I’m so excited to bring this episode to the IFH Tribe I can barely contain myself. Today on the show we have ex-distributor turned filmmaker Jeff Deverett. Jeff reached out to me after reading my book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business. He wanted to tell me that the book hit the nail on the head and that my film distribution chapter was right on.
I came to find out that he was an ex-distributor and had was on that side of the business for 20 years. We got to talking and I asked if he would come on the show and spill the beans on:
- How a bad distribution deal is structured
- Why the entire film distribution business is systemically designed to screw the filmmaker
- How a distributor negotiates a deal from his point of view
- How to follow the money
- What a filmmaker needs to do NOT to get taken advantage of
After this episode, you will know “where the bodies are buried.” As Jeff said on the show
“It’s not the film distributors want to screw over filmmakers is it just happens organically.”
We also go into his Filmtrepreneurial business model. He has directed seven feature films, three of which are currently playing on Netflix. He self-distributes all his films. Jeff is a producer, director, writer, and actor known for Full Out 2: You Got This! (2020), ism (2019), The Samuel Project (2018), Kiss & Cry (2017), Full Out (2015), King of the Camp (2008), and My Brother’s Keeper (2004). Jeff’s successful film and TV career began with distribution with New World Entertainment, Astral Communications, Anchor Bay Entertainment, and his own company, Deverett Media Group.
We go into:
- How and why he chooses his niches
- How he leverages “the niche” in his filmmaking and marketing
- Why Netflix has one of the fairest distribution deals in the business
- and much more…
This episode is going to be EPIC. Sit back and get ready to have your mind blown. Enjoy my conversation with Jeff Deverett.
IFH Academy’s Film Distribution: Confidential Course
I’m also announcing the BETA Launch of IFH Academy’s Film Distribution: Confidential Course.
As part of the BETA team you will get:
- Massive discount for early adopters
- Be the first to see new lessons as I create them
- Access to me during the creation of the course
- Give feedback on the lessons and request new lessons
I want this course to be the most comprehensive course on film distribution anywhere in the world and having you be part of the BETA Team will help me do that.
Alex Ferrari 0:32
Today's guest is Jeff Deverett. And Jeff is an ex distributor who has turned into a filmmaker. Jeff had been in the distribution side of the business for almost 20 years and has been making films as a filmmaker for the past 15 years. He has directed seven feature films, three of which are on Netflix. Currently, he self distributes all his films and only after he switched from The distribution side to the filmmaker side, did he realize what the hell was going on? And how filmmakers have everything stacked against them when walking into a negotiation for a film distribution deal? Now, Jeff reached out to me after reading my book, Rise of the filmtrepreneur, and really want to just talk about the book and the concepts in the book, and congratulated me on the distribution chapter in that book, because it was really right on. So as I was talking to Jeff, I found that he was obviously an ex distributor, and I asked them, would you be interested in coming on the show? And kind of talking about distribution? And how distributors do those kind of tricks that they do, to kind of screw over filmmakers in many ways? And he said, Absolutely, I know where the bodies are buried, I'll be more than happy to share everything. And when I finally recorded this episode, Jeff did not disappoint. He laid out so many golden nuggets on the mindset of a distributor on how how the industry has just been built this way, how the deals are structured, how you follow the money, how you can negotiate certain aspects, what kind of clauses you might need to protect yourself, when to walk away from a distribution deal, when to you know, maybe not get everything you want, but move forward with a distribution deal. It is it was just mind blowing. It was just an insane conversation. And we also talk about how he's using the film intrapreneur method has been using the film entrepreneur method for years in regards to how he is using niche filmmaking, and how he's been able to really build a business around his filmmaking passion. This is an epic conversation. It lasts over two hours long, so I need you to strap in, get ready to take notes. And prepare yourselves to have your mind blown. Without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Jeff Deverett. I like to welcome the show, Jeff Deverett. Man, how are you my friend?
Jeff Deverett 7:24
I'm great. Thanks for having me.
Alex Ferrari 7:25
Oh, man, thank you for doing this. I appreciate it. You know, you and I have been talking for a couple weeks now going back and forth on some stuff and and the idea was like we you know what you think it was yesterday? Would you like me to come on your show to talk about all things distribution, because I know where that bought, if I may, quote, I know where the bodies are buried. So I was like, Well, yes, sir. Yeah. Do you want us to blur out your face? You're like, No, No, I'm fine. So um, before we get into it, tell the audience how'd you get into the business?
Jeff Deverett 7:59
Okay, so you're gonna hear from my accent that I'm formally from Canada. I now live in San Diego, California with beautiful San Diego. So, but I lived in Toronto, Canada for most of my life. And my wife and I decided because we want to make a lifestyle change, mostly because of the winters in Canada. As you and I agree, Toronto is a great city. And it's a great film city, by the way, too. But it is nasty in the winter. And we were eat, she's American. So we were able to make that change. So that's why we ended up in the United States. And I'm now a citizen, very proud. And actually, a couple days of july fourth, I take that very seriously. So I celebrate like fourth. Okay, anyways, how to get in the business. So I got what you call the bug, the virus, you know, for lack of I got that virus, which is the filmmaking virus at about 16 years old, I recall. I don't know why I got it. I just, I just got the virus that I needed to be a filmmaker. And so when I was going to college, in an 18 is in in Canada. My dad said, so what do you think you want to do? And I said, I want to be a filmmaker. He said for Really? And I go Yeah, I think I do. Yeah, he goes, do you want to be a producer or director? And I said, I don't know. What's the difference? No, no, he didn't even know this crazy conversation. But this is what literally went on. And he said, Well, if you want to be a producer, I think you should like either go to law school or business school should either get an MBA or to law a law degree because I think there's going to be a lot of business involved. But if you want to be a filmmaker, like a director, go to film school, because you know, it's all artistic. So I said, I think I want to be a producer. And anyways, I went and got an undergrad degree, a business degree in economics and finance. And then I went to law school and got a law degree. And then I went right into like, a practice in Canada. You have to practice law for one year. It's you know, to do it. Because sort of an apprenticeship. And then right after that, I only own companies, I wanted to be in their legal department. So and I ended up at first as a small indie company, but then in a big sort of, you know, quasi studio as big as they are in Canada, a public company, a media company. So when I was being hired into that job, I thought I was being interviewed for the legal department, but they ended up putting me in distribution, and I went into sales. And I said, this is unusual. They said, well, you have the right personality for sales. So and we'd like your background, and we know you can talk business and negotiate contracts. So we're going to put you into the sales department. And I had no clue. I mean, I literally thought I was going into the legal department into business affairs. So I said, Yeah, this is fun. Because I got to go to all the markets, you know, I got to literally travel the world go to all the markets. So my job was to basically acquire indie films, and programming TV, both TV and movies. And to set it up for distribution. Ultimately, I phased into the selling side, as opposed to the acquisition side. And then I started running the domestic sales operations internally in the studio. And then we branched out into lots of different things. As you say, you know, you got to be like your film trippin Earth book, which I read, by the way, and enjoyed. Thank you. So we branched out into lots and lots of different merchandise. And it wasn't just about the programming, it became a full business in terms of how we can monetize lots of other things.
Alex Ferrari 11:39
So how do so what are the two? That's just curious what other products or what other things that you were what other revenue streams are coming in from the films?
Jeff Deverett 11:46
Well, I don't know if you totally reviewed my my bio that I sent you.
Alex Ferrari 11:50
Oh, there was I do remember? Yes. Yes. Please tell the audience. There was this one, there was this one, this one small IP that you guys
Jeff Deverett 11:57
One small little item? And I hopefully we're talking about the same thing, because we didn't talk about it. But so my biggest acquisition by far for the Canadian market? Was this purple dinosaur called Barney Yep. Yeah. So for those of you who remember, Barney, you know, was gigantic, gigantic, you know, children's property. And if for those of you smiling, because you probably your kids were probably hooked on it. Anyways, I met this woman named Cheryl Leach, at one of the conferences in Las Vegas. At that time, Barney, she had just made three videos, Barney was actually blue wasn't purple was a different voice was a different thing. And I had at the time, and I was very, you know, programming for kids. And I meet this school teacher Cheryl Leach. And she tells me that this property and that she's a school teacher, and she knows what kids resonates with them. And I, I brought it back to, and I said, Guys, we should acquire this. I don't know why there's something about it. This woman kind of just is she's connected. She's hooked into what the audience really wants. So we acquired it. And sure enough, Barney, like, within a year, got onto PBS and became like, what it was, she changed the color, you know, and it grew and grew and grew, and it became this fantastic property. Anyways, originally, we just acquired, I just did the routes for, you know, basically the programming, which was television and home video, at the time, and home video was monsterous, with VHS at the time. And then we transitioned to DVD. And we, you know, over the first couple of years, we developed a really good relationship. And she said, You know, we're doing all this other stuff, like we're doing all these, you know, all these licensed brands, like plush dolls, and books, publishing, music, toiletries, clothing, and, you know, like, there's a lot of opportunity for that in Canada, because, you know, a lot of it's not license and I said, Okay, where do I sign up? And we've got everything we got, we became the music publisher, the book publisher. I mean, it was just the biggest was the
Alex Ferrari 13:59
Money just printing money, printing money.
Jeff Deverett 14:02
Plush dolls was the biggest and then we realized that the the show is just a TV commercial, really to sell, to get people interested to sell merchandise. And we did concerts, and we did so much stuff. And it was first of all was a lot of fun. Secondly, I learned so much about Merchandising, and, and until rewrites that type of thing. Um, there was tons and tons of piracy dealt with, of course, everything was being pirated at that time. I mean, you know, you'd make a plush doll A week later, some ripoff doll would appear in Walmart from nine and up from some other distributor and yeah, I mean, it's spent a lot of time dealing with that. But it was it was monstrous Now, the only thing is I didn't own that company. I was working for a public company. They were great guys, and I enjoyed it. But they made a ton of money. And the people like the back then when we started was called the lions group became lyric studios and ultimately hit entertainment, bought it and great, great property. And you know,
Alex Ferrari 15:01
so that is, okay, so the Barney the Barney lady Cheryl. She actually made money with this deal. Oh, she made tons of money. So okay, and we're gonna get into why that deal made money and a lot of others didn't. But you did this during the 90s. And I'm mistaken, right. 90s, early 2000s
Jeff Deverett 15:23
Yep, that was mid mid 90s. And yeah, mid 90s 96 I like property. Yep.
Alex Ferrari 15:28
Okay, so cuz I remember when I was, I was still like, 93 I was working 92 I think 9293 I was still working at a video store. And, and Barney, just so much, Barney. Yeah, it
Jeff Deverett 15:42
might have been 9095. Maybe I started there. 94 Yeah. And it was early on. So yeah,
Alex Ferrari 15:47
it was around there. But I remember we had plush dolls. And like you couldn't keep anything, Barney. And it was it was insane. So can you tell the audience a little bit about what it was like in the 90s with distribution in the sense that, you know, VHS was obviously King. Basically, you could almost put almost anything out on VHS, and you would make money with it. Is that a fair statement?
Jeff Deverett 16:13
Okay, well, let's just finish the Barney thing first. Okay. Barney was that I wouldn't even call that independent filmmaking. It started off as a TV show. But it became an entire, you know, licensing and merchandising business. That's what that is. So in that it's not really independent filmmaking. So let's switch gears. And I'll tell you about the 90s. So I started off primarily in television, because video was just starting. And you know, I mean, you can figure out my age, if you will, I'll tell you, I'm 59 years old. And I started right out of law school at 26. So I've been doing it for a few years. And so VHS had just launched. And basically, you know, we were all like trying to figure out, like, how do we make money with this? You know, because some of the, you know, the big block, like, you know, the big video chains, Atlantic blockbuster and stuff like that. And so we originally were selling there was no sell through it was just rental. So we were selling VHS tapes for about $110 correct. We were selling it to video stores, they would do the rentals and that's how it went out. But and then I remembered the first movie that they attempted to sell ETS No, no, that was no there was one I think was Top Gun. It might have been I thought it was Top Gun.
Alex Ferrari 17:34
It might have been an Indiana Jones or might have been a Top Gun. It was one of those Yeah, it was one of those I remember et was the thing that blew me
Jeff Deverett 17:42
out of the water. Yeah, so and the studios were taken they were going to take a chance with that because that was kind of breaking the mold going and selling directly to consumers through like stores like Walmart as opposed to blockbuster you know, and back then it was $30 you know to buy a VHS tape it wasn't you know $10.12 so that was a whole new business model we were all thinking oh no, there's no way anybody's gonna buy that because they can rent it for you know, 399 or 499 and a blockbuster store and sure enough, you know, took a probably a year to develop that market and that became the business you know, now the rental business was still pretty strong but you know, the sell through business became everything and then of course DVDs came along so we just changing format but the sales process was all still the same. And you know, those were I mean semi I'm going to call it glory years I mean the
Alex Ferrari 18:34
The money was flowing the mean money was flowing like crazy.
Jeff Deverett 18:38
Well people and people were enjoying it like people want it to own you got it you got like a piece of merchandise you got like a nice box you got a you know, item so and you had people were collecting like libraries were developing so and you know, you could watch it over and over again we had special special features was a gigantic element to put on to the you know, all the DVDs and but you said something earlier you said you could sell anything. The truth was you pretty well could sell anything. As long
Alex Ferrari 19:06
as I had to listen. Listen, I I had I had an my film in my mind because I know this because when I was working in the video store in the late 80s, early 90s the stuff that would come in there was the Slimer Rama bowl Rama. There was assault of the killer bimbos, which was literally two three girls flying like that with book popping bubblegum. The exterminator which is obviously a ripoff of the Terminator, and then anything that Roger Corman put out like it's it was insane. You could literally put out and I remember the guy driving up to the front of my mom and pop it was in my shirt about the mom and pop shop that I work that he would drive up with a van It was like so city he would open up the back of the van and he would have just VHS is lined on the walls like you could walk into the van and pick out titles to buy and they were like unit they weren't like the dick studio stuff. It was all the indie stuff. And we would buy a boat like, oh, that that cover looks good, right? Let's put it on the shelf. And that's what we'd rent. And you could, it was just a, it was a gold rush. It was a gold rush and DVD. And I think that's the whole, I think Hollywood basically leaned on that DVD market so much and VHS market, it was their entire business model. Yeah,
Jeff Deverett 20:20
we came the primary revenue source for sure. For many, many years. And, and for good reason, you know, people had fun, like, it was an event to go to a blockbuster store, you know, you go there, and you'd walk around and look at all the different titles. And you never heard of any of this stuff, like you said, but but it was fun to do it. I enjoyed doing that.
Alex Ferrari 20:36
Yeah, it was a lot. It was a it was a different time, it was a different time. So Alright, so you're now in distribution, and you obviously are handing out deals left and right. And you're talking to independent filmmakers, you're talking to content creators. And when you were in the sales side of things, you know, when we spoke earlier, you know, you just like well, Alex, you know, I didn't knowingly try to screw over filmmakers. That was just the way the system is kind of set up. Can you elaborate on that? A little bit? Yeah, for sure. Yeah.
Jeff Deverett 21:08
I mean, here I am. I, you know, I'm 26 I get hired by a big large media company to go into their entertainment department. And, you know, what do I know, I'm, you know, I'm fresh out of law school and new to the whole industry and every like that, and they said, Here's how it works. You know, I'm not taking, you know, like, I'm not trying to make excuses or anything, but like, you got to learn, right? Here's how it works. Here's how the distribution business works. Here's how the deals are done. Here's how. And I was a sponge. I just absorbed it all. And I went with the flow because I was working for them. And this is what you do. And this is how, you know you're learning. Right?
Alex Ferrari 21:43
And by the way, to your defense. That's this just as the system back then and the 80s in the night like that. There was no options. And everybody did business this way. There wasn't like there was no self distribution was no, there was no there's nothing. There's no such thing.
Jeff Deverett 21:58
Yeah. Yeah. So this, this is how it was done. Yeah. So. So I said, Okay, I can do this. I mean, I'm learning and you know, I'm trying my best and being diligent and going with the flow and everything like that. So it wasn't literally until 2004 when I decided to make my first feature film, that I really understood what was going on. So I'm not an evil guy didn't want to screw anybody or give bad deals aren't like that. That was the business. And then when I realized that I'm on going to be on the other side of this equation, right? All of a sudden, the light turned on and said, Hey, wait a second. This kind of doesn't make sense. You know, and for all the people, you know, who are maybe listening who did a deal with me in the early years, I'm sorry, if I gave you this episode, your penance? I didn't know any better Honest to God, I didn't
Alex Ferrari 22:50
know and look and to be and to be fair, to you, Jeff, like again, in that time period, it that's all there was, there was just no, there was just there was no other options. And everybody was given the same deals, which were horrible deals, or many times, because if you didn't like it, you just go like, Don't take it and go somewhere else. But the other person that they'll give you the same deal. So there weren't a lot of options for filmmakers. But there were obviously some makers, some filmmakers, were making money. Obviously, somebody was making money somewhere, because it's not all one and one and done. So was it because they structured deals differently? Maybe they had, how does that work?
Jeff Deverett 23:26
That's exactly it. Here's the thing is the distributors aren't evil. They're just business people, they're business people in a business that's designed to be skewed in their favor. That's all that's all it is. But they're not bad people. Some of them are bad people, but they're not bad people. You know, the deals are bad. That that's the problem. You know, think about like, a film is a major major thing in somebody's life in a filmmakers life. It's it's as big as and I shouldn't compare it to this, but it's almost as big as having a child. You put your heart and soul into this, you put all your financial wherewithal into it. You spend months and years I mean, it's a big big deal. And you know, it can change your life or it could you could go broke, you can make a you know, do well. I mean, it's a big, big deal to make a movie. All right. So if you like that other it's a major asset also. Now think about that biggest asset in most people's lives is if they buy a home. Now think about this. Okay, I was I was thinking about our discussion we're going to have today and I want to compare it to home buying, like when you buy your first home, you're a little naive, your little green around the ears and everything like that, but but you're still smart enough to know that they put a list price up and you can negotiate it. You don't necessarily have to pay the list price. They say this is what we're asking. But you know, make us an offer. And you know, so you it's negotiable. Right? Now when you go to that's buying on the selling side, when you go to sell your House, like, you know, the agent says, Okay, I want a 6% commission and you say, Well, wait a second, why can't we do it at a 4%? commission? You know, it's it's fair game to ask those questions. Because there's a lot of money at stake. And this is your major acid in your life. And you know, like, you get one shot to do it. And hey, like, he had a lowball offer, you say, you know, thanks a lot. But I want you right back at a higher price. This is regular standard operating procedure in real estate for a major asset like a house. Why isn't that the case? With indie films? Why does a filmmaker basically walk into a distributor and they put a deal in front of them, and they kind of think, Oh, this is what I have to live with. And the and and here's the reason is, because they don't know any better, they don't know that they can actually negotiate it, they don't know that they can push it, they don't know, they sort of don't know, the right questions to ask and know where the give the give and take points are. And you know, like, it doesn't hurt to ask, I'm not saying you're necessarily going to get it. But the reason the deals are primarily bad in, in the film business is because one side, one party to the deal doesn't know as much as the other party. ie the filmmaker just does not come armed with enough knowledge and experience as the distributor does. So they're always going to, I'm not gonna use the word bully, but they're going to negotiate a better deal for themselves, because the other party doesn't really know how to negotiate that deal. And that's why that's why a lot of indie filmmakers get screwed not because a distributor they're in business to make money. They're business people, right. And if they can do a better deal for themselves, then you know, fair's fair, that's, that's their business. Now, they know darn well, that the other guy on the other side of the table is really not suited to negotiate that deal. And, by the way, a lot of the lawyers that that in, right, don't make bring in, they also don't know what they're doing. I've seen so many lawyers screw this up, because, you know, they're there. They're a real estate lawyer, or their family law lawyers, something like that, you know, they're not specialists in this area. So it's not like, like, you know, something you talk about in your book, and on some of your podcasts, he's talked about, like the 15 year term, like that is ludicrous, 15 year terms, but if you're a distributor, hey, why not ask for 25 year terms, like, hey, they're long, you can get your distributor, take what you can get, right. But, you know, on the filmmaker side of the piton, like, it's giving a 15 year term without, you know, outs like performance, you know, guarantees and stuff like that. But for a lawyer to not question that. I mean, like, Saturday? Well, the reason they wouldn't is because they don't know, they think okay, maybe you know, these guys have been in business a long time. They're big, legitimate company, maybe that's the standard procedure.
Alex Ferrari 27:51
So that's also, I want to stop you there for a second so that the big distributor, okay, so there's, and again, we're not talking Warner Brothers universal, we're not talking. We're not talking to majors, we're talking, talking, not talking about studios, we're not talking, that's a different conversation. All right. Independent, independent companies, there are a handful out there who have a lot of perceived value based on their name, that they're big, that they're kind of everywhere, that they're releasing movies all the time. And they've positioned themselves in the in the filmmaking space, and the independent filmmaking space, as a, as a player in the end as far as getting films out there. And there's this kind of almost honor associated with being a part of their library, to say, Hey, I got released by these guys. I'm not going to get paid. But I could say that I got released by these guys. And like, what are their business? Does that make sense?
Jeff Deverett 28:51
Hold on, hold on, let me defend them for a second. Let me defend them. First of all, they know what they're doing. I mean, most distributors, they're in the business, they know how to sell, they know where that they know, they know how to do the deals in the international marketplace. That's what they do day in, day out. So you know, and they, a lot of them are good at doing it. Right? The problem is the deal. It's not necessarily okay. There are some times when a distributor will take on your movie and not do anything with it. You know, but that's not there. But they're not interested in that they don't want to waste their own time and money. They generally want to take on stuff that they believe they can do stuff with which we'll get into in a second. Okay. But the problem is the deal that just the deal skewed more in their favor. But like if you you know, the distributor generally wants to do a good job because the, the better the job they do, the more money they make, like the more revenue they can generate, because they're generally working on a percentage, the more money they can make, so they're not in the business to screw filmmakers. That just happens organically because the deals are set up the wrong way. I will do
Alex Ferrari 30:00
a second I can't we just stop there for a second. I just we have to, we have to rewind that I need to, I need to focus on this a little bit. It's not that distributor screw for this. I'm gonna put this on a T shirt. And then I start the film distributors wanted screw filmmakers it just happens organically that should be a T shirt, I want you to put it in my store and sell it. That is brilliant. Can you imagine walking? Can you imagine walking AFM with that shirt? Everybody would say Where can I get one of those? Awesome? Well, nowadays, absolutely. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Jeff Deverett 30:47
Okay, but the reason is, is because the filmmaker has not done a good deal for themselves. That's the reason it's not that the distributor did their job, they did a good deal for themselves. The filmmaker just didn't know better.
Alex Ferrari 30:58
It's okay. So So you were saying that they they are in the business to make money? And that's no question. And they are in the business to acquire films that can generate them revenue, no question. But a lot of times, it's you know, there's certain distributors out there that release 40 5060 movies a month, they're obviously not spending marketing money on all those films, they're obviously not spending, they don't have the manpower to, to focus their energy on on per film situations. Like there's like look a 24, which is you know, basically the Sundance of independence and distribution. Like, they pick 1112 movies a year. That's it. And, and neon, another one, like these kind of, you know, vertical, there's a handful these guys that just pick, they're, they're very selective with the kind of films that they pick out and base and they actually give it love and they actually push it and they actually like put the whole company behind it. But some of these shops they're just spitting out movies so off so much as a volume play, which is like acquire as many films as I can, it's and put them all into my library, and then try to sell them off to a streaming platform as a package deal. Were so there they just acquire acquire, acquire acquire for as long as I can keep them on the books, which makes me look better because my library is bigger and I look more attractive to to the new streaming platforms or or cable stations or whatever areas, but that necessarily means that they're going to do anything for them. So the value a lot of times and please correct me if I'm wrong. A lot of times the value is in the number of films that are halfway decent because there's a there's distributions that the distributors that will take anything, anything yeah, anything adjust to fill up their their library and sell sell like 20 crappy horror movies as a package deal to, you know, South Korea, and and they make three grand off that and that in the filmmakers will never make any, any money. So that, but if they try to sell that one film out of that 20 they'll never make it. Does that make sense? Am I wrong? All
Jeff Deverett 33:00
right. You're partially right person, right? I'm going to defend their honor. Okay. But that's fine. Okay, so here's the thing. They Yeah, there are there are companies that do that, and that's their business model. But you're the filmmaker, you own the movie, it's your responsibility to make the right deal for you. It's they're not forcing you into anything. You're walking in their front door, you're saying, hey, let me interview you. Let's see if you're the right fit for this movie. And now let's see if we can make the right deal. The problem is the deals are bad. That's the problem. So I'd like to talk spend a little bit of time talking about that, if you don't mind, please. So these are not evil distributors, because what you just described, the all you have to do is ask all you have to do if you need to know the asset. Like if you don't want to be put in a package with 20 other films for that month, you need to say, Hey, guys, how many films you you know, do you acquire a month or release a month? And, you know, do you package these things? But you got to ask those questions like you would in any business. So fears fear, if you ask the questions. Now, if they lie to you, they're bad people. Okay. But chances are, nobody's asked the question. So they're not even lying. They're not offering that information up there. That, you know, they might be omitting it. But But you didn't ask. So you got to ask the right questions. Alright, let me give you let me tell you what happens is, this is what I I've taken some filmmakers to these kind of meetings. I mean, I generally do it from my own meetings. But this is my favorite kind of distribution meeting. And some of it is me messing around and just having fun. So I go to a distributor. And for those distributors who are listening to this, some of you actually may have been in these meetings with me where I've done this Okay, so the first thing I say is guys, the reason I'm here is because this is a third party independent distributor if I want to if I'm looking for a deal for one of my movies, right, okay. I generally self distribute now, but did you know sometimes you know, there are situations where I'll still do that for foreign or something like that. So, first thing is guys, are you guys good at what you do? The answer is I'm going to paraphrase I get I'm just going to go quickly. You know? Hey, how you doing? Are you guys good at what you do? Jeff? We are the best in the business. Okay, we are the the one thing that you can be sure that it will be consistent with every single Film Company distribution company go to they were all tell you were the best in the business. Sure if they say they're the best, but we are the best, obviously, obviously. Okay, that's wonderful. I want to be dealing with the best. So I'm at the best. That's fantastic. Okay. Now, you've watched my movie, hopefully or the trailer or something like that, at least maybe. Is this a good fit for? You know, Jeff, we wouldn't be talking you wouldn't be sitting there right now if this wasn't the right fit for us. Okay. So you're the best and my movie can fit into your plan into your, you know, offerings. Yeah. Okay. All right. Okay, so we're through that. Let's, let's get to the next thing. Alright. Guys, give me just sort of an idea, an estimate as to what you'll sell, what's the gross revenue? And this is obviously way more detailed conversation because we're talking you know, different windows and television, you know, Home Entertainment, you know, digital, obviously, all this kind of stuff. Just over the next say, year when you release this movie. What give me a ballpark figure. And this is, you know, this is what distribution companies do and projections. Yeah, give me projections. What do you think it'll do? This is always the first answer. Well, Jeff, you know, it's hard to it's hard to say for sure. We it's we don't know for sure. It's
Alex Ferrari 36:34
the marketplace is changing.
Jeff Deverett 36:36
Yeah, the marketplace. Exactly. All that stuff. I say okay, guys. You just told me you're the best at the business. Oh, by the way, the other thing is, like, you've really how long you've been in business? Oh, 1215 years? How many films are released? 500. And how many of you made money with 490? Oh, so you guys really know what you're doing? You really, really know what you're doing? Okay. Give me a forecast. Well, we can't really give you a forecast. Because we're not sure what's going to happen. Why didn't you just say you, you released 500 films and you made money with 490? You must kind of know that you're the best in the business, you must be able to give me a forecast. Otherwise, how would you be in business? And how would you be so successful? Okay, you're right. Here's the forecast. We're gonna do, and I'm just gonna make up a number here. We're gonna do $2 million in sales in the first year after release this and here's how it works. ba ba, ba, ba Ba, it's a ballpark. They always say, you know, what you have, we're actually probably going to do 4 million, but we need to be conservative. Always say that. Yeah. You know, because we were probably going to double what we say but
Alex Ferrari 37:37
at least at least, but let's say we're going to do two, and occasional. And occasionally they'll go and there was another film that we had that was just like yours that did 5 million, but I don't want to get you excited. I don't want to get too hyped up. I
Jeff Deverett 37:48
don't want to get too excited. I don't want to get too excited. Okay. Okay. So I say, okay, so you're pretty confident about that. And you kind of just whispered in my ear that you're going to do 4 million, so 2 million is pretty conservative. Right? Can I like, can we use that as the number? Yep. Okay, now you're gonna and now we're going to just talk about which we can get into details about this later, Alex, but the terms and the conditions, but ultimately, how much of that money am I going to see? Well, you know, Jeff, we're not sure. Okay, till I get, let's get through here that you're the best. Okay, you're between your costs, your fees sub distribution, this that, that it added up? Do you think it's fair to say I'm going to get 50% of that money? Yeah, 50%, you should get a lot more, you should probably get to 60 65%. But let's go with 50 just to be on the safe side, just so we don't set your expectation. Okay, so let's just do some simple math. So you said you're going to do conservatively $2 million in sales, and I'm going to get 50% that would be a million dollars. Correct? Right. Okay. Guys, I have an idea. How about a minimum guarantee? Because you guys, you know, you're really you're the best in the business. You've had all this experience. You've just given me a conservative estimate. What about a minimum guarantee? What about giving me a minimum guarantee? Well, you know, Jeff, we don't do that. We don't give minimum guarantees. I say like, Well, why wouldn't you like you just lowball me and your sales figures. You lowball me and my percentage. You have You're the best in the business and everything and you and you're you've released all these films that are similar, like you must be pretty confident. They said Well, what I mean you know, what would you want? And I said, I got an idea. How about this? You told me 2 million in sales, which is really 4 million. You told me 50% which is really 60% so we're down to a million. I got this like great, crazy idea just just to be super conservative like you guys. Give me half just half of what you think you are going to give me so you are going to return a million dollars to me, give me 500,000 upfront guarantee, which is half Jeff, are you what are your mind half of what We guys, why would I be out of my mind? Aren't you the guys who just told me that it should be a walk in the park slam dunk to do that? I'm looking for half of it. If I was my mind, I'd ask you for all of it. But I just want half of it. Well, you know, we can't do that. And I say, Why can't you do that? Well, what if we don't sell it? If you don't sell it, you know, then then you're not so good. Well, what if our numbers are wrong? Well, you but you do that the best. Your numbers are right. So okay, so that's the game that gets played
Alex Ferrari 40:30
now. Oh, my God, this is I've heard that I've been in those meetings. I've been in those meetings. It's fantastic. I was gonna say, hey, just give me 10% give me 100 grand. They're asked what a puckered either way, it doesn't matter if, if you want to say give me 10 grand, they're asking to puckered.
Jeff Deverett 40:44
Okay, so now Now I'm going to tell you Okay, so that's from the filmmakers point of view, right. So there's a reasonable ask, but you know, it's a little bit irritating for for distributors to go through. But now I'm going to put myself on the distributor side of that equation, okay. And I'm going to tell you what's going through their heads, okay. Their heads are, as that conversation is going on. This is what's going processing through a smart, sophisticated distributor knows the business. They're saying, Do we really need this guy's film? Like, that's number one? Do we need this bullshit? Do we need to talk to this guy? Like, is he wasting our time? We're gonna have 19 other films this month? Do we need to go through this with this guy? Like, how important is this movie? So let's say if it's not important, it's over. At that point, they don't need the hassle. They don't need to negotiate. It's over. But let's say, hey, the guy's got a pretty good movie, we could probably make some serious money off of it. Let's keep this conversation going. So so let's get past that. Okay. So then the second thing they're thinking is okay, the guy's asking some of the right questions, and he's being a bit cocky. And he's, you know, trying to move the needle here and there. But how much does he really no, like, we could put this guy into play, and we'll, we'll screw him royally, like I will. And I gotta tell you how that works afterwards. Okay. Do we really want to put them into play? If we do, we'll take his film. We'll give him we're not giving him half a million dollar guarantee, even though we love the film, and we really gonna make a lot of money with it. You know, we'll be able to I can read in his eyes will lowball this guy. It's a poker game, Alex. That's all it is. It's just a poker game. Sure. I'm going to call the guy's bluff. I'm going to I'm going to call not going to go all in. But so you know, we'll put 200,000 on the table. And he'll bite because he's anxious. And we'll get him back. At the end of the day, it's all going to come you'll
Alex Ferrari 42:30
never see that he'll never see another dime. Other Penny anyway. So what the heck, right? Let's just do that. And we know for sure. And we have a really, as a distributor, I'm like, we know this is already pre sold, we can go to this guy for 50,000. We can go that guy for 150,000 and go to that guy for another 2x. So we'll cover our will cover are not automatically so there's no good. There's no way a distributor is going to put money down unless they have an absolute 99.9% guarantee that they're going to get that money recouped. Is that fair?
Jeff Deverett 42:59
No, that's not fair. I mean, they'll they'll take a little bit of risk, but no, maybe 25% risk. Next up 99.9. Okay, all right.
Alex Ferrari 43:08
And most these days, it has to be a really it these days, they don't generally anyway, because it's just
Jeff Deverett 43:16
if they're if they're in love with your movie, and they think they can hit you know, make some serious money with it, you know, a little bit of it not not a ton. Not a ton. Maybe 20% at the most I don't know, you know, it's hard to pick that number. Everybody's different. Okay, but yeah, but they're not taking 100% risk, obviously, they know already, that they have some output deals that they have some you know, like, like you say preset, you know, revenue stream revenue. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 43:39
they have relationships that they could call a bob over in Germany and Bob's gonna buy. Pretty cool.
Jeff Deverett 43:45
Yeah, yeah. So after you leave that meeting, they're going to make some phone calls, make sure that they're good to go. And, and then they're going to give you your money. But the other thing they know is that they're in first position on everything. So even if disaster strikes, it's gonna be pretty difficult for them to lose that money, because they've been so conservative with you. And I can do the math with you like,
Alex Ferrari 44:06
so. Can you stop one second, I just want to I want everyone to listen to this really quickly. You said something I want to just focus on for a second, you said that they're not going to take 100% of the risk. But the filmmaker is taking 100% risk signing with them, because they're not in control. Is that a fair statement?
Jeff Deverett 44:25
Oh, that that. Okay. That's the bottom line right there. Here's the thing. Here's how this works. Okay? a filmmaker, if you don't do pre sales, which we'll talk about afterwards, okay. You are by making a movie you're taking 100% risk was the entire budget because you don't know for sure you're gonna make any sales, you assume you are, you assume there's going to be an audience and you assume you're gonna get some revenue. But because you don't have anything pre sold, like, you know, pre negotiated, it's not a sure thing. So it's 100% risk that a filmmaker takes. Alright, we'll talk like I say we'll talk about how to mitigate that risk. I mean, there's obviously tax credits, and there's increased pre sales and revenue, okay? But without any of that stuff, you're taking 100% of the risk. Now you walk in the door of a distributor, and they say, we love this. Or let's say they see what I'm at a film festival, they watch it, and they say, we need this movie. Some of them will say, Hey, you know, let's just buy this movie outright and cover the guy like filmmaker, this happens still. tremely rarely,
Alex Ferrari 45:29
but it does happen.
Jeff Deverett 45:30
Yeah, they say, you know, what, we know darn well, because like everything we went through, we're the best we've experienced, we've done this Saturday, let's, let's pick up this movie. And we're going to need to take some risk, because if we don't, the next person is going to pick up this movie, because it's so good. And, you know, if we take some risk, we can hopefully make a lot of money with it. So they will take some risk, you know, for something that they're in love with, and they really believe in. It's generally not 100% a risk is not as much risk as the filmmaker took for using for indie films. But it could be, it could be more than that. You could make a film for you know, $2 million, they could pay it up for $4 million. And that, you know, that's obviously the anomaly and the filmmakers dream doesn't happen too often. Right. But you know, it could, alright, so that for the most part, they might be taking maximum 50% of the risk, you know, like picking up a $2 million film for for 1 million me, but
Alex Ferrari 46:24
and again, we're talking anomalies. We're talking about outliers.
Jeff Deverett 46:28
Yeah, outliers, I would say on average, you know, it's 10 1010. No,
Alex Ferrari 46:33
like, no 10 films a year 15. a year out of the out of like, you know, I don't know, maybe more than that. But at Sundance, and which is where something like that would happen or at South by or Toronto. That's rare. It's still rare, especially in today's world.
Jeff Deverett 46:47
Yes, it is. It is rare, it's gotten getting more rare. And there's, there's reasons for that, which, which I'd like to talk about also afterwards. So there's believe that's happening. Okay, but Okay, so you're right, so so they're not in the business of taking a lot of risk, unless they're really, really, really in love with the movie. And it's something about is super special, and they think they can make a ton of money with it. And now, it's not even that risky, because they kind of can make those phone calls quickly and say, Hey, or they have output deals, or they have something where they know that they can recoup some of that investment.
Alex Ferrari 47:20
Alright, so you were saying Okay, so now, so let's go back to where you were talking about as far as the deal was concerned. So from the distributors point of view. So now let's say we got the filmmaker on the hook. Okay, we got their film. Let's say that they barely covered the MG. And again, the MG is a rarity anyway, but let's say that they cover the MG. And that that's topped out, there's there's very little bit money, or they make maybe a little bit more money off the MG. How does the distributor in their mindset? Well, let's just ask the question, how are they going to get screwed? How are the filmmaker is going to get screwed in the deal? Like, what are those kind of little things? Now? I
Jeff Deverett 47:57
don't know if I've listened to quite a few of your podcasts. But I haven't heard this one yet. And I don't know if this is gonna be super boring. Do you mind if we little do a little bit of mathematics? Because
Alex Ferrari 48:07
I think everyone listening would like to do some mathematics.
Jeff Deverett 48:11
Explain how the math works. All right. Yeah. Here's our words. So, so let's just use Let's lose them a million dollar film. Let's do let's do a half a million dollar film. Okay. All right, just so we have round numbers, all right. And then of course, you know, we could extrapolate higher, lower or higher, okay, but let's just just so that we can throw some numbers around. All right. Okay, so you make a movie for a half a million dollars, that's your final cost everything in everything. All right. That's what you're on the hook for. Okay. Now, let's say that a, you give it to a distributor, and they go out and they generate a half a million dollars worth of revenue for the movie, okay? Now, that's what we call gross revenue. It's its raw, basic revenue that comes from the the customers that they're dealing with the the original customers, the people, the consumers. Alright, so in the case of, say, a theatrical release a consumer is, you know, a box, a person who goes and buys a ticket at the box office, that's a consumer. So when somebody spends, you know, $12 to go to a movie, or $15 that's considered gross revenue. $15 All right. Now, how much of that flows back to the filmmaker? So here's how the math works. All right. So put all that gross revenue into the so that would be like, let me give you some examples of gross revenue going to like what I just said go into the box office spending $15 on a movie ticket. Okay, going on to a streaming service renting for 499 That's great. That's $5 gross rental. Okay. In on the on the that's that's consumer on the buying a DVD 1099 or whatever. Okay? on the business side would be, you know, selling to a broad broadcast sale, you know, $50,000 or $100,000. For so this is all goes into the gross revenue pool. This is how much money was spent to buy consumers who are consuming that film. In the case of a television station, they're putting it up, obviously, on their station, and there's paying a license fee. Okay, so it's $500,000. So you, so a naive filmmaker will say, Well, I made my film for 500, and people spent 500. So therefore, it should be breakeven. Ah, there's obviously, yeah. Okay, so let's get down to the next level. All right, most of the distribution deals that you're going to do with a third party distributor, do not happen directly. So they'll go even the good, the really good companies will have half their, let's say, I'm going to give them you know, probably more benefit than I should have for their deals, they'll do directly, let's say, say on television, half of this TV licence deals, they'll sell directly to that TV broadcaster, the other half, they'll sell through sub distributors, whether it could be like foreign sales where they don't talk the language, or you have to do by law, you have to deal with a local company like in Italy, or something like that, where they encourage you or France, if you want to do a deal. And again, I'm just making up territories, but there are sales where it's makes more sense, or it's more viable to put it through a local sub distributor or agent. So those people are going to take a part of the pie. Alright, I'll go through the pie in a second. Okay, then, let's say you go through an aggregator which you have to do to go on to Apple TV, let's say or even,
Alex Ferrari 51:42
and distributors still have to pay, just like a filmmaker would have to pay.
Jeff Deverett 51:47
That is correct. There's only so many access points. So so they have to pay that too. So that's like using a third party distributor. So there's going to be a fee there. Okay. So ultimately, what we have to get down to is what we call net revenue, which is let's take all those third party sub distribution aggregator fees and take the end and look at the box office. I mean, I don't do a lot of theatrical I did one year in the theatrical distribution business. And you know, they have these film settlements, obviously, for gigantic studio films are different. But for indie films, the the theater, basically, that theater slash distributor is going to take 50% of the box offices, if you're lucky, if that's all they take, plus, you know, all your costs that are coming up to, but you know, like the film receipts from theatrical distribution, you're only going to see maximum 50% of them, you know, for an indie film, a studio, like I say, has the clout, they'll they'll get better deals. All right. So at the end of the day, basically, that $500,000 is going to get diluted down to about 275,000, you're going to see about 55% of it, on average, because there's going to be 30% distribution fees in sub distributors and 25%, platform fees and aggregator fees, and net, this net that Nick came
Alex Ferrari 53:08
up, but you never even talked about marketing, or or, or delivery costs.
Jeff Deverett 53:13
I'm getting there at a time. One thing, I get all the math figured out. I did this for 20 years. Let's not rush.
Alex Ferrari 53:23
Forgive me, sir. Forgive me continue.
Jeff Deverett 53:25
Okay, so you're that gross revenue that consumers spent like that the initial $500,000 of money that was collected in the sales of your movie will get netted down to about $275,000. All right, which will be what the pool is that you're going to share from alright. And and it could be you know, 300,003 25 like I'm netting it down. 45%. You know, that might be maybe high.
Alex Ferrari 53:55
Might be low. It could be low, actually.
Jeff Deverett 53:57
Oh, it could be low. Okay. I think it's, it's in the ballpark. Okay, so now now the pool is what we call net revenue is 275,000. net receipts. 275,000. All right. So now the distributor is going to take your third party distributor is going to generally take a 30% fee. I mean, you know, you can maybe negotiate a better deal, but let's just go with that. All right. So they're going to go 30% Now, here's, here's the first screw point. All right. This is where you can get royally royally, royally screwed. If you don't make the right deal and make sure the wording is correct. That 30% is that 30% off of the gross revenue that was originally you know, sold, or is it 30% off the net revenue. Now, as basic as that sounds like it should be off the net revenue because the receipts coming back to the distributor are is the 275,000 but they might say no, no No, we're taking 30% off the gross of the 500,000. I mean, that's a gigantic difference, right? It's $150,000, you know, 30% of 50. So that so that that is in a torturous way that sometimes this happens. Okay, it shouldn't. And that that I would say is immoral. Okay, it should off the 275. Right.
Alex Ferrari 55:23
But again, it's not that they mean to screw you. It just happens organically?
Jeff Deverett 55:27
Well, it's a good deal. Of course, of course, you know, and if you don't ask for it, like, you know, if you say, Hey, guys, where's this coming? Where's your feet coming off of, then? You know,
Alex Ferrari 55:39
it's Look, it's as if it will continue after this. It's the same thing if you go buy a car at a car dealership, and don't ask the right questions. If they're gonna, they're gonna charge you, they're gonna charge you for upkeep, they're gonna charge you for a maintenance fees, and like, you know, upgrade packages and all that stuff. Unless you say, ask the right questions. Same thing with the house, like your example, if you don't ask the right things, if you don't get an inspection of the house. And if you don't know the know, to get an inspection on the house, you could be buying a lemon, you could be buy something with a cracked Foundation, and you could lose your entire investment, you need to ask the right questions. It's not just like a realtor, just like a car dealer. They're not going to offer it up. That's unfortunately, business.
Jeff Deverett 56:21
Okay. But hopefully, that's the major, the first the major hurdle is make sure that the distribution fee is coming off the net revenue, not the gross revenue. Now, they might say, hey, some of it has to come off gross, because we did the sale, you know, as opposed to a third part, like, third party fees coming who's covering them and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, I could go into a lot of detail. This is a whole obviously a whole area. Right? Okay. So the next thing is the marketing costs, which, you know, you just asked me about. So let's say, Now, here's the thing about marketing costs. Alex, this is the interesting thing, we're filmmakers, you have to really think about this, okay? You want your distributor to spend money, because you want them to market your film, you actually want to encourage them to spend money so that people, they can create awareness for your film, so that you can actually they can increase the sales, you don't want them to not spend a lot there. Now, but what you do want them to spend is it, you want it to spend it wisely on the right things, and you don't want them to mark it up too much. So here's a perfect example. Okay, if you, you know, they'll they'll want to cut a trailer for you, you make, they're gonna want to cut a trailer, they're gonna charge you, you know, 30 to $40,000 to cut a trailer that you probably could have either cut yourself or negotiated, you know, three to $5,000 to cut the trailer because you know, comfortable. Yeah, but that, you know, fair's fair, you want them to do it for you, they're gonna they're gonna spend a lot more money doing it, because that's what,
Alex Ferrari 57:50
by the way, but their cost is about $3,000 to hire the editor in that area, their in house editor. Look, I've been I was imposed for 25 years. So I know what I did many trailers. I know what the cost of a trailer is from I you know, and I know what high end trailer editors make. Even on the low end trailer editor, there's no way to 30 $40,000 it's
Jeff Deverett 58:10
just not it's just, it could be that they say we hired it out to a, you know, high end trailer company or, you know, they charge 20. And we're taking another 10 for managing it and blah, blah, blah. That's good management. Okay, but but that's how it works. Sure, sure. Okay. But you know, all you got to do to prevent that is say, you know, how much you're spending? Where's the money going? You got it, you got to ask those questions here. It's fair to ask those questions. If you don't, you might not catch any of that stuff. All right. Then there's delivery costs, which are, you know, used to be there was physical delivery, there's mostly digital delivery now, you know, like, so. But there's still there's costs Pete there's processing, there's queue, seeing, there's all this kind of stuff that it's real. These costs are very real. They, but they also can get very marked up. Well, you gotta you got to be paying attention to the costs. All right. Okay. And then there is, you know, stuff that I call miscellaneous and sillery stuff
Alex Ferrari 59:08
there. Forget the poster to the posters, always a nice little place to mark up things as well.
Jeff Deverett 59:12
Yeah, for sure. Okay, then there's, you know, festival fees and, and market fees and all this kind of stuff, which so this is a new thing that has happened in the last say, decade with distributors, I've noticed that they're charging a flat fee. Like, I'm going to take you to Cannes or AFM or something and I'm going to charge you 70 $500 flat. That's your your fee to, you know, be part of my offering at the market place. It's questionable to you know, I mean, look at look, there's no question. It's super expensive to attend these markets. In Defense of the distributors. The booths are ridiculously costly. You got all these people traveling and all this kind of stuff. But, you know, like you say, some people have 20 films, some have 10, whatever, and, you know, they make money that way. That's a very good source of revenue to cut. Their costs and potentially market up also. And again, they're not necessarily evil, it's a business model. That's who they are and what they do. So by the time you're all said and done, and you take away those distribution fees that are coming off of hopefully, the net revenues and not the gross revenues, and the marketing costs are, let's call them 10%, let's call the delivery costs like three and a half percent, the festival fees two and a half percent, blah, blah, blah, you are down to 46%, the net revenue, which is 9% of the gross revenue that was generated, you're down to the $500,000 that was generated for your movie, you're gonna get 45,000, when all said and done, and again, I'd be happy to send you the math and show you how that I mean, I'm looking at a spreadsheet as I'm talking. Sure, you're gonna get $45,000 if the movie generates a $500,000 movie to get generates 500,000, and receipts, gross receipts. Now, if the $500,000 budget generates a million dollars in gross receipts, I can do the numbers a little differently. But in order to break even probably on a $500,000, you have to the gross receipts have to be about 1.1 or 1.2 million to get back the entire 500,000.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:23
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So and, and my I love the numbers, I think the math is great. I think that you're being very optimistic in your projections in that there's not more costs involved as far as the
Jeff Deverett 1:01:49
revenue, but I'm talking about monitoring your costs. I mean, you look at you can say to a distributor, I want you to spend an extra $20,000, you know, on this market and buy some art, you know, some posters and some billboards and stuff, he's been billboards and all that kind of stuff, they may or may not do it, because that's a risk because they're putting that money up. But if, you know, if you're guaranteeing it, or they believe there's enough revenue or whatever, then they'll do it, but they'll deduct it, they'll charge you a little bit of a premium because you know, there's servicing and there is labor involved in doing all this kind of stuff. So you're right, they can spend a lot more I'm talking about monitoring it like saying, you know, reasonably speaking 10% you know, should should do it. But reasonably speaking,
Alex Ferrari 1:02:30
yeah, yeah. I mean, because I've seen I've seen breakdowns before on on some of these deals, and it just just like, it's it's abusive, it's abusive, it can it can get if you're not looking. It's like anything, man, if you're not watching the babysitter, with your baby. That's correct. Thanks. You know, all of a sudden, the baby's out in the street and get hit by a car. Like it there's, it happens if you're not keeping an eye on it all the time. Alright, so continue, continue,
Jeff Deverett 1:02:56
you got to pay attention. I mean, and, you know, like a lot of filmmakers, number one, don't know how to pay attention because they don't know what to ask. So fair, fair. And number two, it's kind of a pain in the neck to pay attention. Like it's it's a lot of attention. You know, I'm
Alex Ferrari 1:03:12
an artist, I don't want to think about
Jeff Deverett 1:03:14
exactly. You don't want to have to babysit this, like you're hiring a distributor to do a job, you want to trust them, they, you know, they're going to do a good job because they know what they're doing. You just want it to be fair, and honest. That's where you're this whole predatory distributor thing. Alex, you're talking about honesty, that's what you're really talking about, oh,
Alex Ferrari 1:03:32
it's a trust. It's absolute trust. But that's trust in any business deal, that when you sign an agreement with any kind of business across all industries, you're trusting the other person's going to do what they
Jeff Deverett 1:03:44
say. That's correct. Okay. And and and reported properly at the end. Now, this is assuming with the numbers I ran through that they all get reported properly. Oh, yeah. Some holes in the reporting to, obviously, thing so
Alex Ferrari 1:03:58
yeah. So so things can get a little gray in the sense of reporting, so they could, they could say, Oh, we got 500,000. And but we really only report back a little bit. And that's what's predatory. I'm not saying all distributors, and I've always been very clear about that saying, not all distributors are predatory. I just say most,
Jeff Deverett 1:04:16
but not all. But I think example I just gave you was like full reporting. Like, here's what really happened. This is how it all flowed blah, blah, blah. Okay. Yeah. You know, if somebody generated 500 in revenue, and only you know, showed 400 reports, you know, that that's a problem. That's illegal. Yeah. So that's very predatory. But I wasn't going there yet. Yeah, I mean, it happens. There's no question it happens. And you have to, you know, you also have to have recourse clauses in your contract, ie audit, yes, an arbitration. And I've gone down that route before and I found things and I could tell you stories. I don't want to implicate anybody, but it happens.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:56
So in my book, I actually learned my distribution book and residency entrepreneur. The distribution chapter. I used to have this the other day when we when we first start speaking here like Alex, you're you're absolutely right. Where you you get screwed by a distributor, you know that they're doing you try to audit them and they're like, no, then you sue them, you take them to court. And then at the end of this whole experience, they go, Oh are bad. Here's the money. Yeah, I made a mistake, I made a mistake.
Jeff Deverett 1:05:22
Sorry, you have a $50,000 legal fee that ate up your entire extra money that you found
Alex Ferrari 1:05:28
if and they know that and they know that and they know that. So they're like, Okay, well, let's like, let's, let's mitigate our risk here. So like, if we take 50 grand from this filmmaker, it's going to cost them 50 grand to fight us in court for it. So they're probably just gonna just not deal with us at that point, right? It's kind of like the olden days with the old car manufacturers. They're like, Oh, well, you know that one part is killing? How many people are going to die because of that part? And how much are we going to have to pay out and it's like, they didn't care about life. They were looking at it strictly as a business transaction. Like, well, if they kill only 1000 people, if those 1000 people sue us, how much can we have to spend? Oh, we'll have to spend 100 million. Well, how much will it cost to pull the things back off? What's going on? So 200 million? Oh, no. It just leave it out there. Okay. all due respect. You are a bit jaded. Oh, I'm absolutely jaded. Yeah, you're a bit jaded. And for good reason, for good reason. You've made me more jaded.
Jeff Deverett 1:06:23
Yeah. Fair enough. I'm not as jaded even though I deal with this. I'm, you know, in the weeds in the jungle every single day on this kind of stuff. I just feel comfortable knowing what to ask for know what to look for. So some of them in the sausage, but you know how to make a sauce Tell me, at least they're gonna say, Okay, this is where you're gonna get screwed. If you don't like it, don't sign the deal too bad. And you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:06:44
you're coming from it, you're coming from a perspective of knowledge, you're coming from the perspective of of experience, so you understand how the sausage is made? On the other side, the other side of the table. So it's a completely different perspective than 99.9% filmmakers have.
Jeff Deverett 1:07:04
I feel like I have a fair seat at the table. And I get to have a fair discussion. Right now. I don't necessarily, you know, get everything I asked for or, you know, and people say, if you don't like it too bad. That's that's the best we're offering it. But at least I feel like we've had a reasonable, fair discussion. And I have there's nothing that I haven't really thought up
Alex Ferrari 1:07:23
and have. And have you been sitting in those meetings with these distributors? And they just go? Yeah, yeah, we can't we can't work with you.
Jeff Deverett 1:07:29
Yeah, of course, absolutely. No, absent Listen, those, I just did the math, the major thing, the here's the major thing that like I would say, the highest priority in a film distribution agreement that you have to get, it would be what I call a performance clause. Like, you talk about these 15 year deals, I think that's not right. But a 15 year deals, not nuts, if they're performing. So what you really need is you need to say, you know, as long as you guys keep hitting these thresholds, these targets, and you're making this much money and returning it to me, then we can keep going. Or we can do auto renewals, like they know, let's do a three year deal with five auto renewals. Assuming you hit a target every year that we pre negotiate like here, you hit a million dollars this year, you know, 18, you know, 1.8 million next year that added and if you're hitting the targets, you want them? Absolutely, absolutely, that's the major, the major cause you want to put in is performance. Because if it's not working, primarily is not working for both sides. But if you don't put that you can't pull it. And it's an optional, like, I call these performance clauses, there are options that the filmmaker has. So you do this deal, let's say you do, say a three year deal, as opposed to a 15 year deal. And you say, okay, at the end of three years, or the end of two and a half years, if you have this much revenue generated and reported to me, and the check in hand, correct, then we you know, then the deal can automatically renew, if not, I have the option of pulling the D terminating the deal. Because, you know, you might want to get pretty close and you think they're doing good and you know, COVID heads and something changes and you know, you don't want it to automatically terminate. You give yourself an option. It's a reasonable thing to ask for.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:17
Do reasonable distributors generally say okay for that? I mean, why wouldn't a dish like if a distributor says no to that situation, to that op that that ask, shouldn't you just run away? Because obviously, you know,
Jeff Deverett 1:09:31
I'll tell you what, here's the thing. At the end of the day, the film business is a business like everything else. Alright. But let's just Can I just get down to sort of the core basic thing before I go to here when I go, okay, there's two reasons why an indie filmmaker should be an indie filmmaker. There are two reasons All right. Reason number one is because, well, there's actually three reasons one is, as you call it, you get the disease. You just get this the bug. bug is virus that you just need to do this in your life, you're not sure why but it's it's sexy, it's appealing, it's fun, it's a great industry, by the way, it's a lot of fun, enjoyed a lot project based, completely different changing all the time, very interactive, social, all there's so many elements of the film business that make it so attractive, right? So you get the bug, right. But the major reason you want to become an indie filmmaker and put yourself out there, and and kill yourself and put yourself at financial risk and do all this kind of stuff, is because you got a story to tell, like you generally want to tell the world a story, or you know, or case of a documentary send a very strong message that could potentially change the world, or become your legacy and you're making a contribution to the world. And you're doing it in a very fun art form that people can, can absorb and consume across the world. I mean, that's a very compelling reason to be a filmmaker is as it is to be an author, you know, or a musician. I mean, it's an artistic statement of a message. And so that's the main reason you should be a filmmaker. Alright? The second reason is, hopefully, you can make some money, like you can have a good life and making a good living from it. Alright, that's becoming you know, less and less as we know, it's more of a struggle to do that in the in the arts, all the arts, not just, you know, as you know, music, all this kind of stuff. So, but if you're going into the movie business, primarily, and only because you want to tell a story, and you're not worried about the money, then this is a whole different conversation. All right, that's an artistic conversation, and all we are going to talk about is how to best tell your story, at the most cost effective price. But if you're going in, because you actually want to hopefully, at least recoup your budget, or at least maybe make some money and make a living, you know, hopefully become rich, but but at least you know, have enough to make a living, then that's the discussion that I'm having here. All right, this is about, about making a lit becoming a career filmmaker and making a living at become at being a filmmaker, as opposed to just making a film and having your fun. And you know, whether it's a midlife crisis, something like that, and making this artistic statement for the world that you want to do, I'm talking about being a career filmmaker, where you make a living at it. So you have to be very smart. So you have to be in addition to a good artist who makes you know, good quality films, you have to be a savvy business person. Because it's the film business, the film is the art, the business is the business. So, so I'm talking about the whole business side. All right. So assuming that you want to monetize your movies and get your money back, you got to be pre thinking about a lot of this kind of stuff. All right, before you make your movies, as we know, as you talk about it a lot. And you know, you so when you said to me, you know, if a distributor says, Hey, I'm not interested in your movie or something like that, or I'm not going to give you the right deal. Do you walk away? It's a business decision. I mean, most people think that's an artistic decision. It's not artistic, the artistic decisions already been done, you've already made your movie. This is strictly a business decision. Right? Like I said, it's a poker game. Do you think you got a better hand? Do you think you're going to get a better card on the next you want to fold? Do you want to play, make the bed and try to get the next card? I mean, it's a business decision. So here's the thing about the business decision. I mean, you got it. Hopefully, hopefully, you're armed with all the right things in order to make a good decision. That's what I've been talking about. This whole podcast so far, is getting you up to the filmmakers, understanding the tools they need are the elements they have to understand in order to make the good decision. But sometimes it's a business decision is a risky decision, right? Like, show me a business where you make a decision, and it's not 100% Sure thing, there's always going to be an out like anything like, you know, I talk about real estate, like, you buy a house and you say, Hey, I'm buying the house for lifestyle, because I want to live there. But hopefully it's gonna appreciate in value. You don't know that, you know, you go through all the motions say, well, it's good neighborhood and good schools and good this and good that, in their opinion on the cost of living is going up. So therefore, in 10 years, my house will be worth this much. You don't know that for sure. You take a chance with that. You do know that you're buying a house that you can like to live in a that's the artistic there's,
Alex Ferrari 1:14:20
and there's value in there.
Jeff Deverett 1:14:21
Yeah, the emotional side. Absolutely. But the financial side, you taken a bit of a risk. So should you walk from a distribution to you should only walk if you believe that you're, you don't trust the person. It's a trust thing if you don't trust the other guy, walk, but if you believe that you're getting a little bit screwed on the deal. If you if it's still you've asked the right questions, and it's still within the range of reasonable might be the far end range, the very far end range. It might be worth taking that deal because remember, on their side, it's like okay, if the guy doesn't Take the deal. You know what, we got 50 other filmmakers lined up at the door? And do we really need this film is it going to really change our lives? Probably not. Because they're going to let you walk.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:11
So the with the analogy of the house, the big differences of taking a risk of the house is you do have an asset that can be sold regardless, there, that asset will be sold, maybe a little less before then you sold it maybe a little bit more, but you will make money back with a film. It could literally have zero value, like literally lose everything, like nobody will buy it. And there are films that are made like that all the time that are done, spent a million bucks on, and they make very, very little money with because of obvious reasons, artistic reasons, business decisions, and things like that. But I feel that if this is my just my personal opinion, if you let a performance clause out for a distributor, and it's a reasonable performance clause, whatever that performance causes, yes, it's reasonable. Yeah. And they say not we don't do that. That's a red flag to me. Now, mind you, if you have a three year deal, that's different. If it's a three year deal, it's a three year deal. I mean, performance clauses generally going to be a three year deal. It's not going to be a 12 month deal. Generally speaking with a performance Oh, no, no, not necessarily, nonetheless, sometimes. Alright, so Tommy?
Jeff Deverett 1:16:15
Well, first of all, let's just go to your first point. Not all houses appreciate in value. I mean, if you had a house and you know, that you bought in 2004 and tried to sell in 2008, you probably lost a lot of money
Alex Ferrari 1:16:25
a little bit, but there's still value, there's inherent value in the property,
Jeff Deverett 1:16:29
there's an asset value, there's no question. Okay? So if you're going to make a film that has no inherent asset value, maybe you only think twice before you make that film, just like you said, Okay, fair enough. Now, secondly, you're sitting in that meeting, and you got to know what the inherent value of that film is. That's why I say it's a business deal. It shouldn't be emotional, you got to think, okay, they're, they're talking, I believe in my heart of hearts, after all the discussions and negotiations, that they're going to return 80% of my budget to me, so I'm still probably going to be 20%. But is that better than the next deal I can get? Or can I even get another deal, that's where the business decision comes in. And that's where you have to take, be realistic and be a business person, and step up and act, step away from being that emotional filmmaker, and become just a business negotiator, this and that's why a lot of film makers use agents. That's why a lot of people in real estate use agents. I'm not that kind of guy, you see, like, I don't even like to use real estate, and I like to negotiate my own deals. I'm just my personality is like that. But I mean, a lot of people don't want it's emotional. So you don't want to have to go and fight that fight and, and maybe compromise more than you want to. And sometimes you walk away from what seems to be not a great deal, but it might be the only deal you can get. So even though you know, like I say you might lose 20% going into it and end up losing 40% that might be better than walking away from a deal not getting any other deal. But that's a business decision. Fair enough. And it's it's a tough decision. Yeah. All right.
Alex Ferrari 1:18:00
It's all relative. If there are other options, if you have other options, then and you want the deal doesn't make sense to you could walk, but if not, you're right, like if this is it, and you're not gonna be able to self distribute, and you don't have the knowledge or the experience or the movie or any of that stuff to do it. This might be it. And this is where I see that distributors take advantage of filmmakers, because they know that they don't have another option. And the filmmaker would just go well, alright, I just take this take it at least they'll get released. And that's, that's the big, that's the big default.
Jeff Deverett 1:18:34
Why do you say take advantage? I mean, look at it from the distributor point of view, like, you know, the film's good, but it's not great. You know, there's 10 other films that they can get, or that are equally as good. They don't need it. You know, in some ways, they're saying to themselves, hey, we'll do the guy a favor. He's a nice guy killed himself making the film, you know, and we could give this deal to somebody else, but we'll give it to him because he's so eager and anxious. And yeah, as you're going to make his money back, no, but you know, what, he should have done it before we made the film. Because, you know, we're, they're
Alex Ferrari 1:19:05
gonna make but the difference is, though, Jeff, they're gonna make money off that. So yeah, but and they're not going to share it with the filmmaker, that I promise you,
Jeff Deverett 1:19:14
I'm not going to totally screw the filmmaker, but based on their time and effort, and their opportunity cost, this is what it's all about, let's say, like you say, they, they're gonna release 10 films a month. So to get into their slate, like, you got to make sure they got to choose the best 10 that they're gonna make the most amount of money with. And if they're gonna stick this one in, its means that the other one didn't get in. So, so, you know, fair's fair, like they're trying to pick the best mix for their, you know, for their business that they can do. And that's in that scenario. I mean, it depends. It's all its own console relative because it all depends on the scenario that could be that distributed, releasing 50 or 60 movies, or it could be the distributors releasing two or three movies. So it's all relative to it's all good. You know, the thing that You you are dealing with and most of your materials, which is, you know, when you're talking about the predatory film distributor, by the way, which I don't disagree with, it all boils down to one word, but all of business boils down to one world word pretty well all relationships boil down to one word, it's called trust, that's all it is, is trust, really, when you're interviewing a film distributor, or anybody else, even the people on your crew, they're going to make your movies and stuff like that?
Alex Ferrari 1:20:24
Oh, absolutely, you're trusting the DP knows what they're talking about.
Jeff Deverett 1:20:27
That's literally and you're gonna pay them and you but you're trusting that you're going to get what you pay for. And you're trusting in a film distributor that you're going to get the relationship and the honesty that you're hoping for. And, you know, there's a lot of stuff that you can build into a contract to make them accountable, to be trustworthy. And that's what I'm talking about just accountability. Okay. Your once in a while, you're going to come across, you know, a bad apple, that's just the way it is. You know,
Alex Ferrari 1:20:54
but so when you say bad apple, I want to ask you this question, do you believe that there is a systemic problem ingrained in the model? Because there's a lot of kind of like, pump and dump kind of methods here, like, oh, we're gonna get the best deal possible, we really don't truly care about the other filmmaker on the other side of this table, because he's not asking the right questions. And by doing that, you basically, if you know, if you do if you as you're a distributor, you're doing that you've pretty much taken that filmmaker out of the equation for future product. So slow, but as an industry, shouldn't we try? I'm not saying to be Mother Teresa here. But to try to structure deals in a way that is somewhat reasonable, even if the filmmaker is not as wise as you are? Because I mean, there are companies out there that do that I know of them personally, that they kind of like, Look, you're not you're you don't know what's going on. But we're going to structure this deal. So you can make some money off of this. So you can come back to us in three or four years and keep bringing product to us. Is that Do you believe that there's an issue just as a general statement, with the distribution model since chaplains day for God's sake?
Jeff Deverett 1:22:08
Yeah. So here's you're making an assumption that I don't make. Okay. You can't assumption that the film business is production and distribution. And I say those are not one business. Those are two businesses. Correct. production is one business, film distribution is another business. So those two aren't necessarily woven together. So it's not like we get together as an industry because the producers are different than the distributors. So the distributors are going to have their ways and the producers will have their ways. So but you know, you want to talk about systemic problem. I'll tell you the systemic problem. You're gonna love hearing this, because it's true. And you darn well, no, this, this systemic problem is that filmmakers don't ever learn anything about business. They go to film school, and they all they learn about is, is production, camera, and lighting, and all this kind of stuff. Like where's the courses that teach all the stuff we're talking about? You know, why? And by the way, the filmmakers, as you know, they don't even want to talk about it. They're artists. And they're not, they're not business people, they just want to do their art, they want to make their movies and all this kind of stuff. And unfortunately, you don't have the luxury in this business of being the unless you have, like, should get yourself if you want to be the artist, get yourself a producing partner, who just wants to be the business person. You know, I liken it to I don't know, if you've watched, you know, used to watch the show with Silicon Valley.
Alex Ferrari 1:23:31
Oh, I saw that. I just, I just finished the season like, yes, literally last last night,
Jeff Deverett 1:23:34
I watched the last episode. Okay, so silicon is fantastic. You know, Richard is the, he's the Creator. And he surrounds himself with the business people. And you know, that's the way it works. And if you want to move forward, because you can't be everything you can try to be, but you're going to feel compromised. And most filmmakers just want to be the artists, which is fine. They got, they got to bring somebody close to them who can navigate the business side, or they got to navigate the business side. That's the systemic problem is that they're going to take be taken advantage of not only in that component, but maybe other components of their life, too. If they don't educate themselves take charge. Yeah. So I'm not blaming the distributors, I get it. You know, can they be a little less predatory and evil? Yeah, probably, they can probably, they could put
Alex Ferrari 1:24:23
up a ton, they could tone it back a bit, is what you're saying. They could tone it back a bit.
Jeff Deverett 1:24:26
They could put more on the table, they could be more honest. They could they can help people through it. Like I often say to people, you know, like I told you this, Alex, so I take a lot of interns on my SATs, right? Yeah. And I often say you can ask me anything you like and then they start asking me and I say no, no, so hold on a second. You're not asking me the right question guys. Don't ask me you know what lens to use on this you know, shot. That's easy. asked me how you going to do a distribution deal asked me what the rate should be what you present asked me those questions you have like you're sitting here with the You know, like the guy who knows that stuff, spend the time to ask me those questions like, but you know what they're not interested. Which leads me I told you a story the other day and you said you want me to tell? Yes, please tell it. Okay. So this is a perfect example of this whole systemic problem. And you know, for you filmmakers out there listening to this. So I decide I go to a lot of the markets because I self distribute.
So I was going to MIPCOM a couple years ago, which is the big sort of television broadcast market in Cannes, France. That happens twice. Yours is mythtv and MIPCOM. mipymes. Usually in the fall of obviously, this year is all messed up, because a COVID. But okay, so I'm going to MIPCOM and I say, I had done a film a couple years ago with this other guy, and he's a great guy, great filmmaker, director of the movie, blah, blah, blah. And I kept saying, you need to know about distribution, I don't, I'm not saying you need to do it, you need to know about it, you need, you need to just experience it, in order to become sort of a well rounded filmmaker. So at least when it's talked about, you have an awareness, I'm not asking you to switch gears and leave filmmaking and become a distributor, I'm just asking you to be exposed to it so that you can see it. I got this idea. Come with me to Cannes, France, we're going to the south of France, it's going to be a beautiful trip and everything like that. We're going to go to the market. I'm going to walk you through and I'm going to expose you to what really goes on in that side of the business. Well, what filmmaker wouldn't say yes to that. So you know, I mean, we're going to can, right? So we get there. And cannas MIPCOM is is from Monday to Thursday, every year, it's a four day market. So we get there Sunday night, we go to the opening party, all is good. He likes it now, lots of filmmakers running around lots of champagne and finding everything right. The next morning, we walk up to the palay. Some of you may have seen it's where the Cannes Film Festival takes place. The stairs, the whole conference center is decked out in billboards and graphics and everything. It's It's It's It's a heyday. It's a circus. It's amazing, right? And his draw drops, he looks at this, like we walk up to the front stairs of the palay. And he looks at up and he sees all these films and this and that. And it's like, oh my gosh, this is crazy. I had no idea that this actually happens, right? We walk into the Pele and for those of you who've been there, like the first floor, they call it the dungeon. It is just like booth after booth after booth there's no lights there. That's why there's no natural light, you're actually go downstairs. So I wanted to walk them through the entire market. And let them see experienced it literally floor by floor is like seven floors in the main bill, you know, like and, and all over the place. So So we start downstairs, so and you go literally, Alex, there's hundreds and booths on every floor, different countries, different styles of you know, you know, animation and live action and documentary and all this kind of stuff. And it's sort of organized, but it's sort of not. It's primarily usually by country, but, but it's all over the place. Anyways, you walk through and I'm explaining to you, okay, take a look like you know, you think that the movie you made was unique, you're gonna see 50 similar movies. You know, in the next 20 minutes, as you walk by, you know, you're gonna see 100 different styles of this and different languages now anyways, suffice it to say the first day, you know, we get there like 9am, when it opens, and we leave at six. And for the most part on the first day, all I did was we didn't do very few, very few meetings that day, it was primarily orientation, walking through explaining how the whole, you know, market works and showing them different stuff. So it was observation, and it's overwhelming. It's overwhelming, because there's so much product, and so many countries and so many cultures and people and everything. And it's it's like a bee's nest in there. It's just, you know, it's more so back then than it is now. But anyways, like we get we, at the end of the day, we go to have a beer, and I said what do you think he goes, I'm mentally exhausted. Like I there's so there was so much. You know, I saw so much going on. I'm literally I'm mentally exhausted. And I said, this is nothing wait till tomorrow. Anyway. Have a nice dinner. Okay, the next morning we get because the next morning Tuesday was all meetings, like back to I just because I missed Monday for the meetings, I just put everything back to back. And I do half hour meetings. And I did like I don't I had I'm probably 2022 meetings set up all back to back with a you know, one hour break for lunch so that you can take and literally like we're just going one after the other after the other different languages, different cultures, different people. But these are buyers more or less that I've either dealt with before or you know, or other distributors from different countries where I want to sell my stuff to them. You know any of you when you've done enough markets, you get to know some of the people and but you only have half an hour and sometimes it takes 10 minutes just to walk between a meeting so Do you really only have 20 minutes and everybody's always late. So that's five minutes of being lazy of 15 minutes, five minutes of pleasantries, you get down to business, you got 10 minutes to talk about what you really want to talk about if that. So you get into it, and it's like, just one after the other after the other. So at the end of day two, he says to me, Oh, my God, like, I thought I was exhausted yesterday. This is not like, not only am I mentally and physically exhausted, now, you know, the pace at which we did that. But, you know, I got to tell you something, Jeff, like, it's not what I expected. Like, I thought it was gonna be a lot more fun. Like, this is not fun at all. This is not like filmmaking.
Alex Ferrari 1:30:44
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Jeff Deverett 1:30:54
Anyways, by day three, this is a four day trip. By day three, we go back to the meeting to the market, and Wednesday, by lunchtime at one o'clock. He says, he says to me, I can't take it anymore. I'm done. I can't do this anymore. I'm done. Not only am I exhausted, but I hate the distribution business. I hate it. I hate the meetings. I hate the people. I hate talking about business. I hate negotiating deals. Everything about it is just not what the film business should be. And I said, this is the film business. This is the business part of the film business. This is it. Welcome to the real world. Welcome to what it's really all about.
Alex Ferrari 1:31:35
Your Morpheus. Basically, you just gave him the red pill.
Jeff Deverett 1:31:39
So I hate to disappoint you. But this is it. This is where when guys like you make movies, this is where they get bought and sold and paid for. Anyways, by the he didn't even make it through the the third day. And he went home a day early from Cannes, France, like who leaves Can I said just go walk around the city enjoy, go to the beach, just enjoy. He said I can't, I'm so turned off by this whole thing. I just want to get away from it. You probably went to nice for the day and whatever and flew home. So anyways, it's interesting that that is that's the business side of the business. And this is where filmmakers like they're just not interested in it. And I totally understand why remember, I came from the business side. So I'm so I'm just so comfortable in that. But it is a big turnoff. And if you if you're an artist, and you just want to make movies, it's a bit of a turnoff to have to deal with all the all the you know, innuendos of doing all these deals and all the details and it's exhausting. And it's it's not fun. It is really fun. And that's why filmmakers you know, rely on distributors to do that part of the business. But without that part there wouldn't be a film business. I mean that that's the business part. You know, I always say to young filmmakers, I always say hey, you know when you go to Universal Studios, so you pull up on Lankershim Boulevard, and everybody's so anxious, and their tongue is hanging out. Let's go to the backlog. Let's see where the movies you know, the tour the background and everything that I say, Do you guys ever stop and look like you pass by as you're driving into literally as you're driving into the parking lot of university students? This is big black building.
Alex Ferrari 1:33:13
Jeff Deverett 1:33:15
NBC Universal, I said, Do you guys ever wonder what actually happened? Why there's that big office tower there? You ever wonder what happens in there? Oh, no, we don't pay attention to that. I said, that's, that's the heartbeat of what goes on. Were you going to see, that's where all the business decisions are made. That's where all the money is generated. That's all the distribution, and the finance and all those guys. I mean, I never make it past there. All my meetings are in that building, I never really get, you know, as a treat, you go on the lot. But that's the business. So anyways, I just maybe long, too long a story. No,
Alex Ferrari 1:33:46
no, but you make a very good point. And look, I've had I've had filmmakers fight me on the concept of being a film trip earner on the whole concept of my book, like, I don't want to know about how to create ancillary product lines, I don't want to create a business around my movie, I don't want to do any of that. I just want to be an artist. And I always tell them, I'm like, Look, you don't have to do what I'm talking about. It's not for everybody. But if you're an independent filmmaker, and you rely 110% on the only way you're going to generate revenue is through a distributor that you don't have a relationship with that you're just dating, basically, you're not married, you're dating, to see if they're going to do right by you. If you don't have something to mitigate the risk in in the way things are going your foolish purse, that's just my feeling as an independent filmmaker, as a if you're if you're a filmmaker who wants to kind of go out and you know, go down the studio path. Well, that's a different conversation, a completely different conversation. But as an independent filmmaker trying to sell a movie, you better understand how to make money with your movie. If not, you're not going to survive. Or at least surround yourself with the people or surround yourself.
Jeff Deverett 1:34:56
Yeah, yeah, you don't have to. I know that most filmmakers don't don't enjoy it and don't want to be part of that I get that I totally understand and, you know, not actually makes sense. I mean, you can't be you know, jack of all trades, you want to specialize in one thing. It just understand the landscape. That's all I'm saying. Just so you know what's going on in those conversations in those office towers while you're shooting on your set?
Alex Ferrari 1:35:19
Yeah, I mean, I think everybody if you live in LA, you should definitely go to AFM once in your life, just to walk the halls for a day a day pass.
Jeff Deverett 1:35:26
But, but can I warn everybody about that I want to go. Yes. AFM could be the most depressing thing you ever do in your life. It's true. Yeah. I mean, you need to understand how the FM is how it works, how it you know, operates. Because if you go there, number one, if you go there without a pass, just trying to navigate to getting into it is a difficult thing. And you know that you're going to get charged $300 for a day pass or whatever they charge 270 or maybe get a deal because you're where you can find something but just getting in is is a tricky thing. Because it's a business the it's a market, it cost them a lot of money to rent the Loews hotel and do all that kind of stuff. So, you know, fair's fair, right? But if you don't know how to walk the market properly, I mean, you can't walk in and say, Hey, guys, I'm a filmmaker, and I got a movie, they're not gonna even talk to you. That's, you know, don't waste my time we're selling movies, come back tomorrow, or actually, you know, just don't come at all. keepers who just their job is to keep guys like you out of their booths out of their hotel rooms. So it can be super super depressing if you've done it. And even just standing in the lobby, which they don't even let you do anymore. It used to be the lobby was open everybody now you need a pass to get in there. That can also be depressing because everybody excuse my expression is bullshitting each other and saying oh, I just got this deal. I got this deal but they didn't know we got the odd person got a deal but they're not standing in the library to I'm in the lobby talking about it. They did their you know, out at some fancy restaurant celebrating it or sitting in somebody's booth or something. So
Alex Ferrari 1:37:01
yeah, I've spoken to about the FM ad nauseum on this podcast. So I'll put links to the AFM episodes that really go deep into how to actually work at work that market but I think it is important that they should go to a market. If you're in Europe, absolutely. You should go to the Cannes Film market, or MIPCOM or something like that, just to at least walk it so you understand how things are done. Like I brought filmmakers with me at AFM and they just walk around like, it's like eyes, like they just don't understand. It's like this overwhelming thing.
Jeff Deverett 1:37:33
It's just like I explained to you with MIPCOM. Anyway, assuming everybody knows AFM stands for American film market. I see.
Alex Ferrari 1:37:40
I'm assuming they do. But it will be in the show notes. Now I wanted to touch upon one of the main reasons you reached out to me as you read my book, Rise of the film shoprunner. And was talking to me about niche filmmaking and how you build ancillary product lines and how you all the stuff that I talked about. And it basically, as you turned into a filmmaker once you left the dark side, sorry. Once you left the dark side, and you came over to be a Jedi, or at least a Padawan. At least you came over. You started to I am your father. Exactly. So once you left the distribution side and you came over to be a filmmaker, you brought a lot of that business savvy with you. And you said, Well, if I'm going to be a filmmaker, I'm going to be a successful filmmaker, and you had business ingrained in the system that you were going to build for yourself as a a career filmmaker, as you call it, someone who's actually making a living, being a filmmaker. And in my book, you start talking, you start talking about Yeah, I do that I do that I do that I do that. I'm like, Well, basically, you're kind of like the definition of a film entrepreneur. He's like you said, Absolutely. So I want you to discuss the kinds of films you make. And specifically the power of the niche, which is something I yell and scream from the top of my, my platform. To understand that you have to understand a niche you have to understand an audience and how to build product for that audience or tell a story that's going to work with that audience or reach that audience.
Jeff Deverett 1:39:14
Can you talk a little bit about that? Yes, absolutely. Okay, first of all, if you don't mind having grown up in Canada and being bilingual for the first part of my life and speaking French we use that word the way niches we call it niche.
Alex Ferrari 1:39:29
Yeah, no, but it does. The niches are in the riches are in the niches sounds so much better than niche. So it's nation niche Potato Potato, it's up to you.
Jeff Deverett 1:39:38
It is a French derivation. I hit it you know, it is coming from I come from that that's the word we get anyways, whatever. Okay, so I have decided, as a filmmaker, that for two reasons I I'm going to specialize in family feature films, and primarily within that little like the family market which is like I do defined family now as all audience viewing meaning you can any age can watch it and enjoy it. That to me is what a family film is. So you know, people use different terminology, but it means all audiences can watch it, whether you're, you know, five years old or 80 years old, you can watch it with your grandmother and enjoy it. So within that I primarily focus on sports dramas, because I like inspirational sports stories. And within that I like to do true stories. So
Alex Ferrari 1:40:30
you're like niche of a niche of a niche or a niche of a niche of a niche.
Jeff Deverett 1:40:35
So now there's two reasons I'm a niche of a niche of a niche. One is I very much personally like those kind of stories. Like I love that like my one of my favorite movies is Rudy the
Alex Ferrari 1:40:46
read my mind, I was about to say, Rudy, when you started that sentence, it says, like,
Jeff Deverett 1:40:49
I consider that one of the best movies period, if not sports movies, for sure, but movies. It's, it's based on a true story. It's got so much heart, it's done. So well. The filmmaker captured everything. I really loved that movie. I said, I just like those. I'm a sucker for sports dramas, true stories that are super inspirational about people who just had so much heart and just wanted to follow it don't even have to win or lose. I don't care about whether they win or not. I just I love stories that I've heard of them.
Alex Ferrari 1:41:19
Like, like miracle miracle will be one of those films. Yeah,
Jeff Deverett 1:41:22
yeah, miracle. But you know, yeah, miracles are a little bit different than Rudy. I mean,
Alex Ferrari 1:41:26
a little No, no, Rudy, I'm bawling at the end of Rudy, I'm like, I'm just, I'm just, I'm a mess. I was, you know,
Jeff Deverett 1:41:33
he doesn't even get a chance to it gets one plate. Yeah, okay. So anyways, that's the main reason is because I personally like those kind of movies, I love those kind of stories. That's the main reason I do that. The second main reason very close very close. Second reason is, I know how to sell them. Like, I know there's a market for them. And I believe there always will be a market for them. Because there's families out there who always want to co view and sit down as a family and have family viewing night. So I believe that it's a good bet, that if I didn't believe that, by the way, I wouldn't make those movies because I wouldn't be able to, because if I don't sell them, I can't make more. So I think that that niche, I'm glad I enjoy that niche, because it's also a very marketable niche. And it's still a niche, you still got to find your audience. But you know, for the most part, you can be pretty sure that that families will watch movies together, or you know, their Cove you entertainment, you know, not all the time, obviously. But it's primarily when there's younger kids involved. So that's why I like it. Because when I go to markets, and I speak to my customers and stuff like that, they know that I'm going to deliver quality family films, and they know that's, there's not always a place for them always. But people generally will content as long as human beings, and families exist, they will watch movies together. That's my theory. And so far, it's been proven true. So I chose that niche to summarize for two reasons. I like that niche. I enjoy those kind of movies, and they're marketable. So that works for on both levels.
Alex Ferrari 1:43:10
Now, how do you reach the marketplace? And how do you sell these films?
Jeff Deverett 1:43:16
Okay, so this is an ever changing process. The film business, what did you say to them, the term you use the other day with me, it's, it's like, it's it changes like, weekly now home,
Alex Ferrari 1:43:30
just know when now it's almost literally daily, because of COVID. But it's changing so rapidly, the foundation underneath. I was saying I was saying that Rome is burning, I feel that Rome is burning, and the walls are going to come crumbling down around the whole industry, because there's going to have to be a change. Because just the same way, it wasn't the music industry, the music industry had mp3. And that burned down the walls. I mean, that burned down Rome, in the music industry and the chain of streaming and all that. So I feel that the same thing is happening here. But yes, it's changing rapidly. Okay, so
Jeff Deverett 1:44:01
here's the thing I try not to as a person, like focus on what was I spent tend to focus on what is or what's going to be now you got to focus on what was sometimes you know, historically, so you have a point of reference, but just because it's something happened before, it doesn't mean it has to happen again the same way or is going to happen the same way. So all the stuff like I'm telling it 90% of what I did in my careers is not relevant anymore. I mean, it's relevant in that we hope that people are still going to watch TV and movies and you know, there's going to be entertainment but even that even that I'm going to make a bold statement you know, and maybe this is too bold to people even have the attention span to watch movies anymore. Like for us like going to the theater like my generation, like the I love long form viewing. But look at my kids and and the younger generations. They're more used to short form viewing like they're looking at like Tick Tock What is that? 15 second clips. I mean, and that's like, gigantic, you know, YouTube, like, you know, this is all short form format. And that's so it's could be that generations going forward are not interested in kind of the formats that we were interested in, you know, everybody assumes a movies a movie, everybody loves sitting down and watching a movie. And I'm thinking maybe not, maybe they like 10 minute segments, better, you know, now, episodic stuff or, you know, shorter form stuff, just because it's, it's a different world now, with technology. So even I'm questioned even that, which is interesting, because I still say, Okay, I'm going to make movies, but maybe I'm going to present them episodically as opposed to in one sitting. And, like, so that's one of the things I started exploring.
Alex Ferrari 1:45:51
Oh, it's much more. It's much more lucrative if you have like, you know, a documentaries and a documentary series, but a series based on one of your ideas for a film like like an inspirational sports movie, breaking that up into four episodes, or five or six episode miniseries. That's more valuable in the marketplace nowadays, then, yeah, then I mean, I mean, generally speaking, generally speaking, there's still always gonna I think there'll always be a place for features I think they'll be something like that. But right now series is like, the more content you could purchase as a streaming services, what they want and people love watching miniseries now are seasonal things that keep coming out every season. You know, people accuse me of something like, because I came from the business side of the film, just you know, from the dark side, the dark side, yes, yes. It's not the dark side. This is your, this is your penance, I'm sorry, I have to I have to beat you up.
Jeff Deverett 1:46:52
It's decided that generates the revenue to enable you know, filmmakers to hopefully make their movies. Alright, so I don't think it has to be dark. Here's what I get accused of. I get accused of being too focused on the monetization of the movie. Like I'm talking about monetizing before I'm even making 70. I'm thinking like, why would I bother like, okay, in my career, I've made seven movies. And I made one of them as a personal project, it was a personal passion project where it didn't really matter whether I can monetize or not, I wanted to make it because to me, that was my what I call my legacy film. It was my statement to the world, it was what I wanted. If I had to send a message, it would be that that would be no, it's been the hardest film to sell to. So it's been tricky. But I was happy to make it, it was my most enjoyable movie for sure. The other movies, I basically, I'm looking at audience, and I'm basically saying, okay, what's going to sell, because I want to make money with them. Because I want to be able to make other films afterwards. So, you know, I'm trying to figure out what you know what to make in order to be able to monetize it. And then within that, then I say, okay, you know, there could be 10 choices, okay, what would I enjoy making, but I don't get hung up on a story necessarily. I get hung up on a marketing plan. And I say, like, like, I just finished making the gymnastics movies, you know, and I know that the gymnastics is big and an Olympic year. I mean, I've made two of them. So and I know that there's a big audience for it. And a lot of young girls do gymnastics, I know that there's a market there for it. And I probably wouldn't necessarily, like I'm not in love with the idea of making jeunesses movie unless there's a market for it. So it was a fun movie to make. I enjoyed making it. And I would definitely do other gymnastics movies. But if I discovered that they weren't going to sell, not sure it would do that, you know, then I might want to make a football movie where I think it could sell or a baseball movie or something like that.
Alex Ferrari 1:48:52
There's not a lot of gymnastic movies is a general statement. It's not like a it's not like there's 1000 there's not a lot of competition for that, that
Jeff Deverett 1:49:00
suddenly not as much as you know, as for other football or baseball, but you know, there's also you know, because there's more fan base, obviously. So yeah, it's kind of supply and demand. But so but I don't say hey, like, I'm a gymnast, and I need to make gymnastics movies. I say like, there's a market for it. I found a story I like to do. I think it would be you know, very suitable for that audience and and attractive. And that's a big component of it. And let's make the best movie. We can have fun doing it.
Alex Ferrari 1:49:31
So okay, so then, one thing that I found really interesting, you showed me an example of it is that you did exactly what I talked about in the book, which is how to leverage the niche in marketing. So you're actually so you have obviously a gymnastic film. So you also have a relationship with us gymnastics right?
Jeff Deverett 1:49:51
USA Gymnastics USA. Yeah, I have I mean, I relationships these days. That's tricky. I mean, USA. Gymnastics is a bit of mess.
Alex Ferrari 1:50:01
But you had a cup before this, but you had you were able to tap into that audience, if you will.
Jeff Deverett 1:50:08
Absolutely. Well, I mean, not only through USA Gymnastics, but through, you know, various gymnastics. There's lots of gymnastics organizations. Yeah, I mean, I mean, there's magazines, there's, you know, there's all kinds of groups and state by state and, you know, competitions and stuff like that. So there's lots of ways to tap into, say that marketplace, like, you know, we're dealing let's, let's talk about that. Okay. It's so gymnastics is, you know, a bit of a niche sport relative to other sports. It's, a lot of people do it, but not obviously, as many as do say baseball, or say soccer, soccer is, you know, for both sexes, so. So you can find your ways to market that. And I, I mean, Alex, I think I told you this. I mean, people look at me, and they say, Oh, you've gotten made seven features, and you know what you're doing, and you have fun and everything like that. I say, Yeah, but that's not my day job. My day job is marketing these movies. 90% of what I do is marketing, like finance and marketing these movies, that's what it is, making them as the holiday is the fun part. And I really enjoy that. Marketing is everything. I spend lots and lots of time. And that's the job that's my job is, is figuring out how to market and sell the movie. So. So yes, I definitely look for all the niches. And we could spend hours on this. I mean, I showed you a couple of things. I mean, I didn't really get into the weeds on all the stuff that I do. But I mean, this is that would be this would become a class in marketing, not in
Alex Ferrari 1:51:37
show, of course. And that's it. And that's another discipline that you really do need to understand is branding and marketing as a filmmaker, I mean, even for yourself, you shouldn't understand how to brand yourself as a filmmaker, would you agree?
Jeff Deverett 1:51:49
I would say so. But you know, like, I look at it differently. I like I say, I'm trying to figure out before I make the movie, what I'm going to do, like I do the marketing plan before I do the production plan. Like I want to make sure that what I'm going to make, listen, I believe studios do that, too. I've never worked at a big studio. But I do believe that they all sit down like years before they actually go into production and figure out like, Who's it for? how they're going to market it, you know, what's the look going to be like, and you know, what characters they need and this kind of thing in order to successfully market the movies? And, you know, how's that gonna look what that plan is gonna look like? Because that makes for good business.
Alex Ferrari 1:52:29
Now, you also sold you sell to Netflix a lot as well with your films, correct? I yeah, I tend to try to sell to Netflix. Yep. So what's your experience, like with Netflix?
Jeff Deverett 1:52:42
So Netflix is my experience is really good. I mean, it's interesting, right? Like, they're the, they're the big player in the industry, you control a lot of the eyeballs, as you know. And it's, it's a great place, you know, to connect with audiences, because they have such a big audience. So, I do I deal on the licensing side with Netflix, ie, I'm a third, like an independent filmmaker who sells them a finished film, as opposed to most of what they do now is Netflix branded product where they make it themselves. And they'll hire you know, third party companies like me to sometimes do service production to make their movies, which is a whole other business plan. But they own it. So my movies I make I own and I license them to Netflix, if you know if they like the movie. So I gotta say dealing with Netflix says, and I'm not saying this, because I mean, I think some Netflix executive is going to be listening to this, it's the truth. They have the ability to totally screw filmmakers, because it's Netflix, and they get offered every single movie that's ever made on the planet. Like, what filmmaker is not gonna offer their movie to Netflix, right? Like, that's a dream come true. So they're in the position to basically just dictate any terms they want. And it's like, take it or leave it type of thing. But I gotta say they they are super fair. They have given me a very fair deals, and they then their contract, you know, it's funny when I first got their distribution contract, and I read my own contracts, because I have a legal background and everything I read, and I'm thinking, Oh, this is just gonna be a complete joke, and it's gonna be so lopsided. It wasn't, it was actually a very fair deal. And when I spoke to the lawyer on the Netflix side, you know, she said to me, is there anything you'd like to you know, talk about or negotiate? And I said, is that even on the table? Like, is it even offered your Netflix and I'm some like, small indie producer, like, Why? She said, Well, it's kind of not really because we think our contracts already fair. But you know, if you do have some comments, we'd be willing to hear them. And you know what, it's a super fair deal. Like you want to talk about like, not like these distribution deals you've seen like it is a very, very fair deal that Netflix puts on the table for filmmakers, because I believe that Netflix totally understands that they need to keep going maker's in business in order to keep getting good content, like I believe they're very supportive of the creative process so that they can support filmmakers so that they can continue to have a good stream of very good product. I think that's their philosophy. And I can tell you from literally, like doing business directly with them and getting their contracts and dealing with them. It is not at all like we talked about with the distribution landscape, it's actually a breath of fresh air, it's up Now, obviously, getting to them and and having them express interest in your product. And you get to step standing on very long line behind lots and lots of filmmakers. But once you get there, it's very pleasurable and fair, extremely fair.
Alex Ferrari 1:55:41
Now, that's a good accent. So you have a direct relationship with them. So you've obviously built those relationships over time. So you don't use aggregators. Do you actually use aggregators for other elements of your distribution model?
Jeff Deverett 1:55:53
The only aggregator I uses for is for Apple TV right now. And I'm about to probably not do that anymore. And that's because Apple TV forces you to do that until you've had you have to have a certain number of films. So you have to have I think, the numbers four or five theatrical films, and I'm just getting there. So I'm hopefully going to qualify my next movie, and then I can go direct. So there's criteria. Listen, these companies don't want to deal with hundreds of 1000s of filmmakers that they have aggregators, I understand that. I think that they can get way more of my marketing dollars. And we can work directly and do much better by allowing me to work together because I just don't like the dilution of going through a third party, but I understand why it exists in terms of supporting and managing lots of different vendors. But yeah, for the most part, that's the only aggregator I use, everything else is direct. Like so you can direct on amazon prime, you know, like, not the svod side, but the the transactional side.
Alex Ferrari 1:56:50
And do you do? Do you have any of your films up on a VOD or not yet?
Jeff Deverett 1:56:55
I'm toying with it. So, I mean, I'm toying with YouTube Now. Now. The YouTube model, you know, it's been super disruptive and changed everything. I mean, I've definitely explored to be and Pluto and all the big a VOD platforms. I mean, I've sat in all their presentations. I know exactly how they work. I understand it. And so I'm definitely I'm definitely looking at it. I don't know how much money is there is can be made. You see, this is one of those things where like, you really got to do the math. And you got to do lots of extrapolation, because even with a lot of volume on some, that's a volume game, obviously, you got to be doing, you know, showing, then YouTube and these are volume distribution models. So even one sort of crappy TV deal. That seems like you know, a low lowball offer could be more than a big volume deal on a on an event VOD platform, but it's changing. So I, I'm very open minded, and I'm looking at everything. And I'm paying close attention because it's these models are changing the way people are consuming product changes every day. And you know, you can't, you can't say, Oh, that's how they did it. So they're going to do it that way. I mean, kids, listen, the younger generation kids generation, they don't believe they have to pay for anything. They grew up like thinking everything's free. Like all these apps are free and all these things and, and, you know, it's terrible for songwriters, and filmmakers and everything who don't, you know, people don't appreciate how much goes into that how much time and effort and labor and then people want to consume it for free. Like the art my generation, we never thought about that. Like we were happy to pay for stuff. I mean, that you were happy to pay for an album or CD or something like that, or movie, that new generation, they don't want to pay for anything. So you know, it's kind of come full circle, where with the Avon ads, it's kind of like broadcast TV again, right? You're back at him. But you got to watch the commercials, you know. So
Alex Ferrari 1:59:00
it's just changing so rapidly. It's just changing so, so rapidly, and God knows, you know, we're all being a holodeck in 20 years. Who knows?
Jeff Deverett 1:59:11
Alex, can I just can I there's one thing in your book that I wanted to. It's not necessary. But distribution. There's one thing that and we haven't talked about this, but I do want to say, yeah, this is also math. It's a mathematical equation. So you, I get the fact that making an independent film is like a crazy, crazy, difficult process and super financially risky. I totally get it right. But I learned something in my business affairs, like early on primarily through the legal department, like through my law training, that if you're going to spend your time and effort and like making a movie, I mean, you're gonna spend I did the calculation. I mean, if you do it the way you did, Alex, where you were, you know, cinematographer, director, editor, you know, you put you know your heart and soul into it. Yeah, I did some math on it. I'm gonna say that you spent somewhere between 2020 500 hours on that movie. And you could be even more in your case.
Alex Ferrari 2:00:10
Yeah, like I made my first film my very first film. Yeah, I mean, that's a feature. I'm talking a feature not sorry. Not a short. No, no, no, my first my first feature, my first feature. Yeah, I mean, that's a fair, that's a pretty fair statement. I mean, it depends on it, it could be a little less could be a little bit more. Who knows? I mean, if you're including crowdfunding, including that marketing equally, yeah,
Jeff Deverett 2:00:31
I'm including everything I'm including the idea of saying, Okay, I'm gonna make a movie to actually getting it finished.
Alex Ferrari 2:00:39
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Jeff Deverett 2:00:50
I mean, it's, here's how, here's how the math works. I think it's about nine months, kind of like having a baby 910 months, four weeks per month, six days per week, 10 hours per day, that's 20 160 hours. Sorry, I already did the math on it. Sure. Now, now, here's, here's what I wanted to say to you. So you say I'm going to make a 5000 or $10,000 feature film so that, so don't take too much financial risk. And let's say let's say you make the $5,000 feature film, and you put in 20 160 hours,
Alex Ferrari 2:01:23
doesn't make it doesn't make sense, the ROI is not there, or the RFP is not there,
Jeff Deverett 2:01:27
there's no aro t there, because for the same, so let's do the math, let's say you make and you get really lucky, you make four times your budget back, let's say you make $25,000 on a $5,000 film. So that's a success, you have sorry, you've made five times your budget. Sure. So that's a success. I mean, what filmmakers are gonna say, Hey, I just made $20,000, on a film that cost me five, I mean, 25, so I netted $20,000, that's a lot. But when you realize that you put in 2200 hours to make $20,000, it's not good math?
Alex Ferrari 2:02:05
Well, you you, you are making an assumption. So on a on my second film, I did that I shot the film in 36 hours, so I haven't shot in four days. So it was four days, we did about 36 hours of actual production time. But let's say we did the full 40 hours, 45 hours, whatever it is. And then you know, all All in all, when that movie was done on the corner of ego and desire, I might have spent a few 100 hours on it. And for me it let's say even if I spent 500 hours on it, which I don't think I did it, there's the assumption of 2100 hours or 2500 hours, that's on a $5,000 film, if you're spending nine months to make a $5,000 film, you have not done a good job, that does not make sense, when you're making a budget of film of that budget range of 3000 to 15,000, you should be in and out within a couple months. And with in all honesty, shoot it to three months tops, and then you're into the marketing phase of it. But I still generated a good amount of money off of my first film, and off of my second film. And it made sense for me, because I also was building a, I was part of my entire ecosystem of what I do. So I wasn't just making money on my film, I was making money from ancillary products, and other things like that. So the book that you purchased, the, the book that you purchased, Rise of the entrepreneur has multiple mentions, if not a full chapter a case study on on the corner of ego and desire, I was already selling the book before the book, The movie was even released, making money off of that. So I my mindsets a little bit different than yours. And you know, you're, you're always like, you shouldn't make a movie for less than 700,000 or, or, you know, five 700 $900,000. But you're coming from that point of view, I'm coming from a different point of view, where I'm building an entire ecosystem, I'm building a lot of other revenue streams, I mean, not only making money from the exploitation of the film itself, I'm making it from the entire film intrapreneurial ecosystem. And that's why that makes sense for me. And that's what I've tried to teach in the book is for filmmakers to make that ecosystem. So if you do make a five or $10,000 movie, you even if you make four times your money on the movie, it's nothing compared to the 50 or $60,000, you made selling all these other ancillary product lines, and other services and other things like that. And I made the argument in the very first, the very first movie I made, which was an $8,000 short film back in 2005, that I generated over a million dollars with that project. And the reason I did that is because that film, launched my post production, my post production company, and every year I put food on my table for the next 10 to 12 years. And I was making money in and day in day out and I had filmmakers coming in all the time from that film. So it's not only About an addition to that, I also made $100,000 on the short as selling the actual short, and I still make money off that short to this day. So it's all about frame of mind how you're looking at it, I understand your point of view and with your math, you're absolutely right. But from my point of view with my math, it makes sense for me. Does that declar that fair? You know, you're right.
Jeff Deverett 2:05:20
I think that, you know, you're you can't be spending more than two or three months, if you're making a low budget film, absolutely. Your your return on time is not going to be valuable. So yeah, I my business model is different. I like to shoot the million dollar range. And, you know, and I, if, if I haven't made 100, at least 100,000, or more than I feel like it's not worthwhile because of all the time, effort money, of course. Oh,
Alex Ferrari 2:05:45
yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And your business model makes sense for you. Because you're also every filmmaker has a very unique set of skills. We're all we're all little Liam Neeson from taken, we all have little sets of specific skills that we bring in, you have a plethora of knowledge and tools from the distribution set. So you're very clear on how you're gonna be able to make that money. So you know, you can play at the 700,900 $1,000 budget range, because you also understand niche, niche films and being able to sell it and marketing, you understand all that stuff. So at that budget range, you need to be on a set, you have to be an assassin, you have to be a ninja at that budget range to be able to crack off 100 $200,000 profit on a film like that, and hopefully much more than that. But you have to be really strategic about it, where filmmakers who are starting off in a $15,000 budget film, they don't need to be as strategic. And that's why I always say you start small and you build from there, because you got to kind of learn the craft and learned the business side as well. So that's just again, it's just two different point of views. But both are both are correct, in their own way. Because if I try to if I try to shoehorn my situation, do yours, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. And vice versa. So it's all about perspective.
Jeff Deverett 2:07:04
Yeah, I just I guess, yeah, the difference is that you just said, you know, don't spend more than two or three months Oh, yeah, I'm saying spend, you know, nine to 10 months and make it like, put your heart and soul into it. But it's a different time.
Alex Ferrari 2:07:17
It's a different time of us. There's also different investment. So you're talking about, let's say nine or 10 months on a movie, and you generate $100,000 off that film, well, that's a year, that's a really decent yearly salary, depending on where you live in the world. Correct. And that makes sense. But if you make, but if you make a $5,000 movie, or a $500,000 movie and break even, or lose money, and you spent the year, that's not, that's not what you can't survive. So you know, it's been, it's all it's all relative. Now, I can talk to you for at least another two hours. But I want to ask you, I want to ask you a few questions, ask all my all my guests, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Jeff Deverett 2:08:03
Again, I'm gonna, I'm going to go back to what I said earlier about what's your intention, if your intention is is artistic, and you just want to be on the art side, I would suggest choose one project that you're really, really passionate about. And if you want to make it independently, go to your circle of people and be honest with them and say, This is something that I really want to do, I believe that it will, you know, resonate, and hopefully find an audience but if it doesn't, you know, consider this helping me achieve my personal goal. And keep it very low budget so that you don't blow anybody's brains out, you know, financially and don't take anybody's money that you can't afford to lose it. So don't put anybody in a financially uncomfortable position. But if you want to be a career filmmaker, then you got to really educate yourself on the business side or, or go try to get go down the studio route to or you know, the the streaming route where you're working on a on for somebody else, you're not really an independent filmmaker anymore. If you're really really passionate about the industry, but that you know, as you know, Alex, those jobs are far and few between, it's an anomaly you get one of those jobs, and you're basically going to, you know, kill yourself for the first five to 10 years and not really do what you want to do in the hopes that you ultimately will do it and you might not do it. So I'm, I like the whole film sharpener thing. I'm an entrepreneur. And you know, the good news about that is you get to call the shots and do what you want to do. The bad news is there's a little bit more risk involved, obviously. But if you're really passionate, then like I say, either make your passion project and be happy that you got something done and you left the world, your mark. And don't worry about the financial side. But if you're going to worry about the financial side, then get educated like really get involved.
Alex Ferrari 2:09:53
Would you agree though, that I find it's riskier to take that job in the studio and only run On those kinds of jobs, because you have given the power to you of your livelihood, to somebody else to another company where I'd rather have a little bit more risk and control my own destiny, in a sense, is that is that fair? I know you but I both have the same kind of mentality when it comes to that, because we're both entrepreneurs.
Jeff Deverett 2:10:16
They're different risks, you know, like, Yeah, exactly. Yeah, like, losing a job is a huge problem in one's life, when you're dependent on a salary, you lose your job. But as an entrepreneur, when you lose your job, you also lose your investment with it. Correct. So you're losing two things, you're losing your livelihood, and you're losing the investment that you put into making a livelihood. That's why in some ways, it's a little riskier as an entrepreneur. But you know, more on like, more upside, there's way more risk and return, obviously.
Alex Ferrari 2:10:46
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Jeff Deverett 2:10:52
The lesson, the most important lesson I learned, and it probably took, yeah, 15 to 20 years, and the single most important thing is that, that, like I said, before, it's just about trust, like, really businesses is about life is about relationships, you know, I mean, probably the biggest relationship you're gonna have is, you know, with your spouse, if you're gonna get married, and, or have children, that type of thing. But business is all about relationships. And you want to be in business with people who you trust. And so learning two things, one, how to choose somebody to trust is important. And then learning how to actually trust them. And, and people you don't people earn trust, like you don't trust is not something you talk about. And then you give it it's got to be earned both ways. You got to earn somebody's trust, and they got to earn your trust. And trust is such a powerful tool if and when you have it. And if you don't have it, like, there's what people call this gut thing I filmmaker called me last week, and he said, You know, there's just doing this distribution deal, but there's just something wrong with it, I can tell you what's wrong with it before even telling me the deal. You don't trust the people on the other side, you feel like you're gonna get screwed, if this is just a trust thing. That's why it's bothering you. Like, we can talk about all the terms of the deal. And I really like that, but you don't trust that they're going to keep the terms anyways. So my, I guess the lesson is, life's too short, don't get into bed with people you don't trust. I mean, sometimes you have to, you're forced into it, but know who they are, and only give so much trust and and and try to find those people who you really trust. And
Alex Ferrari 2:12:30
Now what is the biggest fear you had to overcome when you made your first film?
Jeff Deverett 2:12:36
You said something I can't remember if it was on your book, or one of your podcasts or something like that. You've probably said it many times. And this, this is also something I learned and is become a super fear of mine. It's not a fear, but you know that it's way, way, way more taxing on you find on life, to lose somebody else's money than it is to lose your own. That that is a fear of losing other people's money. Like I take it so seriously, that winner it might festers, because my investors remember not investing in a movie, they're investing in my ability to make and sell a movie, because they don't know anything about the movie. Like my investors. I mean, you know, I have a nice group of investors are primarily real estate guys. And so they don't know anything about the movie business, but they invest in my truck, they trust that I know what I'm doing. And that's why now, when somebody gives you money based on trust, which I've done to them also in the real estate side, you don't want to lose it. They've trusted you like you'll lose your own money, you feel bad. But you can still sleep at night, you just feel bad sometime you know it has an impact, you lose their money, you feel terrible. You feel like you've betrayed their trust. Right? So that that's probably my greatest fear is losing my investors money more so than Listen, my wife might argue with that. She put us like we're an investor also. And I say yeah, but we're different kind of investor. I'm the lead guy and I everybody's banking on my ability. So there's a lot of pressure when you take other people's money and got to be straight up front with people and you got to say like, there's gigantic risk involved, you're gonna do your best here's the plan. But you know, like every other business investment it might not pan out and and don't invest if you can't afford to lose it.
Alex Ferrari 2:14:23
And three of your favorite films of all time.
Jeff Deverett 2:14:27
Definitely, Rudy is one of them. For sure. Because I love the heart in that movie. Like I said, I primarily like sports dramas, so most of them I mean, yeah, Rudy would be up there. Like I was a big fan of the Star Wars The original Star Wars movies, just how creative they were, at the time and how innovative and and I love the fact that Lucas had to work the streets for years and years and years like just what makes the star the original Star Wars movies so attractive to me is Just how persistent and and and like motivated Lucas was in just believing in himself and, and so passionate, you know there's a good chance those films would never gotten made if not for his persistence and passion and getting like I've never met the guy and I don't know for sure you know what's real and what isn't just I've read, you know, a lot of his materials and listened to him on stuff and so not to MIT the films are, were great at the time. You know, I love watching them now because they're not so great anymore. I mean, it just some of this stuff is so data. But at the time, it was like, I remember going to that first Star Wars movie lining up at the theater. And it was magic, it was total magic. So I would put those up there, too. There's so many other movies that me, I can't necessarily that, you know, it's funny, I should have been prepared for that question. But now I can't really say like, yeah, Rudy definitely is his top top top shelf.
Alex Ferrari 2:15:57
And one of my favorite parts of the whole Star Wars story is, is the whole the deal, how he how he constructed the deal. He's like, yeah, just give me the sequel rights. And and I just want merchandising. And I don't you guys don't want that to you.
Jeff Deverett 2:16:13
He had such belief in himself, and the vision. And you know, then that could it maybe not worked out? Well. But you know what, like, in hindsight, 2020, it's it worked out really well. But you know, there's probably lots of those kind of deals, that didn't work out.
Alex Ferrari 2:16:26
Right. But he was able to build a fairly nice Empire off of that. Not he didn't do that he didn't do that. Now, where can people find you and watch your films and the work you're doing?
Jeff Deverett 2:16:38
You can definitely find some of my films on Netflix, follow and cry, and the new Fallout two is coming out soon. And I have a website, obviously, which is my company's called Deverett media. So it's www.deverettmedia.com. And IMDb, I mean, you know, Google, whatever. But you know, my websites the quickest way. And I'm not one of those guys who hides like, I mean, if you want to, I mean, listen, I don't know how many people are going to call me or whatever, afterwards, but I'm always happy to talk to Phil, make
Alex Ferrari 2:17:11
Careful, careful, careful, careful, Jeff. Fair enough. Careful, but don't put out Don't put your email out there. I'm telling you don't get don't put the phone number out there right now. Trust me. I've had other guests do that. And they're just like, Alex, I had no idea.
Jeff Deverett 2:17:30
Here's the thing, you know, I genuinely I genuinely like to help other filmmakers navigate this process. I obviously don't want to be inundated with millions and millions of calls and projects. But I generally look, if I told you this, you know, I'm thinking of doing this sort of mentoring course, where, and I don't want to go to hundreds of you know, 1000s of filmmakers, I want to go to like, you know, a dozen or so every year and just really hold their hand and mentor them through this process if they really want to try to navigate it. And I think that would be fun and exciting. And I and very fulfilling to do that. To be able to kind of help them avoid this and everybody you learn when you fall, and you get back up. But it's sometimes better if you don't have to, if if I can show you where the bumps in the road is going to be before you have to go over it and and fall. It would be Hey, we'll learn as much No, but at least you'll get past it and get down that road a little quicker.
Alex Ferrari 2:18:29
Fair enough. Jeff, it has been an epic conversation as I knew it would be I am so grateful to you that you came on. And I've been so candid about everything from from the other time in your life, we won't call the dark side the other time in your life. But I hope I hope it It helps filmmakers get a better understanding of the other side of the table, which is something that, you know, I can talk all I want about the other side of the table. But to talk to someone who's been on the other side of the table and go, this is what their thinking was, I think invaluable. So thank you so much for being on the show and dropping the knowledge bombs on the tribe, man. Thank you.
Jeff Deverett 2:19:10
Well, thank you for having me. I really appreciate it and good luck with all your stuff.
Alex Ferrari 2:19:15
I mean, did I tell you or did I tell you this was an insane episode. I cannot thank Jeff enough for coming on the show being so transparent, so raw, about the process and really, really just dropping some insane mega atomic knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Thank you again, Jeff so much. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/396. And again, if you want to become part of the beta launch team for film distribution confidential, the course that predatory film distributors do not want you to take head over to indiefilmhustle.com/letmein. Thank you guys so so, so much. I really do hope that this episode has opened your minds has really planted some seeds and made you think differently about how you can make money with your film. How should you approach it? How you need to understand the business, or at least partner with someone who understands the business but you as a filmmaker needs to understand the basics. Just like you need to understand the basics of camera, the basics of acting, the basics of art department, the basics of sound, just the basics of every part of the filmmaking process. Film distribution is a huge, huge, huge part. If not, it's probably about 50% of the entire filmmaking process. Like we said in the interview. The first half is the fun part, making the movie. The second half can be the fun part. But you also need to have knowledge about that process because without the second part, you will not be able to make another first part without understanding the business. You will not be able to do the show. As ifH Academy instructor Suzanne Lyons says there's the word show and there's the word business and the word business has twice as many letters as the word show. take that to heart, my friends. take that to heart. Thank you for listening, guys. Please share this episode with as many filmmakers as you can. This information needs to get out to as many filmmakers as possible. Thanks again for listening guys, as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there. And I'll talk to you soon.
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