Today on the show we have returning champion Peter Rader. Peter has been working with his wife Paola di Florio to help filmmakers connect with audiences and generate revenue for their projects.
The story of how they self-distributed their run-away hit AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda from booking theaters to SVOD is remarkable. They did it all on their own and the film has been viewed by millions. I wanted to bring Peter back on the show to discuss how they are distributing film during COVID, methods for audience building, social media marketing, release strategy, and much more.
Peter has worked as a film and television writer for 20 years. His first script, Waterworld, was produced by Universal in 1995. He has developed numerous projects for other studios, and industry leaders such as Steven Spielberg, Dino De Laurentiis, and John Davis.
On today’s show, we are discussing the new film Infinite Potential: The Life and Ideas of David Bohm, which his company is helping to self distribute in the hybrid model.
“Infinite Potential: The Life and Ideas of David Bohm” is a feature documentary about the man Einstein called his “spiritual son” and the Dalai Lama his “science guru.” A brilliant physicist and explorer of Consciousness, Bohm’s incredible insights into the underlying nature of reality and the profound interconnectedness of the Universe and our place within it are truly transformational.
Enjoy my conversation with Peter Rader.
Alex Ferrari 2:20
Now today on the show, guys, we have returning champion Peter Rader. Now Peter is not only the screenwriter behind the legendary Waterworld, but he's also become a self distribution guru using hybrid self distribution. Last time he was on the show, we talked about how he was able to turn a little little documentary about the life of paramahansa Yogananda, the Indian guru that brought yoga and meditation to the west into a blockbuster independent film. And I wanted to bring Peter back on the show so he can share with us how he is distributing his films during COVID. The methods that he uses for audience building social media marketing, the release strategy during these crazy times and much, much more. And we discuss his latest film infinite potential, the life and ideas of David Boehm. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Peter Rader. I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Peter Rader. How you doing my friend? I am very well Alex. No, of course. Thank you for coming back. You, you, you and your and Paolo who were on before to talk about one of my favorite documentaries of all time awake. The life of Yogananda you guys have been one of my favorite episodes. It's actually one of the most downloaded episodes of, of both film entrepreneurs podcast and indie film, hustle podcast. And, and I just, um, you know, how big of a fan I am of you guys? And what you do specifically how you did distribution with a week. So what can you tell the audience? What have you been up to since awake?
Peter Rader 4:08
Okay, well, first of all, I want to say that I am here representing the both of us, my wife and the company, founder, partner, Debbie with us, but I am very happy to be here representing and one of the things about awake was that we we learned a lot from doing that. First of all, not only do we make the movie, but we self distributed the movie, because we realize the thing that most indie filmmakers know, which is no one knows your audience as well as you do. So, you know, even if you got the best distribution deal, they're on some levels, going to find it in, you know, they're not going to do the 110% version of your distribution. They're always going to do the, you know, 72% version
Alex Ferrari 4:56
And that's the best case and that's the best case scenario.
Peter Rader 4:59
Exactly! And there's like, you know, you know, two, three people on your team, they're handling six to eight films, and you know, they're spread thin, and all sorts of buckets, you know, balls drop, all sorts of things are not getting executed to the level that, you know, you always like cringing a little bit, oh my god, that's the artwork they're going with, you know, there's all these decisions that are made, that are not exactly representing the film in the way that you would want it to be represented. So we learned that early on with awake, I mean, you know, we thought about traditional distribution or whatever. You know, there's a whole bunch of guys out there at that point that were already preaching the gospel of hybrid distribution. There's Peter Broderick, of course, who you know,
Alex Ferrari 5:38
A friend of the show got a friend of the show.
Peter Rader 5:41
Yeah. And, you know, john Reese, also, you know, think outside the box office, you know, a lot of people have been saying, Do it yourself, or do you know, Peter Broderick is a big fan of what he calls co exclusive deal. You can carve out your rights, you know, you can do a DVD deal over here, you do a digital deal over here, you do the article deal over here, but retain rights retain the right to also do it yourself? Well, that's what's called the hybrid model. And we did it with a week and we did it very successfully, it actually exceeded everyone's expectations. You know, we ended up playing theatrically in 65 markets in America. And in certain cities, we played seven weeks in New York City, which is a tough market. On opening weekend, we were the number three film in America, you know, in terms of per screen average. And then certain markets like Pasadena and Encinitas. Encinitas, of course, is ground zero for a Yogananda film. We were there for 23 weeks, and and it just kept going from there. overseas, we were theatrical in 50 plus screens in seven countries for a documentary for a spiritual documentary. He does these, it's like, that doesn't happen that often. So we're starting to think, wow, there's an audience out there. There's an underserved audience out there. And after a week, we started doing a whole bunch of research in this area, in this area of you know, so called conscious filmmaking, you know, spiritual films, uplifting films, films about, you know, your true nature, and you know, what it means to be a human being and how do you find your life's true purpose, those types of films, which were very interesting to us after making awake, we realized, wow, like, here's some statistics that are going to blow your mind. The United Nations recently did a survey of the number of people practicing yoga worldwide. It was published in January. I think yoga journal is where I found it in January. Yes, you're a yogi.
Alex Ferrari 7:44
I mean, I don't know. 100 million people, 200 million people. If you throw in India, then it could be a billion people.
Peter Rader 7:53
Let's say 2 billion, 2 billion, is what the United Nations projected. That's some form of yoga. I don't know what they're defining as yoga.
Alex Ferrari 8:03
Could be. It could be goat yoga, it could be actually more traditional yoga.
Peter Rader 8:09
Yes. So it's like, wow, wow, that's one quarter of the population on the planet. Also, you know, the Pew Charitable Trust did a study and they continue to do this study. America is always considered to be a Christian country, you know, God, God, Christian, Jesus, Jesus, right? Yes. But the pew research study said that one in three Americans identify as being spiritual, but not religious.So you know,
Alex Ferrari 8:39
And growing and growing, that number is growing.
Peter Rader 8:41
Yeah, yeah, like new wage, or seekers or whatever not, in other words, not necessarily wanting to go to a traditional church, but consider themselves to be you know, you know, woke and looking, seeking, you know, that's kind of a thing. So, we're like, we want to reach those people. And those people are underserved, they're underserved, you know, the movies are not getting made. And when they are getting made, they're not. They're not either ready for market or they're not quite reaching the marketplace in the way that they need to. So you know, we started seeing this after Awake, awake, was at the inaugural illuminate Film Festival in Sedona illuminate is the first, you know, conscious Film Festival. So it's been around, you know, five years or so. And, you know, we were blessed to have received the Audience Award. And then, you know, we really aligned with Danette walpert, the founder and her vision for the future of conscious media and how she was mentoring and creating workshops and stuff. So we just kept coming back and back and back. We were, you know, we're consultants were luminate call source to screen how to how to tap into what source the universe is trying to express through you and get into a screen get to the screen of your choice. So We have a three day workshop that we do at counterpoint films called source to screen. We've done it a bunch of times in Sedona and Ohio a couple places. And then we started to consult, we started to consult on like minded films and with like minded filmmakers, and in in two capacities. First of all, filmmakers always need a second set of eyes, you know, we always hire consultants, we always hire we always do. You know, certainly, whatever audience testing, you know, we do, we throw up our rough cut, we bring in a, you know, an audience that we start to calibrate the film. And then we also bring in editorial consultants outside set of eyes. So, one of the things we provide is, is outside set of eyes, so filmmakers who are close to feeling like they have a lock film, well, it's never, it's never quite finished, here's two rules about films that we've learned. One is films are never finished. And two is that films are either between 10 and 30 minutes too long, everything.
Alex Ferrari 11:05
Fair enough, fair enough.
Peter Rader 11:08
So, so we we, you know, helped get films ready for market. And then the second component is reaching your audience reaching the market and the way that you want to. And in this, you know, hybrid model where you are, you know, controlling the, the, the way, the film gets out into the marketplace. So we did that, it just kept sort of building, I'd say, maybe two dozen films, we consulted on and mentored, and some of them have been extremely successful. One of the big success stories is the Harry Krishna movie, which is similar to awake the life of Yogananda because it's, it's well, the narrative is very similar. A guy from Bengal comes to America and spreads the teachings of India wildly successfully. So much so that, you know, George Harrison is like, you know, saying Harry Krishna at the Concert for Bangladesh, and Madison Square Garden is the first thing he says to the audience. Alright, Krishna, everyone's like, Oh,
Alex Ferrari 12:14
It's, it's, it's amazing. Yeah. And I'm dying to see I actually got to watch Harry Krishna as soon as this interview is over.
Peter Rader 12:23
But, um, for instance, you know, the filmmakers came to us, knowing that we had done awake, and they and they were like, oh, what do we do with this film? It was unwieldy. It wasn't, you know, so one of the things we did was we, we were editorial consultants, you know, we just said, Give us a film, give us a film for about a month? Let us you know, work on it for a little bit. So, outside set of eyes, less preciousness, you know less. Yeah, the, you know, the thing about these types of films is, there's a temptation to kind of elevate the teachings and the guru or whatever, and put them on a big pedestal and make them you know, just Sanctify them in a way that's actually a little bit of turnoff to the uninitiated. So there's always that challenge of hitting the sweet spot, the sweet spot between, you know, the choir, and the not the uninitiated. Like, you got to go in that middle. So it's like, there's plenty of points of entry. So that's one of the things we did with that film. We just made it less precious, we help them out. And, and then we basically gave them the awake playbook. We literally said, Okay, here's what you need to do. You're gonna need a poster, your trailer, you need a website, you're going to need this, you know, first of all, step one in hybrid distribution is identify your core audience. And actually, you know what, before you even start making a movie, identify your core audience. Before you even write the script. Who is your core audience? preach? Yes, not necessarily preach.
Alex Ferrari 14:02
No, no, no, you preach, preach the word of what you're saying. And I preach to them a use or preach? Yes, you need to find an audience. Amen, sir. Amen.
Peter Rader 14:12
So, yes. indie filmmakers, you know, you've probably read the blog 1000 true fans,
Alex Ferrari 14:21
Of course. Oh, yeah, of course. I've mentioned it many times on the show.
Peter Rader 14:25
Yes, that that, you know, you kind of start there, which is, you know, you want to be an indie filmmaker, you know, you want to sustain a long career. You got to find those 1000 true fans, what is the narrative your career what's you know, as a as an exercise your take out your journal? And you know, like, don't just tell me your next film. What's your next three films? Like? what's the what's the sequel? And then what's the, you know, follow up or whatever? What's the Encore after that? What and what are they? What are the themes of those films? What's the common thread? Who are the people that are going to love your film? Where are they can you reach them? If you can answer all those questions, you're already a mile ahead of the game, you know, because then it can start to inform even your creative process. Like let's write a film for those people. And oh, you know, the other exercise that we do and we do this in sources screen is right, you're right, you're right, your Amazon review right now. Write your five star review and write your one star review. Okay. Yeah. And what so what's the takeaway? What do you want people to feel? After they finished your film, you can do this exercise, even when you only have a logline or you know, just a character idea started start. It's a great creative exercise, you know, we always talk about Go ahead.
Alex Ferrari 15:43
Well, so tell me about your latest project, the infinite potential and how and how are you applying a lot of these concepts to that project?
Peter Rader 15:51
Yes. So recently, we were approached by the Fetzer Memorial Trust, to consult with them and help them distribute this film, infinite potential and infinite potential is about the physicist David bone. Are you familiar with David Boehm?
Alex Ferrari 16:06
I'm not, I'm not.
Peter Rader 16:07
Okay, I'm going to give the elevator pitch. Okay. He was one of the most brilliant thinkers of the 20th century, and yet he was shunned by the scientific orthodoxy. Shocking, shocking, shocking. His ideas were so threatening to the status quo. But here's the thing. Without getting too wonky on you, there's been a disconnect between Einstein's theories and quantum mechanics, quantum theory, they never could reconcile the macro the the theories that describe gravity and the cosmos. And, you know, with the micro, the theories that describe a subatomic activity, they don't speak to each other. In fact, they're contradictory. They're contradictory. And there was a missing component that everyone was looking for. And this guy, David Boehm, who was Robert Oppenheimer's thesis students, the father of the atomic bomb. And he was also, you know, Einstein considered him be a spiritual son invited him to Princeton to actually teach with him. He started thinking talk about thinking outside the box, he was like, we got to go outside of science for this answer. And the taglines that we created for infinite potential, our mystics have known about it for millennia, modern science is catching up the infinite potential, the quantum potential that he theorized that underlies all of reality, both the micro and the macro, is consciousness is a field of consciousness. And it is it has information in it, it informs both the micro and the macro at all levels and connects the universe in a non local way. So an electron in the Andromeda galaxy is connected to, you know, the electron right here and my cell phone. Somehow, somehow those two things are connected in a way that defies Einsteinian relativity, because in Einstein said, Nothing can move faster than the speed of light. Well, then how could these two things be connected instantaneously? Well, it's called the quantum potential. And he actually wrote mathematical equations to describe this. And they're on the verge of proving that he's arrived.
Alex Ferrari 18:23
Oh, it sounds like an amazing, amazing film. Alright, so then, how would they see like, Harry Krishna and Yogananda they have large audiences. How are you planning to go? Is there an audience who you going after how you identify the audience? How are you? How are you doing this?
Peter Rader 18:42
Okay there is a gigantic audience for this. In fact, in the less than one month that we've been in release, we premiered on the 20th of June, we have 300,000 views
Alex Ferrari 18:58
On which platform?
Peter Rader 19:00
Alex Ferrari 19:01
YouTube Oh, interest like traditional YouTube?
Peter Rader 19:05
Alex Ferrari 19:06
Interesting. This is getting much more interesting. Go ahead.
Peter Rader 19:09
Okay! Here's what happened. The foundation that's supporting both the film and its release approached us, I guess, in February, whatever we're like, yeah, that's totally in our sweet spot. We love that science and spirituality, the intersection of science and spirituality. That's Yes, absolutely. Yes. Yes. Yes. That's a yes. So we're like, okay, they're like write up a distribution plan for us. So we're like starting right, right, right. Right, right. You know, three weeks later, COVID. Boom, locked out. So we're like, hmm, how can we make lemonade out of this? Well, there's a fantastic way to make lemonade out of this because it's the magically, completely appropriate, Let's release, release this bill virtually, in the field that connects us all in a digital version. Have the quantum potential, let's actually market that, let's make that be the message that we're sending out there. And the great thing about the arrangement that we made with Fetzer was that their underwriting of the distribution allowed us to offer the product for free. Okay? So that's huge, you know, this payment is always a little bit of a barrier entry. But I'll talk a lot more about that in a moment. The filmmaker was a little nervous about that, like, what we're going to give away my film for free. And we said, one thing that we did, by the way, as we read cut down his his Director's Cut, he had a very long cut of the film, Paul Howard, his cup was 110 minutes long. And for moving about quantum physics, that's, that's a little unfortunate. A little unwieldy. So we said, Give us a shot at creating sort of an entry level version of this movie of a market friendly version. And he was kind enough to trust us. So, you know, we went and, you know, kind of did a little tweaking, and Well, a lot of tweaking, and we cut out 38 minutes, we have one minute version of the film. So and we basically rejiggered our our marketing and distribution plan to say, you know what, first of all, one of the things that we say to all of these, it's it's never one product, and it's certainly never a film, it's always like a movement, every film should be considered itself to be a movement, there needs to be a destination website, there needs to be a call to action, social activism or something, there needs to be a book, there needs to be a sequel, there needs to be a, you know, a lecture tour, there's a whole bunch of components add on, add on add on is what we say, you know, because you can't really make it with just one product, you need to really like spread it out.
Alex Ferrari 21:52
So I know you haven't I know you haven't read the rise of the film entrepreneur just yet. Even though I do use you as a case study in the book. But what yours talking about is an integral part of the entire philosophy and formula of a film entrepreneur is the movie is a lost leader. Or it can be one revenue stream, but it cannot be the only revenue stream in an independent world, you should be creating ancillary products, lines, services, products, all sorts of things that generate more, but it's basically Disney. It's what Disney does on an independent scale. Is that fair to say?
Peter Rader 22:29
Yeah, so you stole our idea?
Alex Ferrari 22:31
Oh, no, I What? No, no, no, this idea was based upon, it's a base upon. You know, the concept is the same. But the difference is that look, Disney the concept what I talked about in film trip earner is Disney, basically, yeah. It's what Walt Disney the company does, and they're not a movie studio anymore. They only 50% of their revenue is actual box office or revenue from exploitation with them, the majority of the money is made exploiting the properties. So I just took that and shrunk it down to the independent level and actually show tools that are available today. We're an independent film that cost 3000 bucks could actually go out and start generating revenue, with all of these concepts in the tool sets that are out in the world today. That's the difference. But the concept is basically Disney.
Peter Rader 23:21
Yeah, yeah, it sure is. Yeah. And so yeah, so we said, we created we brought together Actually, we, most of the team that worked on awake, distribution, awake is now working with us infinite potential. So that includes publicists, a social media team, you know, producer of marketing and distribution, you know, a whole bunch of people graphics, you need a lot of social media assets, you constantly need to be generating content that keeps your audience engaged and interested. And giveaway, giveaway, giveaway, give it all away, give it away, or certainly part of it needs to be given away. In this case, you know, we had the luxury of being able to give away the short version of the film for free. And, you know, we're basically using it as sort of a marketing tool and positioning and get getting a mailing list, you know, to allow the filmmaker to then monetize his director's cut a little later in the fall. We're gonna have him What's that?
Alex Ferrari 24:18
No I'm thinking of everything I'm gonna kill. So I'm assuming when they monetize the director's cut, they'll probably be extended interviews in that package and other things like that, to make that back. Because if you saw the 72 minute version for I've done this, I've seen movies like this, this this system is rare. It doesn't happen very often, but when it's done is done extremely well, is you watch a short version of it, and you're like, but I want I want more. I want to get in there more and think, Oh, you want the full all of the full hour long interview with this guy and the full hour long movie with this guy. They did it with What the Bleep? Yeah. Back in the day as well.
Peter Rader 24:50
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. In fact, Betsy chassis is one of our partners. Yeah. You probably interviewed her.
Alex Ferrari 24:56
I haven't interviewed but but I know Betsy. We've been trying to get it. We just haven't scheduled But yeah, I know, I know, we know a lot of the same people. It's a small circle of people. But Betsy, and the director I've met as well, I met him at Sundance.
Peter Rader 25:07
Yeah,she's about to promote infinite potential on social media. And, you know, we'll circle back to the whole thing about partners partners are absolutely. Partners partners. Yeah. I mean, we just did a thing with the Dalai Lama. And, you know, I managed to get him to actually promote something on social media, which he never, never, never does. We got one tweet, and, and one Facebook post, and we got like, 6000 people on our mailing list, you know, within five minutes?
Alex Ferrari 25:36
Well, that's the Dalai Lama, I'm assuming. So they're not a bad social media partner in this space.
Peter Rader 25:43
Exactly. So bottom line is we assemble this team. And we, we basically picked a launch date, we decided on on June 20, which was a Saturday, and that we were going to do a virtual online premiere. And we, you know, kind of researched various streaming platforms, our product is 4k, and it's widescreen, it's 235 to one. So it's sort of a particular product that, you know, we looked at stream yard, and we were a little iffy about that. We ended up going with demyx. And we got, you know, technicians who were familiar with that. Because, again, all of our screening events are the film and the panel. And it's their thematic. So we had our premiere, then we had a Dalai Lama events. You know, a couple weeks later, this Saturday, actually, we have a science panel with some really heavy duty scientists who are looking at you know, it's called quantum theories of consciousness, it's all these different scientific approaches to, you know, what the heck is consciousness? And can we quantify it? You know, can we explore it? Can we measure it, you know, all of that. So, it's going to be quite cool. So, you know, with a global virtual premiere, one of the challenges is like timezones like what times on a human being, you know, like, you know, this is where you use Google Analytics, and you're very much looking at your audience and saying, like, where are they predominantly, so are most of our audiences here, here in the US and North America? So our premier, I believe, was we didn't know we did noon Pacific, three in on the east coast and not so late for Europe, you know, Central Europe would be nine o'clock. So good, but forget about Asia. For that one, you know, on the on the Dalai Lama birthday event that was even more challenging because we had Robert Thurman, you know, Robert Thurman?
Alex Ferrari 27:46
I know name? Yeah,
Peter Rader 27:47
He's Thurman's father, and he runs to that house in New York. So he was on our panel Plus, you know, this guy in like India and a couple of other things. So, we had to skirt like 16 timezones. So we did it at 6pm Pacific, which would be like 6:30am in in India, so it will be on the Dalai Lama's birthday in India, though it would be the day before.
Alex Ferrari 28:11
Right, Right. Right. Right. Right.
Peter Rader 28:13
So, um, and what we did was we, you know, what you always do, which is you drive anticipation and awareness, and you create a buzz, this film is coming infinite potential you how long and how long before? Um, not as long as we would have liked, but it was sufficient to be successful. So let's call it four weeks of a solid campaign you know,
Alex Ferrari 28:37
And what does that campaign kind of look like? Are we talking about three posts a day on all social media platforms? Are you leveraging other people's social media platforms? Have you created your own social media platforms for this project? How is that kind of look out? I mean, without giving away too much of the secret sauce, but you know,
Peter Rader 28:52
No, no, how can you give it away, you always have to give away something for free. That's okay. Good, traditional platform. So we're on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. And not to two to three posts a day, that's too many at first you ramp up to that, you know, it's more like one a day. And you're absolutely enlisting partners. In fact, you create social media toolkits for every single partnership. So that it's basically ready to post for them. You literally write the language for them, every single partner that you enlist, you just say, you don't have to do anything. Just take this put on your platform,
Alex Ferrari 29:30
Copy, paste, copy, paste.
Peter Rader 29:33
Exactly. And I'm going to tell you some tricks about tracking URLs in a second but you know, so you create generic posts, and then you customize them to each partner that you're that you're approaching. The most effective thing that we have found is list buying. So mailing email blasts, dedicated email blasts are the absolute best way to promote something in terms of conversion. You know, so for instance, for the Dalai Lama event, we went to tricycle magazine, which is a Buddhist magazine. And to get a dedicated email blast from their list, which is robust, I think it's around 80,000 or so is $1100. So not too bad, not too bad for one blast. So we wrote the copy, we created it. And we have analytics. Whenever we do this, we create a trackable URL. So we know that this blast is going to go to our website through this portal that will tell us exactly how many conversions we had. So on that thing alone, we got 3003 and a half 1000 signups from that one blast. So it was like 32nd, third 30 cents a sign up, which is a really.
Alex Ferrari 30:50
Yes We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. That's actually so it's actually better. So a lot of people for conversions, they look at Facebook ads. So they would say, well, maybe we spent $1100 in Facebook ads. But generally, with Facebook ads, when you're trying to deal with conversions, even if you're giving away something free, you're still in the dollar 50 to $2 range. And that's good. If you can get it below $1. You're like winning. So at a 30 cent price point per lead. That's an amazing thing. But I want I want to point out is what you're doing is and I hope everyone listening is taking notice of this is you you understood who your niche is. So you went to an authority in that niche who already has the audience you're looking for. And you're paying for the privilege for the one time interaction with that audience through their email list. And it's the ROI is fantastic.
Peter Rader 31:50
Yes. Right. Yeah. And and we're giving them it's like a win win whenever you can do a win win with a partner like that. In this case, it's like, you know, we were hoping it. We were hoping that the Dalai Lama himself would show up, you know, somehow, but you know, he's he's 85
Alex Ferrari 32:08
Yeah, he's busy. He's, he's playing. He's blessing the planet. And there's I mean, the planets going through some stuff right now. I'm sure he's extremely busy right now sending out good vibes.
Peter Rader 32:19
Yes, but we got like, you know, Robert Thurman, and we got his, his translator, this guy, jinpa thumping, who is just, you know, the Dalai Lama's English translator for 35 years. And we got this guy named Nicky breeland, who was a Abbot, a Western, the first ordained Abbot of a Tibetan monastery from the west. He's a guy who literally went to NYU film school, he thought he's gonna be a filmmaker. Then he went to India, and he never came back. So he's one of those shaved his head. Now he's an Abbot. So we had a really cool panel that, you know, the audience was was hungry for. So you know, for that event for our premiere. And for that event, we ended up getting 17,000 signups on our mailing list. That's when we, when we inherited this bill, we had 200 people on the mailing list. Now we have 40,000. Okay, and not Navin, it's just been one month. But it's by making each one of these events unique. And then, as you said, finding partners right in that sweet spot in that space. And you know, either going paying for their list or you know, doing harder, yeah, partnering cross promotion of some kind. So another one was Bobby Roth of the David Lynch Foundation, who's kind of, we're working with him on a couple projects. So he's kind of an ally, and he was gracious enough to tweet and post and you know, they're like, within, you know, an hour of that we had like another 4000, signups for the premiere, he promoted.
Alex Ferrari 33:47
But also, the thing I want people to notice here is that the the space or the niche, like I always say, the riches are in the niches, that the niche that you're talking about, is extremely underserved and starving for this kind of content. So of course, the second one of these leaders in the space like David Lynch, because I am for any of you don't know, he's not only a great filmmaker, but he's a big proponent of meditation, and has really pushed that angle for years. So you get talking about him and the Dalai Lama. You post that one little thing and they're like, Oh, god, yes, I want that. Yes. And I find myself like that, too. Like, if another Yogananda documentary would show up, I'd be the first in line. I'm like, I as I've seen awake, but what else is there? Is there another angle to this? This is another part of his life that I'd love to go into. So yeah, they're hungry. And that's what a filmmaker should really be focused on is finding that starving niche and feeding it.
Peter Rader 34:42
Yeah. underserved, underserved. Yeah, you know, you every one of us has a unique voice, a unique sensibility, a unique story, a unique narrative. And, and there are and there's, like, you know, 10 million people just who will resonate with that story, and all you have to do is reach out You know, point 1% of them and you have a career.
Alex Ferrari 35:04
Exactly. Okay, so continue you were saying?
Peter Rader 35:09
So, um, so yes. So we said, you know, when we sort of rewrote our distribution plan, we said, okay, here's what we're gonna do. June 20, is our launch, it's film's unavailable. Until then we'll build anticipation, we'll create our partnerships, you know, cultivate our partners get everything, you know, queue queued up, and then boom, we open it up to the public. And then at that point, we also made it freely available on YouTube. So right after the premiere, it's now freely available, but that's not what we're promoting. We're actually promoting the next event, which is two weeks later. In this case, it was the Dalai Lama's birthday celebration. The Dalai Lama, by the way, was a huge fan of David Bohm, he considered David Bohm to be his physics Guru is science guru. And they had many discussions about you know, because Dalai Lama is actually a scientist, he loves science. So it was just a really great opportunity to sort of, you know, so when, when, as I said before, so we are even though the film is freely available, and you know, takes two clicks to find it, we're not promoting that what we're promoting is the Dalai Lama event, and it becomes marketing for this other fact that the film is now freely available, and you can share it and you can pass it around and all that,
Alex Ferrari 36:25
Are you monetizing the event?
Peter Rader 36:28
No it's all free. It's all free. And that's, that's, that's a real luxury. So this is a unique situation, you know
Alex Ferrari 36:35
So without,So without the foundation, how would you have changed this process?
Peter Rader 36:43
Great question. I'm a big proponent in giving things away for free at first, or at least part of the film. So you don't want to give value of some sort. Yeah, if you don't want to give away your whole film giveaway, 20 minutes, you know, there's a What was that? file sharing service?
Alex Ferrari 37:07
Oh, megaload or Napster? Was it BitTorrent? No. Yeah, that was a bit torrent technology. But yeah, the sites are based around that. Yeah.
Peter Rader 37:16
Right. Well, anyway, there was there was a way there was a whole platform that allowed you to give away the first 20 minutes. And then if you want that, and then there's the paywall, so watch it for free, if you want to go in then you know, and then a reasonable point of, you know, entry, not not, you know, 199, or something to go further, because you're capturing data, data is the most valuable thing, you have to realize that there's different ways of capturing data. And in this case, you know, what we're doing for that filmmaker is, you know, he's gonna have a phenomenal platform with which to release both his Director's Cut, and also his next product. So now he has a mailing list of 40,000, we're gonna take this thing through October, and by then, you know, he could have 100,000 on his list. And, you know, maybe a million people who have watched this thing, social media presence, everything, you know, in place for him to launch the next product. So you have to have sort of a long tail view of this. So when you asked me what, what I would do different, maybe maybe nothing based on how well this is going, um, it takes if you know, you have investors that you have to pay back and all that it's it's tricky. The math is kind of tricky here.
Alex Ferrari 38:30
So my case is a case by case. It is it is a case by case so but the thing that you're talking about, which is is what I've been preaching for a long time, is having other product lines, other services, and it doesn't have to just be a T shirt. That's that's low hanging fruit. You can create extended versions, you know, special editions, it works a lot better with documentary Dennett does with narrative, as far as it's just different because people become it's more of an educational and, and a lot of ways documentaries can become deeper. You go you cut much deeper than you would with a fictional story. I mean, don't get me wrong, official stories do also cut deep, but there is just a different way it's sold to the you know, it's a different way it's consumed. Like I just gave away 10 minutes of my my film away for free. My let my latest film I put 10 minutes on YouTube. And I saw I think, spike, I was like, why don't I do that? Like a year ago. I just like, that's just me. I just forgot. But I put it up. I'm like, Oh, yeah, I haven't put up 10 minutes in my film. And I started seeing the sales go up. And I started seeing the traffic come in. I started seeing the data. I was like, Well, why doesn't everybody do this?
Peter Rader 39:40
That's you know, a great case study is Heal you know Heal right?
Alex Ferrari 39:45
Oh, yes, of course. I haven't met the director. Yes.
Peter Rader 39:47
Yeah. And Kelly and Adam schomer out of their friend of ours. We consulted on heal two and you know, one of the things that they did brilliantly terms of monetizing is creating These online healing summits like after the release of the film clariel again enlisted the perfect partner on which is Hay House, you know, the public company publisher. Because they had such heavy weight interviews, I mean, they had Deepak Chopra, they had Joe dispenza, they had, you know, every single, you know, guy in the space or woman, powerhouse powerhouse interviews with all these people. And they could only use so much in the film in a 90 minute narrative, all the outtakes, where they can do the outtakes online healing summit, you want access to the full Deepak Chopra interview? Come into the healing summit, you know. And here's the other part that was brilliant. For 24 hours, it is free.
Alex Ferrari 40:48
Yeah. So yeah, just the summit, the summit, the summit. business model. Yeah. It's free live. But then after that, you can if you want access for life,you pay.
Peter Rader 40:59
Yeah, if you want access for life, to the entire catalogue, all 24 of these interviews all you know, whatever, they're one hour, two hours each, then it's, you know, a significant price point, like 99 bucks or something. Yeah, they monetize the heck out of that. And not only did they go ahead, they built up a list, I mean, their list is just enormous. It's like 400,000, right now,
Alex Ferrari 41:21
Jesus Christ. So now, because they've done that the next project they do, they could just put it right into the funnel, put it right into that into that ecosystem that they've created. And that's the thing that's so interesting about, about this kind of, you know, formula of doing things, it goes completely against traditional distribution, it goes completely against what Hollywood does, because, and I, I'm going to speak for you for a second, I feel that you might feel the same way is that the distribution space is not generally set up for us. Correct. It's, it's never really been in the favor of the filmmaker, it's always been in the favor of the distributor or the studio. And now with the technology that we have today, and the access we have to the audience today, if you're smart, and you start implementing these things, you can actually explode much more than like, if you would have sold awake to a distributor. Or given, you would have never seen the kind of revenue that you saw off of your theatrical run, which was fairly impressive before you ever even touched online or DVDs or anything.
Peter Rader 42:28
Yes, yeah. It was unique. And you know, but back in the day that we actually still had theatrical, you know, there's this amazing disruptive theatrical technology called, you know, theatrical on demand, which is like, you know, Uber for theatres or whatever, which is, you know, you basically take that Tuesday night slot that is going to be empty anyway, and say, let's take down Spider Man and put in awake for one night, you know, what, what's it going to take? You need $650? Fine. So all I have to do is sell, you know, whatever, 100 tickets at 650, boom, then I can have that screening. So you can get the attribute distributed anywhere in North America actually, in the world at this point, using this technology? That is if we if we go back? And
Alex Ferrari 43:15
So with so with COVID, you know, do you wouldn't have gone down this road. Without COVID, you would have probably tried to go down the more awake standpoint of like when the theatrical doing self distribution, or do you have gone that route? with this? Yes, we would have done both. We've been in different, but there would have been different windowing at that point.
Peter Rader 43:32
Alex Ferrari 43:33
You would have tried to you try to generate as much revenue as you could in the theatrical space first, why wouldn't you? Let's just do that build up time build up audience all that stuff, then do the same strategy you're doing now but you just cut out the theatrical puts it doesn't exist anymore. For time
Peter Rader 43:50
Theatrical is not just about revenue. It's also about you know, reputation. Yeah, I mean, you know, one of our, you know, recommendations was for wall in New York, you know, buy out a theater for for a week in New York, which is going to be you know, between eight and $12,000. And that can get you a New York Times review, it won't guarantee you a New York Times review, but you know, you can do the same thing in LA and you can get, you know, one or two substantial quotes, you know, when with the New York Times All you want is like if you can get one adjective. Great. That's
Alex Ferrari 44:23
Great. That's dot dot dot great. Like, that's all it was. And because it a great pile of steaming poop, but but you just use the word great. That's awesome.Now, dude, are you going to? Well, I don't even think you can I can't partner with a traditional distributor on this. Like you did partner with certain traditional distributors on awake if I'm not mistaken for parts of the process, right like DVD. I remember you did and things like that.
Peter Rader 44:56
Right Right. Kino lorber wrote the deal. So they They got to market it to their list. We also were able to sell DVDs to our list, which at that point was substantial. Because we also had the Self Realization fellowship list, which is Yogananda organization. But you know, in the case of theatrical it's not so much that we partnered with a distributor, but we hired a theatrical Booker of Rama Rama, Richard Abramowitz who helped us get into, you know, a whole bunch of theaters in 65. Markets basically.
Alex Ferrari 45:25
Right. But yeah, but that's that's not as much a distributor as is kind of a Booker. So it's kind of like a middleman. But with candelabra, you did that for DVD. And then but everything else you pretty much did yourself. And you went with kin rollover, because it made it made sense to partner with someone who had that strength and that distribution in that specific rights in that little carved out portion that you if you would have just printed, Joan DVDs might have not had the same leverage, if you will.
Peter Rader 45:54
And you're you're basically accessing a potentially another audience an audience that you don't necessarily have an immediate access to their list might overlap your list, but it's going to be a hole. In fact, you know, when we do the exercise of identifying your core audience, and then, you know, what's the audience outside of that? And there's that whole concentric circle model, you know, which is okay, you got, you know, devotees of Yogananda. You got Yogi's, you got meditators, it's more of a Venn diagram, it's more of intersecting circles, like you got these guys, NPR listeners, well, they overlap with yoga, and this and that, whatever, but you know, they're these different sectors, and how do you get them all? Start with your core? And then you know, how's your core gonna lead you to this audience? How's this audience gonna leave you that audience? How can they evangelize? Can you incentivize, you know, any part portion of your audience to bring a friend to, to preach, you know, the gospel of, you know, infinite potential or whatever?
Alex Ferrari 46:48
Now, do you mean, where do you see us in five years? Man, I know, that's hard question to say, but in the distribution space, like, I mean, I've been yelling from the top of the of the mound here for a while that Rome is burning, the distribution model that is traditional, is in trouble and has been in trouble for a long time. And now with the pressure of COVID. In the next six months to a year, you're gonna start seeing companies go down it the model is just unsustainable, because the devaluation of media like they did in the music industry, where a song used to be 18 bucks, because you have to buy the album now is essentially free through the streaming platforms, similar things are happening here, it's just a little slower, but it's happening. The model is based on, you know, projections from the 90s, in the early 2000s, when the DVD was king, and, and there was other ways to generate revenue, I feel that the thing is changing so rapidly, that I'd love to hear your thoughts on where you think independent filmmakers can see themselves in five years with distributions in general.
Peter Rader 47:52
It's a great question. And I wish I could get the max ball, read the tea leaves, but I believe that things have changed forever. Like, we're not going back. Exactly. I mean, we'll go back to a sort of a hybrid version of what it was, you know, my heart goes out to Well, my heart doesn't go out to the studios, but but you know, movies like, you know, the Bond movie, which is not kicked into November or whatever,
Alex Ferrari 48:21
Wonder Woman Black Widow, there's a ton of them. Yeah, Tenant. Yeah,
Peter Rader 48:25
How they gonna? How are they going to recoup like, wow, you know, it's going to, they're really going to have to shift their whole thinking, and they've spent, you know, so hundreds of millions on that
Alex Ferrari 48:35
And it's sitting, it's sitting on like, this is unheard of, we've never had a summer since 1975. When jaws hit, that there hasn't been a sort of blockbuster supper, like that, that was the time to make a lot of money for for studios and for us to enjoy. You know, spectacle. This is the first year that's not gonna happen. And you've got these, like tenant tenants like a 200 million plus dollar Christopher Nolan film, and he's like, you're not going to release this online, you will do this theatrically, or I will never work with you again. And like, but you can't select what you do. Like, it's I don't understand why I was talking to another. I think I forgot who I was talking to the other day about this. But like, Is there a model moving forward? that justifies a $250 million budget film plus another $250 million media by without a theatrical and international theatrical component? Does that even make sense?
Peter Rader 49:35
Not Not, not at the moment, not at the moment. And that's where, you know, we have the advantage. The indie filmmaker actually has an advantage because our costs are so much lower, you know, I mean, whatever, 1 million 2 million, even less than a million
Alex Ferrari 49:51
1000 200,000. There's a lot of Doc's that do very well at that budget entry, a viable product.
Peter Rader 49:56
You know, you need some marketing money, you need some marketing money, you can't do it for free. You know, that we always say, it starts at 250. You know, you know, 250,000 is kind of wild wine what you need to really get eyeballs on suffering
Alex Ferrari 50:09
And well, how do you spend that? 250? What How do you allocate, what do you allocate?
Peter Rader 50:14
So for sure, a social media team publicist within your space, not necessarily these, you know, kind of Oscar campaign publicists that are super expensive, and you're lucky to get like one media placement out of their 12,000 a month, you know, retainer. We, we, you know, we have now cultivated some publicist that are so crafty about, you know, these kind of like, milking an outlet for all it's worth, like, you get a you get a media placement, you get an newsletter, you get a review, you get three things or, you know, whatever, 3000 bucks, you know, a blast, dedicated blast, you get a review, and you get a quarter page ad. So those types of components, you know, marketing consultants are useful. And, you know, it's you need, you need manpower, please budget for a full time, producer marketing and distribution, and one or two intern turns, or an assistant of some kind, because it takes a lot of energy and hybrid distribution is not for the meek, like, if you exhausted yourself on your film, prepare for a battle of at least that magnitude, if you really want to control the destiny of your film. And so when we, you know, when filmmakers come to us, we literally have, you know, the Morpheus speech to them. And we say, you know, you want the blue pill, or the red pill, if you want to just walk away from your film and hand it to a distributor, you know, God bless you, we understand that. Because if you take the blue pill, you're looking at a huge amount of work, it's going to pay off in the long run, but it's going to delay your next film by a year and a half. But it might position you in a much more powerful position to make your next film.
Alex Ferrari 52:02
Right! If you have an if you have a 400,000 person email list, who loved your first film, and you're talking to and have direct access to making the second film will probably be not only easier financing, that film will probably be easier. You could crowdsource it. Yeah, I mean, there, you literally could crowd you could crowdfunding, you could outsource. I mean, absolutely. You know, it's so powerful. And a lot of filmmakers just don't get that that yes, it's gonna be a lot more work. But let's say you put in a couple years after you make your first film, and you build out the infrastructure, you build that product lines, you build out services, you build out other things, they provide a value to the audience that you're trying to reach. And you want to stay in that niche. Let's say you want to stay in the realm of that niche, because you could easily do a documentary about meditation. And, and it'll hit the list you have for Yogananda comfortably, you could do a strictly yoga, documentary, and that list. So you can as long as you want to stay within that, that world, you can build out an infrastructure a foundation that you can then leverage and grow as you continue to grow as a as a filmmaker, or you build a machine that continues to, to pay dividends. And that money coming off of there allows you to go off to the to that horror movie you've been wanting to do psychological thriller that you've been wanting to do. But you need a business, you need money to do that, and have control of that. Is that a fair thing?
Peter Rader 53:28
This is absolutely right, that spot on. But you know, crowdsourcing is actually brilliant these days. Because if you, you know, again, if you find, like, Who's the audience I want to reach what's the what's the unique product that hasn't really been made? Before that will reach that audience? Can I engage them before I even start making it, you know, get to 300 of them to throw in some money, development, money, whatever, then they those guys will become our, you know, our evangelists going forward. And you know, give them some value added, put them in the credits, or beyond that, invite them to the set, you know, whatever. And then, you know, just go from there. And in that, if you do take the blue pill, and you are going to commit to this year and a half or whatever, it doesn't mean that you can't do start keep doing your creative work, you're going to do that. In a parallel track, you're going to get the sequel ready. And the Encore, you know, those next two products, you're going to start thinking about what they are, you're going to start researching them. You might even do some shooting or whatever, in conjunction with this front burner, which is distributing the last baby.
Alex Ferrari 54:30
Now, one question I wanted to ask you that we've been talking heavily about documentary, is there a way forward in this model with narrative?
Peter Rader 54:39
Um, for sure, for sure. There again, you know, you can find you can create a product for a passionate core and an underserved audience. There's an amazing movie that we saw recently called Come as you are about three gentlemen with disabilities with me Different types of disabilities who take to kind of get away from their caregivers and stuff and take this kind of road trip clandestine road trip to Canada, where there is a brothel that specializes in servicing gentlemen with disabilities. That's amazing. It's such a heartfelt cute, fun, amazing movie. And boy, is there an audience for that movie?
Alex Ferrari 55:23
Oh, God. Yes. Yes, you know, and it's a narrative. It's a narrative.
Peter Rader 55:27
That's a narrative. It's a narrative film, I highly recommend it. It's written by a friend of ours, a guy who took our sources screen lab, wrote that film.
Alex Ferrari 55:35
And then so again, that topic in that audience is so under served, like, I know, I've dealt with and consulted with films on autism. And that's a massive, massive audience, disabilities, veterans. Those kind of those kind of sub niches of the of society, you build a narrative around that? Yes, they're hungry for it. I in the book, I talk about the vegan chef movie, it's like you instead of making a romantic comedy, you make a vegan chef romantic comedy where a vegan chef meets a barbecue pit champion, and all hell breaks loose. And the product lines kind of like just spill out and in the vegan audience is so it's a it's I know, a lot of people like it's underserved like it is, especially in the narrative space. There's not a lot of vegan themed narrative films out there,
Peter Rader 56:25
Specially specially if you create an authentic proach portrayal.
Alex Ferrari 56:28
Peter Rader 56:29
In mainstream narratives there. It's always like, it's kind of a bit of a cliche version of that character.
Alex Ferrari 56:35
Yeah, the guy who's like, you know, eating twigs in the background, and I everybody in the show knows I've been vegan now for years, nine years, something like that. And I am far from a stick. And I eat very well. But that's the that's that's the mentality of from the 70s. In the 60s, that's what they did. They ate grass. And they were like this. back then. But yeah, so that's the kind of that's the kind of mentality to think around. Even a narrative. I'm so I know a lot of people listening are narrative filmmakers. And you can do that. But you've got to find the angle of the story. And you might have a, like a perfect example, a road movie. Well, if you if you make those characters more interesting, it's something that we haven't seen before, as opposed to just a standard fare. You have an audience you can tap into and start building building something around. Direct. Yeah. Now. Now, do you use aggregators by any chance? Do you use from aggregators? You do?
Peter Rader 57:36
Yeah. Yeah. Um, you know, we consult with them, it depends, depends on the product. But for sure, you know, you can't really get the positioning or the deal that you want without, yes, a middle person who knows? Who has access and knows how to make those deals. Yes.
Alex Ferrari 57:50
Got it. Well, I mean, the world that we live in is getting crazier and crazier. As the days go by. I know you and I both don't know what's gonna happen next week, let alone next year. I don't know where we're going to be, I think your model and what you're talking about with, with this film, giving things away giving the film away. I hate to say is kind of the future in many ways of filmmaking, where it's kind of like what musicians did before the COVID hit is like, they gave the album away. But they made their money on tour. And they made their money on T shirts, and they made their money on appearances. And that's where the that was where the revenue is, because there's no residuals anymore. An album sales are no one's buying albums anymore. So that's kind of the model is that? Is that a fair? comparison? Yeah, and the heartbreaking thing is that there's no tours anymore. Now they're doing virtual tours. I heard their virtual tours are driving driving concerts are happening now. Which is it's something it's something but it's not it's not obviously, you can't fit 10,000 people you have to do it on a field it's we have to shift we have to adjust and I'm sure I'm sure during all of your journeys, certain certain roads you went down didn't work. And you had to pivot.
Peter Rader 59:14
Yes, absolutely. That's that's the hallmark of hybrid distribution, his ability and willingness to pivot Plan B. This this is working with more resources than that this isn't working. Go go here. No keep keep doing that Bob and
Alex Ferrari 59:28
Bob and weave and not be precious about it. Don't be egotistical about like, Well no, this is the way I'm gonna go. And you know, I work for these other guys it has to work for me why it's and then they turn it into like my movie they don't like me. It's like a no, no, no, just gotta be. That's why it's good to hire a team. Yes. Who's not as emotionally attached? A lot of times unless you can literally compart my eyes. You're here. Your feelings for your art.
Peter Rader 59:52
We are filmmakers so we know. We feel you.
Alex Ferrari 59:58
Exactly. Now what advice would To give a filmmaker trying to break it into in break into the business today, literally today.
Peter Rader 1:00:08
So funny, I've got some writing in this household
Alex Ferrari 1:00:12
Right. Yes. Yep.
Peter Rader 1:00:16
Just in that very question. You know, here's the thing, there are, the future is unknown, but the technology at our fingertips right now is unbelievable, what you can do. Like, my 21 year old son just created this incredible piece of music on logic, you know, right here in the house, you know, he's got, I think, probably not, not that microphone, but similar that like, I'm sure, you know, good vocal mic, he's, you know, he's really good musician. And, you know, he put out this whole thing, you can create your own content at a professional level, on your laptop, you know, there's nothing that you can't do. So I would say step one is start to figure out what what's your voice what what is what is the narrative that is trying to speak through you and start creating bite sized chunks of that content, they can be little blogs or they can be you know, a single or something or whatever it is, start experimenting with putting that content out. You know, plant your flag online somewhere, create your YouTube channel or whatever it is, or your SoundCloud you know, account and, and start to populate it and engage and reach out to like minded people start to find your tribe, you know, people who could co create with you or you know, simpatico or whatever. And eventually, that will lead you to your path and where you can actually start monetizing it.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:43
Now, where can people find out more about you your services, and also the movie?
Peter Rader 1:01:48
Okay, infinite potential.com infinite potential. com is the film and everything is there, including our social media accounts and everything. You'll find it all right there. Our next event is this Saturday. Actually, you'll probably broadcast this app. We're having events throughout the summer. And then our company is counterpoint films and the website is thisiscounterpointfilms.com. My email is [email protected]. So
Alex Ferrari 1:02:22
I've warned you before Don't be putting your email out there. But okay, if you want people to email you, that's fine. You might get into dated. But um, Peter, thank you, man so much for the work you're doing and helping filmmakers navigate this ridiculous world that is filmed the film industry. And I'm always excited to talk to you and your lovely wife, Paula, about this stuff. And I'm sure in a year or two less than that, probably we're like, hey, so you want to know what happened? Here. Let's get back on the show. I'll tell you what happened in COVID. Or this new thing that we just discovered. So I do appreciate what you're doing. And thank you so much for coming on the show, and, and dropping the knowledge bombs on the tribe today. So thank you, my friend.
Peter Rader 1:03:06
Thank you, Alex, and I appreciate what you're doing spreading the knowledge. That's awesome. Thank you so much.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:12
I want to thank Peter for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Thank you so much, Peter. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/429. Now before I go, guys, I know that 2020 was a stellar year for amazing guests coming onto the show. We had some really, really big names. Grace, our little podcast last year, but 2021 is shaping up to be a pretty impressive list already. So keep an eye out for the next few months that I have some amazing, amazing filmmakers coming on the show to drop knowledge bombs on the tribe. So keep an eye out for that. Thanks again for listening guys. As always keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there. And I'll talk to you soon.
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- Peter Rader – Official Site
- Infinite Potential
- CounterPoint Films
- AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda – Website
- AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda – Facebook
- IFHTV Video Podcast – Building an Audience for Your Indie Film with Paola di Florio & Peter Rader
- From Legendary Flop to a Moneymaking Machine with Waterworld’s Peter Rader