them in 2004 2005 DVDs with the answer, there were no other options. Today, I would not suggest you do a DVD, it's not a great place to it's a lot of upfront costs, and time. And all that stuff, I wouldn't do blu ray either. What I would do is strictly video on demand through through companies like VH X through Gumroad, through Vimeo Pro, any of those guys just do it directly to your consumer and cut out the middleman as much as you can with your project. And again, this is a case by case basis. Some projects have budgets that, you know, this is a much longer conversation about which project makes sense to do VOD and do this for short film and what I was doing to make perfect sense I spent $8,000, you know, I was able to recoup my money and then some with with what I was able to do. If you were doing $100,000 movie, you better have a heck of a marketing plan, and a heck of a business plan on how are you going to be able to recoup your money. And that goes into crowdsourcing crowd, crowd building crowdfunding, all those kinds of different topics. But that's how I was able to do you know, generate a tremendous amount of money, close over $90,000 Over the years selling broken as a broken on DVD. And now I'm continuing to sell not only some of the hand picked stuff from broken, that is still very relevant, I'm not going to give you a tutorial on mini DV. But a lot of the a lot of this cool stuff that was still very, very relevant today. I have picked that by creating and also created a bunch of stuff for red Princess references Genesis sin, and then marketing materials on how to market all of A plus tons of commentary tracks on composing and visual effects and all that kind of stuff for indie film. So I also include in this guerrilla indie film school, my book, The Art of broken, I've always been a big fan of all the art of books like The Art of matrix art, Sin City, and so on. And Ken Robinson and Dan create, and I put together this book with all of the artwork from not only broken, but for the defunct feature film version of broken, but there was so much artwork, and you can kind of see as an example of what can be done with some with a short film for God's sakes. But it's another product line. And we did sell it a hardcover hardcover copies of it. During the days of broken when it came out. We sold a handful of them. But I wanted to give this to you guys not only as an example of what can be done with a project, but also just for fun for people who just want to see all this cool, amazing artwork they all the artists did. I also include all the marketing materials of all the four movies that I did. So all the poster work all the kind of extras I did on the websites and things like that. So you can kind of see the progression of how I was able to market all of our films, and how we were able to get into over 500 film festivals and so on. And how about that you also get my ebook on how to get into film festivals for cheaper free. And that gives you a complete detail explanation of how I was able to get into over the into over 500 film festivals after the first 30 or so film festivals. I spent I spent over $1,000 in submission fees were broken, it was ridiculous. But after a certain time, I was like, You know what, I don't know, if I'm going to be able to like, at this point in the game, any film festivals I get into after this, how much more they're gonna like boost my career boost the film. So I was like, You know what, at this point in the game, I'll be more than willing to pay a submission fee if I'm able to play in the movie, but just to pay to submit and just maybe I'll get into it wasn't playing that anymore. So I decided to create these techniques that worked very, very well.

So you also get that in this package as well. It's a hell of a package, it really, really is a hell of a package, I would have killed to have it. And for the price, honestly, it's awesome. And you get to watch it as much as you want, whenever you want to watch it. Again, head over to indie film, hacks.com indie film hacks, calm and use that coupon code ifH tribe. So on a side note, guys, I wanted to thank you again for making this podcast the number one filmmaking podcast on iTunes. I am humbled beyond, by beyond all recognition. It's amazing that within a three month period, this little show has been able to rank all the way as to the number one spot or filmmaking in iTunes. So I humbly humbly thank all my listeners, all my all the all the tribe, all the indie film hustle tribe, for doing that. Thank you again, so so much for helping us get to that point. And please, if you love the show, or if you just want to give us an honest review, head over to iTunes, give us a review, give us a give us a good rating. And that will help us even get more and more people to listen to the show and help more and more filmmakers. So thanks again guys for listening. I really hope this helped you guys out a lot inspired you a little bit that it can be done. So keep that dream alive. Keep that hustle going. I'll talk to you guys soon.


IFH 023: Crowdfunding Your Indie Film Like a Pro with Emily Best

Crowdfunding has always been a mystery to me. I never really understood how Filmtrepreneurs could raise $50,000, $100,000 or $1,000,000 to make their films. I tried once with the “if I built they will come” idea but they never came.

When I discovered this week’s guest, Emily Best CEO and founder of the indie film crowdfunding website Seed & Spark, I had to get her on the show. I attempted to squeeze out of her every bit of crowdfunding knowledge I could. We discuss:

  • How to create a successful crowdfunding campaign?
  • What are the biggest mistakes indie filmmakers make when crowdfunding their film?
  • How should indie filmmakers crowdsource (building an audience for you or your film)?
  • How do indie filmmakers determine how much to ask for when crowdfunding?
  • How do you build a killer crowdfunding page and video?
  • What incentives should you give when crowdfunding?
  • How do you determine if your film has an audience?

All of these questions on crowdfunding are answered and more. Seriously this podcast is a condensed master class on crowdfunding. I was selflessly asking the questions I wanted the answers to and now you guys benefit as well. Enjoy!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 1:10
So today, guys, we have a indie film Crusader. On the show, her name is Emily Best she is the CEO and founder of seed and spark the crowdfunding platform for independent film. She's going against the big boys going against Kickstarter and Indiegogo and she's kicking their butts in my opinion, her passion for filmmakers and her passion for getting films funded is amazing. And I when I heard her on another show, I it's like I have to get her on. I gotta get her on the show. So sit back and get ready to be inspired by Emily Best of seed and spark. Thank you so much Emily for taking the time out to talk to the indie film hustle tribe. I really appreciate it.

Emily Best 1:56
You bet I have to warn you that my dog might make himself known at some point during this podcast.

Alex Ferrari 2:02
His name is Alan Alan Allister. Yes, I've heard of him. And he's very famous throughout the indie film world.

Emily Best 2:10

Alex Ferrari 2:10
Yes. We would be honored if he would be here we do a guest a guest spot on the show. Great. So let me ask you. So you're obviously the CEO of seed and spark. So I wanted to ask you first and foremost, how and why did you start Seton spark?

Emily Best 2:28
Well, when I realized that what I wanted to do was make independent films forever. Um, I spent a lot of time researching what that would take. And my so I went to Sundance, I went to American film market, I talked to a ton of filmmakers, I talked to distributors, I talked to finance ears, I talked to sales agents. And I determined that the current climate is far too unfriendly for independent filmmakers. Because granted, this was happening, essentially, at the so we had this sort of conflagration of events in independent filmmaking. Digital technology advanced to a place where you could get really good video footage on your cell phone, but DSLR cameras were starting to make production really cheap. The next thing that happened was DVDs tanked. And there was the rise of digital distribution, except all of the businesses had built up their infrastructure as if DVDs were going to be the way that people consumed things forever, which I might say is rather short sighted. So when you when you thought you would be able to get 1499 for something that now people only thought was worth maybe $1.99 if you're lucky. Yeah, that messed up a lot of stuff really fast, right? And, and so in 2011, after I produced my first feature film called like the water. I thought, well, I really like to do this, but it looks to me like the environment for women and for people of color. And for people who want to tell diverse different stories is particularly messy. But what was interesting is that if you looked at what was getting funded on crowdfunding platforms, consumers were saying I want the weird I want the different I want the diverse I want the boundary pushing, I want the life changing. They weren't saying I want another romantic comedy. That's what they were definitely not saying. Okay, so it was just a really interesting time to come into filmmaking and seed and spark rose out of my experiences making like the water but also my desire for there to be a sustainable filmmaking career in the future.

Alex Ferrari 4:56
Very interesting. So and then when you made like a water, I heard that you had an experience with Ed burns during that process and that it was kind of like, he lied to you in many ways.

Emily Best 5:08
That's okay.

Alex Ferrari 5:10
I don't wanna I'm not setting you up, but I do.

Emily Best 5:12
My best friend Caitlin lied to me. Yes. Edie only sort of partially supported it. So I was making I was in a play. I was co producing a play in in New York called Hedda gobbler. So Norwegian classic. And Caitlin Fitzgerald was playing Hedda. And also, at that time, co starring opposite Ed burns in a movie that he was making. One of the first that he made with the five D, called newlyweds. And he was shooting newlyweds nights and weekends with his friends in their houses on a DSLR camera. And so when the group of women collaborators who made had a gambler decided we wanted to make another piece of work together. We had been thinking about theater because that's what we had been doing. And Caitlin got us all a little tipsy one night and said, Guys, we should just make a movie. It's so easy. And to be fair, Eddie made it look easy.

Alex Ferrari 6:11
No, no, Edward Edward Burns at this point is Edward Burns. He's not like, you know, right off of brothers mcmullin or anything like that. I mean, he's,

Emily Best 6:17
This is 2011. It's three years ago. He's young.

Alex Ferrari 6:21
He's He's, he's Ed burns at this point.

Emily Best 6:23
He's a big deal. Yeah. And so. And of course, because I was the producer in the room, they turned to me, and they're like, you'll produce this feature film. And I was like, Oh, sure, no problem. If it's, there you go. There he is. Yes. If it's easy, sure. I'll do it. And so she invited me to set and I got there and I rang the doorbell of like a cool Tribeca apartment, and the door opens and then, you know, devastatingly handsome man says, Hey, I'm Eddie, come on in. And I get to watch them shoot a film The crew up for which is Ed burns behind the camera directing and like rewriting as he goes, his cameraman who he or his cinematographer, who he's worked with for years, and their sound guy, and that's it three people,

Alex Ferrari 7:16
Three very high, highly experienced and skilled people.

Emily Best 7:21
Correct! Yeah, um, but three people on the left, sure. Zero crew, zero equipment, zero. And I thought, Oh, my gosh, I can totally do this. I just need to find an experienced cinematographer and a sound person. And we'll be fine, right?

Alex Ferrari 7:36
Of course.

Emily Best 7:38
So I did that I went and found an experienced cinematographer, by the name of Eve Cohen. And we told he, what we do, I brought her to New York, I'd met her on a movie in Philadelphia, I brought her to New York, to meet with Caitlin to talk about the movie we wanted to make. And it was a a, an independent drama set in Maine in the summer. And Ede Cohen immediately said, there's no way you will be able to shoot this film on the five D. And we were like, What do you mean, but we don't understand what movie making would be if we don't shoot it on the five D. And all of a sudden, I was off on a very different adventure, right, which is to say, I wasn't shooting a running gun mockumentary in New York City that I might have been able to do on, you know, with a stripped down crew, the kind of movie we were making took a lot more resources and a lot of learning. So in the journey to, you know, learning how to produce a film while producing a film, which is a journey I actually recommend to everyone. It was a great film school. As long as you hire people in the key positions, who already know what they're doing. That was really where I started to see the role of community and audience as essential to the health of the independent film business model, right? There's so much stuff we didn't have to spend money on, because the community was like I'm in, let's do this. Here's a coffee, here, your picture cars from a local car dealership, here are all your locations that were way more spectacular than anything you had imagined. And the reason that we were able to engage a community that way is because we told them specifically what we needed. So we didn't ask for funding, we gave them a list of everything we needed. And we said, support us in whatever way you can. Based on these things, like a wish, like a wish list. It was exactly like a wish list, or a wedding registry. And we sent it to everyone we knew. And we needed to raise $20,000, we raised 23,000 in cash and hundreds of 1000s of dollars in loans and gifts of locations and goods and services. So that was when I started to see Oh, there's a there's a real community organizing aspect around these ideas. I wouldn't know until we went on to the festival circuit, how meaningful that would be what a beautiful audience building tool and audience sort of evangelist tool. The wish list would be and it was only then that people In the industry, who I was meeting and talking to about our journey started to say, well, that's really interesting. Have you thought about offering that to other filmmakers? Which is tantamount to them saying, you know, have you considered a tech startup? And I was like, easy everyone, I only just decided I was gonna be a filmmaker. But as I as I started to really explore it as a possibility. I really, I really understood that. We have a responsibility all of us as independent film creators to change our business in a way that makes it easier for us to build sustainable livings. But we can't expect someone else to do it for us, we have to do it together.

Alex Ferrari 10:45

Emily Best 10:46
That's really I mean, that's really the foundational kind of principle of seed and spark is we're looking for something that is about sustainability for artists and diversity of content for audiences. Those two things are a very powerful economic engine.

Alex Ferrari 10:59
And I've I guess, in recent years is the term like sustainable career or making a living at your art, these concepts are fairly kind of new. I haven't heard them I've been I've been in the business for 20 years. And I, I never heard of that before. Everyone was always looking for the golden ticket. You know, everyone was looking for the lottery ticket, you go to Sundance, and you win. And, you know, you get Harvey Harvey gives you a million dollars. And

Emily Best 11:25
yeah, somebody let's talk about that golden ticket for a second. Yes. Here's the actual economics of that golden ticket, please. You are, there are 15,000 independent feature films made in the US alone, every year 12,000 films from around the world are submitted to Sundance 17 of them make it into competition. So just do that math really quickly, right? 17 divided by 12,000. That's point. Oh, 1%.

Alex Ferrari 11:56
I love that you have a calculator right there.

Emily Best 12:01
4.01%. Now of those films that go into competition, some of them sell for amounts greater than their budget. And those are the ones that get a ton of publicity. And often ones that were earmarked for those deals before they walked into the festival, right. Most of those films end up doing some service deal or DIY distribution, which is not what people think happens to most of the films at Sundance, but that is what happens to most of the films at Sundance. The few films that when the golden ticket, let's say sell to The Weinstein Company, or I mean, that might be one film a year, sell to Focus Features, they so they have independently financed and produced this film. And now they are going to utterly dependently distributed, and they will never get back any data about who watched their films or where or what their email addresses are, they will never get back. Or they certainly won't get back control of the IP. And most importantly, they almost never make any money. So I have a friend who was an executive producer on two of the most lottery ticket like films that went one went through Sundance got picked up by a major distributor hadn't had an Oscar campaign, the other one got picked up out of Sundance was made on a super low budget, bought for a couple million bucks and then did like $15 million at the box office. Beyond the the sale price out of the festival, those investors never saw $1 back from this $50 million box office. Right now. That's because the entire system is set up to preference the distributor, they have to recoup the costs of marketing and the cost of delivery and a lot of other costs. That they won't tell you what

Alex Ferrari 14:01
the hell they are creative accounting, right?

Emily Best 14:04
Yeah. So there's all sorts of creative accounting to make sure that the filmmaker never sees $1. Now, if you are very lucky, that deal might get you an agent and a studio deal, which is cool.

Alex Ferrari 14:21
But the percentages are so I mean,

Emily Best 14:24
we're now talking about point, point, point point, we're not talking about 1% of the point oh 1% in the first place.

Alex Ferrari 14:31
Exactly. It's like so miniscule, it's it's just like lottery tickets. It literally is lottery ticket odds.

Emily Best 14:35
It's almost worse. So so one of the things that I am fond of saying is like I'm perfectly happy saying I'm the 99% that I'm not so special, that my film is going to be the point oh 1% of the point oh 1% and I'm okay with that because actually, I don't like to sit around and wait to be picked. And frankly, I don't think any artists particularly like to sit around and wait To be picky, we're making stuff because it matters to us. And we want to communicate with the people to whom it also matters. That's the whole point. So that we would rely on a system that keeps us as far away from the people who are as aligned with our values because they want to watch our stuff as possible. has never made sense to me. I'm not making films for distributors and making films for audiences, right? And so there's, there's a real this notion that you can go off into a hole and make these marvelous things and then once you emerge, they will just see the merit and pick you a narrative that has kept us small and poor for long enough.

Alex Ferrari 15:46
That's I'm I'm about to like join the revolution with you wherever you go, let's let's go cuz, I mean, it's almost like chegar era. I mean, seriously, it's, it's, I love it. I love listening to you talk about it, because you're so passionate about what you're saying. And it's so true. And like I said, I've been doing this for 20 years, I've been in post and I've seen a lot of feature films come and go Sundance winners and other independent films. And it's so true, like the system is built to kind of keep the artist poor and broke because like you just said there's 15,000 movies made a year. So if nothing comes out this year with others, that's another 15,000 movies coming out next year. And they keep building into this this machine of and never, never allowing they just basically spitting up and chewing out the artists. And God knows what kind of artists or you know, writers or directors or any kind of artists have been just chewed up and never we we made him never, we might have already lost another Martin Scorsese of this generation or another Tarantino because they just couldn't get through, or they just gave up because of this, this machine. And now the technology i think is so like things like seed and spark and you know, the the cost to start making movies is gone down so much that it's now about not as much about making the movie. Do you agree? It is about making good art. But now it's about building your audience, which is my next question. Like how important is understanding your film's audience before you even begin to crowdfund

Emily Best 17:17
it's incredibly important. It's in fact essential. If you don't spend that time before you crowdfund, you won't crowdfund you will friend, fund. And friend, a family friend, right? Yeah, which is what most people end up doing. And then they're like, I don't understand why I couldn't raise more money. And it's like, well, do you know who the people are? Who want to see your movie? Did you spend time finding out where they were on social media? And how they like to be spoken to? Did you do any research into the organism in organizations that service these people? Or did you think that if you build it, they will come, which is the same Pick me Pick me mentality as before, it is really hard work to build a sustainable business, which is what an independent, sustainable film career is. It's a business, right? It's hard to build a business. But it's incredibly rewarding. And you get to go to work every day with the people you care about. And you get to control the creative decisions. And you get to interact with the people personally, who say, Oh, my God, this thing you're doing changed my life. Right? So I feel like part of the reckoning is also to say what is enough? Right? Like,

Alex Ferrari 18:25
yeah, like, do you have to have billions and millions of dollars to be happier? Can you make a sustainable income,

Emily Best 18:31
like if you could make $65,000 a year making the content that you care about, and living in? I don't know, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I recently learned it cost $500 for a really nice two bedroom apartment is beautiful. Oh, my goodness. Like, I actually think the real examples of sustainability are going to come first, as sustainability through these new technology platforms are going to come first and foremost, in places outside of Los Angeles in New York, where access has has been granted in a in a new way to audiences and distribution through technology. And people are not quite so caught up in the pygmy mentality that has driven this city to you know, Botox and lip injections for whatever, nearly a year. Exactly. No, it's I mean, it's, it's true, because I actually think it the so I hear filmmakers get sort of anxious about, well, if I have to get good at marketing, too. Won't that take away from my filmmaking? And I think what about the detriment to the filmmaking or the acting or the writing that comes from being desperate to be picked, doesn't seem desperate to be picked, make you revert to the mean doesn't being desperate to be picked make you want to look as much as possible, like the other people who are being picked doesn't desperate To be picked, make you want to write the thing that looks like other things that have been picked, desperation to be picked does not make you more creative, it makes you more

Alex Ferrari 20:09
desperate and desperate. It makes you

Emily Best 20:12
more similar to other things. And that's not. That's not creative to me, if you look at what gets funded through crowdfunding, like I said before, it's the super creative, daring, interesting stuff. So audiences are demonstrating to us that they're smart, they're hungry, and they're supportive of your creativity. Right? The important thing to remember is it's not audiences, like this big faceless mass, it's your audience. It's the group of individual humans with their own interesting lives, who respond to similar things in the world that you respond to, these are this is your tribe, right? Which is actually the name of the company that we use to make like the water. So it's really about finding your people. And, and I think that gives you much more creative freedom than working in a system where you're desperate to be picked.

Alex Ferrari 21:09
Absolutely. And if you ever heard of a film called Kung Fury, yes, it was brilliant, the way that guy would package that movie. And he crowdfunded. And he did very well, crowdfunding, but but my god, he found his audience he completely sold to his audience, whether you like the audience or not, like the movie or not, but the guy's super successful by you know, it was a short film on top of it wasn't even a feature. Yeah. But so let me ask you a question. What? When should a filmmaker begin creating their audience or following?

Emily Best 21:42
As soon as you have ideas, I mean, here's the thing. We're all on social media anyway, right? Audience obviously starts with the people who like you, as a human, those are your friends and family. It's not like you like or not considering them. So probably, you're on a couple of social media platforms, and you're already starting this. But you have also this world of inspiration that defines your creative art that you're probably, you know, looking at online, and I'm reading articles about and writing things about and making little short vignettes about and cutting things together. These are all ways to see the conversations with people who might be interested in the same things. Probably, if you're a huge fan of kung fu movies, you're aware of where kung fu fans hang out, right? And you can go interact with them, because that's the beauty of online, everybody's participating now. It's really a matter of, you know, being involved in the community of interest that's inspiring you, that's where it starts, it should actually ultimately be kind of natural. Right? Right.

Alex Ferrari 22:47
Not forced,

Emily Best 22:48
yeah, you're already you're already doing it anyway.

Alex Ferrari 22:51
So then, with with the whole building an audience, there's one like kind of, I want to say it's like a dirty secret, but things that people don't like to talk about, which is an email list. It can you talk about how important that email list is in building this, this audience.

Emily Best 23:05
So, you know, I think one place that we can get confused is we can get obsessed with the notion of building the audience. And we'll look at any metrics that indicate to us that people like what we're doing, it'll be things like Twitter followers, and Facebook fans. And the problem is, the ultimate goal is not Twitter followers, and Facebook fans, the ultimate goal is getting people to pay money to watch your movie. That's the goal. That's how are getting them to watch your stuff. I don't know if you want them to pay. Your ultimate goal could be starting a movement, it could be getting as many people to watch your film as possible. It could be getting as many people to pay to watch your film as possible. You have to set your own goals. But I'm pretty sure nobody, no filmmakers out there being like, I want to be big on Twitter, right? Like, my goal, like Twitter is a means to an end, which is I want to be big on Twitter, so I can get a lot of people to watch my movie. Here's the thing. On average, you can expect a conversion rate. That means people who see something on your social media to taking the action you want them to take, like funding your crowdfunding campaign are or signing up to see your movie have about 1%. Right? So if you have 10,000 followers, you can only expect 100 of them to show up and do anything, right. That's not like, that's sort of a jarring idea, right? It doesn't mean the 10,000 people might not be aware of it. But what you really want them to do is take action. With email lists that are appropriately managed, you can see a conversion rate of 20 to 30%. Right? The number of people on your email list is way more important. Well, why is that? Well, it's super easy to follow someone on Twitter, you quickly click one button. What's a little bit harder is to get them to sign up for your mailing list because you either have to interact with them personally and like exchange business cards or hand them a sign up. She did your screening, or you end up, you know, doing something online that's so compelling that they're like, hey, I want to sign up for more updates from this person, you have to create that call to action. And then people have to take that step with you, it means that they want to get more deeply engaged with you. And frankly, you should test your ability to get people to take that action before you ever launch a crowdfunding campaign or distribution campaign, because you need to know how good you are at messaging your audience and getting them to really understand why they should do anything with you.

Alex Ferrari 25:35
That's a great, great, that's great information. What, um, let me ask you another question. What do you think is the state? What are your thoughts on the current state of film distribution as a general statement, oh, this is a whole other podcast.

Emily Best 25:48
It's really messy right now. Um, it's very hard to make money on small films right now. Because most of us have still produced things. I'm kind of in the old model of raising as much money as we can, you know, making it making it for as much money as we can. And then thinking about distribution, or even folks who are crowdfunding are still not leveraging crowdfunding. With distribution in mind. They're only leveraging crowdfunding with fundraising in mind. And again, just like twit, the end game of Twitter is not to get Twitter followers. But to get people to watch your movies. The endgame of crowdfunding is not just to raise money, but to get people to watch your movies, right? crowdfunding is just another slightly more involved social media and storytelling tool. The your crowdfunding page is as much of a storytelling tool as your Twitter profile or your Facebook page. And so I think we're still behind in some senses really strategizing and thinking about our distribution before we make films. And, and part of the reason I think the economics are so tricky is we let the script utterly dictate how much a film should be made for, right, which in some cases is fine, because there's a lot of resources to put to it. But sometimes there are scripts that really have a, you know, a smaller audience, demonstrable audience reach, and if you've demonstrated, you can get, you know, 10,000 people to spend $5 a piece on your film, right? And that's as far as you think it can go? That's $50,000. Right? Right. If you if you want to crowdfund $100,000, and then make $50,000 back, that's not a bad deal. Right? Right. That's a pretty good universe. But if we're, I mean, we just have to also get really honest about like, the capacity and what it takes to really make money on stuff. And I'm not saying that you shouldn't make things that can't make a profit, I'm saying that there are models that are actually built so that you are doing it for reasons other than making profit, and crowdfunding is one of those is if it's really meaningful to people, and it's meaningful to enough people, they will fund you to make this thing that maybe doesn't have huge commercial reach, but is meaningful to a small subset of people and you can still make some money on that because the community has brought it into being um, I just think the longer that we sort of continue to do things the same way the Messier it's gonna be the other thing is like, we just haven't caught up to the fact that most of us carry a device in our pockets every day that can allow us anyone to shoot, edit, distribute and consume a movie. Right? That is a fundamentally like industry shifting technology. And we have not caught up and part of it is because the you know, there are a lot of distribution middlemen who stand to lose a lot of money if we get to what these devices can do for us.

Alex Ferrari 29:04
as as as basically as as, you know, things like VHS and gumroad, and YouTube and Vimeo pro and all these other, kind of like killing the middleman thing out and just going directly to your customer. The technology is changing so rapidly, like, you know, how long How long is he to spark been around?

Emily Best 29:25
Three years,

Alex Ferrari 29:26
three years. So, you know, three years in the indie film world, three years is massive. Things are changing so rapidly. It's nice to find like I just heard of, I've just heard the other day of tug, which I I never heard of before. I just had never come through. I'd never, never came through my ears.

Emily Best 29:47
Yet someone from Ted on this podcast. They're fantastic. And they're incredible. And we work with them.

Alex Ferrari 29:51
Yeah, I know. Can you tell them real quick, can you just just say a couple things about tug.

Emily Best 29:55
Sure, tug is a way to crowdsource your theatrical release. So they have relationships. With 90% of the theaters in the country, and it works on a promoter basis, so anyone in any if you put your film on tugg, anyone in any city can say, I would like a screening of that film in my city. And they can go about pre selling tickets. And if they hit the minimum threshold, and that threshold is determined by how much the filmmaker wants to make, how much the theater wants to make, and how much the promoter wants to make, they sell the minimum number of tickets, that screening is guaranteed, and you have a theatrical screening in the city you didn't even think of, because somebody who liked your movie decided they wanted to do it there.

Alex Ferrari 30:32
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. That's absolutely brilliant. And that's a game changer. Absolutely, in many, many ways. Now, I'm sure you've seen a ton of pitch videos, can you give us an example of a bad one? and what not to do?

Emily Best 30:58
Sure. So um, it is very common. And I don't know why I think it's because we just get nervous about asking for support that filmmakers making pitch videos, forget to apply their filmmaking techniques to the pitch videos, and they end up making pitch videos that like their, their aunt would like but wouldn't care about. So it's not uncommon to see a filmmaker you've never heard of or seen before. Sit down in front of a camera in lousy light with bad sound and say, Hi, I'm Emily, I'm making a terrifying thriller, and I really want you to join me on this journey. And you're like, What? Who are you? Why should I expect that you're going to make a terrifying thriller, and prove it, and then I'll go, um, you know, making movies is really hard, which is why I put together a really killer team, and I can't wait for you to hear from them. And then another person you've never heard of whose opinion you don't know how to trust in His work, you don't recognize like the cinematographer will come on screen and another badly lit interview situation. And they'll be like, yeah, so like, I'm really excited to work on this movie, because like, I've been really inspired by like Eli rock films for a while. And I worked a lot on a lot of those kind of films, like in my thesis in college, and, um, I just like, really, I just think it's gonna be really fun and like, really dark. So I had no script, and they go on forever. Right? Now, I still don't know what the movie is about. I know two people who are involved with it, who've given me zero confidence in their capacity to execute. And then maybe they're going to send me to talk to an actress or an actor who's like, really excited and engaging and probably like nice looking, and they're going to tell you how excited they are to work on the project. But you're like, what is the project? What are we even talking about? Most people except for the parents of the aforementioned like filmmakers, and actors and cinematographer. I shut the video off by this point, because those people are trying to talk to audiences for horror films. And let me tell you what audiences for horror films want horror films, interview pieces, right? So you actually have to start to build up your credibility by demonstrating to people what you can do. So you know now that tangerine has thankfully proven you can make brilliant films on your iPhone. I don't like I don't have to bat down the excuses anymore from filmmakers will look but it costs money to make a good pitch video. No, it does not. No, it does absolutely does not. Because you're a filmmaker, and indie filmmakers are the most creative, ingenious people I've ever met. That's why I like decided to go headfirst for the rest of my life into this business. You can take your iPhone, and shoot something really creepy in a dark alley in the middle of the night with all the same people that we're talking to. And demonsaw make us feel something about your capacity to execute on the thing that you're proposing. And then once you've done that, once you've scared me a little bit, then you can pop your face up on the screen, so that I have a relationship to Ooh, you made me feel something now I see your face. No, I'm interested in you. Right right to give the audience for your film, a reason to trust that you're a person to deliver them what they want. That's super super important and the pitch video

Alex Ferrari 34:33
and it seems after you've explained it it seems quite elementary but most I would imagine most people don't

Emily Best 34:41
Yeah, I don't know what happens I so here's the thing. I wonder if it's not you know, sort of partially our fault and an out by our I mean sort of all the crowdfunding platforms who are like, you know, you have to make a personal appeal. And so they're like, okay, I'll start with the personal appeal and beg Yeah. film, it's a little bit different, right? Because the messaging is not necessarily just to pre sell the film, but to get involved in this experience with me that I'm going to take you on not just for this film, but for a lifetime if you like it enough, right? And so the messaging can't be, we want to make this thing but we're broke, please help,

Alex Ferrari 35:21
which is 95% of

Emily Best 35:25
the pitch video has to be, we are about to basically take a spaceship to the moon, do you want to be the fuel,

Alex Ferrari 35:33
that's a great way of looking at it,

Emily Best 35:35
I offer something that is so exciting that I want to get involved in the journey. Right, where the delivery of the finished product of the film is almost ancillary to what I'm excited about at this point, like, I just want to be so stoked to be involved with you. Now, there's also a whole set of subset of people who will fund things because they're excited about the finished product, you have to keep in mind that, you know, unlike a tech widget, I can just go watch another film next week. So if you're offering for me to get involved in a film that's not coming out for eight or 12 months, you better give me stuff along the way to remind me that I care about this thing. Hmm. So the other thing is like the pitch video is only really the beginning of the deeper relationship, right? So you go from the first date. No, no, no, the Twitter follow is the first date. Okay, gotcha, that the email address is like the fourth date of crowdfunding should be like the engagement. Really, you know, that's when like you, you're really deepening your relationship. And that means you're gonna have you're committing to having a relationship with those people forever.

Alex Ferrari 36:49
Artists, artists and consumer of art, correct? That's, that's a great analogy as well. And I as what would you consider is realist? Oh, can you talk a little bit about realistic crowdfunding goals? Because I know, sometimes I've seen, you know, $1 million dollars. I'm like, really, and they've they've never shot anything in their life. So can you talk a little bit about realistic crowdfunding goals?

Emily Best 37:12
Sure. The first and most important thing is, your crowdfunding goal has to be directly related to what you're promising in your pitch. So if you're promising, we're going to shoot, edit and distribute this entire this movie based on the money that we're gathering right now, you have to have budgeted for all of that, and know that the amount of money minus the fees you're gonna pay is enough to do everything that you're promising. If you if you if you get there, and you're like, holy shit, that's $150,000. That's a lot. Think about breaking it up into stages, and setting goals for yourself that are related to the size audience you've grown. First of all, you shouldn't launch a campaign unless you know for sure where the first 30% of your funds are coming from. Why? Because strangers, people who've never heard of you before your crowdfunding campaign whose first encounter with you is in the crowdfunding campaign, tend not to be interested in getting involved until you've hit about 30%. And that's because momentum shows inevitability of success, and people like to pick winners. So part of the reason you want to spend so much time cultivating the crowd in advance, so that it's easy for you to determine where that first 30% is coming from. And then those people act as your evangelists for the next 30%. And those people act as evangelists for the following 30%.

Alex Ferrari 38:31
Interesting, interesting, so and then when you say the first 30% you're saying like, where it? Can you explain that a little bit? Like, how would How would I know where the first 30% of my funds would come from?

Emily Best 38:42
Is you've been out there talking to people about your campaign products, writing to the people who are most enthusiastic saying, Can I count on you on day one? What kinds of incentives would make you the most excited? How much would you be willing to contribute? If I could promise you, you know, tickets to the premiere? Um,

Alex Ferrari 39:01
well, let me ask you what is some of the most ingenious incentives you've seen in your day?

Emily Best 39:06
Well, I really like incentives that inspire evangelism during the campaign. So my most favorite example is filmmaker named Sean Mannion did a time travel short, called time signature. And I contributed $25 to his campaign, and I'm not kidding, like 20 minutes later, I got a an email that said, Emily, thank you from his campaign page. Emily, thank you so much for your contribution. It means a lot to us. If you could travel anywhere in time, where would you go? And I was in. I don't know what I was doing that day that made me so boring, but I shot back to go to the signing of the Magna Carta. Okay, thinking that that was also like, I didn't know what he wanted it for, but I was like, this is a hard one. Like it was kind of a dick move on my part. Right? Like Half an hour later, I get a tweet that says, we found at Emily best at the signing of the Magna Carta, where will we find you. And it was a some sort of 13th century scroll image of these friars sitting around signing the Magna Carta. And he had found a picture of mine off of Facebook, and photoshopped it in so expertly, it took me a second to find myself because I just looked like I was there, Wow, really excited to be there. And it was, it was so brilliant, because it made me love him instantly, it filled the incentive that he owed me outside of the delivery of his film. And I shared it everywhere. And I know that I am personally responsible for no fewer than seven other contributions to that

Alex Ferrari 40:57
campaign. Right? That's brilliant.

Emily Best 41:01
$25 into $200.

Alex Ferrari 41:04
That's no way but that but also that takes a little bit of sweat equity, elbow grease, which a lot of filmmakers, you know, they have to ask themselves that that deep question, am I willing to do the work? Absolutely. You know, and that's why I think all this the whole crowd for crowdfunding and building up your audience and everything it has to do about the work and, you know, it's sometimes I've dealing with so many filmmakers in my in my life that a lot of them just want to make a movie one, you know, be famous. And you know what I mean? It's not as much about

Emily Best 41:35
movies, no work at all, I'm sorry. Because making no making a movie, that's no work at all.

Alex Ferrari 41:40
Exactly. Like you've killed yourself, you know, for two years, three years, sometimes I'm making a movie and you're not gonna take it to the finish line, you know, you're so close. You know, I always look at marketing and, and, you know, building this audience and stuff like that, as part of the creative process have always said that, it's like, you have you put your creative energy that you would into your art, but make the marketing on art like that guy. That's a perfect example with the scroll. That's brilliant. Yeah, a really brilliant idea. So what is one of the main reasons somebody would invest in a movie in a crowdfunding platform? Like what's what's, what's the main reason they would?

Emily Best 42:24
Ah, you mean into a crowdfunding campaign?

Alex Ferrari 42:26
Yeah. Like, like, I'm Joe Schmo. I just came on to seed and spark, why would someone like throw down 25 bucks to somebody I don't even know, like, what's the main reason?

Emily Best 42:37
Usually, because, um, there's like a really well articulated Why, why do we need to make this thing that speaks to the person's heart? It's emotional. Of course, why does this need to get made. And it could be, because the pitch video made me laugh my ass off. And it could be because the filmmakers are working on a social justice issue that really matters. Or it could be both in the case of a film called quality problems. It could be that I just really liked the filmmakers approach, it could be that I've been following the filmmaker for a very long time. And I'm really excited to finally get a chance to interact with them in this way. So I it's, I think it's above all, that there is a y. Right? That I that I understand and believe in

Alex Ferrari 43:35
now, can I want you to see if you can set a little light on something that a lot of people don't get in regards to, you know, getting the distribution deal, like, you know, if your film is on iTunes, or Netflix or VOD, those platforms, keep all the customer information and doesn't allow you to connect with that audience. Can you said shed a little light on why self distribution and audience building in many ways is even a better situation? In sometimes for filmmakers in the long term for building a sustainable living as an artist?

Emily Best 44:06
Um, say that one more time?

Alex Ferrari 44:10
Can you shed a little light on why self distribution and audience building is a little bit in many ways is better of a situation than getting that big, that big, you know, golden ticket thing, because you are building for the long term because you're building that audience up and have connection with that audience as opposed to, if someone gives you a million dollars at if you're lucky enough to get that deal? You know, that doesn't mean out of out of out of all those out of all those people that do get that golden ticket, like you're saying that point point one of point 1% how many of those actually have a career in the next 10 years? Is and that's the other thing as opposed if they're

Emily Best 44:46
women. Yeah. Right. If there are people of color, very few, um, and I think that's, I think first Well look, the important message here is How hard Do you want to try to be the point? Oh, 1% of the point Oh, 1%. Right? Why try to participate in a system that clearly doesn't want you? You know, what, what piece of validation is so important that you wouldn't just want to do things? You're way sooner? Right? I think I think for me, it's about what can I do that I control?

Alex Ferrari 45:28
Right, exactly. And building your audience and, and your following and things like that, and distributing it yourself. And keeping the majority of the bounty is something you can control. Look,

Emily Best 45:41
I wanted to make a film about with my friends about female friendships that I recognized. And I knew there was an audience for this movie, because I am a woman of a certain age, who was really tired of all of the women my age being portrayed as, like, you know, sort of batshit jealous, need a man to solve our problems. And not the version of the least, like really successful, creative, amazing, interesting women who I was friends with all the time, I needed that narrative. I didn't see it anywhere. And when we took like, the water to the festivals, this was the reaction we were getting were women in their 60s saying, I've been waiting my whole life for a movie like this. Oh, cool, you know, like incredible things. When I took this to American film market, I had more than one sales agent say, Well, you know, if you could sort of bump up like a lesbian erotica element that would really

Alex Ferrari 46:44
surprise me the least,

Emily Best 46:45
this is the point at which I thought I do not want to be picked by these people anyway, because we fundamentally disagree about what is needed in the marketplace.

Alex Ferrari 46:55
It's like, it's like Groucho Marx said I wouldn't want to be a member of a club that would have me as a member,

Emily Best 47:00
I wouldn't want to be a member of a club that they're members of. Yeah, exactly. Like, it's just, it is just that this is, again, it's it goes back to sure, you could try to knock on doors that are built not to open for you. That's great, you can see the creative control to people whose opinions you might not agree with. Or you could in the hopes that you will get the golden ticket and become the duplass brothers. Right? Right. Um, or you could build it yourself, one audience member at a time, and make what really matters to you in economically sustainable ways. I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 47:47
That's perfect. That's, that's actually a perfect, that's a perfect statement. It's a perfect statement. I think it's, I hope this conversation from our listeners understand that it's, it's about breaking the dogma that we've been sold this, this Wizard of Oz kind of, you know, don't look behind the curtain kind of dogma of go to, you know, spend 120 grand to go to film school, and in like, you know, you're not going to get a job and then go make your movie and then you're in debt for the rest of your life and, and then the movie you make is you got to go down this road and gotta go down to the festival route, and then maybe get, you know, put some a little lesbian erotica in just to be able to sell it in Germany, and you have to kind of kowtow constantly, but it's just as dogma that invoices like you. And I hopefully voices like mine, from what we're doing an indie film hustle is to try to break that, like, Guys wake up, like, get out of the matrix, you know, it's in, and that's what I'm hoping. That's why I want to do on the show so bad, I really wanted to shine a light on what you're doing, and the concept that you're trying to preach out there. So where do you see seed and spark in 10 years?

Emily Best 48:59
Um, wow. In spark in 10 years.

Alex Ferrari 49:05
Cuz everything's like dog years here. Because like, every year is like seven. Like, everything's changing so rapidly. So

Emily Best 49:11
yeah, I would hope in 10 years, there are 10,000 filmmakers on the platform reaching 10 to 20,000 audiences each, who are, you know, paying between 60 and $100 a year to spend on those filmmakers and the stuff that they love.

Alex Ferrari 49:36
Right, that would be a wonderful, wonderful world. Yeah,

Emily Best 49:40
it would be a really, it would be a really, really cool world. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 49:46
Now on CD and spark, you actually can distribute your film as well. Correct? Correct. Can you explain a little bit about that? Because that's one part I found really interesting about what Seton spark is doing. Yeah.

Emily Best 49:57
So um, If you crowdfund with us, and reach 500 followers, those are not necessarily people who contribute monetarily. But essentially just high five your campaign. They've joined your email list is what it is. you qualify to take advantage of all of our platform partnerships. So streaming on seed and spark, Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, Amazon, Google Play all the cable, VOD providers, and we can even connect you to theatrical partners.

Alex Ferrari 50:36
So wait a minute, you actually have a partnership with all the those iTunes and Netflix and Hulu and all that stuff as well? Yeah. Oh, I didn't know that. Now. what's the what's the what's the split? If you want me asking?

Emily Best 50:48
Well, so the splits on all the platforms are different, I got it for 20 minutes for me to list them. Sure. Of course, we only take 10% on the pass through. Okay. So that's, that's about half of what most other platforms will take on the pastor. But what we can provide is placement, right, you get if you go there by yourself,

Alex Ferrari 51:07
you're basically you have a door opening, you open doors for filmmakers, I would have had to go through an aggregator or sign some sort of distribution deal.

Emily Best 51:15
And over the next couple of weeks, the crowdfunding tool will get better and better at gathering the data that will help you understand where your audience is watching stuff. So that you can see that I don't know 60% of your identified audience watches everything on iTunes, right? So you can preference the iTunes distribution and you don't have to spend the money trying to market it also on a bunch of other platforms, or, you know, or you find out that it's on, you know, most of your audience is concentrated in these areas. And these are the cable companies that service those areas, you just put it out on those cable VOD platforms, right? Because it's easy right now to just pay money and put stuff on all the platforms, getting anybody to know that it's there way harder. And that's still rides on the backs of filmmakers.

Alex Ferrari 52:06
Which is something that they don't teach you in film school.

Emily Best 52:09
Don't that's, that's our next undertaking. How do we get this information? There are some really really smart people working on the problem of how to how to sort of bring this into film school as well.

Alex Ferrari 52:23
Because it's it's so I mean, that stuff that they're that kids that I see coming out are just like, they're still in a in a haze. They're still you know, they all think they're gonna be Robert Rodriguez or Steven Soderbergh. Or, you know, Spike Lee and the you know, it's not the 90s anymore, unfortunately. A lot of ways. So, um, I have that this is the toughest question of the interview. So prepare yourself. Okay. What are your top three favorite films of all time?

Emily Best 52:52
West Side Story, okay. Some Like It Hot,

Alex Ferrari 52:56

Emily Best 53:00
And the third one is a tie, which is a really weird, like shitty way to shirk the top three, that's fine. Um, there's an Iranian film that came out in 1997. That changed my life called gubbay. It was the first arthouse film I had ever seen, by which I mean, it was the first time I went to an art house, and a much cooler friend of mine was like, let's go see this film. Like, whatever. I'll do it because it sounds cool. And I couldn't leave my seat. I saw it. I just didn't know that film. Could be like that. Um, and then actually, there's a film by filmmaker named Mike odd called Pear Blossom highway that we released through seasons bark. That was a film that I saw at a festival that reminded me why we have to have lots of different kinds of festivals. Because it was it a difficult film, a narrative doc hybrid. That was seamless, that had utterly stunning performances and really disturbing, weird, interesting situations. And I thought about it for weeks afterwards.

Alex Ferrari 54:19
Which is what good art does,

Emily Best 54:21
which is what good art does? Yeah. And Mike art and Nathan silver have just made a new film together, which I cannot wait to.

Alex Ferrari 54:31
It's awesome. And finally, can you give some steps that you can suggestions, some tips, final tips to filmmakers who want to have a successful crowdfunding campaign?

Emily Best 54:44
Oh, sure. Start by going to seed and spark.com and downloading our crowdfunding to build independence handbook. This is very, very important. And you know what? is embarrassing on the brand new site if you go to four films, makers and how it works. It'll walk you through and it'll give you the handbook right there. Read this Handbook, because it will give you the step by step of how to start engaging your audience, how to think about building your incentives, how to make sure that your crowdfunding video is awesome. All of these things will be built in there. But you have to start by doing your research and forming a game plan. crowdfunding follows this sort of the same steps as production, you need pre production, which is planning and scheduling and team building, you need production, which has its own set of planning and scheduling, and team building, building and kind of daily maintenance. And then you have post production, which is all the communication that you're doing all the incentive, fulfillment, all of that, right. So really making sure that you think through all of that strategically, and how it will help your distribution in the end.

Alex Ferrari 55:57
That's awesome. And obviously, people can find you at seedandspark.com,

Emily Best 56:01
seedandspark.com. I'm Emily Best on Twitter or @seedandspark.

Alex Ferrari 56:06
Emily, thank you so much for doing this. I know you're very, very busy, lady. So I really, really appreciate you taking the time talking to thanks for the tribe.

Emily Best 56:14
Thanks for the great question.

Alex Ferrari 56:15
Okay, thank you. I appreciate that. Well, if you didn't know how to crowdfund before, you definitely know how to crowdfund out, I was I've honestly never really crowdfunded a film of mine. So I really wanted to do this interview, because I just want to learn as much as I can about crowdfunding, my next my next project, which will hopefully be coming out next year. And you guys will all hear about it as I do it, trust me. But um, Emily laid out some amazing advice, some real amazing gold nuggets of information there. I think you guys are armed now and ready to do a crowdfunding campaign for your next project. It does take a lot of work. And that's something that a lot of people don't really understand that this is as as intense as actually making your movie is getting it funded and marketed and so on, which is something I constantly preach about on the show, and on indie film, hustle. So I hope this was entertaining for you guys. I hope it was very informative for you. It was for me, so don't forget to head over to film festival tips.com that's Film Festival tips calm, where you can download my free ebook on my secrets on getting into film festivals for cheap or free. So keep that hustle going. Don't let go of that dream. Make it happen. I'll talk to you guys soon.




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IFH 022: Does Your Indie Film Have an Audience?

I’m never surprised anymore when I speak to filmmakers or Filmtrepreneurs and ask them one simple but powerful question,

Does your film have an audience?

I usually just get a blank stare. This is probably the most important question you can ask yourself as an indie filmmaker. Now if you are making film as art and have no intention or care at all about making money with your film then you should stop reading this email.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that but that is not what I’m discussing here today. For the rest of us that want and need to make money with our films, these few little words should be your mantra in the development process.

Most filmmakers get so excited by the concept of a story, the emotion or just with the idea of making a feature film that they never ask the question. They are scared to because it might stop the fun they are having. Trust me I know the feeling.

Before you waste all that energy on writing a script, getting talent, crew, and money you better know if you’ll be able to sell this puppy when it’s done.

Ask who is going to watch this, then find out where your audience is hangout online. Join a Facebook group, forum, etc. Ask the community if they would be interested in watching a film like yours. Ask what they would like to see in it and which actors get the group excited.

I know this takes out the art and excitement of filmmaking a bit. Well, when you are starting out you need to take advantage of every opportunity you got.

You’re not David Fincher…yet

You’re not Quentin Tarantino with millions of fans who will just go out to watch anything he does. You have to approach your first film as a business, with a bit of art dashed on top.  It’s called show business for a reason.

This is one of many ways to approach making your first film. If your making your film for $2000 then make whatever you want. It a gamble but a small one. I’m talking about filmmakers with $50,000 to $1,000,000 budgets. With that kind of money on the line, you better know who is going to watch and pay for your film.

So before you go off half-cocked to make your first feature ask the question, you’ll thank me later. Listen to this episode and find out some tips and tricks to see if your film has an audience.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So this week's episode guys is does your indie film Have an audience. And that is a question that every filmmaker should be asking themselves as they go forward in their filmmaking journey. I know so and I mean, I've seen so many people walk into my office, into my, into my post suite with films that are so passionate and so wonderful, and they love what they did, and they just want to get it going. But they have no idea not only where they're going to sell it, how they're going to sell it. But if there's even an audience for it, and that was one of my mistakes, when I made I produced a film called behind forgotten highs was a documentary that I produced gargling almost 10 years ago, what a lot of awards at festivals, and so on, but I didn't know where I was going to sell it, you know, and I just come off, you know, kind of the success I was having the, the minimal successor, I was having unbroken. And I said, Hey, I can market anything, I could just push this out. And that movie was about, it's a very, very rough subject, let's just put it that way, World War two kind of subject matter with between Korea and Japan. And it was a wonderful film very, very proud of that film. But the problem was, I didn't know where to sell it, how to sell it, it was extremely difficult to sell it because of the subject matter. So my, the director and myself, really had no idea where to sell it, you know, and had no idea where to go forward with it, at the end of the day, kind of just sat there. No one ever really did anything with it. I mean, he sold it a little bit here and there. The director did. And we got a couple, some distribution. We sold the to a couple countries for distribution, but nothing major. Not enough to get our money back. that's for damn sure. But it was a simple question that could have been asked prior to making it now, with that kind of film, specifically in that documentary, it was a passion project. It was something that he felt very strongly about. And he wanted to tell the story, and try to help. And that's one aspect. And that's one angle of going through filmmaking, especially with documentaries, a lot of documentaries are just about trying to get the word out about a specific cause, or a story that's not getting enough attention, regardless if it can sell or not for narrative films, and also for documentaries. But it just depends on what what your what you want out of your documentary, or what you want out of your film. If your point is just to get this movie made, and tell the story, great. If your if your point is about trying to make money and sustain a career doing this, then this is a question that you need to ask yourself, every time you start writing a script for a feature film, or for a short film, but more specifically for feature films, short films, you could be much more experimental with. But with a feature film, you have to ask, do I have an audience? And I've had so many filmmakers I've talked to that have a blank stare? I'm like, Who's your audience with this film? Oh, well, you know, as a demographic between 18? And I'm like, No, you do that's not that's not your audience. You can't afford to market to 18 to 35 year old males, you just can't, you can't afford to do that. The Studio's can afford to do that. Because they could just throw millions and millions of dollars at that demographic, and they'll get some awareness for their films. But you won't, you can't do that. You have to be very, very specific about who your audience is. And, and before you go down this long journey of making a movie, dammit, man, you better know that answer. Because if you don't know that answer, you can you can work a year or two on a movie sometimes. And at the end of it all you go some festivals, you get some plays, you might win a few awards, and then what you're stuck with holding the hand, you're stuck holding this film that you can sell. Nobody wants to see it because there's no real audience for it. So you have to kind of ask yourself, what, who wants to watch this? Now again, if this is just art, and you're just making art for art's sake, then my god do it, that's fine. But for the rest of us who want the not only want money to make money, you have to ask this question and answer it very, very clearly. So once you've identified your audience, go find out where they are, and then start marketing to them. It's called crowdsourcing, you should start crowdsourcing your movie. Prior to it even being written in some ways. If you feel really strongly about, you're going to make this movie, start figuring out where your audience is hanging out, and go hang out in the same places where your audience hangs out. Start talking to them start engaging them and you start crowdsourcing these people ask them questions, ask them hey, why would anybody here want to see this kind of movie? This is the kind of movie I want to make. Who's the stars? You want to make it put those in these movies? Do you need stars in this movie? Do you need this kind of topic what that is is a cool topic. And so on man, man. I'm telling you if you understand who your audience is, you're so far ahead of the game. It's not even funny. This is what I did with broken I actually identified who am I to carve my target audience was going to be which I knew was going to be independent filmmakers. Now I didn't know this when I was making the movie. I wasn't that far ahead at all. have time yet. But after the movie was done, I was like, Well, wait a minute, I think I can sell the short film. And I don't think anyone's gonna buy it in the real world. But they will buy it. I think independent independent filmmakers will buy it because they're going to want to know how I was able to do this and just share this information. Because there was a, there wasn't there wasn't anything like this in the marketplace at the time. So I went to the forums, to there was no Facebook at the time, there was my space was crazy. But I went to these places where all these independent filmmakers hung out. And I started talking to them, I started engaging them, I started showing them trailer showing them behind the scenes and people got so excited. But why the time that I launched the DVD for sale, we made almost five grand in the first day. You know, that's that's huge for us, you know, for a little short film that was made for eight grand, that's insane. So ask that question, guys. Who is your audience? A does my does my film, have an audience? answer that question. Go find that audience and start marketing to those, that audience and I've talked before in other episodes, like how to make your indie film into a money market made into a money making machine on how to treat your film, like a business. And how to, to think about it as a business because it's show business. And the business is double the letters of the word show for a specific reason. So I already covered that in other episodes, but in this episode, ask that question and answer it. And trust me, you will thank me for it. And you're not quitting Tarantino or Woody Allen or Martin Scorsese just yet, for people who will just show up to your movie, because you made it that will come. But you first have to figure out who your audience is. So as promised guys, I'm going to give you a coupon code for lipstick and bullets, the gorilla film school edition, it is going to be i f h tribe, that's i f h tribe. And that gives you 20% off the purchase price, not the rental price, but the purchase price. So that once again, that coupon is AI, f h tribe just go in there when you're when you're signing out, or when you're putting in your information, just say get coupon or, and just type in the coupon code. And you'll get your 20% off, man. So thank you guys for your support. I really appreciate it. Let me know what you think of. Please, please let me know what you think of lipstick and bullets. If there's anything I can add to it. If there's anything that's missing what you think about it, what if you like it, what you don't like, I'm here I'm open I want to I want to learn from you guys because I want to serve you guys as best I can and give you great content and great information so you can go off and make your movie so thank you again, guys, for all the support. Thank you for making this podcast. Like blow up. People are going crazy for this podcast, and I'm getting crazy amounts of downloads and crazy amount of subscriptions for this podcast, so thank you so so much. Please don't forget to head over to iTunes and leave me a honest review of the show. And it would really it really helps me out a lot. It helps the show out a lot to get seen by more people who want and need to hear the show. So thanks again guys. Keep that dream alive. Keep that hustle going. Talk to you soon, man.


IFH 020: Why Indie Filmmakers Should NOT Shoot with a 4K Camera!

(Unless you can handle the workflow)

Now I’m not talking about the compress 4k files you get from a DSLR or GoPro. I’m speaking about the big, chunky files you get when shooting 4k ProRes or RAW on a RED Camera, Blackmagic URSA Mini or Arri ALEXA.

An issue I see come up again, and again is indie filmmakers shooting a format that they can’t handle in production, post-production or in delivery (like 4k, 5k, 6k or 8k). Currently, the big buzzword is UHD (Ultra High Definition).


Technically, “Ultra High Definition” is actually a derivation of the 4K digital cinema standard. However while your local multiplex shows images in native 4096 x 2160 4K resolution, the new Ultra HD consumer format has a slightly lower resolution of 3840 X 2160.

Now while having a larger image to play with is better it does bring a ton of baggage along with it. RED Cameras started popularizing 4K cameras with its first camera the RED ONE. It was so far beyond anything else on the market at the time that it ignited the imagination of indie filmmakers everywhere.

Now shooting 4K in today’s world is a bit different. It cost much more than you’d expect once you factor in all the things you’ll be dealing with down the pipeline.

More Hard Drives

Your budget will be stretched since you’ll need more hard drive space to house and back up the larger files. Also, transfer times will take longer because of the larger 4K file sizes. Your onset DIT (Digital Imagining Technician) will need to have large and fast hard drives to push the extra gigs of info.

On those films with really small budgets, every minute you have on set is precious. If you only have two solid-state capture cards and two back up hard drives to transfer them too, then you might be waiting to shoot. You might shoot through a card faster than a DIT can download, check it and transfer it to your back up drive.

I’ve seen this situation play out a ton of times on set and trust me it’s not fun to be that poor DIT when the entire set is waiting for him.

4K Post Production

I did a podcast a few weeks ago on Post Production Workflow (Post Production Workflow: Understand it or Die!). The episode breaks down the craziness of not understand the entire workflow from camera to deliverables.

Distribution is not there…yet

As of now, 4K is not a mandatory deliverable for distributors. Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Prime are not ready to stream 4K. The internet pipe is just not there…yet. Yes, Netflix has a 4K option but the need for 4k as the standard is not there yet.

I just sold my film, This is Meg,  to Hulu who only asked for 1080p. I handled all the deliverables for a $10 million+ Hulu series and they only wanted 1080p.

Mastering in 4K is really expensive and time-consuming. If you are doing visual effects than you VFX guys are going to hate you and it will cost you more money. Dealing with 4K plates is what $150 million films deal with and they have the budget to do so. A smaller budget indie film doesn’t have the resources to deal with any issues that might come up working at 4K instead of HD or 2K.

Also, when you color grade 4K footage it will cost you more money. Again processing, pushing and rendering that larger format kills your budget. Would you rather have more time to color your film at 2k or rush it to master in 4K?

But I need 4K for my theatrical DCP

Again another myth. Mostly ALL theatrical releases are in 2K DCP. Why you may ask because movie theater chains do not want to upgrade to pricey 4K projectors when the 2K looks fine.

I mastered my film on at 1080p, then did a small blow up on to 2K for my DCP. When I saw it projected I was blown away how good it looked. Check out the trailer for This is Meg below.

On the Corner of Ego and Desire

I shot my second film On the Corner of Ego and Desire on the BMPCC 1080p. I screened it at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood and it looked amazing. It world premiered at the Raindance Film Festival in the UK. Watch the film here: On the Corner of Ego and Desire on IFHTV

 I love 4K…really!

Listen I’m not a 4K hater by any means. Hell, I’d shot all my films in 20K if that was possible. I’ve always shoot 4K on my projects. You can recompose shots in post-production, more color space, etc. It’s great but I also have the budgets and hardware to deal with that workflow. This is sound advice for all aspects of the filmmaking process, do what you can within your means and do it well.

Don’t try to make Avatar right out of the gate. James Cameron started on Piranha 2: The Spawning and built his way up over time. He made the best movies he could with what he had access to at the time.

The new RED Weapon camera has been a problem to deal with for many indie filmmakers. The RED Weapon shoots 4K, 5K, and 6K and has extremely large files to deal with. If you don’t have a RED Rocket X card (cost: $6750 + Warranty $395) that helps you process the footage, you are out of luck in post-production.

It will take you weeks, depending on your system, to attempt to transcode all that footage. Editing in RED RAW will be out of the question.

I’m just saying shoot a format that is within your capabilities. Don’t make your filmmaking process more difficult than it has to be. In this episode, I go over a ton of info on why you shouldn’t shoot 4K if you’re an indie filmmaker.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Now guys, this episode is something I've been wanting to bring to you guys for a while, the whole concept of the camera porn as they call it, people being so caught up with like, I'm shooting 4k, I'm shooting 6k I'm shooting, I'm shooting with the area Lexa this conveyed this range and this aspect ratio and this size of file and it's kind of like you know, I'm going to shoot with the red weapon and because I shoot with the red weapon or shoot 6k it's gonna make my movie better, you know? And No, it doesn't. It's about story. And it's always about story. So I wanted to kind of go over a few things. What are some reasons why you shouldn't if you're an indie filmmaker, you have to understand there's a lot of things like whenever I shoot anything, I always shoot at a high resolution as high as I can get that I can handle. So, but I also have a post house. So there's a big difference, it is within my capabilities to shoot 4k or shoot 6k I have the hard drives, I have the horsepower to push that kind of stuff. where people get caught up, or filmmakers get kind of in trouble is when they they get that they get that they get that red epic or red weapon or God knows whatever the camera has 15k or whatever that is at the moment. And then they have no understanding of how to work through it. And I did this episode a little bit ago on post production workflow, which is, is B actually the most popular episode of the entire series of indie film hustle. So that told me a lot that people are really, really interested in understanding this kind of stuff that I guess nobody's really talking about. So I wanted to bring to you guys the reasons why you should not shoot 4k. If you're an indie filmmaker. First and foremost, nobody can really tell the difference. Even if you shoot 4k, no one's going to be able to see the 4k, unless you're at a very specific distance that you can actually appreciate 4k. But most people are not, you're not going to see the difference. Honestly, and I deal with this kind of stuff all the time. And my post production company, and a lot of things are being eventually going to end up on an iPhone or an iPad or a computer screen. So really, it's almost a waste shooting at 4k. Now, with that said, there is advantages of shooting at a higher resolution or higher aspect ratio like a 4k or 6k, your ability to be able to zoom in recompose shots, things like that, again, all wonderful things as long as you have the capabilities of handling it. Now it will second thing it will stretch your budget and take a ton more time to deal with these bigger files, these raw files these 4k or 6k files. It's like shooting on the Blackmagic and your shooting progress. Are you going to shoot RAW? Well, raw is a beast to deal with, especially the Blackmagic raw codec is not that great read is actually the best codec I've ever seen. Meaning that the size of the frame, let's say the size of the image. And the size of file is like it's very manageable in that in that ratio, but still shooting at 4k shooting at 6k or higher, it's going to stretch your budget because you're going to need more hard drives, you're going to have to copy it and you know back it up more and more. So it's going to need it's going to also take a lot more time to transfer these larger files. And again, for what that's the question you have to ask yourself, what is this doing for my film? Is it just ego? Am I just wanting to to say hey, I shot this at 4k, you know, 2k is a phenomenal format for an independent filmmaker. It's wonderful like that is what was being you know all the movies from five years ago and back probably were all being mastered at 2k most movies are still being mastered a to k. But if you're going to transfer to film or do a DCP every instrument to K is perfectly fine. It is wonderful and affordable. And you can do something with it. You know, I've actually had a theatrical movie that I worked on that we shot that was measured in 1080 P and then we went and blew it up to 2k for 400 screen release by a major studio. And it looked great. And we shot and we and we did it on DCP and we upload and we put it onto film and believe it or not I was editing I was coloring this going back a little bit I was coloring in apples color. So it wasn't even like the highest end coloring system at the time. Believe it or not Something something collared a shot on a red and they shot it a 4k, we were able to handle the workflow. But we edited and mastered everything at 1080 p because they could not afford the mastering process to go to 4k, there was just no, there was so many zoom ins and things like that, that it just didn't make any sense to do it. So they mastered a 2k. And then we colored in color, and then I'll put it to film, and to DCP digital cinema package for people who don't understand that is the digital package that movie theaters want or need in order to project digitally, at any standard movie theater or throughout the country. So all of that was being all of that was done with a 2k master. Don't underestimate the power of 2k. Please and it's just it's something I see so many filmmakers like I just got a film guy shot a little while ago, we had a film coming through the doors that was shot on the the weapon, reds weapon that was shot 6k. And they could barely even do anything with it. Like they could barely move it they were able to like the editor who was editing it was like, What do we do? This is too much and and again, it goes back to workflow. And they were like we were thinking of mastering at six can like are you absolutely mad, you can't master at 6k. Now you can't even master at 4k. Now the other reason why you wouldn't want to master at 4k and mastering at 4k is in my opinion, at this point in 2015 is ludicrous. It's you don't need to, you can great, fantastic. But you don't need to. And I know a lot of people are going to talk about future proofing. Oh, you know, 4k monitors and 6k monitors coming out in the future. Great. That's wonderful. Do you know how much how much material movies media that is in the marketplace right now from the past 100 years, that is not at 2k or 4k levels. You know, seriously, there is tons and tons of stuff. So the whole excuse of future proofing again, if you can't afford it. And if you have the horsepower to do it, by all means knock yourself out. But most independent filmmakers are not made of money. And most independent filmmakers don't have the resources to be able to push 4k in a mastering format or even in an editing, editing up editing process. So the other reason that you shouldn't be mastering at 4k is that distributions not ready for 4k yet. You know right now streaming companies like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon can only deliver between 60 and 60 megabytes per second, while 4k delivery is 6000 megabytes per second, just so you understand. So would you rather Would you rather master at 2k or 1080 P and it'd be really tight and look good and not be super super compressed? To be able to make it work within Netflix or Hulu or your VOD format or would you rather master at 4k where they're going to jam so much compression on the movie is going to look like crap when you do get it finally out into a Netflix environment or Hulu or Amazon or so forth. So think about it think about 4k right now is not a requirement for for movie distribution deals. But the good news is believe it or not the 35 millimeter is becoming a discussion now. Now I come from a world where I used to work in 35 millimeter all the time. Now people like oh film is dead film is dead film is it might be dead is a shooting format I don't think it will be I hope it's always around I hope it's an option for filmmakers. It's a wonderful option. But right now film is still the only sure way to ensure that your film will survive. The new type of film will ensure that your movie will survive at least 150 years in a salt ball vault somewhere as opposed to hard drives which is five years old five years tops for hard drive so you're constantly have to change your hard drive. You're also going to as new Codex come out new compressions come out new everything comes out you're going to be constantly re compressing it real putting it read this read that all all of it. But if you master it on a film or you archive it on film, and you put it in a salt mine somewhere in in Utah, where all the studios have there, they're all they're all the backlog of studios like Warner Brothers Disney all that they all have their stuff on film, and they put it in the salt vaults and they sit there for hundreds you know for decades and it protects them you know that's how they were able to go back and you know they dug up Star Wars you know they dug up the original prints from Star Wars when they were doing the re releases of it and jaws and all these other movies. That's how they did it. They didn't put it on hard drives. So right now there is a discussion going on with a lot of distributors that they want 35 millimeter prints, Master prints so they can archive I have it now this is obviously much bigger studios much bigger distributors. But it is a discussion as things are, people are starting to, to talk about again, because it is what works. You know, digital is wonderful. But film is what works as far as a archiving format. So if you don't believe me that you won't see the difference between 2k and 4k, go do a test. Go to the lab, if you have a lab and master, you know, have them output, you know, for, you know, like, five, four minutes, three minutes of some scenes. And, and don't tell them tell them not to tell you what's what, have them do a 1080 have them do a 2k and haven't do a 4k, you know, and just and see how it works. And see what what it looks like see what progress looks like, see what uncompressed looks like so let's take a look at it on the screen, or wherever your final outputs going to be. And that's the other question guys, you got to figure out what you're going to out. Where's your endgame on this, you know if it's theatrical, which is great. And that's a wonderful thing. You focus on theatrical, but remember theatrical is a very small window of how people are going to consume your media or consume your movie, it's a very small window, it's mostly going to be consumed on on streaming formats, specifically now more and more than ever on the streaming formats. And on a lesser, lesser note, DVD and blu ray for as long as they'll they'll be around with us. But it's going to be a digital streaming format. So that means it's going to be either on TV, on your monitors on your iPhone, on your iPads, or on your computer monitor. And more and more people are watching movies on their iPhones, iPads and computer monitors, and then also on their TVs as well. But the mobile devices are coming up so you work all this hard. And I do this, I do this, I'm going to do a little quick side note, I have a buddy of mine who's a master he does a mastering of audio audio mastering and he actually has a full blown Atmos you know rig so you can do the utmost like the the most amazing surround sound, state of the art surround sound that you can get. And he has all that at for a feature for feature release the IEEE and for five one mix for your you know, for your home stereo system or for your home entertainment system. And then I was there listening to the mix. And then I saw these two little crappy speakers on the top of the on the top of the council and he's like, well, What's that for? He goes, Oh, that's for what I mix this for, for VOD, or for digital, or for an iPad or for YouTube or online. I'm like really, because Yeah, because I could do all this work on this five, one mix. But if you've crunched down that five, one mix or the Atmos mix, down to a stereo that's going to be playing outside of an iPod or iPad, or iPhone, it's gonna sound like shyt. So So what he says he's like, I have to remix it for the worst case scenario. So he had to go back and remix it for the worst case scenario. So even audios are already dealing with this, with the whole new technology, how fast is changing. So do that test guys, and let me know what you know, figure it out, if you can actually see a huge difference between the 4k and the 2k. You know, apples to apples, then my god go to 4k. But again, it's all about your money. It's how much money you have, how many resources you have, and what kind of horsepower you have to push it, you know, so my advice for indie filmmakers on a budget, you know, that have small budgets anywhere from and I'm not going to say what budget it is because I've worked on million dollar movies, I didn't have the horsepower after everything was said and done, because they didn't have enough money in their post budget. So it's all relative to what how much money you have, if I were you, like I've always said bring in a post production supervisor during pre production, or at least consult with a post production supervisor before you start production. It's so valuable, you have no idea if you really want to go to 4k and you really want to shoot 4k and master to 4k, or shoot 6k and mash it up whatever you want to master to 4k, 2k whatever, at least you really should have an understanding of what it's actually going to take financially between hard drives and backup hard drives and di T's on set and how fast it's gonna go and all this kind of stuff. And at the end of the day, guys, it's really not about about what the camera is or how what kind of case you have on your mini case, different case you have on your format that you're shooting on. It's always about story. You know, we don't have a lack of cameras with four 6k or high resolution cameras in the world. We have a lack of good storytellers. We have a lack of good filmmakers out there, because they're so concentrated on getting the latest gear and they're not learning their craft of storytelling. So my advice is always look at the story first, and then look at the gear that's going to help you tell that story. And the resources are going to help you tell that story and the best way. So I hope you guys got a lot out of this episode. It's something that's been dear to my heart for a while I really wanted people to kind of understand There's a lot of confusion between all the damn K's all over the place in the world and how far how big the files and all that stuff is concerned but I hope this is some practical advice to hopefully get you guys movie movies off the ground and actually get made in finished. So of course if anyone has any questions I do offer consulting post production supervision, and post production consulting on indie films. Just head over to indie film hustle comm forward slash consulting and let me know. Also don't forget to head over to film festival tips.com that's Film Festival tips calm, so you can download my free ebook on how to get into film festivals for cheap or free. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep following those dreams. Keep making it happen. Talk to you soon.




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IFH 017: Indie Film Distribution on VOD with Linda Nelson

The world of film distribution is filled with unknown landmines. Even more mysterious is how an indie filmmaker can get their film placed on these elusive VOD or Video on Demand platforms?

Video on Demand’s definition has been broadened in recent years. Before it only meant VOD on your cable box from Comcast, Time Warner or Direct TV but today that list has grown dramatically.

There are over 170 different videos of on-demand platforms available to indie filmmakers today. Some of the top film distribution/VOD platforms are:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu Plus
  • Vimeo Pro
  • YouTube (Paid)
  • Roko
  • GooglePlay
  • Amazon VOD HD
  • Amazon Prime
  • ViaWia
  • Snagfilms
  • iTunes
  • Playstation
  • Vudu

But just like a fugley teenager trying to get into a hot nightclub on South Beach, there are bouncers at the door who don’t want to let you in.

That’s where this episode comes in, we have a video on demand expert Linda Nelson from Indie Rights, the film distribution arm of Nelson Madison Films. Linda walks us through the maze of VOD and film distribution options and explains what it takes to get your film placed in the potentially very lucrative platforms.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So without further ado, sit back and enjoy our interview with Linda Nelson. Linda, thank you so much for joining us on the indie film hustle podcast, we really appreciate you taking the time.

Linda Nelson 0:00
Thanks so much for inviting me, it's always a pleasure to have a chance to share with filmmakers.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Great. So um, let me ask you a question. I know a lot of indie filmmakers don't understand the term VOD or video on demand. They have an idea of it. But can you explain the kind of what exactly is VOD video on demand and what does it entail?

Linda Nelson 0:00
Well, I think in the past VOD video on demand, I think most people thought of cable and movies on demand on their cable network. But as the digital world has evolved, video on demand just means movie. Well, in our case, movies that you can get and watch whenever you want. There are many forms of VOD while they're still cable, VOD. What has become even more popular, our digital platforms like Amazon and iTunes and Google Play and VUDU and Hulu and that type, which are app based. And so I think that's probably the biggest distinction right now. And and the shift is for people to move away from cable and to these app based digital stores.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Got it. So then, so the different VOD platforms like Netflix, Amazon, those are the kinds of things

Linda Nelson 0:00
And they're all they're all quite different. There are. There are some very distinct different types of models of VOD. And that's a really, really important distinction to understand something like Netflix, which is a subscription based video on demand platform, people pay a fixed fee, and then they can watch all they want. In the case of Netflix, it's not something we're thrilled about for independent film because they pay very low fixed flat rate fees. And once your film is on Netflix, you won't sell or rent movies anymore because people can get it for what's perceived as free. So we that's something that we highly discourage, especially in the first four or five years.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Okay, so Netflix is generally not what it's all cracked up to be. I mean, they are the kind of the big poster child for VOD, I guess, in some ways.

Linda Nelson 0:00
You're the thing with Netflix is first of all, now they are already 80% serialized content. Oh, yeah, a TV show they are becoming like an HBO. And that is their business model. And, as far as, as movies, studios will give them their older films, because they can get a decent price from them. If you have a name and your film, if you have an indie film with a name in it, they might offer you a fairly good amount. Say for example, you made a 10 or $15,000, documentary or even a $40,000 documentary They might be willing to pay you something comparable to that if it's either a documentary that is a very important topic right now, or if you have a narrative film that happens to have, you know, you caught a rising star, for example. And this person is now blown up for you know, so those there are some exceptions where they will pay a decent amount for an indie film. But in generally, in general, they pay a low flat rate fee that's payable on quarterly installments over a year. And it's usually so low that that you do cannibalize all of your paid transactional. Now. That's not to say all subscription platforms are not good for indie filmmakers, because there's nothing better than amazon prime. Amazon prime is also a is also a subscription platform. However, amazon prime is pays by the view. So really, yeah. So the more you know, I mean, different distributors have different deals, but on certainly for us, they pay by the view.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So how does that so how does, how does amazon prime work? Because that's really interesting to me. I've never heard that.

Linda Nelson 0:00
Oh, yeah, no, so that's amazon prime right now is probably our biggest revenue earner for our filmmakers. Oh, wow. And, and the biggest mistake, and this is something that I, I used to advise filmmakers to go on create space and do create space themselves. And there are still people that recommend that like, there are several podcasts that I've heard recently where people say, Oh, you can do Amazon yourself?

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Can you can you explain what CreateSpace is for our audience,

Linda Nelson 1:53
Okay. CreateSpace is a company where you send them a DVD, and they will, they will sell your DVD on Amazon for you, you can set the price. And you also have the option to put it on Amazon Instant Video where people can rent and buy it. So now, there there are several problems with this. And this is something that if you cannot get more traditional distribution, or you can't find a distribution company to work with, as a last resort, you can do this, and you still will have your film out there. And we I always you know there there are a lot of people that are recommending totally do it yourself and direct to audience. I'm think it's a really bad idea unless you absolutely have fully researched and cannot get any other form of distribution. Because what happens with Amazon, and CreateSpace was a was the first company to offer this kind of DVD on demand option for filmmakers. And it was great. And so Well, we certainly started with that. And then Amazon bought them. Okay, so that CreateSpace is now owned by Amazon. But it is an option for anyone, anyone can put their film there. The problem is, these days, everybody is making beautiful HD films, either gyuto 2k, or 4k, and they're in their HD. However, when you go through CreateSpace and make a DVD and go on Amazon Instant that route, you can only go in standard definition. And you cannot get into Amazon Prime amazon prime is only available through partners of Amazon, like our company in the REITs. Hmm. So you have you have to go through an aggregator Gator or a distributor. A lot of people think that we are aggregators, we are not we are actually a distributor. So got it there. And there's a big difference. And what is the difference? The big difference is that we are actually direct partners. And we have a direct partnership deal with Amazon and Google etc. And this is a question that filmmakers must ask anyone they're considering doing distribution by because right now there are hundreds of companies out there saying we'll get your film on Amazon, we'll get your film on iTunes, and Netflix, they are not partners with those companies, they are then going to come to a company like us.

Alex Ferrari 2:12
So it's okay. It's a middleman between the middleman.

Linda Nelson 2:12
What's happening is that the old school form of distribution where there are layers and layers of middlemen is being replicated in the digital world. And the reason that that's happening now is because many of these distributors just couldn't fathom that DVDs would dwindle as quickly as they have. And so their main business was DVDs. And if they didn't get on the, on the digital bandwagon, quick enough and now those doors have closed pretty much. In other words, Amazon, they iTunes, they have all the partners they need. So now you have to goes through one of those partners to get your film distributed. So that's really important. But the thing to go back to the original discussion points of about Amazon being amazon prime being a paid subscription base, they do pay per view. So we teach our filmmakers, how to build engagement with their audience on Amazon, so that they then move their film into the recommendation algorithm. And, and what's important there is that you get plenty of reviews. And and you can encourage that with social media. And so we teach filmmakers how to do that. And, you know, we have a number of films that are very high ranking on amazon prime.

Alex Ferrari 2:14
Now, are those are those pay per views? Is that a standard flat rate? Or is it

Linda Nelson 2:14
It is and I'm not at liberty to discuss that?

Alex Ferrari 2:14
Fair enough. Fair enough. I just thought I'd ask.

Linda Nelson 2:14
And that's because, you know, companies have different deals with different people.

Alex Ferrari 2:14
So fair enough. Fair enough. But it's but it's obviously the best deal that you have right now for filmmakers is amazon prime? Well, one of them,

Linda Nelson 2:59
Okay. There are there are exceptions, we sometimes we don't put people on prime right away if we feel that a film has a lot of potential for paid transactional. Okay, so So far, we've talked about subscription. And Hulu Plus is also subscription. So though, and they do pay by the view as well. So Hulu, plus, Amazon Prime, Netflix, those are subscription based programs. And also there are some new ones that cinedigm has out that were participating in like, documentary Rama, new Dov channel, which just really just started last week, it's great. We should talk about that later, too. Absolutely. And those, those are subscription channels. So that's subscription VOD. And then the next type is called paid transactional or P VOD, or T VOD, as some people call it. And transactional means that people are either they're pulling out their credit card, and they're paying to either buy or rent your film. Now, when I say buy, they're not actually physically buying the media. except in the case of iTunes, you can you you can physically buy the medium and download it to your device. But that's not the way people prefer with when you buy on like Google Play, or Amazon, what you're buying is the right to watch it forever. Okay, it's not like a video store, or wherever a couple of months of DVDs are gone. And that's the end know, once you're up on Amazon, you know, could be there for 20 years or 40 years. Who knows, we don't know yet how long that is. But for as long as Amazon exists, you can go back and watch that movie that you've purchased. If you rent it, and that's for a fraction of what you would buy it for. They each platform gives you a certain amount of time for you to watch it like it might be a week, or it might be you get five views, different platforms give you a different, you know, opportunity to but you're actually paying for that purchase, or the or rental. Well that's a paid transactional and there are some films that really lend themselves to paid transactional. Well, and and so when we see a film that we think has that we might postpone putting it on prime, the reason prime does so well is that people don't have to take out their credit card. And any I don't have to tell you people are reluctant to pay for something where they don't recognize the director, or they don't recognize any of the people that are in the movie, of course, right of course so it's you know, like how often do you do that it's rare

Alex Ferrari 3:00
There unless it's a topic maybe that you're interested in

Linda Nelson 3:27
I'm saying there are documentaries for example, that that that you're interested in, and they're topical, or there's a cause behind it. We have one film like by the name of it's called the title is fray and it's about a young marine that comes back from the war with PTSD. And so that film is done well because there it's not a lot of there are a lot of veterans and families of veterans that are really relating to that film. So you know, so you can take a film like that and and sell a lot of DVDs or you know, purchases or rental. So it just depends on the film and what and what you've done with the film prior to bringing it to a company like us. For example. Frey hat we do a small limited theatrical release on select films. That film got the most superb critical acclaim from the LA Times of any movie I've ever seen. I've never seen a review a more glowing review in a while or something like that just, you know, it really raises the profile of your film. Because other papers all over the country pick up those reviews, if they don't have film critics, it's on Rotten Tomatoes with all of these big juicy red tomatoes. And people look to those places, you know, when they're looking, you know, for a film and trying to decide, do I want to spend money to watch this, you know, right, so so so many of those things. So that's the paid transactional. And then the third type that's quite popular now is ad based. Or a VOD?

Alex Ferrari 4:58
Oh, I've heard of that one.

Linda Nelson 6:13
Well, Hulu, regular Hulu is ad based.

Alex Ferrari 6:22
Okay. When you watch like YouTube, like a YouTube almost,

Linda Nelson 10:24
Well, YouTube, yes, YouTube is totally ad based on my shoe have a rental channel, like us where we have just, you know, just like it's just like iTunes, but it's YouTube. And you can rent all of our movies there, or buy them in SD or HD. So, so but but people that don't have that aren't partners with Google, they can put their films up there, they can put their whole movie up there and then have ads every five minutes.

Alex Ferrari 11:38
I've seen the worst starting to do that. And that is that a decent way of generating some sort of income

Linda Nelson 11:43
Millions of views, you have to really, really get a lot of views, we have one filmmaker who makes quite a bit off advertising revenue on his YouTube channel. But what he does, and cleverly so it is that he will take like the first 10 minutes of his movies, and they're so good and so engaging, that people want to watch the whole movie. So he has ads on those 10 minute clips, you'll have an ad before, maybe two in the middle and one at the end. And then he has links to where you can buy it where we're distributing it. Mm hmm. In the description, and annotated at the back end of the film. Smart. So So somebody watches 10 minutes, he does crime documentaries. Okay. his newest one is called killing Jimmy Hoffa. And it's fascinating. I'm so done. Right? And so he makes quite a good income from those clips. Okay, and at the same time, they're advertising the entire movie, so that this total, so if somebody goes, Oh, wow, I want to see the rest of this. They can just click right on that video on YouTube, it'll take them right to Amazon Prime.

Alex Ferrari 12:26
Interesting. That's a great, that's a great business model for the parent, none of the following you have and so I actually, I actually heard of a filmmaker putting out half his movie, or like, at least 40 minutes of his movie on BitTorrent for free,

Linda Nelson 12:37
Yeah, and that's not gonna run ads. Exactly. They're not making an advertising correct. Do it on YouTube. Not only are you you know, having that as an ad. I just, I'm not a big fan of bit tour. Okay. Because I think that it is so abused. Oh, yeah. You know, we have a very bad time with piracy on our library of films courses, especially ones that we put out theatrical, and they use those as teasers. I'll take that movie fray. And they'll even if they don't have a copy of the film, they will use that to get people's email addresses, and then further market to them for the films that they do have.

Alex Ferrari 13:06
Like every industry, there's always a CD.

Linda Nelson 13:08
And I tell people you once a month should check and have a form letter that you send out to them, telling them to take it down, etc. But don't obsess over it. Because there's no way to get around it. There's always going to be piracy. I mean, even on YouTube, you can find full full versions of some of our movies. And what they'll do is they'll throw it into an editing machine. And then they'll put a red square around it, and then the content ID can't recognize it. That's why they do that, because I actually see a red border or even just two pixels all the way around it. And it's not going to trigger. You know,

Alex Ferrari 13:32
The content, the content. I do. Yeah, because I've actually I've actually gone on YouTube. My daughters have gone on YouTube, and they type in like Finding Nemo. And then I come back later and I'm like, and they're like, why are you watching the entire Finding Nemo movie on YouTube? And I look I'm like, Oh, God, so that makes I was like, how is it? How is it Disney taking this down? Like I you know,

Linda Nelson 13:44
Yeah, there's so many. I mean, the second you can get like even a DVD of your film or a blu ray. All the pirates got to do is play it on their blu ray So you're on their television stick a camera in front of the screen and they can get a really good copy of it

Alex Ferrari 13:54
With a with a good nice with a nice camera absolutely yeah yeah it's

Linda Nelson 13:56
So I mean it's you know and it's always been I mean there's always been piracy with D o 's every you know i mean you go around New York or LA and stores with pile stores you know I've seen them and you know and if they're really sophisticated they'll dump them into Spanish and hit that market or whatever

Alex Ferrari 14:09
It's like a little it's like a little business if you will piracy

Linda Nelson 14:13
A big business right I tried just try to encourage people don't obsess over it because be some some of our filmmakers gets upset about it yeah and just say you know, you have to understand maybe 10% of your businesses you're gonna lose because of that

Alex Ferrari 14:22
It's just it's just it's just yeah there's it's it's like a

Linda Nelson 14:24
Has enough honest people out in the world pay for it if you make it a reasonable price

Alex Ferrari 14:27
Well that's what happened with iTunes in general with music like that's everyone was downloading music for free until iTunes came around and made it accessible easy and affordable like oh buck a song I'll pay a buck a song alright. And and they tried to do it now with movies as well and it's I think helped both industries dramatically. Which brings me to my next question.

Linda Nelson 14:38
Oh, yeah, well say one more thing about the ad base Yes. There are numerous channels that are advertising based like TV TV Are you familiar with TV TV?

Alex Ferrari 14:46
I'm not

Linda Nelson 14:47
Do you are you familiar with Roku?

Alex Ferrari 14:48
Roku I am of course yeah that's Yeah, that's like a little box you buy and there's

Linda Nelson 20:58
A little box it's just like an apple tv except it's got like 3000 channels instead of a couple of 100 so right it's a great deal and a lot of people that are you know have cut the cord like myself or people that have never had cable have Roku boxes there's millions of them out there now and it's filled with I'll bet there's 100 movie channels on there that are advert ad based and like snag or Hulu you get to share in the advertising revenue so so depending on how many views you have, you will get a percentage of the advertising that is placed on your film so Toby TV is a really popular one and so if you go to B TV comm you'll see you know there's a there's the film's Aaron and you know for myself personally I don't like to be interrupted with ads but for people that really don't you know are on a budget and and they don't mind because it's like regular television

Alex Ferrari 22:35
Right old school old school television without the fast forwarding

Linda Nelson 22:40
Well you can fast forward

Alex Ferrari 22:41
Oh you know you can't fast forward through

Linda Nelson 22:43
Oh no, not yet. That's what I mean you can't even change channels during the year

Alex Ferrari 22:48
Of course that of course it's

Linda Nelson 22:50
Just that's it

Alex Ferrari 22:52
You know it's mind blowing to me like how quickly it all changed it's it's it's within the last five years that this this is the whole industry has changed so dramatically and people are it's in many ways is the wild wild west still out there? It's

Linda Nelson 23:07
Definitely still in its infancy

Alex Ferrari 23:08
Nobody knows what like it that's why I wanted to get you on the show because I know a lot of people a lot of filmmakers have no idea what to do with their movies you know I come from a post production background I've been doing it for 20 years and I've delivered I know hundreds of movies and and I've seen been front row to so many of these movies that just go nowhere or they have no idea how to market it or they have no idea

Linda Nelson 23:30
For that now is I believe it's the very best time in history yes independent filmmakers there's so much opportunity even if you are have to do it all yourself you can still do it oh absolutely it's there but you have to work without leaving without leaving your house

Alex Ferrari 23:48
Pretty much pretty often

Linda Nelson 23:49
You have to have you know print a bunch of DVDs and put them in the trunk of your car like people used to do right right a no longer necessary you can do it all from home and not just about being industrious and entrepreneur doing your homework and and learning to be an artist entrepreneur

Alex Ferrari 24:06
Which is what we promote in SAM here that's what we promote because I think a lot of filmmakers just want to be artists or they just want to live the the entourage life as a as as I put it sometimes they just want to be you know they want that oh you make a movie you get into Sundance you when they write you a check and the rest is history. It doesn't happen like that and you and the more and more stuff is out there the more and more you have to become more of that entrepreneur as a filmmaker and really hustle that's why we call ourselves indie film hustle because you have to hustle out there and you can make a living as a film.

Linda Nelson 24:36
Of course you can I mean my partner and I we make a living, making and sharing films we have a production studio that's Nelson Madison films and indie rights is the distribution arm of that studio and exam and it's full time it took us a while to get here.

Alex Ferrari 24:53
Oh no yeah, that's the other thing.

Linda Nelson 24:55
Day jobs for a long time.

Alex Ferrari 24:57
Oh, and trust me, I know this. A lot. A lot of filmmakers don't get that like this is this doesn't happen overnight, it takes it's a long, it's a long play. It's not a short flight. So one question I always get asked, how do you get your film on iTunes? And is it? Is it all that it's cracked up to be? And should you even put it on iTunes?

Linda Nelson 25:16
Well, I will say that iTunes is not our strongest revenue generator. It has huge market share for studio films, or independent films, it's much more difficult to get traction on iTunes. But I have to say the first two places that people ask us about when they come to us to explore distribution is can you get me on iTunes and Netflix,

Alex Ferrari 25:42
Of course.

Linda Nelson 25:44
So I always had to go through that explanation, one about Netflix that I already gave you, and why they don't want to be there, especially the first couple of years. And then I tunes part of the issue with iTunes right now. And hopefully they will correct this is that it is not a true streaming in the sense that you have to download data to your device. And you have to run iTunes software on your device. Okay, that's not true with Amazon, or Google Play, or Netflix. Right? You're not right, right, YouTube. So you know, they're not it's not a cloud based system. So people don't like waiting for stuff to download anymore, people will become very impatient. I mean, God forbid, I mean, five years ago, you had to go to the video store. And actually,

Alex Ferrari 26:35
What is this? What is this? What is this video store? You speak of? I don't, I don't understand what is this thing? What's this concept?

Linda Nelson 26:42
So you know, so we've, we've all become very spoiled. So now iTunes, anybody can get their film on iTunes. If you don't sign up with a distributor, you know, like, indie rights? You can there are some pay paid. Ways To Get on I do there several companies, now you pay them 15 $100. And they will put you on iTunes,

Alex Ferrari 27:09
And you'll never make that 15 $100 back?

Linda Nelson 27:11
Well. It depends on a lot of things. It depends on how much you work your social media with a huge amount of, you know, social media effort. You can, you know, but should

Alex Ferrari 27:26
should, should you have you could go to amazon prime, or you could focus all that energy towards another place.

Linda Nelson 27:31
That's right. I think I think there are more productive places. I mean, we always put our films on iTunes, because people want to be there there is a cachet associated with being on iTunes. But a lot of our films, it's almost impossible to find them on iTunes. You know, because the iTunes has a huge market share when it comes to studio films. Not so with independent film. Everybody wants to be there. But it's really hard to find films there. They don't have good search, right? They don't actually they're horrible, terrible search. So they're so the discoverability is low. So we don't particularly focus on marketing on iTunes.

Alex Ferrari 28:14
If it comes something comes up it comes of it, and then you put it on

Linda Nelson 28:18
Filmmakers or filmmakers that it's really important to, you know, we give them the tools and show them how to market on every platform. But But, but they have to be willing to put in the work. So I mean, you know, I think and here's the other thing, I recommend that I definitely think everybody should put their film on iTunes. I'm not saying don't I think they should all all be. I think that people develop viewing habits. And there are some people that only watch movies on national TV or iTunes. There are some people that only watch on Amazon. I used to only watch movies on VUDU which is Walmart's app, right? But I switched to Amazon at some point. Probably about a year and a half ago or something like that. I love Amazon. It's beautiful. I love it. And then also I use I use m go if I want to watch a brand new movie. And I don't want to go to the theater. m go is great.

Alex Ferrari 29:20
What is m ago I've never heard of them go are you on a computer? I am I will obviously we're recording this.

Linda Nelson 29:28
If you can look at m go.com mg.com m go is up probably a newcomer I will call them still even though they've been live for probably close to two years. Okay. What happened was that the studios, this is my theory of what has happened. The studios woke up one day and they said oh my gosh. The first bite out of all of our revenue is going up north to Silicon Valley. The companies like Netflix and iTunes Should Amazon right? All right, well, why aren't we getting the first bite out of our own films? So the six studios went to DreamWorks and Technicolor, and Technicolor built them a video on demand platform called m go, which is for movies go. Okay, right? Uh huh. And be an all six studios have their films there. Yes. Sometimes they have films that are that are still in the theater. Okay, so there is a premium, but like the people that are willing to stand in long line for the next iPhone, or stand in line for the next new sneaker, there's always people that want to get things first. And so even though they might be a little dazed, they'll stay start out their pricing a little more expensive, because you can't get it anywhere else. But then it goes down to the kind of the same prices as like Amazon, or iTunes, whatever. So, so everything's there, now they decided to partner there's a couple of nice things about that they decided to partner with a couple of independent companies, studios, like ourselves. So indie writes, we have about 30 or 40 Films up there. Okay. And, and on top of that, they are the only one that has a decent 4k library,

Alex Ferrari 31:27
Of course, because they actually, of course, the technology is there, and they own 4k.

Linda Nelson 31:32
So we have five, yeah, five films out on 4k there. Now you have to have a 4k television, Samsung, and then you can rent five of our movies in 4k. The only place right now where we're seeing that

Alex Ferrari 31:49
For at this moment, at this moment.

Linda Nelson 31:52
It's going in that direction, of course, and we certainly recommend every indie filmmaker, to shoot and for shooting master and 4k now. There's no reason not to.

Alex Ferrari 32:03
Except for the post cost.

Linda Nelson 32:06
I mean, we wish okay. Our last feature was called delivered. And it's an action adventure. And it's got some you know, special effects in it. Crime Thriller. We made that movie for $50,000. We mastered it in 4k, we shot Mehsud in 4k at home.

Alex Ferrari 32:29
Okay, of course,

Linda Nelson 32:30
We shot on red. Sure. We beta tested Adobe Premiere when it first came out for them. Okay. And so we were able to do all the special effects everything in Premiere,

Alex Ferrari 32:47
And at a $50,000 budget, you'll it much easier to get your money back.

Linda Nelson 32:52
Yes. So so so it certainly it certainly can can be done. I mean, you know, I think I think what's happened with Final Cut Pro, I mean people that just have abandon it for, you know, either premiere or avid. We happen to like, premiere better, because after effects is totally integrated into the timeline. So there's no in re ingesting composited footage. Right? Right, right. Fabulous. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 33:21
Well, I've what I've started doing is actually I've started cutting on DaVinci. The DaVinci, resolves new, the new version came out with its own editing system incorporated in DaVinci. resolve. And I was like, Oh, this is beautiful. Because now i'm able

Linda Nelson 33:35
For the same reason we use premiere premiere. They're all tools. They're all they are but and premiere is so cheap. Yeah, exactly. Okay, for 2995 a month, you have all the tools you need.

Alex Ferrari 33:49
It's amazing. It's pretty remarkable, right? That emco thing is pretty, pretty cool. I've never even heard of that before. So I'll go

Linda Nelson 33:56
And go, Oh, you know, it's an app. on mobile. It's a mat an app on it. Actually, Mo is the default Movie Channel on Roku.

Alex Ferrari 34:07
That's fascinating. And there are some movies that are in the theater still. I mean, I think eventually, it gets us off the thought this isn't off topic. Yeah, this is off topic. But do you actually think that in the future, we're going to that the studio's want to get away from theatrical, and certainly they want to get that window close closer and closer to like a month, as we've seen, do you think in the future, there's going to be a point where going to the theater will just be much more of an issue, because something you can't get at home, you can't get IMAX at home, you'll never be able to get IMAX at home, or maybe that big, but it's going to be more event films and it's just going to be like slowly, just be going more and more VOD and more almost like a week windows two week windows sometimes.

Linda Nelson 34:48
I think it's already there. Really? Sure. How do you know do you know how few movies make it to the theater wide release?

Alex Ferrari 34:56
You know, it's almost impossible. Yeah.

Linda Nelson 34:58
So To me, in the world of independent film, we're already there. Got you a couple of 100 movies a year, getting the theater. That's it, if you're lucky, if you're lucky in that and that's it and, and and the rest. You know, there's 1000s made every year

Alex Ferrari 35:16
1000s 10s of 1000s

Linda Nelson 35:20
I mean if somebody if Sundance gets 11,000 app you know submissions there no it's like

Alex Ferrari 35:27
You know it's a match so that's only Sundance so then add probably another 10,000 on top of that, and they and they all and they all star percentage and they all star Eric Roberts

Linda Nelson 35:39
Well, we just we just got an aircraft.

Alex Ferrari 35:41
I'm sure they're everywhere.

Linda Nelson 35:44
He likes to work.

Alex Ferrari 35:45
I he does I worked on I just I have three features I just finished with Eric. That's why I'm making that.

Linda Nelson 35:51
Oh, yes, we just were putting one out for Halloween while it's already up on Google Play called Halloween hell.

Alex Ferrari 35:58
Oh, cool.

Linda Nelson 35:59
Nice Dracula.

Alex Ferrari 36:00
Oh, that must be fun. It's fun. It must be fun. So let me ask you a question. Do you still think filmmakers should attempt to sell physical DVDs and blu rays as part of that? Yeah, absolutely.

Linda Nelson 36:10
Absolutely. We, we offer physical DVD, retail DVD to select films that we are distributing? I mean, there, you know, I think some are, are better suited for DVD than others. But absolutely, we are we see DVD sales comparable to

Alex Ferrari 36:34
Amazon sales. Okay. So it's all it's all case by case

Linda Nelson 36:38
It is. And so like what I was speaking about with, you know, platforms in your original question about iTunes, people go on iTunes, and my response about viewing patterns. People get into a habit, right? And you know, what you want your film everywhere where people might want to watch it. And whether that's a VOD platform, or or physical, DVD or Blu ray or something, you know, right, or Blu ray. And, you know, so you definitely, you want to get your film out to as many possible places where there's a good chance that people are going to view now that, that being said, there's probably 250 VOD retail stores, and we only do the top 10. Because that's where all the traffic is, of course, you know, so I mean, we don't recommend you're doing all of those, I mean, doesn't make any sense. You know, so

Alex Ferrari 37:35
You can't market you can't market to all of those, right?

Linda Nelson 37:37
You can't market to all of them. And and the percentage that you would get off of the really small ones is it's not worth putting the effort in. Because the delivery process is arduous. I don't have to tell you.

Alex Ferrari 37:51
I'm gonna ask you a question about deliverables a little bit later.

Linda Nelson 37:54
I'll do the things that I want to make sure. deliverables, QC are starting your social media early.

Alex Ferrari 38:01
Okay. We'll talk about that a second. Because I have it that was a very, I wanted to I wanted to get a distributors point of view, because I've been preaching about deliverables forever. But now I have a filmmaker. I have a personal for my good friend of mine, who won Sundance a few years ago with her film, and she's now going to be releasing a new film coming up. And what her plan is, is to do VH x and video on demand and sell directly to her audience. Now, obviously, she has cachet from Sundance, a very bad idea. Tell me Tell me why she did her first point was going to do that. And then try to do you know, traditional VOD and things like that in at the same time, but at least the sell directly. Right. So Tommy,

Linda Nelson 38:47
It's it? And I'll tell you why. It's a bad idea. One, like I said, if she does, like Amazon on her own.

Alex Ferrari 38:59
No, it wouldn't be fair. No, the only thing the only platform she would do my checks VHS and video of Vimeo Vimeo on Vimeo. Yeah, that's it all the other platforms, she would still leave open. And she wouldn't do anything else by herself. But VHS specifically because of the ability to package hats and T shirts and exclusive content and things like that to make that $10 sale turn into $100 sale because her community has. She has a large social media team

Linda Nelson 39:23
If you want if you want to know if a platform is a good place to put your film. You should use a site called compete comm and put in the name of the site. And you will see how many monthly unique eyeballs go to that site. Or you can make a choice of going to a site that has 100,000 a month or a billion which would Where do you want your film? Right? It's not a hard question. It And I'll have you on, let me see if I can send you a link. Right? Alright, hold on just a second. There. We're very excited about Vimeo we have a new Vimeo channel, okay. And part of why we're, we're excited about it for a number of reasons. One is that it is global. Okay. And, and I think that's really important, you want to be able to have your film available globally, right. It's not important for all films, but a lot of films, you know, can do really well in in a global or international setting. And there's a right time to do that. What you don't want to do is do that early, because then you might really damage your ability to work in foreign sales. For example, we're going to AFM, of course have our office for the first time, okay, usually we just go there and try to sell but this year, we decided

Alex Ferrari 41:11
Oh, you got an office fantastic. got enough. I'm hoping I'm hoping to be there. Hopefully, we can catch a coffee.

Linda Nelson 41:17
And having an office is important, because you get the buyers list and you make while you're set up all your appointments ahead of time, of course, you can't get at the buyers list without having an office. So that that's was a huge step for us, you know, to finally make that jump. But when you have international buyers, and they come to you and they're interested in their film and your film, and they find out that you're you're already selling it on Vimeo, in Germany, they're not gonna they're not gonna go for, they want all rights. Most foreign deals are all rights deals. Okay, so you have to be really careful with that. So if you exploit that too early, you could really damage your ability for international sales. For that, that's that's one reason for

Alex Ferrari 42:04
Like Vimeo on demand. Yeah, Vimeo.

Linda Nelson 42:07
Okay, so so. So, if you did do it, you should limit it. But it's up, but yeah, but um, the second problem is that those sites, you must drive all the business correct. All right. And the pool of people that you're driving to is tiny, miniscule in comparison with the traffic that's on iTunes, and Google and Amazon and Amazon, just miniscule. And, but but it is important so that you do have that foreign option. And what's nice about it, and I like very much about Vimeo is that you can geo block easily with a chicken, just one checkbox, you can turn off a country goddess, so so it's possible that you can salvage that situation for foreign sales, you could say, Okay, well, we'll stop selling. And if it's early enough in the game, then then that still works. I think that they're great adjunct sites to do. But I think if you're going to put all your effort into driving sales to those sites, you're going to get burnout. so that by the time you do the big sites, you know, are you going to have any energy left? I mean, yeah, it's all about Yeah, yeah, you know, and then then you're going to get nowhere. Because because you really, if you put the effort into like Amazon, and the end the big sites, you're going to, you're going to have a really good chance at sales, but you're not going to not if it's a year down the line. Right. So and, and, and you won't get the physical DVD with that. Got it. All right. So I just really think it's a matter of opportunity, your opportunity for revenue is tiny on those sites, absolutely tiny, and it's gonna take a lot of effort to drive, drive sales to them.

Alex Ferrari 44:04
It's a case by case basis at that point. And also, if you want it again, how much energy are you willing to put in? Right? And it's a lot easier to drive people to Amazon, everyone knows it's easier. It's quicker VH x, you know, to drive people to that site to try to buy your product. It's gonna it's a tougher sell, but could be lucrative. It all depends on it.

Linda Nelson 44:25
Can I just Vimeo channel Yep, I got it. And now we're, we've worked very hard with Vimeo to create a channel. And there are very few companies that have this. I think there's only like three or four that have a channel like this. And I think slam dance has won South by Southwest and Sundance.

Alex Ferrari 44:52
So your company and Scylla scope. That's right, you're in good company.

Linda Nelson 44:56
So I think because we're going to mark we're We're gonna market this channel. If you're on this channel, you're going to have a better chance.

Alex Ferrari 45:05
Of course, yeah. Because your

Linda Nelson 45:07
Film scene, right, and it's beautiful.

Alex Ferrari 45:12
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. No, I'm looking at it is gorgeous. I'll put it in the show notes. So everybody could go and check it out.

Linda Nelson 45:27
Okay, yeah. And so so um, you know, we're, we're really excited about this. And Vimeo, I think, finally realize that just working with individual filmmakers was not going to bring enough because they have to depend on on individual filmmakers to market their films. And that's just craziness. Right? So they've decided to start working with select distributors. Perfect. That makes it perfect. Oh, so Indy writes, you know, is very thrilled.

Alex Ferrari 45:59
It looks it looks gorgeous. It looks gorgeous. And again, it's at the end of the day is getting eyeballs on films.

Linda Nelson 46:04
It is and and and you know, it's a, you know, they've done a really beautiful job of it. And, and so we're we haven't officially launched it yet, but we're going to be launching it as part of our promotion for ASM. Okay, because it's a great place for all of the buyers to watch all the trailers.

Alex Ferrari 46:28
Perfect. Yeah, you're right. It's global. Yep, you're right there and just go to it. Alright, so things have changed so much.

Linda Nelson 46:37
You know, so this is, you know, that's our plan.

Alex Ferrari 46:40
I remember when I was I was mailing out demo reels on three quarter inch. Because nobody wanted to watch it on VHS.

Linda Nelson 46:47
It's so expensive.

Alex Ferrari 46:49
Oh, God, the costs are expensive. And now the cost is almost nothing. It's just time. It's about time and internet connection time. So, a couple more questions. What is the most effective marketing plan an indie filmmaker should use if they have a small budget like Facebook or Google ads? Or what would you suggest?

Linda Nelson 47:11
Well, if you have zero budget, social media, right? And, and it's, it is a synergistic combination of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and possibly Instagram. But if you effectively use those for in concert, you can do it for free, you can get it set up so that you don't doesn't take a lot of time, all of them can be scheduled. You know, so, you know, it wants it takes a little while to get everything all set up and working well. But once you do, then you could do it one, or you can do it like one afternoon a week. You know, and if you spent years you know, I you know, pouring your heart and soul into a movie, that's the least you can do is one afternoon a week, right? should be doing it every day, one evening a week, or half a Saturday or half a Sunday, you know you need to it's like you know, like you're you know, I always compare it to you know, having a child because our movies are like our children in some ways. They you know, you go through this pregnancy, and then you go through the birth, which is your release, and then a lot of filmmakers just like ignore their child they neglect their child you have to nurture your your movie just like it was a child and you have to you know, you have to take really good care of it and raise it and and then it it'll be something for you to be proud of that the world can see. The other thing

Alex Ferrari 48:49
A lot of filmmakers think it the process is over when you win, when you lock the cut, and it's up, but not anymore. You that's just like probably 50% of it. And then then you continue to market and push for another six months to a year.

Linda Nelson 49:04
Yeah, even even you know, I think even more do I mean and the time that you spend on it will decrease but but the better job you do early on more attraction it gets send you the less you have to do down the line. Right, exactly. But but we have films that are 20 years old that are making money.

Alex Ferrari 49:23
If it's good content, it's good content, right, the bottom line. Now can you touch upon split rights for a film, I know that that's a term that's been used specifically now in the VOD, and digital rights arena where a filmmaker might have the rights to sell their their movie on their own website per se, like this avh X. But then they give all the rights to everything else outside of that. Can you touch a little bit? No,

Linda Nelson 49:46
We don't. We don't have a problem with that our. Our contract is actually we still consider it a non exclusive contract. However, we do require that you give us the top 10 platforms. Got it. Dan, if you want to do 20 other smaller sites, you know, that's fine.

Alex Ferrari 50:03
Or if you want to push VH x or or do whatever you want,

Linda Nelson 50:06
Here's the thing you can you can you on your website, you could do VH x or, or Vimeo, but then again, you still got to drive the business, of course. Right. So maybe you're better off to embed

Alex Ferrari 50:23
Google Play, right, or Amazon

Linda Nelson 50:26
Or Amazon and use their embeddable. So you might be better off to do that. Right? Yeah, I make more money doing that. We have people selling our movies as affiliates.

Alex Ferrari 50:40
Yeah. That's a whole other conversation. Yeah, right. Yeah.

Linda Nelson 50:44
And they're making money for us. Right?

Alex Ferrari 50:46
Exactly. Yeah, they'll they'll put it on their site, and they get a percentage. And, yeah, it's just got it. The more I talk to you, the smarter realize how much things.

Linda Nelson 50:57
And the thing is, that doesn't cost. Nothing it does, it doesn't come out of our pocket that comes out of Amazon's pack, they pay that. So which is fantastic. So so you know, so it's, we don't mind if people do that. Also, if someone comes up with a broadcast deal on their own, we don't take a percentage of that we don't. We were filmmakers first. Got it. We started making movies. And when we when we found out how bad most of the distribution deals law, charted indie rights, because we didn't want to give our films away.

Alex Ferrari 51:33
And hope and hope to get money one day, maybe.

Linda Nelson 51:36
And so so we started indie rights in 2006. And we started it with a bunch of filmmakers that were on the festival circuit with us.

Alex Ferrari 51:46
Like, hey, let's just put something else

Linda Nelson 51:48
Yeah, let's all band together, you know, and and it just grew from there, you know. And so it's, you know, I mean, we're filmmakers first, we're very conscious of, you know, what filmmakers want to do. And so we try to be as fair as we can sit not require any digital platforms. But we found that people were going and doing Amazon on their own. And then they would that messes up us being able to do it, and then it's not even an HD are able to go on prime. So we we changed our contract slightly just to say that we do need these 10 platforms. Got it. So so you know, Vimeo is not on there, by the way. And part of the thing with that is that Vimeo, will allow multiple people to have movies video on demand, although I would assume that that may change at some point.

Alex Ferrari 52:47
Yeah. So in other words, if you can have it on indie rights, that I could sell it on the side. It's kind of weird, though. I mean, it would be a bit more censorship right now. Well, one thing

Linda Nelson 52:56
Yeah, I think it I think it probably makes more sense to be on a channel if they start marketing these channels. Right? So I mean, if you go to vimeo.com, slash on demand, and click on discover, you'll you see, you know, the ones that are there, although that's not where the traffic comes from. You know, you still have to drive the traffic for this indie right, this site that you saw there, and then we have to drive that traffic.

Alex Ferrari 53:21
Well, one thing I was talking about that other filmmaker, the one that won Sundance, she actually tells me that she has the digital rights for it. So she had it on Vimeo and she's like, I make a check every month off of it, people find VHS, no, you have to actually push there. But on Vimeo, there's so many filmmakers they're looking for and film fans looking for material that she at least with her case, she found that it's easier. People just discover her on Vimeo a lot easier than other platforms.

Linda Nelson 53:49
But it all depends how much she's making.

Alex Ferrari 53:51

Linda Nelson 53:53
Making 20 dollars a month.

Alex Ferrari 53:55
Hey, hey, it's not so much not so much. Exactly. So, um, two more questions. One you wanted to talk about that new VOD platform at the beginning of the show you were talking about that you just started like started a week ago. What was the name of that one? You don't remember if something you just saying at the beginning of the show. You're like, Oh, we got I want to talk about this. This the the new VOD platform that opened up a week ago.

Linda Nelson 54:19
I last week, I said that

Alex Ferrari 54:22
You don't remember. Okay. Um, or something that opened up a week ago. I forgot what it was a marketing something or other that was opening the marketing or distributor. Don't worry about it. I'll edit this out. Can you please go?

Linda Nelson 54:37
I mean, maybe I was talking about Vimeo because,

Alex Ferrari 54:40
No, it wasn't. It was a new It was a new something. But anyway, don't worry about it.

Linda Nelson 54:44
M go is pretty new,

Alex Ferrari 54:47
You know what, I'll go back and listen to it and I'll email you just just for our own clarification, but I'll cut it out the word. So Linda, can you please this talk about the wonderful Have deliverables and specifically as well QC and what that means,

Linda Nelson 55:05
Okay Well, it's kind of a broad topic, but absolutely critical to the success of your movie, and something that you need to be thinking about before you shoot one frame at a time, and we have, we have about close to 350 films in our library now. And I have to tell you, half of them fail preliminary to see that's pretty good, excellent. And it is it's gotten, it's gotten better and better. But, um, we do a preliminary QC here. And then of those ones that pass the preliminary QC that we do once we send them to iTunes who has a very arduous you know, QC program, probably another 50% of those will again not pass that QC it needs some kind of adjustment. So So I think the most important thing to know is that you should have some idea what deliverables are expected from you before you start shooting your film so that as you shoot it as you edit it, you can edit it in such a way that you will be able to deliver what's required and and so, you know, I mean, we were actually thinking about publishing on our site, our deliverables lists so that people can get a better idea that would be what it says because I'll tell you half of the films that we get if they have been edited on Final Cut Pro come to us as dual mono instead of true stereo because the default is not to have stereo pair and we specifically in red type on our deliverable list mentioned this and show you a picture of what the waveforms look like yet still half the films we get our dual mono and no platform will take that so when you when it's and that's that luckily that's something that you as long as you still have your film and can it's on an editing timeline you can render it out in the proper way. But it's very time consuming. You can lose two or three months because about your release date just because of that.

Alex Ferrari 57:47
No I know I've like I said I've delivered I've delivered a ton of movies and I mean before used to be like 15 or $20,000 between just you know HD cam HD SSRS DCP now and then I was doing betas and Digi betas up until last year Believe it or not

Linda Nelson 58:04
Yeah yeah no I know it's like amazing

Alex Ferrari 58:08
It's insanity but nowadays with digital deliverables I mean you just need a good pro rez for to to HQ

Linda Nelson 58:16
Yeah, that's what we use for 4k or not for 2k Okay, oh yeah you know just for just for regular standard HD on like Amazon and all that that's that's plenty if you want to be 4k then you know, I mean there's a new UI HD format spec that we have for 4k films. And but other things that people maybe aren't so familiar with is that it is if you are doing us distribution you must have closed captions and yeah, that's awesome. Captions used to be very expensive you could easily pay 1500 bucks to have a post production house do it oh then the price kind of went down to 800 when it got more more competitive and then 400 and we have for the past year and a half been using a company called rev comm who does it for a buck a minute and they do a fabulous job.

Alex Ferrari 59:10
Wow, that's not many I've heard

Linda Nelson 59:12
Of that. There are $100 and they do a great job and if there's a problem with it, they'll fix it.

Alex Ferrari 59:17
That's That's great. That's actually I'm gonna actually use those guys

Linda Nelson 59:22
So so that's a you know, that's a requirement we have to have it. Most people think that captions are the same as subtitles they are not okay, subtitles do not contain ambient or atmospheric sounds like for example, because captions if a door slams and that's significant to the story you must say in their door slams because captions are for the Deaf. So a phone ringing a door slamming a siren. Those are things that must be in there that would not be in there just for subtitles.

Alex Ferrari 59:57
What was the name of the airline? What was the name of the company again?

Linda Nelson 1:00:00
rev.com rev.com

Alex Ferrari 1:00:03
And they do multiple languages as well.

Linda Nelson 1:00:05
Well they are just getting into the subtitle biz or the the foreign subtitle business and that's more expensive

Alex Ferrari 1:00:12
Of course of course okay

Linda Nelson 1:00:15
So they're great for that so that's that's the number two issue we have if you plan on selling your film foreign you must make separate tracks for dialogue and of course Yeah, and I can tell you this is especially true for small low budget films you get your noise in and dialogue in the same same track Oh, I know you're done yeah. You must isolate your dialogue

Alex Ferrari 1:00:47
And then let's not even talk about five one and a lot of times that whole process as a whole

Linda Nelson 1:00:52
That's difficult because and then probably the rest of the you know what we do now because people have such a hard time with 5.1 is we asked for to progress one with stereo embedded and one with 5.1 embedded if you have 5.1 right because it's really hard to get the 5.1 very few people I can tell you out of 300 Films probably maybe 10 or 10 to 20 have actually mapped the 5.1 correctly so on the first on the first cracks no no I know it's very difficult

Alex Ferrari 1:01:29
It is it unless you hire someone that knows if you

Linda Nelson 1:01:33
Want 5.1 We definitely advise you using a post house

Alex Ferrari 1:01:36
Yeah, or some or post supervisor.

Linda Nelson 1:01:39
Exactly. So so it's you know so that's that's that's really really important. Then there are some other things you cannot people that are used to selling to broadcast filmmakers. They're used to putting color tone color bars and tones on their films. It's strictly prohibited for digital platforms the pro res file that we get cannot have any color cop color bars or tones on the front

Alex Ferrari 1:02:08
But you do slates right of course.

Linda Nelson 1:02:11
You mean production bumper

Alex Ferrari 1:02:13
No just a slate like you know what? No slates either

Linda Nelson 1:02:16
Oh nothing interesting the movie should just start at the end and it can start with your production company

Alex Ferrari 1:02:22
Of course yeah of course of course yeah

Linda Nelson 1:02:23
No nothing on the front okay. Has nothing It should have just a few frames of black on either end

Alex Ferrari 1:02:30
And then information on where all the tracks lead and things like that if there's multiple tracks like I guess not on the video but on the side

Linda Nelson 1:02:37
No, no, no, no, it's you have to map it to our spec.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:41
Oh then that There you go.

Linda Nelson 1:02:42
So then you'll know we're there. Ah, there we have you do eight tracks left toward the left and right stereo.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:48
Got it? Got it. So let me ask you What do filmmakers need to do to submit their films to you?

Linda Nelson 1:02:54
Oh, we have a forum on Facebook.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:56
Okay, simple as that

Linda Nelson 1:02:58
It's very very simple you go to indie writes movies there's a tab that says distribution and then it says submit your film here and you click on here and you'll get a form and you know it's it's that easy and

Alex Ferrari 1:03:13
And where can and where can everyone find you find information about indie rights things like that.

Linda Nelson 1:03:18
You can go to indie writes calm Nelson Masson films calm or you could on you can go to Facebook. But if you just go on Google and you put in indie writer Nelson Madison films we take up the the first five pages if somebody can't find us they got a problem.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:38
I always find that fascinating. I always find that like I couldn't find your mic. Do you not have Google

Linda Nelson 1:03:45
Just put in Nelson Madison films and and if you put in that then it'll take you wherever you need to go.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:52
And so this is the last question is I asked all my guests that come on the show it's a very difficult question. So prepare yourself. What are your top three favorite films of all time?

Linda Nelson 1:04:02
Oh my god. It does.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:04
It can be anything that tickles your fancy at this moment in time because I know that's a really tough question love.

Linda Nelson 1:04:09
We love crime thrillers. Okay. So any of Michael Mann's great we love it. Yeah, you like like True Romance. That type of film. We love. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:26
Oh yeah. Sergio Leone. Absolutely.

Linda Nelson 1:04:29
And of course, we like big films like Apocalypse Now. Blade Runner is one of our favorites. And you know, so we love really, we like big movies. Of course, Blade Runner. And the thing is you can make a big movie and I think it's a big mistake that a lot of first time filmmakers make they think they have to have three people on a couch in an apartment. You know, it's not true. Not $50,000 film we made had had a cast of about 30 and 22 locations and you know, what did you shoot? What did you shoot that by though, oh my gosh all over downtown LA and shot it all LA, all around la out by Palmdale we shot quite a bit of it. And we actually were able to rent this little six room motel for a couple of days to do all of the stuff out there and, you know, everybody slept there and we had all of our equipment there and everything and we shot on red and 4k. And, and using social media was critical to doing that. And we didn't talk much about that. But it's something you better have a Facebook page come day, one of the idea of exactly Okay, not not in production even before then when we like for our next film, the day, we made the first page of the script, and that was our profile picture to start to put it up on Facebook. Because we use social media to help produce efficiently we, we put up descriptions of all the locations we needed. And we told people if you can get us a location for free, put a picture of it up here we gave the descriptions of it. We didn't pay for any of our we had we had sites that charge the studio's $15,000 a day for free. Nice, hey, and then we said you'll get a you get a location scout credit on the back of the film. And that and we did that. That's great. You know, so I mean, just things like that. We did a lot of auditions. We had put upsides for parts. And we had people prepare their own video audition and upload it. Looking at that stuff.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:44
Oh, yeah, of course, the inner workings.

Linda Nelson 1:06:46
No, so you save the cost of you know, like, you know, having casting office.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:52
So you so you cast it, so you cast it everything online,

Linda Nelson 1:06:54
Not everything, but a good portion of it.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:58
Oh, my God, that's accessible. Yeah, it's like thinking outside the box is what you have to do. And that's what a lot of,

Linda Nelson 1:07:04
Believe me, those people are Uber fans. All of the people that you engage during production feel like they are a part of your movie, and they will share your movie with all their friends. Mm hmm. And hopefully, that's something you cannot get after the movies done.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:20
Right! It's harder to build up that momentum. Yeah, that's much harder to build up on that. That's why I didn't we didn't touch this either the crowdfunding thing, but a lot of people go to crowdfunding, and they're like, I just put it up on Kickstarter, but I only made 20 bucks. I'm like, because you have no following you have,

Linda Nelson 1:07:34
I would say you need at least 10 15,000 people ready to go at launch day. If you want a really successful, you know, not if you're only raising like $5,000 No, but I mean, if you want to, you know, raise $100,000 you need you need a bunch of pee, you need a good size audience ahead of time. You can you can get that on by having the page on Facebook and getting as much put together and elements attached as you can early on.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:04
And that's what I think is separating filmmakers. Now as much as much as talent is separating it now because it's so much in quality. It's now who's willing to do the work, who's willing to go out there and hustle that that that get the fan pages up, do all that kind of work. And that's separating people from other filmmakers who just oh, I just wanted to make a movie.

Linda Nelson 1:08:24
And it really factors into our decision on what films we're going to take for distribution I have to tell you why it's so important because what happens is we have a form that you fill in when and then you have to send us a blu ray or DVD screener because we want to watch it the way people are going to walk most people are going to watch it, though we watch it on a nice big flat panel TV. And but in in the information that we asked you for we have a you know quite a extensive form that you have to fill things that that are important. And this is also true when you're trying to get in film festivals. One who's in your film, and just because there's nobody in there, that's all right. To what festivals Have you been in. And it doesn't have to be Sundance or slam dance but we have to see see that you've made an effort to even get it in regional. Sure. So if you if you will come to us and you have no Facebook page, and you're done and no and no festivals, you know, we can see that you're not ready to make the effort that's required. Right? Right. And I don't care how good the film is. It will just disappear into a black hole. Absolutely. Absolutely. So so we those things are important. How many fans do you have on Facebook? It's It's It's important.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:41
It's extremely important. It's extremely important. Linda, I won't take up any more your time. Thank you so so much for being on the show. You laid out so many gold information bombs. On on this on this podcast. I think my audience got a lot out of it. Thank you so, so much

Linda Nelson 1:10:00
You're very welcome. And the more the more they know, you know, the easier Our job is, and the more successful our films gonna be. So we're very happy to share as much information as we can. Thanks again, Linda, thanks for the opportunity.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:14
Hope you guys like that episode man. It was a very eye opening episode. For me, Linda really threw out a lot of gold nuggets and a lot of information about VOD, that I didn't have any idea about before. So I really want to thank her a lot for what for the information she gave us so if you have any questions for her, please head over to indie film rights, or Nelson Madison films.com and get information about her and what her company does. Also, don't forget to head over to film festival tips. com that's Film Festival tips.com where I show you my six secrets to get into film festivals for either cheap or free and helped me get into over 500 Film Festivals myself So guys, thanks again for all the love and all the downloads and all the great comments we've been getting about the show. I really feel like I'm connecting with you guys and giving you guys a lot of great content so please email me or message me on Facebook or tweet me or any other way you can communicate with me. any topics you want me to cover any buddy you want me to try to get on the show any information that you want me to get to you. I'm open to any ideas I really am here to help you guys and give you as much content as humanly possible. Alright, and again if you do love the show, please do me a favor, head over to iTunes and give us an honest review about what you think of the show. It really helps us out a lot and rankings in iTunes. So thanks again guys. And don't forget, keep your dream alive. Keep on hustling. Talk to you soon.




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IFH 016: Getting Attention from Influencers – Roger Ebert Story

I always get asked by indie filmmakers:

“How do I get attention for my indie film?”

This is one of the major challenges facing indie filmmakers/entrepreneurs in today’s noisy independent film landscape. One fast way is to get an “influencer” to focus a little light on you or your project.

Now, this is much easier said than done. When I promote my projects I approach every online indie film influencer I can.

This includes indie film sites, niche sites (around your subject matter), industry news outlets, film magazines, movie fan websites, film festivals, podcasters, conventions, and movie reviewers.

This is how my films have been covered by over 300 international film websites, magazines, and news outlets. I was even featured in the best selling indie filmmaking book “Making Short Films: The Complete Guide from Script to Screen.”

I put my films and myself out there to be seen and consumed. I had many offers, meetings with Hollywood “players” and opportunities purely because I shouted from the top of the mountain about my projects.

BROKEN is essentially a demonstration of the mastery of horror imagery and techniques. Effective and professional.” – Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times)

The number one question I get asked is:

“How the hell did you get Roger Ebert to review your little short film?”

In this podcast, I tell the story of how the legendary film critic Roger Ebert was so amazingly kind to a young filmmaker and my short film BROKEN (Watch it on Indie Film Hustle TV).

For those of you who are not familiar with Roger Ebert’s work, he was arguably the most famous and powerful American film critic during his lifetime. For decades filmmakers prayed for his famous “thumbs up” and feared his “thumbs down.”

He recently passed away but if you want to learn who this remarkable man was I would suggest you watch this amazing documentary on his life “Life Itself.” Check out the trailer below.

As the above trailer states:

“Roger Ebert gave life to new voices and gave life to new visions that reflected all the diversity of this nation”.

There will truly never be another Roger Ebert.

I want to use this story as a way to teach independent filmmakers two things:

  1. Put yourself in a place or arena that better your odds of accessing influencers and gatekeepers.
  2. Be ready when the opportunity presents itself.

My story is as much to do with luck as it does with being prepared. Luck and preparation are bedfellows on your journey as an indie filmmaker, as many successful filmmakers will tell you.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Today, we have a fun show. It's a show that I get a question I get asked a ton about. But before we talk, head on over to free film book.com that's free film book calm, and get your free audio book, choose from over 40,000 different books and download it for free. So today's topic is in the question I get asked a ton. And I've been asked this question ever since it happened. How in god's green earth did you get Roger Ebert to review your short film broken. And it is a fun story. And I wanted to give you a story. So you understand it. Also, there's a lesson involved with this story. So all of you are probably aware of my film broken that we shot for 1000 bucks. And you know, it was 20 minutes long had 100 visual effects shots on and so forth. And we got a lot of attention for it. And one of the we actually garnered some attention by a film producer slash distributor, international distributor, who wanted to talk to us about my partner and I at the time, about broken the feature and so on. So they flew us up to the Toronto Film Festival. And at that point, we already have the DVD in the DVD was selling and we'd probably had it out well, we launched it in June. So November sometime, I think is when we were November, September, I think is when Toronto was in September, October sometime. Anyway, so we went to the festival. And the distributor gave us a couple tickets to one of the screening movies that were screening that day. So we went in to watch the movie and my partner at the time looked up and said, Hey, man, there's there's Roger Ebert. And I'm like, well, let's let's go meet him. And this is before the movie starts. So Roger was sitting in the back, and God rest his soul. We do miss Roger and his voice. And I'll talk more about Roger at the end of this thing. So Roger, we went up to Roger, and, you know, we were like two little girls at a Justin Bieber concert. It was just like, oh my god, Roger. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. And Roger was so just gracious. And you know, and he's like, Look, man, I love you. I'm glad you got to talking to me and everything, but I can't watch your movie. And we're like, I mean, I told them like, of course, you know, like, that was the last thing on my mind. I was never even conceiving the idea that Roger Ebert would watch my little movie that I shot in Florida with no actors, and no one wasn't even in the in, in the theater for guy wasn't even in the festival, for God's sake. Like, why would he take the time out to do anything like that. But the one thing I did do is I kept talking, I kept talking to him and explaining everything about my movie. And like, you know, we shout out for 1000 bucks a shout out on a digital camera. I mean, a shout out on mini DV, and we've been selling on DVD. And I just kept talking to talking. And as that conversation kept going, Rogers head tilted. And he said, Do you mind if I take a picture of you? And then all I said in my mind was, Oh, cool. Now I can finally ask to take a picture with him because I wasn't going to be that guy. So he took a picture. You know, he took a picture of me and I'm like, Roger, can you know? Can I take a picture with you? Yes, sure. No problem. And then he just starts writing down everything. We're saying he's like $1,000 movie mini DV law broken or named everything and then he's, he's like, you know, this will make a nice little blurb for my, my blog. And we're like, I told them, like, what would you like to see, you know, would you like a copy of the DVD, he's like, sure. And I had a copy of the DVD in my back pocket. Now this is a lesson that I want everyone to take with this story. It's a fun story. It's a great little story, and I'll tell you how it ends in a second. But if I wouldn't have had the DVD in my pocket, a full blown you know, full full release DVD in my pocket. I would have never gotten any kind of review or anything from Roger Ebert. The lesson to take away from this is always be prepared. I mean, be the boy scout if you will. If you're being put in a scenario I mean, you can't be walking around all of life with you know, your demo reel with you at all times, though that would be nice. And nowadays, you can can do that with your iPhone. But if you didn't have the movie at the time to hand him not to watch there because he wasn't going to sit there for 20 minutes and watch our movie. He, I would have lost that opportunity. So if you're put in a place like a film festival, Like a mixer, like a place where these these kind of influencers are at, then you always should be prepared. Always have something not a business card. Not enough. If you have a movie, if a situation presents itself, don't be pushy, don't try to jam it in their face. We had built a relationship up within those few minutes that we talked to the point where he wanted something from us once he wanted something from us. Then we reciprocated like, Hey, would you like this to help your blog? And he said, Yes. So anyway, so we gave him the DVD, we sat down, watch the rest of the movie, rest of the rest of the, the the movie, the rest of the trip was fine. And we flew back home by the time we flew back home the next day, when we landed, we had had people emailing us and calling us and oh my god, Roger Ebert just reviewed your movie on his blog. And I was like, What? So I ran in there, I ran to a computer. Because there were no smartphones at the time. And I looked it up, I'm like, Oh my god, he watched the movie. And there was a picture of us, me and my partner. And we were like, Oh, my God. And he basically made it a story about independent film makers using new digital technology to tell their stories. And we were the focus of that article. And then he said, and I happen to watch the movie. And he gave us two lines that I will never forget. It is a broken is essentially he said broken is essentially a mastery of horror imagery and technique, effective and professional looking forward to seeing broken the feature. And I could not be more over the over the moon over this review. I mean, this is a God, you know, he's a film God. But you know, Roger Ebert was one of those guys, he was the film critic in all of the United States, arguably the world, but his influence in the United States was massive, he was the guy, you know. So for him to come down, first of all, to take the time to watch our movie, then to give us a critique about it. That's how much he loved filmmakers and loved movies. He didn't have to be nice, he didn't even have to talk to us, let alone write us a little review, and make us a focus of one of his little articles on his blog. But by doing that, it changed the course of my life. Because when I had Roger Ebert's endorsement, many doors opened up for for the movie. For myself, to this point, to this day, I'm talking about this story right now. And it's been 10 years since that happened. People still ask me how it happened, because it's something that he never did. It was just a moment in time that happened. And it was my lottery ticket, my small lottery ticket wasn't the you know, I didn't win I didn't went to the Super Bowl jackpot. But I, I definitely won something when he did that for me. So moving forward, the the exposure that that got was massive. I put Rogers quote on every bit of material we can, because it has so much weight behind it. So it helped me promote myself as a director helped me promote myself, my movies, it just added a level of credibility to me as a filmmaker that the other filmmakers would kill for myself included. So it was one of those moments in time, but I had, I was prepared. And that's what I want you guys to take away from this story is you have to be prepared for when lightning strike, when that opportunity that door opens, you have to be ready. Because once it's gone, it's gone. If I wouldn't have had that DVD with me that day, with all this behind the scenes stuff, and all this stuff that things that I've packaged the DVD it looked professional, if I wouldn't have had that that day, that opportunity would have been lost for ever. It would have never come back, I would have never been able to get that opportunity back. It was that moment in time that you just have to be ready. And that's, that's what I want you guys to take away. Always be ready to take advantage of that opportunity when it comes. So I hope that helps you guys a little bit. I hope it was an entertaining story. It was a it's been life altering to me. And another thing about Roger is, once Roger passed, he a lot of stories came out about him being so nice and generous to filmmakers. And I was one of those stories that got pushed around Facebook a bit when he passed. And he was he was such a gracious man that I will never ever forget the kindness that he gave me. And it's one of the reasons why I do indie film hustle today is I want to give back want to help the next generation coming up behind me To be better filmmakers to survive as artists, and Roger was an artist, as a writer. He wasn't a filmmaker. But he respected and loved filmmakers. And his art was his criticism of film, and how he wrote it. That he got a Pulitzer Prize, the only film critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. And he is, he will always be in my heart. I'm getting a little choked up. He will always be in my heart. And I will always be thankful to that man for being so generous with me in my little movie. So enough of this happiness. I hope you guys got a lot out of that. Please don't ever forget, don't give up on your dream. Keep that hustle going. And it just the business is gonna beat you and beat you and beat you. But you have to keep going. The guys and the girls who make it never stop. And I'm trying to help you guys get there as well. So good


IFH 015: AFM: Selling Your Independent Film with Ben Yennie

If you have ever looked into selling your film at a film market then you more than likely have heard of North America’s largest film market, AFM or the American Film Market.

The American Film Market is a labyrinth of crazy characters, thieves, wannabes, filmmakers hustling their latest film, distributors, industry professionals and of course buyers and sellers from around the globe.

My guest this week is Ben Yennie who has written the only real guide to this carnival called “The Guerilla Rep: American Film Market Distribution Success on No Budget.” You should not go to the “any” film market without reading this book.

It’s a no-nonsense guide to establishing relationships with distributors at The American Film Market or any film market around the globe like:

Ben Yennie is a producer’s rep. Yes I know I did an earlier podcast warning you to stay away from evil producer’s reps (What’s a Producer’s Rep and How Not to be Ripped off!) but Ben is one of the good guys. He doesn’t take cash upfront to sell or represent your film at a film market.

His new book The Entrepreneurial Producer: A Series of Articles on Growing your Filmmaking Career is great as well. Here’s the down-low on this remarkable book:

Film Schools are great at teaching you how to make a film, but not great at teaching you how to make money making film.  The Entrepreneurial Producer: A Series of Articles on Growing your Filmmaking Career is designed to help bridge that gap, and teach the basics of Film Financing, Film Distribution, Film Marketing, and general best business practices for filmmakers of all kinds.

Are you a filmmaker wanting to know the real “skinny” on what goes on at the buying and selling of films at film markets? Then, this podcast is for you. Ben Yennie spits some major gold on the American Film Market in this episode.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Today we have a great guest on on our show today, Ben Yeni. or as we like to call them or he likes to call himself the gorilla Rep. He is a producer's Rep. Now I know I did an earlier episode on the evils of producer wrap up producers reps. But Ben is actually one of the good guys. He's actually a good producers Rep. He doesn't take any money upfront. So he actually goes and hustles for you. Ben also wrote a book called the gorilla Rep. American film market distribution success on no budget is the only guy to ever write a book on the AFM or the American Film market. And it was an awesome, awesome book. So I suggest you read it. We discuss film marketing, distribution, the new world of distribution between self distribution and going after different markets, how you can sell a different markets and how to be successful at film markets. And there's only a handful of them out in the world. And we go over all of that. So sit back, relax, and enjoy my interview with Ben Yeni. Thank you, Ben, so much for being on the show. We really appreciate you taking the time.

Ben Yennie 1:52
No problem, Alex. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 1:54
Cool. So let's start off with a big question that a lot of people really don't know the answer to. What's the difference between a sales agent and a producer's Rep.

Ben Yennie 2:03
Yeah, I get that question a lot. Um, the biggest difference between a sales agent and a producer's rep is that a producer's rep basically acts as a filmmakers representative to a sales agent or distributors and sometimes international buyers. That that's the big thing on the distribution and but producers reps will sometimes also deal in financing. Like Me personally, I can help steer you in the right direction and help set up your financing mix, although I don't do that much financing myself, but steer you in bad steer you in directions to go as well as tell you what should be like how much should be product placement, how much should be tax incentive, what you should be looking at for pre sale backed debt. And then of course, there's always equity, which is what every filmmaker always looks for. But unfortunately, a lot of filmmakers are often overly reliant on Tom because if you do your entire fight, if you finance your entire film by equity, then first of all it's a really long road and it's really difficult. But it's also when you mean it's also not really good for you in the long run. When you mean investors take too much

Alex Ferrari 3:27
When you mean equity. You mean just like yeah, basically it's it's all cash basically.

Ben Yennie 3:31
Yes, taking like taking like cash from investors got it. That's specifically what I mean on that. And when the industries take an equity position, because there's kind of an emerging trend, especially in places like slated, where investors are taking a debt position instead of an equity position so they own no part of your film, but you are legally obligated to pay the back.

Alex Ferrari 3:54
Oh, that's interesting. So that is that a new kind of trend that's going on.

Ben Yennie 3:58
Basically what it's doing is replacing what used to be called gap financing by banks. And gap financing is kind of going the way of the dinosaurs because there's new private investor debt gap financing. This essentially serves the same purpose is way way way way way cheaper than debt financing was I heard stories that have gap financing being as much as 50% APR. Oh wow. Wow. So that's like sad legal baguettes insane pretty quickly.

Alex Ferrari 4:41
Is that legal? Like 50% APR Jesus?

Ben Yennie 4:44
There's no law against usury

Alex Ferrari 4:48
As as as hundreds of 1000s of years of banks will attest.

Ben Yennie 4:54
Yeah. But no, it is like I've heard stories of that and I can't cite my sources because of course, but there are people, but there were a couple of bigger people in the industry that would sometimes charge that much. So and that, of course, that was back in the 80s. So, interest rates were a bit different in general, of course, like inflation was like 10 to 15% or something. So it's a little bit weird today. Yeah. So, but no, go on?

Alex Ferrari 5:32
No. Um, so the so what is the traditional percentage that a sales agent or producers rep might take form for a deal with a filmmaker or an NFL?

Ben Yennie 5:43
Well, yeah, I think I don't think I can quite elaborate on what a sales agent does a sales agent sells it directly to international territories, and then generally those territories pay cash. And then the territories have the right to distribute that film for whatever rights in whatever territory they bought, and the sales agent, sales agent to sell those rights. Whereas the producers rep acts as a go between between to help you find the right sales agent, who actually has the buyers who can sell it. And because of that, since he's basically a sub distributor he chart he or she charges a lot less like a sales agent will charge anywhere between 20 and 35%. Depending on the size of the film, if your film is more like, if your film is more like 100,000, or less often, you're going to be looking more at the 35% range. Just because in order to make enough money for them to continue to operate their business, they have to charge that much. Because markets are pretty expensive. But especially from a from an exhibitor perspective, but a producer's rap. Generally charges between five and seven, sometimes 10 if they have a lot of cloud. If they have like, very, very high levels of cloud, they might charge 10

Alex Ferrari 7:15
there's not that many, there's not that many guys out there doing it is there are there

Ben Yennie 7:19
there aren't that many real there? There's more than you would expect. But not as not many of them are quite as public as I am about what it is we do. Right. So that's a that's another thing on there a lot of times it's still one of those old you have to know somebody need to get in certain things. Or they charge on godly submission fees and on godly retainers and things I was gonna

Alex Ferrari 7:49
I was gonna ask you what is like, I've heard of sales agents and producers rep I've had experience with some producers rep like that, that they charge obscene amounts of money upfront, what's your take on that? Or sales I

Ben Yennie 8:02
Personally would make my life life a lot easier if I did it, but I don't feel ethically right doing it. Because I know that the people who would be paying me don't really have the money to pay me because I've been in their position before right. So like depending like there are jobs that I will take that I do actually require either an hourly or a flat pay rate for like that for my clients. Like if I'm generating a festival plan and telling and guiding which which festivals submit to which ones to go to, if you go to them all that sort of stuff. If I create that sort of plan then I just charged for that plan. I don't there's no real upside in it for me for doing it on a commission basis. And it takes quite a lot of time to develop a plan like that because it involves a surprising amount of research and a surprising amount of branding knowledge and not it's not low skill knowledge that goes into this either. So if so there are services like that. There's also things that I have that I just think that I just include his appendix to my contract is just a price list. Everything is like oh if you need an EP k if you need some like festival giveaway ideas and budgets on how you can make them because like Chris gore says, if you go to a festival and you want to actually make a splash have something physical to give somebody it's not just promotional material, like at very least attach a piece of candy to your promo material. Like I mean like just something to actually make people pay attention to it right. By there's been like, yeah, there was one film I was wrapping that was black cat whiskey, where I recommended the festival giveaway be A like one of those little 199 things of whiskey with production art taped over it. And then like the screening time, and then the representation contact on it as well

Alex Ferrari 10:14
That might have that must have done well.

Ben Yennie 10:18
It never actually went into production. Oh. But yeah, I imagine it would have been giving away

Alex Ferrari 10:27
Free booze free booze would have all the time worse.

Ben Yennie 10:31
I know. The issue is is like, how do you make sure like, you can't card everybody. We're gonna basically be like, really, really judging somebody.

Alex Ferrari 10:42
Yeah, I see the point. I see where the hiccups might come in. Yeah.

Ben Yennie 10:48
Yeah, there are a lot of hiccups with it. But it was a I don't know, I thought I thought it was a decent idea. And it was memorable.

Alex Ferrari 10:56
And appropriate, it was appropriate for the film. Yeah, no, I

Ben Yennie 10:59
mean, that's the other thing if it like, if you don't um, yeah, I mean, you've got you've got to actually have whatever giveaway you do. It's much better if it's tied into the film in some way. But yeah, so that so that, so that's basically it produce. If they're actually working on a commission, or a executive producer fee, or whatever they're doing, a producer's rep will generally charge between five and 10%. And the other thing that can make a difference is some producers reps are also lawyers, right? So if they're a lawyer, they're more likely to just charge you an hourly and either No, or a very, very low percentage of the deal. So that's kind of and unfortunately, these deals are so speculative, that most producers are upstanding entertainment, tainment lawyers just won't differ. Whereas, and there's such a small amount of money in the movie in the deal that they can't afford to defer their payment on it. Whereas like, a big lawyer in Silicon Valley, if you go to one of their bigger things, and you've got a tech startup, which I do, but you have a and you're talking to them, a lot of times if you have a solid business plan, and they actually believe in you, not only are they willing to defer their rates and not charge you anything, but they'll also introduce you to investors on the understanding that when the investment comes in, their firm gets do the paperwork. So sorry, that going on from tech industry for no reason.

Alex Ferrari 12:46
It's easier for Cisco, it's a pretty it's a prerequisite here in San Francisco.

Ben Yennie 12:50
It does. But yeah, the big so. But yeah, I mean, the biggest reason that I can see paying producers, Rob, is if they are actually a member of the Bar Association. And if they're charging, you ask that because a lot of producers reps are actually kind of full of shit.

Alex Ferrari 13:11
Yeah, I know this. So

Ben Yennie 13:14
yeah. Um, but yeah, I'm not naming names. But

Alex Ferrari 13:20
I know I haven't named any names either. But I completely agree with you and 100%. So let me ask the question, what is the if you get a film, and you got a traditional distributor to handle your film? Well, how do they handle a brand new film they just acquired? What's the process of that they've? they've signed the deal? What do they do?

Ben Yennie 13:42
I'm going to step back a minute. Sure. Because a lot of people use the term, the terms sales agent and distributor interchangeably. And while they're very similar in a lot of sales agents, are also distributors, they actually technically mean different things. Like a sales agent is somebody who sells your film to pretty much any territory besides North America, often including Canada, sometimes excluding French Canada. I'm so sorry. Yeah, that's the sales team, just everyone besides those. And then a distributor generally handles distribution within North America assuming or North American filmmaker. If you're a in then the buyers that they deal with are also technically distributors. It's just they tend to pay rights to pay upfront cash to distribute the territory, the film in their territory through their channels. So but yes, but speaking in terms of AFM, at least, the vast majority of the sales agents I deal with are also to a level distributors at least depending on exactly how big Their cloud is some of them have more capability to distribute than others like some of the sales agents who are also distributors I know can completely handle a fairly wide theatrical run some of them would just sell it on to another us distributor got it so that that's so there is a little bit of a delineation between the term sales agent and distributor but generally if you sign with a sales agent or distributor actually let's just stick into sales agent right now because that's most common especially the lower ends generally what they do generally the time that they're most looking for content is about three to four weeks before the next market um and the big thing that they're and they're looking for content to sell at their mark at the market so if they you sign your rights to them generally they'll want all right sometimes they'll get sometimes you can get away with not giving them North America if you have some sort of distributor or distribution plan for North America especially if they're primarily a sales agent not a distributor and they just be selling it to another distributor but or maybe several other distributors depending on the article and some other things but um the big thing that you the big thing that they do is just starts is get all of the deliverables to them. There are a couple of surprisingly important but often overlooked deliverables that may actually make or break whether you get a distribution deal.

Alex Ferrari 16:51
Now what are the what are the deliverables that a filmmaker is responsible for?

Ben Yennie 16:56
The biggest one is generally a full high quality export like pro res export of the film and at least 10 ADP if you're looking at something with the Africa you might need to do more like two or 4k as well as attend ATP. But the other thing that most makers don't look at is what's called an m&e track. Yeah, and a two and a textless. And, and make sure that all your text is on a separate video track. And when I say an m&e track, I mean the music and effects track, because remember, this is being sold internationally, so there's a good chance you're going to hire other actors to dub over your movie. So if you have all of your music and effects on separate tracks from your audio, then that makes it very easy to export and put in and they just have to dump in the audio. That's the same reason that like, unless you have like fancy credits, in your opening sequence, you need to make sure there are points or if there's ever a point where there's a text underlaid or like, like say, in, in some movie, they just moved to France and it's like Berlin, or they moved from France to Berlin, and then it says Berlin under there, you're going to need to have that on a separate track. So that that can be put into Chinese if it needs to be. So yeah, those are a couple of the things that filmmakers just often don't think about that are incredibly practical, in why you do it. But it seems like a unnecessary complication if you don't actually look at the reasoning behind it. And it's a film school doesn't always teach you as they should.

Alex Ferrari 18:54
Yeah, I've been a post supervisor for about 15 years so I've done I've delivered probably about 50 or 60 features in my day so I completely understand people that a lot of filmmakers just don't get what deliverables are and also the cost involved them and what you're saying is just the the digital aspects of things and there's a five one and there's the five one m&e if you want to get the deeper into it, and then the HD cam, HD s Rs, split track, all this kind of stuff. And all of a sudden, your deliverables will cost you anywhere from 15 to 25, grand DCP and so on. So it gets it gets it gets kind of crazy, and it kind of hits everybody from left field when it happens. I've seen that. I've seen the face go whites. Yeah. When I've told them the price.

Ben Yennie 19:36
Yeah, no, and there are very legitimate reasons for the cost. Again, this is not low skilled labor. But the but yeah, no, I somehow I missed the europos provider so you totally get it. But I think a lot of but a lot of my clients don't quite understand the importance of it. Which is more why I'm saying this because I don't think you're your only listener.

Alex Ferrari 19:59
Absolutely no, no, no That's why I asked the question completely. No, absolutely. It's a conversation between the two of us. But this is more for our listeners to talk about. So that's why I'm asking questions and I might know the answers do, but I want you to, to, to explain it to them. Yes.

Ben Yennie 20:13
So I'm joking. But yeah.

Alex Ferrari 20:18
Now let me ask you a question. We've all heard the big the, you know, the legendary stories of Harvey Weinstein seeing a movie at Sundance and, and every year we hear a movie sells for like 3 million upfront and all this kind of stuff. are the days of big payouts from distributors gone, like I know, like in the 80s, you could just make a feature. Like if you just made a feature, you're going to get some money upfront from a distributor, but nowadays with the gluttony of of product out there, like are the days of like, payouts from distributors gone? Up front at

Ben Yennie 20:49
least? I wouldn't say they're gone. But I would also say that I would also say caution, filmmakers not to expect it.

Alex Ferrari 21:00
They're unicorns more than anything at this point. Yeah, they're

Ben Yennie 21:03
their unicorns more than they're their unicorns more than their horses or even zebras. The Yeah, so they do happen. It's kind of rare they happen. And generally, if you're talking about a micro budget feech, you're probably not going to happen. If it's anything less than about 500,000. It doesn't have any talent in it. Any notable talent in it. Your it's pretty unlikely you're gonna get a minimum guarantee. Now, is there any glitches?

Alex Ferrari 21:36
Yeah, no, is there? Is there a big Can you explain to the audience a little bit how important name talent is, especially in foreign regions, and to the success of your movie, depending on what your goals are with the movie, a lot of people just want to make art, and they want to make, you know, beautiful feature film, and it might get picked up from Sundance and might get this or that. But if you're looking at it as a business standpoint, can you explain how important you are to name talent? And what is exactly named talent?

Ben Yennie 22:07
Okay. Yeah, that's a really good question. There are a couple of things that I want to address on them. If you're making feature film, as art, because you just love movies and you want to make in Generally, the people who say this, I'm stereotyping a little bit, but it only people who say they want to make feature films or make dramas.

Alex Ferrari 22:29
Yeah, not a lot. Not a lot of genre action film guys that,

Ben Yennie 22:33
no, not really. But the. But if you want to do that, you can go ahead and do that. But don't bother calling a guy like me. The way you can make a sustainable living doing that, is you make the best possible movies you can for the least amount of money you can and you get really freakin good and social media. And you become your own source of income and you develop your own following Yep, direct to consumer through social media. That's how you monetize that. And that's how you be. That's how you get to stay in artists and keep your artistic integrity and make what you want to make is by being able to be your own marketing department. Basically, until you get enough of the following that then studios like hey, you have the big following let's let's let's make something and that's how they do it. But um so that's basically how that model works. Now, generally, if you want to make it into a business, what you're going to need is some recognizable face. It doesn't they don't necessarily need to cost that much. I'm often surprised how little they cost. I know this. If you do your if you do the if you do the research and find the right ones. But basically, name talent would be anyone who's got a at least a recognizable face. Ideally, a recognizable name. Who can actually reach out and who's, who's brand will help, will help. Audiences actually recognize your film. Like if they see his face, they'll be like, Oh, I know that guy. I like that guy. I'm gonna go see that movie. Basically, why you need name talent. Um, and there are entire films that exist that were sold solely on the merits of their name talent.

Alex Ferrari 24:39
Majority of them are The Expendables. Of course.

Ben Yennie 24:43
Of course not. Yeah. But yeah, they're, it's, it's an old model. And that's, that's one of the more sustainable ways to make sure you get a distribution deal. There are a lot of them that you can get that are again surprisingly affordable and surprisingly willing to take your Film and I'm forgetting his name there's one who has done this so much and made his brand basically doing anything and he'll do anything that was that.

Alex Ferrari 25:10
Would that be Eric Roberts? Yes That would be I know I know. I know.

Ben Yennie 25:15
So basically don't hire Eric Roberts ever Roberts actually does more to hurt you and help you

Alex Ferrari 25:21
I'm gonna be I'll be honest with you I've worked on for Eric Robert movies in the last year and a half and then I'm not kidding you. I'm not joking. I'm not joking. And then the producer The Director Producer came up to me He's like, I can't sell this movie because I have Eric Roberts in it all the distributors are saying I've got five other Eric Roberts movies this does nothing for me. And I felt so bad and I'm like yeah cuz Eric Robert didn't care He's like, I'll just show up and happens with it. There's, there's there's that list of guys that will just show up. Yeah, there's a handful of them. And got you know that everyone's got a mortgage. You know, everyone got it, you know, and I've talked to a couple of these guys. And I go, you know, what's, you know, what's, why do you do these kind of movies, he goes, he goes, I know, they don't, they're not particularly good. But I've got alimony, I've got a mortgage, I've got to pay my bills. I've heard that straight up from you know, some of these guys. And they're like, Look, man, I just I'd like to, and some of them, like, I just like to work man. And I don't want to wait around a year to to like find the perfect script. I'm like, I just like to go out and work and being on set. And you know, just doing what I do. And if I can get paid something, I'll do it. But some of these guys I found, like you were saying surprisingly affordable. And this is for all the filmmakers out there. You know, and I'm not going to name names because I'm not going to do that. But some of these guys you can hire for five grand for the day. You know, they'll show up and you can knock out three scenes in a 12 hour day. You know, three grand, five grand even for the bigger names 10 grand for two or three days. Well, that's all you need. Yeah, for a certain movie time, like he comes in. And

Ben Yennie 26:59
since we're talking to filmmakers, I think both of us realize that 10 grand is not nothing

Alex Ferrari 27:04
but but in the grand scope of things to get a major star major phase or star that gives you some sort of Mark ability to get out there. Like you said, it's like, oh, I've seen that movie. Do you know how many times I've watched a movie because there's an actor in it that I've known and liked his former work and he's might have never he might have never or director for that matter. And he might have never hit that stride that he hit in those movies that I loved. But they were so big. Like you know, I'll watch you know, I'll watch a Will Smith movie because Will Smith's in it, you know, because I love Will Smith. And then after Earth came out. And everyone said I

Ben Yennie 27:36
Know and I was I was gonna ask her about that. Like everyone

Alex Ferrari 27:39
Everyone was like, oh god, this is Oh, oh, this is horrible. So and then, and then that kind of hurts his brand a bit. And then people will forgive it some Tom Cruise for God's sakes. I mean, Tom Cruise was the biggest one of the biggest movie stars in the world. And then he did a few movies. They're just like, yeah, and the people aren't going on

Ben Yennie 27:57
cruises. For all I don't think was necessary. The Tom Cruise did a couple bad moves. Well, he didn't call

Alex Ferrari 28:03
Tom Cruise. Tom.

Ben Yennie 28:04
I think that was the issue and now he's recovered the

Alex Ferrari 28:07
Tom Cruise Line Tom Cruise, like like, like Chris Rock said in a famous joke about Oh God, the two guys that do the tiger show in Vegas. Sigmund Freud and people were like oh, that Tiger went crazy because now the tiger didn't go crazy the tiger went tiger. So and the same thing with Tom Cruise Tom Cruise they go crazy Tom Cruise is just Tom Cruise he's been that by way all his life they've just had a bunch of people holding them back and then when he got he they'd let him go boom that happened. But he has recovered and the saddest thing about them that we're now getting on a tangent about Tom Cruise but the saddest thing about Tom is he's an amazing actor. He is a wonderful wonderful as as he is he is a movie star he is one of those guys there's a handful of them out there but that he hasn't won an Oscar is fascinating to me you know like seriously

Ben Yennie 28:55
had done anything recently sanely good since like

Alex Ferrari 29:00
Rain Man and Born on the Fourth of July but yeah but still like he's he's yeah good but anyway so like I was saying to like the filmmakers out there you know five or 10 gram maybe sound like oh my god I'm so not there but like, but if you're doing $100,000 movie or $150,000 movie and you spent fine the

Ben Yennie 29:17
five to 10 grand higher base your sale price. Like if you like it's I'll be honest a lot of times unless you've got even if you've got really high production values it doesn't matter in a in the right genre which is which I don't know if everybody knows the genre is actually really important for international sales.

Alex Ferrari 29:42
Action horror, action horror, right?

Ben Yennie 29:45
But the Yeah, action horror thriller family right now. Oh, yeah, family. One of the things is not like the eighth as well. So those are the big ones but um, The but yeah i mean if you don't even if you do have a hot piece in one of those genres, you need named talent and it will pay off immensely when you actually start seeing returns from your distributor it'll also make it a lot easier for you to get a as a distributor and they'll probably give you a better deal so in addition to actually making more money like from the international sales and having a higher buying price, so you get more money that way you also probably get a better deal with the distributor because they're going they know there's less risk so instead of charging you 35% they're more likely to charge you 25 to 30% and so that additional 5% goes it does make a difference it's business

Alex Ferrari 30:47
this is show business for a reason exactly it's show business for a reason but I can't fat I mean I like I said I've delivered over 50 movies and you'd be surprised that you know action movies with high production value or something like that and I'm like there's no stars in it guys you're not it's gonna be rough for you. And they asked me because they know I've done a lot of stuff I'm like guys, I'm just telling you and I tell you what one movie I did that they shot the whole movie shot it on read it was kind of like a cipher. And when I say kind of like a psychological thriller with some sci fi elements in it takes place here and everything but some side kind of some some sci fi elements in it look beautiful, what's nice, great, no stars. He went out, I got I finished the movie. He went out, talk to all the distributors. Everyone said no. He went back hired Tom Sizemore for a day and he hired and I forgive me, but it's the black guy from Stargate. It's a face that you would remember from the, from the TV show, the TV actor, and they hired him for for a couple days. They replaced a few scenes, went back out sold the movie. Yeah, that's he was like, I'm never gonna make a dime without this. And that and there you go. So it was it was a it was a perfect example of how it works, how it really really works. Yeah. So let me ask you to

Ben Yennie 32:05
Go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 32:06
No, no, no, I was gonna ask you. The big question is and I've never been to AFM. Can you explain to the audience what is AFM or the American Film market and how important it is and what you know, what's the, what is it?

Ben Yennie 32:19
Well, I'll give you as candid answer as I can in five minutes, the Chevy or less the, the big thing is that it's it's quite a lot of things for quite a lot of different people. Um, AFM is the is America's only film market. And a film market is very different than a film festival, a film festival is very much about celebrating the art of films in some of the bigger film festivals, like Sundance like TIFF, sometimes films will be picked up for distribution there. But that's more the exception than the rule. Whereas a film markets is very much about a sales agent selling films to buyers. And maybe sometimes towards the end of the market sales agents buying films from filmmakers. But some, but not all filmmakers, sales agents will actually meet with filmmakers in the market, some of them will just some of them only sell at the market. And obviously those often tend to be the sales agents you want because they tend to make bigger sales and sell more territories. So but that's not always true. Sometimes the sales agents that open up at the end acts are able to open up because they've sold all their products and now they need new product. Right so that happens sometimes. But um the but it's much better if you can get your place your film place three to four weeks before the market, because then the sales agent has the ability to sell it for while they're at the market. And you get a return quicker. Basically, the entire international sales game revolves around about eight markets that happen on a yearly basis. What are the What happened?

Alex Ferrari 34:09
What are those eight markets

Ben Yennie 34:11
I'm on I the big ones would be AFM, the European film market, the world content market, which is right after the European film market. Then there's MIPCOM which is more TV based. Then there's Khan which is which is only about two weeks after MIPCOM in the same damn place. Then there's pretty much a break and then there's also MIP TV somewhere in there. AFM and I'm forgetting one, but um, yeah, that's basically all of them. There also and then also some of the festivals have gotten to the point that they've essentially become de facto markets.

Alex Ferrari 34:55
On dance to buy

Ben Yennie 34:59
again, They're late Sundance and TIFF are really the only two that are at all local cons. Khan itself also has the merge to film, which is actually the world's biggest film market. Honestly it kind of makes a little bad given I wrote a book on AFM guys an AFM and I know all the guys over there cons is a bit bigger. But yeah, all right.

Alex Ferrari 35:24
Now do you suggest do you suggest filmmakers go to AFM here in LA without a film just to kind of see how things go in the process that happens.

Ben Yennie 35:38
I a year ago I definitely or a year and a half ago, I definitely would have. Um but I have some knowledge that I don't know all if all of its public or all of its actually happening. I can say it comes from a very high source. But last year they last year they closed the pool to the filmmakers. So the only place you could get in are to anyone not holding a badge. So just as an idea. The the AFM takes place at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. It also spills over into the the Marigot, which is another hotel that's right next door. The Loews hotel has eight floors. And basically there are two floors below that are more lower level new distributors often exploitation films. The main floor and sorry, there are eight floors. The bottom floor is just an entrance exit and like staff stuff, but then the, to the second third floor or what's good known as the dungeon, which are kind of the exploitation new film new distributors and the cheap offices. They're also actual filmmaker offices that are being put in there now. At least as of last year, you can get a producer's office where you'd be sharing the office with another group of producers. And it was something like $1,000 or maybe 1500. I don't remember offhand, okay. But you could get but with your producers office, you would also get three badges for the entire market that included access to all of the seminars and everything there. So it's actually a really good deal if you're going with three people. Yeah. It sounds great. But yeah, but um, the, I don't know if they're doing yet this year or not. But that was one thing they did. It sounds like, I think it's just

Alex Ferrari 37:42
No, no, it sounds like almost like a Bruce Lee Game of Death kind of thing on on floor one and two is floor two, and three is this and then three. So what happens on four or five, six and eight? What how many different villains Do we have to defeat to get to the next level

Ben Yennie 38:00
four, four is the main lobby. And there's also some distributor offices off in the corner. And then also, the main lobby extends into floor five. And they're like film Commission's and varieties generally they're selling subscriptions as as The Hollywood Reporter, and basically other sorts of things that are trying to attract filmmakers. So like, film conditions, services, things like that are all on the second floor because they don't allow booths on the first floor. And then, so those are the and then again, they're also offices off to the side. But it used to be until last year, that right off the fourth floor, you could walk out and there's this beautiful pool area with an amazing view of beach. And you and like lots of tables face and stuff like that. But this year, they closed it to only air last year, they closed it only badge holders, which given that they gave me a free badge last year I was kind of happy with because I always had a place for meeting. But the but it makes it but it means that the lobby gets pretty crowded pretty quickly. Because they've basically they've more than have the space that used to house all of the AFM for the people who didn't have badges. So in the past, I've recommended going for the entire market and just or just even showing up if you're in LA, even if you don't have the back edge. But it's the value of that is becoming less and less,

Alex Ferrari 39:36
but you do so would you suggest that they actually get a badge and go and see what it's all about?

Ben Yennie 39:42
That I would suggest Yes. What I would do if you're a filmmaker and not as a distributor or buyer or anything of the sort. Even if you don't have a completed film I would get the last three day badge. It's I think it's just called the industry badge or maybe if you want the seminar with the industry, plus Because their seminars are these seminars are actually really good speaking to somebody who organizes seminars, but they are. They they are really good and it's worth it is worth doing that you have the money, but it is about $150 more. Got it. But the but the maybe only $100 a month, but the industry bad gives you access to all sorts of markets for the last three days with markets, which would be Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. And it is. And it's only three, it's only $295. Which is really a steal for something like this on education. It is I learned more my first AFM where that's the only badge I got that I did in my entire four years of film school.

Alex Ferrari 40:54
Yeah, I can imagine I was also there. I showed

Ben Yennie 40:57
up early on because this is when you could just hang out in the lobby. But I don't even know if that's gonna be possible this year. Rumors are asking or rumors are floating, interesting. But the the big thing is just that it is worth going to see how it goes. You'll be intimidated when you go. But it's worth going because this is something you need to understand as a filmmaker, especially if you're a producer. Also, if you're a director or even an actor, you need to understand what happens in the independent film world and how films get sold. And I mean, I've heard a lot of other stories, and sometimes it can get a little depressing because you basically see this guy in a hotel room. Yeah, you may go see this guy, this guy in a polyester suit walking down looking at different catalogs for to buy for his VOD catalog for his chain of hotels in Kazakhstan. I mean, is what if that happens there? So you kind of need to be aware of that. But

Alex Ferrari 42:07
yeah, I had a friend. I had a friend of mine who won, who won a very large festival and the best, like one of the best deals they got after winning these big festivals was the airline license like to sell it to the airlines. And they and they were like that was the deals are still actually pretty strong. Yeah, they're like they make good money off it's like when I was the biggest deal we made off this you like you think airline rights but Yep, airline rights. So um, it's what I try to do with any film hustle also is just try to kind of let people know about how to make a living doing what you love and and knowing the business is a big part of that.

Ben Yennie 42:49
So it really is and you can't make a living doing what you love without actually knowing how to make money doing it. And this is where the money comes in, at least for now. I mean, it's gonna be interesting to see in the next couple of years.

Alex Ferrari 43:05
Now I was I was actually at the Toronto Film Festival a few years back and I was there working with a producer that was interested in some of my projects, and I was taken into the hotel and it was very similar to what you're explaining in AFM that there were like you know, there was a floor not nearly as obviously as organized or as big as AFM is. But I was told then and this is going back probably about five or six years like that Toronto is kind of turned into a mini market kind of like there because there are hotel rooms for that. Yeah, unlike Sundance Sundance there's nothing like that that goes on like Sundance is too small like there's no hotel rooms there's no

Ben Yennie 43:43
Sundance is also Sundance is Sundance is basically a spring break for young entertainment executives

Alex Ferrari 43:50
at this point it is it is I've been there that's

Ben Yennie 43:53
what I've been hearing I haven't been so maybe I shouldn't be talking about it but I have heard that from like three or four different people now have you

Alex Ferrari 44:00
been you've never you've never been to Sundance I know oh my god I've been there I've been there about three times and it is yeah if you're if the one thing was cool about Sundance is when I went I wasn't living here in Los Angeles at the time so it was my access to meetings and things like that because in the end that four or five block radius you've got the town you've got a tremendous amount of influencers that are sitting there drinking coffee things like that you can make money so I always tell people is like it's kind of like Disneyland but instead of the characters walking around you see actors like you know and like you could walk around and at the time you like you get all like you know star gaze where you can you take a picture you can take up all that kind of studio craziness when you're when you're young but but it was a lot it's a lot of fun and there's no other kind of festival like when I went to Toronto Toronto is like this. Just spread out like super spread out kind of festival, but wonderful as well. Anyway So I wanted to ask you a few more questions. What do you think of the new self distribution model versus the traditional, traditional model,

Ben Yennie 45:14
new self distribution model is I have very mixed feelings about it. I think that it's possible to make quite a lot of money during the very least enough to sustain yourself and sustain your world as a filmmaker, if not actually make a decent living. The big problem is that you've basically got to become, on your own personnel, you got to have a very, very keen understanding of branding. Because your art in yourself have to become a brand that you do through social media, if you're going to do it successfully. And all the trappings of managing a brand come along with it. Interesting. And if you went to film, school, and not Business School, these are things a lot of times things you are not necessarily the best understand. So it's not you don't assume you need to have an understanding of everything that goes along with managing a multimillion dollar corporate brand now, but you need to know what you're saying. And you need to have a strong identity in you need to be able to have a brand that at least your core audience strongly identifies with. It enables you to find your end you need to also. So aside from all the branding stuff, really, if you're going to find success in the new self distribution model, you need to stop thinking of yourself as a filmmaker, and you need to start thinking of yourself as a community leader. Also, it doesn't necessarily need to be in your filmmaking community, because honestly, you filmmakers aren't really going to buy your film, because they have no money and they need to sell their own

Alex Ferrari 47:16

Ben Yennie 47:18
But you need to sell you need to become a community leader, or at least a very strong presence in whatever community, your film takes place in. Generally, it's much better to do some sort of well established niche. I've heard of people doing well, in the running niche. I've heard of people doing well, in the In any event, I mean, like the ones that popped ahead to my head, because I'm San Francisco would be like the golf, counter, golf, punk counterculture, knishes, those sorts of things. They're really hungry for good content. LGBT, or particularly queer markets are really hungry for good content, because there's almost no good queer media as separate from LGBT media, because that is actually a different thing. I don't know that. But it is. So it's kind of a. So there's a lot of places like that, that if you really want to make those sorts of movies, even before you start making the movies, you need to become a part of that community. By the time you're actually releasing your movie, you need to have become a leader in that community. Does that make any sense? I mean, otherwise, you don't have a customer base?

Alex Ferrari 48:41
Well, that's the thing. That's a lot. A lot of people when they when they're crowdfunding, they're just like, I'm just gonna put up on Kickstarter. And I'm like, No, you can't just throw it up on Kickstarter, or Indiegogo or seed, spark or any of these guys, you've got to have somebody who's interested in what you're selling. It's like you have to go where as this old old term is, you got to go where the people are. So whatever you're selling, if it's, you know, if you if you're selling a vegan character, who you know, eats vegan is a vegan chef. Well, you know, maybe you should hang out in some vegan Facebook groups, you know, and start building up that, that world, definitely, you know, things like

Ben Yennie 49:16
the vegan world, and also that feeds really well into the Bohemian vegetarian and artists worlds. Right, exactly. So there's an environmentalist to know you can read a lot of crossover from your core demo, but first establish yourself in the core demo. And then from that core demo, you need to thought Actually, this was in a seminar that Maya Zuckerman did on for producer foundry. That's actually available on our website. Pitch now, anyway, but she said that, basically, your community are your early adopters. You're the your diehard fans, those are the people that will actually shell out to buy the movie. before it comes out they're the people who will be in your Kickstarter being all of that and then the next set I forget exactly what she said but the next set is your customer base. And that is your and that's more the rest of that larger community not specifically your community. So basically you need to figure out what your movies about or what you want to tell a story about and find people who identify with it and then actually get in there and it's really just as much work to break through if not more than it was to break through the Hollywood hierarchy and the rewards are in some ways much greater in some ways much smaller because there is something about actually engaging with your fan base and you can't in again coming back to that if you want to do this you can't just be like I want to make movie you should bomb a movie right? Oh don't beg you need to actually engage and become interested in your community and become an actual real part of it. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 51:08
that's what that's what I'm doing with indie film hustle I'm building up my community and giving them content like this to kind of help them make their movies and so on and so forth. And it's just being interested in the community just that like begging to like buy my movie you know like if you if you want a bag just go to your friends and family you don't need to set up a Kickstarter just have them directly give you cash to try to make your movie but you know like why give Kickstarter any percentage at that point that's that's the only people who are gonna give you money anyway. But I think it's just kind of like you know, and that's one of the big things I try to teach as well as learning how to market learning how to sell your brand create a brand whether that brand is you or a company because you can brand a company that does certain amount of films like trauma or those kinds of things, but you have to do that you know you have to do that if you're going to try to do this on your own without question though

Ben Yennie 52:01
and the other thing I think you shouldn't be looking for and I think this is where the markets really heading is that it's basically going to come down to tastemakers just as it did before when did they call in name yeah the guy and that yeah guys with huge followings with huge blogs that can recommend their friends and recommend their other content that means their demographic so PR is going to be a huge it's going to be easier because there are quite a lot of well followed like horror blogs or action or all these different sorts of blogs that you can get to review your movie surprisingly easily really um but that's kind of that's really where it is and so yeah, I think that covers everything

Alex Ferrari 52:55
i was i was i was doing that I was doing that with my film 11 years ago I hit every film blog every every URL and I was able to generate a lot of sales through my DVD that I was selling directly to the customer by doing that and we were covered by 250 websites you know reviews all that kind of stuff Yeah, it was a it was a huge deal back then. And I was selling a DVD directly to the to the consumer and I did fairly well it was a short film on top of that and I did very well but again that back it might be I might have done that 10 years ago but that still works very well today that same concept it does

Ben Yennie 53:33
it's just it's easier to do now much more such methods of delivery.

Alex Ferrari 53:38
Absolutely. And there was via and there's the viral aspect of things to where you put something in it just keeps going and going and going where before it was much more difficult to make things the concept of something going viral was you know i mean 10 years ago what YouTube had just got started you know my space was what might look like a lot of sales out of my space but you know Facebook I remember Hey, you know what I love but it was a look you know what, what what No, I

Ben Yennie 54:11
think you may have been the only person to ever make money on my face.

Alex Ferrari 54:15
I got a lot of sales off my space because I hit those democrat those groups, those people that were interested in what I was selling, but I remember when Facebook was just for college I remember literally go into a room of an office like Oh, what's this? I'm like, this this thing just for college kids. It's called Facebook. I'm like, Ah, I'm old. I'm old. So yeah, let me ask you one last question, then. We'll find out a couple more questions. The process of finding investors for a film nowadays obviously crowdfunding is all the rage but we've just discussed what you really need to do to make, you know to actually get money from crowdfunding, how would you go go about trying to find investors for a film for like a you know filmmaker trying to look for ambassadors and where do you find them? and so on? I know that's a big question, just try to turn to

Ben Yennie 55:04
look for investors. I'm get so often I get asked this question,

Alex Ferrari 55:09
I'm sure we're gonna get money, where can I get my

Ben Yennie 55:15
money where you have to go? The real answer is actually just to go to places where investors are. And the answer to where investors are very much depends on where you live. Like I live in San Francisco, qualified investors are everywhere. Every I have met qualified investors who are now very close friends singing karaoke, and debars. Of course, it happens. And then one day, he picked me up in his Ferrari to show me his Lamborghini and his other Ferrari, of course, so that was, so that was just basically it. But the end. So anyway, there are better places to go. The big issue to networking with investors is

the big trick to networking investors, and not really that much of a trick is to just treat them like people, and actually try to establish a relationship with them. Depending on where you meet them, try to talk talk to them in the, if you're meeting them at an investor networking event, it is more appropriate for you to try to pitch something to them. However, don't start with the pitch just to actually talk to them before you do just get to know a little bit about them. What they do all that sort of stuff first, and wait for them to ask you to pitch.

Alex Ferrari 56:47
They're, they're human beings not bank accounts.

Ben Yennie 56:51
Exactly. Yeah. They're human beings, not ATMs don't treat them like an ATM, because that's a great way to piss them off and make sure they never call you. So basically. And also, it's actually really similar dating.

Alex Ferrari 57:09
It's gonna say, it is yeah,

Ben Yennie 57:13
it's a little shocking how similar it is. And I've heard some people who have raised literally hundreds of millions of dollars for different companies, and different nonprofits, and including some schools here in California. Like huge amounts, just just ungodly sums of money. And he's basically like, Yeah, no, it's really like dating. You just have to kind of like, you don't give it up on the first day. You don't give it up on the second date. Maybe the third, probably the fourth

Alex Ferrari 57:43
wrong. And you don't ask for it. When you

Ben Yennie 57:47
ask for it either. Yeah, ask for a check. No, that's a great way to get slapped. Right.

Alex Ferrari 57:52
And a lot of people, especially, especially us filmmakers, who are desperate bunch, and I put myself in that category, you know, like, I've met a lot of investors. And when I was younger, it was just like, Hi, how are you doing? Here's my movie, here's this, I need. That desperation, it gets you, you get turned off, like right away. So you have to kind of be much more subtle about it and much more.

Ben Yennie 58:13
The last thing you want to do, yeah, the last thing you want to do is sound desperate, is people will automatically assume you're going to fail if you're desperate.

Alex Ferrari 58:23
That's a good that's a good point. It's very, very good point. Yeah. So um, let me let me This is a question that I asked all of my guests. It's a very tough question. So prepare yourself. What are your top three favorite films of all time?

Ben Yennie 58:41
Can I add a qualifier on that? Of course, I'm going because actually this is a question I ask when I'm trying to pick women up in bars. The biggest difference is I say what are your top three favorite films of all time? As it stands, right this second now? Correct? Because I know these mind change

Alex Ferrari 59:03
daily. Of course, of course. So

Ben Yennie 59:07
um, anyway. I would have to go with in no particular order. Gatica Oh wow.

Alex Ferrari 59:21
Okay, yeah, I haven't heard that one on the list before. Good flick.

Ben Yennie 59:25
Thank you for smoking. And the shining

Alex Ferrari 59:35
the shiny is one of my favorites I'm assuming I'm assuming you saw room 237

Ben Yennie 59:41
Actually, I didn't Oh, you've got to watch them

Alex Ferrari 59:46
it's like it just blows it blow

Ben Yennie 59:47
your documentary on the making of the shining Yeah, yeah, it's

Alex Ferrari 59:49
a blow your mind Yes. Yeah. Okay. No,

Ben Yennie 59:52
actually I did see that okay. I got it confused with like room at the end of the hall.

Alex Ferrari 59:56
Oh, no, no, but yeah, the documentary Yeah, on It. Isn't that crazy that documentary.

Ben Yennie 1:00:02
Yeah, yeah. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:06
I'm a big Kubrick fan. So the shining is definitely up there on my list. My huge YouTube grants out. So I'm Ben, where can people find you and what you do, and I know you have a book out. So where can people find out? Yeah,

Ben Yennie 1:00:18
actually my book is, it is used as a text and 10 film schools available at Barnes and Noble on Amazon, as well as about 100 different independent bookstores. I definitely don't have time to list any of them. But what's the name of the book? The guerrilla rap American film market distribution, success on no budget, it was actually also the first book on film markets. Oh, wow. Cool. But yeah, there is one other one right now, but I took a lot of their market share before they can publish.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:53
And hence that's another lesson that's another lesson in the in the film world you got to get to market first.

Ben Yennie 1:01:00
Yes. But the so then you can also find me at the gorilla rep calm if you're looking for representation services, or you can find everything else I do. At Producer foundry.com. And you do

Alex Ferrari 1:01:17
you do podcasts as well as, yeah.

Ben Yennie 1:01:21
We do podcasts as well as blogs and we also do in person meetups, sometimes we streaming on Periscope. And we also do them on earn. We also do like full workshops that we do for a very reasonable price. I believe the average price for our workshops right now is only 20 bucks. We have worked up yeah, that's Yeah, I know. Right? At 20 bucks. I

Alex Ferrari 1:01:47
might show up

Ben Yennie 1:01:49
for 20 but they're sorry, they're 20 bucks for the replay. video, which you get to keep forever? That's why. Yeah, the they we have one on from we have one from somebody was to work with Tim Allen and Woody air sorry, Tim Burton and Woody Allen teaching budgeting because she did their budgets before that a transmedia one, then one from somebody who's helped raise more than $3 billion on pitching. And then there's also one that I did a couple weeks ago that's available for pre order because we haven't caught it yet. Um, that's on AFM. Oh, very so yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:29
And when is it when is AFM? It's I know it's coming. November 4 through through 11th. Okay, so it's coming up in a little bit this year?

Ben Yennie 1:02:36
Yeah, it's generally the first to second Wednesday and in November, there have been a couple times where it's been like due to the timing of it. There have been a couple of times where the first day has been Halloween, but most of it's generally the first is second Wednesday in November.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:53
Very cool. So well, Ben, thank you so so much for taking the time out to to speak to my audience. I really, really appreciate it. I hope you had a good time.

Ben Yennie 1:03:00
I'd actually love to have you on film inside at some point.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:02
Absolutely. My friend. I'm available anytime. Thanks again, my friend. Thanks for Ben for taking the time out to talk to us. I learned a ton about the American Film market, I plan to be going to 2015 American film market and checking that out and reporting back to you guys about my experiences there. So I'm going to put all of Ben's information, links to his books his he has some video courses as well on distribution, put them all in the show notes. Ben's a good guy. So definitely check out what he's got to say he's got a lot of great, great information. So don't forget to head on over to free film book calm that's free film book calm. So you can download your free audible.com audio book, we get over 40,000 different audio books you can download from so head on over there as soon as you can. And also please don't forget to head over to indie film, hustle calm for slash iTunes. And leave us an honest review about the show. Any review that you guys leave us help us out a ton on iTunes. So it'd be really, really helpful for us. Thank you guys again, so much for all the support, all the love. I'm gonna keep putting out this great content for you guys. If you want anything that I'm not covering, send me messages, send me emails, send me Facebook, and I'll start trying to give you guys as much as much as I can. I'm doing as much as I can. And I'm gonna keep doing, providing you with great content so you guys can survive and thrive. And this film business so don't give up the hustle. Keep pushing forward. Don't give up on the dream. Okay, no matter how hard this business cracks you over the head. Got to keep moving forward. I'll talk to you guys next time.


IFH 012: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Business

So many independent film creators just want to think of themselves as artists. That’s perfectly fine but it’s called show business for a reason. If you don’t understand the business you won’t be able to create the show. Filmmakers need to think more like a filmpreneur if you will. Put the business back into show business.

If Coca-Cola comes out with a new flavor do they do market research? Do they create a marketing plan to introduce the new product? You bet your butt they do.

Now when indie filmmakers or filmpreneurs create a new independent film or “product” most of the time they just throw there finished baby into the marketplace and hope for the best.

This is NUTZ! All that time, hard work, money, pain, blood, sweat, and tears that go into creating an independent film is for nothing. Do they just hope for the best? It’s insanity.

In this episode, I share with you what it takes to change your mindset and start thinking of your independent film not just as a precious piece of art but to also think of it as a product that needs to do well in the marketplace in order for you, as the filmmaker, to continue putting on that show!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So this week's I want to talk about something that's kind of been dear to my heart for a long time. It's one of the core pillars of what indie film hustle is about. indie film hustle is about giving you guys the tools to survive and thrive in the film business. One of the big misconceptions about making a movie is that it's only art. And there's a reason why it's called show business. It's it's a business to and there's a reason why there's double the letters in the word business than there is show because it's twice as important as the show. Because without the business, there is no show without the show, there is no business. But the business side of it is what allows us to continue the show to go on and continue to make more shows, and so on and so forth. So I want you guys to change your mindset a little bit and start thinking about film, and your projects as product. And that's a very, very key point to make. Because you have to think about your film as product, how you can monetize it, how you can sell it, how you can continue to make a living, doing what you love. First step is create an understand that your film is your product, when Coca Cola is going to release a new flavor, they don't just throw it out in the marketplace and wish for the best. That's what most filmmakers do, they raise the money, they put the money out of their pocket, they put it on credit cards, they have no idea where the movies gonna go, how it's going to be sold, what's going to be sold, how where if it's going to be sold overseas, if it's going to be sold online, if it's going to be sold to a distributor, if it's going to get into a film festival, if it's not, if it who's going to be I don't even know who their audience is, most of the time, they just make the movie because it's like I gotta make my movie. And that's great. And you need that energy to be able to make your movie, but you need to know how to sell that movie, you need to know how to be able to make a living doing this. So by thinking of your film as a product, like Coca Cola would do with a new product line, they do market research. So when you have an idea for a movie, or you have a script that you're thinking about making into a movie, do product research, call, talk to talk to your friends, talk to people on Facebook, on Twitter, on message boards, just go to where the topic of your movie is about and figure out if this is a movie that's going to be even sold. If people are even interested in watching this or even buying this. So you have to do some market research on your product before you release it. This is product release 101. Once you find out if the product is a viable product, then you have to go and find where your audience is. So then go and find what the audience is. So like if you're making a movie about a romantic comedy about vegan chef, and he happens to be a main character the whole thing's not about being a vegan chef, but he's the main character in it. Let's say he or she is a main character in it. And now your audience is not only for ROM coms, but if you're smart, you can go after the vegan movement, the vegetarian movement, the the organic movement, the gourmet food movement, the chef, the chef, crowd, the foodie crowd, there's so many other avenues of places and customers that you can look for for your film. Now I'm talking about this in the assumption that you're going to try to sell your own film, if you're going to try to sell to a distributor or things like that, this is also very important, but I'm coming, I'm coming at it from you. Because if you honestly if you if you're going to go sell to a distributor, and you don't know if this is going to be a viable product, more likely it's not. So I've had a lot of films that I've worked on, that never didn't have a star in it, and they just kind of put it out there. And the distributors like Well, there's this is not a viable product that can't sell it, it's not an genre, it's not this, it's not that it's a drama, with no stars in it has very few awards, it really doesn't matter even if you want Sundance, that you're not gonna be able to sell this. So I'm coming at it from a point of view of you're going to sell your own product. So you go to where the audience is, and you start marketing to the audience about what your product is. So if you're making a movie, I would get an I would start marketing the movie, in the pre production stages, start getting people excited about it, start putting out a poster, putting out obviously the website's most important part. And on the side note, guys, I'm going to, I'm going to come out with a lot more information about this, I'm kind of just going over it right now. But I'm going to be coming out with a lot more information about how to market your film, how to create a brand about your film and things like that. And I'm actually thinking about creating a course, specifically about an online course where people can, I can, you know, show people how to create a brand, how to sell it, how to product, launch your film, how to gain social, social media, following how to build that audience, how to sell to that audience, how to package your film, how to package your brand, and so on. So if you guys are interested in that, please give me a shout out, I'm going to do some market research right now I'm doing this on the fly, hit me up on my email or my Twitter or my facebook or my Instagram or wherever, and hit me back and say, Hey, I would love to, to buy that product. And I would really be interested in that product. I'm thinking about putting it together, it's something that some people talk to me about and say, you really should put something like this together, I'm still thinking about it. So because it's such a it's gonna be a tremendous amount of work, anything I do, I'm gonna do 110% video, audio worksheets, workbook ebooks, the whole ball of wax. So um, let me know if you guys are interested in that. So on this, I was just on a side note, sorry, sorry to go on a tangent there. But so create your find out what your audience is go market to that audience, then start building up hype about the production while you produce a while you're shooting it while you're in post, and then start talking about the product launch, which will be if you're self distributing it, I would stay away from doing a DVD or Blu ray alone. But if you're going to self distribute it through VHS or gumroad, or Vimeo pro or any of these places, start hyping it start hyping up the release date and all that stuff, and then start looking about how to package that movie because the movie itself, in many ways is just advertising for a larger product line. Let's all take a note from George Lucas. Star Wars made money. But where he really made money was his his other ancillary products, whether that be the lunch boxes, and so on. I'm not saying that you guys got to make lunch boxes for your independent film. But if you create enough hype around it, depending on what the kind of what kind of movie it is, what kind of genre it is, who's the stars in it, if there are any stars in it. You can create t shirts, hats, and package them all together to make your let's say a normal $10 sale turned into $100 sale because someone was really excited about who's in your movie, what your movies about. If they've been invested through this entire process. They will they will pony up 100 bucks. A lot of movies have been doing this product, this kind of marketing plan and it's worked great because instead of having 10 people buy 10 movies, you need one person to buy one package, t shirts, hats behind the scenes, how tos, soundtracks, autograph posters, all sorts of different things to give your audience what they want because they want to do they want to buy this. So that is one way of going about treating your movie like a product. I'll give you more tips coming up in further shows but I really just wanted to kind of go over and start the conversation about treating your film like a product and a lot of people don't talk about it like this. It's also an artistic You know, this is an artistic medium. But you know what the people who survive in this business and I keep saying business because it is a business. People who survive being a filmmaker in this business all understand the business side of it. Every single big movie director that you ever admired. Under stood the business even the most art house directors under stood the business Woody Allen has been making his movies for the last 30 years now 40 years, he keeps them under a certain budget, he attracts very, very amazing cast. And he does his movies the way he wants to do them. But he understands that the business is that I mean, he couldn't make a movie for $100 million, or Woody Allen movie cannot be budgeted $100 million, it'd be very difficult to make that money back. But at a $5 million movie, he could. And he did that over time. He built that up over time, he has a huge following of people who would just show up to a woody allen movie, because Woody Allen made it. And, and so a lot of other filmmakers as well, especially in the indie world, like Mark duplass, from the mumble core crew, and a lot of other filmmakers who keep their budgets low. And they just keep selling to their audience because the audience loves them. This happens, this is the same, this is the same thing that goes with indie rock bands, indie music, people that they just have a following. And that following pays them. And they love them. It's a wonderful exchange, I'll make art for you, you pay for my art, so I can continue to make art for you, and so on and so forth. This is the way it should be. So I hope this episode was helpful to you guys. I'm going to be doing more of these kind of episodes, kind of talking about certain topics that I feel passionate about, and hopefully give you guys great content by doing that. So please hit me up in the comments of the show notes. And let me know what you think. Also, let me know what you think about that idea about creating a product line based about how to market not only you film yourself as a filmmaker, maybe your company as a brand, all sorts of different avenues that I'm going to be going down in that course. But I want to see if you guys are even interested in me talking about it or doing the course so please hit me up. Thank you so much for all your support. Please don't forget to head over to the iTunes Store and give me an honest review. It really helps out the show a lot. Getting getting higher ranking and more people can actually enjoy the indie film hustle tribe, as you will so thanks again so much guys. Keep hustling. Keep making your movies. Don't forget, make your key Don't forget that your movie is your product that you need to sell to keep doing more movies. I'll see you guys next time. Thanks.


IFH 004: What’s a Producer’s Rep and Can They Help You?

A good producer’s rep is an advocate for your film. They can get you indoors that you wouldn’t be able to get into by yourself. They can be an amazing part of a marketing and distribution team for your independent film if you got into some of the major festivals.

Like in every part of the film business there are good and bad people. I was burned by a producer’s rep many years ago, early in my journey as an indie filmmaker and producer.

This producer’s rep, which will remain nameless, took me for over $10,000, the standard upfront free for the bottom dwellers of the profession, though it can range from $5000 – $15,000. She promised me and the director I was producing for that the HBO deal was all but a lock and that she could definitely sell it overseas.

The rep has since left the industry after being sued multiple times. Her actions have left a bad taste in many filmmakers mouths, including me but this should not sour you on producer’s rep.

I suggest you do a ton of research on the producer’s rep you plan to work with. Call other filmmakers that they have represented. Do your research. As I said before

“A good and respectable producer’s rep can do magic for you and your film.”

Good luck out there!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Today we're going to talk about producers reps, I've had different experiences with producer reps. So I'll give you a little bit example what a producer rep is. a producer's rep is basically an agent for your film. So let's say you're going to a film festival that's going to Sundance and you have a movie, a producer's rep would actually represent your movie to different bidders and things like that that would come across to you. So I have a film at Sundance, Harvey Weinstein wants it. A Paramount wants it, Disney wants it. Warner Brothers wants it and there become a bidding war. Well, your producers rep will act as the middleman, negotiating deals talking to you and basically being your agent. And it's a wonderful job, and they do a great job when you find a good one. Unfortunately, like agents, they're good ones, and they're bad ones. And then they're scum buckets. And I unfortunately had to deal with some scum buckets in my day. If an agent ever comes to you, this is not a producer's rep or an agent, an agent ever comes to you and says, I'll be your agent, but I need your retainer. I need you to pay me up front. You would say go to hell, that's not the way it works. And that would be illegal. Well, for a producer's Rep. most reputable producers reps, do not ask for any money up front. They do the work like an agent, and they get paid on commission. Many producers reps will ask for a retainer upfront. Whether they sell your movie or not, you lose your money. So let me tell you my story. I was a producer on a film a few years back a documentary. And I was approached by a producer's rep, apparently a well, a well respected one. I was still kind of wet behind the ears. And I had no idea what really what I was doing. She told me I sold I just sold this movie to to HBO had Mark Wahlberg in it, we got you know, $60,000 $100,000 and then I sold it overseas, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Well, fast forward to when she's like, Okay, well, I'll be more happy to represent your movie. I think I could do really great things with it. My retainers. 10,000. So I talked to the director of the film, and I decided because I wanted to be the producer and really wanted to give this movie the best shot I could. I paid the $10,000 and as a retainer fee. And needless to say, I did not get my money's worth. I lost money. I did get some money here and there. I think the deal that we did get the director actually finally got us I'm not sure. I don't remember exactly. But it was a couple grand if that. It wasn't anything big. So when I told her this, she was like, well, that's just the way it is, you know, we did our best. I'm like, well, that's great. But now I'm out eight grand or 10 grand. And you didn't do me you didn't you didn't do anything that you promised me do. And I was pretty much out of luck. So I lost that money. So I've been I've been actually approached by other filmmakers who saw that I dealt with this specific company on this specific person and asked me if what happened and I tell them the truth exactly what happens. So my advice to anybody in the in the in the indie film world, if you're going to get a film a producer's rep, make sure that they you do not pay a dime upfront. most reputable producers reps will not ask for money up front. If they believe in your movie truly, then it's it's you know, it's them worry about they will make their money back. So it's the ones that go well I'll just do it and you know, whatever. It he'll make a few phone calls. And if nothing comes up, nothing comes up and they got 10 Grand 15 Grand 20 grand in their pocket. And you as an indie filmmaker, that's a lot of frickin money. It still hurts even talking about losing that kind of money on a movie that I didn't even direct I was just a producer on it. Which was really, really frustrating. And to this day still bothers me. But you live and you learn its lessons that you you learn during the journey. So hopefully this podcast I can help you a little bit not to make this mistake. So please stay away from any producers rep that tells you I need money up front. They're generally scammers, or they don't believe in your movie and they're just going to take your money and just kind of throw things away and see what happens, throw some, some something at the wall and see what sticks. Now with that said, though, there are places for good producers reps. So if your movie is going to Sundance Toronto, Cannes or Tribeca, you need to put together a team, a PR person or company, your agent and possibly a high level producers Rep. They will put together there will be putting together a whole premiere for you. They're doing a lot of preparatory work. And this is where producers rep is invaluable. They can be trimmed out tremendously helpful. And if you have to pay a little bit upfront at that point, it's a different ballgame. You have a team around you. And you're not just dealing with a predatory producers rep who's just trying to steal your money. Because basically again, once they once they do take your money, they're just gonna shotgun it into a with a stack of 30 or 40 other movies that they're representing to Miramax or Lionsgate or any of these places, and your movie will be one of many movies on that pile. So buyer beware when dealing with producers reps, sometimes they're awesome. Sometimes they're just just there to take a suckers money. So I hope this helped you a little bit. It's a short episode this week, guys. As always, if you want to know the six secrets to getting into film festivals for free, I'll head over to film festival tips.com that's Film Festival tips calm. I'll show you how I got into over 500 film festivals, international film festivals for cheaper free over the course of a few years. And please if you love the show, please go to iTunes Subscribe, leave us a review and give us a five star rating You have no idea how much that helps us in the rankings of iTunes and helps more people get access to the show. So thanks again guys so much for your time. And as always keep on filming. Keep the hustle on and I'll see you guys next time.



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