Have you ever wondered if you could actually make money making short films? Take it from the guy who made over $90,000 selling a short film, yes you can (click here to hear that story). Today on the show we have the founder of the world’s largest short film distribution company SHORTS International, Carter Pilcher.
Carter Pilcher founded Shorts International in 2000. Coming from a background in both investment banking and law, Carter has made Shorts International the world’s leading short movie entertainment company, functioning as a distributor, broadcaster, and producer. Carter has extensive experience in short movie production and short movie entertainment. He is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a member of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch of The US Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)
Enjoy my conversation with Carter Pilcher.
Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show Carter Pilcher man How you doing, sir?
Carter Pilcher 0:06
Fine, Alex, thank you for having me. It's great to be here.
Alex Ferrari 3:49
Thank you so much. I appreciate it. I know you are in Mumbai right now. And we have a 12 hour difference. So I know it's extremely late over there. So thank you for jumping on and hopefully dropping some knowledge bombs on the tribe today.
Carter Pilcher 4:01
Fantastic. Glad to be here. It's it's it. It's late, but not that late.
Alex Ferrari 4:07
Okay, good. Now, tell me a little bit about shorts International, and how it became how it came to be. And all that because I mean, I was a short filmmaker for a long time. And shorts international is kind of the the the Academy Awards, if you will of shorts in many ways to get your short on to that platform. So I'd love to know how I got started and the whole story.
Carter Pilcher 4:29
Yeah, I honestly am a was a Astronautical engineer when I went finished university and went and did got a law degree and then practice investment banking. And I I really decided I couldn't you know, when I decided that I'd always wanted to start a business and so at one point, I had enough money to try to do that. So I did. And we started sourcing it was way too early. We were Just in I was living in England, doing investment banking. And we started and I started a little company just to put shorts, it was called Brit shorts. So we were putting British short films online. And, you know, at the beginning of the internet, everything just froze the street, the
Alex Ferrari 5:19
Carter Pilcher 5:21
Was streaming, it was just like pictures and audio, static pictures, so I was horrible. And the more you did in terms of people watching you, the more street people that streamed stream, the kind of your stuff, the more money that am I charged you. So the more more popular you became the poorer you also became so. So I rip through all the money. I've made an investment banking very, very fast and said, Oh, my gosh, what do I do? And, you know, we're a little company with four or five people. And we just started building up a catalog and distributing shorts. In 2006, we built up a huge catalog. And we started distributing films and selling them to TV channels, then to you know, we weren't as successful as you are you work with broken, but we, you know, we, we were at least staying alive. And in 2006, we started putting we I went out to California and met with the guys in San Francisco near you at Apple and said, Hey, we we have the largest catalogue of short films in the world. We'd love to put them on your platform. And they said, Uh, no. And I said, Well, you know, what, have we got some really famous ones? And they said, I don't know. Just tell us what you mean. I said, maybe we done a deal that year with Sundance to promote their films. So they I said, they said, What about if you I got used the Sundance Film, they said, Oh, Sundance, that would be interesting. And one of the guys in the meetings and Can you get us all the academy nominated shorts? Hmm. I said, I said, Well, that would be so interesting. And they sort of you can get those two is this was in November, if you can get us those. In fact, you know, after the nominations are announced, then we'll do a deal with you for all the films. So I said, let's do the deal first, and then we'll make totally contingent if we, you know, don't wait to do the deal. We'll do the deal first, but it's contingent on us getting you the shorts on these shorts. They said, Whoa, okay, why not? We'll do if you think you can get him I said, I don't know. I'm gonna try. So we went trotting off. And, you know, no, no one. At that point, there were a few people who would go out and buy a few of the shorts and put together a theatrical compilation of a few animations and a document and maybe a couple of live actions and put it in a theater in New York for a week and kind of tour festivals. It wasn't popular didn't have all the film. And Apple said the only way we'll do this though, is if you give us all the films in both those two categories animation and live action. So anyway, we there it turns out, there was another company Magnolia Pictures who was trying to do the same thing. And the guy who was doing it as Tom Quinn, who's now at neon running neon, okay, great company. Yeah, Tom's a great guy. And we screamed at each other. We each got a couple of films, and neither one of us could do the Oscar shorts release at all. Unless the other guy agreed. So I wanted to do the digital side. I had no idea how you do theatrical release and Tom only one theatrical release. So you think we but we're both very hard headed guys. And both of us wanted to do all of it right? And we screamed at each other all of January like till fourth and until finally, and Tom was at Magnolia then finally we agreed he do the of course he do that we'd get we buy all the films, we will give him for theatrical, he provide the cash for the theatrical PNA publicity and advertising and we would get them for digital. So we didn't trust each other. We screamed each other a lot, but it worked on that. In that process, we became great, great friends. Tom is still a great friend. So we did it. We did it for three or four years together and then Mark Cuban wasn't making money in theaters told Tom that if we took it over, we could keep doing it. But they were out, right. And so we did. And we took it over and at about the same time launched the first shorts TV in France, on numeric cabling, which cable system there. And because we had this huge catalog, and we're and I was pitching cable companies every week to try to get somebody to agree to let us launch a channel. And so this license launch in France and and so since then we've grown and distributed the channel now in Europe and also in in the US on direct tv. And we're about to launch in India and Latin America so so it's it's really grown a lot.
Alex Ferrari 10:48
And that so basically, it was all because I remember that you guys were the Oscar like all the Oscars have to go through you and, and for a certain time. And I think that's still the case, if you want to get a short up on iTunes, you were the the place had to go through you for a certain amount of time. I'm not sure if that's still the case or not.
Carter Pilcher 11:07
It's not the case. It's not the sort We're the largest catalog in iTunes. And for a long, long time. We were the old people. You know, they said once they found out how nightmarish short films are, you know, every Rajak there's, it's not a standardized thing. And they said, Oh my gosh, so you guys just handle all that. And we'll take whatever you give us. And that's kind of how because it was hard work for all of us back then. But yeah, we that's exactly what it was like.
Alex Ferrari 11:36
So you were to you, arguably the largest distributor of short films in the world.
Carter Pilcher 11:42
Yeah, we for sure we are we have just on air in the US we're showing on TV we're showing probably 5000 shorts in the US and another four or 5000 in Europe and I was we were trying to between all of them were probably the total catalog size is probably anywhere from between any year between six and 9000 films. It's a lot
Alex Ferrari 12:08
That's insane. Now let me let me ask you how does how do filmmakers because I'm sure everyone listening there's a handful of short filmmakers out there How do they submit How do they get involved? You know how do they How can they get their short films to you to be even looked at?
Carter Pilcher 12:25
So here are all the things that are great you know what the I I was a banker A long time ago and and one of the things experiences that I've had that is like every short film maker ever with your Producer Director is that love the lovely biter utter poverty, you know, in this whole process before we did this deal with Apple, literally there were years three or four years at you know, he started with a lot of money and and I went through it, it's paid it all back Am I in practically almost had to close the company. You know, so our one of our big goals is making sure that that filmmakers get paid. And it's been a slow slog, but but we're paying we're paying filmmakers nearly a million dollars a year just in in license fees. So nobody and nobody else is in that just short filmmakers we so the way you get your film to us is you can go online to shorts.tv which is our website and there's a submissions page and just download the the form and fill it out and then send us send us your film we'd love to look at it the other the other thing that we do we send lots of guys we we have four people in the US that are looking at films and we have another three in Europe that do the same thing. So we try to cover most festivals and and and see most films.
Alex Ferrari 14:01
Now do you acquire a film shorts at festivals like other other distributors just acquire features?
Carter Pilcher 14:08
Yeah, we do absolutely we do. So that's what that's what I'm saying is the other place we go is festivals. We our guys all go to the festival screenings they go to the festival to the markets and scrape go into those little boxes and screen for eight hours a day. So yeah, we we go to we do all of that weird I'm going to can we do a bunch of pitch competition with the with Cannes film festival every year. But really the reason we go is our our acquisitions team just goes into the little vaults in the dark sits in the dark in Cannes on the beach, you know, right from the beach, and they sit in the dark eight hours a day watching horror movies. And this won't go outside at all. But it's great as a place to see films as a great place to see filmmakers and and you No, it's it's just short films are really really becoming a big thing they've been always been for any one, whether your Producer Director, they're a great way to get your, your talent seen and whether you can tell a story or not. But you can tell when a guy can can tell a story in a short film. And you can tell they're going to be a good director or not. The the truth, though, is that shorts have never really been that popular. But they're, but we've seen in the shorts, you know, we released the Oscar shorts theatrically every single year. And this year, we had our best year ever. It's in almost every It's amazing. We have all elderly people who are really into it. We have young people go, it's a very eclectic audience and surprising audience. But it's really it's, especially people who like films and people who are in film school. We want to see them, but they see them every year. And this year, we took three and a half million at the box office, which is
Alex Ferrari 16:11
For short films. Wow.
Carter Pilcher 16:13
You're short, that's insane. And that's just the North American box office in the US, we we released them in. We made several 100,000 more dollars all we release them across Europe. It's more it's not as steady as a runs in Europe. But we're we had a nice release in the Netherlands, a nice release in Germany. And then small releases in lots of other countries.
Alex Ferrari 16:36
And this is for the Oscar These are for the Oscar films.
Carter Pilcher 16:39
Yeah. The Oscar nominated shorts that I started releasing with Tom way back in 2006. We still do it every year. And it's increased every year from the first year the box office was less than 100,000 bucks. And this there was three and a half million. And and that's you know, and we and each of those filmmakers on average, last year, so this is 2018. So 2017, the filmmakers, on average made to call them about 30 or $35,000. Each of the nominees. That's and that's from the theatrical release. Yep. So we're getting back to the filmmakers. More than 10% of the the box office back directly being paid to the filmmakers as a whole not, you know, not each one individually. Were we you know, there, it's like one motion picture. But it's it's a great opportunity for filmmakers.
Alex Ferrari 17:36
Now what In your opinion, since you've seen I'm so I'm assuming you've seen a few short films in your day? What makes what makes a good short film?
Carter Pilcher 17:48
Well, that's a great question. I think there are a lot of different things that one is, whether if they're going to use a hook, or, or a surprise reveal at the end, those are always a fun. It's a fun technique that works in shorts, it doesn't really work in features always. Sometimes it can, but in shorts, it definitely works. And so if that's that if that's a good setup, and it's a clever, well thought through script that that makes a great short. Always an emotional connection is a set. You know, a well it's a well acted piece is always fantastic. This year, the short that won an Oscar best for Best Live action film was a very beautiful story of a little girl who was deaf. And her parents. Her parents didn't want her to be strange. So they didn't want her to learn sign language. And they didn't really and it was a story about how families can go through can be insensitive without realizing that they're being insensitive to their handicapped child. So it's a big topic. It's a it was a big story, but it was told in a way that was very endearing, and and very moving and short films are, are exceptional vehicles for moving and heart rending stories. They're great, too, for comedies, you know, a great short comedy. It's this year one of the nominees was a was a great comedy film in a great short comedy is probably in my mind better even than feature length comedy because feature length comedies, they always have part of it where you just kind of run up a gas or you have to wait. Right You have to wait till it gets to a point where you can laugh again, and assured That's funny. If they time Right You just Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing is over. Right and, and, and i think i don't know i for me that a better moment a better entertainment experience, then the long good laugh and then kind of, you know, even even a Sandra Bullock or Melissa McCarthy film they have great moments that are hilarious like that. But you know they're very few they own I can the only one that comes to mind is the brides.
Alex Ferrari 20:32
Yeah, exactly. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Carter Pilcher 20:47
Bridesmaid is the only one that I think of that actually made you that I've been to in a long time. In years that really where I left from the moment I started watching that film to the end.
Alex Ferrari 20:57
For me it was hangover the first hangover when that came out. Oh, God.
Carter Pilcher 21:03
Yeah, exactly. So it's the most but it's it's that it's hard in a feature to get you maybe one good laugh two, good three or four good laugh. You have a whole hour of just kind of a nice story and in some laughs It's hard to get hangover is a great example hangover bridesmaids, that kind of your laugh. You cannot believe what is happening in front of you. But a short can do it. And so for me that so you know, I I started out as an Astronautical engineer, I honestly, am still in this business. Because I think shorts are way more fun than features. I love them. I think they're inventive. I think they're amazing. It's and they're, you know, and they're coming from, often from really the heart of the filmmaker, which I think is a fabulous, fabulous thing.
Alex Ferrari 21:59
Now, how long should a short film be?
Carter Pilcher 22:03
How long should a short film be? averages first average average animation that we show out of 1000s of animations, average animation is under 10 minutes. And normally around seven have a film that we see in live action is about 15 average film, I'm sorry, I just have all these averages, but average film that wins. an Academy Award is about 20 to 20 1822 minutes so and average Sundance winner is shorter. So this is an amazing thing. You kind of look at these different festivals and different prizes. And different winners are at different lengths. Yeah. But you have to
Alex Ferrari 22:54
No, no, I didn't mean to cut you off. I've just remember that. You know, I've been to many short film festivals or festivals with shorts and instance sitting down watching shorts. And sometimes, you know, they just a 45 minute short, it is not a short anymore in my opinion. Like just keep going and finish it off as a feature.
Carter Pilcher 23:14
Some of them are that way. But you know, even even a 25 minute short. It's a big, it's a big story. There was one that was nominated. You know, the nominees are on my mind this year. But right now, what to what it was a German film. It was a big it was actually a big story is probably 25 minutes. And just the idea. I like that it's you almost feel enough. And I kind of think this is where movies are headed. In 2530 minutes. It's kind of enough. It was It's great. It's fabulous. It's a whole story. You don't we don't hang out for for another hour. I feel that way. And I'll be totally honest with documentary features. I really honestly most of the time, I feel like I just need to go out and shoot myself.
Alex Ferrari 24:12
I get it.
Carter Pilcher 24:14
But a documentary short, that's 30 even 30 minutes. I love it. I love it. And, you know, because I feel like I've learned something. And I don't feel like I'm bogged down by hours of observing my good friend through documentary filmmakers, but I like documentary shorts way better than a documentary feature. And no, no, you're saying no, I was gonna say and and the same is true for animations and live actions. No, I just I think they're a better form of entertainment.
Alex Ferrari 24:45
Now are are there some ways that filmmakers can monetize short films if they don't get into shorts international? Obviously that's the dream for sure filmmakers. It'd be great for a distributor pick them up And send them a check every once in a while, that'd be great. But in your opinion, are there other ways that that film shorts can even be monetized in today's world?
Carter Pilcher 25:09
Well, you know, there is this this world YouTube, which has lots and lots of promise.
Alex Ferrari 25:15
Yes, it's a brand new thing just showed up.
Carter Pilcher 25:18
Well, no, but I mean, they, in the shooting in San Francisco pointed out the promise and the downside of the promise. And and basically, the story was the reason she went and shot people was because they, all these creative lab people that they've funded, and we're making starting to make money. They're making too much money. So they change the algorithm and the rules, so they don't make much money. Right? They shop people, right, which is great. It's a point. Yeah, but YouTube is designed to help you never make money. And that's, that's really YouTube. And if you're a big content provider, they know they can't really exploit you and they change. But if you know, so, if you put your film, one of the big problems we see is that filmmakers put their films online too early. And because once it films online, I, I am unlikely to buy it, our teams are unlikely to buy it. Big channels can't buy it, you can't release it on iTunes, it becomes disqualified for lots of prizes and lots of festivals. So short is one of those things that you have to somewhat nurse a little bit if you want it to be worth something, you have to kind of protect its value. And by that, I mean you have to you have to get it into the festival, spend some time getting it into festivals and getting it seen there, you know, there's film, how is it film, film freeway, and there's without a box without a box that are great, great assets, and make it much less expensive and troublesome to submit your film. But it's a it helps it helps you and the value of your film immensely if you have won some festival prizes, if you get seen on the festival circuit. And you don't put it online once once you put it online, you're not you know YouTube get used to people are pretty much wised up, but but YouTube people used to think you could put it online and make a lot of money, but you can't really and and it's better to take it through the whole process. And and and it's better in terms of notoriety too. Because, you know, shorts, one of the things we're working on is an app and I'm happy to talk about that with you, but but part of the purpose is one of the things we know for viewers, people who love shorts, love watching shorts, is that what they they will everyone with short any type of short content if they have to touch their clicker more than or their phone more than once it's over, they're off to something else. So you so you're not it's it's a very difficult sale. There aren't the thing. You know, you mentioned before we got on the call the fact that your film had sold an awful lot of DVDs. And that that method, you know, kids or you have a daughter I have you know, kids are are don't understand. Really the whole idea of a DVD. Why does it have to? What do you do with it? Where do you put it? Right. I you know, I don't know if that conversation but I have and it's the kind of located thing where you try to end why why music used to be on pieces of metal. Right. And it was in your phone and on your computer? Why? Why does it have to be on pieces of metal that you carry around? So I don't think anybody DVDs to sell them? I don't think that's a way forward. So so that I would say those are the those are the main routes.
Alex Ferrari 29:30
Now can can filmmakers create a successful like studio that focus solely on short form content and short films?
Carter Pilcher 29:39
Yeah, you know, I think I think, too, there's lots. The great news is there's lots of money sloshing around out there looking for short form content, and looking and more than that, looking for great new ideas. Every TV channel is trying to come up with some kind of digital something that is that augment what they're doing on TV. There are lots of opportunities. So I, in terms of getting yourself seen, and this is where doing short form content on YouTube does make sense not when you're working on making money. But when you're worried about creating an impression and getting people to know you, or and if it's if you're doing something shorter that and less precious, I guess then a proper short film, but that kind of short form content, whether it's gags, or little documentaries, or whatever your thing is, or cooking or any of those areas, those are huge, I think. And companies are putting incredible amounts of money and they're spending guys I know spending unbelievable amounts of time finding people who know how to take a camera and use it hold it make say something intelligent into the camera and and get it get a video, short form video that really works.
Alex Ferrari 30:59
Yeah, there's a lot of companies now I've seen that advertising has gone to short films now as well because of YouTube and because of online platforms where they you know, big brands are hiring filmmakers to do a three or four minute short with their product that it
Carter Pilcher 31:14
Well, even even here in India, Pernod Ricard, which is one of the big alcohol brands has a a, the most popular whiskey brand in India is called royal stag. And they and I it's not a brand, a whiskey brand I'd never heard of before, because I think it's only here in India, but they have launched a website where they and they they had all these stars that they are they're kind of fake, you know, celebrity faces. And they started, they got them to do shorts, they hired directors and had to make shorts with one with the stars just as a project to get their brand out there. And here in India, they got you know, they've gotten their huge stars, they're very popular, their movies have gotten 50 100 million views, which India everything staggering button for hits for that. For them as a brand. Even in India, that is as moved everybody's needle. And so it's it's also you know, so I think brands are making more and more short form content. So getting yourself seen if you're, if you're worried about getting yourself seen and have a way to promote yourself on YouTube, and you're not worried about monetizing your film, then then that's a different consideration. And something to think about. No, but if I can, if I can just say this. And in in Europe, where I live in England, and in America, where I where I came from short form, watching stuff on your mobile is, is great. And young kids do it all the time. But most of us when we get home, a TV's on someplace, and we just turn on the TV and, and we and maybe look at Facebook or YouTube or something. Snap Chat well, while you're sitting in front of TV, but you're not really watching video on your phone as much. In places like India and Latin America, I think they're actually the future. A small percentage of people, when you're speaking of the overall overall population, have mobile phones have TVs, everybody has a mobile phones, smartphones are everywhere. And they watch all their TV, all their TV, on their phones, and they watch all shorts and they and that's part of the popularity of these films that this alcohol brand made is that people are watching those, because on your on your phone, it's it's kind of irritating to have to stop all the time if you try to watch a movie or even a TV and our TV show, but a 50 movie or a 12 minute movie is kind of perfect for for transport or, or, you know, if you're just trying to take a break and watch something on your phone. It's a The world is changing, I think faster even than the US
Alex Ferrari 34:21
So I was I was gonna ask you that. I know historically, shorts are been very well accepted in Europe, much more so than in the United States. But you feel now that that's changing where people are now being more accepting of shorts as a general as a general statement.
Carter Pilcher 34:37
I so I think in Europe, there were always more accept, did and thought of as a more pure and intellectual pursuit as a type of I think that general people, Gen young people probably in Europe are slower getting acquainted with shorts than young people in America. But I think in because we're watching more and more and more and more young people first and we're, we're, you know, in California and and everyone in Latin America, everyone in, in India, everyone in China is watching almost all content on their phone and they're all watching, you know, Game of Thrones in India. Because the advertising is so big as made less than 10 minute versions of Game of Thrones, real just, yeah, just as just because you can get it out to more people.
Alex Ferrari 35:37
That's insane. That's insane. Now, are there any tips that you would give on making a successful short film? And we spoke a little bit about making a good short film, but things that would like grab it? Are there any genres that specific genres that are more accepted than others, things like that?
Carter Pilcher 35:56
Well, depends on what you're after. If you're winning festival prizes or getting audience oh one audience, audiences horror, heart rate sci fi, a good sci fi film, it's easier to make an audience energizing film, comedies are great for for audiences. If you want even sketch comedy is a really works. It's kind of in between a proper short film and, and, and just a short sketch. But sketch comedies can be can be great ways to make a film, if you want to want to. Really, if really what you're trying to do is compete for prizes at festivals and become you know, and really your you see yourself as a big director of film director, maybe directing someday one of these big TV shows or being those crews, I think you you want to focus on, on films that tell meaningful stories. And they can be comedies, they can be. They can be poignant love stories, they can be thrillers, they can be hilarious. But telling a written showing that you can deliver a great story in a short amount of time is the mark of a great filmmaker. If you look at and this is this, I think is absolutely essential in in thinking. If you look at the last six directors that have won five directors, five in the last six directors who've won Best Director at the Oscars all around one at twice. Steve McQueen. The guy who wanted wanted for moonlight.
Alex Ferrari 37:52
Yeah, I know he talked about
Carter Pilcher 37:54
And, and, and Guillermo del Toro and one other guy anyway, they're five or six
Alex Ferrari 38:01
Guillermo Del Torro one for shorts. No, no, no, that's direct resurrector. Of course, yes.
Carter Pilcher 38:08
Guys have won Best Director in the last five or six years. All of them have at least as many short films, if not more than they've made features. Barry Jenkins made moonlight. Yes. And Barry Jenkins had made two features and nine or 12 shorts, right? Baran had made about the same in your Ito who may did Birdman and Revenant almost quit filmmaking and he went off and made for a period of three years, he just made shorts, he made three or four shorts in a row. And then he came back and made Birdman. So the but I think the point is about shorts is it as a director, you know, for in your Ito is a great way to re establish your confidence. And it really gives you an ability to practice distinct storytelling. And it really it's an unforgiving to do it. Well, it's a very forgiving format. The other side of that is it's cheap, cheaper. So you can make three or four and really, you know, do some great practicing. And you don't have people standing over your shoulder saying Nope, don't do that. Nope, you have to do this. It's a much freer environment where you really can try things out that you want the you the director wants to do
Alex Ferrari 39:35
Carter Pilcher 39:36
I think. Yeah, play and practice. You know, and in filming, if you if you get hired on a big film, and or you kind of get hired on the first small feature, and it's crap, you're kind of done. Right? It's there's no there. There are 100 lines of guys who want to have a $5 million budget or a $10 million budget. How Out the door. So it's short. If you want to tell great stories, then you've got to start right away learning how to pick great scripts, pick some great actors and really practice telling those stories in a unique way.
Alex Ferrari 40:17
Now, you talk a little bit about the shorts international app. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Carter Pilcher 40:22
Yeah, it's called the shorts TV app. So the, you know, we, all of this time, one thing you do learn is what people you know, I'm an audience guy, I spend all my time thinking about talking to listening, trying to figure out what people like about short, our shorts, all shorts, what they hate, what's good about a short to an audience member. And one of the things we provided these big libraries of shorts, 500 shorts, at a time to these big TV cable networks that we're showing the TV channel on end, you know, nobody ever looks, because if you look at VOD on a cable system, it's really slow. And you have to click click, click, and then there are all these titles. You've never seen you ever all of us have been there. So we, the guys in Holland, the, the big cable system in Holland that we work with, came to us and said, Hey, would you design an app that goes on the set top box and makes your VOD more exciting? So we kind of rolled our eyes and they said, and if you don't do it, we're going to reduce your feet. So he said, Oh, yeah, we really want to do that. That was really something we were just now thinking about really excited about. So we went off and developed it. And we came back. But as we started developing it, it's, it's really fabulous. We, our guys came up with an app that while you're watching in the Netherlands, while you're watching our channel, you just push the red button on your on your clicker. And an overlay comes over with a navigational guide, like kind of like it's similar to Netflix, not exactly the same, but and then you click on short, you can either create it, but it's a lot of Spotify functions, a lot of the watching a short film, we feel is very, very similar to listening to music. So we we've created the ability to build playlists, and we call them channels, we've developed the ability to use like a film, or skip it, if you it starts and you don't like it, you skip it, and you go straight to the next film. So it's always moving. And you never have to read a title pick a film. And we we built it with a lot of very heavy machine learning capability. like Spotify or Pandora, we are guys actually modified that type of an algorithm. So that after about 20 likes and skips, it pretty much starts really feeding you films that you like and don't like and it learns your it's more interactive, like a music app. Because just like like music, you know, you go through a title very quickly compared to a movie or a right. So it comes on the tape. So right now it's it's playing in the Netherlands, and you just push the clicker, it comes over your TV, gentlemen can just start going through the end, we've we launched it with 2500 films. We're just testing next week, starting next week, the iOS version of that, that'll be on phones, and there'll be it should be out by June. That's a man let me let me tell you something. It is fantastic. It's so cool. It's it's I think it's revolutionary. Nobody's ever done scripted content with music type algorithms.
Alex Ferrari 43:48
Very, very cool. I'm glad someone out there is is fighting the good fight for the shorts of the world.
Carter Pilcher 43:54
Yeah, we're going to give everybody and we're putting and now you know, we're we're able to go and say, we can create a playlist that is just a films, you know, the film, the graduation films for blah, blah, blah, film school and put them on the app. We're doing it in the Netherlands, and putting their graduation films on for a month, so that you can go see all the graduation films and just skim through them. And then you know, or so it just gives you this enormous flexibility to be able to bring all kinds of new interesting content to our audiences where it's it's really we think it's really fun. It's, it's definitely the viewership is it takes a while for people to get used to how to use it. But you can see viewership is very high. And the amount of time that they spend on the app is high. Very cool, which is really great.
Alex Ferrari 44:46
So I'm going to give you now the speed round of questions. I ask all of my my guests. Okay. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?
Carter Pilcher 44:59
There is never Ever been a better time to get into filmmaking or video? Anything? This is the time so if you're even halfway thinking about it, just do it.
Alex Ferrari 45:09
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life? Wow, I know pretty.
Carter Pilcher 45:20
Pretty deep ballot. It's my gosh. Okay, I would say a lot. Longest lesson that took the longest to learn. Well, you know, some lessons you never quite learn.
Alex Ferrari 45:34
Carter Pilcher 45:36
But but probably I would say, a hard lesson to learn has been to make sure that you never, you know, I don't really understand and I went through this phase when all our competitors were had tons of money in the early 2000s AG company called atom films, or all these other there was a company called Steven Spielberg was starting a company with Jeffrey Katzenberg called pop calm, they spent 18 million bucks and that all popped and it never all of it died. So the one thing that I took away from from those experiences seeing that happen and going through my own little challenges is that you always stay close to you you make money you keep money and you stay close to money.
Alex Ferrari 46:35
Carter Pilcher 46:38
It's just you don't you don't do the Start your film and not have enough money to finish it.
Alex Ferrari 46:44
Oh god, no, please don't do that. That's the biggest mistake you could do. Now what are three of your favorite films of all time?
Carter Pilcher 46:50
Oh my god. Well, honest, I would say Saving Private Ryan is is probably one one of them. For a comedy Princess Bride
Alex Ferrari 47:05
Carter Pilcher 47:06
Yeah. It's it's just and I can watch it endlessly. I think it's brilliant. Gosh, and what would what would a third one be Casablanca
Alex Ferrari 47:18
Good choices, all very good choices. Now where can people find you or and get more information about?
Carter Pilcher 47:24
Shorts shorts.tv is probably the best place to go. It's it's there. And there's all everything about our website. You can go find anything you want about the company. And if there's an info thing and just put my name Carter Pilcher in the subject line, and people will shriek and run it over my desk.
Alex Ferrari 47:51
Carter thank you so much for for talking all things shorts with us on the podcast that I thank you so so much for your time.
Carter Pilcher 47:58
Yeah, Alex, thank you is great. I Lovely to meet you. And I look forward to meeting you in person.
Alex Ferrari 48:02
I want to thank Carter for being on the show. He dropped a bunch of knowledge bombs about short films, things I even know about. And I'll make sure to put links to how to get ahold of Carter how to submit things to short shorts International, as well as links to shorts that I discuss. In the episode just head over to indiefilmhustle.com/238 for the show notes, and I want to thank everybody all the indie film tribe members who have gone over and started subscribe to the bulletproof screenplay podcast. It is blown up. It is amazing how fast it grew like almost overnight. So thank you guys, so so much, please, if you have not subscribed, head over to screenwritingpodcast.com. And if you can leave us a review, leave us a five star review and subscribe because there's a lot of amazing information on that podcast as well. And I should be doing a crossover event soon where one episode will play on both podcasts at the same time. So keep an eye out for that. And as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.
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- Carter Pilcher – IMDB
- Carter Pilcher – Shorts International
- Carter Pilcher – SHORTS TV App
- How I Made Over $90,000 Selling My Short Film
- On the Corner of Ego and Desire
- Indie Film Producing Masterclass with Suzanne Lyons