Joe Swanberg: How to Shoot & Sell Six Feature Films in a Year!

Joe Swanberg, Build the wall, build the wall film

If you want to be an indie filmmaker you should definitely study the work of the prolific film director Joe Swanberg.

Who is Joe Swanberg?

I just recently not only discovered his work but also started to study his unique filmmaking process.

I heard that Joe Swanberg has made over 20 feature films in the past 10 years, six of which were made in 2011 alone (Yes — that’s six feature films in one year.) So, to say the man likes to work is an understatement. He’s the definition of INDIE FILM HUSTLE!

Despite the fact that some filmmakers who have spent decades working in Hollywood are renowned for their continuous output, Joe Swanberg happens to be one of the most productive filmmakers of his age which suggests that is he is crazy or really unique or a perfect blend of both.

In order to really understand Joe Swanberg, it is critical to know that he has given total of 11 feature films at the being 31 years of age and out of which seven were finished in 2010 and have earned millions and earned many accolades.

Why would a filmmaker ever want to produce such a high volume of work in such a short amount of time? According to Joe Swanberg,

“It was mostly about getting my work noticed.”

He said that

“If everyone is going to ignore you, then you have to start producing film after film and eventually someone is going to notice what you are doing, even if the films are total crap.”

History of Joe Swanberg

On the 31st of August 1981, Joe Swanberg was born in Detroit, Michigan. He spent most of his growing up period in Alabama and Georgia. Swanberg graduated from the Naperville Central High School which was in the Chicago suburbs and earned his Bachelor’s degree from the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale as a film major.

Swanberg directed his first feature Kissing on the Mouth in 2005. The film featured real interviews with graduates fresh out of college and had a documentary-styled approach to conversations and graphic sex. It is valued as one of the original films of the Mumblecore movement.

Kissing on the Mouth was followed by LOL (2006). This was also an independent Mumblecore film that examined the impact technology had on social relations.

The plot revolved around three college graduates in Chicago named Chris, Tim and Alex. While making out with his girlfriend, Tim watches his laptop screen. Chris is carrying on relationships via cellphones and Alex’s fixation with chat rooms destroys a would-be direct relationship with a girl he interacts with at a party. This was the first time Swanberg had worked with actress Greta Gerwig. They both team up on the directing of the next two feature films Hannah Takes The Stairs (2007) and Nights and Weekends (2008).

Hannah Takes the Stairs, an ultimate anti-romantic comedy film is known as Swanberg’s best film to date and starred filmmakers Mark Duplass, Andrew Bujalski and Ry Rosso-Young it was also his first time with actor/animator Kent Osborne.

An effort of the whole Mumblecore team, the gang was asked to give additional material on the sound and feel of the dialogue and how they thought it should be.

The final product turned out to be naturally goofy with a taste of cringe and the awkwardness of Greta Gerwig’s character defined her career from there inspiring her later role of Frances Halladay.

Greta Gerwig shared directing credit with Swanberg in Night and Weekends (2008). The story follows a long-distance relationship and its aftermath between two people who live in New York City and Chicago respectively.

The first half of the film depicts their relationship and the second half centers on the closure and the prospective continuation which happens to occur after a year of events of the first half.

Directed by Swanberg and produced by Noah Baumbach, Alexander the Last came in 2009 and was about a married actress and her sister. Swanberg spent the whole of 2009 on Silver Bullets which starred Swanberg, Kate Lyn Sheil, Amy Seimets and Ti West and had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in 2011. According to Richard Brody of The New Yorker it was the 9th best film of the year 2011.

As an actor, he has had leading roles in several horror successes, most notably You’re Next, The Sacrament, and V/H/S. Through his production company, Forager Film Company, he has produced the work of other filmmakers, including Harrison Atkin, Alex Ross Perry, and Zach Clark.

He and his wife, Kris, also created the popular web series Young American Bodies which ran for four seasons on and

You can watch his new feature film Build the Wall, in its entirety below. Starring Kent Osborne, Jane Adams and Kevin Bewersdorf.
Thanks to Joe for uploading it for free.

His plans for a fun weekend with Sarah are upended when his friend Kev unexpectedly arrives to build him a wall.

Joe Swanberg Keynote | SXSW Film 2016

In the year 2010, Joe Swanberg finished seven features films Uncle Kent, Caitlin Plays Herself, The Zone, Art History, Silver Bullets, Privacy Setting, and Autoerotic.

Uncle Kent was written by Kent Osborne and was co-directed and co-written by Swanberg. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It starred Kent Osborne, Josephine Decker, Jennifer Prediger, Swanberg and Kevin Bewersdof.

The film was about a 40-year old animator Kent, who meets a New York Journalist, Kate. Kent invites her to L.A for the weekend and Kate accepts but upon arriving she discloses that her heart belongs to someone else and Kent tries to make sense of this whole mess.

Art History and Silver Bullets premiered at the Berlinale. The rest of the 2010 films after being screened at film festivals premiered theatrically in 2011. Out of these feature films, four were included in the Joe Swanberg: Collected Films 2011 later which was a DVD boxed set.

Joe Swanberg directed and wrote Drinking Buddies which starred Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston, and Jake M. Johnson. By far his largest budget to date (about $500,000, most of his film range from $5,000 – $50,000). The film is about two co-workers Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) who work at a craft brewery Revolution Brewing and spend all the time having fun and drinking.

Supposedly perfect for each but both happen to be in relationships Luke with Jill (Anna Kendrick) and Kate with Chris (Ron Livingston). Jill asks Luke about marriage and he promises to talk about it sometime soon basically evading it. Drinking Buddies was premiered at the 2013 South by Southwest Film Festival and was also screened at Maryland Film Festival the same year.

Produced by Alicia Van Couvering and Andrea Roa and was shot by Ben Richardson, cinematographer of Beasts of the Southern Wild. Shortly after the SXSW Premiere, it was acquired by Magnolia Pictures.


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The Love of Super 16mm Film

The following year brought Swanberg’s Happy Christmas which starred himself, Lena Dunham, Melanie Lynskey, and Anna Kendrick. The plot centers on Jenny (Kendrick) who is in her 20s and an irresponsible girl who has come to Chicago to live with her older brother Jeff (Swanberg) who is a young filmmaker living a happy married life with his novelist wife, Kelly (Lynskey) and a two-year-old son.

Jenny’s arrival upsets their quiet life as she and her friend Carson (Dunham) initiate development in Kelly’s life and career.

Happy Christmas is Swanberg’s first film to be shot on 16mm film. It premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Some of his other films include: 24 Exposures and All the Light in the Sky

Digging for Fire was his next film as a director and was premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival starring Jake Johnson. He is noted advocate of internet-based distribution for the independent films and he also made his 2011 feature Marriage Material available on his Vimeo page and that too for free. Check it out:

Swanberg uses improvisation extensively and his films usually focus on relationships, sex, technology and the process of filmmaking. He takes influence by Elaine May, Lars Von Trier, Marco Ferreri, Paul Mazursky and Eric Rohmer

Joe Swanberg’s keynote at this year’s SXSW Film Festival is a must-watch for any and all indie filmmakers. What I really loved about his speech is his frankness about the financial realities of being an indie filmmaker. I love this quote and it’s so true:

“The only way you’re ever going to make any money is if you invest in your own movies.”

Sometimes no money is better than some money

The above is one of the most interesting points from the keynote because almost every indie filmmaker I know would agree that it’s better to have some small budget than no cash at all. However, Joe Swanberg has a different take on it, as he puts it:

If you have “some money”, everybody is going to want some of that “some money.” If you have “no money”, everybody knows it — and then they’re just there to work. In a best case scenario — you sell a movie and then you’re able to pay people afterwards better than you could’ve paid them if you had “some money.”

This quote really sums up a lot of what I preach on Indie Film Hustle:

Well, I think that there is a notion that for artists to think about business is to corrupt the art process. As soon as you start considering market factors and numbers and all of that stuff, you’re not being a true artist, you’re not following your true vision. To some extent, maybe that’s true, but I think that by knowing the marketplace before I go into a movie, once I’m there, I’m completely free to do whatever I want because [there’s not that] giant question mark of whether there’s an audience for that thing.

Definitely put an hour and a half aside, sit down and soak it all in. He is truly spitting out gold in this keynote.



Stanley Kubrick: The Ultimate Guide to the Legendary Filmmaker

What is that elevates a filmmaker to a film master like Stanley Kubrick, or that elegant French word, auteur? In the vast majority of films that make it onto the big screen these days, it is the actors’ names which draw curious audiences above the director’s.

In many cases, at least in a film’s public profile, the director works behind the scenes, barely participating in the promotion circuit, and in the most disheartening cases, can even earn the label of a “Hollywood Hack”.

There may be hundreds of such ill-fated directors circulating, however, the last 120 years of filmmaking have given us a precious selection of truly masterful auteurs. From Alfred Hitchcock to Jean Renoir, from Claire Denis to Quentin Tarantino, the film masters’ canon is a rich one.

Such filmmakers leave an indelible mark on their films; they exert unmistakable control over their project; they allow their creative idiosyncrasies to seep into every aspect of their process. In other words, cinematic masters have the freedom to make their films truly their own, and the vision to create something unique in doing so.

Inarguably one of the most creative, idiosyncratic, visionary directors of our time, Stanley Kubrick falls easily into this categorisation of auteur. His films, which frequently mix incisive political messages with disturbing character relationships and iconic horror imagery, are simultaneously artful and raw.

In perhaps his best-known film, The Shining, his uncanny, labyrinthine and geometric framing of the film’s hotel setting transform inanimate objects like tricycles and corridors into pseudo-characters in themselves, capable of conveying horror and unease even without explicit violence.

In his Vietnam War indictment Full Metal Jacket, Kubrick blurs the line between military brutality and full-blown abuse, masculinity and femininity, violence and sexuality, in ways no other filmmaker could. Indeed, his characteristic blending of beauty and ugliness, politics and psychology, composure and unease, have marked Kubrick’s cinema even since his earliest projects, such as

Below is by far one of the best video essays on Stanley Kubrick’s work. THE DIRECTORS SERIES is an educational non-profit collection of video and text essays by filmmaker Cameron Beyl exploring the works of contemporary and classic film directors. You can donate to support the project at:
Patreon: Before you watch the videos check out these legendary letters from the man himself Stanley Kubrick.

You can also see his settler work breaking down on of Stanley Kubrick’s most intense pupils, David Fincher. Enjoy!

Download the mp3 of the podcast here

Stanley Kubrick’s First Indie Film “Fear and Desire”

We all start somewhere and the 1953 feature film Fear and Desire is where the legendary Stanley Kubrick got his. Fear and Desire is a 60 minute independent film, written, financed, shot and directed by a 25-year-old Stanley Kubrick, who had just quit his job full-time job as a photographer at LOOK Magazine.

The film’s budget was estimated to be $10,000, a hell of a lot in the 1950s. The production was made up of 15 people:  Kubrick, five actors (Paul Mazursky, Frank Silvera, Kenneth Harp, Steve Coit, and Virginia Leith), five crew people (including Stanley’s first wife, Toba Metz) and four Mexican laborers who lugged the heavy film equipment around San Gabriel Mountains, where the film was shot. Kubrick said in an interview with Paul Mazursky interview with Paul Mazursky

“There was no dolly track, just a baby carriage to move the camera.”

Kubrick hated this film with a passion and unsuccessfully attempted to destroy every copy of the film in existence. Before a restored version of the film was played at the 1993 Telluride Film Festival Kubrick publicly said that is was:

“a bumbling amateur film exercise.”

After watching it I understand why he didn’t want anyone to see it. It’s a bit amateur and the acting and story are not what you would expect from a Kubrick film but it’s a fascinating look at his first attempt at filmmaking.

Includes a five-minute interview with the director about the film.

The Barry Lyndon Projectionist’s Letter

Stanley Kubrick was legendary for making sure his films were projects perfectly in every theater around the US. Below you’ll find an amazing letter that was sent out to all projectionists screening Barry Lyndon.

It was reproduced by screenwriter and film critic Jay Cocks, who explained:

“I knew Stanley pretty well for a while, but at the time of the Time Barry Lyndon cover I was in LA beginning preliminary work on Gangs of New York. So I had no hand in the Time cover, but still managed to let Stanley know how great I thought the movie was. He replied with his usual gracious, funny note and enclosed this letter, because he thought I’d be interested. Bet you will be too.”

Thank you Mr. Cocks. Check out the  letter below:
Stanley Kubrick letter, STANLEY KUBRICK, indie film, filmmaking, indie film hustle, Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut, Lolita, The Killing, The Shinning

A rep from Warner Brothers responded to the letter,

“We stand firmly that we are 100% in compliance with Mr. Kubrick’s wishes and edict” and that “the letter from Kubrick to projectionists was the reference for our 1.78 aspect ratio call.”

God I miss you Stanley.


Want to watch more short films by legendary filmmakers?

Our collection has short films by Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, Chris Nolan, Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg & more.

Stanley Kubrick Screenplays

Below is a collection of all of Stanley Kubrick’s screenplays. (NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes Documentary

Every once in a while a new handwritten memo or a rare behind-the-scenes featuring master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick finds its way onto the web; today I share with you the origin of many of these rare finds. Recently uploaded online,

Recently uploaded online, Jon Ronson’s 2008 documentary Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes examines where these discoveries came from and he unearths the Indiana Jones-style labyrinth of notes, memos, and memorabilia the legendary director left behind.

“The thing is, nobody outside the Kubrick house got to see the boxes.”

Stanley Kubrick’s trademark eccentricity is on full display as the documentary filmmaker, who was allowed to film by the invitation of Kubrick’s widow, digs into his methodical system of storing and cataloging countless of letters from fans filed according to where they originated from. Discovered personal notes read,

“Please see there is a supply of melons kept in the house at all times.”

This remarkable 48-minute documentary reminds us of the ridiculous amount of research, time and work that went into each of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpieces; for example, 30,000 location photos were taken during the pre-production process for Eyes Wide Shut, how Stanley Kubrick tested a crazy number of hats before choosing the one that the character Alex would wear in A Clockwork Orange

The immense amount of details that help create Kubrick’s masterworks should not be forgotten and people can regain a new appreciation of the master filmmaker and storyteller below:

Documentary on the vast array of boxes Stanley Kubrick accumulated and left behind. This is the full 61-minute version, unlike the 47-minute version. It includes a lot of behind the scenes footage from Full Metal Jacket not seen on the shorter version. The quality is lower but if you want to see a bit more footage give it a watch.

Kubrick’s The Shining(1980) – Rare Behind The Scenes Footage

The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket”

The Peter Sellers Story: Stanley Kubrick parts

Excerpts from the BBC Arena program, “The Peter Sellers Story”, a documentary directed by Peter Lydon featuring Seller’s home movies shot with his portable cameras. These excerpts covers the year when Sellers became famous in the US and the time he spent with Stanley Kubrick, making “Lolita” and “Dr Strangelove” in England.

Producer James B Harris recollects how Sellers was hired for playing the ambiguous character of Quilty and why the production was moved in England. Kubrick is portrayed with his wife Christiane while playing tennis and chatting in Seller’s home garden.

Scenes from both “Lolita” and “Dr Strangelove” are included and quotes from Kubrick statements about Sellers are read by the narrator.

The documentary features interviews with several Sellers’ friends and cooperators and a clip from 1964 TV program The Steve Allen Show where Sellers was interviewed about how he created the character and the voice of the mad Dr Strangelove by taking inspiration from photographer Arthur Fellig, aka Weegee: a tape with Weegee’s voice studied by Sellers is included, where the photographer talks about his nickname and his work.


The Ultimate Guide to Stanley Kubrick’s Lenses Collection

When you here the Stanley Kubrick you think of images. One of the many reasons Kubrick was such a remarkable filmmaker was that he came to the film industry after years working as a professional photographer for publications like Look magazine. There he learned about composition, light and of course lenses.

Not many film directors worry about the latest camera tech–cinematographers usually take that job up–but Kubrick was no ordinary director. Even though he wasn’t the first filmmaker to use the Steadicam, on The Shining, he was the first to have the rig modified so it could hover close to the ground in those legendary shots of Danny on the big wheel.

In the video below, Joe Dunton, owner of one of the biggest camera rental facilities in the United Kingdom and worked extremely closely with Stanley, takes us on a guided tour of Kubrick’s lens collection. For those who went to the traveling Stanley Kubrick exhibit (see the videos below) two to three years ago, you might have seen this video playing in the exhibit.

Kubrick rarely rented film gear or lenses and preferred to own his own. Stanley lit mostly with natural light when he could–because of his photojournalism career. Sometimes the flicker of a candle is all the light he would have, which led to the use of the legendary Zeiss lens designed for NASA as a way shooting the deep darkness of space–Kubrick used it for the evening dining room scenes in Barry Lyndon in order to capture candlelight on the slower film stocks of the day.

One of the unsung heroes in all this, it’s a man named George Hill, who was Stanley Kubrick’s go-to-guy when he wanted to create a custom lens for a project. George was also the only guy he trusted to clean his lenses collection. Enjoy!

Stanley Kubrick’s Favorite Cameras & Lenses

I’ve always been fascinated with how some of the filmmaking masters got their start. How did they break into the business? What gear did they use on their first films? What events shaped them in the early days? As many of you know I have a love for Stanley Kubrick and his films. I always knew he got his start as a photographer for LOOK Magazine but I never could find out what cameras he shot on.

I did go into a pretty lengthy post on Kubrick Lenses but now, thanks to CinemaTyler’s ongoing “Kubrick Files” series on Youtube, we can now see what cameras and photo lenses help shape this master. If you are interested in Stanley Kubrick’s early days as a photographer I recommend two amazing books on the subject:

  • Stanley Kubrick: Drama and Shadows
  • Stanley Kubrick at Look Magazine: Authorship and Genre in Photojournalism and Film

The video discusses 20 cameras and lenses including the famous Zeiss Planar 50mm F0.7, the lens Kubrick used to shoot the candlelight scenes in Barry Lyndon. We also discover Kubrick’s most beloved camera was the Arriflex 35 II, which he shot A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut.

Here are a list of the cameras and lenses discussed (via IndieWire)

1. Garflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic Camera
2. Kodak Monitor 620
3. Rolleiflex Automat 6×6 Model RF 111A
4. Rolleiflex K2
5. Rolleiflex Automat 6×6 Model K4
6. Rollei 35
7. Polaroid Pathfinder 110A
8. Leica IIIc
9. Pentax K
10. Hasselblad
11. Nikon F
12. Subminiature Minox
13. 35mm Widelux
14. Polaroid OneStep SX-70
15. Arriflex 35 IIC
16. Kinoptik Tegea 9.8mm
17. Novoflex 400mm f5.6 lens
18. Cooke Varotal 20-100mm T3
19. Cinepro 24-480mm in Arri Standard Mount
20. Zeiss Planar 50mm F0.7


Want to watch more short films by legendary filmmakers?

Our collection has short films by Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, Chris Nolan, Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg & more.

Filmmaking Books You Need to Read – Top Ten List

1) Rebel without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez

This is one of the first filmmaking books I read at film school and is still one of the best ever written. In Rebel Without a Crew, famed independent screenwriter and director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Sin City 2, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Spy Kids) discloses all the unique strategies and original techniques he used to make his remarkable debut film, El Mariachi, on a micro-budget. This is both one filmmaker’s remarkable story and an essential guide for anyone who has a celluloid story to tell and the dreams and determination to see it through.  Part production diary, part how-to manual, Rodriguez unveils how he was able to make his influential first film on only a $7,000 budget.

2) Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Story)

A bipolar gangster, a naive, young film director, and Batman. What could go wrong? Alex Ferrari is a first-time film director who just got hired to direct a $20 million feature film, the only problem is the film is about Jimmy, an egomaniacal gangster who wants the film to be about his life in the mob. From the backwater towns of Louisiana to the Hollywood Hills, Alex is taken on a crazy misadventure through the world of the mafia and Hollywood.

Huge movie stars, billion-dollar producers, studio heads and, of course, a few gangsters, populate this unbelievable journey down the rabbit hole of chasing your dream. Would you sell your soul to the devil to make your dream come true? By the way, did we mention that this story is based on true events? no, seriously it is.

Listen to the Podcast Interview

3) The Independent Film Producer’s Survival Guide

In this comprehensive guidebook, three very experienced entertainment lawyers disclose everything you need to know to produce, market and sell an independent film. From the development process to deal making, financing, setting up the production, hiring directors and actors, securing location rights, acquiring music, calculating profits, digital moving making, distribution, and marketing your movie. Highly recommended. This all-new second edition has been completed updated. 

4) In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch

In the Blink of an Eye is celebrated film editor Walter Murch’s vivid, multifaceted, thought — provoking essay on film editing. Starting with what might be the most basic editing question — Why do cuts work? — Murch treats the reader to a wonderful ride through the aesthetics and practical concerns of cutting film.

Along the way, he offers his unique insights on such subjects as continuity and discontinuity in editing, dreaming, and reality; criteria for a good cut; the blink of the eye as an emotional cue; digital editing; and much more.

5) Making Movies by Sidney Lumet

From one of America’s most acclaimed directors comes one of the best filmmaking books that is both a professional memoir and a definitive guide to the art, craft, and business of the motion picture. Drawing on 40 years of experience on movies ranging from Long Day’s Journey Into Night to The Verdict, Lumet explains the painstaking labor that results in two hours of screen magic.

6) Produce Your Own Damn Movie by Lloyd Kaufman

When it comes to producing, no one speaks with more authority than Lloyd Kaufman, founder of the longest-running independent film studio, Troma Entertainment. He reveals the best ways to seek out investors, scout locations, hire crew and cast talent, navigate legalities, and stay within your budget.

Also check out: Lloyd Kaufman’s Interview Podcast

7) From Reel to Deal: Everything You Need to Create a Successful Independent Film

Dov Simens was one of my first guests on the Indie Film Hustle Podcast and has become easily one of my most popular. From screenwriting & budgeting to marketing, Dov Simens provides encyclopedic, precise, & creative instruction for putting your vision up on the screen. With his aggressive and no bullsh*t approach, you’ll learn everything you need to know to create a successful indie film.

Also check out: Dov Simens Producing Master Class Podcast

8) The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age

A staple of indie filmmaker’s bookshelves for well over a decade, the latest edition of The Filmmaker’s Handbook has revitalized all of the essential knowledge which it has become known for and brought it right up to date. Widely acknowledged as the “bible” of video and film production, and used in courses around the world, The Filmmaker’s Handbook is now updated with the latest advances in HD and new digital formats. For students and teachers, professionals and novices, this indispensable handbook covers all aspects of movie making.

9) Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

You can see echoes of all the other aforementioned writers in this book. What I like about Save The Cat is that it’s a stripped down, fun read with a lot of helpful information. I especially appreciate Snyder’s Beat Sheet which shows with almost page number accuracy where to place those particular plot moments that help keep your story moving. Some might find it formulaic, but I think it functions very well and points to exactly the kind of scripts Hollywood has come to expect from writers. One of the best screenwriting books. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

10) The Declaration of Independent Filmmaking by Michael Polish

Less than a decade since they began working in the movies, Mark and Michael Polish have established themselves as critically acclaimed, award-winning independent filmmakers. Their innovative approach to art direction, use of digital photography, and ability to attract stellar talent to their modestly budgeted films sprang from necessity; now these aesthetics have become admired trademarks of their work.  Also check out: Michael Polish’s Podcast Interview

11) Indie Film Producing: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking

Indie Film Producing explains the simple, basic, clear cut role of the independent film producer. Raising funds to do your dream project, producing award-winning films with a low budget, putting name actors on your indie film-it’s all doable, and this book guides you through the entire process of being a successful producer with bonus tips on how to effortlessly maneuver through the sphere of social media marketing and fundraising tactics. Also check out: Suzanne Lyon’s Producing Podcast Interview

BONUS: Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film

A critical analysis of the rise of independent filmmakers examines Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival, the success of Miramax, and the careers of independent filmmakers whose work has transformed Hollywood and the film industry.

BONUS: Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ‘N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood

When the low-budget biker movie Easy Rider shocked Hollywood with its success in 1969, a new Hollywood era was born. This was an age when talented young filmmakers such as Scorsese, Coppola, and Spielberg, along with a new breed of actors, including De Niro, Pacino, and Nicholson, became the powerful figures who would make such modern classics as The Godfather, Chinatown, Taxi Driver, and Jaws. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls follows the wild ride that was Hollywood in the ’70s.

BONUS: Spike Mike Reloaded : A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema

Pierson’s name may not be a household one, but the filmmakers he’s been associated with – Spike Lee, Michael Moore, Jim Jarmusch – are well known to fans of independent films. Pierson has been friend, investor, and, most importantly, business agent to these and lesser talents and has been a fixture on the festival scene for over a decade. Go behind the scenes & see John Pierson’s pivotal role in the launching of such films as Stranger than Paradise, Clerks, She’s Gotta Have It, and Roger and Me.


Alfred Hitchcock: Breaking Down the Master’s Techniques

Alfred Hitchcock is the master of suspense. You’ll see what I mean. A hand draws back a shower curtain and a blade appears through the steam. A man descends a staircase, bearing a tray with a glass of milk that appears at once nurturing and suspicious. A young woman, alone in a museum, stares transfixed at a mysterious portrait.

“In feature films the director is God.” — Alfred Hitchcock

A man trips and falls, his vision deteriorating into a disorienting spiral. A woman boards herself up in a house, to escape the incisive beaks of the murderous creatures outside. A man and a woman press up against a windowsill, watching domestic scenes unfold as though on a television screen.

WATCH Hitch20: Exploring Hitchcock’s 20 Works of TV on Indie Film Hustle TV

Docu-series bringing the forgotten skills of Alfred Hitchcock to today’s pro filmmakers, film students, and the wannabe videographer. Experts examine each of the 20 episodes of television that Hitchcock himself directed.

A woman enters a basement, spins around a rickety chair, and finds herself face-to-face with a decomposing corpse. A brooding man wavers on the edge of a wild, windy cliff, before stepping back from the precipice. A prisoner raises his eyes to meet the camera directly and breaks into a smile.

The Cinema of Alfred Hitchcock is such an integral part of the film canon that these descriptions instantly evoke iconic images. The blade in the steam has been reinterpreted so many times throughout the years that the image has taken on a life of its own, beyond the boundaries of the film Psycho.

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic titles feature in most critics’ Best Film shortlist. Indeed, since 2012, Vertigo has beaten Citizen Kane to the number one spot on the revered Sight and Sound critics’ film poll. Hitchcock’s position as a film master is a well-deserved one. Yet in canonizing – and parodying – his work, we often lose sight of how inventive it was. For the ‘Master of Suspense‘ taught us to question both the suspicious and the mundane.

He taught us to see the danger not only in the blade through the steam, but in the empty night sky. He taught us to fear not only the suspicious stranger in the trench coat, but the husband with the glass of milk.

Alfred Hitchcock is undeniably the world’s most famous film director. His name has become synonymous with the cinema, and each new generation takes the same pleasure in rediscovering his films, which are now treasures of our artistic heritage.

Alfred Hitchcock started out in the British silent cinema of the 1920s, which reached its peak with successful thrillers such as “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1934), “Sabotage” (1936) and “The Lady Vanishes” (1938). Recognized as a ‘young genius’, Alfred Hitchcock moved to Hollywood and set about reinventing cinematic tradition, combining the modern with the classic in films such as “Psycho” (1960), “North by Northwest” (1959) and “The Birds” (1963).

Hitchcock gave talented actors such as James Stewart and Cary Grant the chance to play enduring antiheroes and imprinted the public imagination with the myth of the ‘blonde‘, as embodied by Grace Kelly, Kim Novak and Tippi Hedren.

Below I have compiled over 9 hours of the master breaking down his own work as well as many scholars doing the same. As a HUGE Alfred Hitchcock fan I really enjoyed putting this post together. It’s truly like going to film school watching all of these remarkable videos. Enjoy!

96-Minute ‘Masterclass’ Interview with Alfred Hitchcock on Filmmaking 

Eyes Wide Shut: Sex, Masks & Betrayal – Stanley Kubrick’s Final Masterpiece

Eyes Wide Shut is one of Stanley Kubrick’s last great masterpiece, and personally one of my favorite Kubrick films. Many critics and Kubrick fans considered it one of his lesser works when it was released. But as the years have gone by Eyes Wide Shut has aged extremely well. Even legendary director Martin Scorsese considers the film not only one of Kubrick’s best but on of the best films of the 90’s.

The film is an erotic drama film released in 1999 deriving its roots from a 1926 novella – Traumnovelle (Dream Story) written by Arthur Schnitzler. It was the last film to be directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick as the famous producer died four days after he showed his final cut of the movie to Warner Bros Pictures and four months before the eventual release of the film.

Kubrick’s record-breaking production schedule for Eyes Wide Shut (400 production days) garnered the Guinness World Records award for the longest continuous film shoot in history. It earned over $30 million during its first week of release, and that made it take the box office’s number one spot. Eyes Wide Shut won the Best DVD Collection for Warner Bros at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, Saturn Award in 2012.

A monumentally important screenplay. Read Stanley Kubrick & Frederic Raphael’s screenplay for Eyes Wide Shut [PDF]. (NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

Twelve years before that, in 2000, one of the key stars in Eyes Wide Shut, Nicole Kidman had won the Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress (Drama/Romance) for her role in the movie. In that same year, the movie bagged the Csapnivalo Awards for Best Art Movie and the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics Award for Best Foreign Film. It occupied the 9th place amongst the top ten films of the Year 2000, an award from the Online Film Critics Society Awards.

In the very year, Eyes Wide Shut was released, it made headlines when Stanley Kubrick was awarded the Filmcritica ‘Bastone Blanco’ Award at the Venice Film Festival. That year also saw the movie winning the Most Intrusive Musical Score Award at the Stinkers Bad Movie Awards.

The Plot: Dream or Reality?

The two main characters Dr. Bill Harford and his wife, Alice typifies the journey of a young couple living in New York. When the couple attends a lavish Christmas party hosted by a wealthy patient, Victor Ziegler, Bill hooks up with an old friend who he met at medical school, Nick Nightingale. Nick was a professional player of the Piano and was at his best at entertaining guests.

At the party, Sandor Szavost, a Hungarian man tries to pick up Alice; two young models go for Bill. While at it, Bill is interrupted by his host Victor who had been having sexual intercourse with a lady, Mandy, overdosed on a speedball. The call takes Bill upstairs where he aids Mandy to recover.


While at home with Alice the next evening, Bill entertains a strange question from his wife. Alice asks Bill if he had sex with the two girls at the party. Bill who was smoking cannabis at that time, does a good job at reassuring his wife but asks her if he has ever been jealous of men who are attracted to her. Bill’s assertion that women are more faithful than men seems not to go down well with his wife who suddenly tells him of her fantasy with a naval officer they had met during a vacation.

Disturbed by the revelation, a troubled Bill responds to the call of the daughter of one of his patients who just died. On getting there, the lady, Marion attempts to kiss him claiming to love him more than her fiancé Carl. Bill does not succumb to the temptation but from there heads to the apartment of a prostitute named Domino, but calls off the awkward encounter with the prostitute after he receives a call from his wife.

He visits a nightclub where his pianist friend Nick was playing, and there he learns about a secret sexual group and decides to attend one of their assemblies. He, however, realizes that it was a risky action to take and this earns him threats both for himself and his family.

The crux of the dark side of the movie shows forth when Bill takes a taxi to a country mansion mentioned by Nick. He can gain access with the password only to discover a quasi-religious sexual ritual held there. Even though he was masked, a woman quickly pulls him aside and intimates him that he does not belong there. She out rightly warns him of the danger he is exposed to by being at that place at that particular time.

But when the woman is whisked away by someone else, Bill has the opportunity of taking a walk around the house and seeing several masked people engaging in all manners of sexual acts.

Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers
Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers

A porter interrupts Bill and takes him to a ritual room where a disguised master of ceremonies asks him a question about a second password which Bill did not have. Bill is asked to remove his mask and his clothes. At that point, the masked woman who had earlier warned Bill stepped in and offered to redeem Bill. So Bill is ushered out of the building and advised not to speak to anyone about what he saw.

She out rightly warns him of the danger he is exposed to by being at that place at that particular time. But when the woman is whisked away by someone else, Bill has the opportunity of taking a walk around the house and seeing several masked people engaging in all manners of sexual acts.

A porter interrupts Bill and takes him to a ritual room where a disguised master of ceremonies asks him a question about a second password which Bill did not have.

Bill is asked to remove his mask and his clothes. At that point, the masked woman who had earlier warned Bill stepped in and offered to redeem Bill. So Bill is ushered out of the building and advised not to speak to anyone about what he saw.

At that point, the masked woman who had earlier warned Bill stepped in and offered to redeem Bill. So Bill is ushered out of the building and advised not to speak to anyone about what he saw.

Then matters became more complicated when Bill arrives home feeling guilty and confused then notices his wife laughing wildly in her sleep. She tells him amid tears of a troubling dream where she was having sex with the naval officer and many other men and when this was happening she was laughing at the fact that Bill was there to watch them.

By the time Bill got to Nick Nightingale’s hotel the next morning, he was told by the desk clerk that a frightened and confused Nick was taken away from the hotel by two dangerous-looking men. The envelope Nick tried to pass to the desk clerk was intercepted by the men who drove him away.

Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers
Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Bill’s encounter with Marion is to surface again after a series of events. He calls Marion after considering the sexual offers he had the previous night but hangs up when the latter’s fiancé answers the phone. He heads straight again to Domino’s home where he receives the news from her roommate that Domino has just tested positive for HIV.

Bill is later invited to Ziegler’s house and told about his intrusion at the ritual sexual orgy the previous night and day. Bill is told not to divulge information about the ritual orgy for any reason or risk the anger of the secret society. When Bill cannot ascertain if the claims on Mandy’s death and Nick’s disappearance as made by Ziegler were true, he decides to speak no further on the matter and to let it drop.

He returns home to find a rented mask beside his wife who was fast asleep. He is broken and in tears narrates the events of the past two days to his wife. The next morning they go Christmas shopping with their daughter, and Alice insists that they should be grateful they survived the whole drama of those days. She professed her love for him and called him out for some sex.

Going Down the Rabbit Hole of Eyes Wide Shut

There are many messages embedded in this enigmatic and suspenseful film that requires a second look. Firstly, the story reveals the travails of the modern couple, who instead of being enmeshed in the hot flames of love and romance is profoundly unsatisfied and seem tied together by factors like convenience and appearances rather than pure love. While the couple can be seen as being modern and belonging to the upper strata of society, the tie that binds them together are the result of basic, primal and sometimes animalistic behavior.

Secondly, mingling with the elite may be desirable and even enjoyable, but it may somehow have some negatives attached. So Bill and Alice attend the party of Victor Ziegler (whose last name means Freemason in German, read into that as you like all you conspiracy theorists out there), a super-rich patient of Bill’s. While there is much to cherish about at the party concerning glamor or elegance, the events that take place after that made matters worse for Bill and Alice. There is also a veiled connection between the party and the occult dimension that runs through the movie.

Thirdly, Eyes Wide Shut re-echoes the notion that beyond elitist glamor, in most cases there are dark, horrific truths about the wealthy. Even though throughout the film there is the depiction of the rainbow and many colors used as a symbol of elegance and glamor, when Bill is interrupted by Victor who goes to see Mandy overdosed in the bathroom, the dark sides began to be revealed.

Fourthly, the practicability of marriage was also questioned by the movie. Even though Alice rejected Sandor’s advances, she was enticed, nevertheless. Her comments give her out as completing unbelieving that Bill loves and trusts her. This behavior triggers the feelings of jealousy in her husband who ends up in a strange situation that totally contradicts the principle of monogamy. The movie also echoes the dilemma of good versus right.

The Real Message: In making Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick had one primary intention in mind; prompt his audience not to be carried away by the flamboyant exhibition of wealth. Because behind the ‘rainbow world’ exists a dark and troubling reality which Kubrick exhibits subtly and sometimes not so subtly in every aspect of the film.

Kubrick helps the audience rethink the institution of marriage, the strength of real commitment, faith and temptation. It’s a film that has layers and makes you ponder more deeply about life. Eyes Wide Shut is a complex look at our society today and it makes the audience look beyond what’s on the surface.

So firstly, he portrays the lifestyle of the typical New York wealthy elite and shows that on that scale alone, that lifestyle is beautiful and enjoyable. But he quickly reveals that behind the rainbows lie some hidden secrets that most people would not want to be associated with.

Making Eyes Wide Shut

Information available shows that Stanley Kubrick was interested in making a film about sexual relations as far back as 1962. But that desire never saw the light of day until he read Arthur Schnitzler’s ‘Dream Story’ in 1968. He got interested in adapting the story and with the help of a journalist, Jay Cocks, bought the filming rights to the book.

Eyes Wide Shut, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Full Metal Jacket, STANLEY KUBRICK, indie film, filmmaking, indie film hustle, Clockwork Orange, Lolita, The Killing, The Shinning
Eyes Wide Shut – Production Still (1999)

Over a decade, Kubrick considered making the ‘Dream Story’ adaptation a sex comedy, but that did not materialize immediately. He, however, revived the project in 1994 when he hired Frederic Raphael to work on the script. He further invited his friend, Michael Herr to help write a script for revisions, but Herr declined because he would not commit to a lengthy production and thought he might be underpaid.

The film began production in 1996. Kubrick had been planning to make Eyes Wide Shut after completing work on ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ but then got the opportunity to adapt ‘A Clockwork Orange.’ Stanley Kubrick ran into several challenges in the course of making the movie.

For instance, the studio pushed him back to cast major A-list stars. The head of Warner Bros at the time, Terry Semel told Kubrick:

“What I would love you to consider is a movie star in the lead role; you haven’t done that since Jack Nicholson in The Shining.”

Stanley Kubrick had always planned to feature a real-life couple in the movie, and his first option was to go for Alec Baldwin and Kim Bassinger. But he later settled for Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman who were married between 1990 and 2001.

The movie was filmed in London even though it was set in New York. In reviewing the film, Vanity Fair noted that Kubrick sent a particular designer to New York to take real measurements to determine the exact width of the streets and the distance between newspaper vending machines.

Another strange event in the making of Eyes Wide Shut is the fact that the script kept changing. One of the characters Todd Field who played the part of Nick Nightingale, they would rehearse a scene a crazy number of times and the scene would change within an hour.

They would get back to the script supervisor for amendments, and that would lead to a complete change of content. And in the middle of the production, Tom Cruise, the lead actor developed an ulcer. He was able to handle the occasion and work with Kubrick to get the production going successfully.

Photo Courtesy of Warner BrothersPhoto Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Tom Cruise also reported that Cruise wanted to re-enact his personal story as part of the movie, and thus he recreated his New York apartment for the film. He used the same furniture in his house and ensured that his wife, Christianne’s paintings were used on the walls. According to Cruise ‘it was as personal a story as he’s ever done.’

To reiterate Kubrick’s attention to detail and accuracy, he banned Cruise from the set on the days Kidman would shoot the scene with a male model. Six days were spent filming the scene which lasted for just one minute, and Kidman was forbidden from telling Cruise about the scene. This was to make the movie depict real-life jealousy among couples in as clear cut away as possible.

Kubrick’s penchant for accuracy was also revealed when he got Cruise to do a simple walking through the door scene 95 times.

On trying to re-enact reality as clearly as possible, Kubrick got Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman to live like real characters when the cameras were not focused on them. They slept in their characters’ bedroom together, were made to choose their curtains and left their clothes on the floor just as they would do in normal life.

Kubrick even discussed the couple’s anxieties in private conversations so that the actors could tap into some emotional intrigues while acting.

A sad part of the whole production is that Stanley Kubrick passed away just a few days after showing Warner Bros studio his cut. It is therefore not known how much he would have kept editing the film. After his death, the promoters of the movie decided to digitally alter the bodies in the orgy scene so the movie could be released with an R rating rather than an NC-17.

Some analysts have claimed that Stanley Kubrick would have done the same if he was alive. Nicole Kidman even suggests that he would have kept tinkering with the movie for the next 20 years.

By the time Eyes Wide Shut was released, twelve years had passed when he had released his last film, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ which came out in 1987. But Eyes Wide Shut was Stanley Kubrick’s only film to top the box office’s earnings chat, amassing over $30 million in its first week of release.

This movie made tons of headlines before and after its release. Even its main character; Tom Cruise did not like the role of Dr. Bill Harford. Cruise revealed a year after the movie was released that he ‘didn’t like playing Dr. Bill…It was unpleasant. But I would have kicked myself if I hadn’t done this.’


Eyes Wide Shut’s Impact on the Film Industry

Kubrick’s brother-in-law, Jan Harlan posits that Stanley Kubrick was undoubtedly happy with the film and even considered it his greatest contribution to cinema. Even though one of Kubrick’s actors in ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ R. Lee Ermey disputed the claim by saying that Kubrick called him two weeks before his death to express his despondency about the movie claiming that critics would ‘have him for lunch.’

However, Stanley Kubrick has been praised for his distinct style, attention to detail, a knack for accuracy and ability to bring out real-life meanings from symbolisms.

Eyes Wide Shut, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Full Metal Jacket, STANLEY KUBRICK, indie film, filmmaking, indie film hustle, Clockwork Orange, Lolita, The Killing, The Shinning
Eyes Wide Shut – Production Still (1999)

The Critics

The movie, just as its producer was very controversial from the very beginning. Firstly, the Warner Bros, citing contractual obligations to deliver an R rating, had to digitally alter the orgy scene for the American release-blocking out the graphic sexual activity by including some figures to obscure the view. This onset direction was done to avoid the dreaded “adults only rating” of NC-17 which would have led to its limited distribution.

This alteration did not go down well with analysts and critics who thought that Stanley Kubrick would never have shied away from ratings for his movies as long as they passed his intended messages.

However, the versions released in South America, Europe, and Australia featured the orgy scene in its original form with ratings suitable for people 18 and above. There have been some controversies in New Zealand and some parts of Europe where people considered the explicit sexual content of the movie unacceptable.

Analysts like Roger Ebert have put up strong objections against the blurring of the orgy scenes claiming that it only buttressed the hypocrisy associated with movie ratings.

Other critics have described the film as being better at mood than at substance. They think that the film is empty of ideas and does not inspire any audience to watch the film. Many of these critics have described this act as a ‘minor Kubrick.’

But overall, the reviews for Eyes Wide Shot were positive. It had 7.5 out of 10 from 146 reviews, and the general consensus was that Stanley Kubrick’s intense study of the human psyche was able to yield outstanding cinematic work.


Stanley Kubrick delivered Eyes Wide Shut with a budget estimated to be $65 million. In marketing the movie, Warner Bros followed Kubrick’s secrecy campaign to the point that the film’s press kits contained no production notes. However, Warner Bros promoted the film heavily and used initiatives like putting it on the cover of Time Magazine and show film business programs like Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood.

In conclusion, this is a movie worth the time of the audience. Stanley Kubrick did a fantastic job at passing his message even though with knocks from critics.

Many highly-rated movie stars were involved in the making of Eyes Wide Shut. The main cast of the movie includes:

  • Tom Cruise (Dr. William ‘Bill’ Harford)
  • Nicole Kidman (Alice Harford)
  • Sydney Pollack (Victor Ziegler)
  • Marie Richardson (Marion Nathanson)
  • Todd Field (Nick Nightingale)
  • Sky du Mont (Sandor Szavost)
  • Rade Serbedzija (Mr. Milich)
  • Vinessa Shaw (Domino), Fay Masterson (Sally)
  • Leelee Sobiesky (Milich’s Daughter)
  • Alan Cumming (Hotel Desk Clerk)
  • Leon Vitali (Red Cloak)
  • Julienne Davis (Amanda ‘Mandy’ Curran)
  • Thomas Gibson (Carl Thomas)
  • Madison Eginton (Helena Harford)

IFH 402: Debunking Myths & the Future of Indie Film with Emily Best

Right-click here to download the MP3

Today on the show we have returning champion Emily Best. Emily is the founder and CEO of the crowdfunding platform Seed&Spark, which she started with a group of independent creators after the challenges and lessons of producing my first feature film, Like the Water

“Storytelling can change the world – when everyone can see themselves reflected in the stories we share, we empower all people to take part in shaping how we see our past, our present and our future.” – Emily Best

I wanted to have her back on the show to talk about the state of indie film and how filmmakers can survive and thrive in the future. I recorded this interview before COVID-19, just around the time TUGG went under (you can read about that here).

We have a spirited conversation about the future and how the mindset of filmmakers needs to change to make it in the future. Enjoy my conversation with Emily Best. 

Alex Ferrari 0:27
Well guys, today on the show, we have returning champion Emily Best from seed and spark. And I want to have Emily back to kind of talk about the state of indie film, how to debunk a bunch of myths that filmmakers have about not only the filmmaking process, the distribution process, how to raise money, all those kinds of things. And I couldn't have a better guest to do that. And I do want to let you know that we recorded this pre COVID so there will be no mention of Coronavirus or anything like that. In this episode. I recorded around the time that the film The film, theatrical film aggregator, I guess you would call it tugg went under. And we kind of talked a little bit about that and future film aggregators and all that kind of stuff as well. But there is some amazing, amazing content in this episode. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Emily Best. I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Emily Best. How are you sweetie?

Emily Best 3:20
Thank you so much for having me? I'm doing all right. It's a Friday.

Alex Ferrari 3:23
It is a Friday. It is a Friday. I'm so glad to have you back. You were one of my original guests. I think you were like in the 20s if I'm not mistaken of the podcast, and now we're getting close to 400. So it's been four years over four years since we've spoken. I mean we spoken but we haven't been on the on the show. So it's it's crazy. It's a lot has happened in your world that in mind thing. I remember you were a great interviewer back then. So I'm super excited to experience x plus 400 hours of practice I am I have the pressure, the pressure. I don't know if I could take the pressure this is this is way too much. So for people who don't know who you are Emily, can you talk a little bit about who you are, and tell us a little bit about yourself?

Emily Best 4:12
Yep. I am the founder and CEO of a company called seed and spark. Think of seed and spark like a Digital Studio. We are built to increase equity and inclusion and entertainment and optimize for the cultural impact of the work our creators make. Fundamentally I believe Equity and Inclusion happens when creators can make a sustainable living from their work wherever they are. Diversity has to be both demographic and geographic and along a lot of dimensions. And building equity is really about building pathways that everyone has a fair chance of using. So our company is sort of divided up into three pieces that all work together to form our version of this Digital Studio and unlike studios that profit off creators our hope eventually is just to profit with creators. We have a national education program, we teach about 120 live workshops a year in more than 50 cities. And we have some online education as well. On our website, we teach creators the tools for creative sustainability, we teach them how to understand connect with audiences learn to monetize them. We teach pitching, we teach distribution, then we have a crowdfunding platform that has the highest campaign success rate in the world. And until this year, we have been entirely focused on motion pictures. We've helped more than 2000 projects raised over $25 million with the highest campaign success rate in the world, which is about 80%. And this year, as I said to you, before we started recording, we're rolling out across other storytelling verticals. So the highest campaign success rate in the world is now not limited just to filmmakers. If you make, you know, podcast, books, games, software, music, theater dance, what am I missing, there's so many ways to tell stories. If you're a storyteller in any medium, you can now take advantage of our suite of tools. And then we work on on distribution with creators. So we do have an online streaming platform. It is highly curated right now because it's it's actually not our core focus, we really see the streaming platform as a tool in the toolkit of creators who are building creative distribution strategies. And that's really where we have focused our attention. So we work with creators on building event ties distribution, sort of rolling their, their content, I have to say content now, because we're not just talking movies and shows anymore, rolling your stories out for live audiences in different places, through various event tie strategies. And then our newest addition is we have found a pathway for right now just film, although we have figured out that it won't be just for film in the future. But our pathway are to bring films into workplaces to help companies build more inclusive workplaces. And so if you think of that education is sort of the pipeline and the creator cultivation. Our online platform is where you can build audiences and make your work. And then we have these distribution strategies. So that's a studio it just built really differently for the things that we care about.

Alex Ferrari 7:32
That's that's man, you're busy lady. We're busy. I mean, I thought I hustled My God, you guys are Stephens bark hustle. tmcs. Exactly. So you, you, you lot how old is seems Mark's been around for how many years now?

Emily Best 7:52
Seven, and a pinch, Sherif. We launched in December of 2012. Okay, and we relaunched the website and what is time, Alex 20. The Fall of 2015, we relaunched the website. And that I would say was really when we kind of started to get off the ground because the first version of the website as any, anybody out there who used us pre 2015, sorry about the technology. We were doing our level best.

Alex Ferrari 8:22
You actually you actually talked to me around that time it was around the fall of 2015 is when I launched the podcast in the summer, so we would have probably been around that time when I interviewed you. Well, I can't I can only tell you from my experience, everyone listening, I crowdfunded my first film, this is Meg, with seed and spark in 2017. I think it was 2017 if I'm not mistaken, and I had a wonderful, wonderful time. And I first of all, I can't stand crowdfunding personally, it's just too brutal. It's, it's really hard. It's hard. It's brutal. It's emotional. It's just it's rough. But the experience with you guys and working with the platform was wonderful. And, and we were able to fund the film completely. And I was able to shoot the movie pretty much in in black and like I was in the black when I was shooting. So that was amazing. Case Study, and we're gonna follow up with you after Yeah, I mean, I was literally I was because I already started shooting because it was such a small budget before we launched the campaign because it was just me a camera and my main actress, I'm like, Okay, before we bring in all the other cast, let's just shoot all the stuff we're gonna shoot at you in your house. And we did that. So as we were shooting, like in my crowdfunding video, there was there was scenes from the movie already, because I was already shooting so I was already shooting the movie. So when I was all said and done, we looked at the numbers. I'm like, I think we can literally be free because we didn't have to worry about money. Yeah, so I looked at the entire experiment and the entire experience is an experiment for me. as a filmmaker is like, you know what, I'm just gonna try this. And if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. It's, you know, it is what it is. But it worked, it did very well. And also got it It also got accepted to. So we sold it to Hulu. So it was great.

Emily Best 10:15
So when when you're already in the black, we like you're not worried about sales price as much. And you're just like, that's the cherry on top. That's awesome.

Alex Ferrari 10:22
No for that film and went to Hulu, I got sold internationally to different territories. And I and I, you know, I sell it on my own streaming platform, and I still make money with it all the time as well. And my partner who's the star of it, Jill, we're very, we were extremely happy and see the spark was just wonderful part of it. So that's why I always promote you guys. Because you're, like I say you personally are kind of like a shining light in the mud. In darkness that is destroying this industry in so many ways.

Emily Best 10:51
We're in it, we're in a weirdly dark time for as much money as there is going into the business. We are in a weirdly dark time. I mean, you and I talked about this. I don't know a couple weeks ago, I came out of this sort of January festival scene. I'm feeling really distressed. Because you know, I go there. And I talked to festivals, and I talked to indie distributors and I talked to platforms and I talked to theaters and I talked to creators, I talked to producers. And none of them are like I'm rolling in cash. They're like, Where the fuck is the money? Money, I'm not making money, he's not making money. They're not making money. She's not making money, like, Where is the money. And I'm scared when when distribuir closes, when tug shuts down. There is an indication that the ecosystem is not super healthy right now. And it doesn't surprise me. So over the last seven years, we've seen the great pivot to streaming, right Netflix 1010 years ago decides we're going to go all streaming, they have this big vision, they're not wrong about it, except that nobody's talking about the fact that they're not a profitable business. Right, they have a ton of income. But it doesn't seem to be coming from a model that nets profit. In fact, they're $26 billion in debt 20 to 26 like that.

Alex Ferrari 12:23
They're using the Amazon, they're using the Amazon model that they're just gonna go into debt and debt and debt. But the main difference between the Amazon model and them is Amazon is extremely diversified where Netflix is not.

Emily Best 12:33
Yeah, that's right. And so we see that happening. And there are a couple of things that that really bothered me about this model. Number one is, as everyone else in the industry has gone, the way of subscription streaming, there are three things that are happening that I think are challenging, and I'm gonna name them up front. So you can remind me because by the time I get to number two, I will already forgotten. That's what small having small children did to my brain, I understand. Number One has to do with personalized recommendation algorithms. Number two, is what it does for creators long term sustainability. And there was a number three, look, I've already forgotten what the third one was, maybe I'll get there. So number one is, if all of these major companies are competing around subscription streaming, what they're competing for is the most of subscriber time they can so that you don't have time to like go to another platform, right? They want to be your sort of soul space. It's by competing for subscriber time, it means they're optimizing for keeping you on the platform. And they're all doing this through personalized recommendation algorithms, personalized recommendation algorithms, those are like math functions that are trying to figure out what you would want to watch. If they are programmed to keep you on the platform. They're programmed to keep you comfortable. They are not programmed to challenge your worldview, or change your mind or make you think differently, or build empathy for your neighbor. Now from the place that I sit in the universe talking to creators all across the country who are trying to tell untold stories, and raise up voices that have not been listened to, for the last century of Motion Picture entertainment. They are trying to build bridges, build empathy, change minds change perspectives. And yet the mechanism for delivering entertainment is literally programmed to thwart its cultural impact. So that's challenge number one. Now, I think that leaves a lane wide open for creators who want to build real community for platforms that want to bridge the online and offline experience and for theatres and festivals to become this meeting place. Because if the platform is programmed to keep you there, and to isolate you inside your own bubble, there's always research now that shows that personalized recommendation algorithms create the same kind of content bubbles on your streaming platforms, you get in opinion bubbles on social media, right? So so that's one challenge that has to do with like audiences are getting isolated. Good and insulated with the way that entertainment has gone even as we have the rise of equity and inclusion in entertainment, and these creators want to do exactly the fucking opposite of that. Since you haven't scolded me, I'm gonna assume I can continue to drop that.

Alex Ferrari 15:15
I mean, I was just gonna let you go, and it's okay, I've dropped an occasional f bomb on the show as well. So you can, you can go, thank you. You're passionate, and I appreciate, you're passionate about it. And listen, I have some episodes that make a sailor blush. So

Emily Best 15:32
I probably won't do that. But I did. I did finally read something that said people who swear more trustworthy. And I was like, that's why I do it. Sure, sure. But that works. The second thing is that we're starting to see these Digital Studios, operating like the pre trust bust studios. So they're signing all these first look deal where they own all your material upfront. And there, they are spending a shit ton of money on a few creators who have no long term upside against the content. So it used to be, you know, you could you could sell off. I mean, what your experience is, is there's like a really long tail monetization strategy. And if you build something that's really good, and it has presence and

Alex Ferrari 16:22
Seinfeld, friends or

Emily Best 16:24
Anything like that, like you could make money on it for the rest of your life. That is going away. Yep, it is right. And creators across the board are beat or being turned into work for hire against their own IP.

Alex Ferrari 16:39
See, even down, it's an emergency, they're coming.

Emily Best 16:45
But this part is crazy to me. And I see creators like lining up to give away their IP into 99 year contracts with Netflix, who could cancel you after two seasons, because it's financially beneficial for them to do so. And then they own your content forever. Yep, your baby your stuff. Right, they can decide where you go, somebody who is not talking to you is writing a recommendation algorithm that may never surface your content to the appropriate audience because they, you know, the math function hasn't really figured it out. So that's the second piece that I think is, is a huge challenge and is is really disrupting the marketplace. And the final piece is that with the exception of Disney, Apple and Amazon, Disney makes content to drive to their live events. And Apple drives you to buy devices, and Amazon is selling you content. So you buy toilet paper from them, right? But the other the at&t, right, which is now Time Warner, right? They own the pipes, they own the devices, they own your internet into your house, and they own the content on those pipes. Like these are massively consolidated conglomerates. These are not ethical business models. And they are driving the price of creativity down as they're competing for one another. It's sort of like Uber and Lyft. Like in order to compete, they have to drive the price that they are paying drivers down, down, down, down, down. So you're commoditizing creative labor, yes. You're not giving people an opportunity to build long term equity. And they're sucking up a ton of capital. But these are not profitable business.

Alex Ferrari 18:30
It's not sustainable. It's not sustainable at all. But I wanted to ask you, because I've wrote I've written about this a lot as well. I believe that there is a devaluation of media in general of visual media because it happened with books in the book. And in the in the publishing industry. First, it happened then in the music industry. And now it's happening to us. So if you want to see a model of what we're going to be just look at the music industry, there used to be 10, student 10 labels. Now there's like four. And before you used to have to pay $18 for a song now it's essentially free. Beyonce is making Beyonce, one of the biggest stars in the world is making a 10th of a cent every time it's played on Spotify. And that's considered good. So there's no sustainability into and that's where we're all going in the in the in the film industry. Would you agree?

Emily Best 19:18
Yes. And the way that musicians get around it is they tour and they build a direct relationship with their audience. And that's what creators across industries have to learn to do. Yep. So that's what that's really what we're building on the distribution side. I'm seeing spark is like the infrastructure for creators to be able to tour things like movies. And there are lots of examples of it in in is, you know, 10 years ago was 10 years ago or eight years ago with a film called good Dick was one of the first sort of, you know, widely lauded self theatrical releases, but people had been doing events is releasing I mean, don't sis dolomite? Yeah, exactly dolomite you have Tyler Perry, Cheryl Bedford did this with dark girls. I mean, there are people who have been doing versions of this because they've been left out of the mainstream in the first place. Um, I actually think dolomite is one of the best examples or a creator of any kind to follow. Most especially because like he wasn't discouraged while he was bad at it.

Alex Ferrari 20:28
He was he was like, he was like a successful ad would.

Emily Best 20:32
But yeah, but he was, but he was basically like, while I'm bad at it, I'm just going to work until I get better at it

Alex Ferrari 20:38

Emily Best 20:40
Perfect, and therefore I quit. It was such an incredible story in that way.

Alex Ferrari 20:44
And he also what he also understood his audience, he understood his niche audience, and he made a product for that niche audience. And I watched that movie. And as I'm watching that movie, I was just like, this is amazing, like roadmap. It's a roadmap on how to do it. And he liked he took risks. He put all his royalties up from his music, his comedy albums, to the and he did like 10 movies or something like that. And he owned them.

Emily Best 21:07
It's also a lesson to make stuff that's important to your audience, right, like, seen at the end, where his co star stops him and says, Nobody puts people like me, I've still been like, Nobody puts people like me on the screen, like, it does. It does matter, right. And so I think all of this is an opportunity. What it means is, filmmakers have to stop subscribing to the myth of getting picked. They really have to stop stop subscribing to the like, I'll just go away and make the perfect thing. And then I will get noticed. Like, it just doesn't work like that anymore. Not if you want to build long term career equity, like, could you maybe write a really great script and get it picked up by netflix? Sure. It's a lottery ticket. Is that but is that also not only is it a lottery ticket? Like is it the best way to build long term career equity? I mean, I don't know like go ask people who've had their shows that they worked on for years and that they loved and nurtured, canceled after a season or two with no information or data about how that decision was made. And see what they say.

Alex Ferrari 22:15
Exactly, it's because I feel that not only screenwriters but I think filmmakers are living in the past and they're making movies like it was 1990 and then all of a sudden, you know, for lack of a better term Miramax who was the the company I know, but that was the company in the 90s who did what they did they you know, if it's not Miramax, Fox Searchlight or Sony classics those guys, they came in and and and built up, you know, built up these careers area, you know, remember in the 90s in every every month, mariachi clerks reservoir, you know, Linkletter like there was so many, and so many filmmakers are still living in that amazing stretch of launching white male filmmakers careers. Exactly. There was the occasional john Singleton and Spike Lee, but that's, you know, a rarity, and none and then Robert, the only Latino in the bunch. I think, being a Latino myself. So that's why I love Robert so much. But yeah, but that's basically what it was. And people are still thinking that and I think now this is the first time I've actually even thought about this. But you're absolutely right, is screenwriters are still living in the world that you're going to write a spec script or either get a job on on a show or sell it or something like that. But that's not sustainable anymore, because you're not going to get the back end and the residuals that the industry has, has lived on. I was talking to an actor the other day, who was a very, he was a very successful character actor. He's been in 1000 things. And he was telling me He's like, Alex, that the residuals are gone. Like I used to do one or two national spots a year commercial spots, and he was good. He was good, those are all going away. And now 80% of films are being done with non union. So the unions are starting to lose their their power. You know, it's it's a very scary time. And I keep telling people, this is a good economic time. We're not in we're not in a downturn, we're not in a crash per se. It right 2008 happens again, or worse. What do you think's gonna happen to the tugs and distributors of the world, even Netflix's of the world for that matter? Yeah, I mean, I

Emily Best 24:21
think I think that's a really interesting question to ask because there are some companies like seed and spark like gum road, who we built ourselves to be around for a while.

Alex Ferrari 24:34
You have a solid foundation.

Emily Best 24:36
Yeah. And a business model that I mean, crowdfunding emerged from the ashes of the 2008 financial crisis, right? That's, that's what crowdfunding was built to overcome. At the time, it was like people who had rich uncle's, their rich uncle's weren't investing and so they had to turn to a thing and now crowdfunding has gotten A lot more sophisticated. And also we don't have like, there was also built on the like Facebook, open social graph, which doesn't exist anymore. A lot more sophisticated, but it's also available to a lot more people. And, you know, we've certainly spent all of our time making it a tool that anybody from any kind of background can actually use successfully. But it means, you know, it means coming to work differently. In terms of the the financial time, I think there are more tools available to creators to monetize their work than ever before. But it's not. You don't make your work the same way that you would, if you were aiming for a Netflix and you don't, you know, you don't raise two and a half million dollars for a movie and make it and then figure out who's going to buy it Oh, like, I just don't think you should do that anymore.

Alex Ferrari 26:00
You can do that with $100,000, let alone two and a half million new lessons 100,000 you can lose.

Emily Best 26:06
I was gonna say it's actually more important not to do it with $100,000 movie. And that's, that's why we started teaching workshops on distribution is to really give creators the tools, they needed one like, Okay, so we've been teaching these crowdfunding workshops for half a decade now. And we started teaching them in Atlanta, and we did a creative marketplace survey there and a few other cities where we were teaching where there's like big, solid, creator communities, and like a lot of talk about like creating a sustainable, independent ecosystem. And so we surveyed creators on what what are your challenges and funding and team building and distribution? And in funding? everybody's like, Where are the investors? Right? Which is like, just a question you have for the rest of your life.

Alex Ferrari 26:50
Where's the money? Where's the money? Yeah.

Emily Best 26:51
The second question is like, what are the challenges of building team and those are like, you know, finding the core team, making sure it's diverse enough, being able to pay them like these sorts of things. By the way, what we have seen from economic surveys of our crowdfunders is that 80% of money raised in crowdfunding goes to pay cast and crew, which I find really exciting. That's awesome. Because it's a job creator. And the final section we asked about was distribution. And we laugh, we have a laugh in the office, because most of the answers to the questions that we asked about distribution, were just literally question marks.

Alex Ferrari 27:30
Nobody knows. Nobody knows.

Emily Best 27:31
People didn't know what they didn't know. And we're like, Okay, let's do this. So we created sort of a distribution one to one about like, what what is it really, really to distribute in this marketplace? Like, what are the steps? What are the capabilities, what are the possibilities, we interviewed a bunch of like key players in independent distribution and TV, etc. And then we built we, we pulled together a bunch of case studies of creators who took the time to really get to know their audience, built up the important organizational partnerships and influencer partnerships and festival partnerships, and, and really always had their larger career in mind. And similar to your story, managed to really well monetize their films, and make sure those films reached the audiences that they really cared to reach with them, which we have myriad examples of where distributors fail to do it. And something I often do in the room. Because, you know, we're in cities across the country. And so some cities who are like, you know, basically never featured in movies that we all see on the big screen, right, like cities that are kind of absent from our national imagination. So I go in, and we're in a, we're in a room of 200 people. And I'll be like, okay, Who here is working on a project, that's like, really not like anything that's been made before. And like, half the hands might go up. And I'm like, cool. I just want you to know that that means no sales agent has ever sold a movie like yours before. And no distributor has ever distributed a movie like yours before. They are not the experts. They know things based on their past experience. But you've just told me they've never had an experience like working with a creator like you on a movie like this. So if you don't show up, being able to talk to them about who your audience is, how they like to be reached, how they like to be talked to everything that dolomite knew about his audience that got the the record label to call him and the studio to call him. It wasn't until he knew all those things, that distributors were literally lining up to work with him. Right? And because he knew all that the popular critical opinion didn't mean shit doesn't matter. Right. So I feel like there's just this mentality that like, I'm just the creator and I all I'm supposed to know is the creative thing. If you don't know at least enough to be dangerous. You're done. Yeah, and there's so many examples. movies. Like there was there's some really terrible statistics actually of like movies made by black directors, who would go to Sundance and get a nice looking distribution deal. And the distributors really didn't know what to do with black films Besides, like, put them out on DVD during Black History Month. I'm not joking. It's just ridiculous. I have specific examples to point to, and they don't make their money back. And then that is a mark on the Creator, not the distributor. Correct. And that is a mark on an entire quote, unquote, niche audience, even though it's like 13% of our population, plus everybody else who doesn't need to look like the protagonist in the movie to enjoy it. There's a lot of us, by the way, right, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 30:46
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Emily Best 30:57
So it's, I think it's, it's just a time for us to deeply reevaluate the myths of success, our system and start elevating different stories about what's successful.

Alex Ferrari 31:10
So I, you know, I went to, I wanted to ask you this, because, I mean, I've been I've been neck deep in the distribution side of stuff now for a while. And then once I got involved with the distributor, you know, debacle and became kind of like the spearhead of that situation, which by the way has not finished, we're still going through stuff with that that scenario. I was invited to go speak at AFM, and I know your feelings about AFM. But I've read your feelings on AFM. And that's fine. I completely understand. By the way, AFM dropped two days off their schedule for this year, because na went from a place anymore because it went if we went from 800 distributors down to 351, this year, and then next year is probably going to be less. And but the one thing I did notice, because I went this year and I went last year was the that I just realized that nobody understands what's going on. None of the distributors are really at this at that level, the mid and low level distributors, which are where a lot of these indie movies would get picked up by you know that the big, not the big studios, not the Fox Searchlight, or even God forbid any of the major studios, there's only a handful up there that will even look at them. So we're talking about mid level and below. They were clueless, like I literally was in meetings with with distributors, and they were trying to pitch themselves to the distributor, you know, people, filmmakers, like hey, we want to help this, you know, we want to pick up all those distributor movies. I'm like, haha, okay, so I would do the meetings. And I would just sit there and I would listen to them. And I just asked them about their business model. And they would just lay out this old rehash crap kind of system. Yep. And then I just turned to one of them. I said, you, you guys really don't know what, what's going on? Do you have no idea how to make any money with these? Do you? There's no guarantee.

Emily Best 32:56
It's every time I talk to somebody who's launching a new new streaming platform. And I asked them what their customer acquisition strategy is. And they're like, Oh, you know, like Facebook ads, whatever. I'm like, cool. You're gonna compete with Netflix and Apple, and like they're buying all the keywords that might matter to you. And and frankly, if your differentiator is like diverse content, for example,

Alex Ferrari 33:17
Or indie groups that Oh, yeah. And there's a lot of indie distributors, like indie streaming, no one cares. No, this is not 2019. India is a budget level, it is not a genre. Not anymore. Like in the 90s. That's when indie kind of started, that was the whole indie genre, which there were and there were a lot less films and all that kind of stuff. But when you launched your streaming service you had an audience built in from your email was perfect, was really smart.

Emily Best 33:42
And even then we fundamentally don't believe that that's the right path forward. Like, it is a tool in the toolkit of creators who are building these larger connective strategies. I'm like, for me, if you're going around and doing amazing events around your movie, let's say or your podcast launch, or you're doing like live book tour, or whatever, that stuff should be available online, so that after the event when all those people had a great time, go home to their friends and are like, I just watched this amazing movie and their friends, like where Can I see it? The answer can't be nowhere. Which is often the case, right? So to us, there are some versions of what was formerly known as day and date that we think when built around events can we've actually seen can really work Naomi mcdougald Jones's shuffle vampire tour is an incredible example.

Alex Ferrari 34:34
Friend of the show, friend of the show.

Emily Best 34:36
Yes. out everybody go by the wrong kind of women.

Alex Ferrari 34:41
Yes. She's great. She's what she was, well, she was wonderful. And I had her when I heard about her story. I had her on the show and, and she's very frank about the whole situation. She's, how depressing it is. And you know, like, you know, when she went to like her day in and day and she's like, but iTunes, the numbers weren't there. I'm like, Well, that was the one thing I was gonna say about FM. I realized that See VOD is essentially almost gone for independent film. It's dead unless you can personally give a very rabid audience. And you could drive that for maybe a week or two. But the days of what the Polish brothers did with four lovers only half a million dollars on TV that's gone.

Emily Best 35:15
You drive it to your own website at this point, or you drive it to like what Naomi did is drive it to seed and spark. We're getting paid between 20 and 50 cents a minute stream, then it's valuable,

Alex Ferrari 35:25
Right? So then, so it's a TiVo has gone. s VOD is kind of like if you if you're lucky enough to even get an S VOD deal, meaning like a Netflix or Hulu deal, which those deals are very far, few far between now because they're just focusing on their own content. Yeah. Then you got amazon prime, which now rakes from a penny to an hour to 12 cents an hour, depending if your algorithm likes you. So that's not really the greatest thing. So now the big keyword is Avon. So Avon is where a lot of money is being made. And I saw it, I saw I see the numbers from A to B, I see the numbers from Pluto. Now, peacock is gonna come out as an A VOD platform as well. So a VOD is that we're all going back to television is hilarious. But that's where the that's where the money is for independent films next year, it could be something else with the landscape changing so rapidly, because you and I both basically win since 2015, you know, basically been coming up together. And we've been, you know, we're in different sides of the battlefield. I feel like you see us you're at some point, I'm over here. I'm in this trench, you're in that trench. But we're both seeing what's happening. And as it's just insane, that the whole landscape is changing so rapidly, that these quote unquote, professionals have no idea what's going on. And I think the the, the casualties are the creators and the filmmakers.

Emily Best 36:41
Yeah, I would argue that it's not necessarily they don't know what's going on, as it doesn't behoove them to pay attention to it. There's not too scary, right?

Alex Ferrari 36:51
To have ostrich syndrome,they have an ostrich,

Emily Best 36:53
They're disappearing really rapidly. There's some of them who have, you know, one of the indie distributors out there who I won't name, still occasionally picks up movies out of the festival circuit does kind of mostly service deals, they do like 30 movies a month,

Alex Ferrari 37:12
Will not be named but we all know who it is actually backed up by a softcore porn business. When it's like, you know, you know, like, skinemax?

Emily Best 37:26
Like zombie sluts to or whatever. Yeah, like, yeah, that's, um, and that's fine. They're not upfront about it. But like, that's fine, like, do that business.

Alex Ferrari 37:37
But that's not what they said. That's not that's Oh, my God, it's so.

Emily Best 37:47
So I feel like, um, you know, nobody is going to solve the problem of distribution for creators. And something that we just keep saying over and over again, is distribution is not something you get distribution is something you do great part of your job to build your career. I don't as the CEO of my company get to be like, Yeah, but actually selling shit to customers is not my problem. Like that's insane. Only problem is business, that business. There is like, there is no content without a consumer, unless you are super rich, and are just making things for fun. It's a hobby, like a hobby. Yeah, if you if you want to make a sustainable business, you have to care about your unit economics, and you have to care about your customer. And you have to know about your customer, and you have to know how to find your customer. And like creators. I've seen creators sort of shudder at all this stuff. And I'm like, sorry, but like, What makes you so special, that you shouldn't have to think about the person who's going to spend their hard earned dollar on the thing that you made, when in fact, your audience is probably just as smart as you think you are. Preach, preach and preach. And the reason that I love and invest in crowdfunding so much is like, you cannot find a person who has run a successful crowdfunding campaign who doesn't have five at least audible stories of this person found out about my crowdfunding campaign. Who either you know, knew me from way back then or I've never met them before in my life. And they were so inspired. They did XYZ for my film, and it changed the game. Like everybody has that story. Like we have a I shot my first movie in Maine. And so if you're going to shoot a movie in Maine, like there has to be a lobster vaccine or what are you doing?

Alex Ferrari 39:44
I mean, seriously, why why would you not?

Emily Best 39:46
And this guy showed up on time in the morning with a giant baki bought us 25 lobsters which was 5x the number we actually needed and dropped them off and was like you kids, have fun. left.And that happened because of our funding campaign.

Alex Ferrari 40:07
That's amazing.

Emily Best 40:08
I don't honestly know, we would have kept the lobster vaccines specifically, if somebody hadn't been like, y'all bring your lobster because like, it's expensive. So so I feel like the thing that you discover when you start to really meaningfully engage with your audience or your customer, if I'm allowed to call them that, is they will love you and support you and do things for you. You haven't imagined, like we three of the filmmakers who have used our website throughout the years just became investors in seed and spark. That's awesome, right? thumb at very, very small amounts who were just like I just you what you did on the platform, change things for me, I want to get involved in your next. So your audience may be the next group of people who support your film. And cultivating that audience is about making everything that happens after this film easier for the next one, and the one after that.

Alex Ferrari 41:00
So Emily, what you're telling me, let me get this straight here. You're telling me that as a filmmaker, you have to think about your audience, you've got to think about the business, you also have to create your art, and you're not just going to get picked out of the crowd or someone from out Hollywood's gonna come down and tap you on the shoulder and say you will now have a career for the rest of your life. Is that what you're saying? What is that? You want to hear it clearly, please?

Emily Best 41:23
Yeah, finding a river if you don't like it. I didn't pick capitalism. Not my like, favorite version of economics. Okay, but like, this is the one we live in. And the landscape we live in is there is a ton of opportunity. Finally, we the chip, you can literally go online and with free tools, you can make your movie available behind the paywall tomorrow, right? That was not true. 50 years ago, right, or what I don't know what his time anyway,

Alex Ferrari 41:51
10 years ago was very difficult.

Emily Best 41:53
Um, so there is tremendous opportunity. But we live in an incredibly fragmented marketplace, across independent creators, that is incredibly consolidated at the top. And the reason that we go out and educate filmmakers is because the more consolidated it gets the top, the steeper that mount Hollywood becomes, and the harder it is to ever get picked at all.

Alex Ferrari 42:22
If that's what your goal is,

Emily Best 42:24
Well, the thing is, if you super invest it, look at dolomit. He's super invested in building a direct audience relationship, no matter after he got told no. And then they called him. And that's what happens. You build a really great audience, they come fucking calling you.

Alex Ferrari 42:41
I can only tell you that since you started you were one of my first guests from the moment that I interviewed you to the moment I have now. I've been trying to get into the Hollywood I look, I drank that kool aid that mariachi Kool Aid A long time ago. And it took me until I was 40 to make my first feature film, because I was waiting to get picked or playing the game. And I changed the rules. Because I said, You know what, I'm not gonna wait any more that tools are here, I'm gonna go out and do my own thing. And the second I changed the rules, and I said, You know what, I'm not gonna play by your rules. I'm gonna play by my own rules. I'm gonna create my own little sandbox. Yeah, and I'm gonna do my own thing. And the second I did that, in these last four and a half, almost five years, you I can't even tell you how much how many people have come. You've contacted me purely because I'm doing my thing. I'm doing it my way. And I don't need them. It's kind of like a bank loan.

Emily Best 43:28
Here is like a credit doing more than that, though. Well, you are you are amplifying the voices in the community who are making more opportunities available for creators, you're sharing your experience incredibly openly. You're making it easier for somebody else to make that switch that you made earlier on in their career, and you're providing them the tools and information to do that. And that's some that's the superpower I think we have. The challenge with the notion of independent film is independent sounds like it means a lone wolf, doesn't it? No. We will not create an infrastructure for ourselves that can compete with any individual Hollywood studio unless we are unified. And it's what people like Naomi did when she went on the road for the joyful vampire tour. They were literally filming and cutting episodes at like Kiwi is a genius like I don't know how she did it on camera, cutting the thing putting the story together. And it was amazing. It was amazing. You know, and and probably driving the van sometimes. Anyway, like I think there's the, the sharing it back and building the expertise and kicking the door open and pulling the people up behind you. That's actually the most powerful tool we have for manifesting a really healthy ecosystem. And I do think it's on the businesses to be super transparent about their own unit economics and their own, you know, capacity to stick around because There are some platforms that that creators are relying on that are super, super leveraged. You know, and it makes it hard for them to stick around that makes them really vulnerable. So I just think it's like, you know, it's a time where we do have to be, we do have to be experts in our industry, because it's on us to remake it in the, you know, in the, with the values that we really actually want to, we care about

Alex Ferrari 45:30
No, no question and and it's, it's tough enough. Everything we're talking about is tough enough as independent films like this is, like, remember before the tough part was to make the movie now that that's not the toughest part anymore, the technology has made it so affordable, now that you can make an affordable, good looking independent film, the problem now is getting it sold, getting it out there doing all that stuff. And then it's tough enough without companies like distributor going under and and you know, doing what they did. And and the situation with tug is another scenario, which is still developing story. But

Emily Best 46:04
Yeah, we don't know what we don't we don't we don't know. But with with, with companies like distributor, I think it's so important for filmmakers to ask really key questions about how they make money and how they distribute money. Now, look, there's not a lot you can do if a company is like literally not being forthcoming about what's actually happening,

Alex Ferrari 46:23
or mismanaged or just look, companies don't wonder all the time.

Emily Best 46:26
Totally. It's an especially in our business, it's like it's distribution companies have been going out of business since the dawn of time. It's not anything new. I think that we talked about this with distributor, the aggregation platform is not a distributor, those are two very different,

Alex Ferrari 46:46
They should be just a pass through, they should just be a service, their post house, essentially,

Emily Best 46:50
it's it's very often that some of these technology solutions are sold as sort of distribution, you know, deals or solutions. And they're not. They're just technology solutions. And I think it's important to be forthcoming about what it takes on behalf of filmmakers to really leverage the tools. So like, we weren't just going to build a crowdfunding platform and be like, this is the best one why cuz it is a crowdfunding platform is what the fuck you make of it. But that's not also fair to say to people, like, here's a great tool, get good at using it Good luck. Like, the reason that we invest so much in education is like if we want to be the quote unquote best in the world, it's only because our creators are the most prepared, they're the most prepared to succeed. That like our secret sauce really isn't more than that, is that we we prepare creators probably better than anyone else. And we're, we're sticklers about it a little bit

Alex Ferrari 47:54
As you should look, come on. This is a such a brutal business. I mean, I'd rather you be a stickler than, you know, getting your hand your ass handed to you

Emily Best 48:03
Be a stickler and have you have a good first successful crowdfunding experience, then, you know, burn you on credit, like, these are the platforms that have like 10 11% success rate, like people come to us all the time. from other platforms being like I had a terrible experience, I never thought I was going to crowdfund again. And they come to one of our workshops, and they start to feel like a glimmer of hope and possibility or on crowdfunding, we've converted a lot of people who've had unsuccessful campaigns into successful ones, by simply preparing them, and we can't do it all for all facets of the business, we're not here to prepare you to produce like for production, we're not here to prepare you for every single element. And we certainly can't conceivably prepare everyone, because you know, every film, in this case, every film is, could have a totally unique distribution plan that's actually appropriate for it. So what we can do is equip creators with enough knowledge to prepare themselves. But like, that's as far as we can take it, and you're doing a lot. Sure, but I just think like, you know, there is a big personal responsibility piece here. And I totally, I get the like, why should I have to do at all and I'm like, because capitalism, frankly, and like, I don't like it either. But, but I would rather do it all. And I say this to people all the time. Probably 70 to 80% of my job is shit I don't particularly love to do. Right. And I do it because the 20 to 30% is so rewarding. I wouldn't have it any other way. And PS, I get to choose who I work with. And I don't have to work with assholes and that I will choose to sleep over for the rest of my life. Like if I have to lose sleep over other parts of the business so that I never have to work with an asshole happy as a clam. But that's I mean, I think that's part of it is like, you know, there we also sell creators this myth that like When you're really successful, all you have to do is the is the cool part. No. And that's just never true. There's always like, I'm pretty sure that a lot of those really successful actors don't love going on 20 City press junkets Oh,

Alex Ferrari 50:17
yeah. But they know the business. They understand the business.

Emily Best 50:20
You know, and we all have a version like it's what is it? Like everybody has to eat a shit sandwich. It's what ships in to tolerate eating?

Alex Ferrari 50:27
No, it's no it's a gamble though. Tourists I heard him speak once. And he said, being in Hollywood, like eating a shit sandwich, you could change the bread, you could put some lettuce on it, you can put a little nice vegan mayo on it whatever you want. But at the end of the day, you're still eating shit. That's exactly it. Now, the one thing I've been pushing a lot in, in the last year or so. And I've been talking about it loosely over the course of all the time I've been doing this, but is the concept of being a film intrapreneur being an entrepreneurial filmmaker. And I do truly believe that the only six The only way for moving forward is to become an entrepreneurial understanding every business creating multiple revenue streams, that includes touring, that includes ancillary product lines include services, you could build all these things around films and or companies and or filmmakers and creators. And you're not just handing it over to a third party company and praying that they're going to give you a check. That could be one revenue stream, but not all of them. Is that is that Do you agree with that concept?

Emily Best 51:34
Yeah, you know, there's a, there's a term that a friend of mine introduced to me recently, which is that of a portfolio career. Yes. And I think when you talk about creative entrepreneurship, it's often not built around a single vertical of storytelling, or a single monetization stream, right? Like, I don't think anybody is really just making money making even the big directors are all directing commercials on. Like, Scorsese directed a lineup like yeah, cuz they probably were like,

Alex Ferrari 52:08
He was making a commercial the hiring an actor.

Emily Best 52:11
Yeah, exactly. Like whatever it is, like, like there are you have to diversify your revenue stream over time. And I think for freelancers, it can feel super hectic to think about, well, I have to do a little of this, and a little of that, and some brand work and some whatever. And then I do my own stuff. But the concept of a portfolio career is like, you know, my experiences that some of the most multi talented, multi capable people I've ever met, happened to end up an independent filmmaking for whatever reason that is. And so these are people who it's not just that they have multiple talents, but they have multiple interests. And I do think there is a way to synthesize that if you think about all of these interests, laddering up to a portfolio career, it's a career that actually is built up out of all the things I'm interested in and talented at. And I don't have to feel like I'm just a jack of all trades, master of none. like to be a CEO. It's a portfolio job. Oh, God. Yeah. Right. Like you have to have leadership and management skills and some HR skills and some like, a little bit of technical understanding and a little bit of it. It's a it's a portfolio job. Being a film director is a portfolio job, you have to know so many things about so many things, just to make a set really go the way that you want it to go beyond the

Alex Ferrari 53:31
Politics and all of that stuff.

Emily Best 53:33
Yeah, being a producer, one of the most portfolio jobs in the universe, like you have to be able to, like organize all the coffees and entice and dazzle investors like it's a crazy fucking job. So I think like it's in line with the full skill set. And if I think about the creators who have built incredible long term IP value, the duplass brothers work with a lot among them, like Mark talks all the time about going up the Hollywood Hill, like coming out of their first like big Sundance premiere studio thing. And realizing that was not what they wanted to do, then making everything for super cheap, owning all of the IP and now having a giant library to license long term wealth that they have built, right?

Alex Ferrari 54:23
Yeah, exactly. Like what Tyler what Tyler Perry did, he's built an entire Empire. Dude,

Emily Best 54:28
and has anybody made a more baller move than Tyler Perry recently, teaching a former Confederate army base and converting it into a big deal.

Alex Ferrari 54:39
One of the biggest studios in the world, honestly, and yeah, and Hollywood still adores them. And Hollywood still ignores him. He's kind of like the the most ignored mogul ever. Like you don't need them. He doesn't know he doesn't and he knows it. You know, he used them for what he was good for. But now he easily now he's got what a Netflix deal going on. And also have other stuff that he's got going on. It's it's, it's insane. And I love that, like the duplass brothers are amazing. There's, they're, they're one of the they one of the inspirations for me making this as mag, because I did it with a scriptment and, and I did all that stuff. And I was lucky enough to, to meet not meet. But I saw mark and Jay speak one on one of their book tours for that great book that they wrote like brothers. And I had one of the winners of the of your of your thing. The heroes. Yeah, yeah. Oh God, to their two young girls, that Megan and Hannah. Yes, they were out filmmakers. They were on the show. And they were just so excited to be filmmakers. It was just like, so happy.

Emily Best 55:45
I wish I could bottle their energy and distribute it to everybody because I just, they're having a like, you know, it's hard. But like, they managed to have fun in ways that I just really admire. They said, the silliest, most wonderful birthday message I've ever received in my entire life came from those two. And actually, Megan has become an instructor for seed and spark. So she's teaching our workshops. I'm just about to go to Winston Salem, and do a creative sustainability summit with her. Yeah, so they're, yeah, they're remarkable.

Alex Ferrari 56:18
I mean, what you guys what you're doing Emily, and what you've done for me, you are honestly one of the few good people doing what? I don't think that's true. I really appreciate No, no, no, listen, listen. Before you before you stop me, I'm gonna say something. Okay, cuz I know you're gonna do that. No, no, no, no, no, look, there are many good people. And there are many good people, you know, taking the taking up arms, and there are many. But you're one of those shining lights and have been since I started, I've started 20 years ago, 25 years ago in the business, but during this time, though, you know, we've been coming up coming up there, I've seen people come and go, I've been I've seen people, companies come and go, people rip people off all this kind of stuff, you've been very constant. And only you've only had the, the the best intentions in mind, at least from what I can see from what I have known of you is you're truly trying to help creators, you're truly trying to help filmmakers with your platform and the way you're doing it, and doing it on your own. And by the way, by dancing to your own song, you know, there's no question about it, you definitely are dancing to your own song. And you created a platform that you're like, you know what, screw the big boys, I'm going to do it my way. And I'm going to help filmmakers, and I'm gonna help great now you're helping all creators with your platform. And, you know, that's what I try to promote with indie film, hustle, and with my other companies as well, is to try to help educate and push filmmakers forward. And also give them a nice nice spoonful of reality. Because I'd rather them get a spoonful than a punch in the face from somebody else. And and I think you do the exact same thing. So I do appreciate you doing what you do.

Emily Best 57:55
That's so kind of you. I does. On our door, the door between our conference room in our kitchen and the office.

Alex Ferrari 58:04
Yeah. Can you see what that says? This is we are truth tellers. That's awesome.

Emily Best 58:09
That's a really important key thing. So when you talk about the dose of reality, yes. I think the most important thing we can do in this business to help ourselves and our peers is to tell the truth. Yes. To be honest about the experience of good, bad and indifferent to, it seems inspark we feel like it's our responsibility to like really research things and understand the real dynamics of what's going on and like make whatever phone calls we can make behind the scenes to like, find out what's really going on to talk to creators who've had distribution deals that like look favorable and like, unpack, well, how did it actually go, you know? We are truth tellers, I feel like really defines what we're trying to do. Because I think we're in the business of telling fantastic stories. We can't do that about the business of telling the stories. Because we've really shot ourselves in the foot buying a myth that doesn't exist. Oh, yeah. dispelling those myths in favor of giving people something they can do every day that they own, that they control. That's so much more exciting to me than like, I mean, I love making it like that. filmmakers like Meghan, Hannah got to work with the duplass brothers. Like, that's so delightful. It's so wonderful. But like, Mark and I joke like the the whole point of a crowdfunding rally is when you get to the end of it, you've already raised money and built your audience like you don't need us anymore. You know what I mean? getting picked would be the icing on the cake, but you've proven to yourself You don't need to get picked. You can pick yourself

Alex Ferrari 59:59
that's Amazing, absolutely true. Now I'm going to ask you a few questions I ask all of my guests. Okay, what advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Emily Best 1:00:10
Sorry, to break into the business today. Start talking to your audience, get to know them, get to love them get to understand them. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life, I think my actual, it's not a lesson. It's like constant maintenance is how to be responsive and not reactive. So in leadership in team building and decision making, when you're working with lots of people collaboratively in this age of like instant digital communication, text messages, text message, and emails and all of that, it can be very tempting to just react and, you know, right back right away. And I think being responsive and building a little thoughtfulness into how you react when people say things to you that you have strong reactions to where people write things to you that you have strong reactions to. And that is a that is a forever challenge. And so I have to be in it like a good space in order to be there. So whatever care it takes me to maintain this sense of responsiveness and not reactiveness I think is really important.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:24
Emily, I can't thank you enough for being a champion of filmmakers and creators out there and in for doing fighting the good battle that you are fighting every day. So thank you so much for everything you guys do at Seton Spark.

Emily Best 1:01:35
Thank you. Thanks for this great podcast and great interview Alex.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:40
I want to thank Emily for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs on the tribe. If you want to get links to anything we talked about in this episode, please head over to the show notes at and I'll also have links to the first episode Episode 23 that we do with Emily which is really an masterclass in crowdfunding for filmmakers. Thank you guys for listening. I hope this episode was of value to you on your journey. As always, keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.



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IFH 400: Creating a Film Riot During COVID-19 with Ryan Connolly

Right-click here to download the MP3

Well, we made it. #400! I couldn’t have imagined that when I started this little podcast back in 2015 that we would ever get here.

I say “we” because I couldn’t have done it with the IFH Tribe’s love and support over the years. I am humbled, grateful, and honored to have the privilege to serve you all. Thank you for everything guys.

As promised I wanted to make this episode special and today’s guest will do just that. We have filmmaker and founder of the legendary Film Riot Ryan Connelly. Ryan launched Film Riot on Youtube back in 2006 and has been helping indie filmmakers create killer VFX for their films ever since.

Ryan has shot over 15 short films and has taken his followers on the journey of how he made them. I’ve been a big fan of Ryan’s for a long time and just love what he has created with Film Riot. Hustle respects HUSTLE!

We discuss so much in this conversation. From creating Film Riot to when he’ll make his first feature film to how our industry will survive the Coronavirus. I just loved having Ryan on the show.

Enjoy my EPIC conversation with Ryan Connelly.

Alex Ferrari 0:55
And as promised, this episode had to be epic. So how else could I have done it? By bringing the OG in the YouTube filmmaking in the film space Ryan Connolly from Film Riot is on the show today. Ryan launched Film Riot back in 2006, where he has been helping independent filmmakers create killer VFX on a budget ever since I've been a monster fan of Ryan, his brother and what they do over at Film Riot for a long time. And I even joke with Ryan in the in the episode where I I see what Film Riot has become. And I know what I could have done something similar back in 2004 2005. When I long I've actually released some of the first if not the first film independent filmmaking tutorials on YouTube, where you can still see them online. But But I'm not bitter. I'm just want to let you guys know not bitter at all. No I really am a huge fan of what Ryan does with Film Riot and, and he provides such an amazing service to independent filmmakers. And I wanted him on the show, I wanted to sit down and talk to the man, because hustle, respects hustle. So this is a fairly epic conversation and we talk about everything from how he started Film Riot to when he's going to make that first feature film, to how we're going to deal with COVID-19 as an industry, especially as indie filmmakers. So without any further ado, please enjoy my epic conversation with film rights,Ryan Connolly. I'd like to welcome the show Ryan Connolly, man, thank you for being on the show today, Sir.

Ryan Connolly 5:48
Absolutely happy to be here.

Alex Ferrari 5:49
And so so everybody understands where Ryan and I are right now. We were about 40 minutes 45 minutes into our first interview when the Coronavirus took out my power and and then we started again, and then his light went out. So we're gonna give us a well, we're gonna start it again. So I'm gonna ask a lot of questions. I already asked Ryan before, but we're gonna go down this road again. And I think you know, take two take three let's see how it goes. But I think it's gonna

Ryan Connolly 6:18
Third time's a charm

Alex Ferrari 6:19
Regardless. So like I said before, right. I'm a big fan of what you you done with Film Riot and and the good work you've been doing for filmmakers since 2009. And I told you this before, but I'll tell you. I was my first video. I was one of the first guys ever to put up a tutorial on YouTube with my first short film broken in 2005, which is still up there. And I wish I would have kept going, but I had that conversation with myself which obviously you didn't which said, I'm not a teacher. I'm not a I'm not gonna do filmmaking tutorials. I'm Spielberg. I'm going to be the next era and Tito. Tarantino doesn't do tutorials. Why should I do tutorials? And that ridiculousness stopped me from continuing down the path which I have now fallen in love with again since 2015, when I launched the indie film hustle. And it's kind of like I wish I would have bought apple at $8. Scott enough situation. So, um, but you and Rocket Jump. I know. Those guys and Indy Mogul. You're You're an OG man. You're an OG in the filmmaking space brother.

Ryan Connolly 7:30
Yeah, we've been doing it for a minute. Yeah, when we started it, it was it was for me, it was kind of filling something that I wish existed but didn't exist. Because it was, you know, I was four or five years out of film school at the time. And I had done some short films. And you know, since film school before film school, it was another like 4050 short films a day. But since film school had been a handful of short films, and, you know, nobody's even seen these and, and then just getting information even at that time was so difficult. I mean, there was Indy Mogul, which was just basically they just did prop builds and stuff. And then there was Philip bloom, who's doing like camera views. And then of course, there was Andrew Kramer, who is doing after effects tutorials, which is basically how all of us learned after effects. And there was this real big slot not being filled. And a friend of mine wanted to go to film school, but didn't have money to go to film school. And he was just venting to me, and then I just thought, you know, what, if there was a thing that created a community more than everything, not that I was like, I'm a film instructor because I didn't even like to call myself a filmmaker, like I was, you know, I had I've had a hard time not making a feature and then calling myself a filmmaker, even to this day, you know, I'm a little bitter about it now, but we're just silly, I know. But in the early days, it was very much about like what our opening said in the opening of the show, I said, you want to be a filmmaker so to y let's figure it out. And that was kind of the heart of what I wanted to do just to put out there and show the process of this you know, person who is pretty obviously green still, again, only four or five years outside of film school, but with a little bit of knowledge thanks to film school and thanks the experience that I've had I had since then, but putting out this thing of you want to be a filmmaker so do I now let's go along this journey, and every week was about me trying something new, somebody sent in an email, hey, how would you do this and be like, Well, let me figure that out. Here's how I did it. I grabbed some duct tape and a firecracker and, you know, stuff like that, you know, like literally like making light stands out of PVC pipe and stuff like that. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, old school stuff, man. Oh, no. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 9:43
Oh, no. Yeah, the Home Depot, like remember the Home Depot lights

Ryan Connolly 9:46
To this day I have them to this day. They're in my studio, we still use I've used those clamp lights. And I even made this like bathroom fixture light which Shane hurlbut showed me like years and years ago, this thing that he made where it's like this two by four and I'm sure he's put it out since then, but it's it's two by four and he put like light sockets across it and created this really beautiful light. So I've just went and bought a bathroom fixture and then I've mounted like a little baby arm to it and and, and then use that as a light. We showed how to build that on the show. And I did construction work before I that once I came out of film school, my dad was a, an electrical contractor. So I went to work with him for several years just making money to, you know, three jobs at one time sort of thing making money to get gear and then that eventually led me to be able to build enough of a reel to where I got work at Alienware, which is Dells gaming division. And so I had a little bit of electrical knowledge, I could build those things too. And, and I still use those things to this day, at least one of them show up on every film set of mine, to this day. So it's like, you know, they still have their uses. It's not always the, you know, $20,000 light.

Alex Ferrari 10:57
Oh, yeah, there's, there's no question, I still have things that I built that I kind of bring onto set every once in a while. And people are like, people are like, what's that I'm like, let me show you. And like, that's how I am like, you know, and,

Ryan Connolly 11:09
And I just, I love the look of a tungsten bulb dimmed halfway, you know, that just real nice, orange, it's just so nice. I love using it, especially just as practicals within the scene, obviously. But um, you know, I really wanted to even then it's like, I've always tried to be very objective about where I'm at, in my career, where I'm going and, and I knew very well, that I was nowhere near ready to make a feature in the beginning. And so it was very much like, Man, what if this could start now, and I know, I'm, I don't know how many years but I know I'm many, many years away from being able to make a feature, whether I just make it myself, or if somebody actually takes a shot on me would have this thing, just track that. And along the way we built the community and you know, figured it out together. And because, like we talked about before, overnight success, you know, a lot of people have talked about how David Sandberg went from, oh, he made this one short film with his, you know, with his wife in Sweden, and then boom, he's making a feature film. Yeah, but no, he, it's like a decade of stuff before that, just like the rest of us. So it was like, What if there could be this thing that showed that this, you know, even five years after film school, it's been another 10 years since then we're going on, you know, 11 years. Since then, uh, you know, trying to get to the point of a feature just busted ass every single week, because there's an episode every single week, sometimes two times a week, just showing that work being put in constantly, hopefully, curbing what we've seen kind of pop up with, you know, that, you know, Willy Wonka golden ticket, you know, mindset that not all have not all, but so you have you do see some people talking about why like, you we do when we do competitions, there's inevitably somebody who is mad that they weren't even an honorable mention, like, I'm disappointed that I'm not even an honorable mention. Well, that should just tell you that not yet. You know, you need more experience, work harder, don't let that discourage you, instead, let that be okay. Let me show you what I can do next time because of what I learned from this time. And let that be, you know, the trajectory. This one's still not good enough. Well, the next one will be okay, this one isn't, well, the next one will be and that's been my mindset and kind of what we wanted to bring to to Film Riot and, you know, not so much to try to be like, you know, a video essay of here's why they did that because I think that's just bs stuff. You know, it's, it's, it's not useful. It's, you know, we just wanted to be something of like, here's the hard work and you know, good attitude that might, you know, get you to a place

Alex Ferrari 13:46
Isn't it? Isn't it true that most Well, I'd argue to most filmmakers they just don't understand what a long road This is. They don't I didn't I didn't either like I thought I was like shoot I should be at the Oscars like next year. I'm like, I'm good. You know, like let's like I gave myself start prepping my speech. But I mean, I got five years solid to get to the Oscars. I mean, that's just come on. So there's there's a level of delusion, which I think you have to be delusional in a general sense to be in this business because it's not it's not a solid logical path to walk. So you've got to be a little bit crazy, but the egos that are involved in our industry. We've all had them I still have mine but it's tamed at age teams it a bit sometimes depends on the person I guess. I just been beaten up so much to be like, yeah, okay, that's fine. It's fine. No much rejection. It's so much rigid. Like I always say I take in shrapnel for like, you know, 25 years in this business. I've just been taking shrapnel I got it in my slower. I walk slower. I got a limp in my knee hurts when it rains. But that's That's kinda how it is in this business. But they don't realize that this is absolutely a marathon and not the sprint, that the sprint that they think it's going to have. And that's what Hollywood sells. So Hollywood sells the golden ticket idea, Holly, because it's a great story. The Robert Rodriguez story is fantastic. The Tarantino story, the Spike Lee's story, the john Singleton story, all these stories that we kind of grew up with paranormal activity, all these kind of stories. They're, they're magical, they're mythical, in a sense, but that's not they're outliers, they happen. You know, once in the gym, I'm still talking about all of like, four of the five of those guys, all of those guys came up in the 90s, four out of five of those guys were in the early 90s. And we're we're like 2020 as of this recording, so like, it shows you how many of these stories lights out, that's one of those stories, but that's also you know, it's an outlier. It's it's a thing, and I don't think they understand the, you got to go in every day and just do the work every day.

Ryan Connolly 16:04
I mean, even even David's story, it just appears to be that and that's what I wanted to that's what I love about film, right that hopefully it will, you know, if Fingers crossed, I can get to that feature that it'll you know, it's right there to watch from 22,009 to whenever the feature happens of how long it took, where's like, you know, David, I know I know David and I know how much work he put in before time I you know, all the short films he did all the time he put in figuring out how to craft these ideas how to connect with an audience you know how to direct the scene, you know, what coverage he needs to accomplish the thing that he wants to so it wasn't this thing where he made a short and it got noticed and you know did is because all the work he put in trying thing after thing and putting thing after thing up. And you know, this competition that competition until finally the right person saw the right thing when he was in the at the right time, in his you know, path to then move to you know, that point. And a lot of people I know it that that's what's really great about where we're at now is like it is possible for you to put something up another another friend of mine just finished writing and directing his first feature starring Idris Elba. He did a short film called the cage and 2017 incredible film, which is awesome, great, great, great short, but it only has like 60,000 views. That's it. But that got passed around to the right people, because it was just great work. And that got this person attached. That person attached this, this producer wanted to talk to him and he was ready for it. And said, here's the other stuff that I have that I want to do, because he's been putting in so much work behind the scenes preparing other things, that he could be like that hit one, you know, I love your short What else you got, oh, I got this, because I've been putting in the work non stop behind the scenes with no congratulations because it's thankless work to do because nobody even knows it exists. But he was ready for it when the opportunity came knocking, and that, you know, turned into making his first feature with frickin Idris Elba. You know, and, and, you know, I have a similar story to what's going on now. You know, it's like, again, it's more outward, it's more open, even our failures have been very open. We were going to have like, it was like, gonna be a $300,000 short film. And it just all fell apart last minute. And that was very, very much an open failure. And but that turned into one of my favorite short films, I've made proximities. So that, you know, great, sure, that's where it went. And so all of the path for what I've done is, is very, very much open. But there's a lot behind the scenes that I just don't talk about that I'm constantly working on, on top of the stuff that I've seen. And it's that stuff that kind of just, it's the ammo that if you ever have the chance, like ballistic, opened up some chances. So when people came calling, I could be like, Well, here's the other stuff I have. Here are the other ideas I have. And then I mean, the interesting story about that is you know, it's all stuff that's going on now. So it's not something that I could talk about in detail, but it's like ballistic, led to getting managers and producers being interested. And then that led to developing a feature but I'm a first time director with an original action sci fi property that would be a very large budget. So you know, that is Yeah. Yeah, so that's where we landed. And we're like, Yeah, we got a producer attached that was a very exciting producer. And he was the one that was like, I really love this but out like a script. I don't know I don't see the path for this and then so I was able to be like well, here's another one and this is a sub 10 thing and it's you know, it's horror. And that's there comes a knocking which I made a short add up. So then I wrote the feature with that because I already had this like 70 page script already written because I just been putting in the work behind the scenes assuming these were, you know, you always got to have that ammo and they all really responded to that. And so we developed that a little further and then decided that a short film would be the right way to go before sending out the script. And so we did that. So we were able to couple the short film with the script. And now you're talking like a year and a half, since, you know, it started since ballistics. And now, they went from ballistic to this. And now we're a year into this. And I still have, you know, it's still thankless, but now, okay, at least I get to make this short film. So I do that. And then, and then finally, we send it out, and it's just silence for months, but then all sudden meetings start to pop up. But now maybe it's not going to be this thing. Maybe it could be this other thing, because then you're in these meetings, and you're talking and then even if they don't like the current project they're doing, they like you. And then they say, Well, what else you got? You know, and if you put all your eggs in one basket, and you're not constantly, like your head says, Hustle, Hustle, Hustle, they're constantly putting in the work behind the scenes that nobody knows about, except your closest friends and collaborators. You know, my answer would be like, Oh, well, I have some ideas. But instead, my answer is, I have these other pitches completely done. And I have pitch docs. And if you're interested, send it to you. I could pitch it right now, if you want in there. Well, let me that that one sounds interesting. Let me hear it. Okay. Well, let me tell you about it. And then boom, you can, because you've already you've already put in the time pitching this idea to friends, just in case, the right person asks you, and then that opportunity presents itself, and then you can deliver it. So it's just, you know, it's all that stuff, I think is what leads to success. And they're not, you know, it's not my original ideas. This is just going off the backs of the smart people who, you know, I've been lucky enough to pick their brains for the past, you know, six years, and I took their good counsel and you know, follow those things.

Alex Ferrari 21:38
Yeah, I mean, the thing like I, with my first short film, broken, the one that I uploaded those tutorials in 2005. Yeah, that that short got around a lot because it wasn't anything like that. There was I was a mini DV short with like, 100 visual effects shots in crazy unique. So yeah, it was it was really unique. And it looked like film. And it was like, you know, film, you know, if you look at it now be like, yeah, doing something for people. But back then people were like, holy crap, what did you do? It was very moody. And it was like shot in a great location. And I got around town, and I started getting calls from producers, agents, managers, I even had like some Oscar winning producers, contact, I was 20. I don't know 24, 25 27, something like that.

Ryan Connolly 22:25
Oh, man, that is too young for me to have that I'm so happy. It didn't happen that you know, it's in myself,

Alex Ferrari 22:31
Well, this is what happened. So I would go into these meetings. And they're like, this is great. And like, do you have a script version of the short? And I'm like, we're working on it. Mistake number one. Do you have anything else? Yeah, I have ideas. Mistake number two. And by the time that the heat, you know, like I was pitching to studios, I was doing stuff, but I didn't have anything ready because no one had ever told me to do what you're doing. Or what I've done since is to have other project prepared other pitches prepared. And by the time I got around with the script, it was obviously like $125 million. extravaganza. Right. And, you know, all the people that were interested in me, I was like, yesterday's news. And I was just like, know that the spotlight is on you for a minute. And you've got to strike when that minutes ready and have a lot of stuff ready to rock and roll. If you're if you're trying to play the studio game, you know, which is, you know, depending on the size of the work you want to do in the projects you want to do, unless you're independently wealthy or can raise that kind of funding yourself, you're going to have to work within the studio system, I opted out my first two features where I opted out of the studio, I'm like, screw it, I'm just gonna do it myself. And I'm like, I'm just gonna do it real low budget, and I'm just gonna do my own stuff. And that's fine. But again, like I always say, Kevin vague. If you're listening, I'll take the meeting. You just let me down to talk, Kevin, anytime. I got some ideas for the next Avengers. But uh, but I was, it was funny. I was in, I was in an agent's office. And this really was kind of jarring to me. I had another short film. I did like five years later, that got a lot of attention as well. And I got to do the tour, the water bottle tour again, I was already here in LA at that time. And I did the water bottle tour around town. And I walked into an agent's room, and they were like, We really love your short this and that, blah, blah, blah. And he goes, listen, I want you to watch a couple of shorts that we have and want to see what you think of it. And they had these other shorts, and this is like 2000 I must say 2011. So we're still early on, you know, the YouTube thing had not really like you know, people weren't watching shorts yet like that on a high level like they are now. It wasn't as it was today. So I was watching DVDs of short, and some of these shorts were from directors from overseas, and people had never heard of, and they were amazing. Like, like insane like Quiet productions Zack Snyder, production quality, David Fincher production quality on short stuff. And I'm like, why haven't I heard about this? Why haven't I seen this. And he's like this is the other project we're looking at. These are the other directors, but they, you know, we're working on developing other stuff. And at that moment, I really, and by the way, most of those guys, I think almost every single one of those shorts didn't ever, they never materialized. They those projects never went anywhere. Because I remember the names, I wrote down the guy's name, like, I want to see it, this guy goes anywhere. And a lot of them didn't go anywhere, they might have gone into commercials or music videos, or something else. But they didn't get to make their features in the studio system. And that was the moment I realized, like, oh, talent doesn't mean everything. Talent is great. And skill is great. But it's also with timing. It's about timing. I mean, if, if El Mariachi or clerks showed up today, we would have never heard of who Robert Rodriguez or Kevin Smith is, period. And they've said it themselves, like, it just wouldn't have made it because that was that moment of time for that, that kind of product. You know, I think I think like a young Robert Rodriguez today would have done what you guys were doing, doing like these really awesome, you know, visual effects, late and short films and putting them up on YouTube and stuff like that. But what he was able to do in 91, you know, it was a different time. So it's about timing as well. And it's weird, and that's the thing, you've, you've kind of got to be ready. At all times, like you're training constantly. You're training constantly for the Apollo fight, you're on, you're always you're you can't be like hanging out, you know, eating bomb bombs, you know, because one day Apollo is gonna call you, hey, do you want a shot at the title? And, and, and you've got to be constantly in shape, constantly ready for when that opportunity comes? And that could take 10 years?

Ryan Connolly 26:49
Yeah. And it's, it's kind of like, you have to have heat and you can try to create heat for yourself and, and that he dwindles out very quickly. And then you got to wait till the heat has been created. But it's the lottery, you're just playing the lottery over and over and over again, you can't I mean, they, there's very few things you can do to like, this is going to create heat. For me. It's like you just try over and over and some of the stuff that I did, I did a short film called Sentinel right before ballistic. And it actually got me contacted by several producers. I never would have guessed this in a million years, it was this short little piece that I just did for fun and kind of just to try something where it was just a visual effects. And one guy, I didn't even write a script, I made it all up as I went, we had a crew of like six people in the middle of nowhere and it costs me sandwiches, you know, and that got me more attention than the $30,000 short film I did with a 30 person crew. And all these actors that I flew in and all the stuff that got me zero attention. Nobody contacted me after that one. And, and similar to you. I had the similar night I didn't really do the water bottle water. Or, but after proximity, I was contacted by some managers, some agents and two different producers. And all of them asked me the same thing and I had the same answers, you know, what's the future version of this? Oh, I didn't even think about a wait a future version of this. That would be cool. Wouldn't it? Ready for that?

Alex Ferrari 28:21
Like should you should write that like you're telling them you should write that all directly good. You should want your help and call me when it's ready.

Ryan Connolly 28:28
Yeah, totally. And then it's like well, what else are you working on? Well was this I was working on this I got a PA get all of that just evaporated because it just tells them like this person's not even kind of ready anyway moving on. We'll see what they come up with down the line. So that taught me a lot and then talking to friends and whatnot needed them telling me the same then after that it was like everything I did I tried to make sure the thing that I could talk about after that and it's just like after that's just constantly trying to make a little bit of heat for yourself like ballistic got some heat which got me some stuff going and then that heat dwindled but then doing the short film there comes a knocking actually brought that heat back up that was like the main reason for making it because yeah, we have the script but if we also have the short that puts some heat because it's something actionable it's something right now that they can look at that you know Begley ballistic created enough heat to have the managers that would then allow this to get passed around because without brutal ballistic that doesn't happen. And then you know, there comes a knocking shows what is it but even what's funny is like everything is gonna lead to something if you let it like I did a short film called Ghost House back in. I think it was 2016. So it is a short film called Ghost House in 2016. It was just for fun. It was basically like a punchline of a short film like horror movies in real life. Like your house is haunted. No one's staying there. You're burning that thing to the ground. Like that's the short film in a nutshell. And a friend of mine saw it and he passed it to a friend of his who was an assistant at three arts at the time. I don't believe he was a manager yet. And and he was like, Oh, this is cool. I'd love to chat with him. So we just talked just Hey, who are you? I may, you know, this is what we do. Oh, that's cool. All right, man. Well, it's great to meet you. That was it from 2016 to the end of 2018, when ballistic hit and then all of a sudden, there's all these different producers, there was like five producers at the same time all saying they wanted to develop a feature with me. And I'm like, how does this how do you navigate this? And so I asked director, friend of mine, he's like, dude, you need a manager now. I'm like, great. So how do I do that? You know, and then I had remembered, oh, this guy, three arts. We really hit it off. Maybe he has a night. So I emailed it. I'm like, man, we I don't wanna take any your time. But I'd love to just pick your brain. Here's what's going on. And I'm not sure what to do next. Not knowing that he's now a manager at three arts and then he's like, Hey, can we jump on a call and then we jumped on the call and he really responded that short. And and that's how I got my manager. You know, and now the him and Luke Maxwell and will Robotham are at three arts are now helping me navigate all this stuff. But it's because of a relationship that just to Hey, man, what's up in 2016 for a short that nobody cared about, you know? So it's like, it's all those little things, like you said, always being ready for whatever it is. And like, all these little ingredients, eventually amount to hopefully that final baked delicious cake, you know.

Alex Ferrari 31:25
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. The one that they've been telling us about since we started this damn journey, talking about getting heat. So I actually, I was I had my first short film broken and the heat kind of fell off a little bit. But then I submitted that short to a little show called Project Greenlight. Oh really as, as a as a sample of my directing. And I made it to the top 20 Top 20 of second season a Project Greenlight. And actually, I'm in the first episode of Project Greenlight Season Two Oh, wait, are you really I am for five seconds and you here and it's I did this. Like my my video, like whatever that video is that you had to put in like the submit yourself like I can do this kind of stuff. I was 20 whatever. I was some 20 something. And I have the I actually posted the video on my YouTube channel because it was so embarrassing. so ridiculous. Like I was so egocentric. I was so like it was and I just like Alright guys, I just wanted you to see what happens. And when that aired on HBO, because that was a big thing for our industry like, project we'd like everybody in the business watch Project Greenlight, because they all wanted to see the train wreck. It was a great show. And, and then I would get calls from the managers and agents that that I like not that like oh, yeah, he's whenever Hey, what are you up to? I saw your project it was that you on Project Greenlight, and it's just me, oh my god, like five seconds in the opening montage saying, I can do this. I can do it. I've lived this. I breathed this. I could do this for I've been wanting to do this for my entire life, something along those lines. And then they cut to somebody else. It's like the montage of all the filmmakers that didn't make it. And it's just so and it's just my face, like so intense. With completely jet black hair. I didn't had no gray back then. I mean, I will I will. For everyone listening, I will put it in the show notes. Because I will put it in the show notes because it needs to happen.

Ryan Connolly 33:54
That's it. They like everything we put online. It's there forever.

Alex Ferrari 33:58
It's brutal. It's brutal, man. Yeah. No, I wanted to ask you, man, you've been doing film right for 11 years, man. How? How do you keep going because I I've been doing mine now is going to be five years in July. And I've seen a lot of people come and go, I know you've seen a lot of people come and go, as far as YouTubers, as far as podcasts as far as film blogs that come and they go and they don't really stay or they do a nice run for three or four years and then they're out. There's a level of endurance that is needed to do this kind of work. And while you're still also chasing your dream, and also doing work that you want to do, and also building and also building your business because you've got to feed that business. I don't know about you, but for me, I find it so rewarding helping people. It's addictive. It's addictive. Now I I can't live without doing something like this, because I see the impact that my work is doing for people. And then I still get the pleasure to do my own work and direct my own movies and Do my own projects and stuff like that. But the endurance is something that a lot of people come jumping into this filmmaking space either on YouTube or podcasting or blog. They have no understanding. Yeah, what it takes, like I want episode almost, I'm getting close to 400 on on this podcast, and you know, you guys, how many videos do you guys have? Like,

Ryan Connolly 35:22
It's almost that cuz we don't count everything we put up but as far as like episodes of film right go We're almost at 1000 but if you would count everything we're well over 1000 but then we used to have a show called film state, which was like a movie news show and that had something like 400 episodes. So all together with like all short films, all videos we've done 2000 probably around 2000 Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 35:49
So that's an insane amount of work to create that much content and consistently do it, which is one of the reasons why you're one of the one of the brands that has has survived and are left at the mountaintop if you will. There's a handful of of those brands that have been around for a long time that are still around but I remember I remember brands that in companies that that were around when I was starting out they're gone to just

Ryan Connolly 36:19
Yeah, you know, yeah, it is an endurance game like you're definitely right about that but I mean I think just like the industry you have to have a sickness you know takes a broken brain like we have Yeah, it's just like where sanity and insanity insanity it's just you cannot help yourself I mean, a story I told earlier on on on another show was you know ballistic when when we shot that there was there was two legs two ballistic was a an action sci fi I did and released in like 2018 and there was an LA leg to it. And there was a Texas like to at the Texas was all night stuff. It was thriller ish. And la stuff was all day action. And there was about 100 plus people on set. We had like six to eight cameras, we had practical explosions. wirework dude lit on fire, you know, ISIS car that we were launching and blowing up and madness, madness. And I had to orchestrate this chaos and Dude, I dry heaved in the morning, and on the way to set every morning, I was like, I want to go back to the hotel, I want to go back to the hotel, I want to go back to the hotel. Yeah, but then the second those monitors come up, all that falls away, it becomes blinders, and you're just in it, and it's like Game on. And, and you get through that process, and it's the most stressful, you can't eat, you know, and it's, it's horrible and amazing. And you get through the process, and you're at the end of it, and you haven't slept and you feel like shit. And you're like, God, that was hard. I can't wait to do it again. We're just sick. We're sick individuals, you know, just even like what we've been talking about, about trying to make it like, it's Jesus. It's like 16 years since film school for me longer for you. And yes, still beating our head against the wall. Because we just can't help ourselves. It's that somebody asked me yesterday, they said, You know, I haven't been doing this this that long. But I feel like I'm not getting better. And, you know, just feels like maybe this industry is not a super viable industry. And I'm like, What can I do? You know, how do you think I'm like, the only question you have to ask yourself is can you do something else? If you could do something else and be happy? This isn't for you do that thing? Yeah, you can't. If you cannot do something else, then yeah, pursue this. But you know, still be smart. I mean, you know, my I will not stop until I either die or make a movie. I don't one or the other, you know, but you still got to be smart just as you have and be able to pay your bills and provide for your family. So there is that no matter what having your financial backup plans as you're still pursuing your goal, you got to be smart, but there's no anything else I don't, I couldn't do anything else. I would be miserable. In fact, there was just like, to emphasize the point. There was a time. God, I think it was around early 2017 where I was getting so burnt out. I was just like, not super happy about life. My wife and everybody was like, dude, you need to take a break because I was working almost seven days a week like once my kids were born I took it from seven days a week to six days a week. But I was still working like insane amount of hours a week and I was starting to get sober dot and my I hadn't taken a vacation since my honeymoon which was like, you know, seven years ago and my brother was like, Alright, I'm forcing you're pulling the plug. You have to go on a vacation. I was like, fine. Okay, yes, I'll go on a vacation, went on a vacation for seven days and I came back feeling physically more refreshed but mentally I felt the exact same. I'm like What is going on? We just went on a week long, gorgeous beach vacation. I should be so like ready to get back to work. And then I started a new project and also Have that, like miserable feeling just went away. And what I realized was, it had been like over a year since I was working on something outside of just general weekly Film Riot, like, like a short film or just writing something. And I was like, Oh, that's what was making it. That's what it was. And which I, you know, we set this we have to do this thing. It's a sickness,

Alex Ferrari 40:22
it's a sick sickness,

Ryan Connolly 40:23
Just to have that like, clear evidence of like, Oh, yeah, I have to be doing this, or I'm legit, miserable, it doesn't make any sense. But you know, if if you have that sickness, it, it makes it a little easier, because you just it's not, you just can't help yourself. And then like you said, it is a bit of a drug to help people like to see it actually helped them is like, more rewarding than anything that we do. Like, if in the end, all I do is film, right, I never get my chance to make my feature. Because either a, I can't bring the finances together, myself or the studio, which is not going to happen, I'm going to do it no matter what's going to happen. But even if that were the case, the reward that Film Riot has been for me for us, would be totally worth it. Like there's been some meetings that I've had for people that, you know, are way more advanced than me. And they're like, Hey, I used to watch film, right? When I was in film school, and I'm like, shut up. Crazy. Yeah, yeah, I've had that too. It's insane. Isn't and it's a sad feeling. And then when they tell you, not only did they watch it, but then they say like, that really helped me, or this is what made me realize this is what I wanted to do. That's like, dude, nothing, nothing is more of a gift than hearing that. So that that's like a huge, you know, motivator. And, and I think, I think that feedback, not just being able to make stuff, like just being able to be creative on a weekly basis, and the education that has been brought, but that feedback, or, you know, the feedback of somebody telling us that it's entertainment for them that lets them get their mind off this or that. That stuff, I think is really what fuels the tank for us to do it over and over and over and over and over again, because it does get you know, it does get tiring. Just having that community. Yeah, that that definitely is, is the fuel for that is the main fuel in the tank, I think.

Alex Ferrari 42:19
Yeah, without question, man. And it can can you can we talk a little bit about the positive side of failing? Because Oh, yeah, because so a whole episode on it, I moved because so many people like I don't want to fail, I don't want to fail, I'm like, you have to, it's very hard to fail big and fell off. Because that's the only way you're gonna learn, you know, you don't win. If you when the, if you hit a home run, every single time you're up at bat, you will never understand when it when and where and when it doesn't happen, you won't be able to handle it because you won't have the resources inside of you. The coping mechanisms to deal with the failure, you should fail often all the time. So when those when those when those things happen that are like amazing, then you're like, Oh, this is nice, but something's gonna happen. I see it, let's go back to work.

Ryan Connolly 43:11
But and then it's also multifaceted. Like I said, I've said, since the beginning of Film Riot, my, my phrase has been like failures, the bridge to success. I don't know, if I stole that from somebody. That's my own thing. I actually don't know at this point. But I had been doing it long enough to know how important failure was. And especially now I understand even more that you two things, one, you can't appreciate what you have, unless it's been hard as hell to get it. If you eat the best $100 steak in the world every night for dinner, you know, it's not going to mean but if you just have shitty fast food all the time, and then you get to take a bite of that steak, then it's like, oh my god. So one, you're appreciating what you have. And it just makes you more well rounded person. All that failure is going to make you like specifically for me, for a director, all the failure that we've had has made me a better director, because it makes me empathize with my crew crew more, and let you lead them better with more empathy and you know, sensitivity. And then I don't know how you can be a well rounded, good storyteller that connects with an audience without experiencing that failure. But understanding of that failure is one, it's just the human experience. And it's gonna put everything in perspective for you. But to every single failure is the best education you've ever had. Like, I don't learn off of success when I show somebody a script, and they're like, this was fantastic. I'm like, cool. But what didn't work though, you know, the that all you say to me is this is fantastic. And there was nothing that didn't work for you. There's nothing I can process. There's nothing I can learn from. But if it comes back with this didn't work, this didn't work. This didn't work, even if it's not, this is why I think it didn't work that's not always needed. It's just like, Okay, this isn't landing for you. Why is that and being able to analyze those. So it's the, it's those failures, those those negative outcomes that allow you to You know, proceed get better advance as a human and a storyteller. And just a craftsman overall, I think.

Alex Ferrari 45:10
There was, there's a this young filmmaker, his name Spielberg, he never heard of him. Never heard of him. He did a few things early in the 70s and 80s. But exactly, not really into cinema, but almost take on that one. Close, I'm so close. No, um, a lot of people look at Spielberg and be like, oh, Spielberg is you know, he's the most successful film director of all time. He's made the most money, all this kind of stuff or close to it. And a lot of people don't realize it because, you know, he did Jaws, we did sugar that express which was a success for its for what it was that he did jaws which exploded. Then he did Close Encounters, which was a hit. Then he did the Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark, as well. So he was like hitting home runs at a level. But then there was this little film that no one talks about called 1941. And everybody pretends just didn't have a just everyone pretends it was this huge, like big, kind of like, john Landis style comedy with john Belushi, and all this kind of kind of stuff. And it was it was fun. It was like a really bad arm. And he, I think, as I've heard him do interviews about it, he was just like, I didn't even know what to do. He was not prepared for that kind of failure. Like, you know, because he had just been rocketing up to the top. So when he fell, it took him a minute to recoup himself and then he did etc. And then and he's had ups and downs. But he's had ups and downs you know, you know, Empire, the sun, you know, the color purple that weren't these big monster hits that he wanted them to be. So he's been up and down constantly throughout his career. But it was very interesting. Even someone like him, I mean, all of them have had it. I mean, I think even like Cameron and Scorsese and Nolan has Nolan had a bomb. I don't know if you still believe. I don't think a bomb. He's pretty much been on a rock a rock meteoric Mira kit, he's, but he's like a mutant. He doesn't really. He's a robot. He's not a robot. I actually saw him on the I saw him on the backlot once in from a distance I was on the Warner Brothers backlight and I saw him walk you just like, No, no, I actually tried to absorb whatever, Musk. He was putting off the aura of Mr. Nolan. And I saw him walk. Like he was walking. But when he walked it was like a walking of purpose. Like he's just like, I don't have time for anything. I am working. He's a mutant. He's one of those like, those creatures that just keeps keeps going. It's a very unique, he is a genius. There's absolutely no absolutely you just show there's very few directors you show up just because it's them. You know, Tarantino makes a movie. You're gonna watch it no matter what it is. You know, Nolan Fincher. You know, they make something you're like, dude, we gotta watch this is this is happening, huh? My language? Come I can't I'm so sad. Am I not mine hunter no more. No more episodes, they canceled it. Like he had five seasons set up by Fincher is crazy. David's crazy is great. David is crazy. David is good. But he's also a sir. A certified genius. His whole family is prodigies. I don't know if you knew this or not. His. His entire families are prodigies, like in music and other areas. And I've known a few people who've worked with him,

Ryan Connolly 48:44
What did they eat?

Alex Ferrari 48:47
I don't know. But they are like a whole like he when he, they're like he's at a whole other. He's playing chess and the rest of us are playing marbles. Like it's not even checkers. It's a frickin marbles. Like he's at a different place. And when you when you meet, when you meet, I've had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to some of these, these people who are at that level. And it's always fascinating, just like it's a you're like, I would have loved to make Kubrick like I would have just loved to have that conversation just for five minutes, but the meaning of your life, like I mean, exactly, you know, I mean, who else could have Tom Cruise and Nicole Kim and the two biggest movie stars of its at that time, locked up for a year and a half doing a drama and just beating down Tom Cruise with 100 of the same damn thing. He's like, I don't really see I don't really see anything until like take 72 that's when we really start getting the engine rolling.

Ryan Connolly 49:50
Okay, yeah. Yeah, actually just I'll be in the trailer. Once you're on take 80 just call me I'll come out and we'll start shooting the movie.

Alex Ferrari 49:58
It's It's insane man. Now there is something we haven't spoken about at all in this episode, which we should probably talk about, there's that elephant in the room, which is called the the Corona, their cerveza sickness that is going on. And it is devastating not only the world, but since this is a film show, we're going to talk about how it's devastating our industry. And I'd love to hear your point of view where you think things are going how things are, are changing, and will change and will not go back to the way they were. There is a lot of stuff happening. This is a once in a generation. Once in a lifetime event, this has never happened in the history of the world. And the way it is happening now. And in our industry is never dealt with any industry hasn't dealt with this. But let alone our industry has never dealt with anything like this. I mean, I can't I can't fathom a summer without a blockbuster summer. I'd like I can't, I can't. Because I'm not going to the movies this summer. I don't care if Dr. Fauci shows up and says, We're good. We're good. We've got the vaccine Rue that Yeah, like, like he says, We're good. We've got the drugs to take care of. That's if you get it. It's just kind of like getting a sniffle. You're good. You're solid. Don't worry, everyone go back outside. If Dr. Fauci said that, which he won't, but if he would say that I still would not, it's gonna take me a while before I shake a hand again, or go into or go into a public place, let alone on a big TV, or an enclosed movie theater. So that's, that's the first question, man as far as how the business is, you know, the theatrical experience. You and I grew up on the theatrical experience, you know, you're a bit younger than me, but we both remember video stores. You know, and we both Remember, you know, I remember 1989. Batman, like it was yesterday. You know, like McDonald's cups. Oh, my God, all of that. Did I still, I still have the cards. I have it for Batman. I still have them somewhere in my account. That's I have all like in the card thing, all organized stuff with the rappers Yeah. But like, I remember that excitement of there wasn't like VHS is around, obviously in video stores around but that theatrical thing, which I don't see it as much anymore, maybe because I'm older. But even when Avengers showed up, which I mean, I obviously wanted to see Avengers in the theater. And game. There's so much competition for eyeballs. Now. There's so much more to watch. Yeah, but the theatrical experience is kind of a holdover from the past. And it should be a movement of the future. I think there'll always be at some sort of theatrical experience. But I don't, there always will be there always will be the IMAX experience. The the, it's I mean, AMC theaters, when you go in there, like those couch things that they got going on now. like they've had to take their game up. But what do you like, I just read the AMC is probably going to go bang. Yeah. Like, what? How do you how do you? How do you? How do you see this going? Yeah,

Ryan Connolly 53:06
I just have a lot of questions. You know, it's like, you know, is this something where you know, you're gonna have a repeat of like, 1918 1919? Where you saw a studio step into the theatrical system? Or? Who knows? I don't know. Um, I think for sure, you know, you're, it seems to me that lower end theaters are going to have a real hard time surviving this one. And I think theatrical experience will exist, because I think people want to get out of their house, obviously, you know, people are going stir crazy. And then just the experience of seeing a movie with them, there's just a whole different level, you can't pause it, you can't, there's a different level of reverence and like respect, and like that communal experience, I don't think will ever go away. You know, I think that'll always be there one way or another, but I definitely, it definitely seems like it's changing quite a bit. And I've talked to a few people that are, you know, what, no way, way more than I did, and then ended up consulting with a few companies, which obviously, I can't I can't say about but consulted with because they're looking at other avenues. Because of the lay of the land. Yeah. And the companies that I was talking to for that it was kind of blown my mind because it's like, Man, what does this mean if you're talking to because you know, they're talking to you guys like us, because we're in this space where the YouTube space, we're in the streaming space, we understand that market, the lower indie market, and so they're starting to turn, you know, their gaze in that direction of what could we do to add another leg in that area? Because this thing is sort of, and that's kind of like, Man, what does that mean? And I don't have an answer.

Alex Ferrari 54:43
Like, if they're talking to us, we're in trouble, right? Yeah.

Ryan Connolly 54:49
Exactly. So it's like I don't know what that means. You know, and and I don't have an answer for it. I just know that those thoughts that those that thought process and those questions are being asked, and that's Like, man, and pretty much everybody I talked to says the same thing like, not 100% sure we're kind of taking it one day at a time, and we'll see what happens. But everybody, you know, keep saying things are fundamentally going to be changed, but then no one's following up with what that change is. Exactly. And so I think no one really knows. You know, I, the optimist in me, and I just, you know, it's just what I think I think we're gonna get back to great stories, I think we're gonna get back to you great storytellers, telling those great stories, you know, entertainment, and the arts are so inter woven with our daily life. And so no, Horton says, just so I mean, that's that, but like, at what in from what platform will be the main you know, source like, you know, you see like trolls to came out today straight to streaming that was gonna be you know, that was gonna be a big moneymaker in theaters for sure. And, you know, for a second, I was reading that they were considering sending wonderwoman straight to streaming and then they might push it.

Alex Ferrari 55:55
They might though, they still might, because there's their mind, how long are you going to push this stuff? Like, everyone's been pushed everything, it's going to Christmas into the winter holiday. And then you're gonna have like, 100, big blockbusters for Christmas. Like, that's not gonna be? Well, not only that, but you know, there is a very good possibility that this thing comes back in the winter. Right, right. And there is a wave of it. There's another wave of it. So and even even if everything's okay, okay, how many people went to the theater? Yeah, like how many people are really going to go to the movie theater? Like, personally, my love hate relationship with movie theaters has happened since I was a teenager, where they've had I've always said they've had a combative relationship with their customer. They they charge for food, and popcorn and stuff. Like you're like you're in an airport. Like, we don't know what a coke cost in the real world. Like there's an in these inflated costs there. And then, for a long time, the experience wasn't particularly that great unless you spent money at a higher end theater. Like now like, AMC figured out that like we better we were putting the money in. So now the seats are good. The floors aren't sticky. The floors are sticky. If you remember that dollar theatres dude. Oh, they're so gross. They were nasty. They were selling if you ever clean this ever, I mean, it was just like layers of like soda pop on the floor. And oh, it was just Oh, oh, it's horrible back in.

Ryan Connolly 57:24
Back in the day when we used to leave our house and go places. Alamo Drafthouse was my thing. Like, that's where me and my wife went like once a week, we'd have a date night to Alamo Drafthouse. Yeah, because it also it also no phones, no talking, like when you

Alex Ferrari 57:37
I love those ads. I love, love, love

Ryan Connolly 57:40
If somebody picks up their phone in front of you, and they're on Facebook, and you're like, What the hell are you doing? Like, it's one thing if you're like a parent, you're like, just checking real quick, and it goes away. Alright, I have no problem with that. But like, you're literally scrolling Facebook, like everyone else paid to be here to row like, yeah, go outside.

Alex Ferrari 57:55
So I've always felt that they've had a combative relationship with their customer base. And now I feel that it's kind of biting them in the ass because now the second there's another opportunity or their second, there's something else. They're like, you know, what I really kind of don't want to go and now have an excuse not to go because I don't want to get sick. That's going to be a difficult thing mentally, to kind of break through the customer. Like the customer is gonna have to feel really comfortable to be in an enclosed space. And that goes for concerts. That goes for huge events. This is going to be it's going to hit so and film festivals like a south by you know, and all the everything's happening with that Kansas holding in there. But the you know, there that's Yeah, that's I don't see I can't see that happening.

Ryan Connolly 58:39
It's just so crazy and interesting to me because it all just is so unprecedented that there's really no like, because I mean, you can look all the way back to 1918 100 years ago like what is that really going to tell? You know what I mean? Like

Alex Ferrari 58:56
didn't even know what they had no idea what bacteria was, they didn't know that washing your hands was a thing.

Ryan Connolly 59:03
And there was no home entertainment that wasn't a thing now we have all these streaming services. We got Netflix, you know have you seen the trailer for that new Chris Hemsworth movie that's going straight to Netflix looks like $100 million blow

Alex Ferrari 59:14
I heard it Yeah. Who is it? Isn't that with the Russo brothers? Yeah, I didn't know that was going to that's going to the Netflix that's going to Netflix

Ryan Connolly 59:21
Going to Netflix and they produce it and I think Joe Russo maybe wrote it one of the Russo brothers read it maybe but it looks badass but it looks like this massive to it is this massive tentpole project and it's just going to, you know, it's a Scorsese film, what straighten it. So it's a different world. So that kind of throws you know, a wrench into the works to of trying to be, you know, trying to predict what might be the outcome of this situation. So it's like, it's just a lot of questions from me. The only thing I land on is, you know, we're gonna keep telling great stories. I don't know what the medium for delivery of those stories are going to be as far as like the main Like, well theaters start to take a much bigger backseat and be less of a thing. You know, for the first time ever, I would say maybe, but are they going to go away? I would say no, no way. But who knows who freaking knows this thing is so crazy.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:14
I mean, look, I remember when home video wasn't a thing I remember when I remember going to my first video store when I was in 84. It was in New York, and I went to my first video store when we rented Flashdance. We rented Flashdance and we watched it on the other top loaded, it was a top loaded VHS I remember I remember it was a tablet, a tank of a VHS and we watched it. And I remember walking into a video store. And I remember, like I worked in a video store when I was in high school. So I worked there for like four or five years. And I I remember that that what like home video wasn't a thing. Like no one ever thought that that was going to take over. No one ever thought that DVDs were going to do the thing. No one ever thought that streaming was going to be a thing. And now we're saying no one ever thought that movie theaters weren't going to be a thing. And if they aren't, and if you look at the current model of businesses, let's talk a little bit about money here. In the current business model, in order to justify a 200 plus million dollar tentpole, there has to be a theatrical revenue stream to justify it. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show that you can't make Avengers for Disney Plus, you might be able to get away with it now. Yeah, right now you can Oh, we can know that you could do it now, because they still only have 20 million subscribers. But when you hit mass, critical mass, in the US, let's say let's say 200 million people sign up for Disney plus. And that's it. Like you're not there's no more if nobody else is gonna sign up for it. Now you're spending 200 million to keep what you have not to make more. So how there's going to be a moment where that money has to drop. And so it makes sense to keep that revenue stream, you see what I'm saying? Where Yeah, me. And also before the $200 million movie was completely reliant on the US box office, which now it's completely reliant on the international box office, which now like when China shut down every once in a while, what what, what what happened? What happened? And then now Oh, Europe, just shut down. And then everything just shut down? So if those revenue streams, aren't there, I, is there a future for as many tent poles? As we're getting?

Ryan Connolly 1:02:45
Yeah, that's that is a good question. That is a very good question. I think, you know, the rest of this year is gonna, like at least present possible outcomes, you know, because I think we're gonna be really, like heading in a direction for the next few years? No, I don't think we're really going to land on the this is the outcome of this happening for another two to five years. But I think, you know, toward the end of this year, I think we'll finally have an indication like, we'll have a mile marker to, to sort of be like, okay, here's what this looks like. It's where where it can be predicted at that point. But, like, right now, at least for me, and I don't know. But I, you know, curious and hopeful and my fingers are crossed? Because, I mean, I certainly don't want theaters to go away.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:31
I don't either. I think they're loved that experience. Yeah, absolutely. But the one thing also, I feel that there is going to be some casualties in the, in the business meeting, our companies, companies or companies are going to go down and studios are going to be either go down or get acquired a big, big studios that we know of, and have grown up with, I mean, look, Fox just got bought, for God's sakes, you know, by Disney. So if Fox could get bought, you know, there's four or five other studios that have that were lower on the totem pole that could easily be purchased by Apple, Google, Facebook, you know, any of those big guys who have those guns, it's that the landscape is going to change in such a way that we can't, nobody really knows. Nobody knows what's gonna happen.

Ryan Connolly 1:04:16
I think it's most definitely going to accelerate the acceptance of and the draw to streaming. I mean, we're already headed there. But obviously that's just gonna accelerate like be the acceptance and adoption of it from some of the major studios and players I think are is going to happen far quicker than it was going to that but that's just kind of obvious. Because what other what other option is there? It's don't or there's this.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:43
Yeah, and I'm curious about this whole $20 you know, I call it premium t VOD, that they have like trolls came out today at 20 bucks. Yeah. You know, like, I don't I want to see numbers. I don't how many people are paying 20 bucks. I feel that's a fair number for a family

Ryan Connolly 1:04:57
Kind of but that's what they charge. Anyway, like It's usually about 1999 when a brand new movie comes it and so it's not even an insult,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:05
But to buy the who's buying who's buying movies nowadays? That's the other thing. Like, I know, I've seen TV numbers, and that but you come from a different generation though.

Ryan Connolly 1:05:12
Yeah, come from my mom. I buy it for the special features if I could rent the special features I totally what,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:18
But the point but yeah, but you but you're an anomaly. Like you're a very small market, like you're a film very true. You're a, you're a filmmaker. And you also come from a generation where we were used to purchasing these things. Because that's what we that's the only way. So we had physical media libraries and DVDs and things like that. But there's a generation that expects all this for free, like or expects it as part of their subscription model, like

Ryan Connolly 1:05:41
Or just feels free because their parents pay for this thing, and they never have that experience of it.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:46
Yeah. So you know, I I'm really curious to see also how much longer I'm now I'm really curious,

Ryan Connolly 1:05:53
is how much is it that to rent like, what's what does it cost to rent for a brand new,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:57
like, if you were gonna rent? No, no, no, it's, it's 20 bucks, period. It's 20 bucks

Ryan Connolly 1:06:02
To rent it?

Alex Ferrari 1:06:03
Yeah, it's not you're not buying if it's in a box, it's renting it for 20 bucks, because it's premium. It's like going to the theater. Gotcha. Okay, so it's not available? That makes more sense. Yeah, it's not. So you're paying a rental. Now, if you're gonna go out to the theater, and you want to first run a movie, and you have a couple and you've got kids, that's an 80 $90. If you get popcorn and stuff, it's 8090 bucks, 100 bucks to go out to the movies. And if you got a full family, or you're going out with Francis, it could easily, you know, go past three figures. So $20 for home in you have a nice system at home. It's not outrageous. But I'm used to paying something else in this environment. And I the psychology of that.

Ryan Connolly 1:06:47
What you're saying is, is because also a ticket costs me let's say 15 bucks. Right? Right. But then I'm looking at him like, this is $20 kids movie, are you kidding me? When really, you know, like you said, in actuality, I'm buying my ticket, my wife's kit kit, my kids ticket, then we're getting popcorn. And it inflates to like this $80 fair wear but it's like $20 for a cartoon just to rent it. That's because of the psychology of like, exactly what you said in this space.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:15
It's a very, so I'm really curious on what those numbers are going to be like, because, you know, they haven't released a bunch of them already. And some of them, they have to have no other way to make any money with

Ryan Connolly 1:07:29
The numbers because they don't really they the streaming numbers are always a lot pretty confusing. They're not as cutting drop box.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:35
Right? And they and this is not a part. This is not a thing like you know, premium t VOD number this week, box off. Yeah. So I'm curious to see what those numbers really are. And if they're making, you know, I know they're not making 20 I know trolls is not gonna make $20 million $30 million. I just don't. I just don't see that. And this never

Ryan Connolly 1:07:57
looked much into streaming numbers. There's there somewhere that that posts those numbers like yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:08:03
there there isn't there, isn't there? There. I have some back end friends who work at some of these places that showed me numbers. But I would see some of these numbers. I would see some of these numbers and I'd be like, Oh, so that tentpole movie made 50 grand this week. Oh, oh, okay. You know, like, like in TiVo like, Oh, Oh, right. I mean, I personally think t VOD is dying a slow miserable death because nobody want no one's renting. It's very difficult to rent or purchase. Most people are waiting for Netflix waiting for the part of their subscription model. It's just like, they're like, there's just so much good stuff to watch. I don't need to go out unless it's like if it's Avengers, like I paid 20 bucks to see Avengers. I would rather see it in the theater, but I would pay 20 bucks for the next Marvel movie. You know, I probably like I'd probably, you know, I'll probably pay 20 bucks to blackwidow my page 20 bucks for Wonder Woman you know these big, you know, extravaganza kind of films, spectacle films. I might do that. And that's a big might do that. But I mean onward the Pixar movie. It was one week and T premium t VOD. A weekend rentals. like normal and then it's in freakin Disney plus, like two weeks later, I was like, yo, what's going on? What's going on? Like, explain? I don't understand. So the business it's like we are in an upside down Bizarro world right now. I don't think that they I've been saying this for a while that the the the money that's being spent in streaming is a bubble. Like you can't keep that. Spending just buying catalogs buying libraries. 100 billion dollar $100 million for this friend's thing and another 150 for all the South parks and and all this stuff. And they're just buying content buying content cuz it's kind of like a space race, if you will, a streaming race or streaming wars as they call it streaming wars, right? Yeah. To try to bring every By the end, but I think a lot of that is based on future projections of growth. But if those future projections of growth are not there, or slowed because of what we're doing, do you know how much Netflix is? So in the whole Netflix is billions in the hole. And they're leveraged to the hilt, because they're just trying to grab market share. They're trying to grab market share, trying to grab market share. And I don't know, I don't know where it's gonna go, dude. I mean, it's, it's, it's a weird word.

Ryan Connolly 1:10:31
Yeah, yeah. Same here, man. I have no like solid predictions. I just have, you know, optimal towards a story. And that's about it. And then it's like, well, I guess we'll see, you know? Yeah, it's crazy. Have you?

Alex Ferrari 1:10:47
Have you seen any noticeable jumps in your, in your numbers, from traffic and stuff? Since the corona thing, like more people find our

Ryan Connolly 1:10:56
Yeah, our numbers have gone up quite a bit. However, our other show hasn't. Under under my company trying films, we also have another show called variant which is about comic books. But that has pretty much, you know, stayed even keel. And I've noticed other channels didn't, I wasn't really seeing a boost there either. So it's probably more along the lines of the content we're putting out that people were just attaching to because, you know, we're doing the contest of like, we're all stuck at home. Let's, let's talk about that. So it seems to be people are just, you know, responding to that more, maybe I don't, I don't really know, I guess we'll just have to wait and see in the months ahead. As we do different content, if it goes back to normal, or if it will see because it also it all kind of hit at the same time. Like there's been a little bit of a slowdown in film, right as some behind the scenes stuff was worked on. So that's been a little more slow goings. And just as of a few weeks ago, we started wrapping back up and this hit so it I don't really know which thing is doing that, because there's three things happening at once. And I'm, maybe it's all of the above, that's, you know, that's doing that. So I can't really tell because everything else other than that seems to be no difference.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:09
So, sure, so since you are you are a YouTube OG, I have to ask you the question. If you were going to start a YouTube channel today, is it a viable way to make a living?

Ryan Connolly 1:12:25
I mean, I think, you know, I think it's as viable now as it was then like, it's just a stupid idea. You know, it's just like getting into the industry, it's the same thing, you know, if 100 people do it, maybe one of them might be able to be fine, some, you know, success, success, and and, you know, maybe one out of 100,000 might find actual solid success, and maybe one out of a million might find longevity in that success, you know, and that seems very, you know, to be the case across all sorts of media, this kind and it's just and I mean, Film Riot, at first I started as a show called making the film, which in an episode, we put up one of those original episodes, it was unbelievably bad. But I did that for free. Because YouTube didn't make money. There was no monetizing at the time, there was no money to be made. So that came from sponsors, but how am I going to get sponsors and I didn't even know that was a thing yet. So I had no aspirations of money out of the thing to start with, I was just doing it for the love of it. And then it got picked up by revision three, and then they blew my mind with Oh, you can put sponsors on this. And you can actually make this a job. And I was like, wait, I'm sorry, this can make money. And then that happened. And it didn't make me any money for I had a full time job for over I think it was over a year before I was able to finally quit my full time job and focus on this. And then even that it was several years before I could pay anyone else other than myself, really. So it was me doing everything by myself. And then finally I was able to it was bit by bit it took years that turn it into a thing. It wasn't like, you know, you have people who, you know, go on and hit for doing this or that, but that that candle ends up burning out, you know, it's the ones that put in that it took a long time to build and understand. And it's kind of like you You were saying earlier, the maturity that comes with it, I think is what leads to longevity. Because there, you know, it's been really hard. And then sometimes reviews are really good. And sometimes they're not. Sometimes you're getting a great rate from sponsors. And sometimes they're like, Listen, dude, you're getting 30,000 an episode, we cannot pay you that and you're like, great. So then you have to have multiple legs. It can't just be this one thing is one basket, you know, you got to have multiple shows in a store and you're also doing stuff work on the side that no one will ever hear about, but it helps pay the bills. They're versatile. They're diversifying your revenue streams. Exactly. diversification is everything. My dad always posed it to me as like, which is probably you know, he probably got it from somewhere but he's like if you're gonna sit on the stool, you Do you need four legs right now? Like, yeah, that's the like, take off one of those legs now sit on the stool. How comfortable is it? I'm like, Oh, he's like, now take off two legs now How you doing? Oh, now have one leg on that stool? Are you able to sit on that stool? Nope. He's like, there you go. I like and I own a company. And

Alex Ferrari 1:15:16
I'm gonna steal that I'm gonna steal that. That's so good. So good.

Ryan Connolly 1:15:20
And that's what he taught me that since you know, I was young, because he owned a company. And so he really understood what that meant. So he's been quite quite a mentor to me as far as you know, building a company and, and that was I had that person to talk to to help. But if it wasn't for that, thinking, if it wasn't for my dad, putting that four legs on the stool mindset in my head, I don't think film right would be around today, because there's no way I would have sustained it. In fact, we just went through a period of time where we had several months without a single sponsor, we were doing Film Riot, for free. It was everything else that was helping us sustain us through that time, as we move out of one thing and into another. And it had to have that so we could move into a new, you know, path. But you know, the, it's difficult. So I guess the point I'm making is, I don't think it's viable for anyone on its own. If you're gonna do this, it needs to be multifaceted, there needs to be multiple things, and you need to be regardless if it was 2009. Or right now, you need to be ready, just like anything else in this industry, which is basically been our entire talk, you need to be ready to plant your feet in the ground and endure this thing for years and years and years and years. Not case views. We've never chased views. We do like some like flash speed effect every now and again, because we want to because it'll be fun, not because we know it's gonna get a ton of views. And that's been one of the reasons why, you know, our show has probably built slower than it could have the views, you know, are up and down a little more than that. But for me, it's if we're chasing views, I just can't do that. I wouldn't be able to keep doing this. I don't care. You know, I want to talk about what is the psychology between why I put together this action scene not just Hey, check out this cool stuff. But let's talk about the psychology but let's talk about the intention of what's going on. You know that what is it you know, what does it mean with what is happening with the camera you know, that stuff? That stuff doesn't always get the most views but you know, it's the stuff that really matters to me so we balance it out. So it's you know, I think it's that doing something that you have to do just like anything else if you're doing YouTube to make money from it, but it ain't gonna last and and YouTube revenue just frickin forget it unless you're making millions of views every single episode you're not making enough money to sustain it's just not a thing. It's like the YouTube revenue we don't even hardly pay attention to it. It's all that's all like sponsor base or however else you could parlay that into something. So yeah, man, it's just super hard. I think anything in the entertainment industry comes back to that same thing I said before with that Twitter question of the only question you have to ask yourself is can you do something else? If you can? Don't do this? Because it is friggin hard.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:06
And everything you just said and obviously film a shampoo prank videos. That's obviously how

Ryan Connolly 1:18:12
Well obviously shampoo pranks and be a horrible person and blogs and you're

Alex Ferrari 1:18:21
How about if you do a shampoo prank video on a cat while being a douche? A billion YouTube channel now I'm going to ask you a few questions I asked all of my guests sir. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today? Besides the shampoo prank cats and being a douche? Okay, besides the shampoo douchebag cat prank? Cats the douchebag and do i think i think we should do a collab honestly, we should do a collab and really do that video.

Ryan Connolly 1:19:00
I think it see what douchebag but I think it's just kind of what we've been talking about is you just need to do it. Everything is for me, it's been entirely about building experience in my entire career has entirely been about building. I mean, even you know, recently, excitingly I'm able to which we've been open and honest about it on the Film Riot channel and will something come of it I don't know. But I've been able to talk to you know, studios and stuff and we're starting to do that thing and being able to have these conversations and pitch the way that I've been able to pitch has been a result of the experience that I've gained from Film Riot and being come becoming comfortable in my voice as a filmmaker and again, that's just all experience based being able to direct their comes knocking like I did or ballistic like I did was purely based off the experience that came before it with each one, learning from it and learning how to you know, not diving into the deep end right away but dipping my toe into the the shallow end of the pool and then getting in Then moving Little by little, you know, starting to work with a dp, I used to do it myself. Now I worked with a dp. Okay, I know what that is. And he taught me all these things. Okay, great. Now we bring in a sound team, and they're teaching me what that is. Okay, great. And now I'm bringing in makeup and wardrobe. And they're teaching me Okay, great. And then the stunt team, and then more of a visual effects team. And then a full post pipeline, and my editors really teaching you how this pipeline works. Okay, great, you know, little by little crafting that experience over the course of it's been, you know, 10 years publicly, but even more so after that. Before that. And then even before getting to those collaborators, all the time that I put in doing it myself, and spending, what could take two hours with a crew is my entire day of shooting, you know, when I shot my short film, tell, which we actually shot in 2008, before film right ever existed. And then we released in 2012. But we made it seem like we were shooting it now. Because, you know, obviously, it would be a lot more fun to feel involved in the moment. But in 2008, I didn't know anybody in film, the only person that knew anything that was happening was my roommate, who's also my cousin who went to full sail with me. So we're the only two people there that know anything about film, my 13 year old sister was the boom operator. And the actors were cool with it, which was amazing, you know, tons of DIY gear, it's me operating a crane as the director, dp sound guy, you know. So it's, and that took, you know, every weekend for that, I remember how it ended up being like a 30 minute short film. And, man, I don't know how many days it actually was, I don't think we put all the days to get we combined days to like, make it faster on the show and not be so boring. But it was more days, just weekend after weekend after weekend after week, because we all had full time jobs. And I put it all on a credit card, which I don't suggest you do, obviously, that's stupid. But you know, I did what I had to do. And so I think that that's it, like getting out of your head that this is an easy road, it is not, it is a very bumpy path. And it is a very long road that might lead to a dead end, it might lead to a dead end, that's just fact, this path that I'm on, it might be a dead end, but I'm going to stay on it until I don't have a choice, you know, and understanding those things, I think is really important. Because they're just hard truths, you know, and you might be a thing where you end up being a filmmaker that you're making film to because you're doing it yourself, no one ever opened the gate to you, you know, that's a possibility. You know, that's, that's more of a likelihood than not, which is discouraging. But if you're doing it for that end goal, I don't know how far you're gonna get anyway, it has to be that sickness, it has to be the passion and love for telling a story and connecting with an audience through that story. If you have that, then that's all that matters, you know, so that would be my, my main bit of advice is Do it, do it again, do it some more and just keep going

Alex Ferrari 1:22:56
And, and enjoy the enjoy the path. Because if that path does lead to it, and then you and your only hope was the end goal, and you hated the path you walked, you're going to be you're going to be the I always say you're going to be you become that angry, bitter filmmaker. And I always anytime I do a talk or something, I go everybody here, we all know an angry and bitter filmmaker. And if you don't know the better filmmaker, you are the angry and bitter filmmaker that everybody else knows. You're the dude that if you don't know them, that means it's you.

Ryan Connolly 1:23:30
That is a that's actually a great way to distill it of no matter what even if you make it because I know we both know filmmakers who are currently doing it. And it is not the end result. That's the reward. It's the journey that's the reward that Olds hold saying and even in the short film realm, you know, I've been lucky enough to make a short film and I have an audience to put that short film out and you know, I think ballistic is over a million views now so but that's not the reward you know, making it there was a reward and then the journey of the audience connection to it is the reward you know, and then if that's on thing well then now I'm on to making the next one and that you know, that path is the reward so it's like you said you got to be happy with the path because the end result may never be a reward.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:15
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life Oh, man, that is a tough one because I'm I'm flawless Obviously, I'm polishing my Oscar as we speak.

Ryan Connolly 1:24:28
Yeah. God, there's so I feel like every other day I'm learning something that I'm like, God, I'm such an idiot. You know? I think balance Yeah, that would absolutely be which is a mixture of, you know, career and life. And to my wife's credit, she is you know, the most patient, angelic saint like human being I've ever met in my life. And I think that's what all of our if we're all still with someone, that's what they are. She She gently helped me arrive to a place of balance. Because you know, I just burning the candle on both ends the entire time. You know, before kids were born seven days a week, minimum 15 hours a day minimum. So my average was 1518 hours a day and then I'd roll into bed roll out of bed and go right back to it. That's just like legitimately what was going on. And often, especially the first year of Film Riot, I've talked about it, I call it the dark days, I went two days without sleeping every week without fail because I had that full time job. And on Wednesday night, I would have to deliver the episodes. So I would stay up all night, finishing the episode, I would hit upload pants on and go right to work, I kept the pillow at work because of that. So you know, during lunch, I would try to take a nap I that's when I discovered Newton naps where you keep a spoon in your hand and you like lay on the thing. And then once you doze off, you release a spoon, it hits the tile and it wakes you up. And that was like these little micro naps and actually helped me out a little bit. And it got even worse during like holidays because then Alienware would ramp up with contents on producing way more. So I'm already working overtime and Alienware. Plus, there was still this thing. And, you know, that was kind of, you know, what choice do I have situation, but then that way of living stuck. And that's how I worked. And it took a while, but there was a, it finally landed on. If I stopped work at this time, the world's not gonna fall apart, everything's not gonna first. It'll be here tomorrow. And it was really the birth of my first kid, my daughter that clicked like, I am not missing this. And I kind of I just regret five years of being married and wasting so much time that we could have been doing more fun stuff. And she was just being patient, waiting for me to figure it out, you know. But even with my kid, she she had a sit down talk with me and, and it's I credit my wife entirely. And she just had a heart to heart of being like, I'll follow you, wherever you go. It wasn't an ultimatum. But she's like, I am terrified that in 20 years, you're going to look back and regret all the time. And I've said it on film, right? Ever since I quoted on film, right ever since at 80 I will not look back and regret the movies I didn't make I'll look back and regret the time I missed with my family. And a man that's that's the lesson that has been learned. And I'm still trying my best I've been doing better. You know, sometimes in this industry, you know, it just gets hard. Right now is one of those times finding balance. So it has its ups and downs. But for the most part, I've found a decent balance. And I've been trying to be there more because I don't know who said it. But I so far, I think it's the truest thing I've ever heard is, you know, just being there is 90% of the way toward being a good parent, you know? So that's I've been really focusing on making sure I'm there and not like this ghost of a memory to my kids like that. That would be the dagger to the heart for me.

Alex Ferrari 1:28:15
Very great answer to that question, sir. And quickly three of your favorite films of all time that will be on your tombstone go.

Ryan Connolly 1:28:23
Jurassic Park. Okay, Alien. God, I have a bunch of Indiana Jones and Mission Impossible? Can I add,Can I four?

Alex Ferrari 1:28:32
How about that Jaw's sitting behind you?

Ryan Connolly 1:28:35
Oh, jaws is up there. Basically any film from hit Oh, rope, rear window. Dial M for Murder psycho. You truly don't understand your film.

Alex Ferrari 1:28:45
You truly don't understand the topic of three.

Ryan Connolly 1:28:48
This hurts me. I would say like, everybody knows who watches the show. Everybody knows my, my sick love for Jurassic Park. And it's just because Jurassic Park like changed my world. I was already making like stuff for my family. But when I saw it as like bark, I was like, 11. And it was an experience. Like I watch movies like that. Yeah. I mean, it really was experience that no one had. But you know, I love to watch movies of that. Yeah, at 11. And so I felt so unsafe in this safe place. So after that, I became obsessed with this Spielberg dude, like, Who's Spielberg? And what's a director because that's what I want to do. Like, and once I figured that out, it was just like, so that's my like, I mean, plus, it's just an incredible film. But that's, you know, that's my massive admiration for that film is that's what made me realize what I specifically wanted to do like what I've been already pursuing and not knowing and to that experience that I felt as an audience member as has been something that I've been chasing ever since. Now, where can people find you in the work you do, sir? You can just go to a Film Riot, calm and pretty much everything's there. Of course, we're on YouTube as well at YouTube. comport slash Film Riot but film right comm has pretty much everything, including the podcasts we do and page to connect with any of us our social media all that.

Alex Ferrari 1:30:09
Man It has been a pleasure talking to you, Ryan for the second time. We just nailed out to full blown podcasts. Thank you, Kyla, thank you, quarantine. Thank you so much for the show. But for all the good work you've done community for the last over a decade of work and all those sleepless hours that you put into, into the work you do with fullbright. Man I truly appreciate and hustle definitely recognize this hustle. So I appreciate everything that you do. And thank you for being on the show, brother.

Ryan Connolly 1:30:46
Thanks. I appreciate that. Thanks so much. And thanks for having me. This is a blast.

Alex Ferrari 1:30:50
I want to thank Ryan for being on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs on the indie film hustle tribe today, brother I I am a fan Ryan, I am grateful for what you do for the filmmaking community at large and have been doing it you are an OG in this space. So thank you again for not only being on the show, but for everything you do, man. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, including checking out some film rights awesome content, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustlecom/400. And guys, I wanted to let you know that the beta version of my new epic course on film distribution called film distribution confidential, or predatory film distributors do not want you to know is in beta launch right now. So I have 100 seats, actually less than 100 seats now available for anyone who wants to jump in early at a massive discount. And you get to watch me build the course and help me build the course as I start uploading new lessons every week. And everyone who's inside so far is loving the course, really giving me some great feedback and helping me build out the most comprehensive course on film distribution for today's world that exists on the planet. So if you want to check that out, head over to indie film hustle comm forward slash let me in. Thank you again, for listening guys. I am again humbled that we have gotten to this, this level in this podcast of Episode Number 400. I continue I plan to continue going I don't see any time in the near future where I will stop doing these. If anything, I'm adding more and more on the pot on podcast on my podcast plate if you will, as you guys know the new podcast filmmaking motivation, which has been very well received when you get your weekly motivation to keep going down this path as insane as it might be sometimes. And we of course launched the ifH Podcast Network, which is going to be housing some of the best filmmaking, podcast and screenwriting podcast around as I personally will be curating new shows as they come in. We are adding new shows all the time. So if you want to check out what we have, and if you want to discover some new podcasts if you don't have enough to listen to with me, you can head over to eye f h podcast I appreciate you and I thank you guys so much for giving me the privilege of doing this for you every day. Thank you again. And as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there. And I'll talk to you soon.



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The Shining: Breaking Down Stanley Kubrick’s Masterpiece

The Shining is the legendary 1980 film starring Jack Nicholson as the protagonist of a psychological horror story. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, it’s touted to be one of the top 10 all-time scariest horror shows. The original story was written by Steven King who published a novel with the same title in 1997.

Director Stanley Kubrick was searching for a new movie after mediocre audience responses to his latest film before that, Barry Lyndon, which in fact received a number of critical acclaims. The Shining storyline focuses on Jack Torrance as he descends into madness, brought on partly by exposure to supernatural elements. It takes place in the hotel that he, his wife, and his son are caretakers for while it is closed for winter. Isolated from people and intending to write a novel with his time, Jack and his son Danny reveal an apparently shared trait of being able to “shine” or see ghosts from the past and potential future.

It’s revealed through backstory with Jack’s wife Wendy, played by Shelley Duvall, that Jack once abused their son due to a drinking problem. Viewers discover the hotel was built on a Native American burial ground and later the hotel manager advises that a previous caretaker killed his family due to cabin fever. Jack’s son has a premonition about the hotel, seeing a cascade of blood. Scatman Crothers playing the hotel chef, Dick Hallorann shares a psychic moment with Danny and we hear the term “The Shining” for the first time, describing psychic ability.

After this setup, the family maintains the status quo for a month as Jack attempts to write, without much success. During a heavy snowfall, the phone lines go out and Danny has more frightening visions. Jack has his own premonition telling his wife, when she wakes him from a nightmare, that he had seen images of killing her and their son. Danny visits an off-limits room numbered 237 and turns up later with a bruise, causing Wendy to presume Jack hurt him again.

At this point, Jack begins to see and communicate with ghosts from the hotel past, sharing drinks in the ballroom. When Wendy discusses Danny’s bruise she tells Jack that Danny says a woman in 237 did it. Jack visits the room and can see the ghost but doesn’t share this with his family. Danny has more visions and slips into a trance crying out the word, famous to movie buffs, “REDRUM.”

As the climax draws near, Wendy finds Jack’s typewritten manuscript with nothing on it but a repeating phrase, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Now in a panic, she begs Jack for them all to leave but he threatens her. She knocks him out with a bat and locks him in a cupboard to search for a way out for herself and Danny. But Jack has disabled the radio and snowcat tractor, the only way to drive out in the snow.

As she searches through the main house, Wendy discovers that Danny has written redrum on the door. Closing it, she turns to see it reflected properly in the mirror and reads, “murder.” Jack escapes with the help of one of the ghosts and pursues Wendy who is able to save Danny by shoving him through a window to the outside but has to face Jack as he hacks through another locked door with an ax. She gets the upper hand for the moment and runs through the hotel, finding the ghosts and visions that Danny had seen.

Meanwhile, Halloran who has psychic gifts of his own has returned from his vacation, worried about what is happening at the hotel and heads there. When he arrives, he meets a similar fate and dies at Jack’s hands. Jack pursues Danny into a garden maze but the son lays down false tracks and hides successfully. Danny meets up with Wendy and they flee in Halloran’s vehicle while Jack freezes to death in a snow mound. The final scene shows Jack as a new member of the ghostly group at the hotel, as seen in a hotel photo of party goers from 1921, where he now stands smiling.

Although the story as told throughout the film is sometimes considered a masterpiece inspiring generations of horror filmmakers, it’s purported to have been a difficult shoot and production. Kubrick was fanatical about his method and pushing the actors to their limits. Shelley Duvall became sick from the stress she was under as Kubrick apparently pushed her in scenes far too often. Jack Nicholson purportedly gave up memorizing script revisions because they changed so frequently. You can see first hand what I’m talking about in the behind the scenes video below.

A number of writers agree, though, that Kubrick created something new in film for the genre due to it’s planned ambiguity. It’s never clearly stated that the hotel is haunted but only that Jack and Danny both can potentially see ghosts. Or is it that they share the same delusions? Additionally, there are long periods of silence where the audience watches Jack brood which serves to heighten the tension for watchers, where normally those periods can create irritation to an audience. But in The Shining, it sends a message to the audience that an evil is brewing in Jack’s mind as he sits and thinks.

These long moments of quiet menace serve as a perfect set up for the startling moment when Danny goes in search of his toy at night and come across Jack sitting up in bed. Again there is silence until Danny asks him what has been hinted as being on his mind already, “You’d never do anything to hurt Mom and me, would ya, Dad?” It’s a perfect foreshadowing but also serves the ambiguity. Did Danny see the future, have a hint of his father’s madness, or did he give Jack the very idea?

With the fact that Jack turned on his wife and son so readily and had a history of abuse, although we don’t know in what context he hurt his son, except that he was drunk, the movie can also be a reflection on domestic violence. It’s a biopic of a small nuclear family and being isolated for such a length of time, pressures actually do not serve to bring them close.

Kubrick is considered a genius director as far as versatility and vision. He is able to express feelings of isolation, enormity, and claustrophobia all in one in this film. The imagery is disturbing and perfectly timed for audience psychological stress set off by a score that creates further tension.

The fact that much of the ghost story is implied without ever being confirmed actually fuels the audience’s anxiety to know the truth and follow the tension to the climax. The scenes of actual horror and shock are so overdone with rivers of blood and dead bodies that it could be trite in anyone else’s hands. Here it serves to heighten the fear, dropping flashes of the gore and decay of physical fear along with Jack’s psychological menace.Although it did well enough at the box office, like many films that look to create or influence genres, it wasn’t until years later that people began to consider it a critical hit. When it came out, reviews were not glowing and it’s understandable since they pinpoint the very things that were questionable about the horror theme. There were multiple quiet moments, the gore was overdone and the characters didn’t have as much development as most people thought. But in retrospect, it’s the totality of those elements against the theme of psychological and psychic stress combined that give the movie its punch. Picking apart scenes may reveal the same criticisms that critics had at the time but the overall work has helped to define a genre.

Since the movie was filmed in 1980 and moviegoers and filmmakers alike have matured with the greater abilities of film to relay stories, it’s natural to look again at something and change your mind about its value. As time has passed, The Shining continues to be a model of horror film-making, becoming a specimen of new genre work and a pop culture icon.


Martin Scorsese Masterclass: Learn Directing from the Master

Martin Scorsese Masterclass: Learn Directing from the Master

Martin Scorsese drew his first storyboard when he was eight. Today he’s a legendary director whose films—from Mean Streets to The Wolf of Wall Street—have shaped movie history. In his first-ever online class, the Oscar winner teaches his approach to filmmaking, from storytelling to editing to working with actors. He deconstructs films and breaks down his craft, changing how you make—and watch—movies.

Click below to watch the trailer and pre-enroll in his class:

You can ENROLL in the course now to this game-changing filmmaking course. Click here to gain access

Martin Scorsese Masterclass: Learn Directing from the Master

  • Martin Scorsese teaches you directing, filmmaking, and storytelling across 20+ video lessons.
  • Interactive exercises
  • A  downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.
  • Lifetime access, with classes that never expires
  • Learning materials and workbooks
  • Accessible from any device
  • Watch, listen, and learn as Martin Scorsese Masterclass teaches his most comprehensive film directing class ever.
  • Office Hours: Upload work to get feedback from the class. Martin Scorsese will also critique select student work.

Click here to gain access

If this class is anything like past masterclass’ you are in for a treat.

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Martin Scorsese Teaches Us All

Known for movies depicting the harsh realities of American life and careful filmmaking style, renowned director and producer Martin Charles Scorsese was born on the 1st of November 1942, in Flushing New York.

He was raised by his Italian-American parents in the Little Italy district of Manhattan which is fondly remembered by him as a village in Sicily. Both of his parents Charles and Catherine worked part-time as actors and had a hand in setting the stage for their son at an early age.

Scorsese’s childhood activities were quite limited due to his severe case of asthma, and rather than playing sports his older brother, would take him to a movie theater or he would spend most of his time in front of the television.

This was the age when his love for cinema developed and gradually turned into his passion. He loved stories about Italian experiences and was especially besotted with the work of Michael Powell. At the age of eight years, he was already drawing his own storyboards and got seriously interested in filmmaking.

Although he was raised in a catholic environment and for a while also weighed the idea of entering priesthood before he decided to pursue filmmaking.

Scorsese knew that he was headed down the right path when he earned $500 scholarship to New York University with his 10-min comedy short.

Martin Scorsese attended the Tisch School of the Arts of New York University doing his B.A in English 1964 and M.F.A films in 1966. He made short films like What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1963) and It’s Not Just You, Murray! (1964). 

After completion of MFA, Scorsese worked as a film instructor briefly. In the year 1968, Scorsese made his first feature length film a black and white I Call First later retitled Who’s That Knocking at My Door? a close portrayal of life in the streets of Little Italy,with his fellow student actor Harvey Keitel and an editor Thelma Schoonmaker both of whom were to become part of his team for 40 years.

Another short film of note is The Big Shave. Watch below:

Mean Streets which was directed by Scorsese in 1973 was first of his films to be acknowledged and praised worldwide as a masterpiece.

Featuring the same characters from Who’s That Knocking at My Door?the film depicted the elements which had become the signature style of Scorsese’s films like unsympathetic lead characters, dark themes, the Mafia, religion and uncommon camera techniques combined with contemporary music.

Brian De Palma, who had introduced Scorsese to Robert De Niro, Mean Girls sparked the most dynamic filmmaking partnerships to have blossomed in Hollywood history.

Hard hitting films which aided in the redefinition of the generation of cinema were made by Scorsese in the 1970s and 1980s. Taxi Driver which is a realistic masterpiece of 1976 earned Scorsese the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival which fixed the status of De Niro as a living movie legend permanent.

Soon after Scorsese had made the documentary about this parents, Italianamerican (1974), he started on his first studio picture Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974).

An effective drama about a widow Alice (Ellen Burstyn) who sets off to California from Mexico, after the demise of her abusive husband and her teenaged son (Alfred Lutter). Ellen Burstyn won the Oscar for Best Actress which made a point about Scorsese disciplining his one of a kind talent.

After proving that a conventional film could come from him, Scorsese shocked the film viewers with Taxi Driver (1976) which was a cringing tour of a disturbed Vietnam veteran’s odd madness. Written by Paul Schrader and scored by Bernanrd Herrmann, it is a fascinating and horrifying watch.

De Niro gave a remarkable performance as Travis Bickle and Keitel did justice to his small but key role of the threatening and seductive pimp Sport, keeping the 12-year-old Iris (Jodie Foster) in slavery. Scorsese cast himself in a small cameo of a jealous husband.

It is known as the most disturbing and most controversial Oscar nominee for best picture till now. Taxi Driver won Oscar nominations for De Niro, Foster and Herrman. It was awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival and is considered to be the best work of Scorsese.

New York, New York (1977) was a rethought of the 1950s musical of Hollywood which was marked by its elaborate sets and unnatural lighting. It was made to look that way specially to arouse the triumphs of the past by George Cuker and Vincente Minnelli.

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Featuring De Niro as the cocky character of Jimmy Doyle who is a saxophone player working in a big band with lead singer is Francine Evans (Liza Minnelli).  Their love affair could not survive and this the self-destructive Jimmy drifts away from the domestic life and pregnant Francine.

De Niro performed very convincingly while Minelli was able to evoke her mother (Judy Garland) with staggering authority.  Though critical reviews were mixed, it was a commercial flop which later developed a cult following because of the obvious affection for Hollywood it depicted.

The 80s brought some really great films by Scorsese. In 1980, he made the brutal but brilliant Raging Bull which was a loose adaptation of Schrader and Mardik Martin about a former middleweight boxing champion Jake La Motta.

Scorsese made this violent biopic which he called a Kamikaze method filmmaking. It was voted the greatest movies of the 1980s receiving eight Oscar nominations which included Best Actor (for De Niro), Best Picture and Best Director.

De Niro won and Thelma Schoonmaker for editing. Raging Bull was filmed in high contrast black and white and this is where Scorsese’s style reached its peak.

Scorsese’s fifth collaboration with Robert De Niro was his next project, The King of Comedy (1983). Again De-Niro gave a very original performance as a stand-up comedian Rupert Pupkin.  It is a mockery of the media world and celebrities and how a loner character becomes famous through a criminal act.

Rupert practices a lot but has no talent that is why he fails and ends up kidnapping a late-night TV star Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) in exchange for a 10 minutes time on his show. Failing at the box office, it has become increasingly well acclaimed and regarded by the critics in the years since the release.

The German director Wim Wenders counts it amongst his 15 favorite films.

After Hours (1985) happened to be a small but an amusing diversion of its kind which was made by Scorsese in an underground filmmaking style. Featuring Griffin Dunne as a mild New York word processor who is in endangered because of some lunatics he comes across on a long strange night.

Michael Ballhaus was the cinematographer of this low budgeted film which was shot on location in SoHo neighborhood. It is a rather unusual depiction of what Scorsese could do if he only wanted his viewers to have fun.

Along with the music video for Michael Jackson’s Bad in 1986, Scorsese made The Color of Money which was a sequel to a much appreciated and loved The Hustler (1961) of Robert Rossen. The movie starred Paul Newman with Tom Cruise co-starring. It was Scorsese’s first official attempt in to mainstream filmmaking.

Fast Eddie (Newman) now retired, smells new talent in the pool shark Vincent Lauria (Cruise) and taking him under his wing, shares all of this knowledge. But they part ways and face each other at an Atlantic City tournament.

The Color of Money earned Paul Newman his Oscar and also offered Scorsese the power to finally secure his backing for a project which had been a goal for him for a long time: The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). 

The Last Temptation of Christ was based on Schrader’s adaptation of an epic 1960 novel by Nikos Kazantzakis. The novel narrated the self-doubts of Jesus as he carried out his mission and told about Christ more in human terms rather than divine.

Willem Dafoe was well-casted in the role of Jesus but few critics were not too thrilled with the rest of the unusual cast of Hershey as Mary, Harry Stanton as Paul and Keitel as Judas. Scorsese made a major comeback to personal filmmaking with this movie.

Prior to its release, it was a low budget independent movie but the uproar it caused with worldwide protests, it became a media sensation. The variation on the Gospels in the form of this movie earned Scorsese his second Oscar nomination.

New York story which had fashioned Scorsese’s reputation, was the basis of the fame of GoodFellas (1990). Adapted from non-fiction Wiseguy of Nicholas Pileggi, the story is about a small-time Brooklyn mobster Henry Hill. Scorsese displayed his incredible mastery of the medium in unexpected ways innovatively.

Roger Ebert named it the best mob movie ever. It is considered as Scorsese’s best achievement and was nominated for six Academy Awards. Joe Pesci won an Academy for Best Supporting Actor. Scorsese was nominated for Best Director.

Film won many awards which included a Silver Lion, five BAFTA Awards and more. GoodFellas was put on No.2 on American Film Institute’s list of top 10 gangster films after The Godfather.

Cape Fear (1991) the remake of a cult 1962 film of the same name, was a commercial success. It was Scorsese’s 7th collaboration with De Niro.

A stylized thriller, Nolte starred as a southern lawyer Sam Bowden whose family is being terrorized by ex-con Max Cady (De Niro) whom Sam had gotten jailed and now he was seeking revenge.

It received mixed reviews but grossed $80 million domestically and as Scorcese’s most commercially successful film until The Aviator (2004) and The Departed (2006).

The success of Cape Fear enabled Scorsese to get the big budget he desired for his version of Edith Wharton’s novel The Age of Innocence (1993). It was lovingly completed and subtly portrayed the upper crust of New York City in the late 19th century.

The plot is about an unconsummated love affair between a sensitive lawyer Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Countess Ellen (Michelle Pfeiffer). Highly applauded by critics upon the original release it did not do well on box office.

Casino (1995) was set in a 1970s tale of Las Vegas that marked the comeback of the GoodFellas talent team. It centered on a male whose peaceful and well-ordered life was upset by the arrival of unpredictable forces. De Niro and Pesci pairing had great chemistry, as seen in GoodFellas.

Having received mixed views from critics, Casino was quite a box office success. It’s excessive violence bought it the reputation of the most violent American gangster film to date. Film had incredible supporting performances. Best Actress Academy Award nomination was earned by Sharon Stone for her work in this film.

Return to a familiar territory, the director Scorsese and writer Paul Schrader manifested a pitch-black comic intake quite similar to Tax Driver in Bringing Out the Dead (1999). 

Starring Nicholas Cage as a New York paramedic who is about to crack under his stressful job, similar to earlier Scorsese-Schrader teamwork, the final scenes of spiritual restoration clearly were reminiscent of Robert Bresson films.

Among other cast were Ving Rhames, Tom Sizemore, John Goodman and Patricia Arquette. Receiving positive reviews generally, it did not gain much critical acclaim like former Scorsese films.

Gangs of New York was a project which Scorsese had been meaning to do since the late 1970s. With a production budget in excess of $100 million, it was the biggest and most conventional film to date.

It was set in the 19th century New York like The Age of Innocence but it centered on the other end of the social scale. Marking the first collaboration between Leonardo DiCaprio and Scorsese who later on became a must in Scorsese films. Starring as an Amsterdam Vallon he was seeking revenge for the murder of his father by Bill the Butcher (Day-Lewis who was like a godfather figure to the rowdy Five Points mob.

Gangs of New York got nominations for 10 Oscar awards which included nominations for Best Actor, Best Picture, and Best Director it also earned Scorsese his first Golden Globe for Best Director.

The Aviator (2004) was a lavish and large-scale biopic of a film mogul and eccentric aviation pioneer, Howard Hughes which again reunited DiCaprio and Scorsese. It was a lavish re-creation of the Hollywood of 1930s and 1940s.

DiCaprio gave the appropriately intense explanation of a man who was driven by his own passion, intellect as well as acute case of his obsessive-compulsive disorder. Receiving high appraise, The Aviator garnered 11 Oscar nominations as well as massive success at the box office with Academy Award recognition.

It was also nominated for six Golden Globe Awards which included Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay. It won Best Motion Picture-Drama, Best Actor. The film ended with five Oscars for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography.

The Departed (2006) was Scorsese’s return to the crime genre which was a Boston-set thriller and based on a Hong Kong police drama Infernal Affairs, 2002.

This film earned Scorsese his second Golden Globe for Critic’s Choice Award and for Best Director, first DGA Award and Academy Awards both for Best Motion Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Director.

It again starred DiCaprio along with Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg.  Matt Damon and DiCaprio starred as doubles living on opposite ends of the law. Colin (Damon) played the role of a Boson detective who was raised by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), a crime lord since childhood so he could become his mole.

And Billy (DiCaprio) was an undercover cop who was assigned with the dangerous task of getting into the organization of Frank Costello whose character was found on the psychopathic mastermind Boston mobster, Whitey Bulger. Being Scorsese’s biggest box-office hit after Shutter Island, Scorsese finally earned his Best Director Oscar for this.

Scorsese also directed a couple of musical documentaries. The concert film Shine a Light (2008) starring The Rolling Stones and No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005) was a wide survey of the iconic singer/songwriter.

It does not cover his entire career but focuses more of his impact on American pop industry, his beginnings, and his transformations. Scorsese earned an Emmy nomination and won a Peabody Award as well as a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video.

2010 brought Shutter Island starring Leonardo DiCaprio the fourth time in a Scorsese film. The cast included Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo, Max von Sydow and Ben Kingsley which were first-timers with Scorsese.

Based on a novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane it starred DiCaprio as a U.S marshal who travels to search for a missing patient in a psychiatric facility deserted in the Boston Harbor. And soon the detective story becomes closer to a horror film. Film was a box office smash and became Scorsese’s highest grossing film.

The year 2011 brought Hugo which was based a novel The Invention of Hugo Carbet by Brian Selznick. Hugo was a 3D adventure drama film and the most expensive production of Scorsese. It started Chloe Grace Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Asa Butterfied, Emily Mortimer, Jude Law, Ray Winstone and Christopher Lee.

The story is about a once celebrated filmmaker who runs a toy store Georges Melies (Kingsley) who has become bitter about the destruction of so much of his world and his niece and 12-year old orphan Hugo (Asa Butterfield) manages to bring him back to the world.

Meeting critical acclaim, Hugo was nominated for 11 Oscars and Scorsese won his third Golden Globe Award for Best Director. Nominated for 11 and winning five Academy Awards, Hugo also won two BAFTA awards.

Another of his musical documentaries, George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011) won Scorsese an Emmy Award. The three and half hour documentary explored the life of former Beatle.

Branching out further into television, Scorsese executively produced the Boardwalk Empire (2010-14) which was an HBO drama series about gangsters in Atlantic City at Prohibition period. He also received an Emmy Award (2011) for directing the show’s first episode.

The too-real and somewhat harsh portrayal of New York City was Scorsese’s claim to fame initially. Returning to his familiar haunts of the Big Apple, Scorsese brought The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) which was a deterrent tale based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir making it into a biographic black comedy.

Marking the fifth collaboration with DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street starred DiCaprio as the stock trader Belfort who engages himself in a huge securities fraud case which involved corruption on Wall Street, manipulation of stock and the practice commonly called as “pump and dump” and the corporate banking world.

The screenplay was written by Terence Winter. Among the other cast included Jonah Hill and Mathew McConaughey. Belfort fell afoul of the rules and of course the law but not before training himself and his associates in immense wealth.

Leonardo DiCaprio won an award at the 2014 Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor- Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. The film also earned a nomination for the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

The Wolf of Wall Street was nominated for five Academy Awards which included Best Picture, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Director (Martin Scorsese), Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill) and Best Adapted Screenplay for the work of Terence Winter.

Martin Scorsese received his 8th Oscar nomination for Best Director and the film also was nominated for Best Picture. Scorsese is to direct The Irishman which shall star Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. He has also informed that his long-planned biopic about Frank Sinatra shall be coming soon.

Scorsese’s next documentary will be about former president Bill Clinton for HBO. According to an announcement Scorsese will be directing a biopic on Mike Tyson which shall star Oscar-winning Jamie Foxx as Tyson.

The Scorsese List

The story I’m about to tell is any film students dream. Back in 2006, a young film student by the name of  Colin Levy met with Martin Scorsese after winning an NYC-based short film festival.

When Levy met with Scorsese the young film student had not yet had the privilege of watching some of Scorsese’s most celebrated masterpieces (including Taxi Driver and Goodfellas). Ever the film teacher Martin Scorsese gifted the young Levy with a magical list of foreign films he should watch. The list in itself is a film school.

Levy said,

“I labored over a thank-you card, in which I expressed the overwhelming impression I had gotten that I don’t know enough about anything. I especially don’t know enough about film history and foreign cinema. I asked if he had any suggestions for where to start.”

He received the following note from Martin Scorsese in response:

Courtesy of

If you are a film student or cinema buff this is a remarkable list of films to watch. So what are you waiting for…get to watching. Professor Scorsese’s orders!


 2016 Vinyl (TV Series)
 2014 The 50 Year Argument (Documentary)
 2011 Hugo
 2010 Public Speaking (Documentary)
 2010 Boardwalk Empire (TV Series)
 2010 A Letter to Elia (Documentary)
 2008 Shine a Light (Documentary)
 2007 The Key to Reserva (Short)
 2006 The Departed
 2005 No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (TV Series documentary)
 2004 The Aviator
 2004 Lady by the Sea: The Statue of Liberty (TV Movie documentary)
 2003 The Blues (TV Series documentary)
 2001 The Neighborhood (Short)
 2001 The Concert for New York City (TV Special documentary) (segment “The Neighborhood”)
 2001 My Voyage to Italy (Documentary)
 1997 Kundun
 1995 Casino
 1991 Cape Fear
 1991 The King of Ads (Documentary)
 1990 Made in Milan (Short documentary)
 1990 Goodfellas
 1989 New York Stories (segment “Life Lessons”)
 1987 Michael Jackson: Bad (Video short)
 1986 Amazing Stories (TV Series)
 1985 After Hours
 1980 Raging Bull
 1978 The Last Waltz (Documentary)
 1976 Taxi Driver
 1974 Italianamerican (Documentary)
 1973 Mean Streets
 1970 Street Scenes (Documentary)
 1968 The Big Shave (Short)
 1966 New York City… Melting Point (Documentary)
 1959 Vesuvius VI (Short)

Martin Scorsese’s Favorite Films

Here is Martin Scorsese’s Top Ten list of greatest films of all time:

Martin Scorsese Film School – A Personal Journey Through American Movies Pt1

Martin Scorsese is a master craftsman in the art of cinema with an encyclopedic knowledge of Movies. It is a pleasure to hear his views on early American cinema where his love of the silver screen was awakened and “colored his dreams”. I am sure he could talk about cinema from any country in the world just as intelligently and passionately.

Martin Scorsese Film School – Director’s Dilemma – A Personal Journey Through American Movies Pt2

Martin Scorsese Film School – Storyteller – A Personal Journey Through American Movies Pt3

“The American film maker has always been more interested in making fiction than revealing reality.” Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese Film School – The Western – A Personal Journey Through American Movies Pt4

For the rest of videos in A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies click here.


BONUS: TOP TEN Online Filmmaking Courses

If you liked Martin Scorsese MasterClass: His Secrets & Directing Techniques take a listen to:
Stanley Kubrick – Breaking Down the Master’s Directing Style

STANLEY KUBRICK, indie film, filmmaking, indie film hustle, Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut, Lolita, The Killing, The Shinning

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