Kim Adelman began her producing career with the indie feature, Just Friends. She then launched the Fox Movie Channel’s short film program, where the 19 shorts she produced won 30+ awards and played over 150 film festivals worldwide, including the Sundance Film Festival four years in a row.
Kim Adelman currently teaches Low Budget Filmmaking at UCLA Extension and Cinema Production II at Mount Saint Mary University. In 2014, she was named UCLA Extension’s Entertainment Studies Instructor of the Year. In 2016, she won its Distinguished Instructor Award.
In addition to guest lecturing at UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton, and Cal State Los Angeles, she has also taught filmmaking workshops across the US, Canada, and New Zealand. Most recently she led creative writing workshops for kids at UCLA’s Hammer Museum via 826LA and filmmaking for teens at Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum.
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Over the past two decades, Ms. Adelman has also reported extensively on festivals and short films for Indiewire, co-programmed the American Cinematheque’s annual Focus on Female Directors short film screening series for fifteen years, and co-founded FFC: the Female Filmmaking Collective. She has also been a jury member and/or a panel moderator at numerous international film festivals, including Sundance Next and the Los Angeles Film Festival during its final year.
Her short film book, Making it Big in Shorts, is on its third edition and has been published internationally in Spanish and Mandarin. The three pop culture books she wrote for Penguin Random House are The Girls Guide to Elvis, The Girls Guide to Country, and The Ultimate Guide to Chick Flicks. which was also published in Japanese.
She has recorded a five-part educational podcast on independent filmmaking for UCLA Extension and co-hosted the 15-episode movie adaptation podcast Book to Screen, available on iTunes. She has also appeared as cinema expert in the ARTE documentary From Weepies to Chick Flicks, E!’s Hollywood & Sex special, and the DVD extras for Love Me Tender and Ghost. She was profiled for Women Transforming Media and appeared on
Kim Adelman was also Director of On Air Creative Production for Style Network until that network shut down. She has worked at multiple cable networks including FX/FXM, E!, G4, PopTV, the Game Show Network, and Cinevault.
Kim Adelman 0:00
I think it is that it's just a matter of getting through the no's until you get to yes, it you know, it's so hard to hear that and it's so hard to constantly run up against the no's. But the reality is as soon as you get that, yes, you can stop. You've achieved it. And everybody can do that. Right? You know, the most dedicated person can go 90 through 99 no's until you get that 100th yes.
Alex Ferrari 0:23
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Kim Adelman 1:16
Hi, nice to see ya.
Alex Ferrari 1:17
Nice to see you too. Thank you so much for coming on the show you are, we're going to talk about something that's very dear to my heart. Because that's how I got my start short films. I always want to talk about short films. And I have an extensive amount of experience in short films. I've done many of them I've, I've made a lot of money with short films, I've been in a lot of festivals and short films, I think my shorts have probably gone into two to 300 festivals in the course, it's been a lot. So I do understand a lot about the marketing and selling of short films and things like that. I'm dying to hear your perspective on everything and how we're gonna get into it. So first question, though, how did you and why did you want to get into this business?
Kim Adelman 2:00
I liked that statement and why? This is why I love short films, because it's not really a business per se, right. But I grew up in Los Angeles might nobody in my family is in the entertainment industry. But you know, it's kind of a default thing. And sooner or later you fall into doing entertainment stuff. And I'm actually one of the weird people who did a feature first. Yeah, I produced a feature with friends of mine. And as a result of that, and totally no budget feature. As a result of that I got the gig producing short film. So I'm one of the rare people that didn't reverse present starting with shorts to go to feature. And then after that, I just love short film so much. I didn't want to go back to features and I just kind of fell into teaching. So I've been doing teaching primarily for the last few years.
Alex Ferrari 2:43
So that's why your IMDb is just plump filled with shorts. Like I said, there's never seen somebody shorts in somebody's IMDb before I was like, wow, she really talks a talk here. She loves short films.
Kim Adelman 2:56
Well, in fairness, I was also one of the very lucky people that got paid to make short films. So I didn't find out.
Alex Ferrari 3:03
How did you do that? I have to know how that happened.
Kim Adelman 3:06
Yeah, exactly. I was very, very lucky that I was there's a television cable channel called FXM movies from Fox. It's a sister channel, tap X. And back in the day, they didn't have commercials. So they had to do something interstitially which means fill up that time between movies. And so because they didn't have any original production. The guy who was in charge with interstitial time was like, well, let's make some short films. We'll use that to fill up the time. So I was very lucky that you know, ultimately Fox paid for these short films and paid for me to produce them so it was kind of a Nirvana situation.
Alex Ferrari 3:40
Oh, that's right place right time on that situation that doesn't. Everyone listening that doesn't happen?
Kim Adelman 3:45
No does not happen. And of course, they're no longer doing that. And people always say well, who can I get to you know, produce my films or finance like films and there's really not organizations that are doing that and therefore they will
Alex Ferrari 3:55
Not here in the states not in the States.
Kim Adelman 3:57
Yeah, good point.
Alex Ferrari 3:59
Yeah, in Canada and Europe that will be in but it also in Canada, in Europe, it's more of an art they kind of support the arts more New Zealand and Australia. There's government actually support the film industry here.
Kim Adelman 4:13
To raise up there are filmmakers right and perfect way to make room to groom a new group of filmmakers is to have them make short films. So they're smartly investing in infrastructure to make new filmmakers where we're just like, yeah, people will pay for it themselves.
Alex Ferrari 4:27
Right here we're just Stuckey like you're on your own.
Kim Adelman 4:32
Yes, so many people make short films. So in a way, they're kind of right.
Alex Ferrari 4:38
Every year Yeah, I saw somewhere in your in your book. There's like as a 5000 or 8000. shorts were submitted to the Sundance Film Festival.
Kim Adelman 4:47
So this is always very public with the numbers. So we kind of always use those as kind of a way to look at how many shorts are being made. And of course, these were international and us but over 10,000 short films were submitted last 2020 Sundance Film Festival. And so that just blew my number one, it was the highest number yet. But number two, all those were made during the pandemic. So think about that
Alex Ferrari 5:07
Records are not like 10 year old shorts. These are all fresh shorts.
Kim Adelman 5:10
Yeah. So it's like over 10,000 people made short films during the pandemic in one year.
Alex Ferrari 5:16
Wow. That's insane. Insane. So are so you've seen so many, you've taught a lot about short films, what is the biggest mistake short filmmakers make when they attempt to make a short film?
Kim Adelman 5:28
Well, there's actually several mistakes they make. But obviously the biggest always is the shorts are too long.
Alex Ferrari 5:35
So 52 minutes short.
Kim Adelman 5:37
I think that's a good time for a short, right. Well, you know, a lot of people who don't see short films in their vision of it, they think of those 25 30 minute films, and they think, oh, people won't take me seriously unless I make one of these long films. But the reality is, unless you're in school, sometimes school, there's requirements, and you have trade. But if you're doing it on your own, nobody wants to see anything that long programmers still want to program anything that long. And really, you can prove and you don't want to invest in producing something that long, you can prove your talent in five minutes, 10 minutes, you know, I've always said the sweet spot, I started noticing when I was reviewing films for indie wire, and watching a lot of short films that way. And I kept noticing the films I really liked were 12 minutes long. So it's like sweet, sweet spot, including credits. And that's another mistake filmmakers make their credits are too long at the front and too long at the end. But anyway,
Alex Ferrari 6:29
So it's interesting, because when I made my first short, that I was able to generate over $100,000 selling the DVD and how I made it back in 2005. There was no YouTube, there was no information about it, it was a different time. But that was a 20 minute short. And also in 2005, there wasn't nearly as much competition for short films and film and film festivals. So I was able to get into like 150 I think under 20 550 festivals with that short, I just kept going for like a year and a half,
Kim Adelman 6:58
Which also was probably good.
Alex Ferrari 7:02
I mean, Roger Ebert reviewed it and it wasn't, it was it was it was very well received. I went I did the water bottle tour around LA with it. And, you know, and all that kind of stuff. That's there's, there's more than enough information on my show about that. That short. I don't want to talk about that much about that short, but, but that was 20 minutes short, then my next big short was 10 minutes. And I you know, 10 minutes short is really sweet spot, because it's the one minute shorter two minutes short, like, yeah, it's gonna get maybe get programmed easier. But the 10 minutes, sure it has enough meat on the bone, I think sadly, to do something to show you off. And programmers can program it. Exactly. And that's the thing that filmmakers don't understand. Like, I sat once I swear to God, it was it was an I was at Holly shorts.
Kim Adelman 7:45
Fabulous Film Festival
Alex Ferrari 7:46
Danny and Theo had been on the show, I was at their first festival that's short for I'm one of the original Holly short shorts, and I'm the only one that they still talk to. And I've been there a million times. So sitting there watching a movie, and it was big. I'm not gonna say the movie. But there was it was the opening night and it was very big star very, very big star starring in it. It's 45 minutes. And I was sitting there like, Oh, my God, this is molasses. This is horrible. And then my action short comes on. And everyone's like, Ah, thank God. But it was just as brutal. I was like, I don't care if it's a big giant star in it. Right? It was brutal to watch. So anyone thinking about when you're at 45 minutes, just keep going?
Kim Adelman 8:32
No, I believe that too. Like, if you have enough money that you can do that, then this needs to be a feature. And maybe you can make a 68 minute feature or something like that. Doesn't have to be 90 minute and double it or whatever. But yeah, if you can afford that you can definitely afford a feature. The other thing I will say, you know if it's a short documentary, then you can go a little longer to it's different.
Alex Ferrari 8:51
Yeah, documentaries are a whole other world you could do 30 minute 40 minute documentaries comfortably. But narrative is very difficult. Exactly. I went I went to I went to the School of Mark Duplass when it comes to the length of a film he goes, Yes, anything over 70 minutes is a feature film. So when I when I made my, my, my two features that I've made, both of them are like 73 minutes and 75 minutes. I'm like it that's that's enough story. Yeah, exactly. Just Just get in. But you know, I think anything with a seven in front of it is technically a feature when you're at the 68 I'm like just extended the credits just to get more credits. Do some bloopers at the end, just do something that just extends it just a little bit.
Kim Adelman 9:35
I also say No, I think features are too long as well. You know, I get very tired when they're like 22 hours and 22 minutes or something like that. You're just like, Oh my God, how much more of this is gonna go?
Alex Ferrari 9:45
I was watching was it the new Bond film, the last one film and it's like that's a two hour and in that no two hour and 30 minute movie two hour and 40 minute movie. It's a long movie. But there's action every 16 minutes To the Batman was also almost three hours. And that was like, I think it could have been a little shorter. But generally speaking, that there's action going on on that stuff. So you have to keep that going. Now what a lot of filmmakers want to make a short film, what kind of shorts should they make? What genre is? Is something? Is it? You know? This is my problem with shorts and filmmakers with shorts. They put a lot of pressure on short films, yes, tremendous, I did it. I've done it. So many times, with my short films, I put an enormous amount of pressure like this is the short, that's going to change my life. This is the short that some polywood producers gonna see. And like, all you want to do want to do the next Marvel movie, because it is a visual effect. So let's bring it in. That's the kind of pressure most filmmakers put on shorts. And I made a, I made a $50,000 short with sets built, don't ever do that. Everyone was like, Don't ever, ever do that. But I was like, I'm gonna show everything off, I had top Hollywood, I had an Oscar winner in the movie, like I had tons there was like a big event. And it was very stylistic. And I was like, I'm going to show everybody what I could do. And I put so much pressure on that thing. It just crumbled all the shorts crumble under the pressure that filmmakers put on it, as opposed to like, let me make the best thing I can make me put it out into the world and just see what happens.
Kim Adelman 11:28
You know, obviously, you have to make the right short for you. And at that time, I'm sure you had enough connections. And people were kind of expecting you to make something big and expensive and not like shot in your closet, you know, whereas somebody else who doesn't have all those elements to them shouldn't pay money to get all of that they should make the short film that's appropriate to where they are. And really what people are looking for. In short films are like a unique voice and some talent and something but and that's why I love short films. And I'm more interested in shorts and features because features. So cookie cutter, and so rare that we see an exciting new voice, we're in shorts, there's always something new and thrilling and exciting and memorable. And that's what people really want to see. But I also think if you you know are looking at this as something to say this is who I am a world, you should make something that really says this is who I am. So for example, I could say to you, you should totally make a horror short, there's a whole bunch of horror film festivals that would play it, you know, you can actually probably make the leap from a short to a feature with horror data. But if you hate horror, this is not the thing you should do. You know, and if you love comedy, you should do a comedy short, you should not do you know, a structured drama short. So I really think you should think hard about who you are, and where you want to go and make something that kind of announces to the world. This is what I this is my voice. And the nice thing about shorts is that nobody's there to telling you, you must do more, you must do comedy, you get to choose everything you want to do there as opposed to later on in life where somebody will be giving you money and demanding you do certain things or pigeonholing you in some way, this is your chance to define yourself.
Alex Ferrari 13:02
And I think that shorts in general. You know, like that short that $50,000 Short got me a lot of jobs in music, videos and commercials, things like that it didn't do. It didn't do what I wanted it to do. But it did other things for me. And still to this day, I'm making money, I make money with all my shorts to this day. Just selling them in giving access and stuff.
Kim Adelman 13:26
And actually, just to go back to when you said what mistake filmmakers do. They don't do everything correctly so that they could if there isn't any possibility to commercially exploit that film. Like for example, they use music they don't know. And then, you know, then they can't do it. And they can put on YouTube because YouTube will you know, do they're realizing that there's illegal music and pull you up. Or they don't do the right deal memos with their actors. And then all of a sudden, that's a problem. So I mean, I do think, although there isn't that much of a market for short films, you should always do it right. And be ready in case there is some interest in some way or you know, later on when you become famous, somebody's like, I'd love to put your short film, you know, put, you know, show your shuffle now that you're famous, but you don't have the rights to do it. So, you know, do everything correctly the first time,
Alex Ferrari 14:09
Right. So when Criterion Collection calls you exactly, that's why they're doing a retrospective on your work because you are amazing. As a filmmaker, you want to make sure that you don't have a Rolling Stone song in there that you can't afford. Exactly. Basically, and that was one thing I was very conscious of even back then when it was started with my shorts that all the music was either originally composed and I had agreement signed for it. I was a little delusional. So I had I, I really approached it. I think that delusion helped a bit because I approached it as like this is gonna blow me up. So then I made sure like I'm good. This is going to be huge. And I'm going to have to make sure all these contracts and agreements are in place so I can and that's exactly what I did. So that's the reason why I'm able to explore it and I was able to sell DVDs on there, all that kind of stuff, because I made all those agreements and so the delusion helped a bit But hopefully you can do everything I did without the delusion.
Kim Adelman 15:03
Well, I'm gonna say you're obviously a very confident person, but in a certain way, that's great, because certain filmmakers really have no idea what they're doing, right? I mean, that's why I ended up writing about a book for short filmmakers, because you're a novice, you just don't know what's right, or what's wrong, or what mistakes you're making or whatever. But a lot of people are so insecure, where it really it's a short film, how wrong can you go, you know, and even if you do make all those mistakes, okay, you made the mistakes on that one film now, your next short film that you make, you won't make those mistakes on. So I do think, you know, to a certain degree, it's smart to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. But it's also great to just jump in the pool. You know, don't question a little while I'm moving right or whatever. Make a short film. It's fun, you'll be fine.
Alex Ferrari 15:43
Exactly that no one's doing. We're not curing cancer here, guys. Exactly. Let's just let's move on. The one other big mistake I feel that filmmakers make with shorts is that they try to be somebody else. And that might be worth debating. That might be okay. At the beginning. We all do it. Every filmmaker copies and steals and is inspired by the filmmakers that came prior to them. All of them, even the greats, they all they all do it. You look at Nolan's work, you look finches working go right back to Kubrick. I mean, it's, you know, and Kubrick can go back to other people, and so on and so forth. But the mistake I made, and I've talked about this on the show before, but the mistake I made with that $50,000 short film is I was trying to be somebody else. Now my voice was in there. But I was truly trying to be a little something else that wasn't 100% me I was trying to create something that the marketplace wanted, and not as much something that I wanted to make it things like that. So I think something like whiplash, which is a really great short film example, of a movie of a short that turned into a movie. And there's, there's less of that nowadays, shorts generally don't jump to movies as much as they used to. But whiplash specifically, it's so clear, Damien's vision. And that, I mean, it's so so clear. And it's so original, and it's so him. It just you screamed out voice, new voice. And a lot of these, a lot of these filmmakers that do make the jump from shorts to features, whether it's a feature version of their short, which doesn't happen as much, but a short filmmaker that jumps into television off of a short, or things like that does happen a lot, but they need to hear your voice.
Kim Adelman 17:25
And also, you know, painters did that all the time, they would paint in the style of somebody else. So that's the learning right? So I always say shorts are a learning experience for everybody. That's the learning aspect. And in reality, maybe it's not just for short film that does a lot for you maybe that short for short film as little Are you copying somebody just to get to feel confident that you could do it. But it isn't like hello world this is me. This is my voice. Your voices don't come right away. You see people when they write screenplays, it takes them a while to to get the screenplay to the point that we're the third screenplay finally says this is who I am. And this is you know, something worth paying attention to.
Alex Ferrari 17:59
Yeah, you know, when you start writing, you might be writing like you know, Terrence you try to write like Tarantino or Shane Black or, or Aaron Sorkin. And then that might, you might have a couple of those scripts and you get it out. And then slowly your voice starts to come out. And that's the thing with shorts. And that's the wonderful thing about shorts, is it's close to writing screenplays you can get because it's a candy, very inexpensive. And you can knock out a short in the weekend with your iPhone, and it will look and sound great if you do it properly.
Kim Adelman 18:26
Exactly. And that's the thing that, you know, because I came from when it was very hard and expensive to make short films. I'm so jealous now that everybody there's no excuse not to be shooting something. You know, it's like you've got a fabulous camera in your pocket. Use it. But it doesn't necessarily mean what you're shooting every weekend with your iPhone. It necessarily needs to be shared with the world. But I think just the same way writers should be writing I think filmmakers should be filmmaking.
Alex Ferrari 18:53
Right. And a lot of people look at someone like Robert Rodriguez, yes, who was a you know, he's he is who he is, and you know, a legend in the indie film space. But a lot of people don't understand that he made 20 to 30 Shorts before he ever made El Mariachi. So he was he was shooting it all on VHS with his family as a cast. And he was working it out. He was editing between two VCRs. And he was he was learning the craft. And then when he made his school short film, which was called bedhead. He had learned so much as far as sound effects. And it looked like when somebody saw that like Jesus, this kid is super talented. But he made 20 films, and no one ever saw other than his family.
Kim Adelman 19:37
Yeah, it was rough drafts kind of thing. They nobody ever saw those elements.
Alex Ferrari 19:41
Right and that's the thing that a lot of filmmakers I feel that they are so precious, right but they're with their shorts that they like and I was like I can't make something unless it's perfect, though. You got to just you got to turn on the faucet. Let all the mud clear out of the pipes before the Clean Water Water comes out and all that good stuff starts coming out.
Kim Adelman 20:02
I hate when people look put a lot of pressure on themselves anyway because you know filmmaking could be joyous. And with a short film, you're hopefully making it with your friends, you know, or people who support you and want you to quit job with it. And it should be a story that you're dying to tell. So how exciting for you that you're getting to hang out with your friends and do a story you're dying to tell and, and realizing it from your head to now existing in the world. It's truly an exciting thing.
Alex Ferrari 20:28
Yeah, without without question. So Alright, so let's say we got our short done. All right. And this is this is the Opus like we've already done. We've done our 15 shorts, can we've done our 15? Shorts? We feel comfortable. Our voices out there, I think we have a clearer idea of our voice. There's so many options on how to get this into the world. Yes. How do you launch a short?
Kim Adelman 20:51
Well, I mean, I because I come from festival world. And I spent a lot of time reviewing festival shorts, my inclination is always like, put it on the festival circuit. Now, not every short is a festival kind of short. But I always do kind of encourage people if you think your short might be a festival short to try it. Because you know, when we're talking about how fun it is to make films, it's super fun to have your film show in front of, you know, in a theater, with people who you don't know who do and, and also you get to meet other filmmakers. And when you're meeting them, you meet them as a filmmaker who has made a film you know, it's like all of that, even if it was just a stupid thing you made in the backyard, you know, and you're at the time you're like, This is not gonna be nothing. And yet somehow it turns into being something, how fabulous is it that you're showing this something to people, and they're excited for you, and you're excited for them and the festivals thrilled to have you there. And you're going to parties, and as you said, red carpet is just you know, such a lovely experience for a short filmmaker, whereas feature filmmakers have all the stress about festivals, because it matters to them, you know, matters where they premiere, they're trying to get their film picked up, they're trying to make the next, you know, Introduction to make their career go a huge way short filmmaker will be very happy if anything happens to them. And they happen to meet somebody who wants to represent them, or they get some sort of offer to license their short film. But the reality is more short filmmakers should think of the festival is just a fun time, you know, a time to actually be a filmmaker, have your film seen by the public, meet other people. And also, you know, establishes some credits for yourself that you've been to all these festivals. And then you know, if you make another short film, you can go to these festivals again, hopefully, or if you scrape together money and do an independent feature. Now you already have a base of people who know your talent and have supported you wants to want to support you again. So you know, that's the type of things about the festival world that I think is great for short filmmaker.
Alex Ferrari 22:40
And I think the festivals, I always when I talk about film festivals, you know, they don't have the same juice that they used to, you know, in other words, in the 90s, you got into a certain Film Festival, two or three of them, you automatically got sold, you automatically got a deal. There was all these stories every every day almost in the 90s have these magical stories coming out of Sundance or South buyer, or these kinds of these kinds of festivals Tribeca or something like that. But with festival with shorts, I always warn filmmakers and like festivals are exactly for what you just said they are experience. If you've never gone down the road, you've never had a red carpet, you never had an audience Oh my God, there's so much fun. The after parties, the the the web, the seminars that it's great. And it's like most of the times we live in a bubble unless you live in LA, you live in a bubble of not being in business and the festival is the first time you're surrounded by people that love movies or in movies and things like that, but not to put any pressure on that experience. Because firstly, because festivals are everything you said they should be. But don't think that like oh, just because you got into a major festival, which if you do it's great. It's not that it's a bad thing. But it's not going to open the doors to think many times they don't open the doors the way they think you can but but you can go to a Moose Jaw international Short Film Festival, which doesn't exist. And and there might be an acquisition exec there. There might be an agent that happened to be there. I forgot what was the story I heard I forgot there was Oh god, I forgot the movie. It was it was one of these famous indie movies that couldn't get seen. I don't know if it was Napoleon Dynamite or one of these films. But they were playing this film feature at this. Nobody festival like in the middle of nowhere. And they were playing it at a bar at the hotel.
Kim Adelman 24:29
Yep. And sometimes yes.
Alex Ferrari 24:31
My first first award by the way was at the at the Crab Shack best director and I was like Zizi, but and fun and fun. So that was a nobody festival. Nothing just no written in the middle of nowhere. There was a Hollywood acquisition exec who was on vacation and was staying at the hotel and they had nothing to do that night. And they're like, hey, there's a film festival going on at the bar, let's just go down there, have a couple of drinks and watch something that went down and watched it, and acquired it. So those are the magical lottery ticket stories you hear, but you just didn't ever know what's going to happen. But I just want filmmakers to walk in understanding, have fun, and if anything happens, great,
Kim Adelman 25:23
Exactly. But also the people you meet to you never know, connections among your peers to then you will then all of a sudden meet all these other filmmakers who might, you know, help see faster than you do. And then they help you or you can hire them for your you know, there's just a lot of once you're, you're a professional filmmaker, now you're meeting other people who are in that world, as you said, in where you live, you might not have that opportunity. And so now how great is it that you will so that so that's what I love about festivals, but you know, festivals are not the be all and end all. And there are, I know many people who like apply to a lot of festivals, and it costs money to so you know, this is a money drain, and didn't get into anything, and just were really upset. But you know, festivals have a certain sensibility. And maybe you're the thing you made is more like something that people would enjoy on the internet, you know? And then how great is that, that you can put it on Vimeo, put it on YouTube, do your own little promotion to it, and have people see it and you never know, you know, how that might work out for you. But more importantly, if you if you made a film because you want to communicate with people and say to them, this is a vision that was in my head, and I've now executed it and I want to share it with you. And I hope you get something out of it and you enjoy it, then, you know, the the way that that happens shouldn't bother you. You know, it might happen via festivals, it might not happen via YouTube, it might happen via you and your buddies putting on your own screening so that people can see it that way. You know, you've made something share with the world however you can.
Alex Ferrari 26:52
Yeah, and I just I just had the filmmakers behind Marcel show,
Kim Adelman 26:57
Which was a short films.
Alex Ferrari 27:01
Of course, I didn't know that when I when I had him on the show, I discovered that in my research after I saw the feature, I saw that movie first was fascinated. I'm like, how on God's green earth did this get financed? How did a 24 Get involved? I just told I told the PR people I'm like, get on, I'm on my show. I need to know what how is this a thing. Then doing research, I found out that it was a short film that they put out 10 years ago, too short to me, it was two or three I think they have three in the series. But but it was like two years apart or something like that. And then they had books. So they created an IP based on a short a to three minutes short that they did as a kind of like, and and from what I understood it was a short film that they showed their friends and family. And then they're like, hey, is there anywhere online? That we could so I can share this with my grandma. I think she'd really like it. And then she's like, oh, yeah, I'll throw it up on YouTube and throw it up on YouTube and 54 million plays later. That Okay, so we got something. Yeah, that that whole story is a fascinating, it's a really great story on on how powerful the internet is, which is my next question, YouTube. So so many filmmakers are so precious with their shorts, they're like, I can't put it on YouTube. The festivals are gonna like it. Oh my god, this or that?
You know, again, there's a couple ways to go about I know festivals are a little bit more loosey goosey with that nowadays than they used to be. Especially with shorts, not features. But shorts. Yeah, exactly. But at a certain point, like, you know, at a festival, you're gonna get 2050 eyeballs on it, you know, maybe 100 If you're lucky, you know. So it's a very small audience where if you put it up on the internet, it's It's millions and have access to millions doesn't say you're gonna get millions. But it could go viral, especially if it's something very specific. It's something very cool. Visual effects are really cool stories really interesting. Even fan films, short films, which we'll talk about in a little bit, all of that kind of stuff. So is YouTube a viable option? And by the way, Vimeo, I'm not sure if you know what's going on with Vimeo. Vimeo has kind of gone away from shorts, and are going away from the creators and they're really more now. Their corporate structure has changed more towards corporate, like video stuff. Before they were trying to do it with all the artists is the home for the artists. Exactly. They realize that artists have no money. So So Vimeo was once a place to put short films and it was like you showed it the week and that's kind of gone now. Yeah, so Oh, yeah, exactly. But now YouTube is still a place to go. So what's your opinion of YouTube? How should you approach YouTube? What should you do?
Kim Adelman 30:10
Well, there are, like you said, some festivals do care. So and the old days, I'd be like, I don't even tell them. But you know, one little Google.
Alex Ferrari 30:19
Not that hard nowadays.
Kim Adelman 30:21
You can't hide so much. And you don't want to hide, you know. So if you, if you think you want to go to festivals that do care about it, then you shouldn't put it online, because you know, online is for the rest of your life. So what's the big deal if you hold off for a year while you try to do festivals, and then put it the other thing is Oscar consideration, they still care for Oscar consideration when you have your broadcast debut. And YouTube is considered broadcast. So if you thought, any chance, you know, I made 19, short films, none of them got Oscar nominations. So it's like that was not really going to happen. But I cared. And so I waited. You know, if you care, and you think there's even a slight chance, you want to be smart about what the Oscar rules are, but the odds are so minuscule.
Alex Ferrari 31:06
And I want to bring I want to, I want to just point on something on that, because I've seen so many films, like yours, myself included, wait a year, two years, because of their delusions, and I say that with all the love in the world, because I was a delusional filmmaker in that sense as well, where like I can, I'm gonna get into this Oscar qualifying Short Film Festival, and I have a shot I'm like, it's, it's like 20 or 100 times easier to get into Sundance than it is to get an Oscar nomination for a short film, you know, and it's astronomical, to try to get into Sundance, just to understand the, the ratio that we're talking about here. So,
Kim Adelman 31:45
And also, just the Oscar films tend to really be, as we talked about the better funded ones from other countries. Americans get through, but you do occasionally. And so you know, it's one of those. That's your dream. I mean, I know Oscar nominated filmmakers from the shorter film category. It's totally doable. You don't just in a miracle kind of way. But you know, it's your decision, what you want to do, but in reality is if this is the year that you're trying to get people to pay attention to your short film, do you really want to hold off putting it on the internet for years? What kind of your point that you know? Exactly. So, you know, people want to, you know, give them what that easiness of like, Can I see it and you want to be able to quickly be able to show it to people not to say that you can't do password protected kind of things, you know, that's different.
Alex Ferrari 32:29
Yeah, that's different. But also I do agree with what you're saying is like, if you want to do a festival run up, like six months, you know, go go go six months, go eight months, go around and enjoy yourself, go to red carpet, if you haven't gone down that road, oh, my god, it's so much fun. Especially it strokes, the ego in a way that is so beautiful, everyone, you're the greatest, someone gives you an award, you're like, Oh, my God, I've arrived, all this kind of stuff. By the way, once you have an award, you are an award winning filmmaker. And that's how you should promote yourself.
Kim Adelman 32:58
I 100% agree with that.
Alex Ferrari 33:00
I mean, my first festival was the Ocean City Film Festival in New Jersey, which was played in the back of the Crab Shack, where I won Best for best first time director. I was an award winning filmmaker,
Kim Adelman 33:12
You still claim it. So there you go.
Alex Ferrari 33:13
I still have the certificate that I've got somewhere in Pakhtun way, but it was a big, it was a big deal for me. And Ben, from that point on, I was an award winning filmmaker. And people will laugh at that. I'm like, you're an award winning filmmaker, you can promote yourself as such.
Kim Adelman 33:28
The one other thing I will say is it's really hard to get on TV. But there are people you know, there are organizations like short TV that will get your film on television. And so that also might have be some issues about if you've been online that there might they might not wants you so much for television, so a very small percentage, and but how bad is to be on TV too? So you know,
Alex Ferrari 33:48
And also depends on how bad they want the short. Yeah. So if it's a really, you know, if it's also a really, really mean the world that we live in with so much content and so much media. They're much looser than it used to be before there was always exceptions.
Kim Adelman 34:04
For example, if you had made Marcel and then they're like, hey, we'd like to put Marcel on TV now, because feature has already had 54 million people view but sure, why not? You know, people want to see it. So if you want to want to see aspects to your film, then, you know,
Alex Ferrari 34:18
No question, no question about it, make your own rules.
Kim Adelman 34:21
And you should and you know, because it's short film, because you're used to kind of not necessarily breaking the rules. But yeah, so let's just say breaking the rules or making their own way and making their own rules. Never think there's you know, no, you can always turn a no into a yes. Right.
Alex Ferrari 34:34
Exactly, exactly. Now, the big question that so many filmmakers asked me all the time, can you make money with a short film?
Kim Adelman 34:45
And I will always say no, it's really hard to but you're selling examples such as make money off of for sure. So we can be the opposite ends of the spectrum. I'll be the person who has known that you can sell you buy Yes, but you know, number one again, you have to be able to have your film camera. Actually exhibited, which we talked about previously, there should be no impediments to that. But you know, there is places to have a license short films. And if you have a film that also, I should have said the thing for the festival circuit, it is a way to connect with the people who do license short films, they're looking for the short films on the festival circuit. So it's your kind of way of being in the marketplace. But anyway, you know, should you get an offer, you know, the money will not be what you expect it to be to.
Alex Ferrari 35:30
You mean, you mean I getting that 100,000 mg, you're not getting,
Kim Adelman 35:34
I'm buying a house, I'm gonna share it. I mean, it could be as like, they do it per minute, and they're gonna give you like, $6 per minute, if you have attended a long film, and you're like, oh, from pulling up getting 60 bucks to be.
Alex Ferrari 35:46
You said Poland for a second. That's another thing I want people to understand, especially here in the states that that there is a market for short films outside of the US much more so than in the US. Can you talk about that?
Kim Adelman 35:55
Yeah, for sure. I mean, you know, in the US, again, I mentioned short TV. And then there's also PBS, you know, locally does short films, there's all these little small pockets in the US that potentially could, but they definitely are also, I should mention, too, some festivals have prizes that if you win that prize, and you know, yeah, but you are you go on to HBO, or something like that. But that's part of the deal. Because they're looking for new talent certain way. But anyway, the money still will not be great. And so it's very rare to meet a filmmaker, whoever earned their money back on short films. I should also say real quickly to on festivals, sometimes you went prize money. I know, people have won more money from festival prizes than the cost of making their films. So they actually benefited that way from being on the festival circuit. You probably would earn more money on a festival price, and you'd win on licensing your film elsewhere. But, you know, remember I mentioned that our short films at Fox were made for social purposes, that still does exist in some other countries that they'll put them on TV in between other things if they don't have commercials. So you know, there are opportunities out there, different countries and different amounts of money. And that's also what's so nice about short film, like you're learning about international exhibition the same way you would learn with your feature film. It's just much smaller, much less money.
Alex Ferrari 37:13
Right, exactly. So I'll be on the other end of this, this conversation where I've made a lot of money with my shorts over the years, but I've also thought about it very much like a film trip earner, an entrepreneurial filmmaker, where See ya see how I did that film entrepreneur. Product placement, product placement? No, but honestly, though, it's like I had made a short film. But and the real quick story behind that first short film that we made over 100,000 with, which is I made a short film action, sci fi a lot of visual effects, at the time, very kind of cutting edge in the visual effects world, especially in the indie Space Shot on the mini DV, dv x 100, a Panasonic fantastic camera. And I put it out and I made it edited, put it all together. And I'm like, Alright, we have something cool here. I'm like, how am I gonna make money with this? And I'm like, Who who's gonna pay for this and like, I can't sell this to the general public. No one cares. I'm nobody. I have nobody in movie. I go. But you know, who might be interested as filmmakers, on how I made this, because I made it look like a film. I color graded it in 2005. using Final Cut Pro, I use visual of as you shake the same program that they were using Lord of the Rings, to do the visual effects, we had over 100 visual effects shots in it, there was a lot of stuff like that. And it was action, which is very hard to do in 2004, with gunplay and fights and all this kind of stuff. So I was like, I think people will pay for this. So what I did is then spent six weeks editing together three and a half to four hours of kind of a bootcamp film. And then I put it all on DVD, because there was no other place to make money with it. And I created an email that this is all instinctual, create an email list and start posting a message boards about it. So we put the trailer out there. And people were like, when's this movie coming out when I want to see I want to. And then when I launched I still remember the day with Pay Pal I was just get all these emails are thinking thinking thinking. It was fantastic. And then we just kept selling and selling and selling these at 20 bucks a pop was selling at $20 a pop. But they weren't but they were. So it was a different time. That would work today. But in in the time that I did it, it did work. And then now I've created educational so I use education as a way to make money. If it's really a high end visual effects movie. I know Film Riot, the YouTube channel. They make a lot of short films, their entire business models about making really high end short films with high end visual effects. And they show you how they do it. So that's how they're doing that as well. So you know it's
Kim Adelman 39:48
Also maybe you have but after the people are very interested in and maybe you know people would be interested like you could make your own website and try to get people to pay to see it or whatever. It's just hard in this world was so much as free You know, I always tell people, you know, personally paid to see a short film, you know,
Alex Ferrari 40:06
it can work if you hire like if you hire an actor, I had a, I had Robert forester and one of my films, I had Richard Tyson, who was the bad guy from Kindergarten Cop, if you remember that, I had him and some of these, some of these actors have massive fan bases, right? Who will go crazy for anything they do. So if you can hire someone like that, or hire somebody who has an audience of some sort. So let's say it's a YouTube influencer, I'm just using that as an example. Or a YouTuber, social media star wants to be in a movie, they have 3 million followers, you have cast them in your movie, and you go, look, let's partner up, we're going to sell access to this to your audience. And we're going to sell it for five bucks, and you and I are going to split it. And now you have a marketing machine putting it out into, you know, behind a paywall for the first 30 or 60 days behind a paywall so doesn't hurt any festivals doesn't hurt any broadcast, and you're making money with it. So there's a lot of different ways of doing it. But it takes time, and also niches and things like that, and I talked about it in my book a lot with features, but it can be applied to short. So there are ways to make money with shorts, it's just a lot of work. And you really gotta it's not going to there's no turnkey situation. In other words, there's like, oh, here and you make money,
Kim Adelman 41:17
You know, and I was also gonna say, The Academy Award nominated shorts, they now put them out in the theaters, and people pay to go see these films in theaters. So as much as I'm like, Who pays for a short film, though, people are very excited to pay money to see the academy nominated short films in the theater, you know, which is a fabulous thing that I never would have thought that that would come to be and it has. And so there's interest that way. And, you know, there might be new venues or new ways to do it in the future. And, you know, the beautiful thing is you've created something you own and you can do anything you want with it, no one's gonna tell you no, you can't do that. So why not try different things and see what happens. And you know, you never know how, how your break is going to happen, or what's going to happen, or how you might potentially make money. It's all just wanna give it a shot and see what happens. And you know, keep your expectations low, and be happy with anything, right? So let's say you make $60 You're like, Oh, my God, I made $60 off of this, I'm now you know, making a profit, not profit. But you know, I'm making money. And people are seeing my film. Come on. Great.
Alex Ferrari 42:19
Exactly. So it really all depends on how you what's your approach to the making of the film. If you're making it to get rich, I'm sorry, this is not going to happen. If you're going into it with that, is there a possibility that you can make a lot of money with it? There's very few examples of short films making. I think I'm one of the few honestly, yeah, they've made, you know, I've been actually in case studies and books on short films about, understandably so. Because it's a rarity. And I know that and but doing the shorts that I've done over the years, I've seen what they've been able to do for me. And if you look at shorts as a way to get your career moving forward, express yourself as an artist, get attention for yourself, all that kind of stuff. And then the festival circuits, all the other stuff. That's the way you should approach it.
Kim Adelman 43:05
I think, you know, I've also also animation is a whole nother ballgame. Oh, that's a whole other world. People will pay for animated shorts, you know, that sort of stuff. But I know people who have banded together and put together programs and kind of put that on the road of short films and you know, rent it out for a while theaters and totally turned it into, you know, their life, basically. But you also have to kind of look to like, how much time are you going to put into this as well, I feel like a lot of that kind of stuff you should do for your future. You know, if you're talking about your future, that's the time to invest in all those.
Alex Ferrari 43:35
And then if we're talking about documentaries, that's a whole other conversation. Because with documentaries, there are a lot of places where documentary shorts can make money. And you can do a 3040, even 50 minute short, which could get broadcasted Yes. And if it's in a specific niche, you can actually go on the road, going to different organizations. So like if it's a documentary about a swimmer with one leg, I'm just saying, or a surfer with one leg or a skateboarder with one leg. You know, those are the kinds of things that you can team up with organizations to set up screenings, charge, there's a lot of ways you can make money with documentaries a lot easier to make money.
Kim Adelman 44:14
And also people are dying for short documentaries on the festival circuit. They don't have enough, you know, so it's hard to do a short documentary, I will say that I've seen so many people fail at it. Just because you know, with a long documentary, you've got a long story to tell, but the short documentary have very little time. And so what are you actually saying and showing and doing? It's a it's a hard skill
Alex Ferrari 44:35
There was there was one short that was on Netflix because Netflix does shorts every once in a while. Every once in a while. There was a documentary about end of life and about like just hospice and how to approach end of life. And I had a friend of mine who's a social worker, and he's like, Hey, you should look into the short and I'm like, is it on Netflix? And he's like, Yeah, watch it. And I watched it. I was like, Oh man, this A day as an organization go around using that short as a way to kind of introduce people to end of life conversations. Because it's not something it's not something you want to talk about, generally speaking, you know, it's not a conversation you want to have. But that's that documentary did, apparently that sold to Netflix. So, Netflix, that means Netflix knew something that it was valued.
Kim Adelman 45:23
And Netflix does, I should have said that to Netflix definitely has a category of short films. And you'll see a lot of the ones that are Oscar contenders are close to being an Oscar contender show up there, and they liked the longer short film too. So that's a very positive thing. And they've done a lot have not done but they've acquired, you know, short documentaries. I don't know if any of those original Netflix productions. I think all of them are acquisitions, but they're definitely short films that are showing on Netflix. Again, I don't know how much money people made off of that. But come on to be able to say your short film was on
Alex Ferrari 45:51
1500 bucks. 1000 bucks. 2000 bucks. Are you kidding? It's, it's fantastic. Yeah, depends on the there was. So another another great story on how a short film that turns turned it into a feature to turning it into a feature. And they made obscene amounts of money was Kung Fury. You familiar with Kung Fury? Yeah. So Kung Fury is a short out of I think it's Sweden, or Norway or something like that. But it was a homage to 80s action movies. Dawn in the most ridiculous obscene like, you know, heads been blown off. Dinosaurs going back in time with North got Norse gods. And, you know, like, Thor's there, it was fascinating to watch a 30 minute short, lot of visual effects, all 80s based, these guys put it out, and they got millions and millions of views. But they had the original soundtrack. They had merch they had because it was all connected to a niche that so many people were they love the shorts so much. Then I saw a pop up on Netflix. Then I saw a pop up on El Rey, that people were it's just it was such high production value that people use. And then they they now are in the process of making the sequel that Arnold Schwarzenegger has. They literally he's playing the President in the sequel, or the feature version. And even they were so understanding of their niche I talked about, I actually use them as a case study in my book, that they got David Hasselhoff to do the soundtrack. They paid. They paid David Hasselhoff a good amount of money to write a song for the movie. And then they released a music video with David Hasselhoff.
Kim Adelman 47:39
Alex Ferrari 47:40
It's amazing. So there's so much creativity with shorts, you could do so much with it. It all depends on you, and where you want to where you want to go with it. So there it's it's an endless pool of opportunities, which, um,
Kim Adelman 47:53
You had mentioned IP earlier. You know, that's the other thing you do when you are creating an IP when you make a short film.
Alex Ferrari 48:00
Yeah, you do create IP. And if you're able to like Marcelle with the show on, they actually released three shorts over the course of three, four years. And they released two best selling children's books on it. So when Hollywood came calling, they, they were like, Hey, let's put Ryan Reynolds with the shell on the like, no. This was before Pikachu. They were basically pitching and Pikachu. That's what they wanted. But they stuck to their guns. And they made the movie that they wanted to make it took 12 years to get it off the ground, but they got it with, but they were able to make money with it and generate revenue off the shorts. And then not to mention off a YouTube even just YouTube ad AdSense off these things. I mean, first it was like 54 million, the other ones like 34 million. And that's something that a lot of filmmakers don't know about as well as if you have a monetized YouTube channel. You can make money, especially if it goes viral, you could make serious money with it. Or if there's another channel where shorts or the kind of short that you're trying to do, maybe team up with that creator, have them pump it out, and they maybe have two or 3 million followers and share that share the money that comes in. There's so many ideas, so many ways.
Kim Adelman 49:08
Hair, love is another example. It's an animated short film, but he didn't book after to. There's many things that there could be opportunities for if you're short film gets attention that gets asked about Oscar nominated. But the other thing too, that we should definitely talk about is you can put spend all that time and money and do all that. But then when people say well, what's next? Because it's like you could spend all that time doing all that for like, Oh, now I've got 100 bucks that I profited off of that. But what's next, you know, what am I going to do next year and when people say to me, I loved your short I'd love to talk to you about doing something together or whatever you need to have it what's next.
Alex Ferrari 49:46
And so if I may tell you the painful backstory of my experience, I got I got I did the waterfall tour I was being called by Oscar nominated or Oscar winning producers and I was it CIA. I was all This stuff went by first short, was going around. And everyone asked me, so I'd love the short we'd love what you're doing. What's next? And we're like, Well, I have ideas. Yeah, that's not enough on the scripts, not ideas, scripts, you need to have two or three of them ready to go. And that's what? Because you could you could pitch them or have this movie about this, this. Yeah, we don't want what else you have. Yeah, because that window, that window is open for that door is open for so short amount of time. And if you don't take advantage next
Kim Adelman 50:31
Exactly, there's always another hot film that people are getting attention to. I mean, not that you can predict you're gonna have that moment. But why not set yourself up for success and have something ready that you want to do? So that you can be like, hello, I'm so glad you love my shirt. Here's my feature film that I want to make next, or whatever else it is that you want to know, do next. And you know, maybe, for example, you really wanted to run commercials or something like that, you know, be prepared with a reel of other things that look like commercials that you can be, you know, whatever you want to do be prepared.
Alex Ferrari 51:02
I think that there's a higher probability of somebody seeing a short at a festival, or online and offering you hey, I love your style. I'd like to work with you. That happens more often than anything else I think we've spoken about. Because it does happen. People are like, oh, I want to work with you. Or what do you want to do next there, those opportunities do present themselves. But most filmmakers aren't prepared for those opportunities when they create, which is what we're talking about. It does, it does happen. It does happen a lot, especially if it's commercials or music videos, or documentaries or things like that. There's always I hear story after story after story about filmmakers getting opportunities based on a short film that someone saw somewhere this or that, and boom, boom, boom. Having that? I mean, Napoleon Dynamite.
Kim Adelman 51:46
Short film. Yeah. Oh, there's many examples of short films. And actually, there's another recent film called emergency that was a short, and then they went on the vessel circuit. And people were like, oh, we'd love to talk to you about the future version of it. And they hadn't even been thinking of that, which is kind of, you know, more power to them. But then they're like, oh, yeah, we're working on that. But if you you know, if you thought there was a future version of it, you should probably script out the feature version of it before you go on the festival circuit. You know, I mean, the you can control when you start the festival circuit. And in theory, if you think of this as launching yourself, well, then you know, have stuff to
Say you are the studio, you know, you need to think of yourself as a studio that will be making things. So, you know, think about when you want to release things, think about what your next project is, think about how you want your studio to be thought of, you know,
Alex Ferrari 52:36
Exactly, exactly. Now, tell me about your book, making it big, in short, shorter, faster, cheaper.
Kim Adelman 52:43
Don't you agree that short should be shorter, faster and cheaper? Absolutely. This is actually the third version. And this is my version. My subtitle that i system for the third version was the shorter chapter the shorter and cheaper faster because if you had to ask me quickly, advice, you know what filmmakers should do? It's like you make a film shorter, cheaper. I mean, Paul's me when I hear how much money people spend on this grant.
Alex Ferrari 53:06
But I did but I'm, I'm an anomaly. Don't that don't do what I do.
Kim Adelman 53:11
I really don't think so. Also, things are so much cheaper now to you know, I think if you're done, and now it wouldn't be as expensive as it was then, although I also teach, and one of my students is making her short film this weekend. And you know, it was it's 2500. And she's under budgeted, you know, I'm like, you just don't have enough money here. And people always think I can do it for a nickel. And it's like, well,
Alex Ferrari 53:34
If someone like myself, who's been in the business for almost 30 years says I could do it for nickel and more than likely I could do it for nickel because I know your favorites. You can call him I know how to do I've done it. But if you've never done it, I say you It's like someone in putting someone on set global fix it in post, like no, no, no. Only the editor or someone who's been in posts can say you can fix and post no one else is allowed to say that
Kim Adelman 53:55
Or have zero budget and and post.
Alex Ferrari 54:00
What she had, oh, really, she was just gonna do it on her laptop while she
Kim Adelman 54:06
Was just, you know, fine for student film. You know, you probably can get away with that. But even so, they're planning on shooting for three days and you've been feeding people for three days. I was like, I don't think you're gonna have enough money. feeding people
Alex Ferrari 54:18
Don't don't don't feed people the spinning wheels of death. You know what the spinning wheels of death are?
Kim Adelman 54:22
Yeah. What are the spinning wheels of pizza?
Alex Ferrari 54:24
Don't. Don't it's because they just they just, they're cheap. But you get what you pay for it and your your crew starts to slow down. It's sluggish. You want to give them food that keeps them energy going and pizza does not.
Kim Adelman 54:37
You will also she made the mistake of telling me she was going to up and she was the purchaser of it. But she was going to make the food herself. I was like,
Alex Ferrari 54:44
Oh, are you and she was the director too.
Kim Adelman 54:47
Now she's only she's only the producer, not only the producer, she is the producer. But still you can't be making food and doing everything else. As a producer.
Alex Ferrari 54:55
Oh, no. That's a rookie mistake. Unless Unless I mean, look, I've talked to some really big producers who have done that, because they had to do it. But you know, it was a different conversation,
Kim Adelman 55:08
Raise a little more money, put a little thing, buy something on the credit card. Yeah, just, you know, you get
Alex Ferrari 55:15
Free by the way you could get by the way, this is another trick I learned is you can get free food, food is easy to get for free. You walk in and go, Hey, we're making a short film, we'd love to promote your place. One, can we do a scene in your place? Or can we shoot at least outside of your place where we can promote your place or two, if you give us a free meal, we'll promote you through social media will promote you through the lot of local businesses will give you free I got free food, constantly making short films.
Kim Adelman 55:43
Soon, I do believe that everything for free concept of like if you have the time and the the right personality to do that, and the right connections, because again, you're gonna get know a lot too. But if you figure you get you're gonna get know a lot. But there are going to be places that no, you are want to support, you have the right mentality, and you will get a yes out of it. So, you know, it's just a matter of time and the right personality to do that kind of stuff. Right? And
Alex Ferrari 56:06
If you're in a small town, I've had filmmakers on the show that that had the entire town help them, right. Because they know you and it's a small town and it's you're making a movie. That's super cool. Like a lot of people still get freaked out when you're like, Oh, you're making movie like, people who are in LA, they just get like, they're jaded. Okay, another movie,
Kim Adelman 56:24
Real people who in their small town, they wrote a newspaper wrote an article about them making a short and I was like, I love that. How fabulous is that?
Alex Ferrari 56:31
Exactly! As you get a lot more attention. It's actually better to be outside of an LA or New York in that scenario, because people are super excited about like, Oh, you're making a movie. You know? Like, yeah, do you want to have a, you know, you want to sit in the background, and this one shot in the diner? What all we need is like three meals, oh, that's fine. Little tips of what you do, you know, I have just haven't done this in a year. So it's not the front of my head. But going back, I'm like, I used to do that. The biggest thing I used to do believe it or not, when I was doing it was in school is I heard that every day, the bakery would get rid of their stuff that's about to expire. Now they'll bread dill muffins, do everything. So I would walk in every day. I'm like, Hey, do you have anything do you want to get rid of and they would just give me a just bags full of breads, and pastries and cakes. And I would go and sell them at the school to make money. But you could arguably use that. It's fine. You can eat it. It's not mold, you're like it's not bad. But it's like going to expire the next day or something like that. So they can't sell it. But it's good for another two or three days. You could take that and use it on your set. I'm just saying that's service right there.
Kim Adelman 57:45
You are indeed Mr. Hustle. I mean, that is seriously, that is the hustle mentality of we're gonna get this done, we're gonna make it happen. We're gonna make our own rules, we're gonna do anything we need to do. And that is exactly how you need to be really to do something for no money.
Alex Ferrari 57:58
Absolutely, absolutely. Now I'm gonna, I'm going to ask you a few questions. I ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today Kim?
Kim Adelman 58:08
I think you know, the right answer is you should always just be making something that you know, nobody's going to stop you. And you never know what the right thing is. It's going to really make or break you or, you know, help you develop your voice. So just constantly be making something.
Alex Ferrari 58:22
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Kim Adelman 58:28
I think it is that it's just a matter of getting through the nose until you get to yes, it you know, it's so hard to hear that and it's so hard to constantly run up against the nose. But the reality is, as soon as you get that, yes, stop. You've achieved it. And everybody can do that. Right? You know, the most dedicated person can go 90 through 99 nose until you get that 100 Yes.
Alex Ferrari 58:51
If there's one lesson that you can, if anyone listening to one lesson, if you can take from this conversation is that the noes are a guarantee. You're always going to get knows. But if you can get past that, and understand that that's just the rules of the game that you're playing. And that's life. In the film business that's life knows are the general that's the default. If you can get past that, then you open yourself up for those yeses, but you have to understand not to get derailed by the nose because you're gonna get nose constantly throughout. And it happens to everybody at every level. Spielberg got nose, Nolan, he doesn't get nose, but everybody. Nobody did get a no because he wanted things to happen for 10 and it didn't happen. Spielberg couldn't get Lincoln Lincoln financed, you know, so you're gonna get Schindler's List finance and he was frickin Steven Spielberg. So everyone gets knows it's about how you deal with those knows how you keep moving forward. So understand that that is just the default. Don't think in And also don't believe that you are not the Great, the great hope of the film industry. You are not the next Stanley Kubrick, you are the next you. And all of those people that you admire. Are they all are the true versions of themselves. And that's how you should approach shorts and the film business. Do you would you agree?
Kim Adelman 1:00:19
I understand. You said, That's so lovely.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:23
And last question, three of your favorite films of all time.
Kim Adelman 1:00:27
Can I say short films of all time?
Alex Ferrari 1:00:29
Well, I mean, nobody will know them. So you can, but I wouldn't like it like, oh, yeah, Bob's ever than no idea. But go ahead. It's your it's your answer. Unless a very famous shorts that people know, it's up to you.
Kim Adelman 1:00:48
There are shirts that are totally, you know, I'm sure. Well, for example, is just telling somebody else that tecnova tikka, that's the first time I ever saw him was from a short film two cars one night, and I'm pretty sure that is on YouTube or somewhere if you look for it. It's a great short film. And you can totally see his voice in that and the kinds of films that he made later. And that same year, he was he was nominated for Academy Award for that short film that did win that year was Andrea Arnold's short film, wasp. And wasp is like one of my favorite short films of all time, although it is long, but it is great. And I'm pretty sure that one's available to you can Google that one. And of course, she went on to be a fabulous filmmaker as well. And then Jane Campion, her very wasn't her first short film, I don't think but one thing that got her a lot of tension was called peel. And that's a fabulous and short film as well.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:35
There's one short film that I found, as you were thinking, like, what's my favorite short film? There was a short film I saw years ago. I've had the producer on the of the feature since then, I've become friends with him. And I was when I brought it out. He's like, holy crap, you saw that? I'm like, yes, yes, I did. I heard about it. years ago, there was a film called darkness false. released by Universal is a horror movie, the director of that made a short that had nothing to do with the movie. But the short was so good that they gave him a shot to make the movie. There's a different time period. But it was universal for God's sake. So it wasn't like a huge deal. And his feature didn't went on to do very well. But the short was about what if it was a story of basically baby Hitler. And and that they could have, they actually were fighting to give birth. And to make sure that this baby was born and it was baby Hitler. At the end of the movie. We're like, oh, it was such so good. So well done that the production design was excellent. That digital camera, it was beautifully lit. It was really high production really highly produced shot on 35. It was gorgeous. But it was like this emotional thing that you're like, Oh, God, the baby has to go the baby has to get born. Oh my god, all this stuff is happening. And then it's baby Hitler. You're like, Oh, my so good.
Kim Adelman 1:02:53
There's so many films, short films that have Hitler or Jesus is one of the characters. It's always like, Oh, another Hitler shirt. Oh, no Jesus shirt. But it's because it's a character we all know. Right? Right away. So when you tell me baby healer, I totally know. You know what you mean? Why that is etc.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:10
We all know. Absolutely. And one of the famous, the most famous, I argue the most successful short film to ever launch anything. Is the spirit of Christmas. Spirit of Christmas spirit of Christmas. Yeah. So the biggest short film of all time, I'm going to argue to say I don't think there's any film that has generated more revenue than that short film, the spirit of Christmas. A little bit of cardboard, a little bit of a construction paper cut out animated. And it was Jesus versus Santa Claus. And it is built. I mean, what did they sell HBO? I think they said he's 150 million or 250 million.
Kim Adelman 1:03:50
I mean, think of all the merchandising alone that's come off of that they I think
Alex Ferrari 1:03:53
They get I think they get 10% and they still are loaded.
Kim Adelman 1:03:58
Can I just tell you something real quick, because I know we're running out of time. But I had a very good friend who's short film played Sundance in the same shorts program as spirit of Christmas because they did invite spirit of Christmas to play at Sundance. And nobody remembered during the screenings, like nobody wants to talk about my film. Everyone wanted to talk about that. And Jesus
Alex Ferrari 1:04:15
Versus Santa Claus.
Kim Adelman 1:04:18
Water Festival situation.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:22
I still and this is a power of the short back then this is before the internet. I walked into a comic book store. When I was at that age, whenever that came out. I was I think high school or a little bit. I think it was in high school or a little bit younger than high school. When that came out. And the guy behind the counter, the comic book guy said, Hey, man, you want to see something busted out a bootleg copy of spirit of Christmas because it was bootlegged all over the place. And I saw it and my mouth was just like, What did what did I just see? So I said Jesus finding Santa Claus. This is amazing. This is so you know and if You want to talk about voices Jesus? Yeah. Matt and Trey I mean, there's nobody else and boy they've written that horse Haven't they?
Kim Adelman 1:05:10
Yes, they have to
Alex Ferrari 1:05:12
I've been riding that horse until the wheels fall
Kim Adelman 1:05:16
When people recommend love a sword from so much they want to tell you about it encourage you to see it. That's just that's winning right there. That's now
Alex Ferrari 1:05:23
And now it's a Click now to VHS going and now it's a click Email it's a social media posting guys you gotta watch this.
Kim Adelman 1:05:30
The fact that somebody's promoting it that way with no you know, financial in on it, just want to share with you something that they love. That is wonderful. That's the highest.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:38
And Kim, where can people get your book and find out more about what you do?
Kim Adelman 1:05:42
Well, making big insurance available bookstores near you. There's not so many bookstores anymore, so let's just say sadly, Amazon
Alex Ferrari 1:05:51
Hey, Jeff needs to send some more rockets up into space, we got to support him. Some oddly shaped rockets. Anyway. It has been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your knowledge about shorts. Hopefully this has helped a few filmmakers avoid some pitfalls. And maybe we maybe with this conversation, we help launch a few careers. Let's hope making sure you'll never regret. Thank you again so much for being on the show. Kim, I appreciate you.
Kim Adelman 1:06:19
Pleasure talking to you.
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- Kim Adelman – IMDb
- Kim Adelman – Official Site
- Making it Big in Shorts: Shorter, Faster, Cheaper: The Ultimate Filmmaker’s Guide to Short Films
- Kim Adelman – Twitter
- IFH 024: How I Made Over $90,000 Selling My Short Film + Video Tutorials