IFH 391: The Future of Hollywood Distribution Post COVID-19 with Stephen Follows

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A good friend and returning champion Stephen Follows wrote an amazing article discussing the future of Hollywood distribution. I asked him to jump back on the show to discuss. Here’s a bit of the article:

Change in the film industry is often an extremely gradual process. The views of those involved tend to be entrenched and hard to shift. Therefore, how the film industry will operate one year can reasonably be expected to be very close to that of the year before.

Not so in 2020. The current COVID-19 pandemic has forced a number of huge changes upon the sector over a matter of days. Cinemas are shut, productions are on hiatus and almost everyone is at home watching TV and VOD content.

In order to take the industry’s temperature at these uncertain times, I teamed up with Screendollars to interview 363 film professionals. We focused on the domestic market (i.e. the USA and Canada) and asked a range of questions about their views on the current changes and what they think a post-lockdown future may bring.

We split respondents into five groups, based on their area of professional work:

  • Filmmakers, covering development, production, and post-production.
  • Sales & Distribution, including sales agents, distributors, and marketers.
  • Exhibition (Distribution), cinema owners, and operators.
  • Home Ent, TV & VOD, including physical and digital sales, all forms of VOD and films on television.
  • Other, including those in education, government bodies, festivals, journalism, cinema suppliers, and more.

We have a very eye-opening discussion about the future of Hollywood distribution, movie theaters, VOD, Trolls 2, and more. Enjoy!

Alex Ferrari 2:51
Now guys, today we have a special episode we're bringing back returning champion, Steven Follows you may remember him from our last episode where we discussed how Die Hard is the greatest Christmas movie ever made. But on a serious note, Stephen is the film data guy. He crunches numbers for the film industry like nobody else and really has amazing insights on to how this business works in general. And he just released an article the other day, where he took a survey of over 400 industry insiders to find out what Hollywood really thinks the future is for exhibition. And I thought it was extremely important to get this message out there because so many tribe members are asking me constantly Alex, what's the future? What are we going to do is is our theaters dead is is VOD going to take over. And I wanted to get them on the show to discuss all the findings he had in his article. So we sit down and talk about the future about where we're going, what we think is going to happen but more importantly, what the industry themselves think is going to happen. And it's broken up into a very distinct group of people. filmmakers, sales and distribution people exhibition people, which are cinema owners and operators, Home Entertainment TV and all flavors of VOD, including physical and digital sales of all forms, as well. And then there's others which are like education, government bodies, festivals, journalism, lawyers, cinema suppliers and so on. It is truly a fascinating story on where the industry is going to be where the injuries he thinks the industry is going to be post COVID-19 so without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Steven follows. I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Steven Follows How you doing my friend?

Stephen Follows 4:42
A very good Thank you. You say that every time and I I do worry. I'm going to I'm going to be challenged. What is going to take

Alex Ferrari 4:51
Well, you are one of the returning champions. I mean, Rb Bado is the ultimate champion has been on the show, I think 11 times in the course of the the entire history of the show. So you've been on that. I think three or four times,

Stephen Follows 5:02
You know I want to challenge Rb is a nice guy, but he is rich.

Alex Ferrari 5:06
He does work out

Stephen Follows 5:07
If your listening Rb, you're fine. You're fine.

Alex Ferrari 5:10
I think last time you were on the show we discussed why Die Hard is the greatest Christmas movie of all time. Yeah, with numbers and stats, you know, not that we need them. But yeah, it doesn't hurt. It was it was one of the more enjoyable episodes I'd done quite some time. And the tribe was really happy about that episode. Some people were like, you spent an hour talking about diehard and like, Yes, Yes, I did. It was the Christmas present to the people who want to I don't know how we cut it down to an hour, if I'm honest. Yeah, it was, it was we could have kept talking. We could have easily been talking about that. This year, we'll do Lethal Weapon and why that's a Christmas movie. So. So it's this is so I wanted to have you back on the show. Cuz you wrote this insane article, which, when I anytime I refer to you, it's always insane is somewhere in the point. But in the most positive connotation of that word. You wrote this amazing article, what does the film industry think its future is the future of film exhibition, essentially. And of course, you have the numbers to back it up. So what did you find out from your research?

Stephen Follows 6:23
Yeah, this was a really fun project or something I've wanted to do almost as soon as the pandemic started to change the face of the industry. And whether it's a temporary thing, whether it's a long term thing, we obviously won't No, no, no one can know that. But what we can look at is what people think, you know, what's there. And so this is absolutely a survey of opinions and perspectives rather than facts, because who knows. And so I teamed up with screen dollars who have a mailing list, who send out a newsletter, every Sunday to the mostly exhibition sector in the in the US, but also obviously wider than as well. And we've been talking for a bit and myself, I said to them, Look, let's do a survey, let's try and get the take the pulse of the industry and exhibition, but also all the other sectors as well. And let's see what people are thinking. And I had a few suspicions as to sort of whether people were sort of losing sinks slightly as we're not actually trading, you know, on, you know, the, the exhibitors and distributors and studios will be trading normally. And so they will get a better sense of what the others thinking. But now as no business is going on, on that front, they're losing a bit of sync. And so we sent out a survey and we had just under 400, people fill it in. We had a few more, but we decided to focus the results on the domestic market, because most of the people are in domestic but also it's the it's the most interesting to pull apart because so the most evolved market around the world. So we then so we had all these answers. So we grouped people into into four different five different categories. We had filmmakers, so people involved in development, writing, pre production, production, post production, so there are people who make films, sales and distribution. So they've they're sort of middlemen who do the sales and distribution. So film markets and distribution. And also marketeers are in there as well, people who do marketing as well, the main exhibition, so cinema owners and operators. Then the fourth category was home end, which we include TV and all flavors of VOD. And the last one was other, which was sort of lawyers and accountants and film festivals, and almost everything else in there. So it's quite that other group is quite a hodgepodge. So I will refer to them very much. But it was interesting with these filmmakers sales distribution, exhibition at home meant we have the whole journey of a film. And we can see how their views of the same or how they differ and things. So the first thing we asked them, which is this is, this is not a surprising result. We asked them whether we thought different sectors of the industry would be better or worse between January 2020 and January 2021. And to varying degrees, but pretty much the picture was the same. Everyone thinks that if it doesn't happen in your home, it's going to be much worse in January 2021 that it was this year. So finance, production, sales, distribution, exhibition, festivals, market markets, all that stuff. Everyone thinks that's going to be far worse. And obviously everything that happens in the home. So buying desks, all kinds of VOD and also films on TV is going to be a lot stronger. So that's kind of what you'd expect, right? But where we started to see differences was when we started asking them about changes to the business model. The exhibition business model of interest what's your perspective? Alex, do you think that the business this COVID thing is going to make people change their business models so do you think it's always been in the works for a while and it's just going to make it happen sooner?

Alex Ferrari 9:51
I think that any any studio any production, any distribution company that does not expect massive change in The way we do business moving forward will be left behind and left in the the corridors of time as a failure. And they'll go out, they'll go out the way of the blockbuster. If they don't see that this is a massive, massive shift, Titanic shift. And the way we consume content the way we see it, I think it's been in the works for some time, I think what is happening this year, and the last actually, in the last few months, would have probably taken another five or 10 years to go through. Because we're such a slow industry, like we do not adapt to change at all. Look at look at look, think about it, Netflix came out in a weight. And Netflix really came into its own way, you know, what 2015 2016, and it didn't become like a became like a real dominant dominant player, only within the last few years, you know, where it became basically the biggest studio, almost the biggest studio in Hollywood, and change the entire business model of Hollywood. And now this 2020 is the first year that we have, I mean, Disney plus just came out late last year, then we have HBO, Max and peacock, they the other studios finally showed up. They started in 2008.

Stephen Follows 11:21
So the industry is so slow to do that kind of stuff. And so many budgets I've seen in the last six months, even have got things like you know, taping labs, filming labs, and they should

Alex Ferrari 11:32
Still there still there. It's still there.

Stephen Follows 11:34
Yeah, and it will maybe they're in 100 years, there's so much that is just that's the way it was. And so therefore, it's the way it will be.

Alex Ferrari 11:41
But it I think it's a problem that and it happens in every industry. every industry around the world, when there's big giant change, whether it's through technology, or culturally, or in society, in general, is they're trying to hold on to their cash cow. So DVD sales, Home Video rentals, when blockbuster couldn't conceive of streaming or couldn't make it work. They try to hold on to their cash cow and they fight. They fight tooth and nail looking at the music industry, how long they fought mp3, till they finally figured it out. It took them a while to figure it out. That's exactly what's happening with film distribution. And now, this like this fight between AMC and universal, like, we're not going to show anymore universal like, dude, you have no power. He's no power the theater. No power.

Stephen Follows 12:29
Now is not the time to have the argument as well. Like, whoever's right or wrong, you don't know what's happening. And you should just everyone should just keep quiet

Alex Ferrari 12:38
It's like your leg is broken. And I'm gonna go, let's go fight. You know, I have my heart, my arm and shoulder have been thrown out and I have a broken fist. But I'm going to pick a fight. That's exactly what AMC is doing right now. It's the stupidest thing around. And it's because they are so terrified that their entire business model is going to go up in smoke, that they're reacting this way. And they're not being smart. They're doing the same thing that blockbuster did, they're doing the same thing as borders, and all of these other commerce Circuit City and all of these companies that were giants, like Sears and all these other companies and other in other industries that were giants led like just legendary companies, because they are not flowing with the technology, the not flowing with the way things are going. And if they don't, they just can't see past their their core business model. And if it isn't effective, yeah, if they don't shift, if they don't pivot, you're gonna die. And I promise you that AMC will be bought out by Amazon or by somebody else. And the whole spectrum is going to change and specifically AMC, imagine if Amazon bought and I call that mean RB call that I think in February, I would like oh yeah, Amazon's going to probably buy AMC, because it's so cheap now. Because it's not going to go away. All those screens are gonna still be there. But

Stephen Follows 13:57
Yeah and I think the desire to go to the cinema is going to be absolutely, because why do people go because it's cheaper than most of the other alternatives like theater or ballgame. It's much more flexible. It's perfect for like catching up with friends and a low hassle kind of way. And you get to be part of a shared moment. And there's no, if I could buy shares and going to the cinema, I would if I had to buy shares in the individual limited companies that exist today. I'm not sure I would.

Alex Ferrari 14:20
But would you but I think the future is going to go back to where it was at the dawn of Hollywood, which is where the studios owned the exhibition. And then they came up with this anti anti monopoly law, the antitrust thing, so they aren't allowed to it but if you've ever been in El Capitan in Hollywood Boulevard, which is owned by Disney, that is the future of cinema in my opinion, where

Stephen Follows 14:49
Netflix already own the one is in New York where they buy theirs. They own

Alex Ferrari 14:54
They bought they bought exactly so they're going to create like for specifically for something like Disney. They're going to create a experience, they're going to have characters there, there's going to be the gift shop is where they're going to start selling stuff is going to be like a Disney Store inside of the movie theater. Because imagine if you walk out of frozen to with a ton of kids, they're all gonna want to buy something. And you can

Stephen Follows 15:16
It's not just it's not just kids, though I think you know, I've worked really cool. Like, for example, you walk out of a Christian Christopher Nolan movie. And then they say, do you want to buy the Blu Ray 25 quid, but there's a commentary where he explains what it meant,

Alex Ferrari 15:29
Or the script, we want to find a script on it? Or do you want to buy the art book behind it? Or the any of that kind of stuff?

Stephen Follows 15:35
And that's the moment to get me when I'm walking out. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 15:39
And that's but I think that's the future of exhibition, I think these studios will start to buy up these chains, because now they've now relaxed that antitrust thing. So now the studios will start to buy these, these these exhibitions, and there's just gonna have more consultation.

Stephen Follows 15:57
Well, it's interesting because the power dynamic has been quite balanced. And we'll come on to what they think about the past but power dynamic in a second. But the power dynamic between studios and exhibitors has been broadly quite well balanced. And they've been a few fights on either side. And the window of release has been getting slightly smaller. But fundamentally, they were holding their own to each other. And this is thrown out the window as far as it's completely in the moment we are in right now the studios have have more power. And exhibitors clearly right now have very, very little because they're not there's no money flowing. But one of the interesting things is this, the studios, I don't know this for a fact. But if I were in the studios, I'd be thinking this, they gotta be very careful, they don't kill the sector. Because the one of the major things that about exhibition for the studios is it's a massive competitive advantage. You know, it's a barrier to entry to the indie filmmaker. You know, if if all films just went straight to VOD, there will be less difference between a Disney film and an indie film, there's still a difference, but less of a difference. Whereas if they can control whether it's through ownership or through just the commercial terms, the exhibition going to the theater, then they have a different type of product. And that's what they really benefit from. But they're going to be quite careful to leave the sector alive

Alex Ferrari 17:10
Could you But let me ask you this is, is the current business model that the studios have, which obviously, the studio business model has changed over the last 15 to 20 years, where they used to do $20 million movies and mid level movies and take chances and do things, original things in original films. But now they don't now it's all IP based. It's all based on properties. It's all based on books or, or something or reboots or something like that, because they have to hedge their bets. And I get it. That's the business that they're in. But is there a world without a theatrical component that Disney puts out eight $200 million movies a year? Like can they financial because you can't go directly to Disney plus, with that, because you will run into a wall eventually, you will reach mass saturation in this market as Netflix is it's gotten really close to doing. So do you? Is there a future that we can do these monsters like Avengers end game style? You know avatar style prop projects without a theatrical component?

Stephen Follows 18:14
I can't I can't see it. Because the thing is that what Disney are very good at is selling you the same thing twice. Or three or more times. Exactly. So they don't want to get rid of a way to charge you quite Yes, absolutely. And so yeah, I think they've got to keep it exhibition life as well as it is an income stream and things like that. But the power is kind of shifting. And you were mentioning AMC talking about talking trash about trolls. Well, specifically the trolls that work at Universal trolls to Sir Jolson, yeah. So this is this is trolls world world Party, which universal? We're planning to release the actually but then went straight to VOD and had an expensive like $20 or so premiere. And so that was one of the things I asked these different sectors or different groups of people within the survey, I said, you know, how much do you agree with the statement, the universal was wrong to release it straight to VOD. And, you know, the listeners will be shocked to hear that most people in exhibition, you know, almost 60% of people thought it was just wrong, you know, but with filmmakers, it's like 15% or so 14 13%. So, fundamentally, filmmakers are like, yeah, of course, they didn't have an alternative or whatever that would. I don't know why they think this but one can assume it's because they were like, well, there was no alternative and it still made a lot of money. And it worked. Whereas people in exhibitions still think that it was a terrible thing to do. And I'm not coming down on either side. I don't know. Certainly they haven't universal announced they made over $100 million. Who knows if that would have been in addition to the box office. I'm sure they're made far more of it than they would have done in the in a theater. So I don't know. And we saw a similar thing. I asked him also about whether Disney were wrong to release frozen two and Star Wars nine, two months early to Disney. Plus, there was less of a disagreement. Most people were more in favor of that and I think it's because the the battle lines have really been drawn around the theatrical release, you know, the the window of release the first where's the first platform people can see it and when does it go to VOD when it goes to, you know, VOD, like Disney plus, after it's been on iTunes people seem to care a lot less. But it's the same pattern though, you know, exhibition thought it was terrible that people were the souls at Disney were releasing it early. And filmmakers again didn't seem to care at all.

Alex Ferrari 20:28
Well, I mean, but if you look at this, because I was studying what was going on with Disney plus, because I saw onward, which was the big Pixar movie that had a small theatrical run prior to the COVID shutdown. And then they released it on the premium t VOD for 20 bucks, then, like a week or two later, they released it on normal transactional and then the next week it was on Disney plus. So that for me and frozen to and Star Wars nine all of them are so extremely smart choices. I completely agree that Disney did that. Because they want subscribers. They have over 15 million subscribers already on Disney plus, that's I mean, that's a massive it took Netflix a lot longer to get to there. HBO took them like two years to get 10 million subscribers on HBO NOW. You know, it took them forever.

Stephen Follows 21:22
And they have the data they have the control over people like right, so yeah, he's better.

Alex Ferrari 21:27
Yeah, the money is bad. So that made perfect sense. The trolls to situation is interesting. Because they didn't have a choice. It was like either release it now. or lose a year basically, and compete so they could go on on to straight to t. s. VOD. Now, where there is basically no or TV, there's no real competition. But if they wait to November, let's say, let's say that they're going to actually release all these movies in November, December, which I can't even I mean, they're basically moving the entire summer blockbuster season to the holidays, which I don't think is going to be a great idea. But let's say they did and trolls to was waiting to go into that window. Well, there's only so many movies you can release in that eight week period. And they already pretty much you know, are you going to go against Wonder Woman? And, and Top Gun and Milan and all these? Like, it was smart for them to do it now? If not, they would have to wait an entire year to release it. And in next summer, so I think it was smart. Now they did over $100 million, according to them, according to them, which we have to keep saying. According to them, it was over $100 million, which is great. And if that's the case, that's fine. They would have made more than that theatrically? Well, they would have grossed a lot more than that, would they? I'm not I'm it's different. That's the other thing. Yeah, that's the other thing. Yeah, you're right. So they would have grossed more, but how much take home would they have made. So there's a good balance, but also, that's a very specific kind of movie, the kids are at home, there's not a lot of other things going on. It was in a crazy time when it came out. So people were still like kind of freaking out.

Stephen Follows 23:08
It was and they had no choice as well. The other choice was to completely snooze it for ages and take it out in a competitive market. So in the money in the hand, because that meant that you know, the funding of that has got costs to spending what they are they spent making that movie is accruing interest, it's costing them something so there is a lot of opportunity costs as well. And there was no competition for that, that there was no movie like that. week or two that was doing that. Whereas whenever they come out theatrically, they would have if they waited, it would have been a busy market.

Alex Ferrari 23:38
But But the question is why? Because a lot of people are like, Oh, you know, movie theaters are over. And you know, premium t VOD is what we're that's the future and to a certain extent, there is agreeing or disagreeing on that cotton that statement, but you have to ask, Well, that was what movie like trolls to? What would happen if Avengers endgame or Wonder Woman or the next bond showed up? Like I would pay $20 for any of the movies. We just talked about to watch it. Uh huh.

Stephen Follows 24:10
Yeah. I personally, I feel cheated. Not No, not cheated. That's too strong. I feel disappointed. on a big screen.

Alex Ferrari 24:17
Of course I do. Absolutely. But if we don't have that option, you know, if if Bond was available to me tomorrow, I would probably get it. And I think a lot of people would probably do it but or the next Fast and Furious or is one of these big

Stephen Follows 24:34
About them or they're about spectacle them what you and by the way, you're right people will pay there's no doubt you're absolutely right. But the more it's about spectacle should be more I think. Yeah. And you know what this is I can't remember if we talked about this on previous podcast, but this is my sort of, I don't go in for predictions. But if I had to as far as how exhibition evolves over the next say, 10 years, it's I think it's going to split into two particular types of exhibition. And the same way that you don't have the like you said those mid budget movies it becomes very They go very small, I think exhibition is going to become either thrill seeking, which is the IMAX bond fast if you're louder, bigger, brighter, yeah, you know. And then the other side of exhibition that will drive will be the, the, you know, 30 bucks a ticket, you get a nice red wine, you can buy this,

Alex Ferrari 25:17
Which is where it's been going away, which is

Stephen Follows 25:19
Exactly and those films really do support, indie films and those kind of environments. It's not only them, but that's an older audience, which is who are living longer, richer, more grown up on movies, and also are more likely to go and see films with, you know, good ratings and stuff. And so it will start to split in the same way that you have different kinds of theater, right? Like, we're going to see, you're going to see an Epson play, it's very different to a pantomime, or cats on on Broadway or whatever. They're they're technically both theater, but you wouldn't go and see one as a substitute for the other. And they wouldn't happen in the same building. So

Alex Ferrari 25:55
Yeah, without without question.

Stephen Follows 25:57
So so on that? Well, one of the things that's interesting is that, what does that mean for the theatrical window. And in those two examples, you need to keep a theatrical window for the spectacle, one, because you want to really make it more exclusive. But for the other one, it matters far less, you know, I saw parasite in the theater, and I could have seen it home. And I chose to see in the theater because it's a movie I want to be engrossed. And so I asked him, How long do you think the exclusive theatrical window should be? And I said, you know, longer than than than pre lockdown, which I sort of threw in there is a kind of like, ah, we might as well put it in there for completeness, the same as the lockdown. And then at the moment, it's about 90 days between the article and the first home version that's available in the US. It's, it's, it's four months in Britain's three months in America. So should it between should it be longer than 90, which thought it was, should it be 9060 to 93rd 30, or 60, less than 30 days or I put an option, there should be no exclusive window for theatrical. And it's exactly what you'd expect, like the exhibition sector absolutely thinks there should be a lockdown, there should be a window, and over half of them thought it should be the same, if not more than it was before. So they're still fighting to increase.

Alex Ferrari 27:11
They're just they're just stuck there blockbuster guys their blockbuster, that's all they are, they are, they're stuck in the old ways, they cannot conceive of a way to do business other than what they have been doing for the last 100 years. It's why it took him so long to get the gum off the damn floor, you know, and get seats that that are comfortable. And to get real food in there. It took them forever to do that they are they are not an innovative industry

Stephen Follows 27:42
Oligopoly, you know that there's a number of players, they don't need to evolve. But what's fascinating about this is that the filmmakers are almost the polar opposite, you know, the amount of third of them thought they should be no exclusive window. And the vast majority of them, almost 90% of them thought it should be less than locked down. But here's the thing so that there's so far as you'd expect the I didn't expect it to be such an extreme difference. And I'm surprised about the sort of 15% of exhibition who think it should be longer. But then this is their opinion. So it isn't, what do you think will happen? So you know, fine, that's their own terms, their opinion. What I find most interesting is that the two other major groups, the home end group, which includes TV, and VOD, and then sales and distribution as the other group, where do they align? That always interests me, because how many you'd imagine would be the antithesis of exhibition, because if the window gets smaller, they benefit. And sales and distribution have a much better sense of the overall value chain, because they'll get a cut of every dollar, where at whichever platform it comes from. So I those two are the two that I thought were most interesting. And on this question, the home end people actually are much closer to exhibition than anybody else. And so actually, home end, when taken in this survey of opinions on this particular day that people fill it in, actually is supporting to less extent but still exporting supporting exhibitions idea that the window is important. And I actually think that they do need it to feel premium. You know, I think that the home meant people are worried that if it feels like YouTube, you can't charge the 20 bucks for the in a vat thing. Whereas the sales and distribution people sort of sit somewhere in the middle so they're the people I would really be interested in looking at and on the sort of the previous question around universal and Disney, they sided with the filmmakers, whereas here they're much more closer to the, to the exhibition people.

Alex Ferrari 29:35
Well, if you look at Netflix, because Netflix is a great example. I mean, look, look at a movie like the Irishman. Or that last Michael Bay movie or this new extraction with Chris Hemsworth. Those were those are big movies. Those are big movies with big stars and big budget. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Does the Irishman have the same gravitas that it would have had if it had a real theatrical run? Or that or that's that that Michael Bay film or extraction? You know, does it have the same gravitas? Does it matter in the new ecosystem, or the the new economy that Netflix has created? Obviously, it didn't matter to Netflix at all. Because they're playing by a completely different set of rules. They don't care about exclusivity. They don't care about the old model. The only ones that are worried about the old model is people who live in the old model, which is the general studio system, and the X the the theater owners. But if you notice, there's already a shift happening. Disney plus HBO, Max peacock, all three of those are basically cover three of the major studios out there and multiple television networks out there. So they're already starting to shift. Do you mean to tell me in 10 years, that we're gonna have this conversation, I doubt it, because there's gonna be so much more lucrative to go directly to consumer. And that's what that's what the studio system is starting to figure out is like, why do we need to go to a movie theater? Yes, I get it, you know, it's a billion dollars, but out of that billion dollars, that we have, maybe we take in half a million. And then let's not even talk about all the marketing that we did out there, which is another couple 100 million dollars. So

Stephen Follows 31:39
I had deal with those people, like the power dynamic has meant that they they're not as powerful as they are in other sectors, you know, like Disney, when it owns Fox stuff, and it wants to put he wants to adjust the aspect ratio of The Simpsons on Disney Plus, it just decides to do it as a monolith. And of course, lots of has to happen, but it just decides it's all in agreement, right? one entity. Whereas when you when there Disney are talking to the theaters, and they say, you know what, actually, we want to be flexible on the, on the release for this one because of Christmas, or whatever it would be. The theaters have been able to say no, or at least fight back. And that was a question I asked as well. I asked after the lockdown. Will exhibitors have more power to maintain the 90 day now and the exhibitors I mean, they, they still think they're gonna,

Alex Ferrari 32:25
Because they're idiots. They're idiots. They don't, the difference is this, and I'm going to cut you off. But the difference is this. The studio system, the studios have multiple ways to generate revenue with their, with their property, with their films, all of them have multiple ways to do it, they can go directly to TV, they can go, there's just so many different revenue streams to have the movie theater exibit exhibitors have one way to make money and it's reliant on someone else, providing that it is a very, very difficult business to run, if you have no content. And they have built an entire industry around the promise that the studios will continue to provide them content, high end content. If the studios decide, you know what, screw you, we're just going to go to Disney plus HBO, Max and peacock now, and we don't really need to deal with you anymore, because our business model is changed. This the movie theater chains are going to all go down and it'll just be a ghost town. And that is the that's the difference that the stood that the exhibitors are thinking it's 1980. It is not Yeah,

Stephen Follows 33:38
Okay. Well, listen, I know you're not attacking anyone. But in defense of the exhibitors, I'd say two things, right? One, all jobs. And certainly leadership roles involve a certain level of belief in your own self in the course, of course. And so sometimes when we talk about films, when we talk about delusion, we talk about, you know, the vast majority of films fail, but your one won't, because you believe in it. But then again, if you didn't believe in it, it definitely would fail. So there is a certain amount of positioning, but also there is a perspective of and I would imagine that the studios are not taking into account some of the things that the exhibitors are and vice versa. For example, cinemas, actually I think you're right, they're a hard business to make money, they're a hard business to actually flex, you can't move your location, it's very hard to open up a new location, you can't really change your prices, because they've pushed that to the maximum and same with concessions. But there is a there is a knock on effect. So we've already talked about how the studio's need exhibition as we have it now to provide a barrier to entry to other content providers to make their content a different thing. The other thing is that we there are other sectors that need theaters as well. So you think about how we all need a theater. Yes, the nation. You know, like let's say every theater closes tomorrow and the studios are fine. filmmakers are fine. They're all the other sectors are not fine. Oh, no, no, I'm out of town. places. And also, you know, it's not the VOD supports all different sectors of the industry in the same way theaters, so there will be a theatrical that so there'll be an experience there. But there will these are the things that exhibition is taking into account that the, if we ask purely about dollars and cents for the for the films, where we're not taking into account the whole thing

Alex Ferrari 35:19
Agreed with you 110%. But that doesn't stop anything. Because when blockbuster shut down and shut down 2500 stores, and it not only hurt a blockbuster company, but it hurt a lot of companies out around them that supported their company.

Stephen Follows 35:37
And they and they weren't even foundational, like no one would build a mall based around a blockbuster correct, but a bowling alley or a theater, they become the anchor of how you get people to come and shop beforehand and he afterwards. And that destination is a real problem. And yet people still have the same need to meet. I mean, obviously we can't do it right now. But that's not gonna change so that but that's also not the studio's problem because they've got shareholders and they got to

Alex Ferrari 36:01
No its about it, or they don't give us a flying f about anybody else other than themselves and making money for themselves. That's, that's that's the legal duty, right. That's that for data. That is their fiduciary duty. So they don't care about other industries. They don't care about exhibitors, they don't care about any of that. I think the new world should be this. I think that this should be a 30 day window. That gives you a four week window for those people who want to see it theatrically. And then it's available online, in premium t VOD for a month, and then goes into general t VOD, and s VOD. And those platforms that makes sense to me that it's still because basically you make most of the money is made in the first four weeks of all these big movies

Stephen Follows 36:46
Sure but it but but it's about denial of I was the right phrase, but it's like the delaying of gratification. If I thought I only had to wait one week, then I actually might might be willing to wait a week

Alex Ferrari 37:00
That's what weeks? Maybe I will. But but that's but that's the thing, though.

Stephen Follows 37:05
Wait three weeks? I'm three months, I'm not gonna, you should really do if you if you look at the psychology of humans, they should make it random. Every single fall, you roll the dice, and no one announces when it will appear on Disney plus or iTunes until the day it does. It just drops. Right? super smart with a massive maximize this tickets,

Alex Ferrari 37:26
right? But the point is this that they'll eventually figure out the patterns.

Stephen Follows 37:30
I don't know, random through random like people like me to not be able to crack it. And if it's truly random, that's how people get so the slot machines in Vegas,

Alex Ferrari 37:37
I just don't think I just don't think that I just don't think that the theater Oh, first of all, that would never happen because that takes way too much intelligence and coordination. It's not a workable plan. But it's a fantastic idea. And secondly, that I feel that the plan that I just laid out being a 30 day window, is if you want to go see your your movie in a theater, it's gonna jam everybody in, in those first four weeks. The people who will wait, they'll wait, they're gonna wait a month, or they're gonna wait three months. Why? Because there's so much content. There are so many options. Now, when Batman came out in 1989, there wasn't as many options. everybody on the planet knew that movie was coming out and everybody went to go see it. In the theaters that were available.

Stephen Follows 38:29
You didn't have maybe I can't remember where we were with VHS and films on TV?

Alex Ferrari 38:33
Well, no, no, it was so VHS. I was working at the videos of my video store at the time. So videos, video stores were in full effect. blockbuster was probably a year, a year, year and a half away from being completely dominant. They weren't yet in 89, if I'm not mistaken, but they were still they were becoming a juggernaut. And then, so there was there were other options, but not the same as there is now there is just everything ever made accessible instantly. So the you know, like, Oh, I want to go see that movie. But all I gotta get it, I gotta get to it. And then a week goes by two weeks go by three weeks go by and you're like, I'll just wait three months when it comes out. And that's what happens. And because there's just too much other competition. So again, the the exhibitors are feeling that they're reacting to this, like they are the last Coca Cola in the desert, and they're just not. They're just not. And also and I have to say this one more time, because Please forgive me. I look first and foremost, I love the theater going experience now. I still think that the movie theater industry and the exhibitors in general have had a combative relationship with their customer base for decades, for decades, because we're the only guys in town go screw yourself. Oh $8 for a bucket of popcorn that cost me 15 cents. Yeah, that's just the way it is. What do you have an airplane hangar like where we go and we have no other choice. They, you know, why are you charging us $5 for this Coke, you know, if I literally walk outside, I can get a big gulp for $1.50 like, Why are you like it's just such a abuse. And then before was also just the experience, the sound wasn't always good, the projectionist wasn't always good, the floor sticky and stunk. They eventually figured out that like, ooh, but we got to make this look somewhat better. And now they've made it more of a high class scenario. But there's still a combative relationship with with the customer, because they're still charging obscene amounts of money for things that they shouldn't be charging more for. And unfortunately, that's their business model, because the business model is flawed to begin with. It's always the business model of a an airport. It's a business model from 1930. They're still working the same business model, as it did in 1931. chaplain was running around.

Stephen Follows 40:56
Well, here's the last stat that there was more on the survey that you should go and go to the article and have a read of it. But there was one last thing which speaks to this, which I think is perhaps the thing to really ponder. For me. It wasn't the headline that indiewire or whoever else pulled out of the, like, this is the big finding, it wasn't the sexiest, but I think it's one that reveals, really, is really food for thought. So as asking people day and date releasing, you know, what will that you know, goes and so it goes in theaters and it goes, wherever else it's going to go on the same day, in a would doing that increase overall income for the distributor, when compared to a theatrical, windowed release of you know, whether it is 30 6090 days or whatever. And the most people in home end, unsurprisingly, over half of them thought it would increase overall income, they would say that, and obviously the cinemas under under a third thought it would they would say that what was so interesting for me was that the sales and distribution people who are closest to it, the people that take $1, from every dollar, okay, and that was a 14. That's it. Yeah, basically, that's a Freudian slip, I meant a percentage of every dollar No, no, no, that's right. Absolutely. plus, plus the costs, obviously, and

Alex Ferrari 42:07
Then you owe them for the privilege of them taking the dollar.

Stephen Follows 42:10
Yeah, it's $1 for every dollar plus, plus tax costs. But yeah, the people who get a bit, you know, arguably, a sales distribution don't care where the money comes from, they care how much it is, at the end of day. They agree with the extra bit of exhibitors, they don't agree with homerun. And it might be that it's an evolutionary market, we haven't seen the right version of it, maybe it's something that will be ready in future, maybe this whole Corona thing will warm audiences up to it. But fundamentally, the people who you really would think he would have all the data and be would have no reason to be ideological, because they just want to increase their income. They actually agree with this, the theaters right now, that that wouldn't increase. So if you were to apply that controls and in a normal market, the argument would be that trolls would make more money if it was in theaters for a windowed period of time, and then go to pod. So that might underline the kind of arguments we're going to be having over the next few years. And it's going to take some big film some big studio to do day in day out and for it to make a fortune for the dam to burst the way that you know, Cameron, Bertha 3d or, or, you know, these low budget horror films that burst the dam of the idea that low budget film can really break out. So we've got to wait and see. I mean, it's right now it's all moot because there aren't films in theaters and there aren't going to be for a little bit. I'd be fascinated to see if it's so interesting how the the gods have given us the most theatrical filmmaker releasing a film in theaters the most traditional thing in July so you've got Nolan coming. That is such an interesting film well timed film it's almost a shame it's not the Irishman as well you know people who really know cinema other than just movies. We'll wait and see and then for me bond will be the big one bond will be the one that that one will be missy.

Alex Ferrari 44:02
Watson's one Wonder Woman as well.

Stephen Follows 44:04
Wonder Woman of course gay. I don't know what's going to happen and I know

Alex Ferrari 44:10
My feeling day on day and date releasing that makes sense for a smaller film. For an event film, it's stupid. It's independent.

Stephen Follows 44:20
How much is it? If it's 40 bucks for Dan date home because you're having your own premiere? Then I didn't they try that with a few films.

Alex Ferrari 44:27
They did but it didn't not with anything big now there's anything of any major magnitude. So I mean, look day in day okay, so yeah, okay. So if you're going to charge a higher like a substantially like pay per view, cost for day and date, then then maybe, and it's like for the week it's going to be 40 bucks at home. And then it drops to 20. Like it's so weird because it's like all about windowing. It's all about time. So, I still think that there is you can milk, the the audience if you want to look at it. This way you can, you can pull more revenue off of your film, if you do certain amount of windowing something, because the people who are going to go to the theater are going to go to the theater. The people who are going to wait for home video are going to wait for home video. It's just the nature of people. And some people will just get lost between all the other content that they have the world that they're dealing with, or so on and so forth. So if you're able to release a film, I still I still hold on to my thing and like James Bond, you give me a 30 day window. And people who want to go see bond in the future will you have four weeks to go see it, you'll go see it. And, and then and that they want to keep it in the theater after it's released. I've seen movie theater movies that are theatrically in theaters and are on home video and are doing well because of the Oscars or something like that, where they do a rerelease. And people still go because they want to go see it theatrically. So there's there's an option there. But I think day in day would only really work for more independent smaller budget films. I think that's a good strategy. But for these event films, they have to have some sort of windowing. And if you did a day in day out at a higher price point for s VOD, or for D VOD at home. That's that's now you're rolling the dice. Now we are in completely unchartered territory. And like if tomorrow you told me that Chris isn't Chris Nolan's film was 40 bucks. First of all, I don't want to watch it at home. I want to see an IMAX. You know, I don't want to watch it at home. I want to see it in IMAX. But if there's no other option, you know, okay, let's let's say Wonder Woman or black widow, let's say Black Widow. That's a good you know, it's a it's a Marvel movie. But it's not a massive Marvel movie. It's not like this big giant event. So but it's a it's a it's a standard Marvel movie. Would I pay 40 bucks to see that film? Probably not. I'll probably wait a little bit. Bond, though, on the other hand, because it's the last one with Daniel Craig and all that stuff. I might, I might spend the $40 to see that on opening night at home on my entertainment system. So we are in such unchartered waters, it's not even funny when nobody knows anything. All we're doing is speculating if Nolan's film does actually come out in July, which I still say is up in the air, personally, because we have no idea how this is going to the virus is going to react, you know, and if we have a second wave and all that kind of good stuff, if it actually comes out is not going to be the box office that we're accustomed to. Because not everyone's going to be able to go so I I don't know. I don't know. I really don't know. It's really interesting. We are sitting living an exciting time, sir. Exciting and terrifying times.

Stephen Follows 47:46
Also, you know, it's not like the previous model worked very well for indie filmmakers. So it's this not might shake out to be a better model, or it might be a different bad model. But I don't think this is a bad thing for indie films. Because it's like I said, it's the studios and exhibitors who really had the lock on the previous model. Well, maybe

Alex Ferrari 48:05
Go go go I'm sorry.

Stephen Follows 48:06
No, no, go on

Alex Ferrari 48:07
No, no, I think that there is potential for independent filmmakers in the theatrical space. After this goes off goes away because it's already starting to happen. There's only so many movies at the theaters are other the studios are actually releasing a year. And the the movie theaters are starting to need content. And theatrical is aware of place where independent filmmakers could make their bones specially locally, where you can, you know, rent out or partner or you know, book, five or seven local theaters that make it more of a regional release in your neighborhood in your in your town, and then you get the local press and build that up. I've seen multiple case studies of that working very, very well. And movie theaters are super happy because they're like, okay, should I wait for like, should I have your fresh brand new movie in my theater for Friday night? Or should I have Avengers? That's on week? 10? How am I going to make more money with you? Am I gonna make more money with Avengers. And if you're good as a filmmaker, filmmaker, as a marketer, and understand the business, you should be able to outperform Avengers for that weekend. So there is going to be some more potential for independent filmmakers. And just the world is changing so drastically that everybody's got to start looking four or five steps ahead around the corner and start figuring out where we're going to be and not where we've been, or where we are. Because we just don't know, man, this is so unprecedented. It's something that I mean, in my lifetime. I've never seen anything like this. I don't think in the history of the entire industry. Anything like this has ever happened.

Stephen Follows 49:42
I've been half joking with friends that I'm going to change my job title, from film data analyst to film data historian because much of what used to work will work and it might be that lots of it does. I'm not saying it's all gone, but it's most of the time you could say last year Next year is going to be like last year, give or take, right? trends are pretty slow. And you know, certainly in the big picture here, who knows?

Alex Ferrari 50:07
No, there's no way there's, I mean, look, I mean, it changes Well, now, it's literally changing week by week. That's how fast the consensus is changing within our industry. Before it was, you know, six months a year, you know, from one one film market to another film market, the whole world has already changed. I've seen that happen over the course of the last four or five years that I've been going to American film market, I've just been seeing how the industry is changing, and seeing what the tastes are like, and seeing how the distributors are losing their minds, because they don't know what's going to make money before they could count on DVD. Or they could count on theatrical, they could count on foreign sales, or they can count on something that was a cash cow. Now, there are no cash cows. Now, it's just like they it's just so watered down all over the place that now it's like, oh, Avon is the big thing. Well, that's this year. Who knows what happened with the advertisers, you know, go somewhere else? Well, then that's the end of Avon. So there's so much change. And that's why filmmakers now more than ever have to stay up on all the latest trends and what's going on. And listen to people like yourself, listen to this podcast, because we're trying to stay on the on the cutting edge of what's happening right now, and where things are going to be going in the near future, which is why I wrote my book. This is why I talk about all these things are happening with distributors, and how the business is changing dramatically. I said last year, that Rome is burning, and the walls are coming down around us. As far as film distribution is concerned, I did a whole episode called the death of traditional film distribution, which I still 110% believes the old way of doing things is dying, if not dead. And now the COVID is just throw this massive amounts of gasoline on that fire, that we now are like, oh, shoot, we don't even know what the hell is going on. like nobody knows what's going on right now. So as an independent filmmaker, it is It was tough before it's tougher now. But if you're smart, there's a lot of opportunity.

Stephen Follows 52:14
There's a lot up in the air and how it lands and who, who is going to be the first to figure this out the way that Blair Witch were the first people to figure out what a website can do for an indie. Right? You know, like that, there's a lot of things like that where you get one shot to do that thing. And there's, we don't know what those things are, if you can think of that thing is if you can get in there at the right time, if you can do the right deal, come up with the right product, then there's a lot of opportunity. It's just and it will be obvious afterwards, and it will be too late afterwards. Right now, everything's up in the air. And it's interesting to see where it lands.

Alex Ferrari 52:46
Absolutely, absolutely. But so for everyone listening, we're going to have a link to Stephens findings on his website. And I'll have it in the show notes, as well. So I'll give you that link a little bit in a few minutes. But it will be at the show notes. So you can get a check, hit check that article out and then check out everything Stephen does. Because if you need to know about film data and understand where the industry has been, where it is and where it's going, there is actually nobody else on the planet who does what he does. There's just says it, and no one does it as good as you do. Steven, well, that should be a warning to me, right? Like, that's not a compliment. Well, I look and I always tell people this is like there's there's basically one man who could walk one film director in Hollywood, who could walk into a studio and tell and say these words and actually get what they need. I need $500 million to develop new technology to launch a brand new IP that is not pre existing anywhere. Don't have any major stars in it. And we really don't know how it's going to work out at the end. And I'm going to need about five to seven years to develop this. And if people who have that don't haven't figured it out yet, that's James Cameron. There. Spielberg doesn't get that. Scorsese doesn't get that Fincher doesn't get that I don't even think Nolan gets that. And Nolan is close to Kubrick as we have right now, as as artistically and also in absolute power at Warner Brothers. I mean, he crashed at 747 real lives I mean, that is that's Kubrick level crap

Stephen Follows 54:32
No he's got another level to go where he's going to start doing that but on the reverse angle to that the actors we've got the right expression but off camera when he starts crashing seven four sevens off camera so the reaction is for that,

Alex Ferrari 54:48
No, no, absolutely. But but there's so don't feel bad if you're the only person that that's a very blue ocean, sir. That's a you. You have cornered your niche, sir.

Stephen Follows 54:59
It's not 500 millionaire, I can tell you, anyway, listen to back and let me give me that more. So I can try and beat Arby's record. Just don't tell him,

Alex Ferrari 55:07
Obviously we'll keep it, we'll keep it between you and me. I won't tell anybody. He's a nice guy, but I don't want to push him off the edge. You know, like this is probably important to him. But Steven, thank you so much for doing the work you do, brother, man, thank you for coming on the show and discussing this very timely issue with with the tribe today. So thanks again, brother.

Stephen Follows 55:26
Right back at you. Thank you for all the work you're doing. Thank you for inviting me on and getting this podcast out so quickly, so that everyone can can share in this it's interesting times to be alive, interesting times to be a filmmaker. If you have a thought go to the article, add a comment at the bottom. And yeah, as always, thanks for supporting the work.

Alex Ferrari 55:43
I want to thank Stephen not only for this article and coming back on the show to discuss this very important topic about Hollywood and post COVID-19 and how it's affecting independent filmmakers, specifically, but also just thank you, Steven, for all the insane work you do. Like I said in the show and the interview, there is nobody else that does what you do. You are a unicorn in our industry, and all the insights that you get from digging in. Just diving deep into the numbers really helps us all out a lot. And thank you, Steven for doing that work because God knows I can't do it. Now if you want to read the original article that Steven wrote, as well as all these amazing articles and insights to offer on his website, just head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/391 for the show notes. Thank you so much for listening, guys. I hope this has helped you on your film making path. Stay safe out there. And as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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IFH 167: How to Make $3 Million Selling Your Indie Film on iTunes & Amazon w/ Range 15

Right-click here to download the MP3

We all hear that self-distribution is the future for indie filmmakers. Build an audience and make a film for that audience but finding real-world examples of a “true” indie film breaking $1,000,000+ using that model is tough. Well, I’m happy to introduce you to Range 15, the indie film that not only made $1 million selling on iTunes and Amazon but generated $3 million+ to date, and growing.

Today’s guest is Nick Palmisciano, one of the writers, producers, and actors in Range 15. His story of how this crazy indie film came into the world is truly inspiring.

Nick and Mat Best, his co-producer/writer/lead of Range 15, had a crazy idea to create a feature film for the communities they had built up over the years. They are both military veterans and own the military-themed apparel companies Ranger Rp and Article 15 Clothing, respectively.

They wanted to make a film that the military community would enjoy and they did just that.

They crowdfunded $1.2 million to make the film. Their goal was $350,000 but they made that in the first 30 hours of the campaign. With the extra cash, they were able to get William Shatner, Keith David, Sean Astin, and Danny Trejo to join the cast.

As you can tell from the videos above Nick and the gang don’t take themselves too seriously but what is serious is how much dinero Range 15 has pulled in. For an indie film with no studio and no distributor to break $3 million bucks is a miracle. My hats off to the cast and crew of Range 15.

Nick and the boys also produced a remarkable documentary on the making of Range 15 called Not a War Story. It’s starting to get buzz around Hollywood.

Enjoy my inspirational conversation with Nick Palmisciano.

Alex Ferrari 1:09
Guys, I am so excited to bring you this episode. I've been chasing this guest for almost a year now. And it was just we couldn't get our schedules, right. And it was always always something going on. It was just really tough, tough to just nail down a time that we both could do this. And we finally did it. As promised in Episode 166. Today's guest is Nick Palmisciano, from the indie film miracle called range 15. Now Nick and his compadres put together $1,000,001.2 million film that went on. And by the way, they crowdfunded that $1.2 million. And we're going to discuss how he did that, because he's never made a movie, nor anybody on the team, really, that put this whole thing together. I've never made a movie acted in a movie or written a movie. And they decided just to go out there and do it, raise the money and go, and they crowdfunded that budget. And then not only did they crowdfund the budget, and they self distributed it through distributor, and they went straight to iTunes, and Amazon. And they have, according to Nick have made over $3 million to date and counting. And that's only been around a year old, that is in sane, in sane for a horror comedy zombie flick, as I quote Nick to go on, and not only make that amount of money, they were able to break the top 10 of I have all of iTunes competing with the studios. And they actually got all the way to number two, on iTunes. Only Angry Birds beat them. I mean, come on, seriously, you can beat Angry Birds, but and I know that will drive Nick crazy for the rest of his life. But they got to number two. And the studio's even started taking notice like Who are these guys? How do they get up there? What is this movie, because the top 10 of iTunes is generally, you know, held for the studios 400 $200 million movies. But these guys were beating Batman vs. Superman, and just big monster studio temple films. And I wanted to get him on the show so he could share his story on how the whole project came together, how they crowdfunded it, their journeys through Hollywood, because they're not from Hollywood, in the distribution game and the crazy stories and meetings they had with distributors, and then finally getting to distributor and getting their movies through distributor to iTunes, and Amazon, and what both of those platforms did for the film and continues to do for the film. And also the ancillary products that they've sold, t shirts, blu rays, DVDs, posters, and so on. And guys, I mean, they just an inspiration, Nick and the team that they put together range 15 is an inspiration of understanding Your market and making a product for that market or that community, as opposed to making a movie, then going out and trying to find a community to sell it to, or a customer to sell it to, they knew their customer and built something for their customers. This is business 101. So, without any further ado, I want you to enjoy and please take notes and get ready to be inspired by Nick from range 15. I like to welcome to the show Nick Palmisciano how about Palmisciano?

Nick Palmisciano 5:33
Palmisciano

Alex Ferrari 5:34
Palmisciano. Thank you, brother. Appreciate it. So thanks, man, we've been we've been playing phone tag or email tag for for a long time now probably months, if not almost a year. So I really appreciate us finally connecting and having you on the show, man.

Nick Palmisciano 5:49
Yeah, man. It's my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 5:51
So Nick, tell me a little bit about yourself and your background. So the audience kind of gets to know who you are and where you came from.

Nick Palmisciano 5:57
Sure. kind of grew up all over the place. My dad was a Vietnam veteran that ended up working for for the military as a as a do D civilian for a long time. So grew up in Italy, and kind of have been just about everywhere at this point. When went to high school in Massachusetts, so I'm a diehard Patriots fan. So apologize for all of you out there that you know hate us.

Alex Ferrari 6:21
And I'm a very I'm a very sad dolphin fan. So I've been sad for 30 it's been it's been been sad for about 30 odd years.

Nick Palmisciano 6:31
Well, you guys used to kill us when I was a kid. So I refreshing to be on the other side when Marina was around. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 6:39
Okay. Anyway, Marina was around, we'll keep talking.

Nick Palmisciano 6:43
I went to West Point. And after West Point, became an infantry officer, which I, which I did for six years, got out of the military, went to grad school, got the corporate job, and felt very empty, and started a little hobby on the side just to kind of keep my connection to the to the military community. And that was the apparel company that I now run called Ranger up. And it's been 11 years now, believe it or not, since I started that hobby, and we've been able to do incredible things. Since then, most recently, we teamed up with our friends at article 15 and other military clothing company and we launched a movie called range 15.

Alex Ferrari 7:28
And we'll get and we'll get all into range 15 in a little bit.

Nick Palmisciano 7:33
And then after that, a documentary about that film called not a war story. And so that is the 62nd version of my life is a lot lots of travel, joining the military, got a job and then started a hobby that became my real life's work.

Alex Ferrari 7:52
No, No, no Ranger up is is not like a little company anymore. Right? I mean, this is substantial apparel company.

Nick Palmisciano 8:00
Yeah, yeah. It's, you know, we've we've, I think, I think we crossed like, we crossed seven figures, like, seven years ago. Yeah, we're, yeah, we're pretty, you know, we're we saw a lot of T shirts.

Alex Ferrari 8:13
That's awesome.

Nick Palmisciano 8:15
Now, it's weird because people don't realize how many t shirts you have to sell.

Alex Ferrari 8:21
I think it's a seven figure number. No, it's a massive.

Nick Palmisciano 8:24
I wish we were selling like battleships. You know, we sold one battleship we're good for the year would be preferable?

Alex Ferrari 8:31
Exactly. Now, tell me the story of how and why you launched a YouTube channel.

Nick Palmisciano 8:38
Yeah, so, you know, I think people that are starting companies now are growing up in a world where Facebook and social media and Instagram and all those things are just the norm. When when I started Ranger up Facebook existed, but you could only the only reason I had Facebook was because I went to grad school at Duke University.

Alex Ferrari 9:05
Right? It was college only

Nick Palmisciano 9:06
I remember that. It wasn't even college only at that point. It was like a like, you know, quote, unquote, elite colleges. You know, I started with Harvard. And they added a couple more than they added a couple more. So, you know, almost nobody was on Facebook, certainly nobody that, you know, was super interested in what we were doing. So I wrote a lot of articles for blogs and did a lot of stuff that was very popular back in the day, you know, kind of these different networking sites. And then, you know, Facebook started started becoming a thing. And I was like, Oh, it's, you know, kind of makes it easy to share content. And this was like 2007 2008 and I had been making videos like my entire life, you know, I made I made funny videos with you know, two VCRs when I was in the military, you know, when I was a kid I made, you know, highlight videos and joke videos, you know, for, like my wrestling team. So I've always kind of had a passion for film. And, and even when I was at Duke University, we had a, we had a show called fuchal vision that was very similar to like a, like a really bad Saturday Night Live focused on, you know, Duke life. And I spent, like, more time doing that than I did, you know, academics, and I'm not, I'm not saying that as like a joke. I mean, I really spent more time, you know, in the, in the editing room, right, and I did working on class. So, you know, I've always had a passion for film, and all of a sudden, I had this medium where, you know, we could come up with content, and you could easily share it, and you know, and back then, when everyone, all this kind of stuff started, you know, if you if you got a couple 1000 views, that was huge, like, wow, you know, a few 1000 people watching my stuff,

Alex Ferrari 10:57
That's huge. It's like, everyone think looks at like, Oh, I gotta, you have to get a million views, like 2000 people is a lot of

Nick Palmisciano 11:04
A lot, right? when you really think about it. And so, you know, back then it was just like, well, this is a cool way to kind of, you know, do something fun, engage, you know, with, with like minded people, and, and no one else was doing this, like, you know, we were the first military apparel brand, you know, before us, you you could buy like skulls, shirts, and, you know, skulls with snakes wrapped around from above, and that kind of stuff, but nobody had made it cool. And so, you know, we created this whole industry. Now, there's 30 something brands in the industry. And then we were the first to start creating content, you know, and we didn't come out with tough guy content, it was always funny, you know, it was like, I've always felt that the toughest dudes never take themselves too seriously. You know, so like, if you've got a bunch of military guys, and they're just trying to tell you how tough they are. Like, they probably aren't that tough. The dudes that I knew that were truly bad asses. Were never sitting around talking about themselves, they were talking about other things that had nothing to do with the military, or they were talking about training, they were never just sitting around going. I'm the baddest, so I'm so good. And so good. You know. And so, you know, when people do that, I kind of instantly start raising an eyebrow, when somebody's spending a lot of time telling you how tough they are. So we never wanted to do that. We we just created a lot of funny stuff. And like, one of the first videos we did was called the Ranger up workout video where it starts off and you think it's gonna be serious. And then, you know, everybody's in super short shorts. And it's, it's not it's not remotely a workout. And, you know, it became like, a huge success, you know, you know, at the time, big numbers, you know, hundreds of 1000s of people watched it. And

Alex Ferrari 12:57
That's still big numbers, by the way, I would kill for that.

Nick Palmisciano 13:02
Not Not as much anymore. But back then it was huge. Right? But yeah, it was wild. So and so, you know, we kind of started committing to doing this more and more, and we got better at it better at creating content, you know, start investing in equipment. And, you know, fast forward 11 years, you know, we're coming off making two movies with our with our buddies from article 15. So it's been a wild ride.

Alex Ferrari 13:25
So and then how So basically, you It's okay, for the audience to understand you understood who your market was, the niche that you were trying to go after, then you started creating content for that niche and building that audience up. And I'm assuming that was to help you connect with your audience and sell more product.

Nick Palmisciano 13:44
Yes, so I've got a weird I've got a weird outlook on all this stuff. And, you know, I don't want to try to I'm not trying to sound like a holier than thou dude or anything. Sure. I do not. I don't love apparel. Like I have no passion for apparel. I didn't want to sell t shirts, because I just love t shirts. Right? I really like the community. And when I left the military, it was very bittersweet. You know, there's never, I don't know anybody that that is worthwhile that left the military and was like, just 100%. Yes. I'm so glad I'm out. Almost always. It's I'm glad I'm out for these reasons. But I missed the guys. I missed the camaraderie and I missed the mission. And I fell into that category. And so I wanted to connect. And so yeah, I created, I created t shirts, I wrote articles. And I tried to build a community where there wasn't one before. You know, when you get out, you're kind of isolated. You go from having all of these friends around you with shared values to you go back to wherever it is you're from, or you go to some new place and now you're alone. And a lot of people have problems with that. And so I wanted to build a virtual community with Ranger to just keep people connected, like in the back of my head, I was like, Yeah, yeah, I might make a few few 1000 extra bucks doing this. But, you know, I had a big time corporate job. And, you know, there was no real thought to leaving that in order to sell t shirts.

Alex Ferrari 15:17
It doesn't make a lot. It doesn't make a lot of sense.

Nick Palmisciano 15:20
Yeah. And I'll be honest, you know, when I decided to do it, there is nobody. I mean, like, literally no one in my life, it didn't look at me like I was an idiot.

Alex Ferrari 15:29
Right? Right. That's generally the I don't know, I would agree. If you if I, if you were in my life, and you said the same thing. I'm like, maybe. But you know, it's still it's still a pretty big risk, but a pretty big jump.

Nick Palmisciano 15:44
Yeah, it was, it was it was kind of a crazy moment. And I did it. I did it because I found out I was getting promoted. Oh, and the rate, and the raise was going to be about 100k. And, and I was, you know, at that point, barely over 30. Right. And so I'm sitting there going, like, if I take this job, I will never get out, I will never do anything else. Because the money is going to be too good. I will never be able to take the risk. And so I found out on a Friday that, that I was getting promoted and gave my notice on a Monday after thinking about it for the weekend.

Alex Ferrari 16:23
That's that's pretty amazing. And so basically your audience, well, let me ask you, how important is your audience, the building been to your business as a general statement? incredibly important,

Nick Palmisciano 16:35
You know, that? My audience is my business? You know, there's there is nothing else like yeah, there. You know, there are people you know, that buy our stuff that have no idea who we are, you know, don't don't really care about the values we have they just like the shirt like, absolutely, and that you're always gonna have that. But you know, I think the majority of our customers, you know, buy from us not just because we sell a quality product, but because they believe in the ethos,

Alex Ferrari 17:01
Right of what your of your community have, basically, the more the values of your community that you've built up. Yes, absolutely. So then what made you decide to finally go into the crazy world of full blown filmmaking and make a feature film?

Nick Palmisciano 17:17
So really, really, interestingly, you know, I've, in 2009, I did my first real interview with Ranger up. And in that interview, which, which went to a Fort Bragg newspaper, I said, you know, someday I want to, I want this company to be big enough, where we can do feature film and affect policy. And get laughed at a lot for that, like, I actually saved some of the comments, because, you know, people were like, stick to T shirts, you know, like, Are you kidding me? You're gonna do movies, like, how are you going to do that? You know. And so then fast forward, you know, to 2014 and Jared Taylor, from article 15, called me up and was like, Hey, man, like, I'm working on this project, like, I had this idea about doing a movie. And I want you to see the script and tell me what you think. So he sends me the script. And I thought, I thought it was a great concept. I was laughing the whole time. And I made a bunch of notes. Like, I probably sent him, you know, four pages of like, alternative dialogue or ideas or whatever. And so, you know, and he calls me He's like, so you know, so You liked it? I was like, Yeah, man, this is really cool. Like, if, you know, if you make this a little more military here, and that, you know, and, like, this could be really, really funny. And he was like, how about we do this together? I was like, yep, let's do it. Amen. And so at that point, you know, Jared, and I became the, you know, we started formed a company to do this film, and, you know, became the CO managers of, of, you know, creating range. 15. And, man, I, like neither of us really had any idea what we were signing up for. Hardest, the hardest professional accomplishment of my entire life. Oh, yeah. That was dragging this movie across the finish line.

Alex Ferrari 19:22
Oh, yeah.

Nick Palmisciano 19:24
And, you know, we thought the hard part was going to be the script, you know, because, you know, the script took months and months and months to get right. And we were, you know, we argued about it and, you know, knockout drag out fights, and you know, but ultimately, we ended up with a better script as a result. And we were fortunate I didn't realize how many people in Hollywood actually end up kind of, you know, breaking up as friends over Oh, creative.

Alex Ferrari 19:51
Every I mean, I've had it's happened to me it's happened multiple people I know it that's generally the way it goes.

Nick Palmisciano 19:58
Yeah, it's interesting because In the military, we're so used to like the the culture of the military is, you're supposed to fight the fight, like if you believe something, you're supposed to fight it. And then once it's resolved, whether you got your way or not, everybody's supposed to drop it like that is the culture that we have where it makes sense. You know, if if you don't fight the fight, you're not you're doing a disservice to the men, you're doing a disservice to yourself. And you're, you know, and you're, you're being cowardly. But, you know, but once it's decided, you either get on board or you go away. And so that's just so you know, we'd have these fights, and then at the end of the night, you know, we'd be sharing a beer or something like it never, it never stayed. And so that was one of the things our director found really interesting is that we would have these, like, you know, pretty aggressive conversations, like, everybody would be fine. And he just did, he kept waiting for the ball to drop,

Alex Ferrari 20:56
Right here, because that's, that's our training, and our, in our business. That's exactly when you see stuff like that I'm like, this is gonna blow up at any moment. And the whole thing's gonna come crashing to a halt or down, and we're not gonna be able to finish this movie.

Nick Palmisciano 21:08
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, it was just, it's just the way that we were all used to kind of acting that, you know, it worked out. So we thought the script was going to be the challenge. And then we thought, you know, raising money was going to be the challenge. You know, we couldn't get money from Hollywood, for obvious reasons. You know, like, we had, you know, none of us had made a movie, none of us had written a movie was had acted in a film, you know, there were, there was no reason for Hollywood to give us money. So we went to Indiegogo. And, you know, we were just hoping, hey, if we got 350k, then, you know, Ranger up an article 15 could kick in another, you know, a few $100,000. And we could get, we get make a small, you know, half $1,000,000.06 $100,000 movie, and it'd be cool. And then, you know, we ended up raising, you know, just shy of 1.2 million on Indiegogo. And I was able to bring in a bunch of other sponsors.

Alex Ferrari 22:05
Yeah, can you? Let me let me stop you there for a second. All right. So you crowd. So when you start a crowdfunding on Indiegogo, you basically went out to your audience, and then you told your audience, hey, this is what we're doing. And they responded, much better than you can ever have dreamed of.

Nick Palmisciano 22:21
Yeah, I mean, I did think we were going to get the 350 I thought we were going to grind it out and get to 350. But not in my wildest dreams that I think we were gonna cross 350 in 30 hours. That's insane. You know, it was insane.

Alex Ferrari 22:35
That was the power of your audience. That was the power of the connection you made with your audience.

Nick Palmisciano 22:39
Yeah, you know, it's, we, it was very, we planned that, you know, surgically, like how we executed that. You know, we, first of all, you know, we had just watched super troopers to raise 4 million. Right. And we, we modeled a lot of what we did after super troopers, you know, because they had, they had created an effective model for doing that. And then, you know, Jared, and I reached out to lots of different, you know, supportive websites, supportive audiences. So it wasn't just, it wasn't just Ranger up in Article 15. It was also the ancillary characters in both of our companies. So Matt best on his social media, Tim Kennedy on his social media, but then also, we were able to enlist, you know, friends like other other personalities, you know, military supporters, Medal of Honor recipients, and we had it all staggered, so that, you know, every, you know, six hours, somebody new was that had a large audience was posting it, which kept it very fresh on Facebook. And so, you know, and then then it kind of took on a life of its own, you know, it went over, went over 350. And then Marcus Luttrell, you know, I had a, I had a small relationship with Marcus Luttrell, from a previous event, you know, we weren't tight, tight or anything like that. But I had his contact info. I reached out to him, you know, asked if he might be interested. And he did a little video that said, Hey, you know, if I'll be in this movie, if it goes over, you know, a half a million dollars, and he posts that video. And then like, a day later, we're over a half a million dollars and, like, it just it just kept going and going and going. And that was when we started. were like, Oh, we have a real movie now. And our director said, Look, you know, you you guys know have the budget to actually bring in some actors, right? You know, not just not just you know, you guys and you know, in some some You know, working actors and I say that with absolutely no disrespect to shares, a lot of times working actors are truly the best actors.

Alex Ferrari 25:07
Marquee, marquee value actors and other organs.

Nick Palmisciano 25:09
Yeah. And so I started writing letters, in particular, like I really wanted William Shatner to be in the movie. I just, I'm not, it's not like I'm a huge Trekkie, or anything like that, but I really loved him as, as Denny crane in Boston Legal. Yeah. And he quietly does a lot of stuff for the military, he doesn't make a huge deal out of it. And I just thought it would be absolutely epic, if we got William Shatner. So we all had, we all had kind of like our dream list. You know, everybody wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger, everybody wanted Stallone, you know, that would have been amazing. But those guys are, they're a little busy.

Alex Ferrari 25:49
Just a little bit a little bit, you know,

Nick Palmisciano 25:51
But but even Shatner, we didn't think we're gonna get them. And he, you know, he got the letter that I wrote him and he said, you know, no one's ever sent me a letter like this before. And, you know, I might, I might be making a mistake, but I'm going to do it. And he came out and he did it. And once he signed on, it was it was magical. So as soon as everybody else was interested, you know, then it was a real movie. And nobody, nobody wants to be the first of the party. That's the way it works. And the Tao No, because, you know, if you've seen the movie, you know, we really went for it. It's dark. It's very inappropriate. So, you know, people were worried about their careers, you know? And, you know, so I want to say, I want to say we got, let's see, we started with William Shatner, then Randy Couture, who's a friend said he would do it. And then Keith, David signed on love Keith, man. And then Sean Ashton actually called us. So imagine, you know, imagine your art director and a, your phone rings, and it's like, Hey, this is Sean asked, and I was wondering if I could be in your movie. And like, you know, Ross was like, you know, sure, like, call my call. But I'm pretty sure the guys are gonna be thrilled. Let me check with the guys. And so, Jared and I on a conference call, and he's like, hey, Sean asked and just called and he wants to be in the movie. And I was like, samwise gamgee. Don't ask, like, Is there a new like, up and coming? Sean asked? No, no. samwise samwise? gamgee? Like, yeah. And that was that right there is when I became a hero to my children. Yeah. There's a Lord of the Rings generation they're not Star Wars kids or Lord of the Rings kids, that Sam was in the in the movie. So and then then it just got crazy man, like, people couldn't believe the cast we had, we couldn't believe the cast we had.

Alex Ferrari 28:02
Yep. And entities in a decent budget, a very decent budget, I mean, budget for what you guys were trying to do, because you guys that you guys went for it. We went for what but you did a fantastic job for what for the budget you had, it looks awesome.

Nick Palmisciano 28:15
Look, really the budget we had and the time we had, I'm very proud of what we pulled off.

Alex Ferrari 28:21
Now. Can you talk? Can you talk a little bit about how the sponsors worked? And how did you incorporate them in your information.

Nick Palmisciano 28:28
So I went to sponsors exclusively that had ties to the military community, or it supported the military community in the past. So you know, instead of going for, you know, kind of big marquee names, you know, for like, the energy drink, you know, we went we went to kill cliff, which is, which is, you know, they're a sizable company now. But they're, you know, they're, they're a veteran owned navy seal, owned company. You know, that, it makes a really great energy drink. And, you know, it's, it's designed for, like, the CrossFit kind of athletic community, it's not as heavy like, you know, if you drink a Red Bull or something, sometimes that can be on the heavier side, you know, you don't want to drink a Red Bull and then sprint. Right. And I love Red Bull, but, you know, you just, there's certain things you do and don't do with it. Whereas, you know, with kill cliff, it's, you can, you can drink it and then work out. Gotcha. And, and so, you know, ask them if they want it to be involved, and they surprise the hell out of me by coming in big they wanted to. They wanted to come in and, like, be the cure. That was like, that's awesome.

Alex Ferrari 29:39
Okay, so this was product. So this was product placement. Yeah. Nice. Okay. So you created a, you went after your, again, so I'm just trying to break it down for the audience. You have an audience that you know, you're your niche audience. You go after niche companies within that audience or that community. Have those guys proud. placed inside your movie, which helps raise the budget of the movie, obviously and give you a better product. Yes, that's, it's, it's, it's it's so amazing yet, it seems like it's it's genius, but it seems so logical.

Nick Palmisciano 30:13
Yeah, you know, it's just the it's not even, I don't even want to take credit for having some kind of strategic magical vision. It's more like, these are the people we like and trust, you know, North American rescue is, you know, is a veteran owned company that also happens to be, you know, the largest supplier of like emergency metal medical products, you know, in the world, like Gnar saves more lives than any other company. So, like, if you are carrying a tourniquet, you know, odds are, you're carrying a cat tourniquet made by Gnar if you're carrying, you know, if you have like a nice, you know, emergency health kit in your car, or in your house, it's probably made by Gnar gotcha. These these guys came in, you know, and they wanted to, you know, they wanted to get the cat tourniquet placed in a few places. So like when, you know, the Medal of Honor recipient, Leroy Petri, you know, he had actually lost his arm in combat, and was saved by someone applying a cat tourniquet to him. So in the movie as a joke, like we blow off the other arm. Yeah, like, you know, with a terrible pr stetic like it's so over the top. But, and then we, you know, he gets a cat tourniquet applied to it by another Medal of Honor recipient, right. Which is also crazy. We had you know, we this is the most decorated movie ever made. And it's a zombie flick right? There's no movie history itself that has had more military muscle in it than then this film.

Alex Ferrari 31:48
Yeah. Wow. That's, that's insane. Now, so yeah, you get the movies done. you've edited the movie. It's all finished. Now you're like, Okay, we're gonna try to sell this thing. Well, what do you do you go to obviously traditional distributors. But what was your experience talking to traditional experience distributors? I was not good. It was not good. Can you tell me like an example of one conversation?

Nick Palmisciano 32:11
Just Yes. So people my favorite my favorite conversation was that these guys wanted us to reshoot the movie with john Claude Van Damme. Okay. He's like this. This is a this is a funny concept. They wanted to replace Matt best. Right?

Alex Ferrari 32:31
Who's the star? Who's the star of the film? Right? with john Claude Van Damme, but you've already have a movie. It's done have a movie. We have a movie. It's done. But they're like, no, let's reshoot the whole thing. Let's reshoot it with john Claude Van Damme. Did they offer you money for this?

Nick Palmisciano 32:45
Yes. Okay. And it was it was just comical. And then another another one wanted us they wanted to buy the film. I want to say it was like 350k or 500k or something. And and then they wanted to put us into another movie. As like the the they were a small firm so it wasn't like we were going to they sound like they wanted to buy it and put us in Transformers they wanted to buy buy put us in like an even worse be flick right? Oh, that was completely you know uncreative. But behind a known act or not a big actor, but like somebody that you marquee value that you Yeah, that has some marquee value. Yeah. And, you know, we were like, no, like we can, we can sell, we can sell the movie for more than a half a million dollars just by putting it on iTunes and Amazon. And they're like, no, like, everybody thinks that, but it doesn't work that way. And we're like, No, we like we know our community like we want 100% we'll, we'll get that back. And basically, everybody just kind of everybody just acted like we got really lucky. And maybe we did. You know, maybe we did get a little lucky. I mean, I understand that a lot of people that really know what they're doing. have been have failed at this. But I think one of the things that that people do, I think out of order, is they try to create a film and find an audience. Right. Whereas we we had an audience and created a film for that audience. I think I think there's a big difference. That's the future. Now.

Alex Ferrari 34:32
I think that's the future of independent filmmaking in general.

Nick Palmisciano 34:34
100% agree, I think I think we just gave everybody the blueprint for how you should make an independent film. Not that there aren't other ways to do it. I'm definitely not I'm not trying to pretend like we came up with some amazing thing. But hey, again, who are we like we're no one know how, you know? We are not household names. No one, you know, no one knows who we are. If you're not in the military community, but I can tell you that we're the only independent film in history to ever top the charts on Amazon, and that's from Amazon.

Alex Ferrari 35:09
So yeah, so before we get to that, what what made you want to go with distributor? Because distributor was the final company you decide to self distributor film with, right? Yeah,

Nick Palmisciano 35:17
Yeah. Talk to a lot of different people, you know, get a lot of different feedback. And, you know, there's some other Okay, companies out there, but Nick Saurus gave me some, some pretty significant time, he's their president, because he just kind of, he just told me his story. He's like, Look, man, like, I made film, you know, I made film, I made successful film. And somehow, like, I would make a film, and it would make a lot of money. And I would get none of that money. Over and over again, like, he's, like, I ended up upside down on, you know, half my films, and, you know, other films, I made, like, a little bit of money. And but but there was all this money being made. And I was sitting there going, like, what's, you know, what is the motivation to do something only to like, hand it over to other people who are going to, you know, take all of the all of the profit from it, and throw scraps at me, like, that's not how you get independent filmmakers, you know, to thrive, you know, and, you know, and Nick and I have had a lot of, you know, conversations about this, you know, China now pretty much phones, the film industry. And I'm not saying that in a bad way, like, you know, okay, Business is business and they, you know, they are, these multinational companies have bought most of the major production houses in Hollywood now. But the result of that is, they are going to build film that is going to sell on an international scale, not film that is necessarily interesting or good. You know, like, you're gonna make trend transformers and Fast and the Furious movies forever. And there's nothing wrong with those. I'm not sitting here judging like, you know, Fast and the Furious eight, like, you know, watch it. No, and it's entertaining. But I don't want to just watch Fast and the Furious eight. And I feel like that is the direction we're heading. And I think if I think there are going to be very few production company, major production company films that are interesting. In the future, the trend is definitely more towards, you know, very cliche, action packed films.

Alex Ferrari 37:35
Yeah, for every baby driver. There's 45 transformers. Yes, basically. Yes. You know, and I haven't seen baby driver yet. But I hear it's, I can't believe that made in the studio system. You know, it's like, oh, my God, how did that happen? But yeah, atomic blonde is another one. I can't wait to see.

Nick Palmisciano 37:53
Yeah. You know, it was great was a Ex Machina. That was a great film.

Alex Ferrari 37:58
Oh, yeah. Exactly like that.

Nick Palmisciano 38:00
Yeah, that was a great film. And, you know, I don't think that ever saw theaters, or if it did, like, I didn't know about it.

Alex Ferrari 38:06
It did, but it was very small. Very small. Yeah.

Nick Palmisciano 38:09
Yeah, I found that on. I found it on iTunes. It was like I'm flicking through things, like, want to watch a new movie. And it was like, Oh, what's this? And I stared at it for like three weeks. It was like, Man, this thing is not falling off the, you know, the top charts. Like I finally bought it. I was like, Man, this movie is awesome. Yeah. And so you know, but how do you how do you get those films out there? If you're somebody like us, like, you know, you almost couldn't do it before. And so, you know, with the stripper, I felt like I had a guy that actually cared about, you know, he's not going to do the work for me. I mean, at the end of the day, like, doesn't matter what your distribution is, like, if your movie sucks, you're not going to, you're not going to get anywhere. If you don't have an audience, you're not going to get anywhere. But I felt like he gave me a very fair way of putting my film in a situation where it could succeed. And that's the most that you can hope for, you know, from a distributor. Right? So, yeah, so, you know, I had no issues with distributor, they did a great job with everything, you know, they, anytime there was any kind of issue, they addressed it immediately, like they raised issues to me to like, improve the way that our our film was going to be viewed. Like it was a great experience. I'll definitely use them again.

Alex Ferrari 39:23
Now with Can you talk a little bit about the release strategy of interesting like, did you go all through iTunes? First to kind of get the ranking up? How can you can you talk a little bit about that?

Nick Palmisciano 39:34
No, we, we did iTunes and Amazon at the same time, okay. But we, frankly, we just didn't know what we were doing. So we felt we felt like iTunes was going to be bigger. Because, you know, an iTunes also shares more of the profit with you. You know, like, I've had iTunes forever and so you know, at And as has Jared, and so there's a little bit of a bias to what you know. And so we've we thought, you know, iTunes is going to be the bigger one. And Amazon would be like a distant second. And actually, it was quite the opposite. And so I mean, iTunes did very well, don't get me wrong, I think I iTunes the first week beat Amazon. But that was the last time it beat Amazon. And helium, the different. Yeah, the difference there is the platform. So with Apple, we were just in, we were in also ran, like, we were just, we were another product in their system. You know, even even though we went all the way to number two on the charts, and we lost the Angry Birds on iTunes, which they supported big time, because they're, you know, they're film. But even though we, even though we were number two on the charts for 11 days, nobody from Apple ever reached out and said, you know, can we, you know, can we get some graphics? Could we do can, you know, can we pump this hope? Nobody pumped it, nobody pushed it, nobody did anything like it went, it went to number two, sat there for over a week. And then, you know, started coming down. And, you know, it stayed in the top 25 for, you know, I think a month and a half. And, I mean, like it did very well, but like there was no, there was no like movement, you know, we just kind of got ignored, and that's fine. Like, I'm not there's no judgment there. But with with Amazon, actually had I had breakfast with two Amazon executives, when I was out there for not a war story talking about, you know, our, you know, how we're going to launch that with Amazon as well at some point. But they were hilarious. They're like, Look, man, here's the truth. We woke up, we checked the dailies, and we see this movie, range 15 that's, you know, over, you know, Batman versus Superman and over divergence, and we called it because we thought we either got hacked, there was or there was some error in our system that needed to be fixed. And, and then when we realized, you know, oh, this is real, like, people are actually buying this movie. They, you know, they had low man on the totem pole, go and Google it and figure out who the hell we were. Because they had no idea who we were. And then they reached out to us. So this is all within 24 hours of being on their site. And he reached out to us and it was their executive vice president, it wasn't just somebody. And he was like, Look, you know, you've got lightning in a bottle here. Like, we want to push it, here's what we need. And they gave us a bunch of sizes that they needed to explore. And, you know, we made those graphics within an hour had the backs them, the next day, they were up on the site, and you know, and they're still talking to us, like, Oh, you know, hey, we've got Veterans Day coming up, we could do this, that or the other thing, like those guys know how to Amazon knows how to sell better than anybody on the planet. Ever. That's true, that is very true. But everybody else is in distance second. So these guys, you know, they have a product, people want it, they want more people to buy it. And they're they're incredibly easy to work with. So

Alex Ferrari 43:31
So then so a lot of the a lot of the traction you got on Amazon was strictly because at the beginning, you got a big push from your audience, but then they just saw it and they decided to move with move on it and help you. So yeah, by them helping you It definitely kept the revenue coming in high because your profile went up.

Nick Palmisciano 43:48
But But even now, even now, you know, like they were they're laughing they're like, they cannot believe how many people are still buying the film. You know, they said like, like, films, uh, you know, it's a year, it's a year from when we launched right now. And, like, you know, you typically at this point, you know, you've got your, you know, maybe three $400 a month come in, and especially for an indie film, we're still, we're still doing 1000s of dollars, you know, on a monthly basis for the movie. So

Alex Ferrari 44:19
That's insane. Yeah, it's really cool. Now, let me really cool. Let me ask you a question. So to even to get up to the top 10 of iTunes is pretty substantial. You need to do some major numbers. Can you talk about sales as far as sales or rentals or transactions? How many do you think that people need to get, you know, to make any sort of traction whatsoever? Is that something you could talk about? So, I don't I don't know exactly how many you have to sell, you know, to give or take to you know, we did you know and that that first was that first month we Did about a million dollars in revenue? In our, our cut, okay, you're just you're Jesus. Wow. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So the movie, so this movie definitely has broken seven figures. Yes. Jesus Christ. Yes. So it's a very successful independent film, to say

Nick Palmisciano 45:36
The least successful independent film. Yeah, we're, you know, we're, like I said, we're very proud of, of the community for, for making this thing happen.

Alex Ferrari 45:45
And it's still go and it's still going people are still finding it.

Nick Palmisciano 45:48
People are still buying it. Still still watching it. You know, and yeah, so, you know, like, it's, it's, you know, it's not, it's not a huge film, but, you know, like, you know, we've done, we've done, you know, a few million bucks on this movie at this point. And, you know, we put some of the money towards, you know, towards the documentary and yeah, it's, it's, you know, and, and we're hoping that that does, you know, frankly, better, we're hoping that that's a that's a bigger film, and in a lot of ways, then the film than the actual movie was so

Alex Ferrari 46:21
So just so they could you said, like, it hasn't done a lot. I guarantee you that everybody listening in this podcast right now would kill to make a million or 2 million or $3 million on their independent film. So it's, it's substantial. I mean, being I've been in the indie business for in the film business for over 20 years, getting close to 25, for God's sakes. And I've rarely heard a story like this. This is a, a unicorn style story. So you should be extremely proud of that I appreciate that's why I want to join the show, when I heard this story, I was like, this does not happen every day. It's very rare. And it's and it's still niche. That's the thing that I find so fascinating about range 15. This is not a movie that blew up into the mainstream, because a lot of indie movies go and they they find their audience and they just kind of blow up and everybody hears about them. range. 15 is still within its niche, very, it's kind of broken out a little bit here and there, maybe in the action genre. But generally speaking, it's still niche. It's still underground.

Nick Palmisciano 47:24
Yeah. And so right now, you know, we're gonna, you know, we're hoping we're either going to end up on on amazon prime, or we're going to end up on Netflix, and I want I want to pair the documentary with the film. I don't want I don't just want range 15 to end up in one of these things. I want both because I think people that watch the documentary and then watch the film will get a better love the film forever. Yeah. People that just watch the film like they either love it or they hate it. But like, you know, with the documentary, people have an appreciation for how hard it really was to get this movie done.

Alex Ferrari 48:03
Got it now. Within how well have the the DVDs and blu rays have been selling a branch with Dan? I'm just curious, because oh, yeah, cuz a lot of people say that DVD and blu rays dead.

Nick Palmisciano 48:14
Now we've sold a ton. And it's interesting, because we've we only have sold them on range. 15 calm. Yeah. And the reason for that is, even though Amazon is really easy to work with on a lot of things, you know, they have a lot of rules to protect the customer. And because we've never because we've never actually sold DVDs before, we need to get like a waiver. And what by the time we realized all of this, this, like, you know how you had to do it, and you know how long it took, and we just didn't have time because the movie was releasing, so we definitely ever put it on Amazon. So we're selling all these DVDs and blu rays off of like, a website that it's literally it's only function is to sell blu rays and DVDs. That's it.

Alex Ferrari 49:07
Yeah. Now, how and how, how did you leverage range 15 to sell other products and create other revenue streams.

Nick Palmisciano 49:17
So, you know, we are in the process of of working on a app right now like a phone game associated with rain 15 we created uh, you know, apparel off of off of rain 15 posters off of rain 15 You know, we're in that business already. So, you know, we both own apparel companies infrastructure was easy to put it into your into your product into your into your pipeline. Yep. And, you know, and, you know, when you look at the other guy's, you know, Rocco, Jared and Matt own, you know, led slingers, whiskey, which was the other part of the cure, you know, in the film, and you You know, so now for all time, you know, their whiskey is, is in this, you know, cult military movie, you know, and so everything, you know, we are, you know, we are meatheads, and we are, you know, to some extent, you know, clowns. But you know, we really kind of planned all this out so that, like everybody would win long term all these people that, you know, all these people that came and supported us all of the the sponsors that came in, like I really want these people to all win win for all time, you know, because they supported this film. Wow.

Alex Ferrari 50:39
Now, can you talk a little bit about not in other words, not not a war story, the documentary behind it?

Nick Palmisciano 50:44
Yeah, absolutely. So it started off as a, we were gonna do a short that we just included on a DVD. And I asked is this guy Tim O'Donnell? So earlier, we talked about, you know, the first silly video that we ever made the Ranger up workout video. That was nine years ago. And Tim O'Donnell is the guy that I hired to do that, you know, he and I met at a UFC fight. He was an art teacher. And he had just, he had just made his first documentary on the side about a wrestler that he had coached. And we were there, because I was sponsoring a fighter by the name of Jorge Rivera. And he was doing a short about Jorge. And he didn't have a lot of commercial work at the time. And so he thought to be, you know, I thought it'd be cool to do some funny videos with us. And so, you know, I think, man, I think that first, the first paycheck for like, a whole weekend, I think he, I think we paid him like 1500 bucks, and he paid like seven videos, you know, like nothing. We weren't big, he wasn't big. And we just had a lot of fun. And so he and I, over the years have made, you know, for pretty significant documentaries, that have won some festival awards. They're just passion projects, you know, to tell stories about veterans. And when we were doing this, you know, I asked, I asked him if he was interested in doing and he was like, Yeah, absolutely. And again, the plan was, he was going to come out for the, you know, come out for a couple sessions, and then come out during filming, and, you know, make a 1015 minute short for the DVD. Two days in, you know, he, he took Jared and I aside and he was like, Guys, I don't think this is a short. I think I think this is a feature film, I'm getting gold, you know, the interviews with all the bats that are here, you know, is absolute gold, you know, the crises that you guys are constantly dealing with is gold. Like, I think we need to do this. And I was, you know, Jared and I talked about are like, all right, absolutely. Let's do it. And so he and, you know, the second unit director for the documentary, Alex Miller, proceeded to capture, you know, the next year of, you know, everything that happened, you know, the editing, the selling points, the Sundance, selling, going to Iraq, with the film, you know, everything. And we ended up with a film that we think is, you know, and you have to take all of this with a grain of salt, right? In some ways. It's, it's not in any way disrespectful to like the making of ranch 15. But range 15 as you know, is a funny v flick. Not a war story is a really powerful film. far more powerful than I expected, you know, actually watching it, it gave me anxiety because I was reliving the things that had happened. Sure. And that I had forgotten all about, you know, but and, and audiences thus far have loved it. You know, we've done two screenings, one was like a test screening with, you know, 50 people, and we actually purposefully chose the most liberal people we could find. They're all you know, because we wanted them to have like, literally no affiliation with the military. We almost tried to find people that were almost combatants towards the military, to be honest, because I wanted the worst possible experience. Right. Right. And, and, and they loved it. And so and then we had our, you know, our premiere at the Academy of Motion Pictures, arts and sciences, which frankly, was a surreal moment. And that must

Alex Ferrari 54:41
Be a surreal moment.

Nick Palmisciano 54:44
Yeah, standing there, like between two Oscars giving a speech about a movie. And, and it got, you know, pretty universal acclaim out there. And so, you know, we're now in the process of Submitting our application for an Oscar bid. Which, you know, we, we 100% realize is a long shot. But you know, I can't think of a, I can't think of a better win for the community, then as miraculously pulling this stuff pretty insane, like just coming back and saying, guys, like, you know, you did this?

Alex Ferrari 55:25
Are you self distributing it as well? I

Nick Palmisciano 55:28
I don't know yet. You know, and so we've had some great meetings with a lot of people, and we're gonna, we're gonna see what happens. Gotcha, I would I would love for this film to have broader distribution, because whereas range 15 you know, we delivered it, we, you know, we told we told our constituency, we are going to make this movie for you. And so everybody else wanted to change it, they wanted to remove scenes, they wanted to release it on their timeline. And, you know, we we could not do that, like, the community funded the movie, we made a promise to the community, we had to deliver on that promise, with not a war story. I think it's a bigger film in that I've never seen a film that does a better job of bridging the civilian military divide. You get a window into the military community that I think is needed, because it, it humanizes the military. It's very, it's very easy to, to turn veterans into characters, right. And the caricature that most people, you know, convert you to depends on kind of your worldview and where you grew up and how you grew up, either, you know, you think veterans are broken by war. Maybe alcoholics may be suicidal or you think veterans are, you know, perfect white knights with, you know, the moral fiber of like, you know, Sir Lancelot. Yes, thank you. And so, you know, neither of those things is true, right. And, you know, you see very clearly that, like, we're a cross section of society with different goals, different belief systems. But they were, you know, we're a very tight knit community. And we use gallows humor, you know, a lot to kind of, you know, deal with things when things go wrong. You know, there are more jokes, not less. You know, as things get more intense, we tend to get sillier. And that's because that's the way it is in the military. That's what we're accustomed to. Now, all of that is captured, you know, in this film.

Alex Ferrari 57:42
Well, Man, I wish you the best of luck with that film. I can't wait to see it. I really, really want to see it. Now. Do you have another narrative film on the horizon? Are you going to try to do rain? 16? No, I'm joking. But do you have another show on the horizon?

Nick Palmisciano 57:56
So you know, right now, you know, in terms of another group project, I think we'd all like to work together on another major project to sequel at some point. But, you know, literally right now, Matt is, is deep into finishing his book, where he got he got a huge deal with Penguin Books. Nice. And, you know, that's he's got to focus on that. Tim Kennedy. You know, he's on season three of hunting Hitler, and he's about to launch a new show about just, I can't even talk about it. It's a crazy show, where Tim basically almost dies over and over again. Okay. Vince Vargas is going to be on the Mayans. And also has a show coming out on the History Channel. And so the Mayans is the sons Ban archy spin off. Jerry Taylor is doing a reality show called blood on the deck where he is, he is a ship boat captain who has never fished before trying to compete against Dakota Meyer, who's a Medal of Honor recipient on a different boat. And you know, and, and I am, you know, I'm taking not a war story across the finish line. And also pitching a series right now that we are we have, we have four in the can call 22 for 22 which are 22 documentaries. So 22 veterans a day kill themselves. And people I know, it's crazy. And people focus on that number a lot. And what we want to do is we want to tell 22 inspiring stories, try to reclaim that number a little bit 2222 people that have that have faced adversity, and dealt with it and not always one like not always, like, Oh, yeah, you know, things were tough. And then they got incredible, like, sometimes things were tough. And I worked really hard and they're still tough, but they keep moving Yeah. So we want to tell, we want to tell 22 stories of people that are taking it on the chin, and continuing to drive forward to show people that they're not alone. And so that's my, that's my documentary project. And then I am I'm writing a, I'm writing a super dark, super dark movie right now, going a totally different direction from what I did with range 15. And starting to build a team to do that. So that's awesome. That's awesome. So you know, we'll see what happens. like everybody's doing really cool stuff. And the nice thing about this group of guys is, you know, we all support each other, like, you know, I'm hoping Matt, you know, ends up with the New York Times bestseller, I'm hoping Jared ends up with a top Show. I'm hoping Rocco turns into a big star as a result of doing the Mayans, like, you know, it's a cool group of people. And like, everybody's everybody's pushing forward.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:57
Now, can you give, what advice would you have for a filmmaker just starting out in the business?

Nick Palmisciano 1:01:03
So I give the same advice to aspiring filmmakers that I give to aspiring entrepreneurs, and everybody, everybody wants to win? Right out of the gate, you can argue you can argue, you can argue that we did, right? That argument is false. Yeah. You know, it, it took me a decade to build this audience. Yeah. You know, it took the article 15 guys three years to build their audience. And before that, though, you know, before they built their audience, you know, Jared was making videos for four years, Matt was making videos for three years, you know, so, you know, you start with something like you want to be an aspiring you want to make a film, start making films, start making shorts, post those shorts online, build an audience figure out what the audience likes and what they don't like. Sometimes filmmakers, you know, get a little bit up their own butt and they think that they are these, you know, the greatest creative. And, you know, like, I'll be honest with you, like, I watched things like Project Greenlight. Oh, man, I've got to shoot it on film. Like, can I swear on this app? So fucking literally. Like when I watched that dude, get handed $2 million.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:29
Which, let's see which season which season? This was the latest one was the very last one I haven't seen. Yeah, the last one on HBO.

Nick Palmisciano 1:02:37
Yeah, he gets handed, he gets handed $2 million, which is the most they've ever handed.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:41
Right? Yeah, they've never handed that much out.

Nick Palmisciano 1:02:43
And he's like, I got it. I've got to shoot this whole thing on film. And the producers are like, you know, we really don't think that's a good idea. And like, they go to like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and like, he wants to shoot on film. And they talked to him about the difficulties, but then they're like, well, he wants to do it. So we're gonna let them like, I would have been like, you know what fucker, like, not only know, but like, get the fuck out of here. We're gonna pick someone else. If you're that much of an ass clone, that you don't realize that this project is already going to be so hard. Somebody is handing you $2 million. That isn't your money. Right? And you you're not listening to their advice. Like, you don't need to be in this business. Like, you

Alex Ferrari 1:03:22
Don't need to call my friend My friend. You know, that's, that's the majority of people. I mean, it's, it's Yeah, and by the way, a fun little fact, I was in season two of Project Greenlight. Really, I was in the very opening a very small part. That was in the opening sequence of Episode One as one of my entry tapes. Because I made it to like, almost the top 50 of filmmakers into the top 50 that year. Yeah, that's really cool. It was a lot of fun. But those those those stories, I stopped watching them. I couldn't do it anymore, because they're just so just nying at you like something is Yeah, is that like, Dude, are you kidding me? Yeah,

Nick Palmisciano 1:04:02
I did not know the show existed. So after we finished Ross, our director for range 15 was like, you've never seen Project Greenlight. He's like, he's like go watch it. Oh, dude. Oh, watch it. Oh, he's like those guys have been given every opportunity and they still managed to screw it up. And man, I was furious. Like every single time I can't stop watching it though. Because it's like, like, they're all clowns, you know? Yeah, it's the season the season one guy was probably the best

Alex Ferrari 1:04:31
And he a he was humble a little humble. Just was in a very ignorant and very ignorant to the process ignorant but humble. Yes, you can you you know. Yeah, you can.

Nick Palmisciano 1:04:45
You can understand somebody not knowing what they're doing. And that's fine. Wow, you can allow for that. Yes. When somebody is cocky and they don't know what they're doing. That's dangerous combination, my friend. Yeah, it's really bad. It's completely $2 million.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:59
He knows And only understandable if you don't know what you're doing. And if you're ignorant and my god that kid was thrown into, I mean, a whirlwind. He had never seen anything like that before. And he was just trying to hold on for dear life. And that's fine. But when you're an ass about it, yes. I mean, yeah, come on. I've

Nick Palmisciano 1:05:17
Gotta make my first movie on film. Dude, are you like I still even now thinking about it? Like it pisses me off? Like,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:24
I mean, I had on the show, Shaun Baker who shot tangerines on the iPhone, the one that that that gets old to Magnolia and went on to be doing things. He's like, dude, I wanted and he, by the way, in the next movie, he shot he shot on. That was his fifth movie. And he chose to shoot on the iPhone for the look, because he could have shot on entity and it was with the duplass brothers and all that stuff. Yeah. But he just went out and did it. He just went out and did it. It's, it's fascinating. And I'm gonna ask you three questions I always ask or two questions, I always ask all my all my guess, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn, whether in the film business or in life, life is not fair. Amen, brother.

Nick Palmisciano 1:06:07
On it Honest to God, like, you know, everybody keeps waiting. People have a belief that, oh, if you just work hard, for a little while, you're, you know, there's this meme that that they post for entrepreneurs, where it's like, you know, entrepreneurs, or people that work, you know, that worked five years, harder than anyone else. So they can live the rest of their lives, like no one else, I don't know, a single entrepreneur that isn't still working his ass off. And I don't care if like, you're a multi millionaire, or billionaire, you know, just starting out now, like, everybody's working, you know, that's the that's the way it is like, the challenges only get harder. And sometimes things happen, and you have no control over it, and they suck and they hurt you. And you know, people lose businesses all the time, or things that they didn't even do. And, you know, life is not fair. And so you just, you can't, when bad things happen. And they will, you cannot sit there and go, you know, Woe is me. You know, this isn't right. But don't you guys understand it happened? Because it is reasons like no one cares. And you have to deal with the now if you don't deal with the now it will get out of control, you will lose control and you will lose, you will lose all you have to deal with reality instead of dealing with what should

Alex Ferrari 1:07:19
I know it's not bitching about what should be a wash? Yeah, I shouldn't be this shouldn't be that as does you no. Good. And now would you agree because you work with I'm sure there's a lot of entrepreneurs after you started, basically the the business that you're in with the T shirts and building up that apparel company, that must have been multiple guys who've come along, trying to replicate and go after it? Well, the one thing and some have done it successfully, which is fine, which is fine. I mean, that's part of the business, you want to have a bigger, you want to have 100 guys, so the industry is much larger. But do you find it and I find this I find this quote from Eric Thomas, I don't know if you know who Eric Thomas is. He's a motivational speaker. They call Yeah, I don't, I do not know him, but I'll look them up. They call him the hip hop preacher. Because he works with the he works with the Patriots. He works with a lot of NFL a lot of end goal guys and stuff. He says this is this quote, which I thought was so great. He's like, you can't love the goal. You got to be in love with the grind. The process the grind you've got because if you're in love with the goal, you'll never make it you've got to be in love with that day to day, ball busting got to get the job done. No matter what situation whether being a filmmaker or an entrepreneur, is that it would you be in agreement? That's 100% true. Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time? Oh, that's always that's always obviously interesting. But no.

Nick Palmisciano 1:08:53
So let's let's try to kind of break it down. I'm not going to try to go for anything like super heavy and like, oh, look how many great films I've watched. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:03
Citizen Kane, Casa Blanca. I'm joking.

Nick Palmisciano 1:09:06
I do I do really like Casa Blanca. Who does? That would be that would be disingenuous. Casa Blanca. Oh, amazing. recent film that I really love is a card.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:19
That was a great flick man. Good flick. I

Nick Palmisciano 1:09:21
I love that love that film. I probably watched a Korea 1314 times because I love the way he shoots it. I love the feel of it. And I love the no nonsense like, like, you know no nonsense way that the characters kind of deal with life. So really enjoying that film? I love Rushmore. That's a good am I gonna say it's one of the best three films of all time. I

Alex Ferrari 1:09:48
I don't know. To you. It's not it's not it's not a list for everybody else's lips to you.

Nick Palmisciano 1:09:53
Yeah, I think I think Rushmore is is a great flick. I personally certainly think it's Wes Anderson's best. I know a lot of people disagree with that. But oh, man, you know, and you know what, like, you know, I know it's super typical, but I'm gonna go with Lord of the Rings. And the reason I'm going to source one of the rings, the first Well, yeah, just, you know, the reason for that is because I've always loved fantasy. But before Lord of the Rings, every fantasy movie was cheesy and terrible. And it just made you feel like a nerd. You're like, man, like, I'm watching this movie, because I'm a nerd. You know, because I used to play Dungeons and Dragons, because I, you know, because I read, and I read these books, but like, I know, deep down, this movie's terrible Lord of the Rings comes out and you're like,

Alex Ferrari 1:10:48
What's an Oscar? wins multiple Oscars?

Nick Palmisciano 1:10:51
This movie is amazing. Right? You know? And, and now it's cool to make fantasy movies. And like, you know, without, without Lord of the Rings, there's no Game of Thrones. Oh, absolutely. Peter, because Peter Jackson had to show everybody how to do it. Right. So

Alex Ferrari 1:11:09
Question now I'm gonna go. I want to go back real quick on on fantasy movies. I think you and I are similar ages are close at least. Do you remember a movie called crawl? Yes. One of the greatest movies ever saw as a child? If I look at it today, it's embarrassing. It's Yeah. Liam Neeson first movie. Yeah, really? Liam Neeson first acting role

Nick Palmisciano 1:11:36
Its unwatchable now. Yeah. Like you watch it only because you grew up with the memory.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:42
I don't want to watch it because I want to keep on I want to hold on to that memory. Because it's kind of like, yeah, I'm gonna go watch Willow, you know? Oh. Yes. So Nick, where can people find you and your companies?

Nick Palmisciano 1:11:58
I'm sure you can. You know, we're all over social media. Facebook, you can look up Ranger up. You can look up Nick Paul Machado. Same thing with Instagram Ranger up or Nick Paul Machado and then you know my my compatriots. You can did the films with you can find on article 15. Matt best Jared Taylor, Vince Vargas. Also our side, Tim Kennedy and jack Mandeville, and then the movie itself. Range 15. And we're literally any single anything you go to like whether you're talking Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, like we're on everything. So, you know, Ranger up Nick Paul Machado and all those other guys.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:42
You're everywhere, man, dude. Man, again, I wanted to say thank you for not only being on the show. Thank you for your service, man. I really, I wholeheartedly. Appreciate it. And, and thank you for sharing your story, your inspirational story and how you got Ranger 15 out man, I hope it inspires some people to get off their ass and actually go make some movie because there is there is a blueprint and you can do it. But it's not gonna happen in a day. It might take five years to do. It might take 10 years. Yeah, but it's absolutely, Nick. Thanks again, brother.

Nick Palmisciano 1:13:14
Yes, sir.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:15
If that doesn't inspire you guys to go out and make a movie. I don't know what will. Honestly I just want to thank Nick so much for being on the show and sharing his story. And inspiration for all of us as filmmakers that it is possible, you can do it, it just gonna take a lot of work, and a lot of grind. And you've got to learn how to love that grind that day to day day in day out work to get your movies out there to make your dreams come true. And Nick and the whole team of range 15 is a perfect example of that. And I really hope you guys find some inspiration in Nick's story. And as you heard in Episode 166, my entire distribution, self distribution plan and how we're using distributed do it. I'll put links to all of that stuff in how to get ahold of re arrange 15 and how to get all the neck and everything in the show notes at indie film hustle.com forward slash 167. And don't forget to head over to free film book calm that's free film book.com to download your free filmmaking or screenwriting audio books, guys. It's awesome. I listened to audio books all the time. And audible is awesome. They have a quick quick, great app. And you can try it out for free man get one free audio book, no strings attached. Head over to free film book calm and as always keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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IFH 166: Independent Film Distribution & Marketing Blueprint with This is Meg

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Over the past 6 months or so I’ve been getting an enormous amount of emails and messages asking me the same question:

What is your distribution and marketing plan for This is Meg?

I hear you IFH Tribe, so I decided to put this podcast together and layout the marketing and distribution blueprint I created to get This is Meg out into the world. You can’t be a Filmtrepreneur without one of those.

In this episode, I break down:

  • Why I didn’t go through a traditional distributor
  • Why I didn’t do a theatrical run through TUGG
  • How I will be self-distributing This is Meg
  • What platforms I’ll be selling on and why
  • What my marketing strategy is

This is Meg has been a giant experiment to see what happens and I wanted to share the ride with you, the IFH Tribe. Thank you for all the support. Take a listen and keep on hustlin’.

Alex Ferrari 1:55
So today guys, we are going to talk about a question I keep getting asked about I keep getting getting emails about it and Facebook messages and tweets about it. How are you going to distribute this as make what is your distribution strategy? And how are you going to break iTunes as you're trying to do and all this kind of stuff? Well, I'm going to talk a little bit about my my decision as to how I was going to distribute, this is why I'm going to distribute it this way and how I'm going to actually do it. And you guys are going to go on the ride with me to see how it all turns out. Now, first and foremost, why did I decide to self distribute as opposed to going through a normal distributor? If you guys have listened at all to this podcast, you know that depending on the kind of movie it is, distributors might make sense, good. There's a lot of good distributors out there gravitas ventures is a really great distributor, a 24. There's multiple good distribution houses out there that can do good stuff for you and are honest and are going to actually give you give you actually pay you some money, which is rare in the distribution game. So certain films make sense for that. This is Meg is not one of those films, it did not make sense for me to go to a traditional distributor because yes, I have some faces. And yes have some amazing, amazing cast that worked on this as Meg. But I lacked the marquee value that distributors are looking for. And that's fine, and it's also a dramedy, so it's not an easy sell, it's also probably not going to travel extremely well, either. So it's pretty much going to be a domestic or English speaking kind of film as far as distribution is concerned. Now a few people also ask me, why didn't I go through tug, or gather or one of these other companies that help help you go through a self distribution? platform theatrically, I said, I feel the same way. Again, this movie didn't call for that. It didn't have the kind of instill instilled market or community that would support something like that. And I didn't also want to go on a year or two year grind to get out there and try to go theatrical with it, it didn't make financial sense for me, or through for the time that I would be spending, trying to market it promoted in different territories and things like that. Also, what it would do is if I did go out through tug, it would suck away some of the money that I would be able to making through customers who are interested in seeing it would probably be interested or audience members would be interested in seeing it would probably be interested in renting it or buying it on on a on a streaming platform or in DVD or something like that. So you'd be kind of like siphoning off some cash by doing so. And it didn't make financial sense for me at this level of film for other films different for documentaries, absolutely different. It's a it's a great way to go but for me in this is Meg didn't make sense to do it. So I decided to go with the stripper. As all you guys know, I'm a big fan of history. I'm big fan of Nix OS who's the CEO who's been on the show before in Episode 128. And I knew of distributed through Jason boo Baker, a buddy of mine, who works there. And also has, you know, runs filmmaking stuff calm and so on. And they, I kind of just made kind of sense to go with them because they allow you to get access to all the digital platforms, you can imagine. Even some cable VOD as well, you could submit to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, iTunes, all of those platforms at a very affordable price. No, they charge depending on the package you get. But all I do know is like one, I think it's like in between 1000 to $500, to submit to different platforms. And then you could buy a package of three or five or 10 different platforms for X amount of dollars. The great thing about what Nick and the team at distribute does, is that they, they will refund, if you let's say you want to submit to Netflix, and it costs $1,000 to submit to Netflix, you submit to Netflix, and if Netflix doesn't take you they refund everything up to $150 everything besides $150, they keep $150 for just processing and running their company and doing all this stuff. But they refund refund most of everything else back. So there really is 450 bucks, which is in many ways. A lot of film festivals, cost $150 ridiculously enough, or, or a couple of Film Festival submissions, you get a chance to submit to Netflix, which you can't cannot do by yourself. So that's why I decided to go with distributor. So you know what, I feel that I have an audience, I feel that the cast has an audience that we can sell this as Meg to, and it made sense to go through distributor. So the team a distributor, and I've been working feverishly for the last few months, putting everything together getting all of the deliverables distribution, you know, everything I need to submit to iTunes, which by the way, iTunes is one of the most strenuous strenuous QC processes, technical QC processes, there are in the digital platforms. So if you can pass iTunes, you can pretty much pass almost any of the other guys as well. And I've also submitted to Hulu in other places as well. Trust me, iTunes is tough, but very doable. As long as you have certain things in place, you can do it. Also quick tip. And if you guys are listening to this, this can save you hundreds, hundreds of dollars. I have not been paid by this company, nor do they know who I am. But I've used their service. I am a huge fan. And their test was if I can get it through iTunes, and it did the company I use for closed captioning, closed captioning and a big, big issue. If you want to submit to Amazon, you got to have closed captions. You want to submit to iTunes, Netflix, all of them you have to have closed caption is part of your digital deliverables list. It's usually anywhere between five to $8. Depending to close caption a minute to close caption a feature film, it gets really pricey. You can go to a company called rev.com rev.com. I will put it in the show notes. And there you can get your movie closed captioned for $1 a minute. A distributor friend of mine suggested I do it. I looked at like you're using it. He's Yeah, we use it all the time. rev.com It's $1 a minute. I I sent them the specs of iTunes. They gave me gave me back a closed caption file. It went through iTunes, iTunes accepted it. So if iTunes accepted it, it's good for everybody. So rev comm will save you tons go to them again, not been paid, not a sponsor. They don't even know who I am. I just love what they did. And it saved me a ton of cash, getting a closed caption for this as Meg. So now you have a file, you have all your deliverables ready to go. And you choose what platforms you want to go to. So we're submitting to Netflix, we're submitting to Hulu, and Amazon for s VOD. Now there's a difference between s VOD and T VOD. svod is subscription based video on demand. TV to you is transactional video on demand. So when you do a transactional video on demand, which is your iTunes, your Google Play, your Fandango, now your, your Amazon as well as you could do transactional as well, um, Playstation x box, all Roku all of these places. That's transactional video on demand. Now, the one big mistake that so many filmmakers make is that when they put out their movie on these on these platforms, let's say they go through distributor, they put it all they put them out on all the platforms on this at the same time. So what happens is you don't make an impact at any of those platforms. Now, eventually, this is Meg will be on all platforms, and eventually it will be available for svod. But there is going to be a window that it's Gonna be available for tvod only. And that window could last a long time, it will probably last at least six months to a year before you can see it for free on Amazon or something along those lines on amazon prime, or any of these kind of services. But why a lot of people are like Alex, why are you only submitting it to iTunes at first? Well, because I wanted to and this is by Nick. Nick's suggestion is to focus all of the buying power at iTunes, which is by far the largest of all the transactional transactional VOD even larger than, than Amazon, believe it or not for independent film, iTunes, if we can focus all of our audience, and people are interested in this as Meg to iTunes, the more sales and or rentals we get, the higher we get ranked in their ranking system, whether that be hopefully in the top 10, or top 25, of comedy, or drama it to possibly hope God, I mean, it would be amazing to crack the window for the top 10 or top 25 of all of iTunes. So let's just put it this way, a lot of people say oh, a lot of distributors will tell you a lot of people tell you, you know, yeah, you can go through someone like distributor, but they're not gonna help you market it. And it's true, they are not going to help you market the movie, that is not their job, their job is to open the door that is close to you. So you have access to a marketplace, what you do with that marketplace, is completely in total, totally your responsibility, how you market it, how you strategize, to get your film out through these platforms is up to you, it is not distributors job to market your product to market your film, it is your job. So a lot of people will tell you Oh, well, you know, you're not gonna be able to make any money with that, because you're just going to be thrown on their platform is going to be one of many. And that that comment is actually true. But if you're able to market it, push it, push it to your audience, push it to the actors, audiences in the movie, push it, if you're a documentary, push it to the audience that wants to hear about that information, it is your job to do that. So that's what I'm going to do with this is Meg, and I'm focusing all of my buying power on iTunes. So we can crack that five, that top 10, top 25 of either comedy, oh, God forbid, the top, because understand something, if you're thrown into the pool with all the other hundreds of 1000s of movies that are on iTunes, you'll be thrown in the same pool with everybody else. And you don't have the marketing power to move yourself up. So if you're able to kind of game the system, and this is a hack, this is the iTunes hack. And this is what I talked about breaking iTunes, if we can generate enough sales or rentals, they both count the same. Either you buy it for 1520 bucks, or whatever, or you rent it. For 399, it counts as a transaction, it counts towards your total transactions, which helps you get ranked, the more transactions you get, the more you get pushed up the totem pole on iTunes. And that goes for any platform you choose, I could have easily chose Amazon to do the exact same thing. But I wanted to try iTunes first and see what would happen. The distribution of this as mag is, is basically an experiment, this whole project has been an experiment to see what can be done, what can we do? How can we raise money to make the movie? Can we make the movie Can we make a quality product and we get a great cast? Can we distribute the movie and actually make a little bit of money with it. And I wanted to kind of go through this whole process with you so I could show you guys how it is done, and how it can be done. And we'll see if it works or not. So after it runs, maybe 30 days on iTunes, we will open it up to other platforms like Amazon and Google Play. And all the other ones we will try to be submitting it to Dish Network and cable VOD as well. And we are in talks with Netflix and Hulu and see if we can get into any those platforms. And as I do, you guys will know about it. But that is our distribution strategy. On what why and what we're doing with this is Meg now. How am I going to market this thing? How am I going to get it out there? Well, I've spent the last two years building an audience through indie film hustle. And you guys the tribe have been so supportive and so wonderful to me to indie film, hustle. And to this is Meg. I mean, we couldn't have made the movie without you guys. You guys helped finance the movie through crowdfunding. So thank you for that. And now I'm going to hopefully get my audience which is you guys to watch the movie. And I'm also going to be leveraging Jill's audience. Christa Allen's audience Joe Reitmans audience, Deborah Wilson's audience, Carla does Rocky's audience, our entire cast his audience, they're gonna pump it out through all of their channels, and all their social media channels and the audiences. They've been building up over the course of many years. So by leveraging those, we will hopefully get sales and people interested in what we're doing? People, filmmakers are going to be interesting to see what a film that is as low budget as ours is, looks like and how we went through the entire process. And what you're going to be seeing in the coming weeks is clips, I'm going to be using clips of the movie as a promotional content to be pushing out there. So people could see small funny clips from the movie, getting them excited about it, that's a really good technique. A lot of the big studios do that a lot of indies do that. Not as many as I would think, as many as I see as they should. But it really helps because people start getting interested people start seeing it. So if someone sees a really funny clip, I get three, four or 510 1000 views on something like that. Maybe there's a percentage of those will buy it or rent it. And those By the way, keep going on for forever, they just keep going. So they will be out there in the ether on YouTube on Facebook, pushing forever, as long as we just keep going on and there will always be a link to go back to either buy it or rent it. We will also be sending out stills of funny, funny stills from the movie with calls to action, a call to action is you're telling the audience, you're telling your customer what you want them to do, if you don't have a call to action. That is one of the biggest mistakes most filmmakers make. They'll put up a trailer, but they have no link, they put up a funny picture, but they have nowhere to go or what you want them to do. You have to actually tell your audience what you want, you have to ask that ask your audience what you want them to do when they see this funny meme, this funny photo, this funny video or clip or trailer, and you tell them look, here's the movie, you could preorder it now you guys have probably already seen this pumping through Facebook, and through Twitter and Instagram, and all the other social media outlets for indie film hustle. But you know if you notice, the front page of indie film, hustle has a buy it on iTunes button now for this is mag same thing goes for this is mag comm you go to this is mag comm calls to action everywhere. So you can tell people what's happening, what to do, and how to be involved, whichever that whatever that might be, if you want them to sign up for something, you want them to buy it or rent it, you gotta tell them where to go, and so on. That is what we're going to be doing that is the marketing strategy we're doing for this film, we've been planning it for a few months now. And again, because of the size of mag and the kind of movie it is, this is the business strategy I'm doing with this as mag, different movies that I'll be doing in the future will be marketed differently, completely differently. This is not the same way I'm marketed. And you've my shorts, or lipstick and bullets, the compilation of all my shorts, I'll put all links to all that stuff in the show notes. So you guys can take a look at if you haven't seen it yet. But it's marketed differently. So each movie has its own path. This is the path that I've chosen for this as mag, and all of us, including everybody listening here. Well, we'll find out if it works or if it doesn't. And I'm not planning to be super rich off this. I'm not planning to make hundreds of 1000s of dollars though that would be nice. off of this is Meg it's an experiment, an experiment that I did for myself. And an experiment I did for you the tribe I wanted to make a movie that is of quality. That is funny that it took us very little time to put together a little time to edit it and put it in post and get it out there. You know, we premiered at cinequest which was a huge festival for us and we're so grateful for we're going to be also at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival we got accepted to and and we're hoping to get into one or two other festivals this year sometime. So now it is my call to action for everybody listening to the podcast. If we're going to break iTunes, if we're going to try to make a dent in iTunes and make this as make a little movie that came out of nowhere into something that catches the eye of somebody catches the eye of Hollywood catches the can be a story that people can tell of like hey, this is a successful story. Look what Look what Alex at the indie film tribe did together. This is what it's this is what this is the blueprint that we can make. What I need you guys to do is go and preorder iTunes now if you preorder it you get it for 999 it will be 1299 once it gets released August 4, if you go now to this is mag comm forward slash iTunes. It'll take you directly to iTunes and is available in all English speaking territories that iTunes available in like Great Britain, Canada repair the Republic of Ireland, Israel, Taiwan, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, British Virgin Islands, Armenia, Belarus, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, sorry, Australia, your country a lot needs a a rating and it needs a rating of some sort and ours is unrated. Because we do not want to spend the $5,000, the MPAA will charge us to get a rating on this is Meg. So Australia will not be able to purchase it on iTunes, but we'll be able to get it on Amazon or Google Play or the other platforms when it gets released probably 30 days after August for sometime in September. And same thing goes for Canada, unfortunately. So again, guys go preorder it now. This is mag comm forward slash iTunes. If you guys can help us get this as Meg up to a certain amount of sales to get us just a crack the top 10 of even comedy or drama t that would be huge for this as Meg because then it would be finding audiences that have no no idea who I am, who any of our cast is, possibly, and just be interested in watching a good, funny drama. So and then again, I'm going to report back and let you guys know the honest truth of what happened and where we went with this. So I do need your help, guys. So thank you so so so much for the support. And please spread the word. If you're on it. If you're on Facebook or Twitter, you see any of our postings, funny clips, anything like that, please forward it, share it, tell everybody you know about it, it really helped out a lot. And we only have a few weeks left before August 4. So anything you could do to get us on August 4, it's all pre sales count as our first day sales number. So if we can get that number up high, that will hopefully help us crack that top 10 of comedy or drama T. And as always, if you want the show notes, head over to indie film hustle.com forward slash 166. Now, I also have this week, on Thursday, we're going to be releasing the another podcast and epic podcast. And I know a lot of you might be thinking, Alex, this whole method that you're talking about, of releasing it through self distribution and all this stuff. But I don't think it's going to work. You know, there are really no case studies to prove. Without a doubt that is going to work for a narrative film. Well, I've got an insane success story coming up on Thursday, I literally just got off interviewing Nick, and Nick from range 15. And I'm tell you a little bit about the story range 15. And you're going to hear the story on Thursday. And if you guys are interested in self distribution, and how to build an audience, how to make money, distributing your films on iTunes, Amazon, and so on. This is the podcast for you. Nick made a movie. His name is Nick. I don't want to embarrass myself by trying to pronounce his last name. But he owns a company called Ranger up. And he made a movie called range 15 range 15 has made to date over seven figures strictly from self distribution on iTunes. And Amazon alone, haven't even gone out to the other platforms strictly on Amazon and iTunes alone. He's made over seven figures, and not just barely over a million. We're probably talking about. He mentioned about three to three $4 million in a course of Well, the first month he made a million take home after after iTunes got there to cut. So it's substantial. And he tells you the story of how he did the entire process. He's an inspiration to me, and how he was able to do it. And I've been chasing them probably for almost a year to try to get him on the show. And I finally wrangled him, his schedule finally opened up to a point where I could sit down with him for an hour and really beat up how he did it. And his experiences through distribution. And just amazing story. These guys are amazing what they did and is a narrative zombie action be flick as he calls it. So it's not a highbrow movie. It is a silly and again his words, kind of silly zombie action movie with some people you recognize in it, William Shatner, Keith David, Sean Aston, and of course, Danny Trejo because Danny Triana is in every movie. But except maybe I couldn't get him for Meg. But in that story, and in that podcast, you will hear how he was able to raise $1.2 million, crowdfunding that campaign from his audience, and he was only asking for 300,000 or 350,000. And they got that within the first 30 hours. So definitely check out Thursday's episode. If you're interested at all in self distribution and marketing of your independent film. I hope you guys learned something. Please don't forget, this is mac.com for slash iTunes. And as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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SPONSORS

  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)