IFH 363: The Death of Traditional Film Distribution

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I know the title of this show is bold but in the course of this podcast I will explain what I see happening in the traditional film distribution model. My trip to this year to the American Film Market was extremely educational. I met some amazing people, industry insiders, and tribe members. I did, however, spoke to many film distributors and sales agents and discover a truth that I had suspected for a long time now, traditional film distribution is dying.

Film distributors are having as hard of a time trying to generate revenue with their film libraries as filmmakers are getting their films sold. The world is changing. Many filmmakers are producing films for the 90’s and early 2000’s marketplace. Both filmmakers and distributors have little or no understanding of what today’s customer wants or how to get it to them while still making money.

In this episode I discuss:

  • The DVD/Home Video Crash
  • The Streaming Wars
  • AVOD
  • How film distributors are becoming more predatory out of desperation
  • The world of data/niche driven cinema
  • Cutting out the middlemen
  • The Googlfication of the movie industry
  • Foreign markets
  • The shortage of talent in the film industry, according to the streaming platforms
  • Why Netflix paid $200 million for The Irishman
  • How the indie filmmaker can survive and thrive in the new world of filmmaking
  • and much more

Warning: This episode will be mind-blowing so please brace yourself. Enjoy!

Alex Ferrari 1:41
Now guys, today on the show, we are going to talk about the death of traditional film distribution. I know that is a very big statement. But I will in the course of this episode break down what I think what not why I think what I know is happening currently, and what will be happening in the future and how you as independent filmmakers will be able to succeed and thrive in the future. So I was at AFM this past week. And I went there about four days and I met a ton of filmmakers. So everybody that I met at AFM that came up to me and talk to me about their projects and just wanted to say hi, I truly, truly appreciate it You guys made this AFM. So educational, so much fun. And I truly truly appreciate it. So shout out to all the tribe members who talked to me and met with me at the American Film market. Now, in this AFM, I had the pleasure of talking to a lot of distributors and sales agents, and really got a pulse of what is going on in the traditional film distribution space. Today right now. And what I discovered, was it fairly shocking but not surprising, if that makes any sense whatsoever. What the more and more I spoke to distributors and sales agents and people in the business The more I realized that many not all, but many film distributors have no idea how to really truly generate revenue in today's new distribution model. So let me let me explain. Before distributors, especially independent film distributors, mid level distributors, they had things that they can hang their hat on, you know, there were revenue streams that they knew they can count on. So if it wasn't home video, or VHS sales, then it turned into the DVD boom of the late 90s and early 2000s, where people were just making obscene amounts of money on DVD. It was cable deals where you could get cable pay deals, a free cable, you know free TV to cable deals. And there were just other you know, theatrical was a guarantee for a lot of smaller independent films that were just things that they can count on to generate revenue for the titles that they represented. But as one by one those dominoes started to fall which home video sales and rentals and purchases are just in a decline. DVD in general is gone really you know, other than maybe for the major studios, but even then, a lot of the money that was being made in DVD is not gone. distributors are no longer making the crazy amounts of money they were in yesteryear because now the habits of the consumer have changed so rapidly. We all now watch a lot more streaming content we watch more you know cable is is being taken out of the match. I mean people are cutting the cords by five to 10% a quarter. So sad And cable networks are starting to go down because there's just not as much revenue anywhere. advertising dollars are now going towards a VOD, and Facebook and YouTube. And television is just not what it was before. So those revenue streams are starting to dry up as well. And with this desperation, I literally had, by the way, I literally had conversations with distributors. And I said, you guys really have no clear idea on how to generate revenue. And I was told off the record, of course, by certain distributors that like, yeah, we are, we're literally throwing up anything we can against the wall to see what sticks. Because everything is changing so rapidly, almost on a monthly basis on it's insane where it were last year's big key word that I kept hearing at AFM was Ott Ott, which is basically streaming platforms to this year, which is all about Avon, Avon, Avon advertising video on demand were to be in Pluto and a few other platforms are starting to really grow and become players in the space. They just the things are changing so rapidly that they have no control, you have to understand that distributors have really no control of the the end The end point for the content that they represent, generally speaking, okay, because they're middlemen. They're basically gatekeepers of your content going towards the platforms. And that's what aggregators are. And that's what distributors are. They're basically middlemen, one, you pay for that access. Another one, you pay, take a back end deal to to get into that access. And we will talk a little bit more about those back end deals in a minute. We all know what happened with distributor and what the potentials of working with an aggregator are, I don't think it's going to happen rapidly. I don't think all these aggregators are going to start, you know, screwing over filmmakers left and right, I don't think but there is a potential there until some change happens. But what I'm trying to impress upon you is that before distributors could build out by date, you know, by 10,000, DVDs, like produce 10,000 DVDs and sell that product directly to Walmart, Target, Best Buy Amazon, and they can sell that product and get a return. And there was a real guarantee in regards to you sold the product for wholesale, you would get a return, you know, you would get that's how much money you would make, you would get that money back. In today's world, that's no good. There's no guarantee anymore, you put them up on these platforms, and maybe you'll make money with them, maybe you won't, maybe you'll get some rentals, maybe you won't, the days of guaranteed return on investment for a distributor is pretty much gone. You know, there are options of foreign sales still lingering. And there's definitely growth in the foreign international markets. Honestly, that's the only place that there is real growth in these emerging markets like China, like India, and so on. But even figuring out how to make money in those in those territories is challenging, because they're still trying to figure it out. I want you guys to be very clear about this. The distribution world, the film distribution world, they don't know what the hell they're doing. Either. They're trying to figure this out. As much as you're trying to figure out how to make money with your movie, honestly, they might be more educated and might have some more context in you. But they're still trying to figure it out. I saw it first hand. So because of this kind of desperation on trying to figure out what the hell's going on, the new play is that film distributors are trying to acquire as many titles as they can, because the bigger their library is, the more negotiating power they have with a to be Pluto on Amazon because they can walk in and go, Hey, I got 2000 movies in my library, let's talk. And that's the way they're able to do it. If they these distributors have smaller runs that are not niche based. By the way. There are some great distributors that are niche based that are doing extremely well like Tara films, Joe Dane from their films, who they focus on the horror niche, or there's, you know, other niches, distributors that are more niche based. They're doing better than the broad spectrum distributors out there because they just, they can't compete. They don't know how to compete, they don't know how to make the revenue that they need to make to keep their doors open. So because of that, there's been more and more predatory activity, where these distributors are throwing out, read tequilas deals for filmmakers who are picking them up. And they're picking up content left or right. It's almost like an arms race to see how much independent content that they can grab and put in their library doesn't matter if it's good or not. They just need titles. They want titles. That's all they care about. And it's becoming more and more desperate. Because these film distributors are trying to try to make the old model still work. They're trying to figure out what to do because at Everything that they know is now gone. Or it's changed so rapidly that they don't have a grasp on it. This exact same thing happened in the publishing world. This exact same thing happened in the music world. When technology came and disrupted those two industries, the big players, the establishment, they crumbled. And that is what's slowly happening in our world. I met a filmmaker who came up to me at AFM and throughout this deal that she was offered by a sales agent. And I've heard of predatory distribution deals before. But this is just was so awe inspiring that I needed to bring up to you this filmmaker who by the way did not take this deal was offered a 20 year deal for her two or $300,000 movie 20 year deal with a marketing cap of $50,000 a year. So that would have been a million dollar marketing spend cap. And oh, by the way, no money upfront and a 20 year deal. And when she went back and pushed on like this doesn't seem really fair. He's like, oh, okay, let's just do 10 years and two years of expenses. So literally, he was literally admitting in the negotiations, how much he was about to screw this filmmaker. And I heard these stories again, and again, and again, at AFM. It was a it was just, I was speechless every day that I went there. And I listened to filmmaker stories, and I listened to distributors, and how they were doing business it was it's just you can smell the desperation coming from a lot of these distributors, they just don't know what to do. One thing I really did come away from this years AFM was that there were many films that were 300 500,000 or more budgeted films independent films that had zero market value. Let me repeat that really quickly. There were there were four or five $600,000 budgeted independent films that had literally zero market value, because of genre because of production, because of tasks that they were doing. Because of the concept as far as if it was niche or non niche. All of those I literally saw film after film that literally had zero market value. And I would talk to distributors and said, Well, how about this kind of film that like that is absolutely worthless to us. I don't care if it's a million dollar production, there is no place for it right now. We would offer them and we would offer them a straight up deal, no mg. And maybe if we're lucky, we can make a couple bucks off of it. And maybe if we're lucky, the filmmaker would get a couple bucks out of it. And that would be the end of story. I wanted to do this episode because I want to impress upon you guys so much that the world has changed. And what I've noticed is that many, if not most independent filmmakers that I deal with on a daily basis, are making films for the 90s and early 2000s. marketplace. Please let me repeat that most independent filmmakers are making films for the 90s and early 2000s marketplace, not the data driven, niche driven world we live in today. That is astonishing to me, that you would invest half a million dollars and not understand if you even have a market to go sell this movie, what the market wants right now. It not understanding the marketplace in general. I know this episode's gonna probably make a lot of filmmakers heads explode. And I hope it does. Because I want you guys to wake up to understand that if you're going to invest a large sum of money, even if it's 50,000 or $100,000 of your budget, you best know where you're gonna be able to sell this movie. And in today's world, because things are changing so much. It's even harder to actually make money with films today. The platform's the new, the rising. Phoenix is in these ashes of traditional distribution in the traditional old studio model are the platforms the Amazons, the Amazons, Netflix, hulu's, toobeez, Pluto, all of these platforms that they're having the power, you know, they're the ones coming up smart platforms like Disney plus, and also Warner Brothers and Now NBC Universal's peacock, they're all bringing up their own platforms. I'm not sure how much the independent film world is going to help, you know, be helped by this situation. But there are now they're pretty late to the table. But there are now other the studios are starting to try to get into this direct to consumer model and not going through a middleman because believe it or not, the studio's still go through a middleman, that middleman where movie theaters, there was a middleman that cut out their profits that cut out, you know, 50% of the take 60% of the take 30 40% of the take on theatrical releases, then they had to deal with DVD manufacturer. And getting it out through the like there was always a middleman even for the studios. But now, in today's world, they're able to go directly to the consumer. So they cut out all the middlemen completely put up a streaming platform. And trust me from someone who just bought the Disney plus subscription for a year because it's amazing. It's awesome. And it has I have kids, so it's great. I could already see what's going to happen. And it's already happening. It's already happening. There's a Melissa McCarthy movie, I think coming out in I think next It was supposed to come out in theaters. But now it's going to come out directly in Warner Brothers new streaming platform, instead of going to the theaters. And that's happening again. And again. They're going to be direct to instead of direct to the DVD market. They're going to direct to the streaming platforms, lady in the tramp? No, well, these are two big movies that were made specifically for Disney plus, not for theatrical. They could have gone theatrical, but both of those movies, and both of those movies would probably have done well, theatrically. You know Netflix is last year that the Christmas Chronicle or the I think it was a Christmas Chronicles or something like that. The one that Kurt Russell starred as Santa was a huge, like 100 million plus dollar Christmas movie that could have done big big bank box office. But they went directly to their users and they were fine. They did fine. The platforms aren't buying winners of the Cannes Film Festival, and the Sundance Film Festival and Tribeca. They don't care. I promise you I saw it. A few years ago, I was at Sundance, and I saw where Amazon was buying up. Anybody that got into Sundance, they were buying up Cannes and Tribeca and South by Southwest winners, are those are their films are still purchased in those markets in those festivals. Of course there are, but they don't carry the punch of the new world of distribution. The new world of distribution is based around data. Okay, I want you to understand that it is driven by data content is driven by data. It is the Google furcation of the movie industry. The platforms are looking to fill holes in their portfolio of content for their customers. And what do I mean by holes? Well, all of these platforms are aiming at certain demographics and certain niches, there's that word again, niche. They're aiming for those niches that fill a hole because they want you to be watching their platform as much as possible. So they'll create an avatar, I talked about this in my book, but they create an avatar of the perfect customer. So perfect example, I'm going to use myself, I'm looking for a man in his early to mid 40s, who loves either sports movies, or they love comic book films. And they're also interested in surfing documentaries, or vegan documentaries, or things of those natures. So they want to fill each of those interests for my age group as much as humanly possible. So I can continue to keep a subscription with them. And also keep coming back and watching more and more hours. They understand that a perfect customer only has x amount of hours a day that they use to watch movies. So someone of my age range that's working general is gonna have four to five hours of TV time, if they're lucky, you know, so they're looking at like, Okay, what can we create, to get Alex to watch our channel and subscribe to our channel? What's the kind of show that we can create for them? What's the kind of movies what kind of series can I create for them, so they're always looking for that thing to fill that model that fill that little hole that they have? So a perfect example is that new documentary that came out on Netflix called game changers. Game Changers is a vegan documentary about vegan athletes. And the power of you know, plant based diets in World Class athletes, which is a new take on the whole, you know, plant based documentary, and Netflix paid an obscene amount of money for it because game changers in the first two weeks that it was out on iTunes became the number one documentary ever to sell or rent on iTunes purely because of the need of that niche. And people wanting to know more about plant based and all that kind of stuff. Well, Netflix bought it, and it filled a wonderful hole for them. But understand something that hole once I watched that hour and a half documentary needs to be filled again. So that is why there's an arm race as well for content for filling content in those niche holes again, and again and again and again. So they need to constantly be filling that hole because once I watched that show, or once I watched that move, I need to fill that hole again. And there is truly a shortage, according to the platform's a shortage of high end talent in Hollywood. I know that sounds insane, right. But if you think about how many hours they need to fill of content, it's it's maddening. It really is maddening. There's literally I think, three years of time filled, created last year in content. So I did the math, and it's almost 26,000 hours of content that was created not YouTube content. I'm talking about content built for the streaming platforms, all of them all, how many hundreds of streaming platforms are out there. So that's 26,000 hours. If you have one high end showrunner, let's say Ryan Murphy, or Shonda Rhimes, or JJ Abrams, how many hours of really good high quality series or movies can they make in a year? You know, 20 episodes for showrunner if they're lucky, maybe if they will show running two shows, maybe 40. And that's like extreme, right? There's very few people that can do that. And even then, it doesn't even dent the need for new content. Because content is being absorbed so rapidly now that it is commodity films are being watched. And then it's gone and watched. And then it's gone and series are being dinged. And then they're done. Like I will, I love Breaking Bad. But the chances of me going back and watching the entire series of Breaking Bad again, is probably gone. I probably won't do it, because there's too much good, brand new good content being produced daily. So filmmakers need to understand this when they're creating their product. Right now there is a gold rush for high end directors, writers, producers and showrunners going on right now. Netflix, Amazon, they're all vying for the big, you know, directors and writers and showrunners they're spending obscene amounts of money to attract and keep them in their stable. It is insane. So I'm going to give you an example, the $200 million Irishman Martin Scorsese his new film with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe pece. About the Irish mob, no studio would fund that film for Martin Scorsese. You're talking about multiple Oscar winners and legends, and they would not give it to them because that is not the business model that the studios do anymore. The Irishman has no potential for Irishman lunchboxes, Irishman t shirts, or Irishman. If figures action figures though, I personally would purchase a Irishmen action figure and I know a handful of us would in the tribe but with that said it doesn't fit the model of what the studios are doing in today's world. This hyper realistic you know, Marvel Cinematic Universe or properties big tentpole properties are based on books, toys, or IPS that already exists in the lexicon and the Zeitgeist of popular culture. That is what the studios have turned to. By the way before I continue that if you've noticed what studios have flourished in this new studio model system of the cinematic universes of the the IPS and things based on books and, and toys and so on. The ones that haven't done very well are Sony Pictures, who own very little if any major tentpole properties, other than, I think Sony owns men in black, which they just released a new one and a died. James Bond, which is a great brand, but that's one. And I think, Oh yeah, that spider man thing that they were able to to finagle out of Marvel years ago, and I'm reading a new book called The Big Picture by Ben Fritz, and I'm trying to get Ben on the show. And then there he talks. It's all about a lot of the changes of what happened to Hollywood. But I found out in that book that more that Sony literally had the opportunity to license and an own basically the movie rights to all of the Marvel characters. Sony could right now be the juggernaut that Disney became. But because they did not see hey look hindsight is you know everyone has everyone can be a Monday morning quarterback but they said no, no, no, nobody's going to watch a movie about Iron Man, Thor or Captain America. Just get us the right to Spider Man. And that's what they did. They got the rights to Spider Man. And that was the end of it. So Sony doesn't have anything and then you'd look at Paramount, another major player, or was a major player in the studio system. They don't own anything really other than transformers, right? transformers and they also had a distribution deal with some of the Marvel stuff, but that went away. So they've struggled as well. And the world of the movie star driving box office or driving sales is pretty much gone. You know, Will Smith's latest Gemini man died. There's just so many examples of films that had big stars that just don't go anywhere anymore. You know, even the rock who is the rock, you know, you know, skyscraper didn't do? Well. I think China was the one thing that like kind of saved that film. But those days of the 20 million plus dollar, you know, paydays, for actors, those are gone, because it's because there's just too much content. Now. Now, audiences will watch movie stars, I'm gonna be wrong, there's still places for movie stars. But Brad Pitt's new movie star or whatever that sci fi movie that died, you know, but the movie star has to be in a vehicle that makes sense. And there's very few original vehicles being created Tarantino's you know, once upon a time in Hollywood, which was a big hit, was a big hit because of Tarantino and the combination of Brad Pitt, and Leonardo DiCaprio in that kind of story. Those are rare instances, though those days are gone, the movie star days are almost gone as well. So let me get back to the Irishmen example. So Netflix spent $200 million, because they went over $40 million over budget, because Marty is Marty and you know, and they gave him full rein to do whatever he wanted. And he did. And he's been $200 million on his Opus, is truly Opus film. And this is Netflix his attempt to win an Oscar. And not because the Oscar is going to bring that much obscene amount of money back to them. But will it will do, it will attract high end creators to the platform, because it will get a reputation of being a creator friendly platform. And if you can get high end creators in your stable, making content for your platform, you will have a much better chance of winning the streaming wars. So there is a land grab for big high end creators. So I wanted you to understand why Netflix would spend $200 million? Well, they're making their money back off of people watching it. I don't know, I don't know. No one knows what goes on behind the scenes as far as their data cuz no one knows. So I know I know what you're thinking now. Go, Alex. Well, this is all fantastic. I'm so glad that you have to press me today. What chance do I have as an independent filmmaker making a 5000 10,000 50,000 $100,000 movie in today's world? What chance do I have? The chance that you have is the power of the niche? Because I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the riches are in the niches, the future of filmmaking for independent filmmakers. And I will, I will debate this with anybody who wants to debate this is the entrepreneurial filmmaker. It is a filmmaker who understands their audience, and creates product for their audience, and then builds ancillary product lines and services and or services for that audience. Now you need to become one of two kind of independent filmmakers. Both are film intrapreneurs. Number one is the film entrepreneur whose end customer for the film is the customer. It is direct to the customer, where you create that film, you find a way to put it on either a VOD s VOD, and T VOD in one way, shape or form. And that could be multitude of different ways to get that that product of the film to the end User without a middleman, other than the platforms that you're using to generate sales to get that money, okay. And to the film entrepreneur whose end customer for the film is a platform where you're creating content to fill holes in, in the portfolios and libraries of existing platforms, whether that be Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, to be at all, there's so many different platforms, but you need to figure that out. And that could be niche based, whether it's like spiritual or faith based films for pure Flix, or films like for Hallmark and lifetime, you're creating product for those, those niche portfolios or libraries for those platforms. And by the way, you could arguably still create ancillary revenue streams from those films, even if they've been sold or licensed to different platforms. And it all depends on the deal and how you structure the deal. But there is still a lot of potential there as well. So that is the future of independent filmmaking, that is what you need to be able to do, you need to become that film entrepreneur, you need to understand the the ever changing marketplace, you do not want to be blockbuster, and be left behind. Because you didn't see what was coming around the corner, you do not want to be the music labels that went under, because they did not embrace the new technology and the new habits of their customers. I know so many of you are filmmakers and artists, and I just want to express myself and make a movie, I want to think about the business. Man, that is great. And I wish you the best of luck with that I truly do. You know, if you want to do experimental films or films that really just fulfill your heart, my God, please go do it. But man, if you don't have the money to do it, at the level, you want to do it out, you got to figure something out. And it's irresponsible of YouTube, con some poor dentist out of $100,000, to go make your Opus that you know, in your heart, you'll never going to sell. And don't give me the Oh, hopefully it'll get to Sundance and get bought and blah, blah, blah, that's a lottery ticket. Man, that's not a business model, you've got to really understand how you're going to be able to recoup that money. Now, if you make your movies for really low budgets, like I do be as experimental as you want. You want to make a movie for five or 10 grand, and you can afford to lose five or 10 grand, why not do it's a hobby, you're a hobbyist. That's fine, you're a hobby filmmaker, because you're not a you're not a professional filmmakers, professional filmmakers do this as a living, you're doing it as one offs every once in a while. And you really don't care about making money. That's not a profession. That's a hobby, that's fine. There's nothing wrong with that at all. But you have to understand that if you want to make a living at this, you really need to understand the business of this. And now more than ever, the business is changing so rapidly, that you if you're making a movie now thinking you're going to sell it the way I'm talking about right now, in a year, you're mistaken. So how do you kind of hedge your bets is to keep the budgets as low as humanly possible, and make and hold on to things that you think that can actually generate revenue for you. That's why I continue to preach the film intrapreneur method, the method of controlling your revenue streams without just giving your movie away to a middleman in hopes that one day this predatory film distributor is actually going to pay you. And I've said it before. And I say it again, there are good distributors out there. And there are distributors who are trying to do well by their filmmakers, but they are rare. The baseline for this industry is that they're predatory distributors out there. And then every once in a while the oddity is the good film distributor, the good sales agent who's trying to help you actually make money with your film. They are rare guys. I just, I just don't care what anyone tells me. I've seen it. I've experienced it. I've talked to enough people to understand that the baseline for film distributors is that they're predatory and they're there to screw you. But there are people out there who are not going to do that. But they are the outliers. They are the exception to the rule. And as things start to tighten, tighter and tighter and again, I've said this before, we're in good economic times right now. When the Fed hits the Shan and something happens economically, like it did in 2007 and eight. Then watch what happens. But right now as things continue to tighten, as the revenue streams from the traditional business model of film distribution continues to strangle the distributors, they will become more and more predatory, they will become more and more one sided in their deals. And filmmakers will have less and less opportunities to actually make a dime on their films, unless they start taking control of their own product, and their own IPS and their own films, and go directly to the consumer of a niche audience. You have to become entrepreneurial filmmakers, or film truck printers. There's no other way around it. That is my belief, I will continue to preach that belief as long as I can. Because I do really think that in today's world, there is more opportunity than ever, for filmmakers for video and created the content creators, Video Creators than ever before. It has never been easier to make a movie in the history of this industry. But it's never been more difficult to make money. And to get people to actually watch your films. That is the new reality of not only the film industry, but of independent film, you can make a beautiful film, but man, it's hard to actually make money with that film, or actually to get anyone to see that film. That's why you need to change as filmmakers, you need to become entrepreneurs, to be able to, to survive and thrive in this new world. And I promise you, if like they say in a lot of high end, schools like Harvard, or law schools, or even Navy SEAL training, look to your left, look to your right, one of you is not going to make it through. And I don't want that for you guys. For the tribe, for people who listen to what I say, follow what I do. I want you guys to survive, I want you guys to thrive in this new world that we're walking into in the film industry. People are still worried about Oh, look at the cool lens I got and look at the new 25k camera resolution I got. But no one's talking about how to make money with your film, how to survive in this biz ness. Don't let the marketing and don't let the industry lie to you. You need to understand the realities that you're walking into, I don't want to see you get hurt. I don't want to see your lives just torn down because you invested all your savings or you mortgaged your house in hopes that you were making a movie or a product for marketplace that's 20 years too late. I don't want to see it. I met too many filmmakers at this AFM that ran across the head that that literally had zero market value, or very little market value or any chance at all to break even with their films. And it's heartbreaking and I don't want it to happen anymore. So that's why I decided to make this episode to really sound the alarm. So you guys can really understand where we are at right now and where we are going. Now I'm going to leave you with this that I was talking to an industry insider who will remain nameless, he's anonymous. And they were telling me about what one of these platforms, which will remain nameless as well does to create content. And what they do is they bring in audience members, people to one of their theaters in their offices, and they sit them down and they literally have those kind of like avatar visual effects cameras aimed at them. So the camera is recording all their micro expressions, recording their emotional responses to the film. And then this is the scary thing that I just couldn't believe. But I do believe 110% that with that information, there is an AI that records every little bit of information and translates that into a report that tells the producers or the platforms, what works, what doesn't work, and what needs to be there in order for it to be a success. And then take those notes back to the filmmakers and say Do you need this more jokes like this? Less jokes like that more action hits like this more scares like that. It's literally what Hitchcock was saying years ago where he's like, wouldn't it be amazing if you could just plug everybody into a piano and hit a note and make them cry and hit a note and make them jump and hit a note and make them laugh. That's where we're going, guys. We're going into this data driven, film making world and we're not going into it we are there it is happening as we speak. It is terrifying in many ways, because as an artist, you just want to express yourself. And I think they'll always be a place for artists to be will, and filmmakers to be able to express themselves through this medium in whichever way they want to. But the budgets will have to come way down. And film you know, film studios and the platforms aren't going to take as many risks as before, unless you're at one of these high, high end proven hitmakers. The world is a changing Ladies and gentlemen, the world is changing. And I want you guys as members of the indie film hustle tribe as a filmtrepreneur tribe, to end the bulletproof screenwriting tribe to understand the rules of engagement when you walk into this business. And the one thing that was constant throughout AFM was every filmmaker that I walked into and met there, which were there, there were many, almost all of them asked me When is your book out? When is your book out? Alex, I need to read this book, I need to read the Rise of the filmtrepreneur. And as I said earlier, in this episode, it is coming out December 2, it will be available paperback, as well as ebook and audio book. And I will show you how to get the audio book version for free if you've never had an audible account before. And I'll give you all that information as we get closer to it. But guys, again, I really hope that this episode has opened your mind and also opens your your interest in learning about the business, man because if you don't understand this business, you won't make it guys. You just won't. You won't make it because the world that you might be making movies for is gone. You really need to understand the marketplace. Now you really need to understand who's buying what why people are buying how people are watching. What products are people purchasing, how you have to change your mentality on how you make your movies. If not, you will be a hobbyist. If you're lucky, and you won't get to the next level, you will never be able to make a living doing what you love to do. And that is my goal for everyone who hears my voice. And if their interest is to make a living doing this, it is my goal in life to show you how to do it. Now if you want links to anything I talked about in this episode, including the book I am currently reading which is mind blowing. It is mandatory reading for any film entrepreneur or indie film hustle tribe member. The big picture by Ben Fritz, you definitely have to check it out. Just head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/363 Thanks again guys. And again, if you want to preorder the book just head over to filmbizbook.com that's filmbizbook.com i hope this episode was of value to you. I really hope it changes the way you think about making movies, and how you're going to approach creating your art creating your films series and content in the future. Thanks for listening guys. Oh, and by the way, please share this with every filmmaker you know, share this episode because this information needs to get out to everybody. So if you've got a filmmaker that that you know that needs this information, please share this episode. I truly appreciate it. Thanks for listening guys. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.



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IFH 318: Confessions of a Producers Rep with Ben Yennie

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Today on the show we have returning champion Ben Yennie. Been has the honor of being the very first guest I ever recorded for the IFH Podcast. He is a wealth of information so get ready to take some notes. As Founder and CEO of Guerrilla Rep Media, where I’ve gotten distribution deals for more than 8 films, that will soon be appearing on Starz and other major outlets across the globe.

Ben is also the Founder and Executive Director of Producer Foundry, as well as Producer of more than 50 events on film finance and distribution.  He’s worked with people like Lew Horowitz, the inventor of Indiefilm Gap Financing, Jeff Dowd, Executive Producer of Blood Simple, Fern Gully, and inspiration for “The Dude” from the Big Lebowski. Ben co-founded Global Film Ventures, screened business plans and advised the Film Angels and is the former chapter leader for the San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Vancouver Chapters of the Institute for International Film Financing.  And screened business plans for the Film Angels.

Ben has also worked in the tech industry. Co-Founder of ProductionNext, a new set of next-generation tools designed specifically for the Movie industry.  Previously, he’s been VP of Sales for Taal, a Mobile video interview platform for the hospitality industry.

He is also the author of The Guerrilla Rep: American Film Market Distribution Success on No Budget, The First ever book on Film Markets and used as a text at about 10 film schools.  He has also contributed to Office for One, a Sole Proprietor survival guide, and is the author of the upcoming book “The Entrepreneurial Filmmaker.”  He also manages the blogs for ProducerFoundry.com and TheGuerrillaRep.com.

Enjoy my conversation with Ben Yennie.

Alex Ferrari 0:04
Now today on the show, we have one of our original guests, Ben Yennie, who is a producer's rep and also an author, and also the CEO and founder of gorilla brep media, as well as the producers Foundry and the amazing resource production next. I mean, he is a busy, busy dude. He is a hustler to say the least now, today we're going to talk about not only many of the things that Ben is working on, and how the industry is changing, and how movies are being made, and how you're making money making movies. But we're also going to get into what a producer rep does, how he does it, you know, kind of a confessions of what he's gone through over over his career and really give the tribe some insight to how to hire producers rep, and how to deal with markets and selling the movies and making money. It is just plumb filled with a lot of great, great, great information. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Ben Yennie. I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Ben Yennie. Man, thank you so much for coming back on the show, brother.

Ben Yennie 4:11
Thanks for having me, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 4:12
It is been it's been a minute. It has been a minute you were you were one of the very first I think you were my first interview. But you were like the second or third released. And I think you were episode and I think we were talking about 15 or 16. Now we will put it in the show notes but and you still get action from that three, three and a half years ago. Yeah.

Ben Yennie 4:38
Yeah. Now like and I think you've gotten some I I yeah, I think you've gotten some reaction on that indirectly as well from like Josh and Michael.

Alex Ferrari 4:49
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, these guys that the film of parts of the indie film hustle tribe that reached out to you. And actually as of this recording, Josh, his interview is going out today. I'm actually going out today. So I'll make sure to link to Tibet to your original interview that got you that they got you that gig. And thank you for reaching out with that. But I wanted to bring you back on the show because a few things has changed in the last three and a half years. Since last we spoke about about the business in general. So today, well, first I want for everybody who doesn't know who you are, just give us a real quick update about who you are, what you what you do in the business.

Ben Yennie 5:32
Yeah, I am primarily a producer's rep and executive producer, I'm in the Bay Area, I do a lot of kind of low budget stuff now. But there's some stuff I can't quite talk about, that's much bigger. That's should be coming through early next year. Um, and the, but ya know, I help filmmakers with financing, distribution, marketing and bit of packaging to also, in addition to that, I started a company, I helped to start a company called production next, but we'll talk about that later.

Alex Ferrari 6:06
Cool. And you also wrote a book about the American Film market.

Ben Yennie 6:11
I did write a book about the American Film market. I've got a couple of books that I've done on that. One is the gorilla wrap, which is also on audio book, and in its second edition, and then the state of the film industry report, which is a macro economic study of the film industry itself.

Alex Ferrari 6:37
Very, very cool, which is one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you about won't have you back on the show because of that amazing book called The state of the film industry. And I wanted to get because you went in with, I mean, three years of research for that book, and you you ask answer a lot of questions. I'm going to ask you a bunch of those questions in a minute. But first, all the all the experience you have in the business, you've met hundreds of 1000s of filmmakers over the course of your career, you've worked closely with them through your being a producers rapper, being an executive producer, or just even hearing stories, like I do every day of filmmakers doing things sometimes, right? Most of the times wrong. What is the biggest mistake you see filmmakers make when distributing their films.

Ben Yennie 7:26
Um, I think the biggest mistake that cost the filmmaker the most is probably signing with the wrong sales agent or distributor. And that happens a lot. I'm still more a fan of traditional distribution for most filmmakers by I do understand that it's much better, much, much, much better to self distribute your film than to end up with the wrong distributor or sales agent. The trick is coming up with the right ones who can open some doors that you probably can't open yourself.

Alex Ferrari 8:09
And that's no good.

Ben Yennie 8:13
Unless you have a huge following on social media, which is probably the other thing is a lot of I've talked to a lot of filmmakers who think social media is just a waste of time and establishing community. And all of that is not worth the time you have to put into it. And that's just flat out wrong.

Alex Ferrari 8:28
There very much without question, and I actually been speaking a lot lately about self distribution versus traditional distribution. And there are pluses and minuses on both ends. But self distribution is not for everybody. I think you would agree with that. It's not for every film, it's not for every filmmaker, you got a filmmaker who made a half a million dollar movie has no stars in it has no online presence, and yet says I'm going to self distribute this and I'm gonna put it up on iTunes and Amazon and let the money roll in there done. Would you agree? I would totally agree. Um, yeah. Now what, what are the dangers filmmakers should look out for when signing with a with a distributor? Like what are those kinds of things that you just go Hmm, every time I read this in a contract, that's not a good sign.

Ben Yennie 9:21
Okay, there are a couple of key points on there, which are really good to look for, um, the biggest ones are the percentage the distributor takes, if it's anything or the excuse me, I shouldn't say the sales agent takes not the distributor. It's a bit of a different game when you're talking about distributors. But for sales agents, if they're taking more than 30 or 35%. It's probably already to the point that you don't really want to be doing that contract with them. Because you can never negotiate that down. And if they're starting at that level, It's generally indicative that a lot of the other things in the contract are going to be bad as well. It's not the only thing to pay attention to. And it's not necessarily a deal breaker, it just means that it's likely there's going to be at least one other deal breaker along the way.

Alex Ferrari 10:15
And then as far as, as far as you just explained to a lot of people who don't know what the difference between a sales agent and a distributor is, can you just tell quickly what that is?

Ben Yennie 10:24
Yeah, sales agent deals with distributors and generally works with local distributors to sell the entire world. And the local distributor will actually distribute generally within a specific territory, or sometimes only specific rights within a territory, depending on what sort you're dealing with, like, stars or Showtime, or HBO would technically be a distributor who are primarily dealing with us pay TV and svod. rights. So got it. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 10:57
And then, so then, so 3040, so if someone's asked if your sales if you're a filmmaker and a sales agents asking for 30 35%, which is insane, for for rate, then that's probably a telltale sign each party should not be doing that deal. How about if you're a filmmaker going straight to a distributor, which a lot of filmmakers most filmmakers go straight to a distributor, go sales agents that sometimes are great for certain films, but sometimes, you know, if the movie costs 15, grand, right, don't need a sales agent. If a film, you know depends on the kind of film it is, but on a on going straight to a distributor, what are those kind of telltale signs that you're like, hmm, these guys are not going to do anything for me.

Ben Yennie 11:39
So yeah, the going straight to a distributor is tricky, because as much as you really like to go to good distributors straight off, it's actually a lot of times very difficult for a filmmaker to do that directly. A lot of times, they you will need to go through a sales agent or a producer's rep to get to them. Um, but in the instances where you don't, that deal often looks more like 30 to 40%, if it's a revenue share deal. And it's not necessarily bad right there. But one thing you definitely need to look at is what the size of the minimum guarantee is, if they're not offering you a minimum guarantee, you need to understand what their marketing and distribution plan is. And you also if they're off, and sometimes people will offer you screens without a minimum guarantee. If you can get the screen the theatrical screens, that can be worth giving up the minimum guarantee, because you can actually end up making significantly more than you might be able to, if you just get the minimum guarantee, however, if somebody is if you made a 15 to $20,000 film, and somebody is offering you a $25,000 minimum guarantee, more than likely just take the $25,000 minimum guarantee.

Alex Ferrari 12:58
Amen, amen. Amen. If someone's giving you $10,000 more than you may get paid for the movie. I mean, I mean, just man that's that, you know, as well as I do, that does not happen.

Ben Yennie 13:11
Ray actually relates to film, because somebody else offered that I'm doing a bit of us, direct us myself now. Okay, so the I actually may have lost the film, because that happened to them. And then as soon as they said they had that, I'm like, Yeah, I can't be that offered.

Alex Ferrari 13:26
They'll go Yeah, take that. Run.

Ben Yennie 13:28
Yeah, yeah, just go. But the even though I was offering to do a limited theatrical for them, but that was just like, no one in hand is worth at least two in the bush.

Alex Ferrari 13:41
At least, at least without question. Now you and I saw each other again at AFM this year, which is always always fun to see each other. We see each other think maybe once a year for lucky. But, but AFM even the few years that I've been going, I've noticed the change in the shift. Everybody was talking about Oh, is it ot Ott and Ott s VOD t VOD, a VOD. And of course there was still the traditional stuff as well which is you know, selling overseas and, and selling you know, that kind of stuff but is changing in your opinion, how is AFM changing? And how is it kind of moving in the future.

Ben Yennie 14:25
So, the way in order to understand how it's changing, you kind of have to go back a little bit. Because the way AFM and other similar film markets came to be was actually with the rise of VHS replication back in the 80s. And the way it was so profitable and the way you can afford all these massive market Feess, when it started, you could make a VHS for between 10 and $20 and wholesale it for 100 and move a lot of them and then over time that number dropped and dropped to drop. dropped and then DVD came in and replaced VHS. But because it was so cheap to replicate DVD, you could still make a huge profit on each unit. And also it really opened up the market for smaller content to actually become more profitable. Now people expected blu ray to take over for DVD and it really didn't blu ray did come in and take on okay market share, but it was nowhere near what DVD was and T VOD, Avon and s VOD just don't pay the same way that T VOD, that physical media pays. And, uh, so that is really what happened to that's kind of how the bottom has fallen out. And a lot of the older distributors don't really never really adapted their old systems where you could actually charge these huge recoupable expenses and still make money. Now, you will never hit it. Most small indie films. I hate to say this most small indie films only end up making about 20 to $30,000 over the five year life of their film. There are lots of exceptions, of course, the but the general rule is you've got to kind of figure that it's more like 20 to $30,000 for the film itself over the five year life of the film. And that is a and that's just not really sustainable. Because the Nope, no, I said no. Go ahead. Um, so yeah, the over. So you can't really make a business that actually pays filmmakers on there anymore. And I think that's really coming through. And that's why a lot of sales agents and distributors who go to AFM often get a bad rap, even if some of them are not necessarily bad sales agents or distributors, it's just their models are bad. The that's not to say there aren't people who are bad salespeople distributors,

Alex Ferrari 17:09
There are many.

Ben Yennie 17:14
But the but yeah, so that's kind of what's going on there. And now that everybody's only really looking for Avon s VOD, or T VOD. It's really did it's really become more game of marketing than it has a game of sales agents or distribution because really the direct local distributor, the way you can tell whether or not they're good is if they can actually get your publicity and actually have a list to market to and a brand that they can market the content they acquire to

Alex Ferrari 17:50
How many? How many? Let me ask you how many distributors Do you know that do that? There's very few that I even know of even some of these big boys that say they do it? When you when you look behind the curtain? Even Look, look, if it's the big if it's a big boys, obviously, if it's a major if it's Warner Brothers if it's Fox Searchlight, if you're talking about those kind of guys, it's different. But I'm not gonna I'm not gonna call out the distributors I have in my head right now. But, but there are these guys that promote themselves as like, we're the big indie guys, like, you know, I'm not talking about a 24, or the orchard or any of these kind of guys, I'm talking about some other ones. But that they say they're gonna do a lot. And they have this reputation of saying they're gonna do a lot. But at the end of the day, I've talked to filmmakers, again, and again and again, and they just don't pull up. They just don't do it anymore. So just curious, what is there any any distribution companies that you could call out? There you go, you know what, these guys are pretty good in my experience.

Ben Yennie 18:48
Oh, yeah. So I will actually call a couple of good people out more for distribution man for sales agencies. But the parade deck films, Michael Ingram I've worked with directly and I've worked with pretty extensively directly. And he's, I was a big fan of working with him, and I would work with him again in a heartbeat. I'm another one that I think is really good. And there's something of a hybrid between sales agency and distributor. They do most of the VOD, in the US directly, but they also do some international sales for the right projects. That's Leo Mark studios. I think they're great. And they're recoupable expenses are really, really low, which is great. And their commission. I don't want to say what the commission is, but it's all very low. So So those are a couple of the people that I would deal with and I think they are a little bit better about publicity than some of the other ones. In terms of who actually does well in marketing and developing their brand. I think devil works is great at marketing and building their brand. And they actually do pay. Um, and they are a, Matteo and Samantha are great. And they are very good about publicity. I think they, they have at least one publicist on retainer that is just constant, I think they do bigger market pushes when the time comes. Again, they're more of a sales agent than they are a distributor, but they are very good at what they do. That's

Alex Ferrari 20:39
that sounds that sounds awesome. Because generally, what I hear is, you know, distributors are just like, Oh, yeah, yeah, we're gonna cut we're gonna charge you 30 or $40,000, for recoupable expenses for marketing and going to the markets and all that kind of good stuff. But at the end of the day, all they do is they put it up on their social media, which is pathetic. And, and, and they just put it out on the platforms. And that's the end of it. And then the filmmakers like, why am I not making any money I signed everything over. I've locked up my film for seven years with these guys, and they're not doing anything for me. So that sounds refreshing by these, what you're telling me?

Ben Yennie 21:10
So what Yes, and I'm not trying to paint too rosy a picture here. Those are the people that I've dealt with, personally, I and I follow them closely, because I've worked with them. That's not to say everybody who says they'll do this will not actually, or will actually live up to what they say they'll do. The So having said that. Another thing you should be doing as a filmmaker, and this might have come up in the last podcast. But it's something I almost always negotiate in for my clients is, in a lot of times I structure my acquisition that I'm going to then sell to somebody else in such a way that I can't actually give it to this other person. But always, always, always retain the right to sell the film for your website. No, always. And even if all you have is Vimeo on demand or Vimeo Ott, through your website, always, always, always keep that.

Alex Ferrari 22:10
And generally, distributors don't really fight too much on that.

Ben Yennie 22:15
Now they don't, I've never had somebody really fight me on it. And the most they might say is okay, we're okay with you doing that, but keep us but let's keep an open dialogue about timing with it. Sure. Like,

Alex Ferrari 22:29
yeah, right. Yeah, that makes perfect. So

Ben Yennie 22:35
um, but that is the big thing there. And that's, I think that's fine. But if you don't do that, you shouldn't be doing that. And I think it's just my my distribution contract has gone through a couple iterations. But I believe the current draft actually has that as an automatic exclusion for you as a filmmaker for us, so I'm

Alex Ferrari 22:59
very cool. Now I wanted to just talk a little bit about the the 5000 pound gorilla in the room, who's big his first name begins with net and ends with flicks. Literally have changed. I mean, I've never seen a company come in and completely disrupt the entire film industry in a way that is so I mean, they have now become the big studio in town. I mean, they are making Netflix I just read are making 90 feature films in 20 1990 released films, and a lot of them are ranging from 20 million to 200 million, including like Scorsese and SATA Berg and these monster Ben Affleck's new movies covered like, it's like the Will Smith and all these big stars are going there. And also this big behind the scenes talent. I mean, Roma might get an Oscar nomination this year, and it's going to be a Netflix film by affonso. So I'm curious from your perspective, because you you were here before Netflix showed up. You were working in the business a bit before Netflix showed up and how it's completely up. Just changed everything. What's your opinion on where they what they've done, what they're doing and what they're going to continue to do? moving forward.

Ben Yennie 24:26
Okay, um, this this is going to be I don't think this is the answer. You're expecting good, at least the end of it, but the first bit is, I think they definitely have changed it. I really don't like their acquisitions, strategy. Um, they pay far too little. Um, I have a number that they paid, but I really don't want to say that.

Alex Ferrari 24:53
I know that number two. It's not a not very good.

Ben Yennie 24:57
No, it's not And they also tend to acquire all rights world rights for that even though the most even though most of the time, they just use domestic domestic svod for the area they acquire from not even like us. But I've heard the same coming out of like Brazil. So I don't think that that's really a good strategy that helps the industry as a whole. And it doesn't help filmmakers actually make money with their projects. Now, that is only talking about their acquisitions model. And I think just the ubiquity of Netflix has made it desirable for a lot of filmmakers. But I do think it needs to be later a later distribution window when you work with them. If you work with them at all, even though it's likely to be an even smaller distribution, an even smaller deal, then you won't be able to get otherwise, if you can even get it at all, because lately, they've only been acquiring things that have had a theatrical release of at least a quarter million dollars. That's what I heard last. But the other one, but now that's their acquisitions process, their original process is very interesting, and that it looked for a long time, like they were basically going to become the next studio. Now, the issue with that is that they haven't really diversified their income streams, all comes, all of it comes from their subscription payments, and they have been taking on a significant portion of debt. Um, I haven't looked at this number in a couple weeks, so it might be off. Um, but I believe the amount of debt they're holding right now is between eight and $9 billion. And that is something that I would be worried about, especially with other 50,000 pound gorillas entering the market like Disney. Yes. And a lot of other people, I don't know if Netflix is going to be able to maintain their first in advantage, because that's a lot of what they've built. So far, they were the first people really successfully doing this sort of streaming. And I that advantage doesn't last forever, which is why they're trying to innovate with new content. But a lot of the other people who are entering in have have a much more diversified business, where they can lose money on this product line as they're getting it out, which is a lot of what Amazon Prime did, when it was really trying to establish a foothold here. Now, I think the now this is the part that I'm not sure will be a popular opinion. But I would not be surprised to see a Netflix acquisition in the next in 2019 or early 2020.

Alex Ferrari 28:07
I've heard of that. And

Ben Yennie 28:08
yeah, and I'd be guessing that it would be by Apple, Microsoft or Facebook. And I also wouldn't rule out Disney as a possible one, because Disney has acquired similar technology, even in the past, even when they take a loss from what they've developed so far, but I don't necessarily think that this sort of acquisition is outside the realm of possibility for Disney.

Alex Ferrari 28:39
I would Disney I mean, because what we'll do, it will be the cost of buying something like Netflix, it's not going to be a few like it's not going to be under $10 billion. It's gonna probably be in the 60 5060 $70 billion world if not more, and there are few companies. The ones you just said all pretty much almost quit. I'm not sure Disney could right now. Especially with what they're doing. But Apple could write a check and not even blink tomorrow if they wanted cash reserves. Yeah. Oh, man, they have cash reserves. So they could I mean, they could they could buy Netflix tomorrow and not even think twice about it. Microsoft would be interesting. I'd be curious to see how how they would do they would really be making a big jump, but I'm not sure they're personally I don't think they're that innovative. I'm an apple guy. Sorry. I agree. Also, I really hope it's not Microsoft because I can guarantee you they'll destroy putting on Netflix. Yeah, it'll just be Yeah, they'll destroy they'll destroy but I agree with you. And this is a very interesting conversation because you're right with their business model isn't diversified. I mean, sure they have some some IP stuff that they you know, they license out for like Stranger Things and Narcos and other thing like t shirts and hats and gray that's all nice and dandy, but that's not a huge revenue stream for them. They if they're going to survive the long term. They are going to Need some sort of other diversification in their business model because Disney, if Disney plus doesn't go Disney doesn't go down. If amazon prime video doesn't go, Amazon can give two craps. You know, they're, you know, all these other company Hulu is Hulu, they I think they fall in that same kind of world of, but they're such a weird, they're owned by like three or four studios. It's just a different beast. But Disney plus will be an interesting thing. Apple, Apple is just waiting. Because when Apple wants to go, they are the they are the big. They're the big guys. And they could crush it. They could crush all of them in a heartbeat like Apple could buy Disney. like Apple could buy Disney. You know, yeah, they literally could buy Disney if they wanted to. That's how big apple is. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. It's just they haven't decided to go down that road. They keep putting their toe in with you know, Apple Music and Apple, this apple video. They're just trying to put their toes in right now. But when they come they're gonna come hard. I'm curious. I'm curious to see how Netflix agree. But I've heard about the from distributors actually, that they're taking forever to pay because they are had they have so much debt. And you know, even if someone if even if they give you 100,000 bucks for your movie, they're gonna pay it off over the course of the next two or three years. So it's only a handful of 1000s every month every quarter. Which is horrible for the filmmaker. I had to deal with that with Hulu. But their debt is something substantial. But you know what? So is Amazon's for a long time.

Ben Yennie 31:45
Yes, it was but Amazon had a much more deserved diversified business model even back then. That was a and a lot higher customer lifetime value than Oh, net. So yeah,

Alex Ferrari 31:59
yeah. And I'm really curious to see what Disney plus does because I want to sign up for Disney Plus, I mean, it has everything I want my kids gonna want to watch stuff on it. It's you know, of course the two Star Wars shows that alone opens the door for me as you can see my Yoda in the background. So there's it's gonna be really interesting to see how, how it all plays out. But and also I mean, and I'll throw I'll throw my hat in the ring indie film, hustle TV obviously, is up there with not joking. But, but no. But in all honesty, though, running indie film, hustle TV, which is an S VOD platform, and a T VOD platform, dealing with distributors dealing with deals, looking at content, how content is treated by distributors? how, you know, from people who have signed with people who have not signed with, how it's running through my system and how revenue is being generated. For those filmmakers. It has been eye opening, you know, being on this side of the fence being a little very mini Netflix, in my world within the film, hustle TV, it's been so educational. It's so eye opening in the business. It's fascinating. Fascinating.

Ben Yennie 33:14
Yeah, no, that sounds good. Um, the, I think in 2019 is going to be in a really I think it's going to be a really eye opening year. And it's going to I think the industry is going to be in for a really interesting set of change. I also am among the people and there are a lot of us, who are almost certain that we're in a recession before the end of 2019. Oh, absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 33:49
There's no question. There's no question at the end of the year, we're gonna we're gonna hit get hit with something so hard. People have no understanding of it. I already I already. Yeah, it's happening. No question.

Ben Yennie 33:59
Yeah. No, I completely agree. And the last time that happened was in 2008, going back to the film market thing a little bit. And that was the last major change for the American Film market and film markets in general. And they still haven't fully recovered. They kind of started to get a little bit close this year. But that but if we have another huge hit to the economy, I don't know what's going to happen to that sector of it. And I think it's going to be really interesting to watch and,

Alex Ferrari 34:33
but wouldn't it be interesting though, like, if you know, when this next recession does hit, Will people drop their Netflix? Because that's going to be the most affordable and the most affordable entertainment they're going to have? You know, are they going to drop their YouTube TV you know, like how much because they're gonna look even in the worst recessions, movie business always stays. TV is people watching TV, all that kind of stuff. But, you know, 1099, or whatever Netflix isn't 1299, whatever it is now, it's not that expensive for a lot of content, and then amazon prime and all that kind of stuff. I'm curious to see how much of those are affected as much as going into movie theaters may or other other kinds of media.

Ben Yennie 35:23
You and I are very much on the same page. I'm thinking that it's that aswad that Avon is going to rise. VOD might rise a little bit, but won't be huge. And I think but I think t VOD theatrical and couple of other things going on. And cable subscriptions are going to take an even bigger hit than they already have.

Alex Ferrari 35:45
Oh, no. My quarter ready to take aeolus? Yeah,

Ben Yennie 35:49
I know. That's I think it's just the last little bit of God, I can't afford this anymore. It's so easy. We're going to get people beyond the age beyond like, currently, it's under 40s don't have much cable at all, I think we're going to be looking at even like under 50s, and possibly even under 60s not cutting, which is that that's or that's pretty substantial, because that age group tends not to change a lot.

Alex Ferrari 36:16
So without question. Now, let's get into the state of the film industry. I know we've talked a little bit about the state of the film industry. But I want to get into a little bit about your book, and what, what insane stats you were able to get. I'm gonna ask you a handful of questions from the book and see how much you can and cannot tell me without people buying the book. But there's so much information in there. I'm sure these questions are not going to hurt people, but people want. So how many active filmmakers are there in the US as as you see it? Because that's a number I always wanted to know, personally. Because my main my main market is filmmakers I want I want to get my information out to filmmakers and my content out to them.

Ben Yennie 37:02
So I believe that numbers between 120 and 130,000, but I don't actually have a copy of the book in my office. Right. Okay. This is one that normally I reference, I actually took my copy home last night, and forgot to bring it back. So normally I

Alex Ferrari 37:21
ask, so it's about really that I thought it would be more than that. I thought it would be a lot more Well, that's just filmmakers. That's not people interested in content creation. That's a whole other number.

Ben Yennie 37:32
That is a different number. I considered active filmmakers who make at least one short film every year, or have at least in the past year. I think the other number was, that was the easiest way to quantify it. And the way we came to that number was, we took the number of one question we asked was how many film school grads? or How did you graduate from film school as opposed to our entire sample. And it was about 37% or so that a group did graduate. And then I was able to find a total number of film school graduates from the National Education Association, and then do algebra to make an estimate based on how many active film new active filmmakers there were per year. And then I was able to do more algebra based on a different question to figure out the average career life of a filmmaker which turned out to be around 8.3 years, and then figured that out. And we ended up with that number, which I believe is 120 to 130,000.

Alex Ferrari 38:39
And then from there, there's also people who are screenwriters who are interested in screenwriting, who are interested. So there these are active people, not people who are interested or are actively trying to get into the business. These are people who are actually doing things.

Ben Yennie 38:54
Yes, they are self identified as a filmmaker, not an interested person, not a content creator. Got it specific as a filmmaker. Got it. Got it. Now,

Alex Ferrari 39:05
how many films are made a year? How many independent films are made a year give or take? feature? Around 10 to 12,000? pets? Yeah, that's just us. That's it. Yeah. By the way, everyone listening this is just us numbers. We're not in worldwide, these numbers will balloon. I can tell you that from my audience alone that I know. So much interest is overseas, as well. But the 10 to 12,000 this year alone, 14,197 films were submitted to Sundance. That's how many isn't it? That's including shorts. Yes. That's including shorts as well. But total was 14,200 basically. And that's insane. Now how many shorts Did you have a shorts number that has to be in the

Ben Yennie 39:59
Yeah. There was a short number, I didn't commit that one to memory though. The so it is a actually the slide, I'm just going to pull it up on the production next blog real quick, you can find this in a lot of the report for free on the production next blog, by the way, which is where I'm going to go now. Um, but the, uh but yeah, the last, we actually measured web series TV episodes, shorts, and we tried to get an estimate of web content. That's one that I'm not super sure of. Because it's such a variable term, depending on where you draw the line, but the total number is

Oh, I'm sorry, I'm I vastly understated the total number of filmmakers it's actually closer to 200,000. Okay, um, but the. And I also understated the indie feature films, we're actually looking more like 18,000 on 18 to 20,000. Okay. A total project is the total number of corporate and industrial movies is around, or films that are made or is around 130,000. Web new media is around 275,000 shorts is around 120,000 and TV episodes, this one is very high level, the margin of error is much higher on this than other places. It's around 55 to 103,000 TV episodes that are made. That's

Alex Ferrari 41:49
That's a lot of content. But the 18,000 feature films really is kind of like scary, because now you are trying to compete every year with 18,000 other feature films, trying to get attention from eyeballs, and trying to get their movie so and how many I would love to know the number how many of those never see the light of day? Like I'm sure there's many,

Ben Yennie 42:15
too, but the Yeah, that is, um, I would love to do this again. Um, this data was originally collected in 2014. So doing is,

Alex Ferrari 42:30
oh, this is five year old that data so then oh my god. So then the numbers have definitely could even be much, much well, are much, much bigger than they are now. Without question. That's insane. Now, how much do filmmakers make generally a year and I love to know, like, what's the average money that they actually can make a year?

Ben Yennie 42:52
specifically from their content? I I'm on the slide now I haven't gotten to it yet. Oh, what do you know? There it is. filmmaking content most people make less than 10,002 thirds of the market makes less than 10,000. From filmmaking. Yep. Um, and the average is somewhere near 20,000. Total. Um, our data skewed a little, a little a little. Young, just because we how we got it. Most of our results came from indie wire data, and there is a little young, but the squirrel. Um, but yeah, the biggest interesting thing is that filmmakers, household income, as opposed to their filmmaking is actually fairly substantially higher than the national average. Um, whereas filmmaking income from filmmaking is very much lowered. So So. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 44:04
so you're saying that people that work in the business have a higher income than, you know, just in general, like, you know, guys who work in post or guys who work on set or, you know, girls who are writing or doing other or doing cinematography or whatever, those those household incomes are, are making more money as opposed to just revenue from the content they create?

Ben Yennie 44:28
No, this is actually more. I would have loved to be able to estimate that metric, but we didn't ask the right questions for it. We had originally planned this as a two part survey, where we did the wide one, which is when we got out now and then did a smaller one that answers more of the questions that you're asking about right now. But unfortunately, we ran we didn't get quite enough of a sample size. To be able to effectively do that it would have been more of a focus group. And I didn't want to publish anything that wasn't bigger than. Yeah. So that was the big thing there. We did get this is not a tiny sample size, though, I think the total number of completed surveys was around 700 or 675. And the total number of started was around 1100. Okay. So the so it's not, it is a representative sample. Um, but the, that's actually approaching the size of most Gallup polls, just as a reference.

Alex Ferrari 45:43
Now, he, let me ask you a question. Does film school matter? According to your metrics, sir.

Ben Yennie 45:54
Yes, in ways I didn't necessarily expect, you're more likely to actually have filmmaking be your primary source of income. If you graduate from film school. If you drop out, you are less likely to get it than having not gone to film school at all. However, you're more likely to have a higher household income, including money from other sources, if you go to a school, besides film school itself. Even if you primarily identify as a filmmaker,

Alex Ferrari 46:27
So then film school, are filmmakers going to film school? More and more? You said, I remember you saying 37% went to film school.

Ben Yennie 46:36
A graduated from film school total went is a different number, because we tracked both on the biggest, where is that metric? Um,

Alex Ferrari 46:50
that's an interesting number I was I wouldn't have expected that as much. I thought that film school would be going down attendance would be going down on film schools in general.

Ben Yennie 47:02
Keep in mind that this is from 2014. This is reporting 14. And I think the real emergence and being able to educate yourself as a filmmaker online has come since then. So that is the thing this report was largely on funded, and I did most of the analysis in my limited spare time. That it took years to get it out. But um, the so that is a Yeah, and most of the time filmmakers did. Yeah, the most startling statistic here is that if you graduated from film school, I'm 58% of the of the respondents primary income was from filmmaking. What Let me read that 58% of respondents took their primary income from filmmaking. And if you dropped out that number is about 30%. And if you do other education, it was about 35%.

Alex Ferrari 48:21
What? Well, obviously, this was taking you so long. 2014. So indie film, hustle didn't come in until 2015. So obviously, all that education for free. Has would have skewed numbers of today, obviously.

Ben Yennie 48:36
Hopefully, yeah. No, yes. No, it is a good Go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 48:47
No, no, you go ahead.

Ben Yennie 48:50
Um, another interesting thing about the economics of being a filmmaker as relates as it relates to going to film school, um, filmmakers who went to film school are more likely to be paid across all departments than those who didn't. Interesting Um, but yeah, as are. And actually, the inverse is largely true for people who went to other forms of education, they're even less likely than to be both active and paid than people who dropped out of film school. However, there are some notable exceptions particularly as producers and just other production members

Alex Ferrari 49:47
Got it then we're talking about in these numbers are for filmmakers, these are directors, these are people who are making content, not cinematographers, not other crew members, not post guy Not first ad none of these kinds of people were talking about these numbers are strictly filmmakers content creators within the film business correct.

Ben Yennie 50:11
Actually, there are a mix of them most the by by, by far the most people who responded identified as producers and directors. However, we do have a surprisingly strong showing from people we labeled camera department, which tended to be cinematographers. As well as people who were kind of trying to rise the ranks through other production and post facilities. So yeah,

Alex Ferrari 50:39
Now how much money is actually spent on indie film projects every year? Do you have that number?

Ben Yennie 50:45
I do. But I have to go back to it on the I have a total market spend for this is specifically for the long tail. The overall last I checked, which I think was around 2014 was around 85 billion domestically, specifically for the film industry. But most of the vast majority of that goes to places like Disney chill Netflix, sure show those but but talking about the long tail. It's around a $6 billion industry of independent feature films. Wow. Um, 5.8, of which about 2.46 are indie feature films, the next biggest chunk is on surprisingly corporate and industrials.

Alex Ferrari 51:41
So 2.5 billion are spent a year on independent film projects. Features features. Yes, and that was again in 2014. So I can only imagine where that number is today. As well, it just gives us a good reference, it gives us a good reference on what's being spent, how is it being spent? How is it being recouped? Someone not man, bad, man, thank you, man for, for giving us those numbers and doing all that hard work. Because I've always wanted to know if a bunch of these numbers and even though they might not be completely totally up to date, it gives you a good good reference point to start from. And just add five years to it. And you can see how much it could actually have blown up since then. Um, now, I want you to also tell me about production next. And what you guys are doing is, you know, with with the platform with the blog, and what you're doing with that's very exciting stuff.

Ben Yennie 52:40
Oh, yeah, production. Next is a project management system specifically for independent film, video. And all the sorts of projects we alluded to here. It's meant to be one place for literally everything in the film industry. And it is a, it has three primary components. The first is all inclusive project management. And by that I mean we do break down strip boards, budgets, call sheet generation, actually, we designed our call sheet, I think really in a really cool way inside, in that you can, with about three clicks, generate a call sheet with all of the information, all of the addresses, sign up some downtime, based on your GPS location, as well as weather by the hour based on your GPS location in about three clicks, and send it all to your to your entire crew that's scheduled to be there in about a day, or with another click. And that's that. And that's a lot of the design philosophy on this, we're trying to make a lot of the things that are kind of tedious and can be made simpler. And we're doing as much as we can from that. On a technological level, and it's completely cloud based. So your entire crew stays up to date, you're always looking at the most recent documents and the most recent information. And that's the project management system. The second system is a company management system. That's what we're calling it. It basically lets you keep track of your real world assets. Because as a filmmaker you acquire props, wardrobe equipment, set dressing, access to locations and large contact list. And we let you keep track of all of those real world assets and then plug them directly into your project while the second conflicts so nothing's ever supposed to be in two places at once across multiple projects. And then the other one is a community feature which We are, which is basically to help you find the stuff you need, but don't have including information from our blogs, including a lot of stuff. We also have groups, I believe you have a group. Alex,

Alex Ferrari 55:14
I do that we have an indie film hustle group there.

Ben Yennie 55:17
Yeah, and we will be and we can put a link to join that in here, I believe, um, and the, so you can just join there. And it's a good way to keep in touch with other people, other filmmakers who have similar interests, as well as post classifieds. Ask questions of people who actually would know the answer, like, if you're asking a financing question you can ask it of executive producers. And if I'm in that group, or that area, there's a good chance to get an answer from me. Um, and the. And you can also do other things like just hold threaded discussions, and even keep up to date with information with basic profile information of other people in the group and other projects in the group. Of course, you don't see the budget or anything like or anything sensitive like that. It's a it's very similar to what you'd find on a project website, or Facebook page.

Alex Ferrari 56:16
Got it. So you got a lot of stuff going on to production next.

Ben Yennie 56:20

Alex Ferrari 56:24
Now, congratulations, I know you've been working on it for years now. And trying to get it up and running. And it's, it's, it's doing well now. So definitely anyone listening or watching, definitely check it out. It is it will help you with your projects and, and, and help you make life a little easier for you as a filmmaker using the service without question. Now, I have a few questions I ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Ben Yennie 56:57
Learn how to produce, even if you want to be a director, even if you want to be a dp, learn how to produce, there is people even people who identify as multiple things, you're much more likely to be successful if you identify as a producer. And I do actually have data to back that up. The so that's the first thing. Second, build your social media presence. Any sort of content driven career these days requires you actually have a community and a social media following if you're going to do it successfully. And finally, learn as much as you can and get your network as big as you can get it you never know how one you never know what contact might pay off. later on down the line. Amen. surprised by it.

Alex Ferrari 57:55
Amen. I mean, look, you did a little podcast. That was an episode 15 three and a half years ago and it's it's still paying off. Now, can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Ben Yennie 58:16
I I feel like it's not cool to say my own book because it's actually did it but it actually really helped grow my career a lot. So aside from that, I'm probably Freakonomics

Alex Ferrari 58:33
A great book, a great documentary to love. Yeah, Doc. I love that Doc, too. Now what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Ben Yennie 58:54
While there's always stuff to be done, I'm working 6070 hours a week consistently is not generally the way to do it. And my wife still has to remind me of that one sometimes

Alex Ferrari 59:10
As good as good wives do, sir, as good wives. Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Ben Yennie 59:20
I'd say a Knight's Tale.

Alex Ferrari 59:28
I love that movie.

Ben Yennie 59:39
Gattaca is also up there

Alex Ferrari 59:41
Another good one

Ben Yennie 59:42
And may be The Princess Bride

Alex Ferrari 59:56
Of course. Great movie. Great movie. Rest in peace William Goldman It was such a great book I'm gonna go no they're great book but a great movie I know where can people find you sir?

Ben Yennie 1:00:10
Ah, easiest is probably through my Facebook page which is either facebook.com/thegorillarap or facebook.com/productionnext and then there's probably also thegorillarep.com and I give away a free film market resource pack through there and you can join production next for free and we can show much away for free there at the at productionnext.com/ifh

Alex Ferrari 1:00:49
Very, very cool brother thanks again man for jumping back on and dropping some knowledge bombs on the tribe today. I truly truly appreciate it and hopefully we won't wait another three and a half years to have you back. Want to thank Ben for coming on and dropping some major knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Thank you. Thank you so so much Ben. If you guys are looking for a good producers rep who's honest and does what he says he's gonna do, definitely check Ben out his information is at the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/318. And guys, thank you for all the tribe members that came out to the sigma workshop that I was on a panel at and kind of came up to me and talk to me about their experiences with indie film hustle with bulletproof screenplay. Thank you guys so much. It was really a joy to meet parts of the tribe. I love talking to the tribe members out in the real world. So thanks for coming out and I really do hope you guys come out to the new filmmakers la screening of on the corner of ego and desire. It will be the last Los Angeles screening for for the foreseeable future. The next time we'll be screening will be a week later at brave maker Film Fest up in the San Fran area and you'll be able to get tickets at the same link at indiefilmhustle.com/screening after the 25th and I'll be going up they're going to be doing panels I'm going to be doing a full blown talk at the courtroom. The courtroom that they actually shot Mrs. Doubtfire in where Robin Williams the late great Robin Williams shot that scene in so I'm going to be there talking about shooting for the mob about how to break through your fears about making your first movie there'll be a book signing as well. And of course a screening of on the corner of ego and desire and that will be the final public screening of on the corner of the ego and desire before I release it on ifH TV on Amazon and all other cool places that it will be available and I cannot wait for the tribe to see this movie. It is so so part of my being and I just want you guys to see it so so bad. And if you haven't already and you haven't heard then you haven't been listening to this podcast but if you haven't heard about my new book shooting for the mob how I almost made a $20 million feature film for the mob. please head over to shootingforthemob.com it takes you straight to the Amazon police take a look at it buy it it is a great companion piece to Robert Rodriguez Rebel Without a crew. And if you have a read it please please please leave a good review on Amazon it means the world to me. So thanks again guys, so much for all your help and support. As always keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.


IFH 303: How to Hire a Producer’s Rep or Sales Agent with Glen Reynolds

Right-click here to download the MP3

Today on the show we have a good friend of mine, producer’s rep Glen Reynolds of Circus Road Films. With 21 years in the indie film biz, he has produced 20 films and sold over 500 films. He founded Circus Road Film in 2006. Glen is also a producer, known for Blood and Bone (2009), Becoming and Conversations with Other Women (2005)

Glen has been around the block and has seen a lot in the indie film space. We met because of my scathing commentary on producer’s reps in one of my very first podcast episode (listen to that episode here).

We get into the weeds on how to hire a producer’s rep and/or sales agent, film festival strategies what to look out for and how to choose the right one for your project. Enjoy my conversation with Glen Reynolds.

Alex Ferrari 2:48
Now, today on the show, we have Glen Reynolds. He is a producer's rep and sales agent. And Glen I've been friends for a while now he's I got I got connected to him by another guest of ours Sebatian Tordas. They're both with circus Road Films. And Glen is one of the good producers reps. If you guys remember, my scathing review of producers reps back when I first started, I think it's episode three or four. Glen and I actually became friends because of that scathing podcast I did against producers reps, because there are a lot of producers reps out there and sales agents that will just steal from you straight up and smile while they take your money. But Glen is definitely not one of those guys. He is one of the good guys he really cares about as filmmakers. He really goes the extra mile. And I wanted to bring them on to kind of get an idea of how you do pick a good sales agent. How did you pick a good producers rep and what they do, how they do it and how it's changed a lot in the last three and a half years since my last producers rep podcast. So this is going to be really eye opening for any anybody out there thinking of using a producer's rep or sales agent to get their movie out there into the marketplace. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Glen Reynolds. I like to welcome the show Glen Reynolds. Man, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to the tribe today.

Glen Reynolds 4:14
Absolutely very happy to be here.

Alex Ferrari 4:15
Now of course Glen is a an amazing producer's rep with Circus Road Films. But he also moonlights as an actor on the side, because he was in my film on the corner of ego desire as a maniacal bartender at the world famous Sundance party that they throw every year. So thank you for your performance sir.

Glen Reynolds 4:36
Yeah I'm very particular I only worked with one director. And that's Alex Ferrari.

Alex Ferrari 4:40
I appreciate that tremendously. Thank you so much. You were fantastic and the parts Sir and and if we do get sold for millions of dollars, it will be strictly on your shoulders.

Glen Reynolds 4:51
No doubt.

Alex Ferrari 4:53
So before we get into a man at first, how did you get into this film business in the first place?

Glen Reynolds 4:59
Well, I I've always been a film freak from, you know, five, six years old, watching Disney movies and whatnot. And that parlayed a little bit into wanting to be an actor in my, in high school and then actually moving to New York to study acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse. I always had an interest in, in theater and movies as an art. And then I kind of did the math, I didn't, I just didn't feel like I was probably good enough to bust ever, you know, bust out to being a waiter. So I decided to go to law school. And I went back to Texas, got my law degree, bout halfway through decided didn't want to be a lawyer, but decided a better finish. And once I got out, I headed out here to interview with various people just try to get in the film business because I was still just, that was, you know, I think I spent more time in law school law school watching movies than actually cracking books. And, and so I fell into a job with an international sales agency. I'm just sitting at a desk, answering phone calls with my law degree in the door. And one thing after another, they didn't really have any buddy, like spearheading acquisition. So I kind of organized that. And then a business affairs person laughed, and I said, Hey, I got a law degree, I can do that. And I started doing that. And they were starting, they were producing a movie here and there. And so I, you know, I started reading scripts and trying to help with production. And so by the end of it, I was kind of do a little bit of everything, then was there for about eight years and worked for another company for two years. And then I decided I wanted to work for myself. And I kind of accumulated these various, you know, skills in terms of legal and aesthetic, and understand understanding the ways of independent film. And that's when I hit hung up my shingle to you know, say, Hey, I'm gonna start trying to help filmmakers get distribution. That's that's the, the long short story of it.

Alex Ferrari 7:22
So you're like Liam Neeson taken you have a certain set of skills?

Glen Reynolds 7:26
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I, precisely, precisely. Yeah. I yeah, I've always been kind of, you know, interested in doing lots of different things more than being, you know, specifically interested in, in, in producing or, or, or selling or acquiring or so I've always kind of been entrepreneurial, even when I worked for other people. And I've always, even when I worked for international sales agencies, I always felt like, I had more of a filmmaker perspective on things than a sales agent perspective on things always felt for them, when they weren't making the money. They didn't, they didn't make and always felt like I was going to bat for them internally in terms of what they were hoping for, in terms of marketing and publicity and, and transparency and things like that. So yeah, it just was kind of, I just kind of was a natural fit to, to, to lead me to something that, you know, kind of incorporate different parts of my, my personality.

Alex Ferrari 8:38
Yeah, you have you do you you have a lot of hats, you wear a lot of hats. It's not just one thing. You've produced features, you work in distributions, you work with festivals, you, you do a lot of and you act, of course, on the side just for me. You do? You are you're a hybrid without question.

Glen Reynolds 8:56
Yeah, it's, um, you know, I think it's what's kept me kind of in the business and doing, you know, surviving through, you know, what's been, you know, at one point, when I first got in the business, independent film business was, was gangbusters. And there was, you know, cable channels around the world that want to indie films and, and, and, and DVD and blockbuster type stores around the world that wanted films and since all that's kind of declined, I think it's, it's helped that I kind of can do a few different things to you know, keep the keep the chum rolling, as they say.

Alex Ferrari 9:35
So then you are arguably a producer's rep, not arguably You are a producer's rep

Glen Reynolds 9:40
Yeah, it's um it's kind of a you know, it's a bit of a misnomer, I think because you know, you don't not really representing a producer per se as you are trying to help place the film, in distribution. You're trying to help sell it per se or license it and but what goes along with that kind of you know, they're, they're, they're different kinds of so called producer route. There are some people who just purely have got a sense of the business and learn who buys films and, and looks for films and tries to sell them, I have a little bit of an advantage in that I've got a legal background. So I, you know, arguably can look at a contract a little bit more closely than then some other producer reps. But then I also compete with people who are sales agents, who, who do the same thing?

Alex Ferrari 10:33
Yeah, what is the difference? What's the difference between a producer's rep and the sales agent?

Glen Reynolds 10:36
Well, most, you know, the way I the way I would look at as most sales agents, when they represent themselves as sales agents, are really take taking over a film per se, and probably do an international, right, go into the markets, the Mercedes element can and the AFM and the European film market and the MIPCOM of TVs, and they have a booth and they meet with distributors from around the world every 30 minutes, and show the movies and sell to them. And to do that they really have to kind of take over. So they're kind of a quasi distributor in that you deliver as the filmmaker, you deliver the film to them, they then go and make the contracts directly between themselves and the distributors overseas. Those distributors pay and are delivered by the producer, I Sorry, sorry, with the international sales agent. And then that sells agent reports to the producer on a quarterly basis, just like a distributor says and pays them.

Alex Ferrari 11:47
So it seems like it's almost like a another middleman in between you. And a distributor

Glen Reynolds 11:52
It's definitely a different kind of middleman. And it's in a way, if you have a film that's worth it, that's a that has an international sales agent, you almost need one, unless you really want to be one yourself, right? Because as an international sales agent, you have to stay on top of who are all the different distributors in the various territories where the contracts look like you have to there's, you know, there's different ways films are delivered to those, those countries and those those platforms around the world. So it's a bit of a I mean, things are changing a lot because there's less opportunity in an international world for true indie films. And a lot of people are taking worldwide deals and just doing digital that that goes across different territories. But if you, but if you just if you just go buy what they do for films that have value in that market, it's just that you need someone that does it, that gets their teeth, you know, sunk in a little bit deeper than what I have to do at the end of the day. I'm just as a producer Rep. I think producer rep is somebody who specializes in selling films to the US market. And in order to do that, I don't have to be the middleman that actually collects the money, and then reports to a filmmaker, I can just set up that deal directly. And then the filmmaker can pay me my share, as they get it. You just don't need someone to think that you don't need someone to to deliver you don't need someone to do all the things you have to do to sell till the international sell territories. Now sometimes those international sales agents also sell the US. So they they do the same thing we do, but they go about it a bit differently. In terms of how I handle it

Alex Ferrari 13:39
Now I early on, which is a funny story because we You and I have met through a mutual friend of ours Sebastian Torres, who has been on the show and I've co hosted things with at Sundance. And originally when I first launched indie film, hustle, I did a scathing podcast, scathing podcast on producers reps, because I was screwed by someone who she will remain nameless. But you know she is. And everybody in the business does. And so I'm in good company, where I was basically taken for a lot of money. And a lot of promises were made and all this kind of stuff. So there was there are a lot of those kind of shysters out there. The reason I brought you on the show is because I know you I've known you for a while. And I know what you guys do at circus road, and you're one of the good ones, without question. So that's why I brought you on the show. But what should we look out for with some of these? Let's call les reparable. Producers reps.

Glen Reynolds 14:43
Well, there's, there's your story is not a solo one. Right. There's there. Definitely lots of people that have had really bad experiences with producer reps and sales agents that are just Not honorable. And the main way to find out whether or not someone is is good at what they do and does what they're going to set it does, what they say they're going to do is to go through IMDb and look up the films that they've sold. And where where they've placed them. If they've actually had films that fox or Sony or Warner Brothers or Magnolia or whatever, and to call and if they can email or call those filmmakers and find out what their experience was. Now, everybody has people that don't like them. I've been pleased 100% of my filmmakers by far, and at the end of the day, if a film doesn't do as well as they expect, you know, it's it's a lot easier to blame the distributor and the sales agent and to look at your own film and think, well, it just didn't quite work. But you at least can, if you do enough of them. I wouldn't stop with one. You know, if you can look at how long they've been in the film business. Look at the film, do you like the films that they've sold? Do you know they're eight to 10? people that say, Yeah, they're, you know, they do what they say they're gonna do. That's the, you know, that's the mean, good. Always just call me and I can tell you. It's good. But I I'm a little bit biased. So it's definitely good for people to do their own homework.

Alex Ferrari 16:29
Yeah, without question. I've actually have gotten phone calls about that other producers rap over the years. people asking me about her and I would be, I would be honest. I would say Run,run, run.

Glen Reynolds 16:40
Oh, yeah. Yeah, no, there's there and they're still, um, I don't know if she's still in the biz, because I've heard her name in a while. So

Alex Ferrari 16:49
I'll tell you a quick story about her. And and then we will move on. I saw her at AFM. Last year, I went into my international distributors office and the the other distributor that was being shared, sharing that office with she was sitting right there. I'm like, Oh, my goodness. She wasn't the distributor, but she was meeting with the distributor. And I'm like, I can't build I can no effing way. Do you just tell I didn't say I didn't say I didn't say a word. I didn't want there to be a scene. Yeah. But it was I could not believe that she was still bumping around after all the damage she's done over the years. But anyway, enough about her.

Glen Reynolds 17:34
There are you know, the thing, here's the thing there are there besides me. And I'm biased about me. There are good options. Sure. There are people that do it properly. You know, it's just a matter of just finding the right fit at the end of the day. And there's also other you know, either you've had other podcasts about all the different options, there are these days, too. So it's not that every film is right for a producer rep too

Alex Ferrari 18:00
Yeah, that's another thing I wanted to ask you. So like, Yeah, because this specific kind of films because that go to a producer's Rep. There are films that just don't need it. So like someone like someone like me, who's been around the business, I've sold a few films I've known I know a lot. I might not need my handheld nearly as much by someone like you right away. I mean, I could consult you and talk to you, of course, I don't know everything. But I'm a little bit more savvy than your general filmmaker. But as opposed to someone who's like living in Kansas, has never sold a movie they just finished doing their first feature, it probably would benefit them to hire someone like you.

Glen Reynolds 18:38
Yeah, I think you know, I think definitely In the latter case. The other case, I'll say is I do have producers, I've worked with three to four times that come back to me to do what I do. Sure. And they have learned a thing or two over time, but it's more of a personality thing. Like you're just not that curious about it. You're You're a curious bird.

Alex Ferrari 18:59
Strange bird sir.

Glen Reynolds 19:01
Exploring all the different angles of this business, right? So, you know, it kind of goes to sell the whole self distribution thing to like people who, if you're going to self distribute, it shouldn't be in your bones. You know, I mean, it should be something that you're like, wow, I really want to do this. I have the right kind of film for it. And I know I can accomplish it. You know, you really have to have that. You know, I've had some filmmakers who, you know, when they when they're poking around producer reps or sales agents, they asked me, you know, well, should I do you think I should just self distribute? Like, you know, if you have to ask me, you probably shouldn't you should know you have to, in order to self distribute, because it's, it's time consuming. You have to have a passion for it, you know, and you have to have the right kind of thing. I mean, there's a lot of things we see that most of the films we see are right for self distribution, because they're not. There's no niche for it.

Alex Ferrari 19:57
And you would agree that I always tell people the same thing. Like if you Going to self distribute a has to be really niche, like so niche that you can target that audience abroad comedy self distribution, you're dead, you just not

Glen Reynolds 20:09
Yeah, pretty much I mean, if you don't have, you know, broad comedy without an alias name and without, you know, a million dollars in the bank to do your own PNA fund or something, and even then, even then, you know, the, you know, betting on one film is a is not a great investment idea. You know, distributors, pay play a, you know, winners pay for losers game in terms of the takeout 20 films and three or four work to pay for all the other stuff. And so better, you know, even betting on one film as a filmmaker, you know, even if you have the money is, is, you know, borderline crazy.

Alex Ferrari 20:55
But we all are a little bit. That's why we're here. Exactly. Another. I mean, that's a very good point. I mean, I mean, I could I do self distributor, my first film, this is Meg. But then I still went with international distributor for international sales. And I did wrap around REITs, and write all that kind of stuff afterwards. But it made sense. Because I had an audience, I was bringing them along for the process, all that stuff, it was a very low budget, I crowdfunded it, it all made sense. And it's something that I do I know, marketing, I know this, I can hit my audience, all that stuff. But you know, I had somebody come up to me the other day was like, Hey, I have I have a 250 $200,000 movie, and I'm thinking of self distributing, we're really savvy marketing, I'm like, but you kind of broad comedy man. Like, I don't care how good you are, it's gonna be tough to penetrate the audience and to get an ROI back, even if you throw 60 grand at it, and marketing to get an ROI. That's, I mean, that's gonna be

Glen Reynolds 21:55
Yeah, it's, it's really kind of good, you know, bad money after bad point, you know, it's, you know, if you have that kind of film, um, either you've, you've struck the right chord, and you're going to get the great festival in be one of 10 to 20% of the movies at that festival that sells, and there's three or four of those in terms of festivals, or your party, probably, you know, you're most likely you're ending up with a good distributor that maybe has the, you know, might do a little theatrical, just prop it up, and you see, you know, one to 10 City type things out there, trying to help, you know, push the value, or it's gonna be a company that is purely going to give it the digital treatment, and try to get it on cable, you know, and I mean, any making on iTunes, so that's, you know, they would do that, but those kind of companies also tried to, you know, brought it out to cable VOD, and then try to package to Netflix and Showtime and companies like that later. Which gives, you know, a bit of a shot. But the revenues is most of the time pretty new. You know, it's, it's, it's, it's distribution. And so you can say here I've been distributed and Lottie da but mostly you're having to use it for pitching your next movie, you know, right and not if you're sitting around waiting for the money to come in. So you can finance your next movie,

Alex Ferrari 23:31
You'll be waiting for a while.

Glen Reynolds 23:32
You'll be waiting.

Alex Ferrari 23:33
It's not the 9 it's not 90s it's not the 90s anymore.

Glen Reynolds 23:36
Yeah, exactly exactly.

Alex Ferrari 23:39
In the 90s I mean, there was so much money flowing around it for independent film and for via DVDs. I mean, not as not as bad because I remember in the 80s literally if you just made a movie in the 80s it got distributed you could get a 35 millimeter film made even there was a dish you made money with it. Almost

Glen Reynolds 23:58
Yeah, no it was crazy you know, Walmart Walmart bought movies and in massive amounts and and sold them it was you know, you know, South Korea paid $100,000 if you just ran around your backyard with your with your you know, 16 millimeter camera.

Alex Ferrari 24:17
Oh my god, can you imagine catchup? That's nice. That's insane. So now you also are an advocate for filmmakers at film festivals. Can you tell me what avocation for film festivals is and what you the truth about because a lot of people have a lot of people think they'd like look I if anyone ever tells you and I think you might agree with me. I can definitely get you into Sundance. Oh, I can definitely get you to slam

Glen Reynolds 24:44
used to be an agent at the remain nameless at an agency that will remain nameless used to tell people I have three slots at Sundance. Yeah, that was just letting them have three slots. He just walked in and put whatever movies he Want it? Can you imagine? Yeah. Know what all what it mostly is, is helping put a film on our radar? Over the years by selling movies and being at festivals, we've gotten to know a lot of the programmers at the big ones and medium sized ones and not so much the smaller ones. But you know, the ones that have some kind of value for a film niche or something like

Alex Ferrari 25:28
that. Yeah.

Glen Reynolds 25:28
And yeah, and. And so since we've gotten to know them, we're chummy and can get them on the phone to say, Hey, you know, you should take a look at this movie. And all that really does is get a film it stay in court at the end of the day. Because the reality is that they say they watch all 10,000 movies that were submitted, but there's absolutely no way they can. And that doesn't mean that maybe some intern watched, you know, maybe an army of interns and junior programmers watched it, but didn't have the bump, you know, then it has to, they have to like it has to bubble up to someone else who likes it. And what we can do is just make sure that someone who has a true voice at the festival watches the movie is I you know, it's not so much that we we certainly pitch it a little bit and tried to say why we think it's great. What's so unique about it, or why it's good for their festival. But truly the you know, it's going to be their experience watching the movie that determines whether they take it or not. It's not what is the same with selling movies, right? Like I can't, I can't convince my wife that a movie I just liked and she hates is good as a good movie. Right? It's It's, it's, it's really 95% plus them, watching it and liking it. And then it being likable enough that it rises to the top, and whatever internal politics that that festival has, in terms of them fighting over, like what films get accept,

Alex Ferrari 27:10
Can you talk a little bit about those internal politics because I mean, I would love to get a little bit more of an insight from your point of view, at least an inside look at some of these festivals, because as we talked about, right before we got on the phone, before we got on the call was that, you know, of course on the corner of ego and desire was rejected from Sundance as 14,000 other films this year, got rejected from Sundance. And, and, and I still argue as like, as, as perfectly as a film could be set up to be at the Sundance Film Festival, a love letter to the Sundance Film Festival, right. filmmakers I you know, I don't know what else I could have. I could I don't know what else give me a midnight slot, just give me something. But it didn't it didn't happen for me. And that's fine. But there's a lot of things that go on behind the scenes. And can you talk a little bit about that? So people who are listening? Don't feel so bad, the 14,000 of us didn't make?

Glen Reynolds 28:04
Well, the one thing you hear people say is like, Oh, well, it's political. Yeah, right. Right. You know, the big guys get their films in and, you know, I, I don't know that that's really true. I've known some pretty big wigs that got pissed off because their film didn't get in. And maybe some other film that they is part of their library got in and they're pissed off, it was about filming another song. I think that, you know, programmers are human beings that have their own subjective take on things and are watch a lot of movies, and then have to discuss them with their, the other people in there. And they're going to debate and go round and round. In some places. It's it's different. Like there are some festivals where it's, it's truly a gala, terian. And there's 10 people that kind of get in a room, and they all vote on movies, or give us give scores on movies, and then ones with the best scores rise to the top and then they vote. There's some where it's kind of top down, right? Where there's a grand Pooh bah. And that person is really going to kind of get presented to him or her. The the, you know, the best of the best of the films, and then they're going to kind of say yes or no to what's been selected. So kind of depends on the film festival a little bit. And the reality is just like it's 14,000 movies, right?

Alex Ferrari 29:35
It was 14,200 movies this year.

Glen Reynolds 29:37
My God is that so many movies, I mean, you could wind it down a bit that it's, you know, a narrative feature film because some there's some shorts or some docks or some international still, but still it's been a while. Okay, we've whittled it down to maybe three or 4000 movies. Right? And that's just a lot of movies, and there's ended up being maybe 10 slots for your kind of movie right? So a lot of us and say it again,

Alex Ferrari 30:03
It's a lottery ticket.

Glen Reynolds 30:04
It is a lottery. It's totally a lottery ticket. But the problem is that everybody's like, well, what's the other? what's the alternative? If you're talking about just traditional distribution and not self distribution, you know, that's the only place where you really grab the brass ring as a true nd. Right? Now, I'm not talking about films that have names in them, that they're financed by international sales companies, and they kind of, you know, there's a different game being played there. But just talking about true indie films made with your money, or your family's money, or dentist money or whatever. You know, that's, that's the only place where you're going to get that, especially if you made a real indie film. No, the massive caveat to that is, you know, I do you know, indie filmmakers that put together you know, if it's a horror film, and it has a great art rd angle to it, and you get some neat, you know, maybe it's on a marquee name, but it's a meaningful name to the community. You know, there's, there's a market there for that, if you make a family movie with a dog, and, and you have the right kind of music, and in a certain level of cast, there's a market for it. Without that human, both of those kind of movies are not made for Sundance or south by right, there's a market for those still, it's a small market. So you still, you know, you have to make the move those kind of movies for under 200 grand to hopefully, you know, recoup and you in there, and you still can in those genres, but you still have to do everything pretty right, and be with the right distributor and get the right kind of deal, etc, etc. But, you know, for for, for your film that goes to this really met, like, you know, that's a drama, or a dramatic thriller, or, or comedy or rom com, or, or some kind of other artistic genre. Um, you know, you're not going to get a big deal. Unless you're in a situation where, you know, distributors sometimes make mistakes, which are the major festivals, because the reality too is, you know, at Sundance, I don't know what the percentage is. But let's say, you know, 20% of the narrative features get a great deal, or they have a big advance, and a PMA commitment. You know, not all those movies are going to even do well.

Alex Ferrari 32:41
Oh, Rahman. What was it a slate was a slave of a nation or what was that movie? Yeah. 1212 years? No, no, that's what he was like the other night? Yeah, you're talking about? Yeah, it was about the slaver. Yeah, God, they'd sold for like $12 million, or $15 million.

Glen Reynolds 32:55
And then they had a controversy and it's died, you know, they died. It died. Yeah. And but for even that, like that, and you know, like, so there's whiplash, right, which has the great story of making the short and when they sold the feature, and then it did great. And now he has a career. But that's just one movie of the movies that were acquired out of that crop of films. In Sundance, there are probably 10 others that got similar kind of deals that we don't remember, you know, and where the filmmakers because the film doesn't work, like whiplash don't really have careers. Even with Sundance success, oh,

Alex Ferrari 33:41
I mean, I was involved with the movie, in 2010, that won two awards at Sundance. And she couldn't get it sold. I mean, and she made it for about 100,000, no caste, drama, quirky drama, that she was able to eventually make her money back selling, you know, airline rights and Sundance put it on the Sundance Channel, and she got some money there. And Sundance kind of helped her. But overall, though, it was not a it was it was just, it was regardless if with Sundance or not. It just couldn't make money. It just wasn't. that's a that's a years ago.

Glen Reynolds 34:16
Yeah. Which is a lot more rosy than today. Yes, that kind of movie. Yep, too. So it's, you know, try not, maybe I should get off of being debbie downer. But

Alex Ferrari 34:33
It's just a reality. This is the reality of what we deal with. I mean, there are rah rah rah times and there's other times that we need to hear the truth and that's why I bring guests like you on and we will talk about happy stuff in a minute, but but unfortunately, this is the truth of the matter. I mean, in PDF, don't you love people who I've had I've had filmmakers talk to Ed literally had this conversation with the filmmaker. The other day, I'm like, what's your distribution plan for your $150,000 feature film Oh, I'm submitting it to Sundance. That is the whole that was the end all be all that was the end of the conversation. I'm like, What do you mean? Like, what we're gonna get into Sundance, and then we'll get a deal? And then, you know, I'm like, Are you kidding me?

Glen Reynolds 35:16
Yeah, I mean, and that's, you know, that's okay. If you went to your investor and said, Hey, we're probably throwing all your money away. Yes, exactly. Right. I mean, and certainly there are people that don't mind that, that that's they just want to support you, as a filmmaker, they love the idea, or they, there's a cause behind it, or something that they've Okay, this is represents less than 1% of my my income a year, you know, I've got it, so why not spend it and I want to be in the film business, you know, shorter that almost every representation of making money off of film should be the look, we're probably pissing it away. And the hard part too, though, also about like, you know, the, I've had people even that, that know that they should probably try to raise some money, along with their production budget, to help distribute it right to market it in case it doesn't get Sundance or south by or something like that. The problem is, is that this that's the first thing to go when they don't raise enough money, all the money. Right? Right. And, and that's almost always happens, because you never raise everything that you hope you could for a movie. And so a lot of times, it's like, okay, we're just going to go ahead and make the movie regardless. So even I've had lots of people that knew that they should do that, but they just don't, you know, it's just hard to raise every dollar you you think you need. And, and then things happened in production to like, you know, like, you know, oh, well, that's gonna cost a lot more than we thought. You know,

Alex Ferrari 36:52
What do you what do you mean? The I have to, I'm creating an entire hobbit village. In post? What do you mean? $5,000 is it's usually marketing money, then the next thing that gets cut off his color grading sound, almost all the posts are getting dwindled down to like, well, I'll just edit it on my laptop and a guitar in the back. I'll show my guitar in the background. And, and I need a 4k DCP with that. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Right. It's just the it's just, it's, it's sad. It's sad. But that's what that's what I'm trying to help with. With indie film, hustle. I'm trying to get the information out there. So people don't make these mistakes, the mistakes that I've made and mistakes that my guests have heard, or made themselves in, yeah,

Glen Reynolds 37:42
No, it's Um, no, I've watched a lot of your videos. It's, it's, I wish everybody knew about it. You know, that was it's almost that like, once they graduate from film school, they should all have to sit down and watch hours and hours of indie film. Because that's the real education at the end of the day beyond knowing, you know, where the, you know,

Alex Ferrari 38:05
What the 180 degree with the 180 degree is, and that rule of thirds is, yeah, exactly. Once they know that, and they know how to wrap a cable and make a good cup of coffee, they actually need to know how the business

Glen Reynolds 38:16
That's right. You know, you know, the history of the French New Wave cinema,

Alex Ferrari 38:22
Which is fantastic. And I loved it. I loved watching it, but that does not help me with distribution today. Totally. Now, speaking of distribution, what is hybrid and theatrical distribution? Because I know you guys help with that as well.

Glen Reynolds 38:36
Yes, so um, what hybrid usually is the hybrid just means you're doing traditional and self distribution together in some way. And that can mean a lot of different things. So sometimes, I've had a few filmmakers who got traditional distribution in terms of a distributor taking the film out to the various digital platforms, try you know, running with the blu ray trying to sell Showtime and other other platforms downstream. And then the filmmaker will go off and do their own theatrical to try to support that that's one version of hybrid distribution. Another version that I used to see more often was and I see less often today is selling your own blu ray or DVDs in at the same time that your your distributors doing it their way. I think that's just dropped off because less people watch films that way. So I have less filmmakers wanting to try that. At and that is hybrid could also just mean though, that your ghost you have a distributor and maybe they're they've got an in house person assist, who's working that angle, but they're not really spending anything on Facebook ads, or something that you feel like would help the cause. And so you can coordinate with them in that way, or it could be the reverse. They're going to spend some money on some ads in some way, but they don't really have any publicist. So you hire someone, or try to do some publicity yourself at the same time. So those are the different kinds of hybrid distribution deals that we've, you know, helped contractually, pull off for people if that was there, if that was their inclination.

Alex Ferrari 40:34
Now, you've mentioned a lot about the digital platforms like s VOD t VOD, a VOD, what do you feeling? What is your feeling today for independent filmmakers actually being able to recoup money? through those platforms, whether as self distribution or even in traditional distribution? What are the differences between the two? Because at the end of the day, you know, we can get our film up on iTunes tomorrow. And if you go with a distributor, they can get their their film on iTunes tomorrow. What is the big difference between the two? Like, why would I give 20% or 3040 50%, depending on the deal is to a distributor, if I'm going to do this marketing, I'm going to push it what's the point with it? Tell me what your feeling is?

Glen Reynolds 41:15
Totally, totally. Yeah, I mean, there are definitely scenarios where you shouldn't give it to a traditional distributor, if if all they're going to do is put it on iTunes. That makes no sense. And there are some distributors out there that say, Hey, we're gonna do all this stuff. And they just don't, they purely just put it on iTunes. And they're taking 20 or 30%, just for doing that. And recouping ridiculous costs,

Alex Ferrari 41:42
And then holding it for seven holding it hostage for seven years. Yeah.

Glen Reynolds 41:45
So there's all sorts of scenarios that you should avoid and not do. And that self distribution would be a better than than doing, you know, it traditionally with somebody else. The reason to go with the traditional distributor, there's, there's several reasons that can be combined together, any one of which might make someone do it. So one is, if you are completely out of money, and a distributor will at least do the encoding. I mean, I mean, you have $0, and they will do the encoding, and perhaps they'll pay for the insurance. And maybe there's a couple other costs that you just don't have, then, you know, giving away 20% for what can be five to 10 grand and costs might be valuable to you, because that's where you are. And at the end of the day, if you're thinking of, well, I'll just put on my credit card, and I'll just get up on platforms don't have any more money left didn't support it, or the time and effort to support it, you're just throwing away more money. So you might as well have them throw away the money. The other the Secondly, there are some distributors, that you have the muscle to get better placement in the digital hemisphere than others. That doesn't mean that if you self distribute, you won't get good placement, because that has happened. But it's also possible that you don't. And what's hard about it, it's also possible to be with a big studio, and the placement not end up being great, either. It's not a guarantee. But over time and looking at this stuff. We see that in general, there are some companies that just get better placement over time, even further indie films than others. And so when we're going out to distributors, and we're getting the offers that part of the Intel that we're able to share with our filmmakers, hey, here's, you know, how they have positioned their films in the past and how they made more money than you probably would with this other distributor. In addition, there are some distributors that that do marketing. Now, for films that are just a digital release, that could be as limited as having an in house publicist and or paying for some Facebook ads. And so, you know, again, if you don't have the money for a publicist, and you don't have the money for buying Facebook ads, and you don't think that the company making the offer to you can get better position that you can through an aggregator then and you don't and you don't have any money, it's probably best to go with the distributor. And then up from there. The The hard thing too though, is it's always You know, you always have to be, whenever we're advising about this, it always gets more granular and specific, because we're talking about particular companies and what they do. And none of these companies are the same in their strategies in their relationships, sure, in their practices and their ethics in their contracts. So it's not, it's just not that cookie cutter. And, and so and they're always changing over time. So we're constantly having to, like, re look at them every month. What are they doing now? You know, and what did they do last month for that film?

Alex Ferrari 45:37
Well, we'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Glen Reynolds 45:48
So, and certainly, you can't just go off of what they tell you they're going to do. You have to look at their past practices to see what they did. And find out from filmmakers what they did, to see if they actually did these things. Like, you know, because some people say like, Oh, yeah, we're gonna do a whole social media thing. Okay. What that ends up meaning is that they put it on their Facebook page, right? The movie? And they did. That's it,

Alex Ferrari 46:17
Which has, which has 500, which has 500 followers?

Glen Reynolds 46:20
Yeah. And when did they even see it? No, of course not. Because unless them up in their thing. So you have to, you know, you have to know how to talk to these people and see what they've actually done. Did they actually buy Facebook ads? I mean, did they actually do a targeted campaign to the demographic for that film? Now, the jump up from there now, for that digital type play. You know, if someone's saying they're gonna spend $100,000 to market your, your digital only movie, right? Then they're lying. Right? No one spends that amount of money to market a digital only movie. Correct? If that's what your statement looks like, it's, it's incorrect. So the jump from someone spending, you know, 1000s, not hundreds of 1000s. But 1000s of dollars on publicity and marketing to a bigger level is if it's theatrical, not that every theatrical is big, but, or even going for box office. But that's the only time you ever see a truly robust marketing spend, is if they're trying to support a theatrical of a certain size. And then that, of course, is where it's kind of obvious that, to me, at least, that you know, if you have someone wanting your film at that level, you just got to you got it hope get the best terms you can and hope that they can do it properly. And then beats all the other films because you doing that is not going to be even close to the same. So yeah, in a nutshell, that's that's the difference.

Alex Ferrari 48:14
That's the difference. That is a nutshell. There's a very large nutshell. Without question no, without what I mean, it's it's true. A lot of the stuff you just said, you know, is such inside information that only like you and I sitting down at Sundance silver drink my talk about, and it's generally stuff that people talk about outside. So thank you for, for sharing that. Oh, yeah, no, absolutely. It there's, I mean, there's so much, there's so many shady deals, there's so many, you know, there's much more shady than are reputable, and all parts of our business. I think, from my experience, at least, there are really good companies out there really good distribution companies out there who have really good ethics. But I think you might agree with me that there's probably a lot more that don't. And we have to be careful.

Glen Reynolds 49:04
Yeah, it's, you know, it's, um, you know, it's, it's, I don't know if I know if I can quantify it, though, because I don't, I don't run into it very much, you know, when we, most of the films we take on are referred to us. And and so we're don't find yourselves like competing per se, like, Oh, well, are we going to get it? Or is, you know, this other company going to get it? Sometimes we find that after the fact that someone went with a criminal, and we just shake our heads, but we're just moving on to another film and trying to, you know, work with other filmmakers. So, it's actually kind of hard for me to, to gauge like how much how much is criminal and how much is, is real. And Part two is like, you know, truly, it's hard for even the people who do it legitimately And quite often, even legitimate companies get blamed for what happens. And

Alex Ferrari 50:07
Yeah, like you said,

Glen Reynolds 50:08
Early days is the hard business. It's just a really hard business to make to turn a film into, you know, something that makes money. It's just very, very hard.

Alex Ferrari 50:18
Why do we do it, man? Why are we here? I mean, I don't understand what like, I mean, you're, you're I mean, you've also produced a lot of films over the years as well. So you, you are not just a producer's rap, you also do many other things. But at the end of the day, like, why, why do we do this to ourselves?

Glen Reynolds 50:35
Well, I think if we hadn't grown up when we grew up when we grew up, right? I mean, I say that, but then there are people coming out of college now want to be filmmakers. And maybe it's a smaller slice of the population than it was when we were young. But it still happens.

Alex Ferrari 50:54
Oh, I think it's a larger thing. It's a much larger size.

Glen Reynolds 50:57
I think. I think there's more people because there's more people. But I think there are more like more people are like, there weren't people wanting to get in and make games when we were when at least when I was young.

Alex Ferrari 51:07
No, of course,

Glen Reynolds 51:08
You don't need there weren't people wanting to be games, you know, developing games, there's, there's a lot, you know, or other kinds of media and media, right? So I don't have any numbers. I just my instinct is that the his percentage is smaller. It's like in the 50s. The big thing was to be an author. You know what I mean? Right? Like, and the authors were kind of rock stars. And then in the 70s, and 80s, and maybe 90s, his makers were were rock stars. And I don't know who I mean, now YouTube stars. Yes. The rock stars. So it's just a different. It's a different worlds, I think we're a smaller slice of the population. But it's still a heavy number. There's still a lot of people who grew up loving movies and wanting to be a part of it in some way. And oh, look, that film, you know, whiplash, or whatever, they made a movie, I can make a movie, you know,We all have that feeling

Alex Ferrari 52:01
Isn't it? Do it. Isn't it amazing, though, that that one of the few people have art forms. I mean, I would assume books as well as being an author, but it's like you watch a movie. And you say, Hey, I can do that. Or you read a book and you're like, Hey, I could write a book. But you never see, like, I heard a Mozart, I can write a symphony. Like, did you stop there is like, yeah, like, I've walked into a building, I think I can build one. Like, there's not those conversations, but for whatever for reason. Our art form, specifically anyone who watches a movie, because we've seen it so many times. Like, I've seen so many movies, I'm sure I can make a bit I can make a movie, that's good.

Glen Reynolds 52:43
Absolutely. And the means to get there has gotten easier to write, we can make it on our phone now and edit it on our computer. So the access is it is a lot simpler just to do you know, just do that. So, you know, I get movies all the time. You know, we can people refer to as the movies that just literally they made on the, with their phone or something. And they, you know, the acting is terrible. And the lighting is terrible. No stories, like whatever. And, and so, you know, that's that's definitely the bottom of the barrel. There's all different levels of bad. There's an ocean of awful out there, but it's you know, the thing is, it's all subjective the day and, you know, when I made shorts with my brother, when I was 13, I thought they were amazing.

Alex Ferrari 53:39
Oh, listen, when I was when I was growing up at the video store, I thought john Claude Van Damme was the greatest actor of all time. So, you know, times change.

Glen Reynolds 53:49
And, and, and yeah, so I think I partly that is, like, if you can accomplish at least something, and that makes you feel like it's possible. Whereas like, you know, programming a game, I you know, I can't even know the first thing about programming anything,

Alex Ferrari 54:07
I can't even think about

Glen Reynolds 54:09
It's not there unless you go and really study it and learn it.

Alex Ferrari 54:12
Absolutely. Now, what when you guys are taking on films, what do you look for in a film to actually take it on as a client?

Glen Reynolds 54:20
I, you know, it's it's different things. It's certainly like the bottom line, we have to feel like there's a place for it. Right? We have to feel like there's a you know, what we that were the appropriate company for the movie and that there's a whether it's a, you know, a whether it's theatrical, or it's a company that does a little bit more than just place it on a platform, we have to feel like we add value that way. So that's number one. Number two, um, I got to like the movie to certain degree. I don't have to think it's, you know, Gone with the Wind. But I have to pitch it, you know, to distributors, and and share with distributors. And they have to I have to hope that they'll call me back over time,

Alex Ferrari 55:10
Right! Because if you take a crappy film, you say this is fantastic didn't never take your call.

Glen Reynolds 55:14
And certainly I've also had films that we thought, well, this is, this is not for the top tier theatrical distributors. But it could go to a good digital distributor. And as long as the filmmaker understands that, that's what we're going to try. And that's where we think you can go, then we can help them. But we certainly have turned down films where we turn on lots of films, because they're not very good. And we turn out we have also turned out films because they think that they're going to get, you know, Fox Searchlight, put it on 400 screens? Sure, you know, and they're just totally delusional. They may even have a good movie, but that's just not going to happen for them.

Alex Ferrari 55:57
Let's see, we could do a whole episode on delusional filmmakers. Yes. Good. Oh, my God, that the stories, I've heard the things I've seen. And listen, I was a delusional filmmaker when I was coming up, but but we all have, you have to be a certain level of delusion, and crazy to do what we do. Absolutely. But there is that the reality wall that sets in and like, you know, I just spent a million dollars on a film with no star shot and black and white. That is shape of water meets et with Transformers drizzled on top. Which is the movie that by the way, that is the movie that my actors, or my cast was trying to pitch in the movie ego and desire. That's the exact pitch for it. I don't think you've ever heard that pitch. No, I don't think so. Mostly in black and white, mostly a little bit in slow mo. And it's like a mixture between like a Truffaut and a Criterion Collection.

Glen Reynolds 56:52
Yes. Sounds delicious. I, you know, it was hard. What's hard, though, to what's what's harder than that, though? Is the film that you like, okay, yeah, this could get a little distributor to do something little for them. And they don't want to self distribute. And maybe they'll put it on one screen. Or maybe it's just a really good release, and they'll sell it to Showtime or Netflix or somebody later, it's got a chance, but they just don't they just think it's more than that. They think it's a little bit more than that. And it's in what's hard is I want the film. But you can't, you know, just can't go there in terms of like saying, like, you know, yeah, you've got, you've got a chance. And that's, and I think that you know, going back to are you talking about cheesy producer reps that are out there, that are some little just blow the smoke up the butt. Because at the end of the day, when it does not work, there's still going to be on the film as the producer wrap, and get to make the deal regardless. And we've lost films over being honest with people about what the chances are. And that's what makes it you know, even more hard to you know, when, to your question of like, what we what we see in the movie, it's, it's, it's thinking there's a place, it's digging it. And it's also like, feeling out the filmmaker to make sure they're just in the right frame of mind. You know, you have to you have to check their expectations,

Alex Ferrari 58:26
Because it

Glen Reynolds 58:27
Absolutely, you know, because if they, if they think that it's definitely gonna be on Netflix, for you know, his original content,

Alex Ferrari 58:37
And at least a 250,000 what they bought, yeah, $250,000 buy? Yeah,

Glen Reynolds 58:42
It's just, you know, it's not, it's just not, they're not doing that anymore. And so it's funny, I, you know, we sometimes spend, you know, two hours talking to people, you know, maybe in two different conversations, to educate them about the business only not to get the business because we've talked them, you know, we've kind of like spoiled the whole world for them, you know that now? They're just like, well, I can't they don't believe my films for Fox Searchlight. So I'm gonna go do it elsewhere.

Alex Ferrari 59:15
Well, now all you have to do is just send them a link to this episode. so helpful. Exactly. Because like, Listen, just listen to this. When you're done listening to this, if you still want to talk to us, we can talk to you a little bit more. But this is the reality of what's going on true. Play. So, tell me about your company, circus road and what you guys do.

Glen Reynolds 59:43
So where 95% of what we do is help filmmakers get distribution. And sometimes it's helping them advocate to film festivals to prop it up. Sometimes it's doing just going straight to distributors, sometimes it's trying to push distributors into a screening room itself by. So there's all different strategies for different films, it just kind of depends on how we feel about and how the filmmaker feels about it. But yeah, so we, you know, we, we generally represent three or four films at a time. We don't really have like a minimum or a maximum for number films, it just kind of happens to be what we're usually working on. And, and, and then, you know, I also have the legal background, so I helped them with the contract, and I negotiate it and redline it and, and do the back and forth to try to get the best deal. And then downstream, we also help filmmakers understand their royalty reports and get the distributor on the phone if they haven't.You know, they won't call them back.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:02
What that's what that does it,

Glen Reynolds 1:01:04
Believe it or not, there are lots of great distributors that call people back out there, but there are some No, no, no distributors perfect. They've all Everyone has their kinks. And so I was just eating, they need to kick in the butt to call somebody sometimes. And you're the boot. So it's a little bit of that. So we, we kind of feel like when we're on a film, we're kind of in the long term, with people depending on you know, how it goes. And, and quite often clients have turned into, you know, I do a little bit of producing, but I'm not a nuts and bolts guy, I'm not on the set, you know, doing that gig. It's more that I've either had a property and a friend of mine had a found some room with some money for it, or a friend of mine has a property and I found some someone with some money for it. And we helped cobbled together, maybe maybe there's a pre sale or someone who does a pre sale involved to help put it together. But mostly it's been, every film has been just a little bit different in terms of how we put it together. But fortunately, you know, my role, if I were to be an onset guy, I can do the sales part of this whole thing too. So it doesn't occupy a lot of my time I read a script here and there trying to find something interesting to work on. But it's a pretty small part of what we what we do.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:27
Well, Glenn, I'm going to ask you a few questions asked all of my guests. Yes, what advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Glen Reynolds 1:02:37
Wanting to bring in business today, I would say filmmaker. So I would say try to get a job in the industry doesn't have to be related to exactly what you want to do. But to learn another angle, maybe as you know, maybe you're you know, if you're if you're if you want to direct write and direct movies, it's hard like just having a great script and trying to get a manager an agent that's a hard road rough and I think getting into the business in some way and the networking within the business while you're pursuing all that just increases your odds a little bit of being able to do something and try to go to the bigger festivals try to go to some of the markets if you can afford it just to see how how things work and to try to meet people in network that's um that's how a lot of the people that I've seen become successful do it but who didn't you know, start off me I've seen some people had money to make the first movie and it was great and off to the races but that's not the that's not you know, most people don't have that so I would say just try to try to network try to meet people try to be a part of the action in some way while you're trying to pursue your dream

Alex Ferrari 1:04:13
Very good advice. Very good advice. Now can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Glen Reynolds 1:04:20
Holy crap,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:21
This is like these are some deep questions to prepare

Glen Reynolds 1:04:24
Yeah, yeah. I can't say the Bible probably just lost a few clients there

Alex Ferrari 1:04:41
And seen

Glen Reynolds 1:04:46
I'm gonna say you know what was if I could maybe a category books, the works of Henry James was a big no yeah. me when I was in getting my English degree at NYU, I had a course just on Henry James. And just, it prompted me to read all his stuff. And I think it just, it made me a better reader of everything. And I think it also probably propelled me to law school a little bit. Because, and, and increase my ability to read in general. I'm not sure what I think partly I grew up in England as a kid, and mostly from Texas, though, and Henry James had this English and American kind of hybrid life. So I connected that, but just those great writer and, and it gets influenced me in several several ways.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:47
Okay. Now, what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life? I'm telling you. My goal, my goal here is to bring down circus road by you not being able to answer this questions.

Glen Reynolds 1:06:06
Lessons that I learned, took me the longest to learn. Well, I think I probably got there in my 30s, which is so many years ago. But it was probably just to, um, let's some arguments lie. and not have to win every battle. No, yeah. And I think that that, that has served me well, it certainly is doing what I do requires a lot of patience. Both with filmmakers who don't understand maybe every detail of the business, and with distributors who struggle and are having a hard time getting great getting films out. And I think taking them taking them being able to understand other people's situations and being able to the only way I got there, I think was over time being through those situations myself. And so I think, if I can, if I can sum that up, it's it's, it's, it's, it's taking the time to hear someone else's side of things, and trying to understand it that I think has served me the best.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:33
Very cool. Now of course, this is the last question that must be the toughest one of the three of your favorite films of all time?

Glen Reynolds 1:07:41
Londa Lundy ,This is spinal tap.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:47

Glen Reynolds 1:07:48
Rob Reiner.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:49

Glen Reynolds 1:07:50
And I'm gonna say got a tie.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:00
Go for it. Okay.

Glen Reynolds 1:08:02
The Earies of Madame dia.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:04
Okay, I haven't heard that.

Glen Reynolds 1:08:06
And I won't pick up Martin Scorsese one because I love Martin Scorsese. I'll say main streets.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:17
Main Street over Goodfellas.

Glen Reynolds 1:08:20
Yeah, I just love how rod is

Alex Ferrari 1:08:21
it is pretty damn Rod in it. That wa indie movies. When? When indie movies were being made?

Glen Reynolds 1:08:29
Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:32
It is a great film. Great film. And now where can people find you, Glen?

Glen Reynolds 1:08:36
So my website is circusroadfilms.com. My email is Glen.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:44
Don't Don't. Don't do it. Glen, don't do it. I promise you they're going to Okay, go ahead. I'm joking. No, no, you put your email out you will get email so prepare yourself.

Glen Reynolds 1:08:56
I'm all i'm open for business. prepare, prepare yourself. Glen Glen, which is the proper way to spell glen.circusroadfilms.com. That's the best way to get me.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:07
Alright. Glen man. It's been an absolute pleasure talking shop with you and and thank you for dropping these knowledge bombs on the tribe today. I really appreciate you taking the time,

Glen Reynolds 1:09:17
Thank you, Alex is a great, really appreciate it.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:20
I want to thank Glen again for coming by and dropping some major major knowledge bombs on the indie film hustle tribe today. Thank you, Glen. So so much. And as I warn you, Glen, you put out your email, you will get emails from the tribe? No question. So guys, be kind but you know, if you're interested in you need his services, please be my guest. And an email. I'll put the links to everything we talked about Linda how to get ahold of them. That email and everything on the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/303. Now there has been a little bit of confusion in regards to my book release date right now on Amazon. It says it's been released but it has not yet been released. It will Release March 8, as of right now my publisher is trying to deal with the demand, believe it or not. So, if you have have you, if you've ordered it, it will be coming out in the next few weeks. So please be patient. Thank you again, so, so much. If you're part of my launch team, and you have read the book, you can now go to amazon.com. And leave a good review for the book. And it means so so, so, so much to me that you do that. So please just head over to indiefilmhustle.com/mob, and they'll take you directly to the Amazon page. And there you can leave a review and please share it with as many people as you possibly can. And again, thank you guys so so much for all the support. And that's the end of another episode of the indie film hustle podcast. Thank you guys again. So so much as always keep that also going. Keep that dream alive, and I'll talk to you soon.




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IFH 240: How to Work the Film & Television Markets with Heather Hale

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Today’s guest is Heather Hale, author of How to Work the Film and TV Markets: A Guide for Content Creators. Heather Hale is a film and television director, screenwriter and producer with over 50 hours of credits. She is currently under contract to direct an indie romantic comedy.

She directed, produced and co-wrote the million-dollar feature Absolute Killers (2011) which was marketed by distributors at Le Marche du Film and the American Film Market. She wrote the $5.5 million dollars Lifetime Original Movie The Courage to Love (2000) which starred Vanessa Williams, Stacy Keach, Gil Bellows and Diahann Carroll.

Heather’s new book How to Work the Film & TV Markets: A Guide for Content Creators was just published this summer by Focal Press/Routledge while her Story$elling: How to Develop, Market and Pitch Film & TV Projects will be published in 2018 by Michael Weise Productions.

For over two decades, Heather has served as an international keynote speaker, teacher, moderator, panelist and custom workshop facilitator for film and TV markets, festivals, writers workshops, colleges and universities and Chambers of Commerce around the globe, including creative adventure weeklong retreats such as StoryTellers on WalkAbout.

Enjoy my conversation with Heather Hale.

Alex Ferrari 0:34
I'd like to welcome to the show. Heather Hale, thank you so much for being on the show, Heather.

Heather Hale 2:50
It's my honor. Thanks for having me, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 2:52
So before we get into it, I really want to know how did you get into this crazy business?

Heather Hale 2:58
Oh, gosh, people always ask your breaking story. And you probably know, well is anyone we all have like five times do we have to break back in and you know, you can never rest on your laurels. And so I don't even know which one you know

Alex Ferrari 3:12
The first one. Let's just start with the very beginning.

Heather Hale 3:14
I don't even know what the first one is. I will say the who knows. But what most people look at as my break in was the courage to love which was a lifetime original movie. And the speed version to that was my aunt passed away. So this is a top total Hollywood Story. So with, you know, dog groomers and hairdressers. My aunt passed away she and my parents became executives of her trust and that we became we had to handle a townhouse in Pasadena. And foolishly I didn't grab it because you know, I wanted to live in LA not Pasadena. And selfishly, I'm such an idiot. I such

Alex Ferrari 3:56
I would have taken that bran

Heather Hale 3:58
I'm an idiot. I appreciate that now gorgeous garden jacuzzi. Like, I'm an idiot. Okay, we've established I'm an idiot. So anyway, that we became executives or trust, and my parents couldn't afford to debt service that and their own mortgage and all that. So we had to rent it out and we had to rent it out ASAP. And so we're literally like, packing up the garage of a woman who never moved in 40 some odd years, while we're grieving while we're dealing with the wake and all of that, while there's a moving truck with the other people moving in like it was that crazy. So as I'm moving banker's boxes out, and the new renters are moving banker's boxes in. They one of the wife says, hey, I've got a great idea for it. That would make a terrific movie. I understand you're a screenwriter. And how many times have we all heard that like every Hey, I have an idea. You do all the work. And you use all your relationships and resources and we'll split the profits and probably I'll sue you for stealing it. Like it's just never out. But I sat her down and I said, Okay, like, I don't want to do this, but let's do it. Because I'm an idiot. We've established Yes. And we literally sat there with a plate of brownies and ice tea, and I handed her a legal pad of paper and a pen. And I said, Let's write a deal memo. And I want it in your handwriting. So we can't say you didn't know what this was. And we wrote out this deal memo. And I was really careful. She claimed that her son was Vanessa Williams music producer. And how many times have we heard people say, I couldn't get it to so and so I can do this. Yeah, so I had her put, you know, my name is XYZ, Heather is XYZ. My son is Vanessa Williams music producer, and she put his name in there. And I will get this script to this. Vanessa Williams, like, that's that that piece was what made me do it. And so then I told her, I would mentor her and help her and support her and she wanted to write it. And I was just going to help her as a friend from the sidelines. And so over the next three months, I read and read on the research junkie, you know, most writers are voracious readers. So I knew everything about New Orleans in the 1830s. And this woman is amazing. The first African American nun ordained by the Catholic Church is really powerful story. And over the three months, she wrote back and faxed me This tells you how All right, me. That's me, like five pages describing a room. And that's as much as she had done in three months. And she begged me, Heather, can you please write this? And I said, Okay. And so I wrote this outline. And we got the outline to Vanessa Williams. She kept her word, she was good to her word. And then Vanessa Williams got it to Emily. Gosh, Gershon, at the William Morris at the time. And Emily called me we had sent her a five page outline, which bear in mind was really well researched, it was historically accurate adaptation was a powerful story. And we sent it to her and my associate, in her zeal and enthusiasm. I don't want to say lied, but eagerly told her wait till you read the script. It's fantastic. course, there was no script, of course, right. It's just an outline, just a five page treatment of what the beat outline was really well written in prose, really, really engaging of what we were going to do. Sure. And so I get a call from Emily Gerson Sainz, who says, I understand the script. No, I didn't get a call. I was told. Emily wants to see the script. She and Vanessa are going to be at the Cannes Film Festival in 10 days. So could you send it to him?

Alex Ferrari 7:55

Heather Hale 7:56
And there, it was a god moment. And I literally picked up the phone before I had time to think and quit my job. Wow. And I told my boyfriend, I'm not leaving this computer. Until I have that script. Done. Like, this is my break. It was scary as all get out. And I called Emily, which was very terrifying. Like one of the first people I've ever called, was like the head of William Morris, who's waiting for a script that's not written from me. And I gently said, so how firm The date is that deadline? She goes, she goes, Oh, bless her heart. bless her heart. Oh, honey, it's not from not for me at all. I I love the project, the NASA loves the project. And Vanessa and I are going to be in Cannes at the same time, loving the project. So I'm not sure when that will occur again, when the two of us will be together interested in your project. At that moment, we will be and so I went, Okay, thanks. I got the phone. And then I realized I didn't have 10 days I had nine because I had FedEx it. So I literally wrote and wrote and wrote and then I would hit print fall asleep. My boyfriend would read I had girlfriends, people writers group. So I would like email them the 12 pages I'd written I would email them the 17 pages I'd written I, I would sleep and then I would wake up and I get back at it. And I would put in people's notes, fix all the typos keep cranking so I had literally copied the treatment, threw it into final draft first script I'd ever written and just went for it. And it got set up. And it was a five and a half million dollar feature on lifetime and 2000 and then you know, I had to break it all over again. But let's call that my break.

Alex Ferrari 9:51
That's that was the most passive aggressive way of saying the deadline is the deadline. Right? But but good for her because It was true no and you know what and you know what? Yeah but that description that for people listening that that description of how she she spoke to you eautiful is exactly how people in LA talk in those positions, though then general everyday No. Generally never say no. They're generally never like they are there are the you know the art golds of the world. There are but but a lot of them will do this kind of passive aggressive. Yeah. And it's, it's honestly an art form.

Heather Hale 10:34
It's an art. It's like on my vision board to be unflappable. And if you ever if you've listened to Shonda Rhimes, his latest book, I listen to it on audio tape, I love to listen to like Tina Fey and Amy Schumer all their books, Andy kailyn on when they narrate on their audio books. But so listening to Shonda Rhimes, which was awesome. I, you know, she coined the word badassery. She said, you know, they say it's not a word unless it's in the dictionary. But in my Microsoft Word, I right clicked and added it to my dictionary, so it's a word. So I have like, unflappable, badassery on my vision board. That's my goal is to be able to not cuss and swear not raise my voice, not lose my temper, but say so eloquently. And maybe it's passive aggressive, but it is an art form exactly what you mean and still be smiling and look like you're being courteous in such a team player when you're really laying down the bottom line.

Alex Ferrari 11:30
And that is an art form. And this Yeah, without question. So So let's talk about markets, film markets, television markets, that's one of your expertise is, which it all started there, right? Because I had to get it to cat you have to get the cat. Exactly. So can you explain to the audience what the difference is between film festivals and film markets?

Heather Hale 11:51
Sure. I think that's actually one of the least understood and even people who have been in the business forever. Because you'll have people say, it's funny. I never know whether it's can or con because I get corrected no matter how I said someone's gonna correct me. So they'll say they're going to Cannes. But are they going to the festival of the market because the festival in the market are on opposite sides of the cross that you know this promenade, and they're going on at the exact same time. And people can fly around the world and realize that they have credentials, they've paid two or $3,000 in here and there at the festival when they meant to be at the market and everybody they want or or worse I mean at least that you can probably Jerry rig but what if you're in the wrong city at the wrong week, you go to the Berlin you know, the main event to go to the European film market. And you ended up at Berlinale at you know and or you're at the different the TV markets and you're in the wrong week. Everybody you paid 3000 or 5000 to go see is not even there. Yeah, so I think it's really important. So so so real clearly like festivals, we were talking about Sundance before we went live fest. If you think of show business, you can think of the festivals as the show and markets as the business of the entertainment industry. great analogy because festivals are open to the public. Usually, they're all about audience enjoyment. They're all about the craft, they celebrate the love of the art. It can be about a specific genre, or locale and it's all about community. So film fans and TV lovers from the public can come and enjoy premieres fun parties, they can vote, you know, especially for audience awards. But these competitions are curated by taste making gatekeepers and they award prizes based on their judgement of quality. And the audience response and critical reviews is what everybody's looking for. And that's what can launch these surprise breakout hits are dashed the hopes of what everyone thought was gonna be a winner. And as you know, there are no prizes at markets.

Alex Ferrari 14:06
The only prize is a check.

Heather Hale 14:08
There's no prizes, right and the press are often blocked from the screenings because they don't want spoilers leaked. So markets are the entertainment industries trade shows and like everything else in show business, they tend to be more glamorous, faster paced and more intimidating than any other business sector. And so these markets getting on the market floor is typically restricted to accredited industry professionals. So you have to have bought a badge you have to be a player to get on that floor. And then those products or content, the film and television things you might have seen shown at film festivals or television festivals are what is bought and sold business to business and then turned around and parlayed to the to the wider public. So there is this symbiotic relief shipped between the two circuits. So it's possible that a film that does fantastic at Sundance gets picked up by a distributor and is then sold internationally, like a cute little Little Miss Sunshine is bought at Sundance, and then they turn around and sell it to Europe, that European film market. So and then the same, the same thing can be in reverse. Maybe a product does really well at a market. And they choose to use the film festival platform as their promotional marketing to create some audience awareness and create buzz. So

Alex Ferrari 15:36
It's at Sundance every year,

Heather Hale 15:38
Every year, Toronto, Midnight Madness, you name it. So one of the things I think that helps put things in perspective is the size and scope of the material presented. So if you look at like a typical Cannes Film Festival, there's like 21 films that are in competition officially. And then right across the promenade is Lamar Shea to film, which is the Cannes Film market. And there's 3030 500 films at the market. So that shows you the size and scope because what's being sold at the market are shown or screen or viewed, is literally the entire year's inventory, and a backlog of the year before and what. So it's a good year to three years worth of assets that are competing in this incredible, incredible den of noise, to try to make a blip on the radar for anyone to notice you like it the one of the most humbling experiences ever, is to walk on a market floor with your little one sheet. Right? And think My poor baby. And I will tell you, it kicks you in the teeth and says, Is your logline strong enough is your pitch like you're competing with George Clooney on the market floor looking for money, right? Like that's there. I mean, you don't normally run into them, but they are they're raising money. And so your materials have to be so not just slick and professional. But the concepts and the execution has to be so viscerally grabbing, that someone's willing to risk money on them. And so it really does make you take a step back and check yourself that nobody cares about your hopes and dreams and aspirations. They care about are you bringing them something they can make money off of?

Alex Ferrari 17:31
Can you talk a little bit? What can you name a few of the big markets that people should look out for?

Heather Hale 17:36
Well, of course the can the Lamar shaida film is the Cannes market. The European film market is probably the second largest now the American Film market is the third. And then and then there's there's a ton of others. There's the Hong Kong film art, there's the Asian film mark, there's TIFF, com, then titanosaurs, the Latin American one, but another thing that's kind of bubbled up, which I think is really fascinating and helpful for independent filmmakers, is you have the film markets over here and you have the film or the of the film and TV markets over here. And you have film and TV festivals. Oh, and for the just real quickly for TV markets. You have Nat p, which is the National Association television program executives, you have real screen you have kids screen again, the Hong Kong film art is both you have the MIPS we call them the MIPS sweet, so there's mipi mc doc MC formats. And then you have like Nat p in Europe, there's just a ton, Bogota has one. And but in between, you know, you've seen I'm sure that the independent film arena that was such at the golden era in the 1970s people are talking about the Renaissance that we're seeing, and the golden era of television that we're seeing, which is really kind of the shift of independent filmmaking going to television because we have this convergence of film and TV, where the what we call over the top television, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, these, you know which are almost telcos right there, they're almost ISP fees that are offering this is all the issues of net neutrality, but that that is an opportunity for them to create these they create content and deliver content. So in the middle, where the independent filmmaker can often get lost because the studios are doing the huge blockbusters and the networks are doing their channels. What's bubbling up is this co production market scene. And that's where things like cinema in Rotterdam and the Berlin Berlin all a co co pro market, which is over like while the European film market is going on. And while the Berlinale Film Festival is going on, they kind of seamlessly overlap with the Berlinale co production market, which is where independent producers can find financing where they can find production partners where they can find distributors were willing to see projects that are works in progress. And so here's another difference between film festivals and markets. People will tell you, like, you know, as a screenwriter, never send your script out until it's just kick ass as good as it could possibly be. Right? That's it. Okay. So with films, they tell you never to submit to a festival until it's perfect, right? Because it's being judged. So a lot of people miss perceive that and come over to the market space and say, Oh, I can't show it to them. I can't do this because it's a market. Well, they're accustomed to seeing things with holes, and placeholders. And we're going to do the special effects on this. And, you know, they've even done studies where people had missing scenes or animation, they didn't even know that the animation wasn't there, because they were so caught up emotionally in the moment. So a market there, they're happy to see a talent reel for a possible reality show host or a character that we're going to build a world around in their mail you, they're accustomed to seeing, like, let's say you're shooting an independent film, and you're not going to be ready by the market. But your opening sequence is awesome. You just show that as your sizzle reel or trailer or just some selected scenes, and at the market that professionals use to scene products in every stage of development. So that's yet another difference that people you know, will come with the wrong misperceptions that limit their opportunities.

Alex Ferrari 21:39
Now, who should attend markets in general? As far as filmmakers are concerned? Like, should it be at what level of of the process should they go?

Heather Hale 21:48
Well, I think it depends on what your goals are and what your product is. So you will see on the net p floor or you know, MIPCOM IP TV, on the TV markets, people who are not in the industry at all, who might have a sizzle reel on themselves often, or an idea or concept. And they're trying to sell a game show they're trying to sell a reality show they're trying to sell some nonfiction thing like Adam ruins everything, you know, some sort of an edutainment type product. And even if they all they have is a one sheet that's a good one sheet and a good concept. They can literally you know, buy a badge and go pitch almost door to door You know, they're going sweet to sweet. That's another thing. You know this, but maybe your listeners don't. You look at something like the AFM at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. They literally move every bed out of every room. And every suite becomes a sales office. So some market floors have booths like a trade show, where you know, you go from booth to booth to booth on a market floor nappy has these towers where you go up to the suites, and again, they've moved the beds out. So you walk in, and there's the table and chairs, and there could even be cubbies set up with offices for receptionist and all that, actually at the Loews hotel. I was one of two people sleeping there, during the AFM, which was you talk about the shining light, step out into an empty hotel, and you're the I'm not even like there's no room service. There's nobody there. Just closed down. It's It's surreal. So that's, I think. So anyway, to answer your question, Who goes, so if you're a director, you want to go over to festivals, because that's where they're celebrating you. At the markets, it's largely producers. So you might be a writer, producer, director, producer. So if you're wearing a producer hat, and you're trying to raise money, or you're trying to initiate distribution interest, that's a really good place to be another way a lot of producers can use markets that they may not be aware of, is not on the first few days. But on the last couple of days, you can go in with your really great one sheet or sizzle reel. And when the distributors are have gone through the bulk of their meetings, because remember, they've paid 30,000, probably to be there. So you show up selling them and they've paid a ton of money to sell. You're in their way. You're in their way. But the last few days, they are thinking about the next market and they're trying to build relationships as well. And the cocktail parties are all great opportunities for this. But let's say you come in and you've got your indie film project, you got a million dollar project and you have a hit list of 10 stars that you think are really good. It's really a good idea to take that simple bulleted list. don't bore them just go in. Here's my one sheet. Here's my logline. These are the 10 stars I'm thinking of, and you might be blown away where they say this person's not marquee value. This person will never get distribution. I like this person, this person is really good. And someone on that list you might not be aware, is really huge in the breath block or the mint, the new MIT, you know, might be something that you weren't aware was a company, a person who would really attract the Chinese market, you know, I'm always trying to think of the other markets. Or they may say, Oh, I like all of these eight mafioso, guys, these character actors, and they're all really good. Have you thought about x, y, z, and they adds names to your list. And that is priceless information. Because it and they may tell you look, if you get any one of these people off this list, come back to me, and we'll talk about a distribution. It may not be a distribution commitment, because you know, it's hard to say, Yes, I will distribute your film when it's an unknown commodity. Of course, it's not in the can. So that's, I mean, that's the thing is your your film is probably never worth more than when it's nothing yet.

Alex Ferrari 26:03
And to a certain extent, you're right,

Heather Hale 26:05
Right. Everyone can imagine in their mind's eye the very best it could possibly be.

Alex Ferrari 26:11
But a lot of times also do you do you agree that depending on the cast, yeah. If the cast is big enough, there will be commitments to distribute then in there purely because they know if you can afford Nicolas Cage? Yes, you're the project is going to be at at least a somewhat of a benchmark that I know I could sell, because you're not gonna hire Nicolas Cage and do a $20,000 movie.

Heather Hale 26:37
Right? Well, I will. Yes, I agree. But I will say that there's two parts to that. One part is that if you get Nicolas Cage, like I got Vanessa Williams true. It's not you getting the money. It's probably Nicolas Cage, or Nicolas Cage is contacts, resources, referrals. So one of the things I suggest people do is make their hitlist for who they want as their stars for lead actors, and look and see who's got a production company and go get to the production company of the star you want. And let them be partners with you because now they're that much more financially incentivized to come on board and be a real partner. And then that's when the ball starts rolling. You know, my dad always used to say that the most precious asset in Hollywood is momentum. its momentum, you know, and its traction getting people to have it's, it's making your enthusiasm contagious, so that you can get some traction so that you can create some momentum momentum because you can work for 10 years on a project and blow dust off of it. And if you get the right people to shine their light, man, things happen fast, you know, that's the overnight success. So I think that is a huge part of it. And then the other part I will say, is, a lot of times people make their hit list and they're hit the hit list reveals a lot about you. If you have Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep on your hitless. They exactly they may be very polite because they're so polite, but they're laughing at your neophyte ism, right, because it's so delusional. But if you come in with some really amazing actors from say, Breaking Bad, or you know what I mean? Like, some animals obtainable? Yeah, if you mentioned their name at your family holiday. No one else at the table who's not in the business will know who you're talking about? Or maybe you show them their picture and they go oh, yeah, yeah, I know that guy. But the difference is with a distributor, they know that the caliber like David Morris, if you remember, if you know who he is, he was in the Green Mile. He's a fantasy or Freddie Highmore. You know, right now in the in the good doctor, and he was in Bates Motel. So Freddie Highmore at a holiday function. The average person not in the business, Michael, I don't know who that is. Well, do you watch the good doctor? Oh, yeah. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 28:59
I do. Okay, that's about Rob's rush,

Heather Hale 29:03
Obvious rush. He deserves a Lifetime Achievement Award already. I love him. But what I would say is that when you come to a distributor with someone like that, they may not be, you know, cinema marquee value that he can open a movie by himself, of course. But what that tells the distributor is the caliber of acting is going to attract other very strong actors. It's going to attract good directors, it's going to attract people who are going to that's going to raise the bar of their, of their work. So that so if you came with a feat, it's like, in the old days, you needed your Sylvester Stallone or Van Damme to sell DVDs in Asia. Sure, right. But it's changing. It's changing a lot. So now the mass, you know of YouTube competition. It's quality that rises up So having a good concept well written, well executed with really good stars. I think our star culture while it's still hugely important, you look at any advertisement, it's all about celebrity. But it's changing because of the fragmentation of the dial and what the Internet has done to revolutionize our business.

Alex Ferrari 30:18
So you mean Steven Seagal versus mike tyson is gonna have problems? Not if they're fighting. That was the that was the most AF me. AFM movie. This year.

Heather Hale 30:31
You remember when it was a couple Emmys ago where they put all the YouTube stars on the red carpet? No, I didn't. Okay, this was a couple of years ago. And they took all these YouTube stars with millions of followers. And they thought, oh, we're gonna tap into their site, guys. And what you realize is asking questions on a red carpet is a skill set that Ryan Seacrest and the people who have earned the right to eat, they're like, they didn't know who they were talking to. They were disrespectful. And they thought that their 15 minutes of fame was going to carry them on red carpet. And people forget, this is a business. Right? And so I think it's fine to stop cast, maybe one YouTube slab. And if you are a YouTube celeb, then then cool, that's you. But make sure you populate that cast with rock solid actors around you. Because everyone in the business can see through a fame run.

Alex Ferrari 31:27
And it's getting it's getting like before, it was all about how many followers you have. And I have to a certain extent, a lot of casting decisions now are made on social media. If the if there's two actors of equal caliber, equal credits,

Heather Hale 31:44
That's assuming they're equal caliber and equal credit. Exactly. It's not usually that case,

Alex Ferrari 31:49
Usually not, but if you assume that they're, you know, at the same playing field, yeah, I'm gonna go with the one that has the bigger social follow.

Heather Hale 31:55
Absolutely. But they also have ways of assessing your digital footprint. Like I have a widget in mind when I look on Twitter. I know how many of your followers are fake? I mean, you bought?

Alex Ferrari 32:11
That's before?

Heather Hale 32:13
Yeah. And a huge thing is your engagement. Like are you perceived to be authentic in your engagement with a legit tribe? Right, you know, we have our our mutual friend, Richard bato, the are bound stage 32, his crowdsourcing for filmmakers book is all about that, like it's being authentic to a community. So I think it's really important that people, like it's really important to have a social media following and a social media presence and be authentic. But it's like anything else that, you know, it's the quality of how you do it, you can't just buy a million followers and slap up promotional stuff. Because first of all, those million followers probably aren't even real and don't care. So they're not going to leave in droves. But the real people are, if all you ever do is throw up, you know, JPEGs of your book that you're selling,

Alex Ferrari 33:01
Right! A perfect example I always use is there's this filmmaker that I was working with on a project years ago, and they spent I'm gonna say they spent like about four or $5,000 buying views. Yep. of their trailer. Yeah. And nothing and we all know it. Right. So but they thought the like the end, I think they got I think it got up to about a million and a half 2 million views that they spent money. It all spent. Yeah, nothing organic, no interaction, no anything. But they were touting that to distributors. Like, look, we've gotten 2 million hits on our trailer, give us money for our movie. There's an audience out there for it. Yeah. And that might have worked in 1995. Exactly. But not today. And people can definitely tell when it's, look, it's not hard to find out if you're if they're fake or not. You just have to look at the engagement. And even the engagement they're trying to fake now. And it's still so difficult to fake real engagement.

Heather Hale 34:00
Yeah, I know someone a very high profile author, producer, TV person. So I am and they've passed away and they were very beloved. So I won't throw them under the bus because that would be disrespectful. Sure. But they hired friends of mine to go online into the chat rooms and take on this was way back in the day. So it is not new. You said chat. Yeah. Yeah, take on personas. So they would have three, four or five different personas each and get into debates and arguments with themselves, right like and be trolls and jerks and you know, so that other people would jump in and then they'd get out of that chat room and go start somewhere else. So that Pete that there was buzz and engagement. But I think that, you know, first of all, people are really savvy to that now. And then the flip side of that is too bad because the person who really busts their tail to get a million or 2 million followers legitimately and then goes to Bandy that about the marketplace. Now everybody's pretty jaded, and even if you earned them and spent 15 years creating that following that, like, yeah, yeah, but that that comes back to the quality of the content and the material.

Alex Ferrari 35:08
You know, and also and also, and I know we're going on a tangent with social media, but it's important in regards to what we're doing is also the the proof is in the pudding, you know, like, yeah, you know, I'll tell you right really quickly, if you're real or not purely buy a bike, do a post, yeah, do a post and we'll see how many retweets they get, or how many reactions they get, and see how much traffic I can generate off of it. If it's something that's adding too much. I'll tell you in a second, like, Here you go, boom. And, you know, so when people find people who are actually real and authentic, they gravitate to respect.

Heather Hale 35:42
Absolutely. I'll tell you something beyond the social media is also your assets, your marketing assets. So I help people create pitch packages, sizzle reels, practice their pitch and all that. And I've been a judge at you know, nappies player, TV player contest bondage for a bunch of things. Yeah, forever. So one of them at one market. And again, I don't want to, you know, hurt anyone's reputation. I just share the spirit of the story. This gal came in and she was competing. And she, the first round ever, there were three rounds. And the first round was to pitch verbally. And so this girl came in and pitched her heart out on I think it was a mafia comedy, like a sitcom. She was so hysterical. We were like wiping tears, though. I think there were eight or 12. I don't know, several judges, I don't remember how many judges about eight, let's say. But we were laughing, literally slapping our needs wiping away tears cracking up, she had us eating out of her hand and we loved her. We loved her project. We loved everything about her. So then she made it to the second round. And in the second round, she brought in her sizzle reel. And in her sizzle, she had spent $250,000. No. And she had I don't know if it was friends or I don't know who these actors were. But in this sizzle. The production value was awful. The timing was awful. The acting was awful. The costumes were awful. And 250 100%. And that is not the only time I've seen that I've seen people do better with zero budget than 250. I've seen lots of bad how

Alex Ferrari 37:28
I'm just figuring out how do you spend a quarter of a million dollars on a sizzle reel? Like how do you do it happens all Oh my god.

Heather Hale 37:37
So because companies want to get paid. And they I think prey on delusions. So. So what happened was and I'm proud of myself, I'm not bragging but just it's hard to find people who will tell the truth in Hollywood and I do always get in trouble all the time. So I will say I'm here at it when it helps. So she was gonna get knocked out. And I spoke up in the, in the voting round with her in the room and said, I got to tell you, I said I'm going to point out the elephant in the room because everybody was giving her feedback on the sizzle reel. Yeah. And I said to her to enter the fellow judges, I said, Look, that sizzle reel, unfortunately, you have wasted $250,000, you know, on her face had she's almost in tears. You shouldn't be she was almost in tears because everybody was ripping the sizzle reel to shreds, and she was going to get knocked out of the contest. And she had spent all this money. And I said Look, I said I'm gonna vote to put you through on the caveat that you pitch verbally, again, because you had us, you had us imagining your vision, and this sizzle reel is going to kill you. So you need to never show it. Anyone again ever. I don't care how much it cost. I don't care how much lead tears went into it. It's going to shoot you in the foot. It's an albatross to your project. Let it go consider it a mistake. And and and she everybody changed their votes. And we put her through and she pitched verbally. And she did that she didn't win. But she was like number two or number three. And she was really grateful. And I mean, it's heartbreaking to tell someone that but it's true.

Alex Ferrari 39:19
You got to you've got to tell the truth. And it's not even up for debate. It was just like, Look, this was horrendous. Yeah, you're hurting yourself by

Heather Hale 39:28
To acknowledge how fantastic she did without even a piece of paper. That that shows the integrity of the idea, her passion, her personality, her ownership and authenticity with that material. As the writer she had earned the right to stand up and bolus over and it was so well executed on the page. It is not her fault that the collaborators didn't rise to the occasion and she can find other collaborators because she owns the intellectual property. It's her baby.

Alex Ferrari 39:58
Absolutely, absolutely. So How How should someone with a digital series approach to television market in today's world? Because now, as you said, everything's going towards television? What How should someone should they do a pilot? Should they just come in with the idea? Should they do have a full series produced? What do you What's your suggestion?

Heather Hale 40:19
Well, I think all of those you know, it's like Hollywood How do you break into Hollywood? Well, let's give you the 2000 ways we all know friends who've done it, you know it there's no right or wrong. I will say there probably some quicker avenues than others and then the minute you say this is the way you do it, then there's some breakout Blair Witch success that you know, it's this stuff that happens the angry orange, I don't know if you're familiar with that. I mean, I, there's a ton of examples of stuff. But one way they do watch just as we were talking about earlier, within social engagement, there are people who put up Twitter accounts that are in the voice or the point of view of one of their characters and then voice and that's, I think, how eight things about my daughter eight roles about my daughter got done was started off a Twitter feed, you know, it was that such a unique, authentic voice. So coming up with ways to select I think was angry orange was a little two minute thing that was an orange, literally an orange. marquee face drawn on it. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 41:18
He's. He's done very well.

Heather Hale 41:21
Yeah. So they were like 32nd two minute things, but they were so freakin funny. They went viral. And you know, I forget who it was. pretty famous gal. I should remember her name. But she said viral is not a business plan.

Alex Ferrari 41:35
Like Sundance is not a distribution plan. Sundance is not a distribution.

Heather Hale 41:39
That's like saying, I'm going to buy a lottery ticket. Yes. Somebody, somebody who buys a ticket will win. But your odds, like that's not the business plan. Go ahead, throw the penny in the crib.

Alex Ferrari 41:52
I'm quitting my job today. Because my next year, I'm covered because I'm going to do the scratch off.

Heather Hale 41:57
Exactly. Yeah. So I mean, I pro pennies and fountains and I'm all about superstitious little rituals. Cool. Do it by your lottery tickets. I all the more power to you. But Call me if you went please sleep call that

Alex Ferrari 42:10
Five projects. Yeah.

Heather Hale 42:11
Yeah. So but some of the things they can do one, of course, if you're like, I judged the Marcee web Fest, several years back, and that was fascinating, because you know, Josh Gad, yeah, of course. Okay, Josh, Gad one. Oh, lover. Yeah, yeah, he's all off and Buting the beast, but he also had 1600 pen, if you remember that as a short lived series. So right before with Dharma, the girl who played Dharma and Dharma and Greg, right before that. He was submitted into the Marseille web fest. And it was me and I think the Warner Brothers digital VP, bunch of really cool people. So we were, you know, sequestered in a room for 12 hours watching nothing but websites went to a web series, one after another. And there were people who had fantastic business plans, and ancillary marketing and Merchandising, and it was so well like sales and marketing 101, like, or not even that PhDs and sales and marketing. But we weren't engaged by their content. So what difference did it make, right? And then you had people who had years of seasons and seasons, like hundreds of episodes. And then you had Josh Gad with like two little three minute sketches that were practically SNL. And again, we're in hysterics. So I think it comes down to the quality. So if you have, let's say you have a web series that's won some awards, don't expect someone to watch eight episodes of it, grab the, you know, 30 seconds or two minutes of the very, very, very best footage. And don't feel like it needs to be five minutes or seven minutes or any of that. If it's if you have a really good two minutes, that's the beginning, middle and end. And there's a little bit of weak stuff, when in doubt, cut it out, cut it out, cut it out, if it is not very, very, very best cream of the crop. You know, they say Shakespeare threw away 95% of his stuff. I don't know how anyone knows that. But you know, I believe it as a writer,

Alex Ferrari 44:07
I'm sure and I would love to be in that trashcan.

Heather Hale 44:10
Exactly. But that's what I'm saying. You got to throw away kill your babies, kill your darlings, and then only take the cream of the crop and then that tease, you know, you sell the sizzle, not the steak, you want to elicit their interest and intrigue them to want more. And you may not show them more. You may get into a room. They're really engaged. They have their different ideas and you go in their direction because he who has the gold wins. Don't feel like you owe it to the material to bring in your old crap that they might not what find what tickled them because it might be different, like what Spike TV is interested in is going to be quite different than what the sci fi channel is interested in.

Alex Ferrari 44:50
Sure. Exactly. And that's a problem for a lot of creators is that they spend so much time so much money creating something they want to show it all exactly. It's and you just like maybe pictures, right? It's your baby, you want to show baby pictures to everybody. I try not to do that. But But every once in a while, just for, you know, exactly. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. But at the end of the day, you've got to take off your Creator hat and put on your business hat, put on your marketing hat and go, Okay, what I got to look at this with clean eyes, and you can't have someone who can do it for you

Heather Hale 45:36
And ditto your YouTube channel, maybe you have a YouTube channel that's got all of that on there. But you have a branded YouTube channel that only has the best of the best that represents the show, which is, you know, you think of what you put on social media, especially what you're putting on that is projecting to the industry is your 24 seven shingle. Don't put crap out there. And if you do, like, hide it in a way that only friends and family can see it, but if you're gonna put it out there on your website, anywhere, you know, it's way better to have three great two minute clips, then something that's, you know, really, two hours of bad. No, that's what they say the greatest sin in Hollywood is to be boring.

Alex Ferrari 46:21
Yes. And there has been plenty of that going on at the movie theaters lately.

Heather Hale 46:25
Yeah. And on the market floors and at the festivals and co production markets. You know, I used to joke that, you know, the perfume of Hollywood is desperation.

Alex Ferrari 46:35
Oh, God, that's a great line. And it's so true. Yeah. And you and and because I used to wear that, that Oh, we've all worn it. We've all to desperation.

Heather Hale 46:45
Yeah. And the purse and the deodorant. Like it comes out. It's the Bo of Hollywood. It's desperation also.

Alex Ferrari 46:51
I mean, it is something that you can smell on someone. Yeah. So fast into the room into a ballroom you can smell and and I used to, I used to just just it would it would rain around me. I should spring out of me like, what's his name from Charlie Brown? The guy who's always dirty? Up rock? Yeah, he would just always walk. Yeah, it was around me all the time. Yeah, I would meet someone when I first got here, I would meet someone, you know, at another level, higher level or just a place that I could? And I'd be like, I hate doing it at the end, you would just go after them. Yeah. And they could just be like, Okay, he's that and that would be the end of it. No. And I happened to me a bunch of times till I finally, I don't know how I did it. But naturally, I just stopped it and became more giving and more of service to people I meet trying to be.

Heather Hale 47:42
And that I think is the is the to me, networking is the highest form of service. It's what do they need? How can I help them and you hope that by the time it pays forward 10 times somewhere it comes around back to you. Right? But you know, when you're trying to intentionally network, you know, one of the most prudent things is to ask them about them in their projects, because and that's the thing you have to be careful of with you is because when someone asks a writer about their project, oh, no. Right? We love our babies, we want to talk about them. That's all we want to talk about. So you really are it's kind of like being on a first blind date after a divorce. You don't really want to talk about your ex, right? So you want to listen and ask questions. And if the conversation comes back around to you be locked and loaded with a silver bullet. That's really quick and easy than kills.

Alex Ferrari 48:30
Right! But don't don't but don't walk up with that bullet in hand just yet. Don't shut it off.

Heather Hale 48:35
Z or the machine gun. Yeah, God on silver bullet.

Alex Ferrari 48:40
I it's, it's it's just so funny. And I meet and I was my next question was gonna be about networking. And I think we're on that topic now. But like, sometimes I'll be speaking and, you know, people will come up and they'll just, they're just kind of like, you can tell that they're they're just wanting to their I call them energy suckers, even successful people. Right? Yeah, just energy suckers. They just want to obsess Empire, vampires, they just want to start from you. And, you know, you as you get older and you've been in the business long enough, you'd become attuned to that. That frequency very quickly, or your hair goes on and as they come up as they approach you, yeah. Oh, desperation. There's the odor desperation. There's the O of BS. You know, I'm not trying to do anything, but I'm just trying to impress you because I've done this, this and this. I know this. I could definitely get your project that this person because I cut their hair.

Heather Hale 49:37
I'll tell you two quick little stories about that. I was I you know, I'm not a vain person. You know, we all get beat up so much. I guess you just don't have time or energy to be vain. You just working hard

Alex Ferrari 49:51
Not on this side of the camera, at least.

Heather Hale 49:53
Yeah, yeah. So I was at an event. It was a women's event and I was talking to a group of women and you know, I'm a I'm a first I'm a, I was a first time director, I think I've done two things now. But you know, I'm really still a rookie, I really am trying to break in as a director. So I was at this event and I have done I had directed a million dollar feature, which on the one hand, anyone in the business knows like soup to nuts. That is, that's like an ultra marathon series like that. It's a huge accomplishment, whether it made any money or not, it got in the can. And it got picked up by two distributors. It was at the AFM and right, huge, it was at Walmart Best Buy. Okay, so who cares if it's any good or made any money like that, just the fact that we got from point A to point z, and I did not die or kill anybody, right? So and it had meatloaf and Ed Asner and Eddie Furlong, so I'm at this event. And I'm feeling like simultaneously proud and scared, shitless and insecure and blah, blah, blah. And these girls are talking about all the stuff they've directed, and they're posing and dropping names and being all the all this. So I'm just sitting listening because I really need to network and I really need to learn a lot more. And I need to expand my horizons, blah, blah, blah, blah. Well, I can our listening to them give all sorts of advice and tell me what I should do. It comes around that one of them his entire directing oeuvre was a PSA. And he had done a short film. So I sat there and not that I'm all bad. But I sat there respectfully listening to all and and then when they asked me what I had done, which like the event was almost over, and I was like, Oh, you know, just a million dollar feature with meatloaf. And yeah, and then I walked away because they like seriously put their lap late. Like I said to her, they they had done a free public service announcement for 30 seconds. And that was what they directed. Sure. The flipside of that I was going to say is when people are posing, you know, the, if you have to get a catcher's mitt out to catch the names that they drop, no, odds are, they're full of it. And if you call them out on it, well to have two stories. I had a guy who told me and I won't say who he is, because he's kind of a power player. But he told me he Ma, it'll be too obvious. He had directed a little movie called and then I won't put the movie in, but it was a huge movie. Sure. He had no he had he had line produced a little movie called insert huge movie here. Sure. And I was like, Oh my god, I better check my ego. And so I sucked it up and let him treat me like shit because he was a misogynist. He was awful. And then I optioned my material to him, which was a huge mistake. And then I googled because nowadays you can I am in the bathroom like now I've learned like, excuse me go to the bathroom, IMDb the shit out of their lies, right. But it turned out he had second unit line. Oh, no, he had told me he had produced it. But he had second unit line produced it. Which is he's basically Yeah, producers like finding the money soup to knotting it. And second unit line producing is someone who was hired to cut checks for a couple of days.

Alex Ferrari 52:58
Second, not even the main line producer the second

Heather Hale 53:00
Second unit line producer when he told me he produced it. But then the third I was gonna say because it goes the other way, too, is people who drive the flashy cars and have the gorgeous, can sometimes be so so encumbered and sold, leased and so fake about what they're projecting is their image, that they don't have the money to scrape together, change out of their depth for iced tea at a McDonald's, right? Yep. And sometimes you'll be with someone who's driving a beat up car, and they're not inexpensive shoes. And they do not offer to pick up the tab that's on somebody else's expense account. And they are the person who owns 21 homes free and clear and could actually find your film, but they're not trying to impress you, and they are cheap. And the reason they're rich is because they're cheap. And that doesn't mean they won't invest in your film. So I mean, it goes both ways.

Alex Ferrari 53:55
I do find and this is against only from years of experience, that the people who are the big loud mouth, the people who are the boasters Yes, there are those guys, you know, that are the Brett Ratner's of the world that are those kind of people, you know, and do actually know these people and actually have the money and stuff. And I threw bread out there because he deserves to be thrown out there. And I have no problem with that. But there but most of the times you're going to you know if you see the guy quiet in the room, and he's in the room, first of all, she's in the room. That means that they've done something to be in that room. Yeah. And generally speaking, they're not going to be the boasting guys and not going to be the ones dropping names. If you see Steven Soderbergh's car. He drives like a 2005 2008. Pre Buffett does too, by the way, right? Exactly. Because they're not trying to impress anyone. They're damaged. Yeah, they're very, they're rare in LA. They're in the business in general, you don't meet those people very often. They're rare on wall street there were Nashville's, ya know, they're everywhere, and they're very vague in every industry, but in our business, you know, you don't meet those people. So what I do actually meet people like our be Suzanne Lyons who's, you know, like you as well, people, you know, people who are actually doing what they're saying they're doing and are not boasting about, hey, I've got you know, 300,000 followers and you know I have this or I have that the proofs in the pudding. Yeah, like, Look, you just, you know, go and look, you know, look me up, I don't care, you know, look, or they'll say, look, you know, I want to talk about it.

Heather Hale 55:38
And that, quite frankly, is the value to your website and social media, you know, the more I feel like it, my website's not perfect, but I try really hard to have it projected good image. But I think that's good, because you can have a conversation, give them a business card, and then they can do their due diligence on you. And they can check you out after the fact they can check your bio, they can check your credits on IMDB. And so you can just be a human being involved and engaged in the conversation and not be trying to spit out your resume. So, you know, that is that's how I think you can be using your marketing and social media and those things to, to back you up with this 24 shingle that's out there all the time, but just be a human being when and be present in those conversations.

Alex Ferrari 56:24
Now, we've gone off off the rails a little bit in this interview, because we were talking more about markets. But this all works into the network. It all works out. But can you add, can you throw a few insider nuggets of things that we should look for at film markets, things that you like, I wish I would have known this doing a market before?

Heather Hale 56:44
Well, there's so much that I wrote a book on it. So like, that's before, that's actually the whole reason for the book was because you said you had gone to one of your first markets recently. Really kind of like blown away and overwhelmed. I think anyone in this business should just get on a market floor as fast as possible. Because you what you learn and how humbling it is, will really put things in perspective for the rest of your career. So whether you sell anything, Oh, go ahead,

Alex Ferrari 57:12
No, it's a product. That was the thing I said in my review of AFM like, it's so humbling, because they don't care about the craft. They don't care about the artistry they don't care about. It's a product. And yeah, and as soon as you understand that changes your perspective, a whole I don't care what your personal project, they don't care about it.

Heather Hale 57:30
Yeah. And they're not being mean either. They're just, it's not even callous. They're just so Matter of fact, and they can smile while they're just eviscerating you. painful. Leave a case you know, it's art to us but they don't care. They don't care.

Alex Ferrari 57:49
Obviously Steven Seagal and Mike Tyson not a lot of art in that movie.

Heather Hale 57:52
So So I will say that honestly, like I I'll tell you like how the book started. And then I'll tell you a couple secrets. I was at the American Film market in 2013. I booked all the speakers and I was helping focal press come up with their line, their franchise line, the AFM present. Sure. And so they had a focal press it said, you know, who do you think would make a good author for one of our books or in our series and who would be a good subject matter expert and is like, you know, you need to get RB to do something on crowdsourcing ad got him on a panel is like you've got to get no but nobody's talking about that. And I gave him all these names of people and I'd gotten another friend Anne Marie Guillen on the finance panel. I just really tried hard to get, you know, some new fresh voices that we needed to be hearing at the AFM. I was actually really proud because people told me later they opened up the full page spread, and I was Hollywood Reporter daily variety. And I had all the pictures for the all panelists. And people, at least a dozen people wrote me privately and said, I don't know how you did it. But it was 5050 female male, and it was every color of skin under the sun. That's because normally we don't see that. So I was really had like my own private agenda to try to really diversify what we saw, so that you weren't ghettoizing like putting all the women on one panel, because we don't know when you can avoid that panel, or all the people of color on one panel, and that's our diversity panel, but get one on every panel. That was my golf. Good. Anyway, um, so. So when I was helping her, I was giving her all these people that I think I got eight or a dozen friends book deals that year. She said, Well, if you come up with anything else, let us know. And I said, I can tell you right now what you're missing. And she said what? I go, you've got the American Film market presents and no one's ever written a book on how to work the markets. And her face just dropped like yeah, da it's like always the obvious that we miss. And so I said, I'll, I'll write it, you know, and I, of course, didn't feel like I was a guru. I just knew I could research and I reached out to at least 200 People I did interviews for a couple years for that book. So some of the things I learned at one at one AFM I was sitting there and I won't mention names of companies, I will tell you privately.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:11
Sure, no problem. I appreciate it.

Heather Hale 1:00:13
Anyway, I was sitting there with a girlfriend and we were going into meet someone I had interviewed, because that was another thing I did. I used it to network like crazy so that I could meet 200 people that were, you know, international sales agents and distributors and all that a financier, as an investor. So are sitting there to meet one of the people who I'd interviewed with. And we were on the other side of this cubby wall, because, you know, they sometimes have these temporary cubby walls and like there's four feet of empty room, you know, that it's the wall is not there. So on the other side was somebody pitching. And on the other side of another wall, were a couple people. So there was an established distributor, who was teaching a wet behind the ears, rookie distributor who was new to their company, of how to do what they needed to do. And I don't know how much you know about, like, I do my own budgets and schedules, and I can my views and stuff. So I don't know how much you know about this, but it hit us. But basically, when you do an independent film, you have to often do a SAG bond, right? Okay, so let's say you have a million dollar film and your budget for your actors is, let's say 200,000. So sag might make you put up 200,000, or 50,000. But you have to put up a bond, so that if for any reason you flake out and don't pay the payroll for that week, sag can dip into this bond, that it's a formula that they make you that they hold the whole time. So if you need a million dollars, you actually need 1.2 million, because you got to put this money up that sits there that you can't touch until you get it back. And so this distributor was explaining to the other distributor, the new distributor, how they could basically make a commission off you getting your sag bond refunded to you, if they use the wording for gross receipts into the account they were managing, okay. So in other words, they're supposed to be selling your film, and getting a commission from Turkey or China or you know, wherever they're selling it. And as those monies come in, they take 10% 20%, whatever their commission is off the Pasha. She was teaching him how to get the bond, the savings account, you raised blood, sweat and tears that you had sitting there to pay your actors, that when you got it back from sag, they could take 10 to 20% of it because it passed through their account.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:35
So let me let me clarify something you're telling me that there are unscrupulous distributors in the marketplace? Can you imagine this? Is this an exclusive?

Heather Hale 1:02:45
And they were training one another down the daisy chain? How to screw independent producers? So I know, shocking, absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:53
I've never heard anything like that.

Heather Hale 1:02:56
Like you're gonna take a commission off my savings account that I barely scraped together to make this Phil Street. What is this? Oh, my God, and then they want us to sign a contract that says, Oh, yeah, yeah, you can handle my money. I trust you. Yes. Yeah. So those are the kinds of things So literally, during the course of writing this book, I will say, I am this probably not politically correct. But we've established I'm an idiot, yes. I probably will make very little money off this, you know, because the publisher makes 80%. You know, funders are bad. Okay, so I don't, people are like, oh, I'll buy your book. I'm like, thanks. Like, what am I like? Maybe I'll see two cents. 10 years from now? I don't know. So I was so frustrated writing this book, because all that I was learning and all of that. And then I didn't even want to do as two years of work for free. For what, right? But what kept me going was storytellers around the world, content creators, people who have a dream, people have a passion, people have a story that is so under their skin, that they're working for two or five or 10 years for free speculatively. And I thought I got to help them. I got to help them navigate these markets. I got to help them stop being screwed. I got to help them save money. And I will tell you, this is really inappropriate. And I love it. I really need to edit it. No, we won't. I was in the AFM series originally in the franchise. Sure. And I was part of that. And it was always going to be that and it was kicked out. Because of many of the things I said of how to save money and how to you know, okay, if you can't afford a badge, here's what you do.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:37
Well, Heather, Heather to A to A to A FM's Kravitz defense here. I'm sorry, but I get that.

Heather Hale 1:04:46
And I edited it all out. You know what I mean? just done, the damage was done. And so the truth is, you know, there's a lot in this book that the markets don't want you to know. And the other thing was by the end of it, I was like, okay, you Here's how you work around the markets. Here's how you take everything you've learned. Yeah, that work on a market floor. And here's how you DIY it. Here's how you do YouTube. Here's how you use social media. Here's how you sell not business to business, but business to consumer, because that is revolution that Amazon and who else there still in the middle, you literally could have your own website and sell your books and your movies and your TV if they're good enough directly to the crowd that you're creating. So I think it was too independent and too irreverent, too real. And I have a problem with that.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:34
No, look, I I gave away. I give away a lead generator for if you sign up to my email list, six, six tips to get into film festivals for free or cheap. Yeah, exactly. And I think I got into over 600 film festivals in the course of my career, and I paid for probably less than 5% or 10% of Yeah, yeah. But you know, sometimes I wrote the film film festivals the wrong way. I'm like, but guys, look, you know, it's awesome.

Heather Hale 1:06:03
It is. It's such a hard business. You know, people are like I would volunteer for variety. sommets I bought I volunteered for everything I couldn't afford to go to. You know, so I'm a little pee on peasant with a name badge, but I get to hear the studio execs telling it like it is to, you know, be a fly on the wall to the $5,000 a seat thing I can't get into. So you just we one thing about independent filmmakers is we are scrappy. We are resilient. And we are pitfalls and we need to learn to be unflappable badasses.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:35
No. Can you say that? Can you talk? We spoke about the book a bit, but what's the name of the book? Where can they get it?

Heather Hale 1:06:42
It's called how to work the film and TV markets. And it's available on Amazon. It's available. You know, it's actually add a lot of the markets the the publisher took it to the AFM and it sold out in the first day. I'm sure so yeah. So my website is HeatherHale.com and I will put a plug because it's not even cost them any money. But on HeatherHale.com, I'm pretty sure it's /howtoworkthefilmandTVmarkets is all sorts of giveaway stuff. Like it has a calendar of the map of the markets all around the world, co production markets festivals. And I'll tell you that that calendar, that matrix took me forever, because I had to line up what was going on simultaneously, what was an ad junk event? What was going on? Like if you're going to another country? What could you also hit while you're there, it's a really great calendar, I've got the facts on packs. So who's got housekeeping deals where I've got them archived, so you can look back who used to have a deal with what studio and what distributor, it's got so many different sets of information. So and that's all you know, it's got a global map, it's got all the market statistics, it's got some great full color, key art examples. It's got a Union's low budget matrix, because if you can ever make sense of that game of Sudoku, good luck, right? So it's got anyway, it's Heather hale.com, how to work the film and TV markets, and it's got tons of giveaways. And then and then also on there, there's a 21% off on Amazon and 20% off the publishers like a code. So you know, it's gonna make my two cents go to one. But you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:08:20
I love the honesty, it's awesome. And I'll put all of those links in the show notes. So I have a few questions left that asked all my guests, all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker or screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?

Heather Hale 1:08:36
Oh, we have another hour. Now. Honestly, this is gonna sound really cliche and soapy. And but it's so true. It's just so frickin true. And you remember, you get reminded of it every year and every decade. And that's just be true to yourself. Be true to yourself, be authentic, and know who your friends are, because you will learn over and over and over again, who they are and who they aren't. And, you know, if you're going to be miserable, working around the clock at two in the morning, you damn well better make sure it's something worth working on. And I would say also, you know, when we create film and television products or content, I mean a lot of people artists hate to hear it referred to as product and content, but at the marketplace, that is what it is. It's a art over at the festivals. But whatever it is that you're creating, that you're generating, you are essentially exporting our culture. So I would beseech you to please be careful that you're really espousing values you actually hold not lowering to pander to the lowest common denominator of what you think you can sell. Because you could have a breakout hit with something that's actually meaningful. You know, you look at Shawshank Redemption and Groundhog Day and you know, there are films out They're and there's nothing wrong with entertainment, like cult hits, like there's so much good stuff out there. But, you know, do stuff you're really proud of. And that really means something to you. And it's cool if it's comedy, Thriller, Horror, whatever it is, but I mean, even look at alien aliens. Those are real horror, like in silence of the lamb and the believers, like there's some scary shit out there. And it's still entertaining. So I'm not saying it has to be g rated Disney answers for sure. I'm just saying, make sure that what you're saying with your art is really what you mean, because it's easy for it to get, you know, going through that gauntlet to get like GMO two headed shaped weird. That's not what you meant at all right? You know, stay true to yourself, stay true to your voice. And, and one thing that is good about Hollywood, there are many, many, many, many, many good things about Hollywood. But one of the things I love most about it is it is a society and a culture, where Everywhere you look, people are following their dreams everywhere. And it is exciting. It's entrepreneurs, I call them everywhere you look as people who passionately believe. Usually they're scams and posers and flakes, and felonies and all that. But most of the heart that beats in Hollywood, is people who have a mission for something they want to say that so under their skin, that they're trying to figure out a way to say it and hold true to that. And, you know, it's like I always say, you know, I'm a I'm a voluptuous girl. So I'm lucky because I'm very thick skinned, because you need a rhinoceros skin to survive in Hollywood. But one of the hardest things is to keep your heart open, and to stay responsive to the communal consciousness and to have empathy for other people's worldviews and points of views. So if you can, don't be a dick,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:55
That's, that should be on a T shirt. If that's not it, don't be there. That's like the best advice you could have in Hollywood. Don't be just don't be a dick.

Heather Hale 1:12:02
Yeah, be a nice person. And that doesn't mean be a doormat. It means be an unflappable badass who can cheerfully tell the truth and be honest and be you know, have good intentions and, and, and write great stories because the world needs them.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:20
Amen more now than ever. Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Heather Hale 1:12:29
Oh, boy, this is gonna reveal my libertarian roots. And probably Atlas Shrugged or the fountainhead. Okay, really? I know that's not an industry book. But sure. Oh, it's all about golf coach.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:46
I gotcha. I gotcha. I gotcha. No problem, no problem. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Heather Hale 1:12:56
Oh, my goodness, there's so many out. I'm not sure I've learned them all. Um, okay, well, I'm stealing this from my dad, but I think he would allow me to, and I'll probably cry because he recently passed. But um, you don't have to make every mistake personally. Interesting. And that you can surround yourself with mentors, and mastermind groups and friends. And you can learn from other people's mistakes and advice. And that doesn't mean, you know, don't have to make every mistake yourself.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:32
If you're smart, you can learn from others mistakes. And yeah, because I mean, why wouldn't you? Sometimes Sometimes you have to learn it by sticking your hand in the fire. But if people tell you, hey, I've been burned there, don't put your hand there.

Heather Hale 1:13:45
And that's why you have to know who your friends are. Because there are a lot of people who are going to tell you, Oh, don't put your hand in my cookie jar, when really you can build your own cookie jar, and they shouldn't be in your kitchen. To know who your friends are. Because your friends. And I'm very blessed to have a few who will tell you when you're being a shit. Who will tell you when you're being myopic, who will tell you when you're not seeing the forest for the trees. And and then there's times where and I've had this happen many, many, many times, where you know, you have an email and you send it to a few friends to make sure that they vet it to make sure it's not too emotional or you're not saying anything that could be slanderous, or whatever. It sometimes you can have. And I had this happen to my fact that it's an old story I've told many times, but I wrote to Sherry Lansing once, and everybody in my circle said no, don't send it. Don't send it. Don't send it. No, you'll embarrass yourself. No, you're reaching too far. No, no, no. And guess who called me Sherry Lansing,

Alex Ferrari 1:14:47
Really? Now by the way, can you tell everybody who doesn't who Cherie,

Heather Hale 1:14:51
She was the first woman to run a studio and she repairment like Titanic and you name Yeah, she was behind.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:58
She was a beast.

Heather Hale 1:14:59
Yeah. Like Behind every successful film for like a decade and a half? Yes. So all I'm saying is that there are times when all your friends and fans and champions who have your best interests at heart, I'm not saying they're wrong, but they are not seeing either how big you could be no, or the path that you're seeing through the trees. Or sometimes you know, it's not a lottery ticket, sometimes it's just luck and you reach out and with this sharing Lansing example, I'm I can give a million others. It was some connection I had, that I knew she would respond to, you know, you can see someone's Achilles heel, you have a tender spot in your heart that you know that that thread will connect you to them. And if you authentically speak to that, and sometimes your rage, I mean, I've had, you know, knock down fights, not fights, but verbal, with people who I loved and adored, who were eight, we were able to come back around, because we spoke our truth. And we realized we were like, kind of out of sync. When we both heard the other person's point of view. We understood it and got it and we got our friendship back on track and, you know, that could have been derailed, and it's the stronger friendship for it.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:16
And what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Unknown Speaker 1:16:19
Oh, for sure. I have to say my Groundhog Day and Shawshank Redemption.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:24
I was gonna say those two for sure.

Heather Hale 1:16:25
For sure, for sure. But I'll say a couple others. One of my favorites, a little teeny, teeny film, waking that divine love waking that I'm in love with. That is one of my all time favorites. And I have to say this won't be those would be my top three. I'll leave it at that. Those are my top three.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:45
Yeah. Heather, thank you so much for for sharing with the tribe and dropping some very big knowledge bombs on us. It's been an absolute pleasure having you on the show.

Heather Hale 1:16:57
Thank you. It's my honor. And my pleasure. And I hope that everyone learned something, or at least had a good laugh.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:03
Thanks. I really want to thank Heather for dropping some major knowledge bombs about film and television markets on the tribe today. And if you guys have not had the opportunity to go to a market like AFM or Cannes, or MIP, D or MIPCOM, definitely, if you have an opportunity go and do it, even if you have nothing to sell. Just go and understand talk to people understand the process of how independent film and Independent Television series are sold. And the more you understand about that process, and about the business of selling your product, you will be so much more successful and get to your goals faster and faster. Trust me, I learned not only a ton with this as Meg but I had already learned a lot about selling movies and going through that process throughout my career. But I learned so much more just doing with this as Meg as well. And now in the new film on the corner of ego and desire. I'm taking all that knowledge and bringing it to that project. So the more you do, the more you learn, the better it is, I tell you when I went to AFM when I've gone to Toronto, at their mini market, there's so many amazing nuggets of information you can get. So please, if you have an opportunity, do it cuz you will not be disappointed. If you want links to anything we spoke about in this episode including links to Heather's book, head over to indiefilmhustle.com/240. And if you haven't already guys, if you love the show, please head over to filmmakingpodcast.com and leave us a five star review. It really really helps me out a lot helps out the podcast a lot to get it ranked higher, to get more people to see it and listen to this information. So please just head over to filmmaking podcast.com and leave us that five star review. Thank you so much. And as always keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.



  • Heather Hale – Official Site
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”1138800651″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]How to Work the Film and TV Markets: A Guide for Content Creators[/easyazon_link]
  • StoryTellers on WalkAbout


  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)

IFH 075: What Does It Really Take to Make in Hollywood with Sebastian Twardosz

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Every once in awhile we all need to get a gut check. A “gut check” is when some new situation, or in this case knowledge, that tests your belief on what it takes to achieve your goal.

I invited Sebastian Twardosz to give us that gut check and lay down some major knowledge bombs on the Indie Film Hustle Tribe. Now Sebastian has been playing the Hollywood game for close to two decades and has racked up some major experience. Hollywood and the film business, in general, is a “relationship business“. Here’s what Sebastian said:

“Some of you will be successful and some of you will be less successful—it’s a numbers game, but regardless of the stats, you will likely fail if you don’t help each other.”

Sebastian Twardosz’s first production job was from 1995-1999 for Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner’s Paramount-based company where he started as an assistant and was promoted to an executive, actively participating in the making of Mission Impossible 1-2 and Without Limits.

Like many hopefuls wanting to get into the film biz, Sebastian Twardosz started as an agent’s assistant in the motion picture department at ICM. He graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1993. His short filmSilent Rain, received a Student Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well as the Student Emmy.

Sebastian co-produced the independent feature Small Town Saturday Night starring Chris Pine, and he has been an adjunct professor at both UCLA and USC Film Schools teaching about the art and business of film since 2006.

He also hosted a weekly show called The Insiders which aims to shed light on the “behind-the-scenes world of Hollywood” for aspiring filmmakers. Sebastian is currently a partner in Circus Road Films, which advises and represents emerging filmmakers. Take a listen to this eye-opening interview.

Alex Ferrari 0:30
I like to welcome to the show Sebastian Twardosz. I hope I didn't massacre that last name too much, Sebastian.

Sebastian Twardosz 3:51
It was it was perfect. Actually.

Alex Ferrari 3:54
No problem, man. Thanks for having me having. Thanks for having me on the show. I think I'm glad to have you on the show, man. Thanks for doing the show. I really appreciate it. We, Sebastian I met under interesting circumstances.

Sebastian Twardosz 4:07
Meet all my good friends.

Alex Ferrari 4:09
So I wrote many, many I think at the very almost at the beginning of the film, also I wrote this article about producers reps, and I have my bad experience with one in particular. And and Sebastian is a producer's rep now. He's done many things in the business and we're going to talk all about the stuff he's done in the business but Sebastian actually contacted me and said, Hey, man, you know, we're not all bad. I'm like, I know and then we just started talking I'm like, you know, and I got his perspective on what a real producers rep does a reputable one and what you know what the actual inside of that world is, as opposed to just my horrible experience. But so we're gonna talk a little bit about that and talk a bit about a bunch of the other stuff that Sebastian does. So Sebastian, you did a show on Youtube called the insiders which I have now become addicted to why Because you've got some amazing guests that come on, and you really kind of, you're similar to me in the sense that you kind of you're a straight shooter, you don't Bs, you don't kind of dance around it, you're like, this is what it takes, guys. This is what it really takes and to make it in the business and boom, boom, boom, you ask these kind of questions. So can you talk a little bit about the insiders? tell everybody about it.

Sebastian Twardosz 5:22
Right. Okay. Well, thank you, first of all, for having me on. That's very nice of you to say nice things. So yeah, well, you know, because I do a lot of different things. I mean, I also I teach at USC, I teach another place called National University. I am a producer's rep and you know, I just kind of my you know, I just believe in paying it forward and I try to be helpful to people that's these are really just avenues of being helpful. So the insiders Believe it or not, what's interesting, it goes right back to producer wrapping. If you look us up on IMDB, my co producer on that and director of all the episodes is Kevin hamadani. And we actually represented Kevin's film that's how I met Kevin. He made it true. So this is it all. It's kind of like what you do Alex, you have you do a lot of different things, but they all kind of you know, they're synergistic as they say. Yes, so I met Kevin we represented a film of his it's not the best Title I hate the title, but it's a very good movie. It's called junk. j u n. k.

Alex Ferrari 6:22
It's a rough that's a rough movie to sell.

Sebastian Twardosz 6:24
It's a rough movie just the titles that help us sell this movie but we did we did do a good job in selling them when Kevin was actually very happy hence he did a show with me that goes back to the beginning there are some good rubber good producer reps out there. But anyway so what what his story was if you look up Kevin that movie junk was in a lot of film festivals actually did really well on the festival circuit and he wanted to you know sell it and you know, we we got involved with them and we helped him get his distributor made the deal, etc. And he was very happy with that. And then it was probably about you know, Kevin has gone on to do even additional films and shorts and he's been like in Seattle Film Festival in Austin and Los Angeles from festival etc and other things. He's He's very good you can and watch junk. Oh, I should tell you but the movie is about kind of a burned out filmmaker who goes through the festival circuit.

Alex Ferrari 7:26
I got it. I got actually watched that now.

Sebastian Twardosz 7:28
Yeah, who goes through the whole thing of festivals and also, it's got a fantastic cameo in it. If you if you love movies in the 1980s this as one of the best cameos ever. Great movie, and it's about this filmmakers journey of making his movie, an independent film going through the festival circuit and then getting released. It's literally what we're talking about. Okay, it's a fantastic movie. Really. Okay. Anyway, um, so it's called junk and just just put it everywhere.

Alex Ferrari 7:58
I'll put it I'll put it in the show notes.

Sebastian Twardosz 8:03
Okay. So anyway, so that went that went well. And it was about two years after that. Maybe he he started directing for this YouTube network, YouTube channel called lip TV. And there's some other great shows on there. One of the best shows ever about interview about documentaries. It's called BYOD bring bring your own doc is fantastic. So if you love documentaries, you just go to YouTube and do BYOD anyway, Kevin was directing a lot of these he directed quite a few of the various shows and he asked me if I wanted to do one. Um, and I think he got the idea because I also teach at USC. So here's how this comes full circle because I asked him to be a guest on one of my classes. And we had a great time. Again, no BS, you know, we swear we do all kinds of great stuff in my class, and he had a rockin good time. And so he thought, well, maybe we could put this on the air. Now granted, we can't be quite as loose as we are, you know, setting Sure. He had the idea of doing the show. And I said yes. And the reason I said yes was because of my background, I you know, I know a lot of people like almost everybody on that show. Not everyone, but almost everyone I know, you know, personally or have worked with in some capacity. And I just knew all these people. And a lot of them I was invited to my class. So like, if you go if you Google my name Sebastian toward Oz, and USC, my class pops up and you see all this great list of guest speakers and are saying to myself, you know, this is really cool that I could bring him into class and teach everyone you know, because there's my classes, like two hours of me talking and then two hours of the guest speaker q&a. And so I said, You know, I really wish more people could hear what some what these guys have to say. And so the idea was to just get and I knew a lot of these guests because I've done classes with them. I've had a good rapport with them. So you know, Kevin gave me the opportunity and he said, look, I think I can get you the show on The lip TV and and so I went in to meet with the guys who who run it. This one guy Michael Lustig is the kind of creator, the executive producer of all of it. And they said, Yeah, let's give it a shot. So I did it, we ended up doing 42 episodes, we had to take a break. Because I have a lot going on. There's two reasons we took a break. I also want to do a different version of it, ultimately, but the whole idea of the show was to kind of, you know, really dissect industry. And for people who really want to know, like, how things work, or how people made it. My biggest question for everyone was always like, their origin story, and how did they? Yeah, they make it? Yeah, how did they get in. And then we kind of get into the weeds a little bit with some of them. But but it's not meant to be Entertainment Tonight, the show's really meant for people who want to, you know, make it in Hollywood, kind of, like, you know, like my students at USC, or national universities and other place or, I used to teach at UCLA to actually and, and just to kind of, you know, have other people experience and get to know you know, how it's done. That's it, that was the whole impetus for the show.

Alex Ferrari 11:10
It's a great show and anybody who's interested in getting it, you know, amazing access to some amazing guests and it's awesome. It's really really awesome.

Sebastian Twardosz 11:18
Well, some of the episodes are very good, some are a little slow. So you know, I didn't we didn't really have that much time was a little bit thrown together. I wish when we do a 2.0 version of it, which I hope to do. There I have a lot of ideas for making it better, but but it's it's it's pretty good. I'm pretty I'm happy with it.

Alex Ferrari 11:33
So can you talk a little bit from your perspective, what does a producer rep do?

Sebastian Twardosz 11:38
Okay, well, there are different kinds of producer reps. Ultimately, their job is to help you get distribution to like find you a distribution deal. And then to negotiate the basic terms of that, that that's the ultimate job and that's what most producer reps do. We we do more than that, but that's the basics and you say we who is we? Well, my partner Glenn Reynolds and I and then we have a couple of people that work with us we're also partners Alex nollie and Josh Holman you know we have varied backgrounds you know like Glenn produced conversations with other women he stopped you know he started like a really successful foreign sales company you know with the law school University of Texas produced other movies also and has you know just been working in business for a while Alex No, he used to be with film independent and has been with various you know, programmer various festivals Also producer I mean if you just look at the background for us, we are we are doing well Josh Holman by the way is really cool. I think it was two summers ago he won the Austin Film Festival for writing comedy spec oh nice he wrote you know, so we're all in the business to various ways and really what we're doing is you know, you make various relationships as you kind of go through and it just turned out that we knew a lot of people who could help in terms of distribution but like I said we do more like we do a lot of festival consulting which is a big aspect of it and then we actually do the the the deals to actual contracts

Alex Ferrari 13:16
Now you say we again but your name you haven't mentioned the name of your company wants to just want to make sure you get it out

Sebastian Twardosz 13:22
Sorry I'm sorry. Circus Road Films.

Alex Ferrari 13:26
Okay. No worries now Now you know the situation that I was in and the reason why we spoke heavily about that and the negative connotation is that the person has that has since been ousted from the business are there still in your experience producer reps out there who are doing that kind of negative you know, you know we talked a little bit about upfront payments and things of that we'll talk about what what producers reps generally get charged you know charge and things like that but you know the abuse that this person's and if you want to say her name I have no problem

Sebastian Twardosz 14:00
I'm gonna say that I think that's appropriate but I mean when you know when I read the article that you posted I knew exactly who you're talking about like instantly and anybody who in this part of the business because it's a very small part of the business this particular niche of it you know, anyone would know right away you somehow found your way to the worst very bad actor they say like like really probably the worst which is unfortunate and although you did get a deal at the end, which is you know, better than not getting any deal at all

Alex Ferrari 14:35
Some somewhere I still lost money but it was it was a little surreal. Yeah,

Sebastian Twardosz 14:38
Well, um so you know, that it's just unfortunate but are there other people like that there's no one that I'm aware of that it's at that level. Honestly, it's just, you know, because that particular person had various filings against them in the Better Business Bureau, all kinds of stuff. I have never seen that with anyone else. I you just happen to fall into the worst There are some other people who I'm sort of concerned with, because I know the appropriate, appropriate way to do this in the not appropriate way. Let me just say this, um, you know, because upfront fees in this part of the business are actually normal. But here's the thing, you know, it's hard, it might be hard to tell from the filmmakers side of it, I suppose. But, you know, like, we don't represent movies, if one we don't like them, or two, we don't think we can get them a deal, we just will pass, because there is the internet and there is, you know, our reputations. And like, for us, like, I've represented other students at USC, or I've represented, you know, some of my other professors, they're actually my boss, you know, and, you know, so much that that must be very interesting. Was it was what wasn't my direct boss, but she's definitely my superior. there at the school, because she's the head of the producing track. But you know, and we did the fee and everything, but you know, we come through for our clients. And you know, it, I suppose the differences, you know, do you just take money just to take the money? Or do you take it because you really want to be helpful, and you think you can be helpful? And that's kind of it for me, I'll, you know, if I think I can be helpful, then yeah, I'll do it. But if I, you know, cuz some movies are, you know, you just can't, there's just nothing we can do. So, you know, you just have to walk away, right? Also, there's some filmmakers, it's just, you know, my life might be too short. Walk away. I know the feeling again, but with you want, it was very unfortunate, you just happen to fall into the wrong hands. And, you know, I don't know what to say, I don't think most people are like that. There are some people I'm a little bit concerned with. It's true. Because you know, anybody can be a producer's Rep. So really, it's about just doing a lot of research. And I know, in your case, you said you even had a recommendation or referral. Oh, yeah. Which is even makes it even tougher.

Alex Ferrari 17:07
It was it was it was from a very major organization that I was a part of, and she and that producers rep came and spoke and was represented, you know, recommended by the head of the organization, everything. So that was a lot of due diligence right there. Because I trusted, the organization has nothing to do with the organizations that happen to be a bad situation. But

Sebastian Twardosz 17:25
I just don't know what to say to that. Because, you know, I just don't know what to say, because you do have to do the due diligence. You know,

Alex Ferrari 17:34
It was really it's okay. I mean, it's really early on in my career, I was I was literally in diapers almost, in the sense of the business. And she saw me coming from a mile away. And that was what happened and life goes on. But so with that said, What do producers reps generally charge as a general statement for, you know, representing a representation of an indie film?

Sebastian Twardosz 17:55
Well, what they charge depends on what they do, okay. And they charge at different points. So we'll start from various places, you can get a producer rep for just 10%. But you know, there's, there's two kinds of reps that will work in that, that zone. One is, you know, the major agencies. And, you know, they're really working with movies that you know, are pure Sundance movies that have, you know, very recognizable names. And then if not stars, just kind of moonlighting in indie films, you know, it's very hard for, for what I call a true independent to get that kind of representation. It's possible, but it's, it's very hard. And then there, there are the other reps who just do it a 10%. But what happens is, if they can't, you know, sell your movie in a month, or you know, if you don't get into a major festival, like Sundance Tribeca, Toronto, or South by Southwest, they'll just drop you and they might do it amicably. But really, it's for most, nine out of 10 independent movies, the 10% reps are really truly not interested or disinterested. You know, I even have a story of one film that we represent that we did a good job on. They had signed with a just a pure 10 percenter. And as soon as they signed, that person never called or emailed them back again. It was just purely the art of closing the deal. And they had to let that contract run Now fortunately, because I was also trying to sign that film. It's a very good film, small film but very good as Australia saying, but they said, Well, we just don't want to pay any upfront fee. I said, Okay, well, but the things change, let me know. And I said to him, I said, Look, at the very least, just sign three months. I said no more. I said because look, if they can't get it done in three months, they're not. They're not ever going to do it. And that's a good thing. They were able to get their claws down to three months so that three months later they contact me You said Look, I walked away because they live They told me you guys never call us back and so we took on the film and in less than two months we had a deal and they were really happy and on and on. So okay so that's the temper centers and mind you that's really good if you have the right kind of film the right kind of film basically means you have to be in the Big Four festivals or it's got to have like some extremely marketable element to it. But but this is the smallest minority of indie films it truly is. Then they're the ones that charge fees tip like us which we do typically the the reps that charge fees will also do your contracts and we do that so um, some will charge you upfront and I'll talk about how much in a second and some will charge you when they sign a deal. Like as soon as you sign a deal and it could vary I've basically the magic number seems to fall between five and 10,000 it really does vary also depending on you know, there's there's so many factors that go into it so but that number seems to fall between five and 10 which is where we are and then you know for us we do another thing though, so that's most reps most reps it's really just about making the deal finding a distribution and like which I said is the main thing but with us we do more like one of the main things that I do is festival consulting and I do a lot of festival consultant that you can just hire a film festival consultant separately and that could run you 500 to 1000 a month right? It really can't and so what we do is we do festival consulting we do the distribution submissions and then we do the contracts all three wrapped into our fee and I think we are well worth it yeah I kind of use like my class as an example like to get me in my class at USC you could just look this up my class there cost $6,500 which is a lot of money but mind you this class is a really good class so if you watch any of the insiders episodes, it is way better than even that because you're just getting a small taste of it not getting the real the kind of stuff you can say off screen you know all the stuff before that that you can that we talked about so you know you have to put it in the context for what you're getting what the person's actually doing, and what they can charge for because look we don't have to help you get into a festival The reason we do it we I'll tell you why we do we do it for a couple reasons one, it can help to sell your film if you get into the right festival 2 it's good for you and your career it will help you advance your career and really if you look at me specifically I mean I'm teaching Believe me I'm not teaching for the money you know I make more money doing you know circus road or doing other things that I do that I do teaching I do teaching because I really am trying to pay for night I love this business and I want to make it easier for people than it was for me basically that's kind of the same here what that's basically what it did my whole thing is like remembering like what it was like for me when I was 18 and I got out here I mean even the class the class that I teach at USC is actually the class I wish I had and then I eat it when I when I was at USC but I didn't have or they didn't have it there so there's really the impetus for all of it so yeah so anyway so so that's kind of how the fee stuff works it just depends what you get if they're doing your contracts are always going to charge the reason is because you're going to have to hire a lawyer no matter what you shoot you're gonna have to hire one I suppose you could do want to do it on your own but it wouldn't be I wouldn't advisable to do it yeah, so you're gonna pay one way or another and what we're doing is we have all that in house as opposed to just be being a you know, a pure rep without doing the contracts because the temper centers typically will have to match you up pair you up with with a lawyer and by the way when you're paying that lawyer if they're referring a lawyer they're probably getting kind of a fee kickback You don't even know about course course that's the way the system is getting paid. You just don't know about it. So with us we just happened to be very upfront about it. Well here's what it is these are the actual costs of doing this. And you know then if you get into good festival and say the Austin was obviously the Big Four like you know, talked about, let's say you get into a smaller but great festival like Austin or tell you writers cinequest will tell you for sure, but but you know, we go off into those festivals we don't charge anymore to do to do any of that, you know, but we go and you know, our advices is rock solid on all sorts of things because we've kind of been there before. But you know, these things cost.

Alex Ferrari 24:49
Yeah, there's a cost involved with it. So well thank you for explaining that a little bit more and getting your perspective on what a real producer's rep does and let everybody understand what That situation is now in your in your past you have worked with a lot of people. But specifically you had the opportunity to work with a mega movie star as a producer, Mr. Tom Cruise. What was it like working with Tom Cruise on on the level that you were working with him on?

Sebastian Twardosz 25:19
Well, that was really kind of one of the best times of my life was so amazing. I'm a I'm actually a working class kid. You know, my parents were definitely I'm an immigrant. First of all, I was born in Poland. And my dad was a machinist. My mom was a hairstylist. You know, I went to USC, on scholarship, USC, film, school, those all scholarship and stuff, thank God. But you know, but but I come from a very working class kind of area of Detroit and, you know, working for Tom Cruise. credible, I'm sure, flying around in private jets, you know, dealing with CIA, and, you know, the chairman of CIA, you know, because agent was the CO chairman of CIA. Yeah, you know, his, his publicist was the number one publicist in the business. Pat, Kingsley, Mk. And, you know, we were, you know, it was at the height of his career, he was, when I was there, it was a mission, one mission to Jerry Maguire and Eyes Wide Shut the movie he produced, which was without limits, which is, I was on set for that. So, I mean, it was eye opening. You know, in hindsight, hindsight is always a good thing, I suppose, you know, but these companies, they're small, first of all, you know, so when you have a, you know, it's the same today as it was, then, when you have a movie star, you know, you're only talking about a company of, like, 10 or so people at as many as 15, if it's big, or as little, I suppose, is like six, but it's a round number of around 10 that work at these companies and, and it is very high pressure. Because, you know, at that time, he was for sure, the biggest movie star in the world. And there's a lot of demands, and you know, there's a lot of money to be made and the choices that you make are important, you know, because everybody wants you in their movie, and a lot of people will profit from whatever choices you make. So it was I would, I would describe it as extremely a very high pressure place for sure.

Alex Ferrari 27:23
Yeah, that sounds that sounds like you've made obviously a lot of contacts along the way being in that in those kind of situations.

Sebastian Twardosz 27:29
Yeah, because everyone's calling you know, so you know, studio heads. I mean, literally chairman of studios or chairwoman of studios you know, all the heads of all the major everybody wants you because your time and what was interesting to me is you know, I would read variety or nowadays you're reading deadline Hollywood, but you know, you read like so and so was cast in the eye like Matt Damon gets this film or, or Kevin Reynolds Kevin Costner? I'm sorry, Kevin Costner gets this film or what have you Tom Hanks gets this film. And the truth of the matter is that we had seen that script and it had been offered to Tom Cruise probably six months or more before it ever got offered to anybody else and it appeared in the traits he was he would see everything like so all these announcements with all these other you know very big movie stars. Will Smith What have you we you know, these are scripts we have seen six months nine months before it was ever announced that somebody else was in it

Alex Ferrari 28:29
So you were where you were working at the top of the mountain

Sebastian Twardosz 28:32
It what's funny is it didn't feel that way when you were there because there's always you know working at these companies there's always consent you know this concentric circles and you know obviously my boss who was Tom's partner, Paula Wagner she's in the center of it and we're you know, there's rings outside of that we were close to the center but you know but yes I mean we were you know we were a Paramount's I suppose we were at the top of the mountain but I guess literally Yeah, but it doesn't it really doesn't feel that way it's just a lot of work a lot of script reading a lot of production just a lot of You're so you're working so much that you just you lose sight of the outside world innocence you actually you actually lose sight of where you are in a way because you know you still have to do the actual work and you're not you know, I'm not that I wasn't his producing partner or anything you know, I'm not the head of the studio. You know, I'm working at this company and I guess I was one of the 10 or so people core people there for a long time but you can't you do you lose you lose sight just because you're you're buried in so much work.

Alex Ferrari 29:44
Now, what they did with Eyes Wide Shut, were you involved with Eyes Wide Shut at all.

Sebastian Twardosz 29:50
No, with Stanley Kubrick is always an exception. I think. We were We were we you know, we we were not in involved with that movie. No, that was all Stanley. It was Yeah, it was all set it was going on at the same time as, you know, mission one mission to Jerry Maguire. And without limits Those were all happening around the same time. But you know, Tom, you know, actors are busy, they can do more than one thing at Tom is also a producer, they could do more, you know, they do numerous movies every year. So that was while everything else was going on.

Alex Ferrari 30:24
But I heard that. But I also heard that Stanley basically locked up Tom for what, 18 months?

Sebastian Twardosz 30:31
Um, well, that's true. But Tom was still he is a producer, you know. So although Tom may have been, you know, acting in that movie, he's still reading scripts for his next movie, you're still reading scripts of writers he wants to hire to, you know, right Mission Impossible to Yeah, he's working. Well, we were in development a mission to while so it's not like, it's not like he was only doing that there. We were an active development on mission to while he was there, he was reading and meeting with, you know, writers and directors for mission too. So that was the that was obviously the big impetus because we didn't want to just come out. And also he was producing movie, he wasn't even in without limits. And believe me, believe me every single day. He was on the phone with Paul, we were on the south Paulo. I was on the phone with him every day, every single day back then. We faxed pages to him. Even small changes every page of a script that was changed in any way was sent to him. He was overnighted back then. Video while back I was videotapes we could do now was we're talking about 1995 Sure, sure. Sure. Internet was just a baby. Yeah, we were overnighting you know, all the dailies to them. I mean, this is and we're not talking like FedEx. We're talking like private couriers to get it right to Tom, you know, on a set where he was, you know, England, Eyes Wide Shut. Everything was overnighted to him. He was incredibly involved. So basically, maybe producing sorry, producing without limits may have kept him saying maybe while he was working with um, maybe that's what it was. I mean, I don't know. You know, exactly, but, but I'm sure that that probably was a good a good thing for him to be doing while Stanley was, you know, doing 200 takes because the shooting ratio is so high 200 takes of a scene.

Alex Ferrari 32:31
Oh, we could talk about Stanley for hours. I'm a huge Kubrick fan. And that's one of my favorite Kubrick movies. Believe it or not, I love Eyes Wide Shut.

Sebastian Twardosz 32:38
Oh, I have some stories. I could tell you that because I would hear stuff. Like mind blowing. But uh, but yeah, so I'm sure the production company side the development side of all the other things Tom was doing probably kept him sane while he was doing Eyes Wide Shut. Like I said we had nothing to do with that. Sure. Sure, sure. So you know, Stanley could do his thing. Tom was in it. And I think he was very happy to be in it. But Tom has, you know, a life outside of that. And that was all the other movies we were working on.

Alex Ferrari 33:04
Now. In another interview, I heard you discuss the two paths an indie filmmaker can take when making a film The making money path and the jumpstart your career path? Can you tell us a little bit more about both of those paths?

Sebastian Twardosz 33:17
Okay, yes, it's it's, you know, this isn't like set in stone. This isn't like lanes of the highway. But yes, there seem to be two paths that I've seen for indie films. So if all you want to do is just make money. There are certain kinds of films you make in there certain kinds of things you put into those movies, and they tend to be more genre movies, or action movies or horror movies or what have you. Or you can make a pure for instance, most people don't know this, but making a pure family film is probably the best thing you could do. Like, you know, you don't know, the franchise that no one ever talks about. The most probably one of the most successful franchises out there.

Alex Ferrari 34:00

Sebastian Twardosz 34:02
No. But Close, air buds.

Alex Ferrari 34:06
Oh, God, I could imagine those air buds. Yes, they just keep going and go we can go

Sebastian Twardosz 34:11
Look who produced it originally. But if you look, it's Bob and Harvey Weinstein.

Alex Ferrari 34:16
Right! I suppose it was that was that? That was an amerimax thing that was

Sebastian Twardosz 34:21
Yes, it was a pretty or dimension or something. Yeah. Often Harvey Weinstein or the executive producers, because you know the secret in this industry. It's true. If you make like a dog movie or pure kids movie, it will make a lot of money. And so now there but movies are all owned by Disney, but that's because Disney bought Miramax Sure, sure they got it out from Miramax. But there's so many of those airborne movies anyway, if you make movies like that, it won't necessarily propel your career as a director. Because you're going to be looked at in a certain way, but you'll make a lot of money. The riskier bet is to try and propel your career as a director. And for that you pretty much have to make basically A major festival film Sundance Film south by Toronto, Tribeca. And those movies tend to be more dramas, they do have a midnight section. So you could get away with it. But they're kind of elevated movies in that sense. And they're much riskier, because making a drama. If you don't get one of the big four festivals will probably diamond financial disaster. So it's very tricky as to how to go about, about doing it. But those are the two paths. The other thing is, you know, what do people really look for in, in director clients, you know, so for writers, they're looking for your voice. And for a director, they're looking for your point of view. So they want to see, you know, how, how you direct, you know, scenes and actors and stuff. And that's the kind of stuff that goes to Sundance. So that's why you have you know, all these let me look at the Russo brothers, you know, that their first movie was actually at slam dance. Then they had a movie in Sundance, and then their careers took off. Same thing with Colin trevorrow. Sundance movie, and then, you know, Jurassic, right from a Sundance movie safety net County, which is a great little movie, by the way, it's just a little movie a character piece, not very proud. If it didn't go into Sundance, it probably wouldn't have been profitable at all.

Alex Ferrari 36:18
It didn't have any major stars, Mark duplass is the only I think, yeah.

Sebastian Twardosz 36:21
And then and then and, you know, and then he goes to Jurassic World, and this is normal. There are other examples of this. I mean, it goes way back, even, you know, Bryan Singer directed x men, you know, he did a movie called public access, which is a drama, really, it's kind of a mystery drama that went to Sundance and, and, and it was Sundance that gave him his break. So you know, you want to go for that, but it's very difficult. It's not very few movies get to go to Sundance. Um, so that's why it's a risky path. So that's why I say to people, you have to know what you want. When you start making a movie, or even Ryan Johnson, by the way, who did brick, this his first movie went to Sundance, and now he's directing Star Wars episode eight. And you know, I know kind of his whole story, his was kind of took longer to get to Star Wars, but Sundance makes a difference. So you have to know what you're doing from the onset. And what I tell people is, actually, and this goes kind of goes, goes back to producer reps again, by the way, you should not be making a feature film to make money.

Alex Ferrari 37:22
No, it's a worst worse idea.

Sebastian Twardosz 37:25
Right? And that's why this world of really good producer reps or consultants, or what have you, we all know this, and that's why we can we can charge a little bit also because we can give you the right advice. It's not about making, you know, a return on investment. It really isn't. It's about propelling your career. And that's why again, we focus on festivals a lot and that's why we focus you know, I'm getting you know, good distribution. And good distribution doesn't always make a lot of money either. But you know, but the festival thing really does matter. Because if you get into right festivals, it can really help you. And so we focus a lot on that. Um, so yeah, those two paths are interesting, but if all you want to do is make money, then yes, make a movie like air but or if you make a horror film, because you know, everybody thinks Oh, I'll just make a horror film. I'll make a lot of money. But that's not true. Because because there's a glut of horror films, but there's not a glut of air button movies. Yeah. Yeah, you have to make an either elevated horror film, or you have to give us something we just haven't seen before.

Alex Ferrari 38:29
Can you give us an example of an elevated horror film for the audience?

Sebastian Twardosz 38:32
Well I mean people will say you know saw the original saw was a Sundance movie by the way it was in Sundance

Alex Ferrari 38:40
Midnight Yeah, yeah. Blair Witch Right,

Sebastian Twardosz 38:43
Right. Blair Witch as well right? I don't know that I would call Blair Witch elevated Blair Witch was just new at the time because of the way

Alex Ferrari 38:53
It was an anomaly basically created a genre created genre.

Sebastian Twardosz 38:57
Yeah, because look, here's why you know, it's an anomaly because look at what the guys who made it have gone on to do which there hasn't been anything really major whereas the song guys Oh, yeah, careers have taken off so they were not an anomaly. They know. They've it's legal now and James one they've they've both like, done it more than once now. I mean, look at their credits. So that's how you know they're not one hit wonders, they, they know what they're doing. Yeah, but that I guess you can call an elevated just means that let me just put, this is how I phrase it. If you're going to make a horror film, just make sure this is the film. If you're only going to make one film and your entire life. You get one shot. Put as much effort, you know, into that horror film, and pretend it's the only film you'll ever ever make because actually chances are might be actually the only film you ever make. But as much effort and time into that as you would like if you were writing. I don't know Dead Poets Society or Amadeus or, or you know, Shakespeare in Love or it Any you know The Revenant? What at what? What whatever movie you think is an awesome movie that won an Oscar, you know the Birdman or what have you put as much effort into your horror movie as you would into that. And that will probably make it better. And that includes with the script, by the way, because it all does start with the script. So yeah, that's my long winded answer to like the the two paths to take

Alex Ferrari 40:24
Now with with that, which is something I kind of talked about a little bit as well is, you know, finding your voice and finding your point of view, like you pointed out, can you go a little bit more into dealing like the voice of a screenwriter and too many ways of voice or perspective of a director? Because obviously the strong the people who've all made it in this business, they all have very strong points of view, or very strong voices. I mean, Tarantino's voice is, it's like a bullhorn. You know? And you know, Scorsese, and even Spielberg and Fincher, they all have such a strong, distinct point of view, voice style. Can you talk a little bit about that? Cuz I think a lot of filmmakers that make movies today that just slap stuff together and try to copy somebody else, or have no real point of view that just kind of putting it out there just to say, Hey, I made a movie.

Sebastian Twardosz 41:16
Well, let me give you an example of voice. I'm actually because I'm, I start my one class at USC tonight, so I happen to have my syllabus, everything from I'm gonna give you an example. I will attribute this to a friend, a good friend of mine, his name is Alex liftback. And he's a screenwriter. You can look him up, he's made some rent some good movies. He's also an executive at 20th Century Fox. He's a great guy, but he said this was one of my classes. I wrote it down because I liked it so much. So here's an exact example of it. And then now we can talk about it. It'd be short. So here's here's a very good well written piece of screenplay which I'll read to you in a second. There's nothing wrong with it's well written, but it doesn't have voice and now read to you the version that that's so here we go. Ready? interior Jack's apartment night. jack is asleep on this couch. There's a knock on his front door. He stirs awake as Jane enters. Perfectly competent, well written. Sure. Fine. But it lacks voice. So here's voice ready. Interior Jack's apartment night. What a shithole. That's actually a compliment. Jack's asleep on his couch. There's a knock in his front door, he stirs awake, Jane enters, she can stop traffic, air traffic.

Alex Ferrari 42:36
Ohh Jesus.

Sebastian Twardosz 42:38
The difference ultimately, the differences, yes, it has taught first there's tone, there's attitude and the writing. But if you if you if you're listening to it, it's visual. You know, like he says, what a shithole instantly in your mind, you're thinking okay, he's got you know, it's apartments a show, you can picture. You know, Jane and her, they don't describe Jane, they just say she can stop traffic, air traffic. And in your mind, you whatever you, the reader, or listener thinks is the hottest woman that could walk in the room will come up in your mind. It's visual. So voice is as a couple things, as a writer, and then as a director is slightly different. But because obviously you can do your your visuals, but as a writer, it's, it's about it's about tone, and feeling you and the ability to make somebody picture something in their mind. But it's also the ability to make somebody feel ultimately your voices can you this is this entire business ultimately is can you make either the real reader feel something, or the viewer in a movie theater feel something, it's all about feelings? Really, that's all it is. And people who have a voice are a master of getting the reader to feel something. But one way of doing that is obviously getting them the picture. So you know, that that has a lot to do with voice. The other thing is don't self censor, that ultimately are no rules. Yes, you have to know how to write a good screenplay. So read a lot and I mean a lot of screenplays, but really there are no rules. So you don't have to necessarily be grammatically correct. You can say anything, never self censored. I always say in class, I mean, I mean, look at bridesmaids, you've got a you've got you know, you know you've got a fat chick taking a dump in a sink. In the I mean, okay, there's nothing, anyone, nothing you can write, the people in Hollywood will get offended by or whatever. It's like, if it's if you want to be funny than be funny. If you want to be serious, to be serious, but never self censor. And, you know, take risks, and just, you kind of want to be yourself. Be yourself in your writing. Then that's, that's what you want to be

Alex Ferrari 45:00
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. And it's I think, is a general thing as an artist, any artist anywhere in any any form is about being yourself. And also the confidence that the confidence is so good when you when like that second piece that you wrote, it took a lot more balls to write that kind of way than it did the first time. And you can call it voice, but it's also confidence because you know what a shithole? A lot of people like I'm not going to curse in a script, what am I going to, but that's not the proper way. I haven't read it like that. But you see, you already said that little voice craps into your head, but there's that then you got that guy who's just really confident just like boom, what a shithole what, or this or that. And that's that. And that's what people I think, in a lot of ways really are attracted to,

Sebastian Twardosz 45:54
I actually talk about confidence in class. So you totally nailed it. There's another word for it too, though. Confidence is the right word. But it's also it's called being in control of your story. The, it's like when you're giving a pitch to somebody, or when you're talking to somebody about what you want to make, they have to have a sense that you are in control of your story. And being in control of it means you are confident. And yes, because it's like dating, I mean, there's always analogies to dating. Yes. If you can be confident that's not cocky per se, but confident that that shows strength, and it shows that you really know your characters, you really you control the scene. And that's also what I mean by don't don't self censor, don't.

Alex Ferrari 46:40
Yeah, I know, a lot of a lot of young writers and a lot of filmmakers will censor themselves before they ever come out the gate. And I'm like, Look, other people are going to try to censor you. Why are you going to try to censor yourself before you come out the gate?

Sebastian Twardosz 46:50
Let other people do that. Because that's what happens, you know, good scripts, watered down. You know, by the way, one of the best scripts I ever read a long time ago. And anybody in the business back then will tell you this was in the mid 90s, again, was a script called East Grand Rapids. Hi, do you know what that will have never know which one was at East Grand Rapids high was I still have a draft of that, by the way.

Alex Ferrari 47:10
Oh, it's American Pie.

Sebastian Twardosz 47:11
It's American Pie.

Alex Ferrari 47:12
It's American Pie. I thought so. Yeah.

Sebastian Twardosz 47:14
Well, we read that because I was a creative executive at the time. People in the business was passing that script around. Like it was like it was butter, like it was chocolate got sold for a record amount. I remember cuz, see, everyone sees that movie, in the sense of having seen the movie, right? And it seemed the sequence which obviously aren't as good, but when you read that fresh, and there was no movies or nothing to look at, it was incredibly well written. well written and not censored, believe me at all. And it was hilarious. And you know, it just it kept hitting a nerve. I'm like, Oh, yeah, I did that. Or Yeah, that's funny. That happened to me, or somebody I knew bla bla bla, and it was not sent self censored. So I'm just, you know, go for it.

Alex Ferrari 48:02
Right. I mean, there was that movie, which I heard the script was made. I read the script. It was amazing. And it was much different than the movie was last Boy Scout. Shane Black script. Yeah. Original I was it sold for like 3.5 million back in the day or something like that. Yeah. And it was remarkable. And they changed the you know, they changed the daymond Wayne character from a wisecracking black guy to from a surfer dude, if I remember correctly in the original script, or something like that. It's stuff like that happens all the time, but at least shamed and watered down his version. He just Yeah,

Sebastian Twardosz 48:36
I don't know. I don't think Yeah, he's another one of these guys. Like if you read his scripts, it's it's awesome. By the way, there's a really good article, I think in Hollywood Reporter right now, about Shane Black, and his hay days. And he's, you know, he's coming back and he has a new movie coming out.

Alex Ferrari 48:50
I can't wait to see it, too. It looks amazing.

Sebastian Twardosz 48:52
Yeah. These guys know how to write Oh, yeah, I think there was no holds barred.

Alex Ferrari 48:56
Yeah, no question. So to go back to film festivals real quick, would you suggest that if a film if a filmmaker gets into a let's say Sundance, and they are not on track to get a let's say a distribution deal, like cuz there's I know a lot of Sundance, you know, you know, winners, that never got a deal because of the kind of tone to the movie or something along those lines, would you suggest that they they like maybe do a quick one week self distribution, you know, digital, digital streaming version of him like, Hey, you know, it's only after Sundance special only a week later. You can watch it here because all the attention is going to be on them, they'll probably never get as much attention on the film ever again. So would you leverage that?

Sebastian Twardosz 49:39
I don't know that it works. I'll tell you. Slam dance is doing that now like slam dance, will actually can actually distribute your movie for you because they're trying to make that work. Sundance hasn't quite done that yet. Tribeca is doing it, you know, because Tribeca films also distributes a little bit. It's interesting, it The real problem is that there are It's an ocean of movies now. It's all about marketing really it's about getting people's attention so I don't know that doing it on your own works I have to tell you I have never seen it I've only seen it work in very specific forms I'll tell you what they are because I have my in it's it's just it doesn't seem to work with narrative films at all it kind of works with in the non narrative space. Like there was there was a movie about like the education system that's making a fortune. Right now that's all self distributed.

Alex Ferrari 50:38
Yeah, Doc Doc's do very well with that model. I've seen many Doc's do extremely well,

Sebastian Twardosz 50:42
yeah, yeah, they seem to do better, but narratives. Not so much. I'm actually trying to find the name of the slipping my mind,

Alex Ferrari 50:50
What I mean. And from my experience, there have been films, the independent films that have done well, it's self distributed, but again, their budget levels have to be extremely low, the the audience,

Sebastian Twardosz 51:02
Remember any of them cuz I

Alex Ferrari 51:04
Camp Dakota, I remember was one that they did. That was a bunch of YouTube stars put together but they had a huge audience. So they saw they had the marketing because of the YouTubes. But that's my point. Like, there is a way to do it, but it takes a lot of work. And you've got to build up an audience and you've got to be able to leverage people's audiences to be able to sell them and so on. So if again, it depends on the budget. And if you if you make that movie for 5 million bucks, it's not gonna make money. But if you made that movie for, let's say, 100 grand, and they have 5 million followers, or the group of them have 15 million followers, you know, chances are you're going to be able to make your money back between that and

Sebastian Twardosz 51:42
By the way, I believe that's true. Although I also know the opposite. I do know some other YouTubers who have tried it, they have their very highly ranked channel in the comedy space. And they made their first feature and they got no traction. They even told me it's different. It's so interesting, because I asked him the same time like you guys have you know, 5 million people right? A lot of followers right and a lot of hits and they have some very successful YouTube series literally if I set it right now some of your mailing address right would know it i'm sure and I asked them well why they said to me Look, we even tried to fight you know, they we tried to crowdfund the movie that was one of their things but they had so many followers and it failed they didn't get that much money and they said look the peep the audience wants you know a certain thing they want their the the YouTube series you know that they've been producing they'll watch that but when it comes to because that's all free mind you but when it comes to pay putting extra money down into a crowdfunding campaign it the turnover from like fans to like oh contributors was shockingly low

Alex Ferrari 53:01
Well no the the I

Sebastian Twardosz 53:03
And the same with getting district it took them I would say a year and a half to finally get distributed and honestly I don't know that that the movie was profitable

Alex Ferrari 53:14
Well what's what's interesting is I actually had a I was talking to the head of seed and spark which is a crowdfunding website Emily and she was telling me I'm like what's the most successful when you guys have had and they said well it was this web series and they were able to generate like 100 $150,000 crowdfunding So it all depends a case by case basis it all depends on the audience yeah because if you're into like slapstick haha videos and you might have 5 million people who just like enjoy that but they're not really into that you know they're not going to put out but if you have a put out cash on a crowdfunding thing or or support your feature but there's just all depends on the personality it depends on the channel depends on the the celebrity the YouTube celebrity to you know what kind of content that is so it can be done but it is very strategic thing to do and it takes time to build up even once you have it.

Sebastian Twardosz 54:04
Right and I don't know well here's the thing The bottom line is I don't know that there is a path that if you do ABC Yeah, all the way to z that you will get the result I think it's more about that there is luck as part of it right place right time right movie, right? You know, you cannot believe me if anyone has tried to control their career in this business, you know, their path, it was me, believe me, you know, and I couldn't do it. And I know lots of people you know, it's just certain opportunities come up. Same thing with films so um, I don't think you can ever mirror anyone else's success. It's it is tough. You do have to there is like there's a direction like, you know, you have to go west. Okay. West. There's lots of different paths to go west. And yes, some people go, you know, through more, you know, Warren path, but that doesn't, you know, but there's also You know, a lot of people, it's a worn path. So predators and bad guys know people are going down that path, you might get hit on that path, you know, as a bad analogy.

Alex Ferrari 55:08
No, no, it's a good analogy. Actually, I completely understand what you're saying. Yeah, absolutely.

Sebastian Twardosz 55:12
So So it's, it's, it's, you know, you can only do what you can do, and you have to hope that you're meeting the right people along the way. And it's never the same right people every single time, but you can, you can, you know, educate yourself to the best that you can embark on it, know what you're getting into, be realistic, you know, and, and if you succeed at the end, great, try and help other people. If you don't succeed, well, you know, it's kind of like when you get knocked down, get, get back up and do it again.

Alex Ferrari 55:47
I didn't mean the, I think the best advice I've ever heard was just do the best work you can at all times. And you really won't know what because you'll plan some things out. But like anything in life, plans go out the window, and you'll meet this one person and this one person knows this other person and, and then all of a sudden, they're like, oh, I've met you at a Starbucks and oh, well, let's, you know, go let's go have the drinks. And all of a sudden, oh, hey, I love your movie. Let me give it over to my friend and who's my friend, I just happen to know, Will Smith I went to school with Well, you know what I mean? And then all of a sudden, things like that happen. It happens all the time. Yes. But you just have to put yourself in a position to be at the right place at the right time with the right project, movie idea, things like that. And I always tell people, you know, the very famous legendary mythical story of Robert Rodriguez. With a mariachi, it's, he was at the right place at the right time with the right movie. And if he shows up today, I'm not sure if he gets the action.

Sebastian Twardosz 56:46
It's right, you just have to you have to have your at bats, you just have to get out there and produce whatever it is you're producing. Like, I'm a big believer, and I think about this all the time. Because, you know, because I do all kinds of things in the business. And I haven't done all the things I've wanted to do. And I'm still very hungry for doing some of those things. But you just, you know, it's, it's about ultimately, to me, what I value the most is creators. Mm hmm. You know, so whatever it is, but you are creating something, whether it's a book, a YouTube series, a feature, or whatever you've created, it is a big deal. Yes, eventually, you could go on and make, you know, Civil War, which we were suppose are doing, but they've already announced their next film. And it's an original film that they want to do. Because they're that that's always for two filmmakers. That's always going to be there. Yes, you'll go and make the big movies because it's fun. And part of this has to be fun. But ultimately, you want to create something new that you know, because really civil, it's Stan Lee, right? It all just goes back to Stan Lee, he's the Creator. So you know, you you just, that's what I value is the people who can just create something from nothing, and put something out there for other people to enjoy. And that again, that goes back to distribution for indie films, ultimately, because you there is no one that can guarantee you will profit because look different people make a movie a different way. Like Alex, you know, you're embarking on a movie. Yes. And you know, I might embark let's say in exactly the same movie, I bet you can make that movie cheaper and better than I could the same movie because you know, all the technical stuff a lot better than I do. You know, and I think you know, the ins and outs of that better so you're going to make we can make exactly the same movie. I bet you could bring it in, let's say you know, whatever, you know, you can bring it in for a million dollars, I bring in exactly the same movie for $2 million. Right? So obviously you're gonna have a profit before I will with the exact same movie. But that happens all the time with indie films so so you know, it's not about profitability. It's about making the best movie you can make getting it into the best festivals getting people to see it to propel your career that's really what it is. If you want to just make money okay, well then go make air but you know make a lots of air buds Yeah, yeah, make everybody go go make which is completely fine movie. I actually can't you know, I have kids, I wouldn't mind making one really, really good Air Bud movie for them to enjoy. But, but you know, you're just going to be making those kinds of movies or if you just want to make b b thrillers, you can make money with B thrillers, you know, you can do that, um, but that won't necessarily elevate your career or get you an Oscar or get you, you know, you know, like the Russo brothers, you know, into the stratosphere of a career.

Alex Ferrari 59:33
Right! Exactly, exactly. Now, with that said, What do you think in your opinion has changed the most in the film distribution landscape and what stays the same? Because a lot of things have changed over the overall

Sebastian Twardosz 59:45
What's the biggest change was fine because a lot of things have actually changed the same to really the biggest changes this there's just more and more and more movies. There. You know, it's like there used to be, you know, 10s of 1000s of screenplays every year to two You know, to get through now there's 10s of 1000s of movies just right. There's so many movies. So that's, that's what's changed. What hasn't changed is I think actually distribution hasn't really changed that much. It's all the pipes are still, you know, yes, we now have the internet and all that stuff. But as you I'm sure well know Alex, you know those pipes the internet pipes are controlled by the major media companies they just are. You know what, people now instead of like, you know, when I was young we only had three channels. Okay, well, we have more channels now but really everyone's still want only watching like Netflix or HBO or whatever, still basically watching a smallish number of channels because there's only so many hours in the day, right? So you know, and that those pipes are there. I don't know what the right word is. I'm searching for the right word. But those pipes are monetized and controlled by corporations. And then DIY to my knowledge has not worked because I can't think of one that has. The only exception being that one Judd Apatow one that he produced.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:12
On a Louie ck Lucy Kay put out his stand up. concert ck is famous already. Right? That's my point, like but but for someone like him who has that audience, he's able to monetize it fairly easily. And there's been a lot of guys who've done that on the comedic on the comedy side, because they were like, Well, wait a minute, why do I have to go through Comedy Central, I could just put it out on myself. And I control everything.

Sebastian Twardosz 1:01:35
But you have to get to that level, like most of us, not at that level

Alex Ferrari 1:01:38
Right! Right?

Sebastian Twardosz 1:01:39
So that's the thing. I'm, you know, we're really dependent on festivals, to indie filmmakers, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:47
It's very again, and the festival or the festival to my pitch from in my opinion is only there not only to propel and to showcase filmmakers, but in the right festival, all the eyes of the industry are on that festival. So that's why the festivals matter is because

Sebastian Twardosz 1:02:01
Yeah, it's discovering new talent.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:02
Right! Right!

Sebastian Twardosz 1:02:03
Oh, point. That's why I put so much emphasis into helping people get into, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:07
One of the things for us, right, exactly. And that's, that's always the key with with, it's just getting eyeballs on your movie. And festivals are still a very, very big part of that. And if you can find other ways of getting eyes on movies, whether that be putting it on, like you know a lot of guys, right, you know, do direct a short, that's a killer short, and they put up online and it goes viral. And all of a sudden, some executives are seeing it like, Hey, you come over here and direct who's the guy?

Sebastian Twardosz 1:02:31
Yeah, you don't even have to make a feature. And I that's one of the things I'm gonna be talking about in class. A couple weeks, you know, I don't really know why make a feature, if you can make an incredibly good short, and do achieve the same results as a feature.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:47
Depends, again, it all depends on it's all case by case.

Sebastian Twardosz 1:02:50
Yes, it is case by case, I completely agree. But I'm just saying that if if what people are thinking I have to make a feature to prove that I can make a feature, that's just not true. I'll give an example right now. Wes ball who directed Maze Runner, you know, here's a special effects guy, he made a short film called ruin. That's what got him the directing job. And I can think of other people, you know, I did a whole interview with Luke Greenfield who directs comedies on the insiders. And he, he made one of the best shorts ever, no visual effects. just freaking great. I think you can find it on YouTube, I have the link to it. But just look it up. It's called the right hook. And just Google that, and maybe Luke's named Luke Greenfield, and hopefully it come up. And that's the movie is a short film that got him his first feature. And so you know, and that movies really good. You'll see, like, holy cow, is this great movie. And it's like, you know, sometimes I look at, like, when you make a feature, you're just giving yourself more time, more time to stumble and fail. Really good short film for 10 minutes. It's kind of controlled and contained environment, as opposed to 110 minutes. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:01
There's I mean, there's a lot of different opinions of that. I mean, I know a lot of guys, I've you know, I've done some I've done some shorts that have done obscene amounts of business and a lot of attention and all that kind of stuff years ago. And then then I kept getting Well, you know, can you do it each? Can you direct a feature, we have to see you do a feature? And then vice versa? You know, like, I don't know, there's just so many different,

Sebastian Twardosz 1:04:23
Right! And that's where agents and managers come in. Yes, absolutely. Her team. That's like I said, you know, we're all going west high. There's a lot of different ways to get there. And we all want to get to Hollywood, right? Right. We know the endpoint. There's a lot of ways to get to Hollywood.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:41
No, there's no no question about it. Now I'll ask you one last question before I ask you my standard three last questions.

Sebastian Twardosz 1:04:48
Okay, good cuz I because I my pain medications wearing off. Okay. I was in a very bad accident this weekend. Oh, er, so I'm actually on pain medication. Okay, I feel wearing off.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:58
Alright, so I'll hurry then. What would you say to someone who loves movies and just wants to get into the business and make a living in the business? Like someone just fresh green right off the boat?

Sebastian Twardosz 1:05:10
Well, I strongly believe you have to come to Los Angeles, I believe that you have to make a lot of friends. And I believe you should help your friends. I'll just leave it at that. I mean, I could tell you the actual steps and things you should do. But it comes down to that.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:30
Those are the core those are the core things you need to do. Yeah. And when Yeah, because those friends are the ones are going to help you get your projects may get you connected to other people and you help you they help jobs, everything, everything, the whole ball of wax, and that gets you started. Alright, so what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Sebastian Twardosz 1:05:49
Grass is always greener, or seems to be, um, you look at other people and their careers or their success or whatever in life or whatever it is. Don't worry about what other people are doing. Just worry about what you're doing.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:05
Great advice. What are your three favorite films of all time? no particular order?

Sebastian Twardosz 1:06:11
Well, my favorite film of all time is at Okay, I really have one that then i would say i don't i don't put them in any order. I only have one favorite film. That's that and now I would say you know, you know it's my generation. So you know, I love Star Wars. Sure. I love you know Dead Poets Society. Toy Story, Forrest Gump. You know Raiders of Lost Ark. You know, some movies that people don't talk about much by love, like Amadeus. Love Like, this is also really phenomenal.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:45
Those are all good ones. Those are all good ones.

Sebastian Twardosz 1:06:47
Yeah. And Spielberg Lucas Spielberg generations Meccas? You know, Ready Player One?

Alex Ferrari 1:06:52
Yes. Now what? Where can people find you?

Sebastian Twardosz 1:06:57
Oh, well, I'm easy to find. Well, you can Google my name, which is hard. Sebastian Twardosz. Good luck. But you could just I guess the easiest way is just google Circus Road Films. Okay, because that takes you to our website for our company and my emails right there. Okay. Or, you know, my email is just [email protected] for you Just email Sebastian. I actually have a website Yeah, just www.SebastianTwardosz.com.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:26
I'll put that in the show. I'll put that in the show notes. And nobody needs to figure out how to spell your last name.

Sebastian Twardosz 1:07:30
Yeah. But the websites good because it has some links to all my shows. on there. Links to my classes link to my Facebook. I have a really good Facebook page. Actually, this would be great. I think it's good anyway, it's just called the insiders on Facebook. And it's got kind of like a, like a godfather like icon. The hands with the with the cross. Anyway, yeah, I'm pretty easily fundable.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:56
I'll put I'll put all those links in the show notes. Guys. Sebastian, I know you're in pain, man. So thank you so much for doing this interview. Man. I really appreciate it.

Sebastian Twardosz 1:08:04
Thank you. I really enjoyed it a lot. And by the way, your site, and all the things that you do, I think I've been nominal. Thank you, man. I mean, really good. I have to get to know you a little bit better. And I'm gonna invite you to my class that I want you to speak. Oh, thank you so much. Now I know for sure. I just want to kind of wrap my head around, like the right. Right, right place to bring you in at what you're doing is really great. So congrats.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:30
Thanks again, my friend. I appreciate it and feel better.

Sebastian Twardosz 1:08:33
Thank you. Bye!




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