IFH 341: Building an Audience & Industry Lessons with RB Botto & Alex Ferrari

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As promised in this episode, I bring to you the live recording of my workshop from the 2019 HollyShorts! Film Festival on audience building and surviving the film industry with my brother from another mutha RB Botto from Stage32.com. We discuss the best way to build an audience online, do’s and dont’s, and tips on surviving the film industry from two filmmakers with a ton of shrapnel. Enjoy!

Alex Ferrari 2:10
Now today on the show, I am bringing you live from the 2019 Holly shorts Film Festival, my talk on building an audience online with my brother from another mother, Rb Botto, the reigning champion of having been on this show the most times I think we're at eight or nine times at this point in the game. So you guys should be very familiar with RB and of course every time RB and I get together it is just hilarity knowledge, bombs, inspiration, all sorts of things all rolled up into one I love talking with this man. We have to create some sort of sitcom together. RB and I you know, please write do a petition, you know, put it out there on social media, you know that we need to be some sort of like, you know, odd couple, it'd be fantastic. The Vegan the meat eater, the drinker, the non drinker, it'll be fan tastic. But seriously, it was a great time, and I can't wait for you guys to hear it in its entirety. So please, without any further ado, enjoy my conversation with Rb Botto at the 2019 Hollyshorts Film Festival.

So every time we get together, I mean, we've done I think we've done this three times in the Hollyshorts

RB Botto 3:25
Here. We've done it a million times.

Alex Ferrari 3:28
Yeah. So every time you in our being get together, it's, it's it's fun. We'd love doing it. And it's a rarity to get us both in the same place at the same time. So we're here to talk about building an audience. I'm sure we're gonna skew off of other other avenues as well. But for everybody who doesn't know who I am, I run a website called indie film hustle. It's a podcast. It's the number one filmmaking podcast on Apple podcast right now. And I also run filmtrepreneur.com, which is aimed at your how to make a business out of your movie, and how to generate actual money out of your movie. And I also run bulletproof screenwriting podcast, which is all about how to help screenwriters become better screenwriters. And I've got 1000 other things I do is I won't go on too long. But we also I also have a book we'll talk about that as well. And and then we made RB and I made a movie together.

RB Botto 4:25
Well, you made the movie,

Alex Ferrari 4:26
I made a movie I invited RB to be in my movie. And the movie was called on the corner of ego and desire which is a kind of the Best in Show we'd Spinal Tap for independent filmmakers. And we actually went to Sundance and shot the movie completely guerilla style in four days. And RB just showed where we could tell the story about your story. But I told RB like RB this is this is how I pitched it and like RB I'm writing really, we're gonna shoot it at Sundance and I want you to be in it. And RB just like all right, what do you mean? Like it's gonna be at the you know that that one place? Is that weird? Oh, yeah, that's pretty sure. I need you there about 12 o'clock one o'clock in the morning. He's like, Sure, why not? Yeah, sure. So then, the whole time we're there. Everyone's like, are you going to show up and like, maybe I'll be here, we'll be here. And, oddly enough, he had a drink in his hand when he walked in. And, and he killed it. He was he was the producer that they were chasing the entire time. He's the big time producer in the movie. And I always knew that he had, you know, he had the chops to be a good actor, because he was an actor in the olden days, back in the 80s, the 70s. But he was just why we don't get together. But anyway, so that's a little bit about me. I'm sure RB has a few things to say about himself. And when he

RB Botto 5:45
Yeah, that was good. Yeah, we can tell that story's pretty funny. Yeah, Richard Botto. Or as Amanda said, Richard Batto, my mother happens to be in the audience tonight. This is the first time she's ever gotten to see me speak anywhere. She's in town. So she's the only person that calls me, Richard. That's great. But a lot of people know me as RB and a lot of people know me from social media. As RB walks into a bar, as we talked about earlier, I'm the founder and CEO of stage 32. As Amanda said, stage 32, was a brainchild I came up with about eight years ago, because I understood the importance of social media in the life of a creative but didn't believe that Facebook and Twitter were the places to go, per se. I was connecting with a lot of people that were in the film industry, but I was looking at their salads, their dogs, their babies, and not talking anything about film. So I decided to start a platform where it would be strictly creative, and where we had like minded individuals coming together, to make stuff happen to make things happen. So relationships are everything in this business. We talk a lot about that tonight. And this is why I started the platform, I really started it for myself, to be perfectly honest with you, I started with 100, I went to 100 of my friends in the industry, told him to come on board, I did it backwards, I actually built it first, I put my money where my mouth was and built it first and invited them to come on board said no excuse to not try it. And I said if you like what we're doing, invite at least five full creatives if you don't give me three reasons why 97 of them joined and invited at least five people. The other three gave me the three reasons why and then I browbeat them into joining. And they started inviting people and within three months because every single person that joined the platform got that same message within three months and went from 100 people to 5000 people. And now we're well over a half million people worldwide. We're partners, we can AFM rain dance, Holly shorts, you name it. And as Amanda said, we have 500 people 500 development executives, agents, managers, producers, that teach for us, I started as an actor, as Alec said, I'm a producer and a writer here in LA. And we can talk a little bit about the phones and all that. And Franco who's here is actually one of our instructors, and has done extremely well. So that's a little bit about me, but you can get more into that and feel free to bring any question chat.

Alex Ferrari 8:16
Yeah, and, and Franco was also on my, my podcast many A while ago. And that's how we met I reached out to RB and say, Hey, you want to be on my podcast? And I was on episode 29? I think you came out. So we're I'm well over 300, which is clearly 28. Too late, obviously, obviously. But from that moment, the moment that we it was it was he hadn't been Hello. It was it was that and our first interview I think went like two weeks. And it was just like it I always I always refer to him as my brother from another mother because it's just that that kind of rapport that we have with each other. And then ever since then I think you still have the record for being on my show the most. I think it's eight guest spots on the show in different areas. Aviation saying none in two years. It's been a while this basket, it's been a while it's been it's been a minute, so we're gonna he's gonna come back on. This is going to be on the podcast. If you don't, you're on the podcast right now. And there you go. Instant gratification. So let's talk about building an audience. I know everybody's always saying Oh, you've got to build an audience. You've got to cultivate an audience to sell moving to and it's all about the audience, audience audience and everyone's always asking how do you build an audience? I'll tell you how I built my audience. And then RB can talk to you about how he built his audience. I my audience was going to be filmmakers, filmmakers and then screenwriters, both of those, those that those niche audiences as well I was going after. So I decided to go to where they were hanging out and just start talking to them start providing value to that audience. I started creating content for that audience. You can provide value in three ways. You can educate them, you can make them you can entertain them, or you can inspire them. It's very simple though. Three ways you can do it. And I just started creating content for my audience in that way. And within I think I went from I think the first month I launched that had like 5000 total hits to my website, where then the second month I was at all 40,000 and then just kind of ballooned from there. Because I was almost a relentless, I can't go online without seeing something. If you're a filmmaker, you will see something in the film muscle, or if not film, intrapreneur, bulletproof screenwriting somewhere, and Facebook or Twitter or something like that, I just kept pounding and pounding and just providing more and more value. And just give me that value away, I wasn't charging for anything, it was just I was building an audience. And when you provide value, and also value doesn't mean you have to create something you can actually curate as well. You can find articles from other websites, you can find videos from other websites, and curate them. That's another way of building an audience because you become a value you're providing value to them. If I don't have to go to YouTube to find out what the latest cool video on how to, you know, light a scene is and you're the one out, I'll just subscribe to you. And I'll just keep showing up there. So that's how I slowly built my audience. And then from there, it kind of just ran like wildfire afterwards. But those are the biggest tips I can say about building an audience go to where they are, provide x men's amount of value. I mean, immense, they can't hack it. You can't cheat it, don't buy followers, it doesn't work. Those are vanity matrix. matrix. So it's vanity matrix, that's not something that's really means anything, and people will know. Because it I'm sure you've seen a couple of these social media accounts that are like, oh, they've got a million but like if they post one thing, and there's like, two likes, you know, and their mom said, Hey, nice. Like that's, that doesn't make sense. If you have a million followers, you should have it a little bit more engagement for it. So there's that, but that's how I did it. RB has a different story.

RB Botto 11:53
No, not really. Okay. And a lot of ways. Well, no, I mean, if you write the keyword you're going to get tonight again and again, again, is value and the value that you bring piggybacking on what you were saying about fake followers and everything like that, it fascinates me. You guys are assuming all filmmakers, and some of you are probably writers, it fascinates me how many people will you know, go with a brand, you know, go by coverage or go by whatever, you know, take education, whatever, from a brand because of the amount of followers they have, and not do a little digging into whether those followers are real or not. Same thing with film festivals. You'll see a lot of these film festivals are like come summit, and they have like, you know, 50,000 followers, but if you click on their followers, you'll see that they're all empty heads, or as they call it on Twitter, eggheads. They have no profile, they have no nothing. They bought those followers. So do your due diligence. But let's get back to building an audience. The reason we were able to go from 100 people to you know now, I mean, well over a half million people were why would stage 32 was the messaging. The messaging was very simple. And you still if you joined stage 32. And I hope you guys will pull out your file name and joking go on your browser right now quick Sage 30 two.com. And she don't forget it. Because it's free. And you know, you can network immediately would have many people worldwide. But the message will get on your walls, the same message that you got eight years ago, which basically says this is a community for you built by you. And that's why we asked you to invite at least five photo creatives. Okay, it's free to join the education is premium, but you can network for free. Same thing as like LinkedIn, or anybody any of these other social media platforms. The whole point of the matter is, is that we're giving you ownership. We're saying to you that if you go out there and you put in the work and you put in the time you help us build the community, you get to create more opportunities for more people more opportunities. If you're a filmmaker, and you're looking for casting crew, you're going to find that on there. If you invite people, there's going to be more people on there for that to happen. There's gonna be a bigger pool of talent. That's how we were able to get we haven't spent a dime on advertising. We are from 100 to over half a million people. The other part of it is exactly what Alex said is the value. We bring tremendous value to the community at all times. We offer a ton of free content, but we asked the community to do the same. We asked them to bring content to us. We asked them to post articles, videos, things of that nature. The other value you could bring, by the way is very, very simple. How many people in this room would identify as introverts? Would you say you're introverted? They're introverts and this is a safe place to raise your hand if you're introverted. Thank you very much. introverts people who have a hard time and I hear this all the time they're like you know, we hear what you're saying but it's very difficult for us. There are three ways in my opinion, where you can get out of that where it's okay with you behind your you know you behind the glow of your screen, so to speak, and you can bring value. One is with Alex sharing content. Two is creating content If I say sharing content, by the way, I hope you're all reading the trades as part of your job. Okay? And if you're reading the trades every morning as you should, and knowing what's going on in the business as you should, if you read something that's really interesting, share it with people. And just put a little note on why it's interesting to you, Hey, I read this article, this one, it's really interesting. What do you guys think I just gave away my third, my third way to bring value. But the first one is, share the content that is important to you, and that you think is valuable to you share with other people. The second thing is compliment people on the value that they bring to you. If somebody shares a piece of content on social media, and you find value in it, thank them for it, tell them that it's fantastic. Tell them you know, you appreciate that you're bringing value to the other person, I don't care what their status is, how many followers they have, if they're sharing something they want a response doesn't matter. Okay. And the third thing is to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask the biggest, you know, you and I know this story. I mean, I won't get into it. But I mean, it's in the book. But I mean that, you know, it doesn't matter. There's a story in the book about a very, very big director, Oscar winning director and writer. and the value that a writer that was an unknown writer, brought to this to this gentleman. And it's a fascinating story. It was just that she asked him a question that was so off the beaten path that it brought value to him, he was astonished that she would have even thought of it, you could bring value to anyone. That's three ways to do it. And anyone can do it doesn't matter if you're an introvert or an extrovert. There's just really no excuse actually

Alex Ferrari 16:38
Can't get I want, I want to just talk about one thing that I think is a just a virus in our community in regards to audience building and just networking in general, how it works in the real world as well as online. How many people? Well, I'm going to tell you the story of what happened to me on Saturdays kind of always, I was moderating a panel with some really heavy hitters in the in the space. These guys were all financier's producers, these guys are making 20 $30 million movies, they're heavy hitters, and some guy in the front row raised his hand is like, what do I need to do to get you to watch my short film. And you could feel the awkwardness in the room and like in the room, not only in the room, but on the panel, because it's like they're just not used to that I am. So I had no problem putting into this place really quickly. Because I said, Well, listen, dude, first thing is that don't do that. Like, don't do that. Like if you meet someone at a bar, and you're like, Hey, hey, I want you I need this, I need this, I need this, I want this, I want this. You don't just meet somebody and ask for something, by the way, you provide some sort of value to that person. And then later in that, that 20 minutes later, he raises his hand again, and I said we're not watching your damn. And everyone's like, oh, you're brutal. Like I rather me be brutal to him here than him being in a room somewhere, doing something stupid. So I think that's the biggest tip I can give you. And I know RB would agree is that if you're going to meet, like, like, I'm meeting you here, if you come up to me after the after the panel and say, Hey, can you watch my short film? No, I'm not going to watch your shorts. If you come up to me, like I'm going to provide some sort of value to you like and you've done research on this person, you're like, Hey, you know what, I know you doing this and this, I know somebody that might be able to help you. No strings attached, you start building a relationship. When I reached out to rb, I was I was a little nobody with a little podcast. And I said, you know what I'm gonna I want to provide value to you to spread your word, and to spread it, you know, to promote your brand through my podcast. And RV said sure, because I'm providing value for him. I'm asking him for something, but I'm providing value in return. And that and that relationship has been extremely fruitful over the last four years that we've known each other. So that's the key is being that way and then online. For God's sakes. Don't yell out. Hey, someone support my crowdfunding campaign. point drop into some HDM which is Oh, don't do that. Do not dm somebody. I get them all the time. Hey, I'm sorry, guys. You know, I'm doing this Kickstarter for my Bernie shortfilm. And you know, I can you can you like spread the word. No, no, I'm not going to spread the word. I'm not trying to be a dick about it. But I don't know you. I don't know. You're good. I don't know any of the talent. I know nothing. Exactly. So why in god's green earth would I put myself out there to promote you. Now. I literally have people like I had. Next week, I'm gonna release this podcast, but I had a guy sent me a email of at least it was like the Bible. It was this long, monstrous email. I don't I didn't know him from Adam. But for whatever reason, I started reading it. And I just for whatever reason it happens, but I just like it. Let me just some dude wrote a lot. So I'm just gonna read the first because this is crazy. So start reading the few and then I started reading and reading and reading. And it was a story about how he completely, um, he emotionally broke down after he made his first short film. And it was on the shelf for four years, had to move back in with his parents. And then by listening to my podcast, he was able to bring, get out, like rise from the ashes and release his film. And he wanted to share that information with me. And I said, You know what, man, I want you on the show. And for a short film, a guy from from Norway, who has no following has no nothing. But he provides a value to me, because I know how many other filmmakers in the world have gone through that, that was providing value to me. And because of that, I'm giving them shot on the show, you know, on a show that filmmakers would kill to be on to promote their movie, but he provided value to me. So that's a little bit. I could talk for hours, and both of us can.

RB Botto 20:55
You could talk for hours, just go down to the bar.

Alex Ferrari 20:59
You bring the bar to yourself,

RB Botto 21:00
I Well, yeah, I'm surprised they're rolling up. You guys should read an article called No, I will not read your fucking script. Look it up. Google it. I'm not joking. Okay. It was written by a writer, a feature writer, who basically talked about the fact that he gets hit up all the time, including by people in his family, who are like, Hey, you know, I wrote a script. Can you read it? And he's like, no. And here's the reasons why. And part of the reasons why is, you know, first of all, I don't have the time. Because you know, people say to me, sometimes, well, you know, you, it's only two hours to read my script. And that may be true, but I have 17 on my to read file, I'm really I'm writing I'm producing them. I'm running a company so that you know, and I don't know you, right. So look at that look at you know.

Alex Ferrari 21:54
It took him It took him about three months to read my manuscript for my book, and I know him.

RB Botto 21:59
That just kind of push it to the top. On, look, it really is, it's all about the value brave. And it's all about the relationships. And it's all about knowing your audience, right? I mean, at the end of the day, we get hit up all the time by people in this business. I mean, especially when you're running a platform like this, you know, everybody wants to hit you up. And I can't tell you the sheer amount I'm not even joking. Probably 30 to 40 DMS a week or vessels a week saying, can either read my script, finance my project produced my project has from people I don't know, you build relationships with people. This is a relationship is how many people here with a film Hulk out there? How many people here want to be filmmakers? that aren't they don't have a film here? How many people want to be writers? Okay, here's the deal. You all are searching, you're all reaching for the same brass ring. You're all trying to do the same thing. So the question becomes as you move along in your career, and I love saying this to people, why you Why now? You have to ask yourself that question all the time. When you walk into a room, and you're going to meet, you know, an executive, or you're on for example, if you're a writer, and I've been in the situation, or you're going to go pitch an assignment, okay, or you're going to pitch for a job. And you know, there were 20 other people pitching. The question I always ask myself is why me why now, it's not enough for me to walk into that room with a unique idea, or a unique take on what they're looking to do. I have to win that room, as somebody that can that they know they could work with somebody that's open to their opinions, somebody that's going to listen, you know, you get a lot of people that work and have great ideas and have massive egos. And guess what ends up happening. They love the idea that they don't like the writer, they don't want to work with me as a producer, I can tell you now, there have been plenty of times where I've met some very, very talented people and you start getting into the weeds with them and you start asking them some questions and you realize that their knee people, and this is a collaborative business. And when you're on a set for 30 days or 35 days or 40 days, you don't want people that are going to ruin the set. They could be talented as all freakin hell. It doesn't matter. I've seen people lose jobs because of that. So you have to ask yourself in every situation, you're all looking for the same thing here. You're all trying to be successful. You're all trying to win the day. You all want to be as big as great make as much money as you can all of that. But why you why now and you have to look at every situation like that. And that's the difference.

Alex Ferrari 24:55
I also want to touch on something that is also another virus that runs through the business and I'm going to talk from experience the desperate the desperate energy smell if you can familiarize RBI and people in the business, we can smell that desperate that desperate like that they, because I was that dude, when I first got here I met anybody with even a remote amount of any perceived perceived power to help me get to my dream. I was on them like white on rice, it was just like, Hey, man, Hey, dude, Hey, can you read my script? Hey, can you do this? It's such a turnoff. And it's such a, you need to get away from that, because we can smell it. And professionals can smell it coming a mile away. And it's, and you get one kind of first impression A lot of times, and you can't be that way. So that's another tip. It's about networking, more than odd and spelling. But I mean, it's something that I think is a major problem. Sure. Well, we were just talking about D. I mean, that's a desperate, those are desperate, kind of like, and I always feel like instead of being desperate, because people ask you now to like, Oh, you know, aren't you don't you want to like go out and make movies in the movies I made? And I'm like, yeah, sure, but I'm good. Like, I don't have a desperate energy anymore. Because I'm very comfortable with what I'm doing, how I'm doing it. I'm happy to design a company in a world that makes me happy. And I can provide value to my audience. And I'm able to make the movies that I want to make. I'm not desperate about that when when opportunities show up. You know, I'll take that Marvel meeting. I think we both know, you might have my own reasons. You probably took that mean, but but so to try to find that that place of happiness within you. So you don't give off that desperate energy because it's just gonna hurt you. And one other things don't become that bitter, angry filmmaker. Because they know we all know an angry bitter fame. How many people here know an angry bitter phone? And if you did not raise your hand You are the bitter as they say raising your hand. BSL I was guessing you are if you're not if you don't know someone, you are the dude that everybody else knows there. So don't be that person. Because I was I was so angry. I was so bitter. Anytime I saw anybody have any sort of success around me? I'd be like, why not? Me? I'm talented. I can do it. Why can't I Why haven't I got the shot that guy has and you would read the trades when you see these like you know kids getting you know $100 million.

RB Botto 27:29
But people think that those are overnight two of my they're not they're not like when brainwashing got nominated for the Oscars. Like she's an overnight success.

Alex Ferrari 27:36
She's not No, no. She was a Yeah, but there's like, you know, what's his name? The guy who did fantastic for you know what? No, hollywood will give the independent filmmaker does one success. Yeah, I shot the the shot. I mean, that's and that's that's starting to change a little bit. Exactly. But I would get so upset like all that he ruined that movie, I could have done so much better. You know, I don't know if I could have or not, it doesn't matter. You can't be in that place. So get out of that mindset is one step.

RB Botto 28:02
This is why I'm so happy because I don't go to those movies. So I don't have to think that they can do any better. I'm like, No, look, somebody said to me recently, the two keys to this relisted two keys to this business are perseverance and relationships. Think about what's missing from their talent. Yeah, we're assuming talent, right? Assuming talent gets you in the door, get you in the door. What? Yeah, may not even get you in the door. Sometimes talent and relationships get relationships are everything I can't stress this enough, is the biggest mistake that creatives make is that, you know, if you build it, they will come. And you know, it's funny. I've had this happen to me a million times, it just happened at another Film Festival, where somebody will come up to me and they will, you know, be standing at a party or standing at a bar, or whatever. And somebody will come up to me and they're like, Hey, you know, you're the CEO. So your RP Oh, that's great. Yeah. Yeah. You know, yeah. Yeah, you know, I get it. You know, I love the platform. Yeah, it's great. Like, I've been on there for a while. But you know, I really don't get anything out of it. And I'll be like, pull out your phone, log in. And they'll pull out the phone or log in. And I'll be like, I've been on for like five years. My login. they log in. They have two connections. Those two connections are me. The Managing Director of states vary to which you get by default. Okay,

Alex Ferrari 29:34
It's like Tom from MySpace

RB Botto 29:35
Exactly. Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 29:38
For millennials.

RB Botto 29:42
Im not old enough to know what that is. Yeah. So anyway, I'll be like two connections. And then this literally happened a week ago. 92 connections and they had one post. This is six years. One post and I said load that post. And the post was like, I have this film, and I'm looking to raise money. And I said, and I said to my go, Okay, so this is basically what you've done. Let me let me give you the equivalent of what you're doing in your day to day. You get out of bed in the morning, actually, you wake up in the morning, you stretch and you go, God, I'm freakin fantastic. I'm so talented. And then you walk into the living room, and you sit on the couch. And at like seven o'clock at night, you call up your mother and you go, you know, it's fucking crazy. Nobody came today. So hire me to give me money for my movie. I don't get it. And that person went, and I think I need to, I need to get more involved. At the end of the day, if you don't have relationships, and you're not working every day, you're not working. You're not working. People talk about I hear this with screenwriters, screenwriters all the time, you need to be writing every day, I'll tell you, if you're a writer in this room, that is absolute bullshit, right? When you need to write right when you want to write, but I tell you, I'll tell you what you can be doing on the days you don't want to be writing. And that is when networking, it is building relationships. And in this day and age where you have a platform like this, and I don't even care if you don't use stage 32, which I'll get into that in a minute, by the way, you could use your Facebook and you know, whatever the host you want to use, okay. But if you're not working it every day, then you lose it. You're getting out plead, you know, they asked Michael Jordan at the height of his you know, power is Why are you in the gym every day shooting 1000 free throws, and he said, if not me, somebody else is doing it. Okay, I want to be the best. If you don't want to be the best, if you don't want to be out there making the biggest connections, the thing that's going to separate all of you guys in this room that your wife may have raised their hand, the thing that's going to separate you in this business is certainly going to be a town of course you guys understand that. But it's going to be the connections you make along the way and how you manage those connections. So there's no excuses on that. And if you're not doing it every day, you lose it.

Alex Ferrari 32:07
Preach, preach, preach, preach, preach. Now, he got to be relentless. I mean, you've got to be so relentless, and so obsessed with what you're doing and work every single day. There's a reason why my podcast became the number one filmmaking podcast in a plethora of other podcasts out there. It's because I pounded it harder than anybody else. When everybody else was doing one a week I said, well, everyone's doing one a week, I'm gonna do two a week, because nobody else is I'm gonna double up everything everybody else is doing. And because of that, I was able to get more attention, more content was being pumped out. And now I'm at a point where I'm sick and I have no idea how I'm pumping out four podcasts a week, plus all the other content they put out a week. And but it's a machine now and I got gotten to the point where I'm just relentless about it. relentless is a great word to use relentless, you know, after Michael Jordan one, like one of the many rings that he won, the night that he won, he was back out after everybody was in the in the locker room celebrating, he went back out on the court to do free throws. He's like, go get started for next year. That's a champion. That's someone who's relentless. You know, if you want to write, write, write every day, if you want to, but also network every day network. You got it. You got to network every day, you've got to have you just got to keep pounding every single thing. The reason why I've been as successful as I have been, it's because I'm relentless. I'm relentless. Everyone looks around, like I don't even know how you do it. Because I'm just like, Oh, I'm sick like that. I just keep doing it out. I always tell people like you might be more talented. You might have more connections than me, but you will not outwork me. Because if someone shows up with two podcasts a week, I'll be busting off 10 podcasts a week, because I'm crazy. I'm local. You know, and you can't you can't you cannot you can't negotiate with logo. So and that's but that's me. I have a hustle hat on for God's sakes. It's true. It's about I'm on brand all the time. I'm hustling all the time is toilet paper says awesome. I didn't do is i'm not sure. But when you come from where I come from, which was like a small market in Miami, you know, with no connections, no networking, and I had no skills like he's talking about, about networking. I just didn't, I was a desperate filmmaker. I had to do something and I just outwork them. You know, I'll take someone who's who work harder than someone who's counting.

RB Botto 34:34
Well, and the thing about this business is that people you got to understand the people that have been in this business for a while are battle tested, man. I mean, they're battle tested, and they are cynical. They're cynical. Some people use this cynicism in a very good way. And you should you need to have that hardened shell and what I mean by that is you're going to face a ton of rejection, right? You're going to hear no, you know, 99.9 times out of 100 you got to learn how to deal with that. Know what you learn from that. No, we can get into all that if you guys feel like class. Questions, and it certainly could talk about that. But you have to learn how to handle that rejection. It's not easy things fall apart, you get that? Yes. You're like, Oh my god, we're running, this is going to be fantastic. And then you know, the wheels come off the wagon and the last 10th of a mile happens all the time. You're battle tested people that have done this for a long time. I've seen it all. So when you try to bullshit somebody, or when you try to bring, you know, this kind of optimism, even in a way that like, oh, I've done this, and I've done that, and people see right through it. So you know, the other side is, so if someone was standing on stage three to story, this is another one I use all the time. I mean, I've heard this like 50 times again, this year is amazing. People come up to me, they're like, oh, Steve, loves you. I'm on stage. I don't really use it that much. I got to get more busy with it. And he's saying to me, like, I'm going to be lying awake at night staring at the ceiling going like, dude, I hope that guy starts using states 32. Have you guys ever seen the fugitive movie the future? Have you guys know? Tommy Lee Jones Are you guys don't know the movie, I'll set this up. So Harrison Ford has been accused. For Ford has been accused of murdering his wife. He's innocent. Okay, but he asked to go on the run because he's being traced to chase by US Marshals, one of which Tommy Lee Jones plays, Tommy Lee Jones only job is to bring this guy home, he could give a shit about anything else, he's got to bring this guy home. So there is this great scene in the movie where he finally traps him in a waterfall, or whatever. And he traps them. And he says, you know, basically freeze and you know, Harrison Ford turns around, he says, I didn't kill my wife. And Tommy Lee Jones goes, I don't care. That's me when somebody comes. I'm on stage 32. But I don't use it. It's your loss. I don't care. It's more opportunity, honestly, for me, and for the people that are using it correctly. And the people who do get up every morning and work their asses off and make those connections. I tell everybody this. And this is no lie. Okay, I've been in this business for 10 years, everything good. That's happened to me over the last eight years, every movie I've produced everything that's happened, even meeting this guy has come through running this platform, not being the CEO, but being a member of the platform and connecting with people, okay? every single day. And when I tell people when they asked me for one piece of advice, I say your craft is half your job. And most creatives think the craft is 99% of the job. It's not your craft is half the job. networking and building relationships is the other half. And if you're not doing it every day, I don't care, you're doing yourself a disservice. I hope you do it. Because if you do, you may build a career will one day we cross ads. And maybe we work together because that's the way this business works. Because you'd be amazed over the last eight years, how many people I just produced the movie in Chicago, the guy to produce the movie was somebody I met on stage 32, I think my fellow producer, I should say, who brought me in was a member of stage 32, he used the platform to hire the entire cast and crew with the exception of maybe two or three people. And he basically spent that entire four or five years building up to this thing, including hiring the screenwriter, networking to make sure that when we had the money, he had the crew in Chicago also, that's awesome. But that's also working every day. These people came on set like they knew him ever. And they were meeting him face to face for the first time. But they had network with him for years. That's the way it works long, the longer and longer and the long. It's a marathon, not a sprint the long game. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 38:59
And I want to piggyback on something you said in regards to in regards to this some of the the whole battle hardened, battle tested idea. You know, rb and I both have lots of shrapnel from this business. And, and I mean, I wrote a whole book about how I almost made a $20 million movie for the mom, and then was run around Hollywood and you know chasing that dream and all that kind of things. The theaters in 2023 report yesterday. Yeah, I think I think Marissa would be a perfect board. So that battle hardened test that trap note is so important because I mean I've been doing I've been in the business for 25 years. I started when I was about 18 went to film school there the whole thing and I just been hustling hard all those all those years have gone up and down so many times. The biggest wish I can give all of you is that it takes time for you to make it in whatever way you Want to make if you want to be the overnight success, I do not wish that for anybody, because there's very few people who can handle overnight success. And there's examples all over Hollywood, and the history of Hollywood of people who were given the golden key too early, way too early. You know, if I was 26, when I was 26, trying to make that $20 million movie for the mob, if that mob movie would have gone through, I think I would have probably self imploded. Like, I would have just destroyed myself. You know, my ego was completely out of control. I just wasn't prepared. I didn't have enough strap not yet. And I really wish all of you it takes time for you to get because that is what's going to make you last long term in this business. Is that shrapnel that thing? You know, everybody who's anybody in this business has that trap? No. This year, there's an occasional Robert Rodriguez, you know, but I promise you, but he is your old man. Because his career right now. I mean, it'd been I mean, it's a long game, but he was trapped, but he was dealing with shrapnel inside the system. He was in the party, you know, the bouncers threw me out constantly. But he was invited in the party, but then he wants to because you don't drink obviously. And I'm being obviously so that's, that's another? We're gonna where's that juicy steak by the homies that juicy steak? Where is it? The grass by blueberry? No. So I really do hope that for you guys is don't be in a rush. That was my biggest mistake of this business is I'm like I want it now. When is it going to happen for me? I want it I want that lottery ticket. And I grew up in that time period where it was the 90s. You know, I grew up in the 90s boom of independent film, independent film was kind of born the independence that we know today where Steven Soderbergh and, and Rodriguez and Tarantino and all those great spiky, all those kind of directors every week, there was a check, and another career was being made. So that lottery ticket mentality screwed me up forever. To the point it took me until I was 40 to direct my first feature film, because I built it up so much in my head, that I couldn't do it. And then now, now I'm gonna start with making $3,000 movies with this guy. I grew up much later. So I don't recognize a lot of those. I would I would say the it's not great. I think there's a little there's no highlight highlight in green. That's very refreshing forward. Have you sir?

RB Botto 42:31
The shrapnel. It's not just what you learn. It's not it's not just taking on the shrapnel. It's what you learn from it. Yes. That's the key in this business. Everybody takes on the shrapnel everybody, you know gets hit. And it's really kind of what you learned. We talked earlier about having that rough, callus kind of skin. It really is important. Because it is a bit there's no other business. Really, there's none. Where it's not a meritocracy, we know that, you know, even for guys like Scorsese and Spielberg and everything like that, you know, it took it took, you know, Spielberg I said this all the time, it's Spielberg to go to India to get the money for Lincoln. Yeah, you know, it took Scorsese 20 years silence to get made. Now granted, if you would have wanted to get a made for a million dollars, which you probably should have been made for instead of 50, he probably would have gotten me to Europe earlier. But you know, get my point. Still, nobody was gonna give him that money for his passion project. So this is a business to know. And you have to be nimble. And you have to know how to adjust and you know, have a you know, you have to know how to find the value in every note, and the meaning and every note and the positive in every note. And it's not easy for a lot of people. But if you could do that, that also gives you a competitive advantage, in my opinion, because a lot of people wallow in that. And trust me, I did at the beginning to I have to say that, you know, I used to be here, I get a piece of bad news. And I would go here, I got a piece of good news. I go here. Now it's I get a piece of bad news. I go here, I get a piece of good news right here. The movies in production up here. The whole thing falls apart. Maybe I'm down here for a couple of days. But then I sit there and go, okay, where can we take it next? What can we do with it? You know, we had it here. So there was interest here. So there's got to be interest someplace else. Where do we go with it? You mean the money flow through? Not just the money. Sometimes it's creative. And sometimes the company goes bankrupt. I've dealt with that. Yeah, we're shooting in two days. Now. We have no money in the company. Oh, yeah. Well, yeah. Yeah. You know, that I feel that was ready to come on set tomorrow to read

Alex Ferrari 44:44
A letter of intent, but I have a letter of intent.

RB Botto 44:48
He's decided, no,

Alex Ferrari 44:50
Can I just take you to the bank.

RB Botto 44:52
I know this happens all the time. And it happens all the time. It sucks. It's again, it's it's a very If you're looking at it in comparison to other industries and other businesses, it's a very unfair business from the standpoint of I've done the work, I've created something, people are interested in people putting money into it, it's great. And then all of a sudden, it falls apart, or I just did this movie last year, it 165, Laura was of all these different, you know, film festivals, and now monitor the next thing, it should just blow up. And it doesn't, you know, it's unfair that way. But then that's, you know, that's kind of, it's also kind of, should be an incentive to you guys to control as much as you can control.

Alex Ferrari 45:40
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

RB Botto 45:50
In this day and age, in my opinion, in an era, in an era with studios, you know, controlling everything, and they're only making what they want to make in the big franchises, and they're making just things based on IP and everything like that, my opinion is you control the project as far as you can, until you have to relinquish it, you go all the way, this guy shot a film for $3,000. at Sundance, he's controlled it the whole way through. I know a lot of other filmmakers that have done that, where they, you know, they're holding on to it to the end, of course, they want to sell it, of course, they want to bring it to a festival and have somebody come in and go, Hey, we'll take it on for 3 million, we'll take it off for five, and we'll do whatever, everybody wants that. But at the end of the day, if you're controlling it all the way through, guess what, you can take it as far as close to the finish line as possible. And if the ultimate goal doesn't happen, there are a million other avenues for you to take that you know where you're going to take an entrepreneur. to film Yeah, like, you know, you control that all the way through, right? You're saying now I'm going to self destruct, I'm going to take you here, I'm going to do this, I'm going to do that. That's my protocol. At the end of the day. My opinion, if you're making independent film in this day and age control as much as you control for as long as you can control it. You understand the business, I noticed a lot of filmmakers, a lot of writers, a lot of actors that just want to go create, you're doing yourself at the service on the stand what's happening in the industry, understand who's making what understand your distribution channels, understand your money channels, understand where the tax incentives are, understand what's going on with coal country pro coal country productions. Understand it all the more you know, I hate to say knowledge is power. Knowledge is power. It's an MVC thing, the more you know, the more you know. But the more you know, the better off you're going to be. And the bigger I keep coming back this bigger competitive advantage you're going to have throughout

Alex Ferrari 47:44
I want I want to

RB Botto 47:47
I kick my leg off as I did, because the emphasis

Alex Ferrari 47:51
Did you pull something, sir?

RB Botto 47:54
I exercise, I'm kidding. He's much more healthy than I am? He's a Vegan he does not drink.

Alex Ferrari 48:03
I wake up every morning at 4:20 to go to work out sir. How dare you.

RB Botto 48:07
You walk from the bedroom?

Alex Ferrari 48:08
No, that's not true. That's not true. I want to I want to make something very clear for you guys. And I don't know if anyone's going to tell you this. But I'm going to tell you this. And I'd rather you hear it for me than somebody else later down the line

RB Botto 48:22
You're coming out?

Alex Ferrari 48:24
RB I've always had this. No, I'm I don't care what your dream is. If it's filmmaking and directing, producing, writing, and your story of how you're getting there, how you're making your movie, I have a real big secret to tell you about this business. No one gives a crap about your dream about you or what you've gone through where you're going, what you want. No one cares, period. So that that settle for a second. I know it's rough, but it's tough luck. Because I want you to understand it took me forever to figure that out. No one owes you anything. No one cares about your background, what struggles you've gone through, you know, oh, I I made the movie for $1,000. I don't care that it's a movie good that we care. Can it make us money? At the end of the day, they only care about one thing. It's money. Period. Everybody in this business cares about one thing? Is it kind of being the money? Is there successful? Is there potential for revenue and this, that's what they care about. They could care less about your story. Many times I get pitched the movie now. Like I made the movie for $5,000. Like that's that worked in 1991 when nobody was doing that. Now, you know, everyone did that. And I tell people all the time, like that's not enough to get on the show guys. What's your story? What do you do? What else what other piece of value you can provide for me just on the on the example of being on my show, but no one cares. And as soon as you understand that it's very liberating. Because no one owes you anything. Nobody owes you anything in this business. And I promise you, if you don't learn that lesson, you're going to get it, you're going to get it like Mike Tyson says, I'm going to quote mike tyson says we all have a plan. So someone gets punched in the face, that my mouth, my face mouth. And secondly, if I may quote the incomparable Rocky Balboa, it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. And that is a perfect quote for this business, because you're going to get hit, and you're going to be dropped to your knees. And you're going to be sitting like I was across the table from Batman, who wants to be in my movie. And a week later, I'm off the project. And then I go into depression for two years, after a year running around with a monster, this this is this is the shrapnel I had. That's why when I launched my podcast, it was a little grizzled voice. You know, so I just want you guys to be clear about that. I want you to really let that soak in. Because it's very liberating. Once you realize that no one cares. That no one cares. No one gives a crap about anything that you're going through. We don't we care about one thing. being professional, can you get money out of it and so on. Would you agree, sir?

RB Botto 51:18
Well, it's still business. That's not film friends. Not sure it's showbiz, natural friends. You know, if you look throughout the annals of Hollywood history, you would wonder why I mean, you will see some filmmakers that work with the same producers and you know, over and over again, like a Scorsese with an Irwin Winkler, for example. But you look at that, even though there's some films that are Winkler did not want to get on board with Scorsese. I mean, it happens all the time, because they didn't see the value in the project. But they also had that relationship where they can go back to the well over and over and over again, the bottom line is everybody wants to make money in this business. That's what they're here for. And, you know, if you can prove that, you know, as much of the landscape as humanly possible, and that you can control as much of the landscape as possible, you are bringing an enormous value to people think about it. I mean, it's even the same thing. I'm producing films left and right. And every day when you sit there and you look at like, you know, your new book, people that will bring us the tremendous story with great IP, you know, it's based on a true story. They have the rights to the book and everything like that. And you know, we'll start talking about it, we'll say, Okay, is there a screenplay? Yes, there is. Okay, the screenplay is pretty good. Probably needs to be rewritten. And then we start talking to other producers and or production companies, and they'll say, do you have a director? Do you have an actor? Okay, so it's more and more value, because we have six other projects that have, you know, a director attached and an actor attached, same thing, which result in your prison? Maybe not yet. But I mean, I'm saying like, even TV wise, like, you know, one of the things like, there's a couple of projects that are moving around right now that are involved with that, it's like we love the project, but can you get a show runner, you have an active for the lead, because now if you bring in that value, the less work that they have to do, the more value you have. I mean, that's really what there's really when it comes to. And that's why I'm saying you have to know the business, I get out of bed every morning. And this isn't my routine for the last 5678 years, I get out of bed every morning, make my coffee, and I sit down and I read the trades. First thing, and I want to know who's moving where, who's producing what what agents have moved, what managers have moved, what tell us what film production companies now moving into TV, what guide it used to run this shingle has now moved into TV, I need to know that. And then if it has, if one of those people has is moving into a spot where they're producing, you know, crime drama, for example, which I have a couple of these that we're producing, I sit there and I say, Okay, I'm going to give them to, you know, a couple of days to get their furniture in, and you know, get settled, you know, and get, you know, feel, you know, feel good about where their desk is, and then I'm going to send it to them, I'm going to hit them up and say or I'm going to go to somebody at an agency, I know and say, Hey, you know, that guy, throw it over to him. That's an advantage. I know that. Okay. And I'm knowing that at 530 in the morning, you know, when I'm sitting there looking at Big, big advantage, even if it doesn't work, you know what I'm showing these people I'm aware. And you know what will happen? 99% of the time they go, I love when you shake your head, this is my validation, shaking his head the whole way. If there's anybody in this room that understands this is Frank, you know, if they don't like it, you know what, I get 99% of the time. This one isn't right, but you have an open door to bring me the next one and the next one and the next one. Yeah, this is pretty cool. I like it, we're not going to run with it. Or, hey, if you could bring this asset and this asset, bring it back to me. That's the way I mean, it's just this and it's bringing value. It's always value. So I just bring this Script. Everybody has a script. It's bringing the script. And you know, the producer, the other producers who have done things before the showrunner, the right. I mean, the the actor, maybe a director, whatever it is, that's the thing you bringing more and more value makes their job easier.

Alex Ferrari 55:18
So let's open it up for questions because you hit RV and we can talk for hours. So let's, let's open our questions to anyone have any questions?

RB Botto 55:25
What time is the bar open?

Guest 55:33
Okay, awesome question that hopefully relates to everyone. So since you guys are the value adding kings, I love that I think that's super important. I wake up every morning and add value via email. Do you guys ever at any point, find this someone? Maybe you do need something from someone? If you have an added value to that person? Do you ever think you know what, I'm a good person? I've added so much just today? Maybe I try it? Or do you think you know what I haven't add value to them before them interest toxic and wait until halfway through? Was there ever an exception.

Alex Ferrari 56:13
I mean, I mean, what I do is what I do is I design the platform that provides instant value to anybody. So if I want to reach out to somebody, I just go, Hey, I'm gonna be the guest on my show. And that's an automatic value. And then and then they're in my web, as you can see, and, but it's for me, that's, that's the way I do it. So that's one way of value I add right away. But, you know, if you don't know them, and you're just like cold calling them, it's gonna be rough, you're gonna have to figure a way out to do it, I think complimenting or posting or saying, hey, great article. And that's the way a lot of people got my attention online is because I'll post something and I just see someone constantly retweeting me, or, or constantly leaving comments and stuff like that it people do take awareness of that. They're like, Hey, I love what you're doing all of that kind of stuff. And that's a way of providing value to the person. So when you do reach out to them in some way, hey, that, you know, have a question, would you be so kind to ask, cuz you've already, you know, given us a lot of value by commenting and doing things like that, hey, what would you suggest for this, you know, and you start working it that way? It's a slow game, it's a slow, especially depending how big some of these people that you're trying to reach are? And then also do your research? Like, really? Who do you want to reach? And why do you want to reach them? You know, you gotta be you got to be somewhere authentic? And and the kind of value you want to provide for them? Because we'll smell it as well. But do that I think that's a that's a good do the right people?

RB Botto 57:38
Yeah, no, I think it's a great question. I mean, it really is. And I, I have a rule of three. And the rule of three is that I'm going to give three times before I ever asked for a job, right? I didn't read that. But okay. But despite that, but yeah, now my rule of three is I give three times before, you know, at least at least, I tried to give and give. But I appreciate where you're coming from. So I understand where you're looking at it more from a producing, like getting something done and making that connection. What I would say in that case, is that I would say that it's not impossible. And I would say that, yeah, you should go for it. But the way I would go for it is to try to find the connective tissue between why you're asking this person for this particular thing, and how it relates to something that they have done in the past. You know what I mean? So it's not enough to say, you know, Hey, blumhouse, you did this contained horror movie for under $100,000. And guess what, I have a container move. So we have something in common can be good cocktails, you won't get a respect. Don't sit in front of a computer. But there is a way to go to the director of that movie, or maybe one of the producers of that movie and to say, you know, hey, I really enjoyed that movie, I had an asset, a couple of very pertinent questions about it. And to say, you know, I have a, you know, this is project I'm working on that, you know, I would love to be able to maybe ask you a couple of questions, or, you know, any, you know, something that just gives it a little bit more of a connective tissue and makes it more personal. At the end of the day, the thing that gets lost in this business a lot, because you have the perception that people have achieved. I mean, it will certainly you have the fact that people will achieve more or you don't have climbed that ladder, but then there's also this perception that people are untouchable. Nobody's untouchable. At the end of the day, everyone's a human being and everyone has needs and as Francis Ford Coppola famously said, and I agree, they asked Coppola one time he was at the height of his powers after he had done the two godfather movies and he thought Apocalypse Now they said to him, while you know, we took a report and said, you know, you must feel really confident at this point. And he said any artist that was confident with anything at any time is truly an artist. That's the truth. Nobody ever feels. I mean, even Scorsese said recently with the Irishman, they were like, Well, you know, you got to feel really great going, he goes, are you kidding me? Because I'm worried and nobody's gonna show up. And because that's really the worry you have if you're a true artist, you don't think that the arts gonna connect, right? Everybody has insecurities. And everybody wants those insecurities to be served and to be addressed in a lot of ways. And the best way for an artist to have their insecurities addressed as to whether another artists come in and ask them questions. So if you can come in and pipe into that and tap into that, you'll do fine. But just understand also, if you do this 20 times, you might get two responses. And that's okay. Yep. You know what I mean? That's all right. Just don't get discouraged by it. Understand that not everybody, you know, not everybody is social. Not everybody is going to respond. Some people hate email, they just might not respond. So don't, don't get discouraged by that. But I would say if you come from a place of selflessness, and CO and a collaborative spirit, and an artist spirit feel get responses more often than you think.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:08
We're not going to watch your short film. Good.

Guest 1:01:12
So I do have two questions.

RB Botto 1:01:14
But could we only set one?

Guest 1:01:15
Okay, good. So you mentioned game challenge. Of course, at times that can be somewhat subjective, and you're an indie filmmaker, in particular, you're trying to get the biggest name. And yet that's kind of a dichotomy. Do you have a kind of litmus test of betting, you know, that they have talent, because what I wouldn't want to do necessarily, is attach them to quickly and suddenly they become a liability for some asset. And yet, I, you know, I've kind of heard the same thing, and I'm trying to discern the vetting process of that talent, you go to someone like with for pre sales type of thing and say, What do you think about this person?

RB Botto 1:01:52
It completely depends on the film you're trying to make? And I know, Franco, I hope you can just nod your head with this one. It really does, even though it really does. The other question was, you know, going after name talent, like, are you looking at, you know, somebody can bring value presale wise, you look at like, how do you vet it? How do you look at it. So we just did a movie in Chicago, that was the budget was about 250,000, we knew exactly what we were dealing with, we knew exactly what we were going into. It's a story about a lesbian couple that adopts a trial that has Jacob syndrome. And if you're not familiar with Jacob syndrome, that's a male that's born with an extra Y chromosome and causes them to be very aggressive. It's now recognized as being on the Autism scale. But it hadn't been for a long time. So nobody understood what was going on with these children. They were just as prone to violent outbursts and everything like that. Well, we went in, and we said, okay, at $250,000, who's the first thing we ask is, who's the audience? That was fine. And we address that, first and foremost, that was much more important to us than what is the foreign resale value of this film, because a $250,000. And I think you all agree, this movie is not going into 2000, you know, it's not going on 2000 screens, we're gonna have to find a distribution avenue for this thing. And so we kind of went the other way with us. So then it became less, how do we get actors that are going to be valuable overseas, and more, if people are seeing this in a supermarket, or they're on, you know, the red box, or they're out there, you know, are the same, they're watching Netflix on Amazon, if they see a couple of name actors that they recognize where they watch this, you know, this film, above and beyond, of course, marketing and going into film festivals that serve this kind of material. So we hire people like as Sean young, who was in grade one, I mean, always not a household name anymore. So face, Melanie gets a face today, you know, people recognize it. Melanie shandra, who was on a bit of a billion of those Chicago cop shows, and he designed it, you know, a couple of ABC shows, you've read on one of the I forgotten Gabriel blank or whatever now, but it's like Chicago, slash Chicago Fire, but it's one of those. And those are the people that we brought on, they're recognizable faces, in a film with other actors and actresses that are amazing that nobody knows. And we're not worried about it. We're not worried about, you know, what's it going to sell for in Turkey? You know what I mean? Like, what is turkey going to give us for this film, where Mormons are showing work and doing I'm not sure work and I think that the two of us combined. So I'm huge in terms of say I can do it. Are you are you are you not me? They don't know me in Turkey. But you know, you know, I'm saying so really, it's a matter. This is why I come back to this idea want to talk about earlier about understanding the business for us as producers, you know, when I'm producing it's a very, I'm a very interesting hybrid because I'm on Writer, I'm on the creative side, I want to write what I want to write, that doesn't mean that that that's going to produce, like I recognize when I go when sometimes when I write something small, that it's a small indie and man, if this is ever gonna get produced, we're gonna have to get down to the dirt. And we're gonna have to raise that money and, you know, dig it out, and we're not going to get, we're not going to go on 2000 screens, we're going to have to go festival and everything like that. Sometimes I'll write something big. I'm thinking, My God is the lions gateway, you know, but I'm aware of that going in. And it's the same thing when people bring projects to me, I noticed the same thing. For years, we've talked about this, you know, people bring projects, you know exactly what you can do with it. So you really have to sit there and ask yourself, what do I want for this? Where is this project going? And is it just a matter of getting some really cool names, so we get into some festivals, and people recognize it or get some heat? And people may want to buy it, give us some money for it? Or is it something that I think is gonna be much bigger, and I want to go out there and get that kind of talent that gets foreign pre sales, which by the way, that pool is getting smaller and smaller, as we're sitting here. And you know, and everybody that is valuable is going after,

Guest 1:06:05
So you're going after the actual talent, not necessarily the director, writer, town, wherever.

RB Botto 1:06:11
That's true. The writer and director actually came through stage 32, they were one of them, the writer had never written a they were never anything produced before she wrote a great script. And I have to say, she was one of our friends, I submitted scripts, and we picked ours. And it was fantastic. And the director had directed a couple of features, but nothing we would know. She directed actually, oddly enough, and this was total coincidence, she actually directed a short that had asked her about autism. And we were like, well, that's just you know, but that was like five years earlier, we thought the reason that we hired, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:46
The one thing I would say, to piggyback what he said is that you can also look, when you're looking at talent, you can make the mistake of going after talent, because you think there's some resale value. I did I did a movie with I don't want to say his name. But there's an actor that we all know. And this, this director is the director, producer paid this actor, you know, 20, grand, 30 grand with the out in the movie. And the problem is, is this actor likes to do a lot of movies. So his value dropped dramatically. So all of a sudden, he thought his key actor that was going to bring them all these sales was so oversaturated that he every time he went to a to a distributor, like I got three of those ways with him, and I can't use it. So it's really dangerous to do that. So you got to be careful about those things and see what the actors also doing. You know, and then secondly, you can also think outside the box when you're thinking about casting, because Who's your audience who's that niche audience. And if you're making a horror movie, you know, someone like Robert England, who's reading, you know, is huge in the horror space. And you can maybe get him for 10 or 15 grand for a day. And that will sell to that audience very easily. Where it doesn't really matter, overseas or anything. This is just this is how you're selling it. So also look at the niche you're doing and who's huge in that niche. I did. I interviewed a guys, some guys who did a movie called range 15. And it was aimed at military and veterans. And what did they do? They peppered it with, you know, Purple Heart waves, you know, and people who were huge in, in the military niche, who never acted before. And all that audience that all that niche audience came running out, and they ended up making over 3 million bucks self distributing it on iTunes and Amazon. But that's another story. But but that's my point. So it's not always just like, Oh, I'm gonna get Nicolas Cage because he's, you know, he pre sells Turkey. You know, it's not about that. I'm sure Nick does personally tell you that. He does. Franco Winchester. So um, but But yeah, be careful with that. It's a it's a dangerous slope. Yes, sir.

Guest 1:08:57
I started to address it

Alex Ferrari 1:08:59
Shut up!

Guest 1:09:02
When you started to address it concerning hiding, right, right, it seems like right. Yeah. Right. And so and so we've discussed this last time. I guess for the writing process starts with loss, potential buyout.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:25
So there's more letters in the word business. And there's the word show. Yeah,absolutely.

Guest 1:09:34
So that's my three. You start writing lots of I've got no in fact, I got a C protection and I'll call my dad sad. Yeah. Anyway, doesn't matter general with us. I think it's a great process in order to hopefully address things that may be maybe want to sell

Alex Ferrari 1:09:59
It's a very slippery slope. The question to everyone for anybody has do curtail the creative process for the business aspect of it. It's a very slippery slope I, I'm of the mindset to, yes, when you're writing and creating art, depending on the budget you're spending, it's how creative you be, if you make a movie for 3000 bucks, you could just kind of show up at Sundance and shoot a movie, you know, but if that movie cost me $300,000, it would be a completely different conversation. So it all depends on the budget range that you're doing is is something that you can are willing to lose. So if you're like, I'm gonna finance a movie for 20 $30,000. Is that your 20 $30,000? Then be as creative as you want. But also, are you looking at it as an artist? Are you looking at it as a business, so you have to look at the business. But if you then start going too far down that road, like, Oh, I'm going to do a horror movie. And I'm going to want to write this and I'm put this in there, because that's what sold before, then you just start getting it all money. And it's it gets it gets a little bit out of control. So there's a balance between the art and the business, you've got to find that balance. But I personally when I go after project, or what I consult filmmakers, I'm like, look at the business, don't just look at the art, you can't go deep on one way or the other, you got to kind of ride that line both ways.

RB Botto 1:11:09
I totally agree. I'm not chasing the market do not chase the market. It's like the stock market, it plays 18 months out. Yeah, that I mean, so don't chase it. romantic comedies were dead. 18 months ago, now we're doing gigantic comedy contests with getting media to find romantic comedies. So don't chase the market. He spoke to the film, and they'll speak to the writing as well. At the end of the day, you're in control, you are the CEO of you. This is what a lot of creatives forget, they want to get a manager because they think the manager is going to run their career. Bullshit the article you write straight out, they might want to manage a project, they might want to manage one script, or maybe a couple of things. You may have 10 others in a drawer that you really love. But guess what, they're not running with those because they have 15 other clients, and 15 other things that can make them money. So it's up to you to go run with those. For me, I write what I want to write, it doesn't matter how small or how big it is. But if I'm writing something small, I mean, a small indie like something that I know is sort of that art house kind of thing, that I know that it's going to be a lot of work. And I might have to go produce this thing myself, or try to bring it along someplace, to people that might want to run with it, or I'm gonna have to find a champion of this kind of material or the subject matter that's going to want to run with it to raise the money. I know, it's going to be a two, three year four year process. It's going to be a while right? One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from my manager, who was one of the biggest managers in the business, who I just recently fired. And I fired him because I'm the CEO of my creative career. And he was working from nothing A lot of people don't understand, he works for me, I don't work for him. He forgot that. Okay. And I reminded of them, you know, write the name of God facts and not a lot changed. And he was a guy that's been doing it for 30 years, 30 years, one of the biggest names in the business, but because he's been doing it 30 years of being one of the biggest names in the business. This guy's kept you know, this guy's catcher residual checks in his mailbox every day, that he's not waking up in the morning going, Oh, shit, I gotta go to work and Arby's thing, right? They got me in my gig at noon. He's thinking about it. But at nine o'clock in the morning, he's not I want the guy or the girl example waking up at five in the morning going my comp man go go run with Arby's thing. Okay, so I fired him. But when it but I still got one of the greatest pieces of advice from him. He said, You write characters. So well. He goes this so fantastic. He goes, but you're writing them in this small world. Okay? Because if you could take the same characters and find that bigger world, you'd be Writing Studio type films, I don't really run a rights to do if I post by God, what he was saying, this is where the money is. If I'm selling a $1 million movie, and I'm taking 10% of that. I'm not too enthused, but if I'm selling something to Lions, gay, the gammas are gonna whatever and I'm gonna make, you know, you're making this and your rate goes to this and I'm making 10% of that. Now we're talking. Okay? If you think about every movie, Starwars, all the way down to like beasts of the Southern wild. Okay. The common denominator is characters. Yeah, its themes. Its relationships. It's what all it is. It's just the difference between vsas southern island and Star Wars is that Star Wars happens in space. And if chases and there's things going on, and it's expensive

Alex Ferrari 1:14:46
Based on course, I was hitting fortress, which was a huge nerd. It's a small movie,

RB Botto 1:14:51
But what you get my point? Thank you. Are you kidding me right now. But you get where I'm coming from.Today write what you want to write But if you're good at writing a packet that is unbelievable. You're good at writing characters, you get it, you can tell you, you'll have the confidence to know that you could take that and put it into something much bigger. You look at a movie, like the sixth sense, is that based on something geeky? I don't know, No, I wasn't originally just Yeah. Okay. But if you look at something like that, I mean, that the friendship, the laws that there is a covenant that you walk home, and every movie has the same common theme. It's just the world that you put them into. So at the end of the day, write what you want. But if you understand if you don't understand if you're writing something small, it might not get you that big manager might not get you that big agent is there in the 10% business mostly. Okay, except the ones that are dealing with the W VA right now. Don't get me started. I could spend another five hours, but I'm saying, but you get my point, right? If you're not making the money, work, you're not showing that potentially make them money. But again, you know, at the end of the day guy, like Originally, we already have it laid. I think he's made it for me guys like this, make a career out of that, you know, making the smaller move with Dave carried it the whole way sort of her, you know, I mean, he's, you know, he's he's carrying it the whole issue of his iPhone, you know, Paramount's not giving him 50 million to shoot it on the iPhone, he's going out and saying, I'll do it for two. And I'll release that. That's the difference. You have to know that you have to know.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:31
To be fair, I do have a lot of size Yoda at my house. So I've seen that too. It's right next to the hospital toilet there has to be Fidel and George Lucas autographed lunchbox. But that's just me. Any other questions? And you want to say something? Every time I see your face come up on my Facebook feed. I'm sorry. Yeah. I love it. You want to hit him in the ass? That's kind of way I feel she's talking. Sorry. I'm sorry. Go ahead. I love like it's your little Facebook. So I'm like, oh my god. It's Alex. I've been fired. Thank you so much. Actually. It says, My little Santa little circle. I appreciate I do appreciate that. That's how I feel every time I see it. Every time a vegetable pops up. I think I get so inspired. I don't know. Harvey hasn't eaten the vegetable since 85. Any other questions, guys? Last Chance going once. Going twice.

RB Botto 1:17:39
Oh yeah. If I could just say before you leave. So tomorrow night, we are screening our short film program. It's a fourth. So again, knowing I know a lot of you are not familiar with stage 32. This is kind of one of the things that we do. amongst many, well, we have a short film contest every year that we run, where we curate, we you know, we take six or seven films there. They're all judged by usually the Oscar winning the Oscar winner of the short film, or the short film winning directors from the previous year for the Oscars, along with a ton of industry people. And we end up curating a program of 67 films that we take to kind of take it into and we take it to rain dance. We're taking it to Austin this year. And we've screened it for the last four years here at Holly shorts. It'll be tomorrow night at 730. It'll be our fourth annual and a bunch of of filmmakers will be here as well. So if you guys are here, you'll get to see the partner.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:37
And one thing before we go guys, I want everyone to take out their phones and download the stationery to app. And then also go wherever you listen to your podcast and subscribe to any film, hustle, bulletproof screenwriting and the filter printer podcast. It's free. It's an insane amount of information that we pop out all the time and stay true to it is I mean, come on. It's free. Why wouldn't you

RB Botto 1:18:59
And the book the book that enter your selling your buggy code or yours the book that Amanda is going to have the book I wrote is called crowdsourcing for filmmakers. crowdsourcing is not crowdfunding. It's about everything that we talked about tonight. It's just it's about identifying, engaging and moving an audience for your brand and the brand new your film and your brand develop brand new films and brand new projects, all that it's all about how to go about the best practices for building an audience for you and your brand. Also, they should take out their phone and follow you on Instagram on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook indie film hustle and I MRV water Google bar and I will be walking into a bar right now if you want to have any conversation so there you go.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:44
And I'll be selling my book as well shooting for the mob that I almost made $20 million dollars. Thank you guys.

RB Botto 1:19:51
Thank you guys.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:53
I want to thank RB for coming by and just you we just had such a good time. We always have a good time when we talk to each other Thank you to Danny and Theo the cofounders of the Hollyshorts Film Festival for allowing me and RB to go up there and just talk and just have a good old time. If you guys have short films, Hollyshorts is arguably the best Short Film Festival in the world. So definitely check them out. I'll put their links in the show notes. If you want to go to the show notes just head over to indiefilmhustle.com/341. And as a bonus, if you haven't heard on episode 11 of the filmtrepreneur podcast, I posted in that episode, my workshop on how to become a filmtrepreneur and if you want to check that episode out, head over to filmtrepreneur.com/011 or just check the show notes for a link. Thank you guys for listening. I really, really appreciate all the support. If you haven't already, head over to filmmaking podcast, com Subscribe, leave a review it really helps our rankings out on Apple podcasts. Thank you again so so much for all the love all the support all the emails and messages I'm getting all the time from you guys. I'm so glad that this show and all the work that I'm doing is helping you on your journeys, guys. So as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.



  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
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  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)

IFH 175: How to Build an Audience w/ Social Media & Hustle – Hollyshorts! Conference

Right-click here to download the MP3

In today’s episode, I wanted to share the talk I did with RB Botto (Stage 32) at the Hollyshorts! Film Festival Conference 2017. RB and I spoke about a lot of different topics covering, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, building an audience, self-distribution, and much more. There’s truly one knowledge bomb dropped after another. I thought the IFH Tribe could get a lot out of it.

Also, if you are in the LA area This is Meg is LA Priemering at the TCL Chinese Theater, I know crazy! We are the closing night feature film of the Hollyshorts! Film Festival. The screening is August 19th, 8pm. For discount tickets read below. The entire cast will be there and it’ll be a fun time! Hope to see you there.





  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)

IFH 067: Film Festival Secrets – How to Crack the Festival Code

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Submitting to film festivals is torture. Did I get in? Did the programmer watch it yet? When will I know? How much to submit? You wait by your email to see if Sundance or SXSW accepted you? Wouldn’t it be amazing if you had some insight into the film festival process? Maybe even some Film Festival Secrets?

On the show today I have one of the leading authorities on film festivals, Chris Holland from Film Festival Secrets.comThe man literally wrote the book on the subjectFilm Festival Secrets: A Handbook For Independent Filmmakers.

Chris decodes the mystery that is film festival submissions and drops some knowledge bombs on us. Now if you are a listener of the show you also know that Chris and I created a one of a kind course on Film Festivals called Film Festival Hacks: Submit Like a Pro Course but what you may not know is we also created a FREE Podcast Series called the Film Festival Hacks Podcast. We should be launching that podcast in a couple of weeks.

It’ll be packed with info on the inner workings of film festivals, submission strategies and more. So check back here and I’ll put a link up when the show goes live! Until then enjoy my conversation with Chris Holland.

Alex Ferrari 1:11
In this episode of our film festivals we have the leading authority on film festivals, the man who literally wrote the book on it, his name is Chris Holland. We've talked about him before. He's my co instructor on the film festival hacks course. He runs an amazing website called Film Festival secrets calm. Chris has been in the film festival game for over a decade now. And he created Film Festival secrets to kind of help other filmmakers and understand the process because it was kind of like a mystery. And he had seen all the behind the scenes stuff of how film festivals work. These work that's a major film festivals around the country, and really has an insight that was rare, and decided to write the book literally the book on a call Film Festival secrets. And later he opened up Film Festival secrets.com to help and consult filmmakers on their films how to submit to properly to film festivals, what festivals to submit to and so on. So wanted to bring them on the show and really kind of break down and get some inside information on what it really takes to get into film festivals and how to use film festivals for what they're what they're worth and what they can do for you and leverage them and not to be taken advantage by the process and not to throw money away. Because I've been in over 600 Film Festivals with all my projects over the years. And believe me I've lost 1000s of dollars in submission processes and traveling to festivals and things like that. And you know Chris really talks a lot about what to do how to be strategic with your money, how to be strategic with your time and make it work for you guys so without further ado, here is my interview with Chris Holland. May I introduce to our indie film hustlers the man the myth the legend Chris Holland. Thank you sir.

Chris Holland 2:54
You say that to all boys don't you?

Alex Ferrari 2:56
I say that to everyone sir. But but but with you. I say it's special.

Chris Holland 3:01
I feel duly special. How are you man?

Alex Ferrari 3:05
I'm doing great. Talk to you. I've been trying to get Chris on the show for God months now. We've been friends for a while and we're like, I can't get you on the show. Gotta get you on the show Got Game Show. We just never would never get around to it. Though. We talk all the time. We just never got around to it. So we finally set a time and I wanted to share all of Chris's amazing film festival knowledge with the with the tribe. So my first question, Chris, is how did you get into the film festival game?

Chris Holland 3:33
Uh, well, back in the dark days of the early internet, let's say 96' 97'.

Alex Ferrari 3:40
Rough times rough.

Chris Holland 3:44
I was a film critic, one of the very first what would later become bloggers. I want to tell you how special this was Alex, it was so special that it I think it was 99 my co writer and I actually got written up in the New York Times for reviewing Godzilla movies on the internet. I kid you not

Alex Ferrari 4:06
You got to be kidding. So there literally was nobody doing this.

Chris Holland 4:10
It was a brand new thing. Guys who review weird movies on the internet that is worthy of a New York Times article. It's framed on my office wall. Brilliant. Yeah. Anyway, but as time went on, you know, we thought man, we're gonna make some money on this internet film criticism stuff. No. When it became apparent that everybody in his dog was going to be reviewing movies on the internet. You know, I looked around for something else. And that's something else. Very soon became film festivals. Not that there's a ton of money in film festivals. But I eventually fell in with a distributor that was doing very interesting things that included film festivals in a big way. So I got to know two or 300 different Film Festival directors and You know, the rest is history I worked for. I worked on staff at four film festivals now. Austin, Atlanta, Oxford, and Portland. And you know, it's been a great ride.

Alex Ferrari 5:12
Nice to say. So, um, are the magic of our festivals even relevant nowadays, like for filmmakers to submit? Because I mean, in the world that we are today, like I know, before, it was the only way to kind of get noticed. But now with all the stuff that happens online, is it even relevant?

Chris Holland 5:28
Oh, I think, you know, this is a question that gets asked about once a year at somebody's conference or whatever, or in a blog or festivals still a thing? Yeah, of course they are. Of course, film festivals are still a thing. Sundance just made its largest ever, you know, now that they sold the film, but the film is sold during the festival.

Alex Ferrari 5:48
17.5 million.

Chris Holland 5:51
Yeah. So just because new doors open in the world of indie film doesn't mean that the old ones disappear. If anything, festivals are more relevant, because they're the only ones who are willing to go through the 1000s of movies that get made every year to find the good stuff. And let me tell you, there's more and more of these films being made every year. Submission rates go up and up and up. Every Film Festival everywhere touts its, you know, record breaking number of submissions every year. It's not like they're doing anything to earn that film right? coming to them. Right. So next time you hear a festival go, we had a record breaking 5000 films this year, you know, recognize that's a big number, but it just is the rising tide lifting all the boats, somebody's got to go through all those films. Somebody's got to figure out what what the good is and what the bad is. And I don't see the distributors looking to do that, you know, that's a labor of love. festivals are the ones who who have that love.

Alex Ferrari 6:51
Are there. Is there any money to be made at film festivals? Like I know, obviously Sundance in Toronto and the big boys but like, you know, Moose Jaw Film Festival somewhere in the middle of the country? Is it? Are they making money? Like how what's the what's the financial scenario with money with festivals?

Chris Holland 7:07
If you're talking about the festivals themselves, yes, there are many festivals that are run as nonprofits, most of them are run as nonprofits, okay, that doesn't mean that there is no profit involved. But very often the kind of people that you get who start a film festival, you know, to them nonprofit means so long as they break even there. Okay. So there's, you know, a lot of festivals are on the edge, a lot of them shut down in 2008 910. You know, when sponsorship money dried up, there are festivals that do very well, that are run smartly. and South by Southwest is a for profit endeavor.

Alex Ferrari 7:44
That's a monster.

Chris Holland 7:45
Yeah. there's money to be made. But you have to look at it as a business. When it comes to, is there money for filmmakers at festivals? Probably no, generally not. Generally, it is a way to get other benefits, which we can talk about later on. But, you know, with a few exceptions, you know, either niche content or films that are so you know, upper level that they already have distribution. There's no money changing hands between festivals and filmmakers,

Alex Ferrari 8:22
Generally, but there are prizes and things like that sometimes,

Chris Holland 8:25
Sure. But I wouldn't that's that's not a business model. Right? That's

Alex Ferrari 8:30
The business model for a filmmaker like, I'm going to make him submit and it's $10,000 at first price. So obviously, I'm going to get that right. That's more of a lottery ticket mentality. So so you just got back from South by Southwest? I've never been to the South by Southwest Film Festival. I've been to many other ones. I've never been to that one. Can you tell the audience a little bit of what you saw there this year, and how things have changed since last time you were there? And any any good gossip?

Chris Holland 9:01
Any good guys. Number Number one, Austin is changing. You know, for those who may have been there in the past, but haven't been a few years. Austin itself is almost unrecognizable. And I think that is a direct impact that South by Southwest has South by Southwest, you know, brought all of these creative and technically inclined people to Austin, who figured out how cool it was started moving there started starting companies there which brought the bigger tech companies who Facebook Google, you know, they brought their offices to Austin. And so now there's all of this technology industry, you know, building up there and they need offices, they need housing, but in a more direct way. There are more hotels and conference spaces in theaters in Austin than ever before. So they are quite literally changing the face of what Austin looks like from a festival perspective. You know, it's much the same as it was with the exception of sort of this sprawl of venues, they've opened satellite venues, they've colonized some live theater spaces. So it's actually a lot harder to get it a lot harder, it's harder to get a diverse sampling of things that you want to see because like films tend to get programmed at like venues. So tentpole features are going to play at the Paramount or a larger venue like that, and smaller indie films are going to play it's at smaller venues like the Alamo, Ritz. And then shorts, for some reason, all got, you know, sort of,

Alex Ferrari 10:43
In the bathroom,

Chris Holland 10:45
Well no not in the bathroom, and they had decent sized spaces, because there are lots of filmmakers who show up for those, right, they're all traveling in from out of town and those who are local or bring like, so they need space, but they're not getting the cherry downtown spaces that they could be. And that's it. They're not being exiled or anything, but they are, you know, it's get on a shuttle kind of thing. And so if you're going to do that, you want to spend as little time as possible sitting on a bus traveling between you want to be doing stuff, right. So if you're going to see short films, it makes a lot more sense to just spend a day at the venue where the shorts are being played, and watch a bunch of them. Got it. So the changes to South by Southwest that I see are logistical. And maybe that's just like, my brain like that's what I'm looking for. But artistically, I think they are as adventurous as they ever were. They're getting better and bigger sort of premiere type things like they had PBS big holiday. And you know, all they had that midnight Keanu screening. So there's more demand and more stuff. They're trying to stuff in the same amount of time. But it's still got that South by Southwest flavor.

Alex Ferrari 11:59
So it seems like South and again, this might be a horrible analogy, but it seems like it's it's a Sundance meets Comic Con because it's so big in scope. No, obviously not comic book stuff. But studios are starting to come in there. And there's and it's not just a film festival. It's a music festival. And it's also a technology festival. Correct.

Chris Holland 12:16
Right. So the three different sections of South by Southwest are music, which was its primary purpose from the beginning, film and interactive, Thurman interactive begin on the Friday of the first weekend. And film continues basically through the following week. I don't think it plays into the next weekend. But I could be wrong about that. And then interactive is only four or five days long. That takes place over that first weekend into like the that Tuesday. And then music starts up on Wednesday of the middle of that weekend plays through the following weekend. So it's actually these three things all taking place at once. Some of the film and interactive things overlap in terms of programming, like their panels that you can go to. If you have a film badge, there are films you can go to if you have an interactive badge, and then you know music and film also overlap in certain places. So there's a lot to get out of it.

Alex Ferrari 13:20
Sounds exhausting.

Chris Holland 13:21
It is exhausting. I was only there for five days and basically needed another week to get over it.

Alex Ferrari 13:27
Like Sundance is exactly like Sunday.

Chris Holland 13:31
Without the 12 pounds of additional clothing that you need to wear.

Alex Ferrari 13:34
Yes In the end, you can't breathe because you're at 5000 feet or over high you are

Chris Holland 13:41
but it has its own challenges for sure.

Alex Ferrari 13:43
What is your favorite film festival you've been at? Like that you absolutely just love the vibe and love the whole thing.

Chris Holland 13:49
As an attendee, the first five years of Fantastic Fest were my favorite film festival experience ever. I have not been since then. I think it's probably been five or six years since I've been to a Fantastic Fest and that just because of bad scarcity pay and the fact that I don't live in Austin. But when I was living in Austin, it was hands down like it's one of the few festivals where I went every time there was a film playing I was in a theater because the films themselves were so exciting and I wasn't going to chance to see them anywhere else. And man What a great just like film purist environment as an industry member, I mean south by is right up there. And there's so many good ones. I had a really good time in Toronto. I think hotdocs if you're a documentary filmmaker, there are a few few places that are better to be than hotbox and you know what? sidewalk birmingham alabama

Alex Ferrari 14:56
so yeah, heard about the sidewalk. Okay.

Chris Holland 14:59
You have heard me ramble on about the Oxford film festival? Yes, yes. You know there there's some festivals in the deep south, which is where I'm living now Atlanta that are just, you know, top notch in terms of like, small town audience feel they take care of the filmmakers, you know, Oxford and indie Memphis and sidewalk like these are great festivals.

Alex Ferrari 15:22
Awesome. Awesome. Now what are some of the benefits of screening at a film festival nowadays,

Chris Holland 15:27
I would say the three primary benefits these days are the credibility that you get from you know, a festival putting its stamp of approval on your film. The opportunity to build an audience and you thereby get some distribution and the ability to sort of meet your peers and have a career day, meet other people in the industry and then make those connections that will serve you through your future projects.

Alex Ferrari 16:01
It's very true. I've met so many different people at these film festivals. It's it's not even funny. And it's like at Sundance in Toronto and things like that. And I think that sometimes smaller festivals depending on where you are, if you're if it's in your town, then it's very beneficial for you to network. But those bigger festivals you meet people that you might never have access to, especially like a Sundance, when I was living in Florida, I'd go to Sundance and you have la there. La is in a three block radius. Everybody walking the streets is in the business. The access you get is pretty remarkable. Would you agree?

Chris Holland 16:36
Oh yeah, absolutely. No question.

Alex Ferrari 16:38
No. Do you have any advice on how to choose the right Film Festival for filmmakers film?

Chris Holland 16:46
Well, there's a lot of legwork involved for sure. I think you can get a real Head Start by doing two things. Number one, go grab the list of Oscar accredited film festivals printed out and tear it up. Because those festivals you know that list of festivals is so over relied upon by filmmakers, that those festivals even though the Oscar accreditation is only for shorts, feature filmmakers use that list too. And so those those festivals are just overwhelmed with submissions, you are instantly putting yourself at a disadvantage by submitting to an Oscar accredited Film Festival. Anybody who works at an Oscar accredited to film festival like I did twice, both Austin and Atlanta. Who feels offended that that really shouldn't because you're getting so much more than your share of the of the independent films that are made over here. All right. You know, let's give some of the other festivals they're just as good. have just as many people coming to them who treat their filmmakers just as well. You know, let's give this a chance.

Alex Ferrari 17:58
Well, the magic question when you say Oscar accreditation, that's not for features. That's for shorts, right?

Chris Holland 18:03
That's correct. Yeah. No such thing as Oscar accreditation for features

Alex Ferrari 18:07
I've never seen I've never seen the winner of the Austin Film Festival up for best picture at the Oscars.

Chris Holland 18:13
No, I mean, you've seen films, the shorts laid down, of course, like Slumdog Millionaire, Wade,

Alex Ferrari 18:20
Little Miss Sunshine. Yeah. All those kind of films got it. Now, how do you leverage Film Festival screenings to help you get film your film distributed?

Chris Holland 18:30
Uh, there are a couple that are different things you can do, depending on who you are, and what you've got. I mean, number one, if you're playing in a major film festivals festival, and you're a feature, distributors are going to come to you. So that's, I mean, number one sort of mission accomplished right off the bat, you're putting your film in front of distributors. But if you're at a smaller festival, or a festival, where the distributors don't seem to be coming out of the woodwork to find you, I would use that opportunity to start building your audience and start collecting the names and email addresses of the people who are your fans who love your film. There was a film called it was by the Yes, men. Yes. And it was out by Southwest. Yeah. What was the name of that film?

Alex Ferrari 19:21
It was the one that was called the Yes Men, which was a documentary.

Chris Holland 19:25
It was called something like everybody hates the Yes, man. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 19:27
that was a sequel the I only saw the original one. But yeah, there's a sequel to it. Right?

Chris Holland 19:31
So you know, the these guys. It's a couple of performance artists, basically with a team of people around them. They played the sequel at South by Southwest. And this was I want to say six, seven years ago, literally had clipboards with signup sheets and in this 1400 seat, movie palace, they passed around clipboards and pens and got people to you know, sign up. Now that's an activist film where people are, you know, natural. inclined to want to be a part of what they're doing. But that's something you can do at any festival. You know, it's it's extremely difficult as a filmmaker with no existing audience to collect 300 signatures or 300 email addresses in one go on the internet. But at a film festival, well those people are sitting, you know, in the audience, they've just seen your film and are in love with you. It's really easy. So that's the kind of thing that distributors are looking for when you approach them. And you say, I know the names and email addresses of, you know, 2000 people that I've collected over the last year of being on the film festival circuit who are interested in this movie and will tell their friends if you can say that to a distributor your head and shoulders above pretty much anybody else? You know, approaching distributors because they don't think ahead to do that kind of thing.

Alex Ferrari 20:53
Yeah, distributors, I mean, they want as easy of a ride to make their money as possible. And if you can provide them with you know, a three or 4000 person list of people for your film, you're going to get a distribution deal so much faster. That's why a lot of these YouTube stars are creating their own projects and not even going to distributors distributing themselves. Okay, that brings me to a question. Can you talk a little bit about like, screw you know, if your internet if your movies on Vimeo or on YouTube and, you know, gets disqualified from film festivals? I know, that was a big thing when the internet first came out, is that still a thing? And how does that work?

Chris Holland 21:30
It's definitely still a thing. By and large, it's boy Howdy, is it still a thing with Oscar accreditation. So if you have any thoughts at all, you know, as to the future distribution, or no festival play of your film, do not make your film available publicly on YouTube, or Vimeo or any of that stuff until you've done those things. You know, a lot of people will tell you, it doesn't matter. And festivals are taking these things all the time. And it's true. There are a lot of festivals out there that are taking films that are available online. And that's totally cool of those festivals. But there's a lot of festivals that still aren't, and if you you know, unless you want to instantly cut your possible selection of film festivals in half, you know, just hold off on putting it online and and keep control of your assets. Because you don't want your editor or whatever. To mistakenly think that that's an okay thing to do.

Alex Ferrari 22:34
I have a crazy story of of one Sundance filmmaker who got into Sundance had a feature film. And he was in he was in competition. And I think a producer his put it out, it was on Vimeo with password. But he either accidentally or on purpose. pulled off the password for a day or two. And Sundance caught wind of it how I don't know, but they disqualified him and kick them out. And I'm sure that that boys still somewhere in a mental institution. Probably I mean, can you imagine Can you imagine?

Chris Holland 23:10
Oh, I would love to know like the real details behind that. Because you know, for a day or two that seems like something Sundance might forgive. But yeah, without knowing the specifics, you just shake your head and go. That's sucks dude.

Alex Ferrari 23:25
That's so well let me ask you. What are some of the craziest stories? you've you've been to a lot of film festival? What's some of the craziest stories you've ever heard?

Chris Holland 23:33
craziest stories I've ever heard? Well, I mean, some of the craziest stories I've ever seen. You know, filmmakers will do all kinds of things to promote their films sometimes at my urging. Friend of mine had a film called the Stanton family grave robbery. It sounds fantastic guy named Mark Potts, and I'll tell the story, but I want to go back to that title. And just the title is awesome, actually. So as part of the sort of promotion for his film, he and his like three or four cohorts who were at this was at the Austin Film Festival, they bought a coffin and carried it around with them and the coffin had like flyers taped to the side of it. Absolutely. When the screenings were and you know, it was it was it was this it was this Austin Film Fest. Oh, Jesus. And I know they did a couple basically anywhere they could drive to and shove this coffin in the back of the station wagon. They were ridiculous.

Alex Ferrari 24:38
I was gonna ask you where are they? How are they driving this around? Did they rent a hearse?

Chris Holland 24:42
They just had a station wagon Okay, or a hatchback or something it was you know, full size coffin to I'm sure. I've been thinking they might have bought out like a child size but

Alex Ferrari 24:51
Okay, that's just Yeah, I was about to say that's just, that's just wrong. And it

Chris Holland 24:58
didn't work. Yeah. I mean that definitely got attention I still have photos of you know that that surface every once in a while these guys with their stinking coffin and I wanted to go back to the title because titling of a film is something that I think filmmakers overlook as an opportunity to stand out yep it's so many people will name their film you know very generic phrases that sort of seem profound in the moment but actually make your film very difficult to remember much less find on the internet

Alex Ferrari 25:33
like like the tree right? I don't even know if that's a movie or not but the the chair worked and No, that wasn't even the chair what was that movie the fuzzy chair the

Chris Holland 25:43
Oh the Oh yeah, the comfy chair comfy chair. But that was your your puffy

Alex Ferrari 25:48
puffy chairs a better title than just the chair.

Chris Holland 25:50
Right? But yet, these very generic phrases that that's something that Hollywood does, because they are going to carpet bomb the world with advertising and you know the shorter something is the better in that scenario. But in this scenario where you have to be different because you don't have the ability to carpet bomb, whatever it is, then you really want to go with something memorable and I suggest stringing together two or three words that aren't ordinarily paired with one another so you know coffee with milk is not a good example because everybody uses that phrase right?

Alex Ferrari 26:34
Unless Brad Pitt's the star and then you okay,

Chris Holland 26:37
but the Stanton family grave robbery which has you know, a proper name a proper noun right and yeah, what the heck is a family grave robbery I gotta see that or that is attention. Nobody else is using that phrase anywhere on the internet. So yeah, exactly. instantly be able to find that on the internet once once you've got the night yeah, I'm

Alex Ferrari 27:02
actually consulting on a feature film right now. And they came to me they're like, you know, we can't get into festivals and you know what's going on? What can you help us with? And I looked at the movie I was like, well first thing you got to change that title. It was just such a generic title that created no excitement whatsoever. And I'm like, you've got to change that title. And they're like, Oh, well we've done this this this on it already. I'm like, Well, if you want to sell it, you got to change the title. If not, you'll never sell it. So we're working on new titles for it as well. And I worked on a film A Sundance winner called up solidia which was a great title because it's like what is up solidia and the second anyone type that word in there the number one ranking and they actually said that like it was a greatest move we ever did because we control Google for that title. So Exactly. titles are very very very important. Any any crazy like after our stores because I have a few of those after hours on a film festival

Chris Holland 27:59
after it Well, I mean, you want to go to a festival that's got crazy after our stuff going on. Go to some festivals in Texas but like small town, Texas, the Marfa Film Festival was a few years back but Martha's in a town or Marfa is a town in Far West Texas to get there you basically have to fly into Austin and then drive six hours. Do West

Alex Ferrari 28:28
Yeah, Texas is big man.

Chris Holland 28:29
It's really it's a big place. But once you get there the first thing you notice is that there's no traffic noise there's just no city noise of any kind so it's eerily silent. Which of course when you're out in the middle of nowhere with nobody to tell you not to do crazy shit that's you know exactly when crazy, crazy stuff goes on. Right? Right. Especially when you have a bunch of filmmakers and you know festival people from other festivals in Texas who you know have done their events for the year and just kind of want to let go a little bit. You know, that it provides a lot of opportunity for letting your hair down, shall we say and Marfa is a you know, an artist commune. There's a lot of people who have been there for many, many years who have been smoking many, many joints. There's a lot of there's more opportunity when you would think to get into trouble and a town like that. I just love Marfa. Anyway, like their theater is this wonderful little sort of converted, it's a converted bead store. You can't write this stuff. And I have a have a picture maybe I'll send it to you so you can include it in the show notes but it's just this beautiful little wooden see converted feed store but the edge of the feed store is literally 20 feet from the train tracks.

Alex Ferrari 29:57
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Chris Holland 30:08
So you'll be sitting there watching a movie. And then for about five minutes every hour or so you'll hear the train just whizzed by. It's like, not the greatest environment for like, not a, you know, controlled theater environment. But it sort of gives it that character, that bit of authenticity that makes it a very memorable festival to visit.

Alex Ferrari 30:32
So can I tell you can I tell you one of my crazy Sundance stories you obviously want to I have, I have to I am the host of the show, I have to tell you, no, I think you'll get a kick out of it. So back in the back in the day, I don't know if you remember, I'm sure you've been to Sundance a bunch of times, they used to have a lot of big, big house parties up in the hills, like, these big they rent out the mansions and they would just have these crazy house parties. And I don't know if they do it as much now because I think the resident started complaining so I'm not sure if they do as much anymore. But when I was there, me and my buddy, were just like, okay, let's, let's see if we can crash this party, all we would do is crash parties left and right at Sundance, and this one party was up in the middle of the hill, just a monstrous I mean, ridiculous mansion, wooden mansion. You know, like a log cabin there. And you know, there's there's security, there's, you know, there's a line to get into the list to see if you can get in. And I earlier that day had spoken to an agent from CIA. And when I got up to the front, like, Who are you? I'm like, Oh, I'm so and so from CIA. And they're like, we'll go right on insert. right in and all of us and then my buddy who's like, I'm just gonna try to sneak around the back. But I was smart enough to go Wait, let me let me just do this. So he jumped like five fences, broke through a window all the way in to get in and fight and like someone was smoking a joint in the back, or having sex in the back or something. He's like, excuse me, just walked right by. And then we're inside. And there's celebrities everywhere. I mean, all the movie stars of the day where they're and where I'm from. I was in from Florida. It was like my first Sundance, I was so excited. And then five minutes later the cops came because someone pulled the fire alarm. Oh, that's like son of but that was a and then we couldn't and then we couldn't and then we couldn't get a ride back. So we actually jumped into a limo with some celebrities and he was back it's it's a fun festival.

Chris Holland 32:35
That's a rough life you lead there, sir. Well,

Alex Ferrari 32:37
I wish it was like that every day sir. But it's not it's not it's not sir no at the at the indie film, hustle. There's a term we call hustling and we hustled to get into the party and hustled to get down to this town. But that doesn't happen every day. Not every day. Alright, so back to back to back to back to business. What are some of the reasons why films get rejected from film festivals? Because I know a lot of filmmakers are so pained when they're rejected, myself included. So what are some of the main reasons that they reject them?

Chris Holland 33:07
Well, I mean, there's the one reason that nobody wants to hear. And that that is your film just doesn't stack up against other films. There are lots and lots of really good films that don't get into festivals, because it's not enough to be really good anymore. You have to be great. And that's not to say that if you have a really good film, it won't go anywhere. But you definitely need to pick your phone up, pick your battles, you're not going to get into Tribeca, or Sundance or whatever with a really good film. Some really good films do but the numbers are just stacked against you so incredibly. Other reasons I mean, there are more reasons not to get selected that have nothing to do with the quality of your film. Then Then simply the quality of your film, like I put in mind of something that Dan Brawley from the cucalorus Film Festival said, at South by Southwest during a meeting of festival programmers are a couple of filmmakers in the room and they're like, you know, I'm just confused as to why my film didn't get into festivals. And Dan said, you know, for you to get offended that you didn't get into my film festival would be akin to you walking into the grocery store, buying things you need walking out and and saying everything that I didn't buy in the grocery store is garbage. Right? Because that wasn't stuff I selected. It's all garbage. They you know, you just you can't buy everything. You can't eat everything. That's a great analogy, right? So you just have to leave some things behind because there's only so much room in your shopping cart, I guess is the and what that shopping cart looks like is different for every festival. Every festival has an audience to satisfy. And you know, I think this goes back to sort of standard Film Festival economics, film festivals, serve an audience, that audience is not filmmakers, that audience is the people who live in their town or who come to their town to see the movies. Those people, although they buy tickets, or passes or whatever, those people are not really the customer, either. They're the audience, but they're not the customer. The customer is the sponsors, the sponsors, and the people who pay grants. Those are the actual customers because the bulk of the money comes from them. And what do they want, they want a full house, they want to see an event that has, you know, every single seat filled for every single thing. And the better you can do that better you can serve that audience, the more likely you are to get more money from the sponsors. Okay? So knowing this, you have to pick your films. With that in mind, you have to know what the festival reacted well to in the previous years, and what they didn't, so that you don't make the same mistakes over and over again, you can have the best film about, you know, gay cowboys in love. But if your audience hates gay cowboys in love, you are not going to get into that film. You know, sometimes I struggle to come up with examples about

Alex Ferrari 36:17
well, that movie that that movie, that movie won the Oscar. So did

Chris Holland 36:22
I know I'm sure there were film festivals that that film did not get into. So yeah, you know, don't take offense at your film, not getting in a foul festivals don't think it means that you suck. That is sort of the number one trap that filmmakers fall into, is either they get angry and offended. Because you know, and assume the film festivals just don't know what they're doing. Or they didn't watch the film. Right, which is that's utter garbage. Or they think that they're doing something wrong. They might be, but it's not automatically that. Okay, so reasons to get rejected from film festivals. No, to long, bad subjects. I think audio issues are always the big one, right? A lot of people get will sense that something is wrong with a film without knowing what's wrong with it. They don't know why the film's annoying them. And that's very often because the audio is bad, right? It doesn't call itself out. But it's really easy to see with your eyes, oh, this is out of focus, or it's just bad quality or shot poorly. But when audio is bad, you don't necessarily recognize it. And yeah, everything else is politics. Everything else is how does it serve our

Alex Ferrari 37:41
audience? Or our or our sponsors? Well,

Chris Holland 37:45
that those things are connected directly. The sponsors, you know, sometimes want artistic control, but not that often.

Alex Ferrari 37:52
Gotcha. Yeah. Now what would would you submit a work in progress, talking about quality, I know a lot of filmmakers, I deal with a lot of filmmakers that want to like, Oh, I want to submit them like work in progress or without color or with temp sound, or should you just wait?

Chris Holland 38:07
submitting a work in progress is almost always an emotional decision. It is the little voice in the back of your head that says, If I don't hit this deadline, I'm missing out on something. The truth is nine times out of 10, you're not missing out on anything. If you don't make this deadline, there's another deadline coming up or there's another festival coming up or the same festival coming up next year. You know, there's only a period of you know, six to seven months between when you know, a late deadline for a festival closes, and the early deadline for the next one opens up. That's not a lot of time. So you really don't let that little voice in the back of your head control what you do, because it's going to cost you money. And it's going to put you in competition with a lot of other films at a time when decisions have already been made. Right? Like the number of slots in the grocery cart that are available is less because you're coming into the process later, you know later on. So works in progress, you know, that are usually submitted to meet a deadline. And it's kind of a pro move right? festival programmers can see beyond your, you know, your imperfect color or sound and then see the story. They're like they've seen enough works in progress, they know can sort of tell what a film's going to look like. But if you are an unknown quantity, it's your first or second time doing the film festival thing. And you don't really know what you're doing, you know, it puts your film at a disadvantage. Why take that chance, right?

Alex Ferrari 39:49
No. And can we talk a little bit about Sundance because that is the mecca of all film festivals for a lot of independent filmmakers and everyone kills themselves. I mean every year when the deadlines coming I get slammed with we got to make the Sundance, I need to make blu rays. I need to make this I need to get this and it's like everyone kills themselves to try to get that that deadline. Can you talk a little bit about the mystique? The the mythos that is Sundance and how what the realities are of submitting to Sundance. And should they should everyone submit the Sundance is like that lottery ticket, maybe we'll get in? Or should they be more strategic on what works best for their film.

Chris Holland 40:31
I never discourage someone from submitting to Sundance. Because if you don't submit to Sundance, you have that little thing in the back of your head that says, oh, but what if, you know, some people can ignore that some people just go, you know what I know, I don't have a shot at Sundance, and that's okay. If you have that kind of confidence, then God bless, save yourself, the 50 bucks and or $90, or whatever it is the late deadline and move on with your life. But if you know yourself well enough to know, Oh, God, I will just always think, you know, what is? What would have happened if I had submitted to that festival, then by all means, submit? What are your chances realistically of actually getting into the Sundance Film Festival? Every year I used to, and I haven't done this in a few years. But I used to calculate out, you know, given the number of screening slots, and given the number of films that got submitted that year, what roughly was your chance of getting into the film festival? And it was always like, point oh, 3% or something. It was some ridiculous,

Alex Ferrari 41:35
there's 13 there's like was a 13 competition films or something like that? And Sundance?

Chris Holland 41:40
Well, that that matters less than that, you know, because you can't break it down like that. The numbers you'd have to have access to would be crazy. And oh, we could do that. Got it. Yeah. But if you break it down roughly to number of films, or even number of shorts versus number of features, you know, it doesn't take you very long before you get down to less than 1% chance of getting into that festival. Right? Compare that to other festivals where there are 200 slots and 5000 films are being submitted or even like 200 slots and 1000 Films 1000 films, right, your chances get a lot better. So you know, that's one of the reasons that I say avoid those Oscar qualifying festivals because just the sheer math improves, right and I am 10 times more likely to get into festival a than festival B, simply because I know this one fact about how many submissions they get. That's crazy talk, you know, you should absolutely be thinking in those terms. like crazy good talk rather. So yeah. submit this way thinks Sundance is worth it. Yes, please do submit, submit the best copy version, whatever of your film that you possibly can send it into the ether and you know, give it a kiss goodbye, and then move on with your life. Maybe you'll hit the lottery, maybe you won't. There are plenty of deserving and undeserving films that got into Sundance and had their lives changed. Don't Rob yourself of that possibility. If you think there's even a chance you've got no, got that chance. But don't be surprised when you get the dear john letter.

Alex Ferrari 43:15
Well, I mean, a perfect example is that film I was telling you about opsin Lydia, that was a late entry, no star no connection submission with which was color graded. But I think the sound was not done. So it was a work in progress. And they literally dropped it off the last day physically dropped it off in the Sundance office here in LA. And they were one of the 13 competition and won two awards. So it happens but it was but that movie fit of very specific hole in that shopping cart. That was perfect for it was just like that. a year earlier. That movie doesn't get in a year later that movie doesn't get in. But that year, it just happened to make it in. So yeah,

Chris Holland 43:54
that's the kind of lightning in a bottle thing. Yeah, that that does happen and what what makes Sundance so awesome. That speaks to the quality of their programming that they you know, a lot of festivals wouldn't given those kinds of numbers wouldn't have been able to catch that film that late in the year in the submissions process. A couple of screeners would have watched it, they would have given it high marks and you know, somewhere in between the that rush of whatever, you know, the programming team might or might not have been able to look at those scores and give it that chance. Some of the things that you mentioned in that story, though, you know, the fact that there were no stars, the fact that there were no connections, you know, that calls to, you know, to, to the to the attention, the idea that you have to have name actors in your film to get into Sundance or that you have to know someone on the inside. You don't. Sundance has a very vested interest in discovering new talent. They need to be seen as the ones who plucked that filmmaker from obscurity because they made great art. And you know, made something out of them by the very power of the prestige, that is Sundance, they have that reputation to maintain. So they are on the lookout for you, I promise. You know, if you've got what it takes, they will find you.

Alex Ferrari 45:16
I mean, how many how many careers have they launched? I mean, precise. I mean, just it just ever. I mean, the list is insane. Now can

Chris Holland 45:24
you write when I hear filmmakers say, Oh, they didn't even watch my film. And you know, and I realize this makes me seem like an incredible snob and very derisive. But I hear this a lot. And it does, you know, credit to say, I can't get into Sundance, because I don't know anyone there. And I don't have any name actors in my film. That that is that's, you know, selling yourself short, and selling them short. End of rant.

Alex Ferrari 45:50
But with that said, though, having star power, maybe not for Sundance, but for a lot of other festivals does help in the submission process, because at the end of the day, they want acids and seeds. And can you talk a little bit about that? Do you agree with that statement?

Chris Holland 46:04
Of course, I agree with that statement. You know, I mean, if you could have Brad Pitt on your course. Would right?

Alex Ferrari 46:11
Absolutely not Chris, I am loyal to the bone, sir.

Chris Holland 46:17
The simple fact is

Alex Ferrari 46:18
so I mean to cut you off Mr. Pitts, calling me now I gotta go.

Chris Holland 46:22
And the horse you rode in on? Yes, stars, put butts in seats, but they're, you know, some percentage of slots at any given festival that are dedicated to those things. Those are the opening night and closing night and centerpiece films. And they serve a very specific purpose. But you're not competing with those films. Those films generally don't get submitted to festivals, those films, particularly the ones with a list actors, I mean, if you've got like a brsc named celebrities, he's been on TV a few times. Okay, yeah, some of those. But those aren't what I would call serious competition for for your your film if your film has a better story. But yeah, those films are curated from either other festivals or from the distributors who on their rights, they come through a completely different channel than the open calls for entry. And so don't resent those films, Be glad those films are there, because they're paying for you the slot that you're occupying. Because, you know, depending on how things go, a lot of the smaller indie films don't draw as big of an audience and you've got a half empty theater. And you know, that screening cost just as much to put on as the the one that was 100% fall. So in a lot of ways they're paying the rent, for you know, your opportunity.

Alex Ferrari 47:49
That's a great way of looking at it. And can you talk a little bit about first tier and second tier film festivals, and a lot of people have heard those terms? What it Can you explain it a little bit.

Chris Holland 47:58
So you can look at tears one of two ways. Either you can look at tears objectively, like Sundance is a first tier Film Festival, no, no bones about it, right? Or you can look at them from a perspective of at what tier is this festival relative to my film, if you have a science fiction film, right, then a festival like fantastic fast or Fantasia or something like that, that's going to be a first tier fest for you, right? That's going to bring you the audience and the prestige and you know, everything that you want from a festival. So that's like your first tier targets. Those might not be first tier festivals on the objective scale. Nobody's gonna say that fantastic. Fast is as prestigious as Sundance in any other context. But you know, so those are the, when I talk about tiers, that's sort of what I what I mean by those two things. What makes a tier one fast versus a tier two fast? It's a combination of factors from audience size, number of films, they're able to program number, you know how much money they have, whether they're Oscar accredited or not. Who their backers are, right, Robert Redford and Robert De Niro bring a lot of cachet to the festivals that they underwrite. So there's a lot of different factors there. It's it's not like there's any industry standard. There's nobody setting down the canonical. These festivals are tier one or tier two. And this is you know, how she'll be forevermore. But those distinctions do exist.

Alex Ferrari 49:39
Yeah, exactly. Like if you have a horror movie in screamfest is going to be on the top of that list or a horror or you know, one of the top horror film festivals are going to be much higher than let's say Sundance.

Chris Holland 49:50
Yeah, possibly. I mean, so Sundance has its own Midnight's thing. Yeah, yeah, they're they're gonna absorb as many genres as they can, because they they want you know, the Stage of having found those things to again, go ahead and submit your film to Sundance, it's okay, but know that that scream fest or Shrek fest or whoever it is what will also be there for you.

Alex Ferrari 50:10
So these, these last few questions are the ones I ask of all of my all of my guests are so prepare yourself these are the toughest of all the questions.

Chris Holland 50:18
Well, having never listened to your podcast before I am taken totally unaware.

Alex Ferrari 50:23
To say, sir, to say, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life.

Chris Holland 50:31
So the lesson that I keep learning every day, and sort of took the longest to crystallize in my mind was that, you know, while I would not call them festivals in industry, it is a business and there's an economy to everything. What you are doing when you put your film into the into the world into the film festival world is you are hoping to attract a customer you're hoping to make a sale, there's a transaction happening, and you have something of value to offer in that transaction. And that thing is your film, right you by way of your film are delivering, hoping to help the festival attract an audience. And that's what the festival wants from you. The festival has an array of things that are of value to you, primarily a slot in the festival itself. But lots of other stuff that goes along with that. So depending on how high the value of your film is, you can use that leverage to, you know, barter or bargain for other things that the festival has a value that to give you such as a better time slot, or help with your travel or in some extreme cases, even a screening fee. And again, that all depends on how high the value of your film is to what you can negotiate for but never forget that it is an economy and you have the power to negotiate. If you are aware that negotiating is an option.

Alex Ferrari 52:09
Good to know very good to know now what are your top three favorite films of all time?

Chris Holland 52:14
Let's see. In no particular order, because they all hold the same place in my heart. The apartments with jack Lemmon Shirley MacLaine singing in the rain, okay, and Joe versus the volcano

Alex Ferrari 52:30
Oh, I freakin love Joe versus the volcano and that was such an underrated and I was my next question is wasn't one of the most underrated films of all that you've ever seen. I think

Chris Holland 52:38
Joe versus the volcano

Alex Ferrari 52:40
Yeah, no question about it. If everybody out there listening go find Joe versus the volcano starts Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. And it was a brilliant, misunderstood movie when it was released. I remember seeing it in the theater. Nobody got it. Only years later that it start becoming a cult, a cult movie that people just love.

Chris Holland 53:01
Just hit iTunes like a year or two ago. It was not on iTunes for the longest time. So is now part of my iTunes library. If I were going to answer that question with the film, it's not my top three I would say Steve Martin's la story.

Alex Ferrari 53:15
Oh, I love this story. I remember that's another one. That was another one that people just did not get only people in LA got that move.

Chris Holland 53:22
Yeah, I mean, it's brilliant and has a lot of people in it. Who were not much of it like so many emerging stars.

Alex Ferrari 53:29
So Michelle, Sarah Michelle. navasana. Michelle, Sarah Jessica Parker. Yep, it was one of them. I remember off the top of my head. I haven't seen

Chris Holland 53:36
A lot of a lot of character actors. Yeah, definitely worth a look.

Alex Ferrari 53:39
So where can people find you and I heard you had a little something special for the the indie film hustle tribe.

Chris Holland 53:45
I do. If the tribe will direct their web browsers to film festival secrets.com slash hustle. And hopefully everybody who's listening to this knows how to spell hustle. You will find a downloadable list of my top festivals for hustlers you heard me say earlier that you know the Oscar accredited festivals are maybe not your best targets. This is a list of festivals that maybe lesser known but still incredibly excellent. And I've got some shorts. I've got some features and I even have some for some of the genres out there like LGBTQ and sci fi and stuff like that.

Alex Ferrari 54:30
Awesome. Awesome. And so and then where can people find you other than that? Well, there's

Chris Holland 54:35
Film Festival secrets calm obviously. There is a podcast on which a certain Mr. Ferrari might have been a guest recently. So if you search for the film festival secrets podcast on iTunes or your favorite pod catcher, you can find me there. I'm on Twitter at Film Fest secrets. And you can find me at film festivals. You know sometimes I speak In in person live at film festivals you can find me there.

Alex Ferrari 55:05
And if I'm not mistaken you were just named one of the top five filmmaking podcasts by Movie Maker magazine. Am I correct?

Chris Holland 55:12
Yep, I am an essential podcasts as Movie Maker.

Alex Ferrari 55:16
And I'm not I'm not bitter. I'm not bitter for not making the list. I'm just saying I'm not bitter at all.

Chris Holland 55:20
That's okay. I wouldn't be bitter if I were you.

Alex Ferrari 55:24
And you also wrote a book.

Chris Holland 55:27
I did write a book, Second Edition of Film Festival secrets you'll see a theme emerging here as I say Film Festival secrets a handbook for independent filmmakers. If you go to film festival secrets calm slash resources, you can order these preorder the second edition which will be out in mid April, I believe. And you can get the first edition for free when you do the pre order.

Alex Ferrari 55:53
Chris, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to the tribe. I really appreciate all the the knowledge bombs you dropped on us today for Film Festival. So thanks again for taking the time man.

Chris Holland 56:04
My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 56:07
And film festivals can be a field of landmines. If you're not careful, there's a lot of things that you need to kind of know before you go into it. And a lot of times you just have to learn that the hard way but by using by going visiting Chris at his website at Film Festival secrets calm or getting our course Film Festival hacks that really helps you out a lot and kind of I mean, a little bit of investment right up front will save you 1000s of dollars later I wish I would have had that course before I started my my film festival runs with all my my projects and believe it like I said before, I lost a ton of cash doing that so and also what me and Chris kind of put together is we've put together a free podcast series, all about film festivals, we're gonna do an eight episode run. And if it really does, well, we might do another another season but for the first season, we're gonna do eight episodes, and it will be called the film festival hacks podcast. And we will put a link in the show notes when it launches, they won't launch probably for about at least another week or two. But when it launches, you can come back here and check it out at indiefilmhustle.com/067 is the show notes and you can find the link there. Now as promised, I am going to be giving you guys a link for 50% off our course the film festival hacks. It's an online course you can take on line you can put it on your iPhone, watch it anytime you like. The link is indie film, hustle comm forward slash festival hacks 50 that's indiefilmhustle.com/festivalhacks50. Now this will be for a limited time only, we may only have it up for a couple of weeks. So I would jump on it as fast as possible because after that, it goes back up to the normal price of 50 bucks. But it will be 25 bucks, which is an insane deal for this kind of course. So check it out. I wanted to let you guys know that we have a indie film hustle community on Facebook. It's a private, private group that I've put together and we have over 4200 now members in it and you can head over to indiefilmhustle.com/Facebook and sign up. We do a lot of talking there. We help each other out. We show each other's work. And we just kind of start you know, communicating and helping each other out there. So that's what the community in the group is all about. So it's at indiefilmhustle.com/Facebook. Thanks again for listening guys. I hope you got a lot out of this episode. And keep the hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I will talk to you soon.