IFH 143: How NOT to Shoot a $50,000 Short Film – Lessons Learned

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So as filmmakers we all want to make the best films we can. Sometimes filmmakers think that a bigger budget is the answer, that bigger is better. This is what I thought when I went down the road and create my short film Red Princess Blues. After going down this road once before with my first short film BROKEN, I thought bigger had to be better. If $8000 was good (budget of BROKEN) then with $50,000 I could blow everyone away.

BROKEN opened a ton of doors for me as a filmmaker. I was contacted by studios, executives, producers, agents, you name it. BROKEN was an ambitious short film, to say the least. You can listen to that story here: How I Made Over $90,000 Selling My Short Film. 

In this episode, I discuss the mistakes I made when I made a $50,000+ short film. Mistakes with

  • Budget
  • Crew Choices
  • Size of Crew and Cast
  • Production Design
  • Distribution Plan
  • ROI (Return on Investment)
  • Who is the end-user (audience I’m trying to reach)

I do hope to get the opportunity to make the feature film version of Red Princess Blues someday soonI’m just not sure spending $50,000 for a proof of concept short film was the way to get that train moving.

Here’s the synopsis of the short film:

ZOE, a young teenage girl, is lured into an after hours carnival tent by the sleazy rock n roll carnie RIMO, and gets more then she bargained for. It’s up to the mysterious PRINCESS, star of the new knife show, to pull her out of the wolf’s den.

This is not the first short film I made based on my feature film screenplay. I co-directed, with my brother in arms Dan Cregan, a traditional Japanese Anime Prequel called Red Princess Blues: Genesis starring the legendary Lance Henriksen


I was a bit ahead of the curve on the distribution of Red Princess Blues. I was the first short film to be distributed exclusively on an iPhone app. Streaming was not a thing yet. I go over what happened with that in the episode as well. Check out this promo I made for the app.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Many amazing opportunities were generated from RPB, I just wish it wouldn’t have cost me as much. = ) These are some interviews and red carpet moments from Red Princess Blues’ World Premiere at the HollyShorts! Film Festival.


I do hope to get the opportunity to make the feature film version of Red Princess Blues. I hope you find some words of wisdom in this episode and that you can learn a few lessons that cost me a bunch of $$$ to learn. So if you are thinking of shooting a $50,000 short film, FOR GOD SAKE DON’T. Listen to this first, I beg you! = ) Enjoy!

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Killer Ways to Brainstorm Short Film Ideas

Short films have become a lot more popular nowadays with the advancements in the field of media, but coming up with short film ideas can be challenging. Since short films are easier to make than the feature movies, the production cost is also a lot cheaper. One has to have some ideas and they may be inspired or may come mainly from your everyday life, personal life, personal experiences, experiences of others, or even on the fantasies that you have.

The first thing to remember is that you have maximum 10 to 15 minutes to grab your audience’s attention, so make sure to make the best out of the least. Some people do not have any trouble in coming up with ideas for the short film, and they get it spot on. On the other hand, most people do not even know how long should their short film should be.

Here are a few ways that you should try to come up some great short film ideas:

1. Brainstorm Short Film Ideas:

You can brainstorm a lot of short film ideas to get started, and it can be in the form of a small script or anything. The initial ideas are raw, and they do not have to make any sense, but you have to keep working until you find the right idea. Your short film idea or plot relies on your creative skills and thus, you have to start some brainstorming activities to start with the concept of the short film.

Everyone wants to get done with the visual content first so that they can visualize the main plot or theme of the short film. On the other hand, remember that you have to remain attentive while brainstorming the ideas and do not stop until you find something that you think will captivate the minds of the audience. Most of the award-winning short film ideas come from brainstorming, and you have to use brainstorming as a form of exercise.

2. Write It Out:

There is no doubt that the best of the directors are also one of the best screenplay writers. You have to use those writers as a form of inspiration to get that perfect idea for your short film. Writing about your personal experiences, or something experienced by someone else, can make a huge difference to the ideas that you already have thought of. Write about some believable or unbelievable ideas, even if you haven’t selected the theme or the genre of the short film.

Drawing an initial outline is the first step that you can take towards the formation of an idea. Before writing, make up some scenarios in your mind, and write about the central concept that comes to your mind with that scenario, and then, with the help of a few friends, you can form the idea to give it a defined shape. Work with instincts and instances and add some experiences so that your idea can remain original and the basic plot is set.

3. Create a Routine:

In an attempt to decide the major theme or the core plot of your short film, you can form a routine so that you try to generate the best ideas every single day until you find the right idea. The best times to produce the perfect ideas out of your mind is morning and at night. Creating a routine is a tricky concept as you have to devote 10 minutes in the morning, and that too, before having breakfast or doing anything else.

In the morning, your mind is fresh, and your level of creativity is at its peak, so make sure to use that time well. It is a quite healthy part of a routine and healthy for the mind. Plus, this way you can also use your dreams as an outline, or form something out of the dreams you had before. This similar routine can be integrated into the nighttime as well before you go to bed. There is a 50 percent chance that you will generate the best idea during one of these times of the day.

4. Watch Other Movies:

Everyone wants to make the topic of their short film unique and original. But then again, you can always use other films, or even novels, as a source of inspiration for the idea of your short film. You can become a keen observer to make something out of the most neglected topic in any movie or novel that you’ve seen or read.

You can raise an issue that you think that the director ignored in the film and created your short film around that idea; it doesn’t matter if you are in favor or against that idea. All you have to think of is to find a way to form and present that idea as yours, and make sure that it stays original no matter what.

5. Find The Right Resources:

Robert Rodriguez said it best when he was making his landmark film El Mariachiuse what you have access to. If you have a house, backyard, dog, motorcycle in the garage and a parrot write your story around those elements.  You should list the number of resources and make certain that you visit those places or people to form the right idea for yourself. Furthermore, if you do not have the right resources available for the idea of your short film, then you can start your research to find something that is more visually exciting for your project.

You have to remember that if your initial idea is not interesting enough, no matter how much determination you put into it, your short film will not be good enough. On the other hand, some miraculous directors can make the best movies using the simplest ideas by using the right resources and presenting it in such a manner that it makes the short film a remarkable one. The resources can be many things, i.e. a particular location, props, or anything that grabs your attention.

6. Make Up a Story:

By replicating a few quotes from some of the prominent film scenes, or by envisioning some of the mainstream plots of the most famous movies or novels, you can form some short film ideas, or find something that inspires. You can also create a story by developing individual characters in your mind; for instance, place your characters in a situation where they do not have any resources and no other way to get out. Use different challenging scenarios to make up the perfect storyline for your short film.

Entrap your characters in various and unusual circumstances and limit the resources they have to free themselves from these conditions. However, keep in mind that you should not choose such a conflict that can take too much of the time to be explained. Most of the short film ideas come from the exhausted themes or plots, and you have to find a way to present it in such a way that it becomes your original idea.

7. Stories from Real Everyday Life

Why don’t you look at your local paper for some short film ideas? You can choose an idea from the news, or you can create a short film from the actual real world situations. It can be on the financial affairs of the state, or the political conditions, or anything else that can be extracted out from the newspaper or the headlines. You can form the best short film ideas by incorporating any current headline and forming it into a recognized piece of art.

As they say,

“truth is stranger than fiction,”

you have to find the news that you think needs to be explained on a certain level and you can do in-depth research on the subject to form the plot and idea of your short film perfectly. The idea would be original, and your short film is going to be recognized by a larger audience. A good headline can result in a remarkable plot or idea for a short film.

8. Simple yet Engaging:

There is no doubt in the fact that first-time directors or screenwriters should consider opting for a simple genre, theme, or storyline for their short film. If the idea of the movie is too complicated or grandiose your short film will suffer. Don’t try to complete with big Hollywood tentpole films. Focus on a great story, characters, and plot.

Unless you are completely aware of the dos and do nots of the film industry, you cannot work on complex ideas. The best way to step into this industry is to find something that is simple yet intriguing to the audience. If your first short film is a failure, then most people would not be interested in watching your second film, even if it is one of the best short films of all times.

Alex Ferrari 1:38
So today, guys, I wanted to talk about a project I did many moons ago. And I learned a tremendous amount of lessons. It's actually one of the most valuable projects I ever did in regards to the lessons and what I learned from it, and how not to do things. Now, as the title of the podcast suggests how not to shoot a $50,000 short film.

Now, you must be asking yourselves, Alex, where the hell did you get 50 grand? Well, Mistake number one is I invested $50,000 from my savings that I had been saving over the course of years. But before I get into all of that, I'm going to go back to the beginning. And I'm going to talk to you guys a little bit about what how the project came to be, how I how, what happened to my journeys through Hollywood meetings, things like that, and where it is today. So the project I wrote, I wrote a screenplay A few years ago, a few years ago now called Red princess blues. And I wrote a full screenplay because when I went through this the first time with my short film broken, where I got a lot of press and got into a bunch of festivals and the detours got studios calling me producers calling me about the movie, I had nothing ready. So I said to myself, well, if I can make a cool short film, again, get a bunch of attention, but I'll have a screenplay ready, and it'll be ready to go. So when I do those meetings, I'll have that screenplay. And I can pop it up, and I'm off to the races. And that was the theory. So when I started doing when I went after creating red princess blues, that was my first main focus was to create a calling card for not only myself as a director, but also for the project and hopefully getting the project off the ground. So after doing broken I did, you know I wanted to do, I want to take everything up a notch, I wanted to get some name actors, or at least faces some really accomplished actors that I can work with. And I was blessed to have working with Robert Forster, an Academy Award nominee from Jackie Brown, Tarantino's Jackie Brown. He's a legend, legendary actor who worked with us on the project as of course, Richard Tyson, from Kindergarten Cop fame from back in the 80s. And he's always working and he's a very established actor as well. And Rachel grant who is a Bond girl from one of James once one appears Boston's James Bond movies back in the day as well. So these were all established actors and experienced actors and I want to just take everything up a notch from what I did before. So I wanted to create a world and create this environment which is a really seedy, carny. You know, Carnival folk, you know, backstage after a carnival, you know, hookers and prostitutes and drinking and all sorts of debauchery going on. And I had never seen anything like that on screen before. So I was like, Well, let me see if I can kind of create this world. So not only did I have, you know, the most experienced actors I've ever worked with, at that point in my career in front of the lens, I needed to have an insane team on the back behind the scenes as well. So I was able to work with a production designer from 24, the show 24, who was amazing and he was able to create these crazy sets and I'll tell you a little story about where we got the sets in a bunch of the sets in the first place. But we also was I was also able to work with a stunt coordinator. His name is Jeff parlanti who was the stunt coordinator on 24 he's been I mean he was on the CRO he was on Scarface I mean he'd been around for a while but he was the the head stunt coordinator on 24 and now has been the stunt coordinator on Hawaii Five o for the last seven years six seven years that he's been on that as well so he was able to gather a bunch of amazing stunt performers to come and work out work with us on this little action short and I again the quality of people I was working with was pretty much top of the industry I mean people were coming from Kill Bill the matrix You know, I'm insane you know, insane credits, we're all coming to work on my little short film that I was shooting here in North Hollywood for God's sakes. So these guys were coming up and helping me work on this stuff I had a great dp who you know very seasoned dp that I worked with as well and and we were pulling favors left and right I was you know, I was pulling fit and like you can imagine like, it cost 50 grand, but yet I got a lot of stuff gratis, I got a lot of stuff donated or helped or pulled favors or exchange services, all sorts of stuff like that. So I had a really top end team and when you see the short you'll you'll see that it was well put together I mean, and I'm not being cocky, but on a on a professional standpoint, the production value was fairly high on it without question because I had amazing talent working behind the scenes. So we built this insane set that you know, we were able to since 24 was just shutting down. My production designer basically went over to the 24 warehouse and just grabbed a bunch of flats which are basic walls pre done walls that had graffiti on them and had you know, brick on them so we were able to create the outside of a carnival inside of a soundstage. So we were able to do that we went to their prop warehouse and basically just took a shopping cart and grabbed whatever we needed for free this was all for free guys I mean so even with all of that you might you'll ask how where'd all this money go to? No, I'll tell you in a minute. So we were able to build this this really awesome short and I'm very very proud of it. And I'm gonna just step back for a second this is the second red princess blue short The first one was an actually an animated a Japanese anime that I co directed with my my brother in arms Dan creegan who is the animator on on it and I tried to create kind of like a prequel story to the short film into the into the screenplay trying to get attention that way. So not only had one short I had to really high end shorts that that I'm using to promote and try to get this project off the ground. So what's the first lesson I learned? Well, I'll tell you I'll finish up where this this short went. We made the short it got into probably I don't know 60 7080 Film Festivals I didn't keep going with it. I could have probably gotten to another 50 or 60 of them. But you know went out I did a lot of I did a lot of as they say the water bottle tour around la in the studio's meeting with different producers meeting with different studios who are interested in the project. I had a book of artwork created for it. I mean storyboards we had an entire investment package created a ppm all the legal paperwork to start getting the ball rolling with it. I mean we really I really went all out for it guys you know I I swung for the fences without question. I swung for the fences with red princess and I'm very proud of how it ended up I'm very proud of it's still one of my favorite things I've ever done in my life it was it was so beautiful and I was so happy with the way it turned out. Of course we always want to change things but that's that's the way all artists are all directors are, you know, you want to go back and like Oh, I wish I could have done this or that. But you know, we shot it in over three days. I think it was two days or three days. I don't even remember anymore. But it was pretty intense. And it was a lot of a lot of extras. A lot of wardrobe. A lot of a lot of everything. So what happened with what happened with the project? Well, a lot of dead ends. A lot of people wanted to be attached. You know a lot of a lot of producers like hey, let me go get money for it. It was set up i i optioned it a few times. Nothing ever came out of it, you know. So that's where a lot of not only that project, but all the projects I've done in my career. That's why I'm a little cynical about how things work in Hollywood as a general statement, but Nothing really came out of it. So, you know, where Why did it cost $50,000? Well, the very first thing is I was trying to create a world I was trying to do something that I hadn't seen before. And I was really trying to impress Hollywood and press studios and press producers or agents or managers. It was a, it was a point in my life where there was a desperation. It was a desperation in, in my work, and in the way I carried myself, a lot of the things I preach against Now, on the podcast and on indie film, hustle, I was doing back then. So when I say not to do it is because I know what happens when you do do it. And I was doing it for a long time. But, you know, I think one of the big mistakes that you make, and this is one of the this is one of the top mistakes that I made on red princess is trying to compete with a Hollywood production. As far as production value is concerned, huge. I was trying to create a 10 minute piece that had the same production value out of a 10 minute, a 10 minute Hollywood blockbuster of $100 million, which is not really, really not really possible. It really isn't. Now, you're a lot of people are listening to that as well. How about district nine, I mean, they did this insane visual effects, huge production value, and there's multiple other shorts that came out, that did things that are really high end to get noticed, and to get their projects off the ground. Yes, that is exactly it. So district nine, I'm going to use as an example, if you have access to high end visual effects, guys, that really are insane. And you feel that you can create a world and can create a production value that's on par with a studio. Great, do it. Okay, but my advice and my experience is don't because, yes, district nine happened, how many district nines Have there been in the last 1520 years? Not many. And there's a reason for that. Because when and again, this is my opinion, when Hollywood looks at new talent. You know, the El Mariachi model of like, look at all that production value, they got out of no money, those days are gone. They really are, they're not there anymore. Because production value is affordable. Now, you can get high production value. But now that that bar is moved from the days of El Mariachi, you know, an action movie back in 9291 92 is a lot different than an action movie now, before they were making 15 20 million $10 million action movies that were being released theatrically. Now they're not. Now they're making 100 100 and $50 million action movies. You know, it's not, it's not on par anymore. But what has created a lot of stars directors, writer, writer directors, who's created a lot of noise is been with good short films that are story based, character based, vision based. That's what Hollywood is looking for. They're looking for a unique voice. They're looking for someone who can direct story and character someone could tell a story and tell and work with characters and actors and have a point of view a vision. Okay, a voice a unique voice. Because this is the way Hollywood looks at things, guys. And this is again my opinion. They look at a guy like Chris Nolan. Okay, who started off with with a film called the following. You look at the movie called if you look at movie called memento or following, you don't think blockbuster you don't think one of the biggest blockbuster directors of his generation. You don't think that. But what Chris was able to do, or Mr. Nolan, excuse me, I don't know him personally. What Chris Nolan was able to do was show people he can tell a story, that he can work with actors, that he had a unique point of view, a unique vision. That's what you need to focus on with short films. And guess what, those kind of shorts, or those kind of independent features are affordable. When you go after these bigger big movie action style kind of films, and you're trying to compete with Hollywood, you're not going to make it and I'm not the I'm the I'm the first to say, never give up on a dream. Never give up on trying to try something new. But understand that there is a risk when doing it at a big dollar value. Like I did, I roll the dice with $50,000 of hard earned money that I had created. And believe me, it wasn't like I had half a million in the bank. That was a lot of money and it took a big chunk out of my savings out now if you want to go and try to create high production value and really compete with the big boys on a feature length film. You can I'm gonna have an amazing story coming up in the next few weeks of a filmmaker who just did that. Wondering $50,000 budget that looked like a 20 to $30 million budget. And it really did and how he did it. So the it is possible with the feature you have something you can sell, you have something that you can make money with, you can have an ROI. On shorts, it's very difficult to make a lot of money. It's unique if you can. So you can't invest a large amount of money in those kinds of short film projects unless you really feel that you're going to be able to make all of your money back. Lesson number one, focus on story on on how to tell a story how to work with actors and character and create characters and a vision, a point of view or new voice. That's what Hollywood is looking for with short films, specifically, if there are going to if there anything even happens with short films. I know many short films that like the Raven, which is one I'll put a link to in the description, I read all these articles Mark Wahlberg bought bought the script and all this stuff, nothing's happened with it. That's happened three, four years ago, it's probably stuck in a hotel somewhere. And I would love to know what happened with that project. Because it was a great little project had a lot of great, you know, there was a commercial director who did it, he busted out all his friends spent about 150 100 grand on it, and did a really nice job and really showed off what he can do. But nothing happened. Nothing happened with it. Not saying that there's anything wrong with that project. But it just didn't happen. It's just the way Hollywood works, guys. So and I've seen so many of these shorts that are all high end. When I was when I was doing this water bottle tour I was these guys were showing me shorts in their rooms of other guys who were doing cool things I was looking at, like why haven't I haven't seen this before? Holy Cow look at that doesn't matter. It was rough. So guys focus on story and telling a good story. The next mistake I made is, I didn't initially I didn't know who I was going to do that, who was who I was aiming this to who was my audience, I didn't know who my audience was, you know, I really thought like, well, I'll just make it and make a whole bunch of noise. And I'll do what I did with broken and people will come You know, if you build it, they will come. And it didn't work that way. So because I didn't understand who I was aimed this aiming this at or focusing this at. I kind of kind of like, floundered I didn't know where to do because I made a very conscious effort not to redo what I did was broken in the sense of creating a whole bunch of tutorials and put out another DVD and sell that I decided like, I'm not going to do that again, in my high end ego craziness that I was back then, where you're like no, I'm not gonna do that I've done that already. I've moved on from that. Well, believe me, in hindsight, I wish I would have done something like that, because then maybe would have been able to bring back a little bit of dinero from I would have maybe recoup some of my money, which was which I didn't. I did do one thing. And I did try to create a unique thing I was I think I was the first short film to actually create an app, an actual app on the iPhone and Android where you can buy the app for 99 cents or $1.99, or whatever it was and watch my short with a bunch of behind the scenes footage. And other things that I put on it. I was a little bit ahead of my time. But I also don't think it was a wise thing because I was out of the after making the after making the app and everything like that I might have if I was lucky, I might have pulled in 500 bucks, 1000 bucks if I'm lucky. And it cost me like 500 bucks to make the damn app in the first place. So you know, the the self distribution outlets, we're not there yet. This is 2010 2009 2010. So there wasn't amazon prime, there wasn't, you could put it on YouTube. But that was still very taboo to put a short film on YouTube back then, if you're going to try to get into festivals and stuff like that. So it was a bunch of different things that were going on back then. So knowing who you want the short, the short, that you're making to go to is very important, especially when you're risking so much money.

The next big mistake I made and I didn't ask myself this question because I was just so gung ho about putting it out there was where is going, what's going to be my ROI, what's gonna be my return on investment. You know what, I was really swinging for the fences on this. And I'm do I did basically everything I preach against. I had no real real distribution plan. I had no real way of making money with it. Because I had no I had no indie film hustle. There was nothing like that around. I had no audience I had nothing I can sell. So basically I was just going to put it out in the festival market and hope that someone watches it and someone comes down from Mount mount Hollywood, taps me on the shoulder and says you shall direct here's a check for for $5 million, go make your movie and you're off to the races. And it did not work that way and it does not work that way. That's why I yell so much about this when I when I talk about this subject We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So I didn't ask myself that question, what's my return on investment, so I had no way of selling it, I had no way of making any money with it. And I had no way of guaranteeing that I even had a chance of making any money with it. So that was one of the biggest mistakes I made as a filmmaker is I invested as a businessman, I invested $50,000 in a product that I had no way of selling, I was just using it as a proof of concept. And $50,000 is a hell of an expensive proof of concept, you're doing it for a grand or to something that's really affordable in a smaller scale than Yes. And if you want to do that, by all means you can do that. But on an investment like $50,000, you look at that now a lot of you guys listening like 50 grand, I can make three movies with 50 grand you can make I could have made a feature film with 50 grand, but at that time, technology wasn't caught up yet. And this this new revolution, that DSLR revolution hadn't hit yet, as far as making really affordable, short, independent films, things like that. So please always ask the question, what's going to be my return on investment? Where am I going to make money on this? How am I going to make money on this? Can I afford to lose all this money? Or am I going to swing for the fences, and you can do that, and a lot of people have done that with features, you know, they mortgage their house, for God's sakes, listen to Episode 88. If you're thinking about doing something like that, and I'll put a shirt I'll put that in the show notes as well, you know, or to put it all on your credit cards, you know, and make $50,000 you know, it's very romantic. But anyway, I don't want to get into that because I'll go off again. But, you know, at least I did it with my money. And I didn't put it on credit and it didn't kill me. It was something that I could afford. It still hurt. So also, I wanted to go back real quick on the production of it. And lessons I learned from making a $50,000 short film like Where did $50,000 go? That's the question Where did 50 grand go if I got all this free stuff, people working for free, high end people working for free, or really cheap, how about where it all the scope I made the goddamn thing too big, it was an event you walk on that set that I had first of all, I had a soundstage that I had to run out for a week that wasn't cheap, I had to hire producer all the food the the I must have had on set on any day, probably 30 to 40 people maybe even 50 people on a short film. So all those people had to be fed all of those people a lot of those peoples were being paid a lot of them were actors and extras I had to deal with with sag and all the fees that had to pay for it back then before all the the rules changed so it was a little bit tougher back then to deal with sag so the thing was that there was just so many people and each of those departments needed a bunch of different things and if you watch the short film you'll understand like okay, there was a lot of stuff going on you know and that's what a lot of free stuff you know, I had a lot of favors I pulled to get it done but it was just so big. I had a really good production team for the most part there were issues there were people that I wish I would have not hired on my team because you know, I wasn't working with a lot of people that I knew and had only been in LA for basically a couple years at that point so I didn't have the the depth of connections and relationships that I do now let's say because I hadn't worked as much as I had at that to that point. So I was still I was still you know kind of green and I was definitely green working with a full full blown Hollywood set you know, full blown Hollywood set with really high end people that are expected to do certain things. So I felt that the whole short got a little bit away from me back then. And we're talking about now eight years ago, almost seven, eight years ago. And I learned a lot about how I wanted to run a set how I wanted to control my my vision and make sure that the vision that I have is gonna get gets onto that screen. So I had to fight on set with people's egos and stuff like that which I was not aware of. It wasn't any of my actors by the way all my actors were wonderful talking about people behind the scenes, and it could be the smallest thing it could have been the biggest thing but but because I felt like this was all out of control for me. I think that's where a lot of this money when I when when you when you do a project this at this size, there was a money hose and all of a sudden when you crack that money hose open, it just keeps flowing. It keeps flowing and keeps flowing and it's it is it's like opening up a brand new business which I have a little experience about as you guys all know with my gourmet shop. It was very similar to opening up our store like The second you open it, every day, there's something new every day, you need to put more money in here. And I didn't know that I didn't know that. And, you know, oh, this department needs this now. And this heart needs that now we need this permit. Now we need this insurance now. And, you know, we did a lot of things that I wish we wouldn't have done. But I felt that it was a little out of control. And once that train left the station, it was very difficult for me to control it. So that's that's just an experience, and running with a $50,000 budget when you were that inexperienced to something I think was a bit foolish on my part. Now, with all of that said, Those were the big mistakes, I felt, trying to compete with high low production, you know, values, not focusing on on story and vision as much. I didn't understand who I was really focused, how I was going to be able to make money with this and who I was focused, what my audience was going to do, and what my ROI what my return on investment is going to be and having a distribution plan at all. That's why I always yell. festivals are not a distribution plan, you have to actually have one. So what good things came out of red Princess, and whereas red princess today? Well.

A lot of good things came out of red Princess, I was able to do a lot of festivals made a lot of connections. I was on on panels with big, big star the Collingwood stars, made connections with them had the experience of doing a lot of La film festivals. I mean, it was literally every other week I was on a red carpet with this with this film, it was very well received. And people really do enjoy it and really liked it, which is great. And it did, it did add one thing it did do, it did add a level of legitimacy to myself as a director, and that little short did get me jobs. So I think probably from all the jobs I've gotten based off of that short, I was able to probably recoup my money, at least just from the jobs that I was getting as a director as a commercial director, music, video director, and things like that based off the quality that I was able to create with that. So on that sense, it was a very big success. I have been able to if you guys are part of the syndicate, you've probably seen the short film that I'm talking about short films I'm talking about because they're part of our of the syndicate, part of the filmmaking hacks course, that I have, where I talk a little bit about my experiences making the film will go a little bit behind the scenes of how we did some things I did do some behind the scenes, but nothing compared to what I did on on broken or the depth of the tutorials that I was able to do back then. And I By the way, I still have probably about 10 or 15 hours of behind the scenes footage. Maybe one day, I'll go into it and start creating some tutorials on how we did some of the cool stuff we did back then. But I'm busy right now you can imagine. So many of the lessons I learned on red Princess, I brought to this is Meg and this is Meg is the complete opposite of what I did with red princess. You know, it's a feature first of all is not a short, it was very controllable. I, I kept it really small, very small crew, and focused on story focused on character focused on vision of what I wanted to try to do, and the kind of story I was trying to tell as a director. And it you know, it's a complete and the risk is very minimal, comparatively to, you know, 50 grand or 60 grand on on a short film.

Well, let me go back, of course, obviously, this is made was made for under $25 million. And I released the budget once my my IRS artists done, but it was done on a humble budget, to say the least. But again, so I do believe that red princess blues was a amazing experience for me as a filmmaker. And I think, you know, I wouldn't want you guys to have to go through that and lose 50 grand and then wait years to hopefully get jobs to get yourself paid back. That's not a business plan. But um, you know, I'm very happy that I went through that. And I'm very happy that of the lessons I learned from it because it made me a much, much, much better director, and very proud of it and very proud of what we were able to do with it. Now where is it today? Well, my screenplays still available. And I love that screenplay. I love what I did with it, it has been read a bunch haven't really pushed it too much, I might start pushing it a little bit more in the next coming months. Once I start getting a little bit of attention from this is Meg hopefully, and I'll have something else in my back pocket to show people at meetings and go oh, by the way, I also did this short so I think the story of red princess blues and where it's going to take me as a filmmaker and a storyteller is, is still being written but I wanted to share this experience with you guys because I know a lot of people out there are thinking maybe of doing a big swing for the fences kind of short film. And I just wanted to show you guys my experience and tell you guys Mike experience of what I went through doing something like that. The bottom line is guys that you got to keep working. And you know, if I would do this all over again today I would take that 50 grand and make a feature film without question without question. In today's world, there's no reason absolutely no reason you would spend $50,000 on a short film, unless you're trying to do exactly what I told you not to do, which is to create a world create the same kind of production value that you're trying to compete with on a on a Hollywood budget film to try to get those jobs. If you're trying to get those jobs. My suggestion is follow what all the other really well known. directors who have gotten noticed the Darren Aronofsky is with pi, Chris Nolan, with with the following the momento, these guys focused on story, not big blockbuster films, hollywood figures that they can't hire a great team around a visionary director, because the technical stuff can be you can hire technical, it's hard to hire vision, it's hard to hire someone with a voice. That's something you can't buy as easily as a very competent, creative crew. So understand that and next time you're going to try to make a short film, a feature film to try to get attention or to even get your name out there into the world guys. I hope you got something out of that guys and hope you learn from my mistakes and it was an expensive mistake, but I'm proud of that mistake and I wear it with pride. So thanks again guys for listening. Don't forget to head over to free film book calm that's free film book calm to download your free filmmaking audio book from audible. The Show Notes for this episode our indie film hustle.com Ford slash 143 and I have links to everything I talked about in this episode there as well as trailers for princess if you guys want to watch princess and are not part of the syndicate. You can always go to Amazon it's on Amazon Prime if you want to watch it there I'll leave a link there in the in the show notes as well. Or you can rent or buy there as well. And both shorts are on Amazon as well the animated one the red princess blues Genesis, as well as the the live action red princess blues. And don't forget guys, this is Meg is going to be at cinequest March 3 is our world premiere on Saturday. 320 put links in the description if you guys are in the area, please come by the whole the whole town the whole gang is going to be there. A lot of cast and crew are going to be there at the two premieres the two two showings that weekend. So please come by we really appreciate if you do. Thanks for listening guys. And as always keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.




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IFH 047: Yancey Arias – How to Make It as a Working Actor

Want to learn how to make it as a working actor? Well, studying actor, producer, and director Yancey Arias would not be a bad start. I met Yancey Arias years ago and since have worked on several projects together. I’ve always admired how Yancey was able to always keep working.

To date, Yancey Arias has over 70 acting credits in film, television, and Broadway. His credit list is kind of nuts:

I just got tired of typing, his credit list is impressive, to say the least. He’s also worked on huge studio tentpoles live Live Free or Die HardTime Machine and the Hands of Stone starring Robert DeNiro.

His first big break came in the Broadway production of Miss Saigon in 1992, which he worked on in different capacities for several years. His breakout role was on NBC’s Mini-Series Kingpin playing the lead Miguel Cadena, which was viewed by 25 million people.

I sat down with Yancey while he was in between setups on the hit show Marvel’s Agents of Shield. He’ll be popping up on the show in 2016. I really wanted to get a seasoned actor’s perspective on what it takes to make it in Hollywood.

We also discuss his work on indie films, his new life as a director and producer with his production company NYC Films and much more. Enjoy!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:06
Today guys, we have a special treat. We have a really old good friend of mine Yancey Arias. He is an actor who's been in a million different movies. I mean, I can't even explain to you how many movies he's been in. He's been on so many shows. He's been on over seven he officially has 70 acting credits on film, television and Broadway over 70 acting credits on shows like castle NCIS, New Orleans, the sopranos, bones, Hawaii Five o elementary CSI New York and CSI NCIS Los Angeles, or noticed the shield and has been on big huge temple movies like Live Free or Die Hard Time Machine and the upcoming new film coming out with Robert De Niro call Hans of stone. He is a working actor as what I like to call Yancy yanxi is definitely a working actor he's been in the business for years and years and years. He you really won't find a nicer and nicer not only a nicer actor, but nicer human being. I've worked on with Yancey and a few projects in the past and he has been nothing but a pleasure to work with. And he you know, he teaches acting as well. And I you know, I wanted him on the show to kind of, you know, let people know what it takes not only to be a working actor, but to be a working professional in the industry. And a lot of the stuff that he talks about in regards to acting can easily be translated into directing writing, or any other discipline within the filmmaking business. Now if acting wasn't enough, Yancey is also a very good director and producer working with his production company, NYC films. He's producing multiple different projects as a director and a producer, and worked on a wonderful little film called The Shooting Star salesman with one of our former guests as a director Kiko the latter day now Yancey is a very hard man to get ahold of. He's working constantly. I actually got him to do this interview in between takes on the set of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD which he's going to be either has already aired or will be airing soon. So he's going to be in between so you'll hear some things in the background here some doors closing and opening. He's just basically waiting around between scenes, and he was gracious enough to to do this interview for us. So enjoy my interview with Yancey Arias. Yancey, man, thanks so much for being on the show, man. I know you're extremely busy. So thanks again, man.

Yancey Arias 3:13
You're welcome, man, please, anytime.

Alex Ferrari 3:16
So um, we'll get right to it. What was your first experience in the entertainment business?

Yancey Arias 3:21
My grandma, my mom, they were hosting a competition for the new those for the best lip synching group that there could possibly be in the Lower East Side of Manhattan

Alex Ferrari 3:36
Now Menudo is the one direction of our time,

Yancey Arias 3:38
That one direction of our time corrective but the Puerto Rican kids so yeah, and I basically was the intermission entertainment and I actually was singing for real I wasn't them singing I was just kind of like they threw me on stage two as a filler. And everybody sat down when they heard my voice and you know, it was a really nice experience because it was a beautiful song. That that was from the Menounos but it was something that that was touching to them because one of the guys was leaving the group and I sang his song no no v this is a Don't forget me. So all the girls went nuts and they started crying and you know and it was just like an amazing experience of of contacting an audience and giving them something they wanted to hear and also having a voice and being accepted and I was just like wow, okay, this might be something I like to do. And from there on, my mom supported me you know, in everything I wanted to do in terms of my entertainment you know, experience

Alex Ferrari 4:38
Now what what what made you want to be an actor, like there's a difference between jumping on stage on and singing,

Yancey Arias 4:44
Acting correct. So basically, when I went to high school about two years after the fact I was 14, I was 12. When that happened when I got on stage for the first time when I was 14 when I went to a high school by the name of St. John's prep in historic queens, and I met the Wonderful James are green who coincidentally, you know, saw me on the on the train on the seven train actually the nnr train headed back into the city with my with my guys that I hung out with from the baseball team and we were all clowning around singing, you know these these funny songs a lot of like do up and you know 50s greats and and we were singing always in forever I'll never forget forever. And he was like I want all you guys audition for the school play. So, you know, I was the only one who was interested in I auditioned and he gave me the lead role. I was the only one who could really sing that year. And he made a deal with me says I'm going to teach you how to sing. And you're going to teach him how to speak Spanish because he was an opera singer. So he wanted to sing with a better accent is arias. And coincidentally, my name is Yan teoria. So you know what, what a great duo. So he then introduced me to jack Romano, who was the main director of the stage of the place called stagedoor. Manor up in Loch Sheldrick, New York, where I studied acting, and singing and dancing and everything as a little kid from age 14 to 17. So I got a nice scholarship, you know, every summer doing, you know, plays, and during the winter season, I was doing plays with Mr. Green, and then at another high school that I had to end up going because I moved to Staten Island and more more Catholic. So throughout the high school years, I did about maybe 12 plays, right? And mostly musical, and some some some straight plays. But you know, I soaked it all up, man, that's when I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And it was literally at the age of 15 where I'm where I'm confirmed it like 14 I wet my feet 15 I was like No, this is it. This is me. This is where I am. This is this is my calling. So that's awesome, man. Yeah. And then I went on to college to Carnegie Mellon University. I was accepted there. And I studied there for another two years between age 19 and 20. And, and then at 22. I got Miss Saigon on Broadway and you know, I continually keishon Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 7:21
I must have been, wow,

Yancey Arias 7:23
That was a dream come true. Because when I was in high school, I saw Les Miserables, lay in the front row center seat, and I was bawling. It was just an amazing experience. Imagine I literally said, I'm going to be on this stage someday I will perform on this stage someday. And kid you not. That's exactly what happened. About five years later, I booked. I booked Miss Saigon. And I'm in that that theater in the same very the very same theater, if you can imagine when I was rehearsing for Miss Saigon. And I knew, and I was looking at the play from the audience perspective, because that's what you do before you you know, actually, when you when you jump on a show that's already established, you have to watch the show several times. So you see how it all works before you actually on there. And I was in tears, then, you know, well, I made it I made a very strong commitment and a conviction that I would be at this theater that's very theater working on this very stage and near I am and it was it was a wonderful training ground. It was a wonderful experience. I did it for six years. Yeah, and and during that time, I continue my studies with my coach Alan savage out of New York, and I was there every week doing scenes outside of what I was doing with the show, and he was helping me hone in my skills and just, you know, grow up in it, you know, and, and really just find a sense of like, a sense of like, survival and ownership the same time just like really understanding the journey, you know, that this is and where I really want to take my career and where I want to take my mission and my work. And so he was detriment. It was just, he was pivotal. And he was super important, you know, in summing it all up for me. And then I was doing a lot of you know, guest stars, you know, in all the all the New York cop shows like the law and orders in New York and the cover and NYPD Blue, all those shows that we shoot in New York, NYPD which shot in LA, but they sometimes came to New York. And

Alex Ferrari 9:31
So, ironically,

Yancey Arias 9:34
So I shot you know, anything that was in New York, I was shooting and then I realized that there was some really interesting roles that I never got a chance to be seen for. Once I actually signed on with paradigm back in 1995 years ago, I realized that there was some roles that that that I was missing out on and I had to be in Los Angeles. So that was in 2001 where I decided to move to Los Angeles and and try to compete for some of the more you know more interesting involved roles that that you know would be cast it out of La so that that was then my mission and I came out in online and and I've been here in Los Angeles for close to 15 years

Alex Ferrari 10:22
So so what's the big difference between working in New York and working in LA as an actor

Yancey Arias 10:28
Okay well New York you know you're you obviously have more tangibility to theater so you know you could do you can shoot on on any set in New York you know, between 6am and 6pm and then jump on the on the stage at night you know, and you know, knock out a great you know, as best as possible do your best work possible at night from 730 to 11. You know, and that was my life back then I was that's exactly what I was doing. So, I was I was it was such a wonderful experience to go from set to stage you know, almost every day and I did it quite often and it was amazing it was exhilarating and and definitely for a young person it's like you're on top of the world you feel like such a rock star. Right, right. Right. But you know, I definitely you know, have all the energy for that, um, you know, and La in LA you know, it's more like you know, basically if you don't have the right I guess outlets you could be sitting around because you know, sometimes I me personally, you know, I would work probably, I don't know maybe four or five times in the year so those projects would take me about you know, three weeks to shoot each one you know, and unless I'm on a series and I'm a series regular and it takes me throughout the whole year or at least say you know six or seven months you know, it would be like five to six months you know that I'm working in another five to six months in between that I'm not so what do you do with your time you know, so I found golf I found an adult baseball league we're planning on you know, I found I found poker but I played a cheap program and played expensive program

Alex Ferrari 12:23
Right you know you're not rolling that you're not rolling that hard.

Yancey Arias 12:26
I know I know my limits and now I have a kid right so it's like my baby boy is taking a lot of my time so yeah, a lot of the outlets that I was using is now you know focused on him

Alex Ferrari 12:38
Isn't it amazing that that happens when when kids come around isn't it

Yancey Arias 12:41
Oh I love it and you know it's great because now now I'm in more of like the seat of you know enjoying him you know watch him grow and what and watching him you know accept whatever whatever things that I throw at him and like read through our golf ball ball at him or baseball bat in a ball just to see him pick it up and do something with it and try to guide him through that that's that's just like that's you know, it's just an amazing experience you know where even if I had a girl I would do the same thing with her you know, right right kids period you know it's just like to see their light bulbs go off and then learn every day and just see what they pick up in the downbar 24 to 48 hours a new odd or new thing that they do or new behavior that's like that's like the most amazing production I've ever done in my life so that's that's definitely you know my involvement you know between work now for the last year and a half just just basically being with him and taking him to places to see how you know let's see how he reacts to stuff he's a

Alex Ferrari 13:42
Big guinea pig for you is what you're saying

Yancey Arias 13:43
Is it really good kidney you know it's so much fun because I've had I've had a wonderful life so far and I said I hope to have another 40 years in me you know we'd God Willing at least 4050 years you know but but with all that said you know like in this time of my life at 44 you know I have so much to give to my kids and I say kids because we want another one hit right right so so you know

Alex Ferrari 14:09
And I have to give I have to give you have to give you props man you are actually one of the few actors who actually admit their age of public oh

Yancey Arias 14:17
I don't care I know you I know you though it's after a while you don't you stop caring because when you do some high profile shows like kingpin or something like that or thief when the series that I did you know, sometimes you end up doing press and the press gets the information and then it's all over the place. There's no hiding it

Alex Ferrari 14:35
Not anymore. It's not the 20s or the 30s anymore. There's no hiding anything.

Yancey Arias 14:40
I mean, my look my look, the way I look at cameras is I eat right and I work out hard. So I still look about 35 I can play anywhere between 3536 to about 45 my age. You know so, so the age ranges there. I mean, I Yeah, I keep myself healthy enough throughout my life to be able to warrant that, but But yeah, I mean, the age thing, yeah, there's there's certain sometimes you would, there's, there's a sense of ages in the business in this isms everywhere, man, but you know, you limit yourself. Exactly. I just, I just, you know, do what I do, and I love and I also produce, and I direct and I ride and these are things that I do, you know, also along with, you know, being a dad, but also great outlets and for me to, you know, to stay involved and to stay creative, you know, during any spells that there could be, you know, if there's a dry spell in the business at all, you know, then I'm still creative, you know,

Alex Ferrari 15:44
So let me ask you now I want to get into some acting questions, because I, you know, I'm a director we've worked together on on multiple projects together in the over the years. I've never directed you, though, I do hope one day to to direct you. Yeah. But so I'm gonna ask you some acting questions. So this is a little bit selfish, because I want to know, but also for the audience as well. What makes a good actor, in your opinion,

Yancey Arias 16:09
A good actor is one that takes on the responsibility of the human being that they're representing. Great definition that takes on the rep, the responsibility of the story being told, you know, every story has some truth in it, if not all true, okay, even if the fact even if it's made based on nothing, and it's a fictitious story, someone was inspired enough to write it, that something in their life has changed is something that they had to deal with that was really specific, but they don't want to, they don't want everybody to know about it, it's in there, and you got to find those gems of information in every project that you do to understand that, whether it be, you know, sci fi, or based on a true story biopic that, that, you know, there's a very specific reason and a very specific audience that, that we're trying to reach out to, and to tell a story that is somehow motivate someone. So when you when do we become a responsible actor, then then the actor is now is now committed to communication, communicating that story, and committed to, you know, being a part of a team to bring that, that whole story to light. Whereas, like, if an actor is not that committed, then it really becomes about them, and about all their fears, and about all, you know, ego, when things like that, go and whatever else that has nothing to do with the story. So that to me, defines, you know, what, what a really good actor is.

Alex Ferrari 17:47
Now I, you know, directing actors over the years, one thing I always see sometimes is, a lot of times actors get in their own way. When it comes to playing a character, what would you suggest, as you know, in? I don't know how to say this, but how do you what would you suggest and how to get actors to get out of their own way? And I'm not sure if that makes sense. Does that make sense to you?

Yancey Arias 18:10
Yes, absolutely. Well see, here's the thing, you know, with proper training with the proper coaches, you know, actors find a safe space where they can create and they can be like, little lab rats or be like little scientist and just explore and, and, and, and, you know, work with all the different colors in the, in the spectrum, work with all the different colors on the palette, and just, you know, completely immerse themselves in the training process, so that they can learn to fuck up, learn to, they can learn to, you know, be bad actors to be great actors they do to just just, you know, not think so much, but just to create in the creative mode, you know, because there is no right or wrong. Prayer is there is you know, a commitment to the work and to try to explore so actors without proper training, do get in their own way because they're too worried. They don't have they don't they don't know. They don't, they haven't explored they haven't. You know, it's like, it's like, you know, saying, Okay, listen, young man, you're going to go from from Los Angeles, and you're going to walk all the way to Europe, you're going to walk all the way to a town called York shark. Okay, you're gonna walk away there. Here's a map, good luck. But if you know if, you know, if you, if you take that person, he's okay. I'm going to train you how to use you know, this tool that helps you get through that mountain, and I'm going to train you how to, you know, use this float to get to through the ocean, use this scuba gear and you know, gear him up. You got when you when you got when you go into any kind of, you know, a studio that's worth, you know, going to, they're going to stick in a suit They're going to, they're going to chew you up, they're going to give you a utility belt that you can easily access after many years of training, easily access these tools to understand what you need. So essentially, if you're a chef in a, in a, in a kitchen, in a world renowned kitchen, you got all the spices, you got all the, you know, you got all the materials laid out, and that took years of understanding how all those spices work, right. So, so good, a good actor who has a lot of training, you know, a good training, not just any training, but good training, like in good conservatory has explored a lot of those ingredients, and all of those tools to use in order for them to be able to come to a set or come to a stage. And, and, and live. So what happens it you know, it's a, it's a process in order to, to have that kind of freedom to have that kind of creative freedom to understand when they might be getting themselves into any kind of trouble, like getting getting to, in their own way, or, or when they're actually in the creative flow of it. And so, you know, a good good trained actor knows when, when they're in and when they're out. And so, you know, and they know how to get back in if they're out. Okay, so and that's why a good director, you know, basically will, will try to hire the best possible actors, so they don't, they, that part of the job is easy, they can, they can trust that their actors are going to, you know, show up to work and know exactly what, you know, what, what story they're telling, and, and, and, you know, the director can also then freely create, on many levels, you know, he doesn't have to babysit an actor, he can, you know, think about the shot and think about the lighting and the, you know, the costumes and the colors and all the nuances and a special effect that he might have, you know, so so it's really, you know, it's, it's interesting, being able to interest an actor who is primed to come to set to work that way. So So that's, that's, the key element is good training, to help understand how and when to when a person feels like, you know, an actor feels like they might be getting in their own way, and how do they bring themselves back to the story.

Alex Ferrari 22:14
So it's kind of like, you know, for another analogy is like, kind of going into a boxing ring, you know, you're not going to go up against Floyd Mayweather without any training. Or already fights in general, like, I'm like, I'm just gonna walk in, I'm like, I've seen someone throw a punch, I'm gonna try throwing a punch. And that's where I think a lot of actors do get in trouble. Because they, they look at like, Oh, I see what that guy is doing, oh, I can go do that. And you might get one lucky punch, maybe if you're lucky, but lucky, right? But again,

Yancey Arias 22:45
You got it, you got to follow through, because then it's like, you may win that punch, but you're not gonna win the fight. It's just, you know, that and that's what happens with a lot of young actors who come to Hollywood is that, you know, they come from wherever they come from, if they don't have training, and they don't have to support a support system, they get lost in it, because, you know, they, they feel like, I look good, you know, and I could do that I could be like, you know, dinero, or Brad Pitt or whoever, I can do that. And they show up without, you know, proper training and proper, proper skill or support. And, and, and they get buried, they get buried, all destroyed in Australia. Yeah, because they don't, they don't understand. You know, sometimes there's some people that, you know, that the studios will hire to, you know, because they're so beautiful, you know, and then they'll hire coaches for them on set. And, and, you know, if they're lucky, they take to heart the experience they have with the coach, and they cling on to the coach and the coach guides into their career for the rest of their life. Or if they're too, you know, I guess self absorbed and, you know, prideful, that they think they don't need a coach, well, then that's only going to last them for so long, you know. And that's, that's pretty much it. So you need to be kind of humble in this in this business. And at the same time, you have to be strong willed and know that, you know, if you want a career in this industry, you never stop learning, ever,

Alex Ferrari 24:04
Right! And like I always look at, probably one of the greatest living actors alive now is Meryl Streep. And you watch her, and she just, it just embodies whatever she does, it's, it's magical to watch actually, and like she just changes from character to character, with a fearlessness that and I think that's a big word to use when you're when you're an actor, to be fearless. And it's difficult to get to that point.

Yancey Arias 24:30
I think that there's, you know, the dichotomy of that is, is that, you know, you got to be willing to be fearful Branton oh not to have fear. So that's fine. Like, like when you go when you go to battle, you know, when you're at the top of the mountain and you're looking down at your enemy, you know, you you know, there's something that happens in the gutter, your stomach is like this may not turn out that right. Right, but you're willing to you're courageous enough to try, you know, and so You go and you go into battle so so you can't negate fear because fear is there right but you embrace that fear and and you courageously go into the fight and and and that's what is you know that that's the the amazing part of it is like some people get consumed by fear you know but they don't they don't realize that that that very energy is good energy and you can make that productive for yourself

Alex Ferrari 25:24
Absolutely fear can be a driving force if used properly correct now can you give any advice to actors about the brutal auditioning process which I've been on the I've never been in front to audition for someone who has been auditioning people and I try to be as nice as I possibly can to actors to come in but I've seen other casting casting sessions that are absolutely just brutal what what do you and I'm sure you've I'm sure you have a couple stories what what kind of advice can you give actors about handling that that kind of brutal auditioning process?

Yancey Arias 25:58
Well, this is a this is a 20 pound question. I mean, it's it's a big one but I'll try to break it down as quickly as I can. Basically, you know, when you when you're handed the material from your agent or wherever you get it from, you know, you commit to it 100% and you you learn it and you research it as best as you can so that so that when you go in you have creative freedom so that you're not tied to the page and your hand you know so that you can you know, do your best with that and then give an interpretation of the story that that is you know, on the page already then you know on game day when you before you go in before you go in you know you want to feel like you've put in the hours you put you put in the time you done your best to prepare now just go in and celebrate go and celebrate like you're actually shooting you have to have a sense of like ownership and and acknowledgement of the fact that you know life is a rehearsal you don't have to get it right enjoy the process so you go you go into the room where you're waiting for yes there's 20 other people but you know what, God bless them they're going to get there someday you're going to get your someday it's not up to you you know it's really not up to you all you can do the only thing that we have power over is celebrating our preparation Game Day is celebrating our practice you know when the guys go when the guys go to the Superbowl, you know they've been working hard all season and they continue to still practice they know their weaknesses and then when it's game day when it when they say Okay, it's time to play put it on the whistle goes it's a celebration man and everything else just comes off you may just everything comes through naturally without even thinking about it. And then understanding that you you There's nothing else you could do but that because the director and the producer and the writer, they're in the room and they're looking for what they wrote. So if you don't happen to be exactly what they're looking for, it's nothing against you they love your work and someday they might actually hire you on another project in case in point that's happened to me several times you know I wasn't ripe for a certain part but they loved my work I went in there with that attitude that I talked about and and they love it and then they hired me later on

Alex Ferrari 28:14
Yeah, it like I was trying to tell actors like sometimes just not personal sometimes they're not looking for a 510 Latino, sometimes they're looking for a six foot five black guy, right and it just that didn't get to you. Unfortunately before the auditioning process.

Yancey Arias 28:28
Don't let that shut you down exactly. Rock and Roll because you never know they might even write you in. They write you into the project

Alex Ferrari 28:36
Right and that's happened I've seen that happen many times with actor friends of mine as well, but you just got to do. I was interviewing Robert forester A while ago and he was just always saying the same thing. Like do the best work you can no matter how small the part is, no matter how small the audition is just bring your game. That's right every time and good stuff only good things gonna happen from that might not happen every time but eventually something happens from that. Amen. Um, now what kind of advice can you give about handling rejection? Because I know that's a huge part of being an actor.

Yancey Arias 29:08
Okay, could this be our last question or can we continue this?

Alex Ferrari 29:12
Or do you need Yeah, do you need do you need to head out

Yancey Arias 29:15
I do need to head out but but but I can answer this question and then maybe Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 29:20
Absolutely perfect. Okay.

Yancey Arias 29:21
So So, rejection you know, you have to have like skin of steel, you know, basically and again, if you go back to understanding, you know, how, how and why are we going to, you know, to these to the audition process, then it doesn't matter the rejection because you know, it has nothing to do with you. If you did your best that and you claim and you put your stake or you put your stamp, this is my brand, this is how I work. This is why I am this is what I love to do. This is hard prepare, you know, and it all comes out in the story when you when you tell that story, when you're dealing with the other actor or you're the casting person, and you have this great wonderful general genuine rapport with the other person and you're really in the scene and you really give yourself over to the scene into the other person and invest yourself in that way, then you did your job.

Alex Ferrari 30:10
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Yancey Arias 30:21
There's there's nothing else you could do you if you did your job, you did your job, you walk away. And and now next time that you know, I'll do the same thing again. You know, one of my friends, Jacob Vargas is so sweet. You know, I've worked with him several occasions. And kingpin job is etc. And my boy said it right. You know, he says, We're career auditioners, that's our career. You know, we go in every time like, we're on set, we're working, we're getting paid for it. And every so I mean, I saw I went another 1000 jobs maybe in you know, 30 years of experience of this of this entertainment industry. And I, in my mind, I did 1000 projects on IMDB, I did 70 projects. Right? But you know, but that's how you psych yourself out for this whole thing. You just say, you know, you psych yourself up for it, because you say Listen, this is my career. This is what I do. I meet people all the time. That's what I do. And every time I meet him, I give him my best best possible, you know, scenario, my bet my best foot forward, you know,

Alex Ferrari 31:20
Where what would you consider to be your big break

Yancey Arias 31:24
Big breaks for big breaks, I guess would be kingpin because that was the biggest audience that you know, I was able to, you know, share our story with 25 million viewers showed up the first episode, and we beat dragnet and and Sopranos that Sunday, I remember vividly, and then do the, the scheduling of the show got kind of wacky. So the numbers kind of, you know, did a little bit of a jump, but, but we maintained about 15 million viewers by the end of the sixth episode. And until this day, 10 years later, or rather, 12 years later, everyone is like, Hey, what happened to that show? What can we see it again?

Alex Ferrari 32:12
Yeah, I know you say that? Is that what you get? Is that what you get mostly recognized for?

Yancey Arias 32:15
You know, yeah, I mean, I would say 90 Yeah, 90% of the time when people see me they go kingpin. But then, you know, then I have a nice group of people that actually watch a lot of different things that I've been in and you know, they catch me on and whatnot and but I gotta say, that would be the the the show that broke me in and do Alan Coulter and David Mills, God blesses, so rest in peace, they were so great to give me that opportunity into into risk that responsibility onto me

Alex Ferrari 32:48
Now as an actor, what kind of what kind of experience is that? Because that's a very unique experience for an actor, you know, being kind of thrown into the spotlight like that. I mean, it's not like you're an overnight success. You had been working for years before you got that shot. But, but I'm imagining as an actor that what was the experience, like being thrown in front of 25 million people? Like, how does that work for you,

Yancey Arias 33:10
It was fantastic, because you said a key thing I've been in the business a long time prior to that I've already working, you know, on film and television for about 12 years prior to that experience. And in all the experiences I've had in different shows that I've worked on, in my guest starring or recurring roles, you know, I had the opportunity to work with a lot of people that were, you know, the leads in shows and the series regulars and, and, you know, I got a sense of, like, how I wanted to what I wanted to bring to the table for production, in terms of like the family atmosphere, the synergy, the synchronicity, the flow of happiness, and just, you know, I feel like when you're on a series and if you're a series regular, it starts from the top so, you know, spread the love and bring everybody together and make them feel like they're part of something special. So, you know, I made it very clear to everyone number one, number one on the call sheet is not my name, it's the production, it's the show. So it's number one, and we're all here to serve the peace. And I gave you know, I gave everybody the best, you know, support that I possibly could to help them and help me bring the best you know, product out there for the audience. You know, the best performances and the best, you know, the best love you see that kind of camaraderie and that kind of family atmosphere that you get to play with. from day to day, it does show up on the screen that greatness and, you know, that was a wonderful experience for, for me to have to have that responsibility and give people that kind of support and, and and love that, you know, I've always wanted to do when I got my when I you know, eventually someone gave me that responsibility. It's about sharing, it's about, you know, bringing everyone together and like a one big happy party, you know, awesome family. So So yeah, that was fantastic.

Alex Ferrari 34:59
Yes, Real quick, you're wearing your earbuds, right? Yes, they're it's rubbing up against your shirt. So if you could just hold them like apart, that would be awesome. But other than that was perfect. So yeah, so you've done a ton of TV work over the years. Now, how does that differ from your filmmaking experience?

Yancey Arias 35:18
Well, you know, it's because television was the, I guess, the avenue that I ended up being on quite frequently, especially after a show like kingpin and whatnot, you know, it's been a challenge to get into the film world because you know, it's like, you have to be careful not to become too popular on a TV show, you know, but but I'm lucky that I didn't get you know, to overuse or overexposed in any particular production on television. So I've I've been blessed in the way that I've played a lot of different characters you know, and and so when a film producer sees me as an actor, you know, they're like, oh, that guy's interesting he's always doing something different Yeah, you know, I know I know that face but yeah, okay. Yeah, it's a good act Okay, maybe he's right for this role. And if I am great, I'm on the film. And you know, I've been I've been working hard to get myself more into film as of late and for quite a long time rather I since I moved to Los Angeles 15 years ago, every so often I pop up in some films and some big blockbusters a lot of independence you know, and in the independent world, I realized that you know, in order for me to basically you know, kind of bring myself to the attention of the film world I have to kind of create my own project so I started producing, writing and directing and I'm on my sixth project right now coming out in theaters early that next year about March called restored me which is something that I produced on an accident and and then I have about three other films in development that we hope to shoot at least one or two saw, I hope to shoot in 2016 two new films for the public and a lot of my stuff is based on true stories you know, suspense thrillers or maybe even action just because like you know that's kind of the world that I love so much and and if you're going to you know commit time outside of your acting career you know, you better do something that you really love and you you know, you can put a lot of focus and attention to so that so that it you know, it drives your mission forward you know, whatever it is that you want to say in the world you know, and what are your reasons you want to help with it or in the world you know,

Alex Ferrari 37:48
now you've also worked like you said, you work on a huge tent poles and you've worked on small TV shows, what can you tell the actors listening? What is it like working in a bit like a big blockbuster, like kind of like the day to day vibe and also any any advice you can give to any actor who might get on as a day player or you know, on a big show like that, because it's a very different different experience than being on an indie project or on a television show?

Yancey Arias 38:15
You know, it's you know, Indian television Okay, specifically it's not very much different it's pretty much let's you know, let's move you know, you have a lot of pages in one day because for a television series you have you know, a week and a half to shoot what's supposed to be a whole episode that could you know, 45 minutes of you know, a footage and and you know, indie you have to shoot, you know, in 18 days, you're lucky if you get 25 days on an indie film. Yeah. So, so, you have 18 days is not a far stretch from you know, 12 days, you know, so So, you do have to hustle and you have to be in shape and you know, you know, good form that you're you know, you're eating right, you're getting to rest as much as possible you're working hard, you know, you're doing some exercise, you got to stay out there because, you know, there's no time to dilly dally, you know what I mean? So you really have to, you know, understand the PC you're in, give it your 100% you know, emotionally physically, you know, spiritually, mentally the whole nine yards, so you got to be ready for all that, you know, so it moves, it moves, really, you know, it's an animal that is definitely a little bit different from the, from the studio temples, because those films, you know, there's a lot more money involved, there's a lot more time involved, and they and there's a lot more intricacies involved, especially today with the you know, visual effects and all the wonderful you know, you know, toys and gadgets that are involved in some of the big films that you get to play with and all the green screen this and that, there's a lot more waiting around and prep for those kinds of films is is millions upon millions upon millions of dollars involved, you know, and so and right So they want to think they want it to be an amazing cinematic experience. Whereas in television and indie films, it's so much more story story story. And, you know, if we get something spectacular, visually, amen, but, you know, we got to get this movie in the can or TV show, you know, sent off to, you know, to post so that it can make it on time for airtime. I know. Yeah. So so you know, the so in terms of like, you know, the difference really is more, you know, against the, you know, big blockbuster films, you know, versus the TV shows and the independent films, you know, mind you, you know, if you have a week or two weeks to prep for a TV show, or an indie film, you know, you do everything that you can to get, you know, look under every rock creatively, you know, as to understanding what the piece is what you're fighting for, what you're trying to what you're trying to achieve in the whole, you know, story and your relationships with everyone. And understanding, you know, how, you know, the significance and the, the freefall that you're going into working in that speed and giving your absolute best for the story. You know, whereas when you do a big blockbuster, you have about a month or two months, maybe even six months prior to shooting. In one case, I had a whole year before shooting on a blockbuster hit Oh,

Alex Ferrari 41:20
what was that time it was that time machine? Was that time machine?

Yancey Arias 41:24
No at Well, you know what, that was a six month waiting period before I got on time machine and then Live Free or Die Hard was about two month waiting experience. You know, this is an indie film, but not really this is called the hands of stone, which which I was part of, and it's coming out next year to the Weinstein group with Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramirez. And that particular film, I I got the part almost a year before I did the role, so you know, and the role, as you will see is a pivotal one in terms of like, who fights Roberta Duran in New York City for the first time ever, you know, in the history of robidoux re Roberta Duran I coincidently had a whole almost seven eight maybe almost a year like seven eight months to a year before I was on set and it gave me plenty of time to work out you know, boxing wise and I just, I just boxed my butt off for two or three weeks excited to you know, to join the cast and the biggest compliment I got was when I when I finished a couple of the fight scenes I came off the rain came out of the ring and Robert DeNiro comes up to me and he's like hey what you know are you pro i mean you know what Jim what Jimmy workout of oh shit Yes, thank you Lord God thank you Mr. dinero great compliment Mr. Raging Bull. as fuck you know, like as an actor, you want to be able to disappear in your role you know what I mean? And and for him not to know that I was an actor on the set that I was actually thought because I was actually a real fighter. A huge fucking compliment as a huge compliment. It's so so I you know that that was a testament to my hard work for the 17 months to the year before I got on that set.

Alex Ferrari 43:14
And now you're also talking about directing and producing you produced a film with one of our guests prior guests. Kiko. Kiko Yes, the shooting star salesman. Yeah, we're the star of that one. And we talked a bunch about that, that in the in the episode, but that must have been fun. You did a great job in that short, I remember watching it in the beginning. Before it before I got released. I was like, man, it was a must have been fun.

Yancey Arias 43:40
I was fantastic. And you know, I'm trained, you know, classically and I went to Conservatory, Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, and you know, so so when I read the script, I felt like it was such an eloquent piece. And I felt like it was something that you never seen me do before. You know, and so I really wanted to challenge that, you know, myself and the peace to to see a Latino in that role. I mean, when it first came to me, Kiko didn't know what he wanted to do with me on the project if I just wanted to produce a them or not, and I read it. And I was like, who you have in mind for this what we were thinking like a 60 year old white guy, you know, I was like, Well, God bless the 60 or white men love them all. But you know what, I want to play this role. And I want to, you know, I want to do my take, and, you know, and he was like, Oh, wonderful. That sounds like a really good idea. I was like, Yes, it's a brilliant idea that before you change your mind, so we got into it, and he we had the best experience possible. And we were so in love. I mean, the, the show the actual short is playing so much for the last three years in all these different festivals, and it's garnishing awards and whatnot and acclimated. And, you know, we're just like on a shoot of fooling features. So yeah, that's one of the other things we're in development with, that we're trying to make as well. And we're just working on the script right now. So that's awesome. Yeah. So we'll hope hope to see that So I'm in the next two years.

Alex Ferrari 45:01
So speaking of working with the director, what do you look for as an actor and a director?

Yancey Arias 45:07
Okay, well, if I'm working with a director, okay, having having directed already, for me, like, I know, and I appreciate, like, being able to, like, talk to my actors, when they need me, you know, I don't like to be in their face, you know, so. So basically, like, I trust my crew, I trust my actors. And, you know, I set up cameras in such certain ways that it's like, I want, I want them to feel like they're almost onstage and they're having a live performance. So like they're creatively flowing, and nothing technical is getting in their way. You know what I mean? So like, I almost feel like, I'll put zoom lenses on cameras, so that, you know, they were in tight, but they don't know we're in tight, you got I'm saying, so I wanted to feel like we're, I want the audience and the crew to be like flies on the wall, watching something like really dangerous happening right now. You know, so I give them that space, you know, and I like that, you know, I like directors who give us space, you know, as big as because they give, giving us the respect and the honor of knowing that when they hired me that I'm going to bring the goods, I'm going to bring my preparation, and allow that preparation to be a celebration on set, you know what I mean? And it's not that I'm trying to say, like, you know, actors should take over No, that's not what I'm saying is that, you know, if, when I'm hiring somebody, I'm looking at mostly, you know, trusting noise, okay, this person is brilliant, they're great. They, they do, they do their work, they do their homework, they're responsible, they're not there, they're kind of people, they're loving people, they care for the peace, they're going to bring something, let's play, you know, so I like obviously, like, you know, before we actually start production, maybe a week of rehearsal, just to kind of get in there, you know, get dirty with the director, knock out all of these wonderful, you know, moments and scenes talk about things that, you know, we'd like to achieve in in all the scenes, and then, you know, finally, when we get to set that we're all on the same page, we're not, you know, wasting time on things that we didn't explore yet, you know, we're actually expanding on the exploration that we had in our preparation and our rehearsal, you get what I'm saying, if anything, there, anything gets stopped, we think for a second about anything is only about expanding and moving forward, rather than, you know, you know, stopping and not having had that prep time, you know, to get it. And then the other thing is, like, you know, sometimes I feel, you know, and this is nothing against certain directors and whatnot, you know, everybody has a different way of going at it, different roads at the top of the mountain, and as an actor, I understand how to work with all of them, you know, it's my respect to them and their craft, you know, because not everybody's wired the same way. But I do kind of tend to, like some of the directors who, you know, they're brilliant at what they do, you know, and they understand and respect what I do. And, you know, the talking is minimal, you know, it's, it's more about the doing, you know, and and, you know, if I need another tape, let's do another tape, because, you know, I have something special that that just came up out of the moment that perhaps, perhaps I didn't hit or didn't jump off the cliff on. And, you know, let me give you one, you know, hits and giggles, you'll, I'll surprise you, you know, even if it's an improv, you know, it's something that, you know, whether beyond the page or off the page, that it's something that is something creative, that allows us to, you know, to be and so, you know, I feel like sometimes certain directors like to talk for talk, you know, to feel their importance, and it's not, you know, it's sometimes an insecurity thing, and I understand it, I understand it, you know, and I and I respect them for feeling that way. In a way, it's a compliment to me that they want to share that moment with me and they want to talk about something, you know, but, but a lot of times, it's like, you know, just have faith in your guys and just do you know, just lead the way if I'm off track as an actor for anything, please come in and help me get back on track, right? If I'm driving this, and I'm, you know, I'm doing my thing, and they're getting it and I'm attaching the story. You know, some really good directors know how to leave their actors B and just, you know, basically just just be like, Oh, you want another one? No, you're good. Okay, great. Let's move on. You know, right. Right. Right. Right. It's it's not even, you know, it's just knowing when you have it, some some directors don't know when they have it, you know?

Alex Ferrari 49:49
Yeah, that's, that's that's what Robert Forster said. He says, like, I asked him the exact same question He's like, I'd like a director who knows when they have it. Great. That's a big thing.

Yancey Arias 49:59
It's a big thing, it's a big thing because, you know, otherwise, it's like, it's sometimes it gets kind of sticky and little muddy, but, but you know, I think that at the end of the day as an actor, without my directors hat on, as an actor, you have to be able to work with everyone and everyone style, you know, and just basically adapt. And, you know, remember that you're invited to a party, you know, and you have to respect everyone at the party, and the party and all your work on your work. And, and be ready to be ready to, you know, to adapt into I've already said that, but be ready to complement the project and to collaborate with the project because, you know, no matter what you came up with, that is so brilliant for your, you know, that you feel we want to share with the audience and we want to share for the, with the production, you know, things things are going to slightly alter, you know, for one reason or another technical things or, you know, story wise or, you know, whatever, you know, things do change. So be ready to change, be ready to adapt, you're ready to flow. So you know, you it's just like being a fighter, you know, I mean, like you can, you can basically train for, you know, 16 months prior to a big fight or three months or two months or one month prior to a big fight. And in that preparation, you know, you do you think of every possible thing that you have to do to fight that opponent. But when you're in the ring, when it's in the fight night, dude, anything could happen. Anything could, of course, be able to just flow and adapt. And you know, you know, go with it, you know, I'm saying and, and, and, you know, you're brave enough to go through it, you know, try to win. And if you did win, great, but if you didn't, at least you were brave enough to try. You know me, I

Alex Ferrari 51:49
think that's good advice for life in general, just kind of go with the flow. Anything can happen at any time.

Yancey Arias 51:55
Exactly. And don't freak out when something doesn't seem to be wrong, because what you think might be wrong, actually could be a blessing.

Alex Ferrari 52:03
Oh, I've had that too many times in my career. Too many times cop out for right. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yes. Um, hold the mic a little bit off, your shirt is still rather good. So I have a couple more questions. Are you good? Are we good on time? Yeah, so far. Alright, cool. Any advice you can give a working actor on how to make it as a working actor in the business?

Yancey Arias 52:32
Well, here's the number one thing, anytime you get the opportunity, remember that it you have to appreciate it with every ounce of your body and your soul. And then, you know, prepare yourself to do the best work you possibly can in the time of your life that you're in. Because every time you go in and do work for any production, you know, it's about being consistent every time. Like always bring your A game and I know it's exhausting, but you do it because you love it. And there's no other reason why you need to be there. Because simply because you love the story and you'd love to be on the project. And and be prepared because once the audience then feels that love that you brought to the table, like basically, like you're serving a dinner, a beautiful dinner, every time that you're going, you know that you put them on a show, you know, and so like every time you invite the audience in, to sit down and give you you know, your attention for you know, 45 minutes to two hours, you know, it's it's this amazing dinner that you prepared for them. So you know, otherwise, if you don't have it that great, then people don't want to come you know, to dinner anymore. So the more that you so the more that you you know, they're always bringing something delicious, different, something great, something interesting, you know, and your work is always on point, you know, you know, 99% of the time, you know, because remember you gotta leave 1% for failure for failure because failure is good thing it's a humbling thing.

Alex Ferrari 54:00
You know, it's a greatest teacher but you don't learn by winning all the time.

Yancey Arias 54:04
Exactly. But you get you'll learn by failure as well. But you know, you know your turkey always gonna be as delicious and scrumptious. You know what I'm saying? But but but no thanks. Yeah, if you're right for Thanksgiving, right? If you're, if you're consistent, right and giving and preparing the most delicious dinner, doing your best work, then, you know, people will pay attention and people want to keep hiring you. And that's how you become a working actor in this business. And the other thing that you have to do to also be you know, a working actor is that you have to have a lot of different things that you do, you have to learn how to dance you have to learn how to sing You have to learn you know, you got to know your shit as an actor, you have to you know, you have to pick up an instrument you have to do a lot of different things. Because sometimes a certain role calls for it and and if you go in on it, and you don't know anything about that, you know, it's going to be Difficult to cast you, you know what I mean? Because then you know you want you want to give the producers and director no reason to say no. You know, I'm saying so you're going for a role, and there's a specific skill attached to that role. You want to know something about that? As a general statement, right? Yeah, exactly that way, that way, you know, so sharpen your skills when you're not working on different things, whether it be dance class, singing class, horseback riding, guitar, horseback riding, motorcycle riding, be safe guys, you know, you know, any kind of contact sport, boxing, martial arts, you know, be good. Respect your body, understand, you can't hurt yourself, either, you know, but but train, train, you know, on all of these different arts, because, you know, you're going to be called upon to have to come up with that skill. And it's very apparent when you don't know what you're doing. And because of television, and television, and independent films move so fast, and the preparation is so small, you know, you want to have a head start. If he so so there's a big thing about vision questing. I call it vision posting, because I say to myself, look, you know, what, I haven't been called yet to play a guitarist, you know, someone who's good, but but like, I think of myself as I'm someday I'm gonna play someone special in history, who played guitar. So I play guitar. So I work on it, like every day, even playing little, you know, Nursery Rhymes to my son, you know, as long as I'm doing it, I, you know, out, you never know, when I really have to do it for a job. You know what I mean? I'm lucky that I do sing. I've been singing since I was a child. And I've done it on Broadway. And, Greg, we talked about before. So if there's a singing role, you know, I sing. So I'm gonna bring that to the table. I say all actors should learn how to do especially learn how to sing or learn how to use their voice, learn how to dance, or do yoga. Because it's really important, you don't just act from the head up, you act with your whole body, you know, you're communicating with your whole body. So you got to learn how to use your instrument fully your full on instrument from head to toe, so that, you know, you can apply that to being consistent at work and also being ready for something that might surprise you later on that, you know, oh my God, I've been in dance class all the time. Oh, this is a big dance movie. Oh, it's a big ballroom dance movie. Like what happened with you know, what was that movie?

Alex Ferrari 57:26
The ballroom of a strictly ballroom strictly ballroom

Yancey Arias 57:29
or another movie that Robert De Niro did the most amazing film of two years ago.

Alex Ferrari 57:35
Oh. Seven line playbook.

Yancey Arias 57:40
So somebody's playbook. Exactly so I mean yeah, I mean the characters didn't have to really know how to dance but it's good to know something

Alex Ferrari 57:47
it helps it helps with the part without question yeah, no are there are there any pitfalls in the business that you can warn actors about

Yancey Arias 57:55
pitfalls you know I would say the pitfalls are like in life don't expect so much don't don't expect you know that everybody's gonna kiss your ass or you know throw flowers you know down you're on your feet you know you know you appreciate every opportunity you have Be humble you know because if not, you know, people people will see that smell that and they don't want to work with people that don't appreciate to be on a project you know what I mean? They know that you know there's a lot of people I know that shot themselves in the foot because you know they think that they're poopoo don't stink you know what I mean? And and they get bad reputations you know so so as you know I say work hard Be humble do your best and and and you know try try and bring love to the table and nothing else you know you know I think also you know good training you know get yourself in a good you know space a good workshop or you know good class you can work out for a couple of years that you feel comfortable with and safe in and you can rock use you know, rock your best creativity you know, find a way to work out in spaces like that so that even you know as a working actor, you're still always growing you know in between and you're still you riding the bike in between work because sometimes you know, if if you don't work for maybe four or five months and all of a sudden you got a job and you got to jump back on the bike and you got to you know, kind of start the pedaling again whereas if you're already there and you've been in you know another production or working on something for yourself you know to expand your muscles and have character that you never played before you know that you know you you're ready and as soon as someone calls like BAM okay hello let's go and and that you know, what happens is some some actors get lazy they don't they don't work on their craft they don't they think that they know it all. And you know, like art art is an evolving thing and so you know, you never got it you're never ready and if you feel like you got it, then you're dead really creatively.

Alex Ferrari 59:56
And the one thing that you said that was I think it should be made a point of is like here's like a For two years you have to do this like this is not a short thing this is a long process to become a really good actor it takes years of determination years of work

Yancey Arias 1:00:08
yeah man still work out and I'm you know I'm 30 years in the business so yeah right you have to I say work out because I look at a class like a gym, right when I'm when I'm in a class I'm a structure I'm working out that's my workout time. That's my therapy time.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:23
So um, last two questions. The toughest questions by far what is the what is one of the most underrated films you've ever seen? And what are your top three films of all time?

Yancey Arias 1:00:38
got three underrated and no

Alex Ferrari 1:00:39
What? No, no, just one underrated three top

Yancey Arias 1:00:42
One underrated film and three top Yeah, that's a good one. I told you it's gonna be the toughest you're gonna give me a second I'm gonna start with the basketball okay maybe maybe the under one underrated one we'll come to but you know godfather of course you know godfather 123567 right That to me is the you know I could I could just you know a film is so great when you can like after 30 years of being in the business anytime it shows up on like you know any network or any you know any cable channel you stop what you're doing you watch and if you don't have time you go like I got to see that again and you go pick up the DVD and put it in

Alex Ferrari 1:01:34
a few of those movies yeah

Yancey Arias 1:01:35
you know and it's now as a director producer writer even more so it's like you know if you have a film like that you you go back and refer to shots and you go oh my god look at that carrot movie. Oh my God look at that amazing you know you know panoramic shot that they have or whatever you know or the way just the interesting lighting or anything you know cinema party decio and love cinema beautiful beautiful farm film that in terms of story and simplicity heart and soul heart soul passion I mean it was you know, just so good it just got me right away you know when we in terms of story and in terms of like all of that you know, inspiration you know is great great you know, it was one of those examples of fantastic movie that was probably shot for very little and very humbly but with a lot of love and care you know what I mean? Okay, so godfather cinnamon para decio and Gosh, I mean Hello

Alex Ferrari 1:02:46
whichever one whichever our wars okay fine

Yancey Arias 1:02:50
you know as a kid you know, it's like you grew up with that and it's so hard to get away from that today. The kid in me is so excited by those Star Wars is coming

Alex Ferrari 1:02:59
it's it's it's I've never seen the anticipation that the last time I've seen anticipation for a movie this much was was probably when the prequels came out. Like that was But even now more even now more so because

Yancey Arias 1:03:12
oh my god. Yeah, because the technology is so amazing. And JJ Abrams, like he's asked with Star Trek one and two that it's like, you can't wait to see what he's going to do with the Star Wars

Alex Ferrari 1:03:23
and you know that most of the most of Star Wars is he shot at old school practical.

Yancey Arias 1:03:28
Wow. Yeah. Well, I can't wait.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:30
I can't wait to see how he pulled it off. So yes, where can people find you?

Yancey Arias 1:03:37
You can find me at www ncrs.com. I check in there all the time. And you know, you can actually go to my forum and ask questions and I answer also on Facebook, Yancey areas and Twitter and Instagram and now Periscope. Your Periscope. Yeah, no, I'm a periscope when I have a good connection like I'm on the set of agents of shields today. And obviously I can't be on set with the periscope thing but I can do that so much. I can be in my trailer talking about it you know, I wouldn't talk about any plot well you know of course of course specific you know, I have to respect my my due diligence and silence of course to the project but you know, I can you know, I can just say Hey, guys, you know, I'm doing you know, this show watch me, you know, in the new year, you know, but But so, so yeah, so you can find me on all those social medias. And, yeah, and this 2016 and at least the first quarter, you're gonna see me quite a bit. I'm on. Agents of SHIELD. I'm on Bosch on Amazon. I'm on. criminal mind criminal my Criminal Minds beyond borders. is the new Gary Sinise show now Gary Sinise. I'm sorry. Excuse me, please scratch that. Wait Is it in New York CSI New York okay was the was the one that

Alex Ferrari 1:05:06
That was the one that was Gary Sinise Yes. Yes. Oh, sorry.

Yancey Arias 1:05:08
Yeah. I'm thinking somebody else I think Craig Kinnear for some reason okay. Similar actors but now yeah Gary Sinise is amazing anyway, so Gary Sinise has a new show called Beyond Borders. Is this the Criminal Minds Rand flagship and I haven't film coming out called restored me and I also have a film coming out called hands of stone so you can catch me in a lot of neat stuff in the first quarter of 2016

Alex Ferrari 1:05:40
And handsome stone is the one with a with with with Bobby I like to call Bobby Brown Yeah, yeah I've actually seen the I saw the trailer I'm not sure the trailer that I saw the poster for sure. I was like oh, and he's like he has he's the he's like the the trainer right

Yancey Arias 1:05:59
The trainer right? Yeah, I mean I'm sorry. Roberta Duran yeah the trainer and and we have you know, and then in my film that I produced is coming out restored me it's got a really interesting avenue that we're going because we're we're bringing a lot of spirituality to a very urban edgy, you know, based on a true story type film.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:23
Oh awesome.

Yancey Arias 1:06:24
So so you know it kind of goes in the faith based market but more but then it also dances in the you know, urban you know, Suspense Thriller world so it's kind of you know, in the end we have some really wonderful actors that you would be amazed that I was able to pull out you know, from my Rolodex of friends over the years that I've worked with and they've supported me and I've supported them and you know, we just try to make it a love fest on set and you know, bring actors you know, like much like George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh use a lot of the same people you know that's that's basically what I'm doing I'm trying to you know, I'm taking a you know page off their playbook and bring friends to the table we have a great time you know, so the classic dinner you know, so you just that's a really fun movie that I think a lot of people appreciate once it comes out restored me because you'll see a lot of the people that I've worked with and you'll go oh my god yeah he worked with on that one and he worked with him on that project and then and that you know in any get it you're like oh, I see what yes he's trying to go with his progress he you know, it's a big you know, Family Affair every time

Alex Ferrari 1:07:28
That's so awesome man thank you so much for taking the time out and sharing the experience your experience with with the crowd and hopefully, people get something out of a lot of this wonderful information that you laid out for us today man.

Yancey Arias 1:07:40
Good stuff man. hopefully help somebody.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:43
Thanks again for being on the show brother. You know, sometimes you just meet people in the industry that you just just love man and and Nancy is one of those guys. I absolutely love Yancey and would go to battle with him. any day of the week. He is one of those souls that is that he says a giving soul and he's such a great, he's also a very great actor. But more importantly, he's just an amazing human being and was blessed to have him on the show and share a little bit of nuggets of gold nuggets of information that he has. Anytime you can hear or listen to somebody who's been in the business for a long time give you advice. It's in your best interest to listen and I was listening as much as interviewing on this one as well. Because I've talked to Yancey a bunch I've never had this kind of detailed conversation with the antsy before so it was a big treat for me and I hope you guys got something out of it as well. Now guys, don't forget to head over to filmmakingpodcast.com and leave the show an honest review. It really helps us out a lot. So thanks again for all the support guys. I hope you I hope you guys are getting a lot out of this. I'm loving it and enjoying doing this show. And I plan to keep doing it for for a long time to come to want to try to help as many filmmakers as humanly possible. So keep that dream alive. Keep that hustle going. And I'll talk to you soon.




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IFH 043: Jon Reiss – The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution & Marketing

Want to hear a crazy story on how one Filmtrepreneur used a hybrid distribution and marketing strategy to sell his film Bomb ItMay I introduce Jon Reiss.  After hearing his story I had to have him on the show so he can tell his story to the IFH Tribe.

Jon Reiss was named one of “10 Digital Directors to Watch” by Daily Variety, Jon Reiss is a critically acclaimed filmmaker whose experience releasing his documentary feature, Bomb It with a hybrid distribution and marketing strategy.

This strategy inspired him writing Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era, the first step-by-step guide for filmmakers to distribute and market their films. Two years ago he co-wrote Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul and last year co-wrote Selling Your Film Outside the U.S.: Digital Distribution in Europe. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

Jon Reiss teaches in the Film Directing Program at California Institute of the Arts. He created the course “Real World Survival Skills: Everything I Wish I Had Been Taught in Film School” which covers the practical/business aspects of filmmaking from fundraising through distribution.

Jon is a very interesting filmmaker. When I spoke to him he brought the heat and shared a ton of film marketing and distribution knowledge.

Enjoy my conversation with Jon Reiss.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:36
Today, guys, we're in for a treat. We've got a film distribution and marketing expert by the name of John Reiss. John wrote a book called thinking outside the box office the Ultimate Guide to film distribution, and marketing for the digital era. Now john is very well known throughout the industry, for his very unique techniques of doing kind of like a hybrid distribution marketing strategy that helped him sell his movie bomet. Very well, and how he was able to do it, he was written up in daily variety as one of the top 10 Digital directors to watch. He's also a music video director, as well as a documentary and narrative director. And he's co written two other books called selling your film without selling your soul, and selling your film outside the US digital distribution for Europe. So John's a really interesting guy, he has amazing information. So I had to get him on the show to share that with you, the tribe. So sit back and relax and enjoy my interview with John Reiss. Hey, John, thank you so much for jumping on board on the indie film hustle podcast, I really appreciate you taking the time.

John Reiss 1:59
Hey, thanks for having me. Happy to do it.

Alex Ferrari 2:03
Thanks so much. And so can you tell us a little bit about yourself about where you come from and what you're doing?

John Reiss 2:08
Um, I come from Silicon Valley. Okay. And, you know, you know, tried to do a short but ended up a place called target video, which was a punk rock collective in San Francisco in the early 80s. And then kind of got interested in industrial culture in work with these guys who make large remote control robots survivor Research Laboratory started doing documentaries of punk rock and them and then I went to UCLA film school. You know, like so many people do. And at a film school, I did a bunch of music videos, most notoriously was one for Nine Inch Nails. And then just kind of like, you know, did what everyone does, you know, you kind of like do things here do things, they're produced a directed a couple features, produced my produced it feature. And then started even writing scripts that based on my features, I started getting some script writing jobs. And then that kind of that kind of world dried up and is like, I was really dying to make another film. So I ended up making a film about graffiti all over the world. And which actually, then that came out around when the market distribution market collapsed. And

Alex Ferrari 3:25
when you mean the distribution market, you mean like the market, the market or all of this, like distribution market in general,

John Reiss 3:31
pretty much everything in general and collapse, you know, but especially in the independent film world, but it was also the beginning of the shrinkage of you know, even studio feature films. And I think it coincided with the, you know, the financial market collapsing, but it was also, I think there was a bubble burst in the independent film world, especially So, you know, we didn't know and bought the film, we thought someone's gonna buy it, we got a bunch of Lady, we basically, we had the experience that most filmmakers have these days, you know, a lot of low money offers or no money offers and for all rights, and, you know, now there's a lot more opportunities for filmmakers. It's still difficult to kind of pick the right path, I would say. But so I took the film out in a hybrid manner, and then people encouraged me to write about it because it seemed like I was doing something unique. And I also when I started writing about it, it seemed like I had a skill of distilling what appeared really complex and opaque to most people was, you know, I couldn't explain it in a very clear manner. And so because of that, people suggest I read a book that I wrote a book called think outside the box office, which is kind of like a manual on how to release your film, kind of a book I wish I had had when I released my film. And then since then, that kind of you know, since then, I've been working with filmmakers and doing workshops and other writing and

Alex Ferrari 4:58
just taking over the world and just

John Reiss 5:02
One little slice of it,

Alex Ferrari 5:04
a little corner, a little nugget that putting a dent in the indie film world, like Steve Jobs says, put a dent in the universe. So can you break down? I think you went over a little bit. But can you break down the story of what actually happened with bomet? Which was your documentary?

John Reiss 5:18
Right? So basically, you know, we took it to trade back, you know, sold out, we turned away around 200 people per screening, you know, is crazy, you know, I even documented that and, you know, standing ovations, you know, it's like, we were going, Oh, great. We're gonna sell the movie millions, millions, not even millions, like that my investors gonna recoup sure maybe being a little money, you know, some good distributors gonna release it, lots of people will see it, you know, and then crickets, you know, effectively crickets. And you know, that's when everyone started looking around and going What the fuck is going on? He I think every you know, it's just started that that cycle. So I don't know how much depth you want to get into it. Like, we did, like, we did have a DVD distributor and digital aggregator approached us send a dime. So we actually went with them. Because, you know, I had known them for a number of years it was new video at the time. And they were really good to work with and, and then it was a matter of like, it's all filmmakers. Like, what I still want to see my film in theaters and how am I gonna market this film? And, you know, so, you know, someone, some company came along and said they were going to release it theatrically. And I said, Really? And even without any other rights. Yeah, yeah. And then that fell through. And so I ended up booking it myself for a while, but no, no four walls. Very proud to say no, I booked I function, I picked up the phone, and I sold the film.

Alex Ferrari 6:49
Oh, really? And explain it. Can you explain a little bit about how you did that how to get because that's a mystery to a lot of people how to get a theatrical anything. So what did you actually do?

John Reiss 6:57
I just, you know, it's probably a lot harder now. Because I think there's a lot of filmmakers. It's harder and it's easier because there's a lot of filmmakers trying to do it, but then there's a lot of Booker's who will work with independent filmmakers so but you know, then you have to pay a little money but you can still like you know, it's also easier because you can also use kg for instance. But you know, I basically call that you know, we fortunately, we had the, the pedigree of being in Tribeca and I also got a New York Times critics pick out of that, or no actually didn't that was we had a good quote from the New York Times because the critics came out during the theatrical release so we didn't actually have that yet. And you know, I just had a you know, I had a plan of how I was going to get butts in seats, you know, I was able to talk to them about my knowledge of who the audience was how is going to connect with them I basically you know, they don't want to hear how great your film is, they want to hear that there's an audience and that you know, how to get the audience into the theater. That's what they want to do and then that you know, I got a couple theaters and then they connected me to some other theaters and, you know, once you kind of get into a little bit of a circuit, you know, people go Okay, I'll try it. Even I ended up we ended up doing 25 cities, I think, nice time was

Alex Ferrari 8:11
for basically

John Reiss 8:12
a documentary. Yeah. for for for real. A document. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 8:17
Like for real? Like a real document with Yeah, with no big stars or anything like that. So it was just based on on the merit of the film itself.

John Reiss 8:24
Yeah. You know, and whatever salesmanship I potentially had, you know, right. And so, you know, what I was fighting against is I had a couple places that said, well, we'll give you one night and it's like, No, I have to have a week and you know, it's like it's you know, that's what's important to me a real theatrical and I was such an idiot, then you know, to be honest, right? You know, I was just like a typical idiot filmmaker who thinks that a theatrical release at conventional theatrical releases what you have to have and unfortunately there's now certain things kind of set in stone about for certain kinds of distribution you need certain kinds of requirements and so you know, for certain kinds of distribution deals you actually do need a theatrical you know, a seven week run but what I discovered while doing bomet is really the power of events and one night screenings because like I just been in Portland where you know, it was raining and you know, like no one was in the theater and it was like and that was the you know, the first night of the theater opening night and here the filmmaker was in town and you know, it just you know, in retrospect it probably wasn't the right theater for the for the film and also the rain and you know, it's a theatrical small film and just like you know, there's fucking five people in the audience now super depressing. But then I go to New Orleans, which was one of the cities that I was fighting, doing a one night screening and finally I just said, fuck it, okay, I'll do it. And I got there and there's lines around the block. They sold out the first screening they added and sold out a second screening and And there was an article in the paper and it was just kind of like, wow, there's something here, like, and that's when I discovered the importance of scarcity that, you know, if people can only go and see it on one night, then, you know, then they makes it that much more special interest, no interest. And I still think that that functions to some degree. I mean, now, you know, years later, later, oh, excuse me. Sorry. I've had a tiny bit of caffeine today I did. Anyway, I'm doing this meditation now where I can't eat or drink beforehand. And so that it, you know, I wasn't able to have breakfast until I wasn't able to do it until like, 11. So I missed all my morning caffeine. So

Alex Ferrari 10:45
at Fair enough, fair enough, no worries.

John Reiss 10:48
This will all be in the podcast, right? Of course, of course. So and so so that's kind of how the theatrical went. And that's where I discovered, you know, events. And, you know, and it really got me thinking about, you know, and now doing events for theatrical screenings is, you know, super sophisticated. Of course, it's really taken off.

Alex Ferrari 11:11
Now, can you talk a little bit about the distribution myth out there, that golden ticket syndrome that so many filmmakers still carry from, like the 90s?

John Reiss 11:20
I just can't fucking believe that people can I swear, I swear I will. Yeah, it's okay. Yeah, I mean, it's just like, okay, here's the deal. This will hopefully, sober some people up. There's around 50,000 films that are made every year. Maybe on a good year, 100 of those on a really good year 100 of those get some kind of deal that makes financial sense in the United States. You know, the golden ticket deal, maybe there's three to five, right, you know, out of 50,000 So, you kind of do the math, okay, on top of that, you have to understand that, you know, there's now about 700 years of video content uploaded to YouTube every month. And that every piece of content, book, music, whatever, that's almost almost every piece of content that's been created by humankind in the history of humankind is available to people so what happens when there's a super glut of supply and demand is constant or slightly increasing? price drops tremendously right? So you have so you have to figure out how your film is going to dent that oversaturated media landscape and you can't rely on someone else to do it for you no more like especially if you have a drama or comedy with if you have a narrative film with no stars done you know, it's so rough make it for a little bit of money you know and then save money for distribution because the chances are that someone's going to come and rescue you and distribution is next to nothing, you know, and so I mean frankly if you're in the business if you're in the film business for a golden ticket, you're in the wrong business. You know, they don't really and the problem is is that the ones the success stories are always hyper publicized and any deal is hyper publicized then partially people want to celebrate and partially people want to show look we're still in a viable business you know, but

Alex Ferrari 13:37
what's like they said it's like they say they always show the lottery winner but they don't show the lottery losers which is millions of them

John Reiss 13:44
the vast majority Yeah, exactly. Look at all the people who bought Willy Wonka chocolate bars and didn't get their ticket you know, right 1000s of dollars of that millions of chocolate bars sold and you know, five golden tickets

Alex Ferrari 13:57
like I come from I come from post I mean I've been a post supervisor for 20 years so I've been doing a lot I know deliverables and I've seen so many films come through my door and anytime I see a doc like a drama come through the door that's no stars involved and and they're like so what do you think I should do them like market to save some money and yeah, marketing should be like your main thing.

John Reiss 14:18
I mean, I think there's a few of us who feel like they've coined the expression that distribution is easy. Marketing is hard like yeah getting out there is relatively easy getting people to want to see your film is art. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 14:35
No So what do you how do you think a filmmaker should think about marketing their films in today's online world?

John Reiss 14:43
You know it all it all focuses it all goes to audience you know basically like to me whenever I talk to a filmmaker, I mean, this is what I the four basic things I go over Are you know, what are your goals? Like what do you want from the film Like not every, you know, you know, there's a lot of filmmakers who it's not about, you know, making money, you know, some of them need to recoup, some don't, you know, but there's other goals that, you know, the filmmakers have a variety of goals. And so there's a variety of paths that you can it go to achieve those goals? And I know you spoke about marketing, but I'm just kind of go sure no, no, sure. Yeah. Then you have to look at your film, you know, and like, what is unique about your film? What, you know, are there any, like in terms of marketing? Are there marketing hooks? And that's where, you know, like, Is there a cast, you know, what kind of audience what's unique about your film, and what's unique to the audience about your film, you know, and some of that deals with, you know, your title, how good is your film, like the one thing I also want to stress if there's a lot of young filmmakers listening that screen your film repeatedly to audiences, and especially the audience that you think your film is made for. And a, you may find out that that's not the audience that you made your film for the you might also get good feedback from that audience, like, you need to screen your film repeatedly throughout the process, save people fresh eyes, you know, show to a few people at first, then a few more, some people will come back and see it again. But most people won't. So really kind of like Be careful about how many times you screen it, and how many people come especially to the early screenings that you have to save some people for the end. But really make sure your film is as good as possible, because that's in terms of marketing, that's going to be the biggest marketing hook is having a really amazing film that people want to see. And so many filmmakers, I mean, I get a lot of edits, where the first thing I say is like, are you locked, and you know, the first thing you should think about doing is cutting your film, you know, way too long, or doesn't make sense or something. So then his audience, and you know, that involves identifying your audience, finding out where your audience consumes, media finds out about films. So identifying, finding out you'd like so who is your audience? What do they read? Then think about what kind of value you can provide to your audience, besides the film itself? Like, is there are is that what kind of extra content and assets you have? What kind of experience can you provide to them, etc. So there's a whole bunch of things that you can think about in that regard. And then lastly, you know, how does that audience consume media and different audiences consume media in different ways? And so that's how you would you know, kind of develop your strategy of your distribution strategy along those lines? And then lastly, are your resources like, what kind of resources do you have to release the film, and not only in terms of money, but also in time, you know, like sweat equity, or at your just people, like in the in money does help by people? But like, also, what is your time and what kind of, you know, how much time you have to

Alex Ferrari 18:15
write to invest in the marketing and in the word out, and the hustle and all that stuff? Yeah.

John Reiss 18:19
And then more and more these days, I've been, you know, also talking to this in the context of people's filmmakers careers, like, where does this film sit in your, you know, career pipeline is like, your first film that, you know, you know, is good, but knee, you know, there are certain things that you couldn't accomplish with it. And, you know, maybe, but you still want to get it out there. But you want to move on to another project? Or is this your magnum opus that you desperately definitely need? to get people to see? And, you know, etc. So, you know, that will also affect, you know, how you, you know, how forward? No, more of like, what path you choose? Yeah, just moving forward. But it's a matter of, there's a lot of different ways you can release the film, and it's a matter of like, you know, how are you going to, you know, release that.

Alex Ferrari 19:20
So, from what I'm hearing from what you're saying is there and this is something that most filmmakers don't do is a lot of analyzing, and actually thinking about the path, not just the making of the movie, which is what filmmakers generally all do is they just like, I'm just gonna get that camera. I'm gonna make my movie, but when the edits done, yeah, they have no idea and sometimes they'll just throw it out into the marketplace, if they even get it into the marketplace to see what would happen. So they don't think about what part of this is in my career path. What where's my audience? Is this a viable product for an audience that what audience is it all this? All these questions are not answered or even asked. So that's why so many I filmmakers fail. And right, it's wrong,

John Reiss 20:04
you know, and I, in my book, I kind of invented a crew position called the producer of marketing and distribution, you know, because so many, you know, films need kind of like advice and work on these aspects of the film, but the crew is, you know, doesn't have the skill set doesn't have time to deal with this. And so, you know, hoping I'm doing a couple things over the next couple of years that hopefully take place that, you know, will help, you know, kind of foster that crew position and help grow that and make it kind of something that, you know, becomes a part of, you know, hopefully, the crew, every film, yeah, you know, because, you know, I also, you know, kind of feel that he, in this sense, when you're done with your film, you're kind of half done, you know, it's like, I created this concept called the new 5050, where 50% of your time and energy should be spent on creating the film and the other 50% and the other 50% should be on connecting that film to an audience, you know, which is all aspects of distribution and marketing. So that's not a hard and fast rule. But like, if you look at any studio film, you know, it's even probably, you know, you make $100 million film and they spend $200 million marketing it does that is very true. That's like, 3565 You know, we're in favor of marketing and distribution, you know, so But, and there's a lot of indie films that end up that way, especially super low budget ones were much more spent on the marketing and distribution than was ever spent on making the film. Now with,

Alex Ferrari 21:47
with film festivals, so how do you how would you suggest to leverage film festivals in a self distribution strategy?

John Reiss 21:55
You know, first of all, I wouldn't worry about it tremendously. I mean, it's festivals are fickle, and highly competitive. But, you know, I generally, when you're in festivals you're in release. So there's two basic paths. One is you can use festivals to help build up your audience, to then make the film more either attractive to certain distribution entities or, you know, you know, build up some reviews, etc, some notability to help the release later. And then later you do a release, hopefully not too far from the festivals, but from the information you gathered during the release, and whatever accolades etc, you you gain, not through the release, but through the the festivals, and the audience that you develop, you can, you know, get, you know, you know, and then engage distribution the other way, which is a little bit hard because it's requires you to be pretty savvy and knowledgeable and prepare is to actually fold the festivals into the distribution process. So that you know, maybe and even some people are doing this at Sundance these days, like films a year do this at Sundance, where they actually use Sundance or a festival as their theatrical premiere. That's the launch of the film. And then either during the festival or shortly after they offer it on the VOD, Emil, you know, so that people who hear about the festival can then engage with the film, you know,

Alex Ferrari 23:26
and use the end leverage all the press that they got from a big festival, that guy

John Reiss 23:30
Exactly. So you can modify that to where you kind of like have a one or two festivals and then you're kind of ramping up and then, you know, the rest of your festivals are during are kind of like your theatrical release, or your VOD starts, you know, so it's, it's very fluid.

Alex Ferrari 23:45
So let me ask you another question. How crucial is it today you think to package ancillary products, with the films on all films website, like if you're selling it on your website, like posters and hats and T shirts, and you know, along with a DVD or VOD of your film, kind of like, like George Lucas vibe?

John Reiss 24:01
Yeah, I think that depends on the film. You know, I actually don't refer to those as ancillary it's more merchandising got it merchandise, and I'm a big fan of that in general, because, you know, depending on the film, you can make a fair amount of money that way, depending and it really depends on the audience, whether the audience whether there's things that you can make that the audience is going to buy if it's just a kind of conventional film, you know, printing a bunch of posters and T shirts, you know, unless I'm something special about the key art or the graphics or something you know, isn't going to mean a lot you know, but if there's like, you know, Gary who's to it is the, you know, documentary filmmaker who's amazing at this and he creates product his he makes films about, or he's made three films about design. And in his story, you can see this amazing range of range of products that he's created that people just love and eat up. So and you can make a fair amount money doing that

Alex Ferrari 25:01
even more than selling the movie sometimes

John Reiss 25:02
yeah we made more money selling posters of vomit than selling the DVD off of our store now the distributor so more than that but like we made you know we made much more money off of the posters then you know off of off of the DVD sales

Alex Ferrari 25:20
now what um what avenues would you suggest to get the best audience engagement

John Reiss 25:27
wow you know you know it's like there's no you know, there's like eight to 10 avenues of audience engagement and it just depends on the film you know, if I was gonna make a blanket statement I think crowdfunding if you're open to it is a good source is is a good tool for marketing. Digital Media is certainly important. And I don't just mean social media that's a component if you have a documentary especially around certain you know specific audience that's organized outreach is certainly important influencers important there's a lot that you know kind of goes into it and it all just depends on the film.

Alex Ferrari 26:06
Yeah, it's all topic it depending on if it's a documentary if it's an action movie, it's a drama

John Reiss 26:11
or a film like I'm working on a horror film now and that's its own audience and its own you know thing

Alex Ferrari 26:17
and now Do you have any tips on developing relationships with the audience once you have that audience?

John Reiss 26:23
Well just to keep them engaged in defining not certainly not to just talk about your film, but to talk about things that are interesting to them

Alex Ferrari 26:33
create content create content that keeps them keeps them engaged

John Reiss 26:37
and it could be just like how you relate to them on on social media could be photos could be you know, what you create on Instagram could be you know, because you're an artist think about like how you know your fans and that's how you're going to create fans that are gonna stay with you, you know, on multiple projects.

Alex Ferrari 26:57
So that would be that Yeah, that was my next question. How do you develop you know an audience to follow you from project to project and it's the instead of just doing like a one off movie, which a lot of filmmakers will just start and like okay, I'm just going to do all this press on this one movie but then when that movie is gone, that audience is gone unless you're building your name up as a brand or a company up as a brand.

John Reiss 27:17
Well no, I do feel like filmmakers need to develop themselves you know as a brand is where can i a lot of filmmakers object to that you know, but you know your brand you know, a tours or brands Yeah, Woody Allen's a brand Martin Scorsese, he's a brand don't my line. No, I yeah, that's like I say that all the time. Do you? Really I didn't never. Scorsese's a brand. You know, Spielberg's a brand. All these guys are of course, yeah, yeah. So you know, it's like you go to Joburg film, you generally know what you're going to get similar. Like, when you open a can of Coke, you know what you're going to get? So you know, you may not like that, but what you're trying to do is I cultivate audience that's going to pre you know, like and appreciate that. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 28:03
I kind of preach that with Woody Allen is he's one of these rare filmmakers who has been able to he's the only filmmaker I know, that's been able to make a film a year for like, 30 years, right? I mean, it's, it's insane. Like other filmmakers Look at him, like how, and He does it because he has a formula, he makes it really low budget has very great cast. But he's been able to develop, you know, everybody knows,

John Reiss 28:23
he's also a prolific and, of course, a good writer, too.

Alex Ferrari 28:27
And he's Woody Allen, you know, so he's built up that people go to see Woody Allen films, regardless what what they are those who just show up. But if you gave him a budget of $150 million to make a movie, not a good investment, generally, generally. So if you were making a film today, and I know this is gonna, I'm asking in a really broad spectrum, if you were making a film today, what would be broad steps that you can kind of a guide that you can give a filmmaker to get their film marketed and sold? very broad steps? I know, that's a big question. And you could go on for days on that. But just like basic stuff

John Reiss 29:02
is like if you say, if I'm making a film, which means that I haven't started charting, if I'm starting the process, correct. You know, I mean, there's a little bit of a chicken and egg thing is, you know, you want to it depends on what your goal is, you know, I would say that's the first thing like do I just want do I want to make that try to make a lot of money, you know, or do I want to, you know, change the world, you know, and so, that's, you know, I would really kind of like think about what my goals are. I would also look at, I'm just trying to give you know, more general helpful people, you know, I would think about the size of the the potential audience like who the potential audience is, and if the audience potential is small and you really have to be realistic, then you should really try to be conservative in your spend and what you you know, what you spend money on, I would also definitely Mart budget for distribution and marketing. And, you know, try to raise that money and, and set it aside, you know, in the best of all possible worlds.

Alex Ferrari 30:07
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

John Reiss 30:19
You know, if it's a script, I would make sure that the script is really in good shape before, you know, before shooting, or, you know, you could do an improv thing, and, you know, just depends, I don't want to be too restrictive, or about how people work. But if you have a script, just make sure it's tight notes. Yeah, tider police, it's good in some way, something excellent, something that needs to be made, you know, and maybe it needs to be made just because you have to do it. You know, but if you're getting a lot of feedback, that it's not for a lot of people, then just, I'm not going to tell anyone not to do anything, go make your film, but just realize that, you know, the audience might be small, and maybe you're gonna knock it out of the park, but just be cautious about how you, you know, proceed financially, if that's, if that's an issue for you. You know, and, you know, I would think about dipping, I would think about the film in relationship to, you know, in my career in terms of like, how do I want to do I want to develop an audience? Do I want to do how do I how am I going to go about developing an audience for myself, that, you know, I can bring from project to project, not that it, you know, in some cases, it can be sustainable, but it can have many different kinds of value in all different ways throughout this process. So you really want to think about developing some, you know, core fans, if you can, that are really engaged with your work

Alex Ferrari 31:47
like that. 1000 true fans. Yeah, article. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

John Reiss 31:51
And so you know, that I just make a really kick ass film.

Alex Ferrari 32:01
Which is always is always that should be always the bottom line of all of this conversation is just make a good movie. Yeah, and a lot of

John Reiss 32:07
it also, you know, it also think about, like, does it really need to be a movie? Like what other you know, it's like one other form? Like, what is? What is the form of content that's most suited to me as a as a creator, you know, and

Alex Ferrari 32:22
series short film,

John Reiss 32:24
or episodic exotic is then web series. Although that markets, kind of really blooded, but you really have to do something kind of unique, these days to stand out. Not that you always didn't, but you know, you're not going to get anywhere relying on the novelty of that, because it's not novel.

Alex Ferrari 32:45
anymore. Right. Right.

John Reiss 32:46
So you know, so those are some of the things I would say,

Alex Ferrari 32:52
no, what would, what do you think? What are your feelings on the news, self distribution marketplaces like VHS gumroad, Vimeo plus, as part of an online distribution strategy?

John Reiss 33:02
I mean, just, again, it all depends on the film and the path and the goals, you know, so, you know, I think they're all great tools. And, you know, if you are inclined to do the work to, to kind of get people to, you know, buy from you directly, then I think they're great. Some people will do it and not spend that work, and not really have that interest. And then, kind of what's the point, but I think it's wonderful, especially internationally, when it's so hard to release films internationally, especially in, you know, smaller territories, or like the vast majority of countries, you know, it's great to have that ability to have the film out there. You know, so, you know, I'm a big supporter of those always have been, you know, but again, it also always depends on what you're going to do. You know, he can be a fair amount of work. So you have to make sure that you're really committed to that and the reasoning for that and why you want to do that as part of the process.

Alex Ferrari 34:08
Now, you mentioned something earlier, I know the answer, but I want you to kind of explain to the audience at what an aggregator is, in regards to online distribution of VOD.

John Reiss 34:18
Sorry, say that again.

Alex Ferrari 34:19
Can you explain what an aggregator is? In VOD, an online distribution

John Reiss 34:25
to an aggregator is and that's, you know, that term shifting a little bit. I mean, there's certain aggregators that are now what used to be called aggregators, who were pretty much considering themselves distributed a lot of aggregators and become distributors. Let's put it that way. And so they're kind of functioning very similar. Are you hearing my dogs in the background? Does that bother you?

Alex Ferrari 34:46
It's fine. It's there's never there in the distance.

John Reiss 34:49
Yeah, good. Just because I am actually now in my garden. So my office was getting a little warm and stuffy, no worries. It's much nicer out here to talk out here. And just my dogs are a little annoying. So you know, an aggregator or distributor that functions, you know where VOD specific distributor, kind of like maybe in better hybrid term for certain companies, you know, they are, you know, they're the people you're going to need in some shape or form to get your film up on to online platforms. And such as the standard online platforms, not the direct to fan ones, which you mentioned earlier, those I would classify as direct to fan platforms. So to get up onto the commercial platforms, such as iTunes, Amazon, although Amazon you can do directly as well. You know, net flock, Netflix, Hulu, you know, the A VOD and s VOD platforms, you're going to need someone else which is generally an aggregator or distributor or VOD distributor to to access them. And you know, the thing that you need to think about, like, if you're all about being direct with the audience, creating a relationship with the audience, and you feel like you can sell to them, and they'll buy from you, and you have something so precious to them, that they will buy from you, you know, potentially direct the fan is the way to go, because you're not going to get the email addresses from it, you know, you're not going to get that audience connection. Chances are though Pete, most people like to buy media where they're comfortable buying it. So people are comfortable buying us iTunes, some people use Amazon, so you want to be on E Generally, the general recommendation is to be on as many platforms as possible, so that people have a choice of where to access your content. But there's some cases, as I said earlier, if you know, it makes sense to sell it direct, you know, like Louie ck, already had people who have large audiences, you know, they've done very well by connecting directly to his audience to the audiences, like he's that case is a great example of where he offered his comedy special to his supporters, five bucks each, within the day, I think he had sold a million dollars worth or a couple of days, something like just went crazy. So and he has that connection to the audience. And it's like, he made a lot more money on that than he would have in a lot of other different ways.

Alex Ferrari 37:23
So and I complete creative control to do whatever the heck he

John Reiss 37:27
wanted. Exactly. So but, you know, for others, you know, and maybe later, he then took that same thing and gave it to a distributor and aggregator who put it up on the rest of the platforms. So that, you know, you can sometimes, you know, when do it in such a way that your audience gets it first, you know, personally from you, although a lot of the platforms now for smaller films, we're not happy about that, you know, they want to be, you know, they don't want it sold on the market before they have, you know, before they're able to sell it. But no, I work with aggregators all the time, I generally recommended, you know, and, you know, most people want to be on those platforms. So, you know, that's kind of the way to go in general. So

Alex Ferrari 38:12
now, do you, do you see traditional? Or do you think traditional distribution is just going to tie off in the next five to 10 years? Like, what we know, as a traditional distributor today? Or is it just gonna morph,

John Reiss 38:24
I think it's just gonna constantly change, you know, I don't know what a traditional distributor is anymore. I, you know, there's, they're all changing, too. So, I mean, maybe there's some that are traditional, and some of those are going a little bit away, the ones that won't change, I think are kind of like, you know, shrinking and going away. But a lot of them are pretty savvy and, you know, in are adjusting to the marketplace. So, you know, you know, in a lot of the it's interesting how the, what used to be known as aggregators who are becoming distributors, and they, they are kind of like, a lot of what they do is what you would say, as a traditional distributed distribution model. So they're just becoming that now.

Alex Ferrari 39:10
So it's morphing. It's shifting. Yeah.

John Reiss 39:14
But I think, you know, there's certain aspects about traditional distribution that, you know, there's a look at it this way. The thing is, it used to be one size fits all, yeah, no, release it, you know, people thought it was one size fits all, I think there's a lot of films that suffered from being treated that way. And then now, there's been many, many ways to release films, you know, and so you can, you know, I think it's really important. You know, it's great that people have the opportunity to do this. And it's really important for people to choose, you know, the right path for their film.

Alex Ferrari 39:49
I think in a lot of ways that it's been such a, you know, over the last 100 years film has been done one way it was shot on film, it was distributed one way and it was done and then slowly Things have been changing and it's been now it's becoming so rapid like before was the invention of video cassette and that changed on TV and all that stuff and people started shifting with it but now things have changed they're changing so fast and the technology is moving so quickly that now you know a kid who'd never shot anything has access to a 6k camera you know to go shoot off a movie and I think a lot of people are it's kind of like the wild wild west and people are just like don't know what to do like and I mean everybody the studios the filmmakers are creators no one really has an idea yet and they're all just trying to figure it out and then like oh look over there he he made money let's do what he does and oh look over here that he did it so it's kind of like everyone's looking for a silver bullet but the thing is I think in my opinion there's just hundreds of different kinds of silver bullets depends completely get you been saying all on your film all on the filmmaker to be able to get it out there couldn't one way could work great for one but not work for another but it's just it really is nuts The more I talk to you know gurus like yourself I find it that's like it is really the wild wild west like especially in distribution online distribution is changing daily. Yeah,

John Reiss 41:10
I that's true but a lot of the fundamental principles are still the same, right? Oh, so you know, you know, or at least the same as you know what I was talking about five years ago and but yeah, things change, things are changing drastically. But like for instance, I you know, in my book six years ago, I kind of pointed out how digital you know, traditional digital and, and broadcast we're gonna collapse into each other. And that's a lot of what we're seeing in this last year. Is that actually happening? And where you know people there's television reviews for Netflix shows you know,

Alex Ferrari 41:51
they're nominated for Emmys I mean, they've won Emmys and and you know, all that it's crazy.

John Reiss 41:56
So it's all you know, they're they're all competing with each other, they're essentially the same, which is why in the book I basically classified all that is digital. That broadcast is digital, just like, you know, it's just a it's a different version of a VOD, or s. VOD, essentially, is what broadcast is and, you know, cable, your cable channels are essentially s VOD and subscription video on demand. Now, you don't in generally have are able to demand them like that. But you know, you can if you set the timer, or if you have access to the show, a lot of the shows are on video on demand. So, you know, it's like, all that's kind of blended. But, you know, to me, it's not so much of a surprise, it's just a matter of how you, you know, react to that to those changes, you know,

Alex Ferrari 42:44
do you see a future basically where an indie filmmaker is basically like and I think that futures here but that there are their own studio, they're basically little mini Disney's they, you know, this create a YouTube channel or, or website and just start pumping out content and connecting to the audience.

John Reiss 43:01
Definitely people doing that already. Yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 43:04
Right now, so yeah. And in the future, even more so and might be the might be the standard, as opposed to what? What's going on now?

John Reiss 43:12
I don't know. I mean, there is like, I think, you know, talking to be you know, there's certain I mean, I think certain Lee, I think there's going to be certain things that kind of rise to the top in the sense and, you know, and will be released in ways that feel familiar to you, you know, you know,

Alex Ferrari 43:33
like an example of God, like, I'm like, obviously, a big studio movie, that cost $250 million is not going to be released, I like to

John Reiss 43:42
look at look at, you know, tangerine, for example, rather than an iPhone, you know, it's at Sundance, and then gets picked up and then gets traditional distribution, you know, and, you know, I think, you know, and then that's another thing that causes everyone to think of the golden ticket.

Alex Ferrari 44:02
I know, not everybody with an iPhone now thinks like, I'm not gonna make tangerine and get right.

John Reiss 44:06
But the reason tangerine was, you know, successful, not because of being shot on an iPhone, not because it was made for whatever money not because of a good story well told, you know, with compelling actors, and, you know, it caught people's imagination, and it spoke to people, you know, so I think that that's, you know, I think, again, you can talk about distribution all you want, but you still have to make something that people want to watch, you know, and engage with. And that's either you're connecting to an audience that wants content specific kind of content, or you're making something that just, you know, speaks to whatever sides of audience you know, and and connects with them, you know, and so yeah, I think Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 45:03
so I asked so I asked this question of all this, this is gonna be the toughest question of the interview. So prepare your save that you save

John Reiss 45:10
that for last.

Alex Ferrari 45:11
I always ask this. Yeah, this is a last last question. So what are your top three favorite films of all time?

John Reiss 45:21
I have a list of like 25 It doesn't have to be in any specific order. I guess you know, the top three favorites that my top favorite films of all time, that are going to come out of my mouth now or just the ones I'm actually thinking about,

Alex Ferrari 45:33
right? Yeah, that's that's what I always ask. I know there's no definitive I'm not going to hold you to

John Reiss 45:38
A Touch of Evil. Just because I always like to kiss people off by not picking Citizen Kane. Oh, when

Alex Ferrari 45:45
I went off course. Yeah, no, no, no, look, I had I had like I was I was I had a friend of mine who's a dp an ASC dp and I had him on the show and I asked him the question, I was expecting some really obscure European, you know, Arty, farty stuff, and he's like, oh, Enter the Dragon was one of my favorite and I'm like, Wow, so it just all depends on what, what movie did for you at that, at that point, though, Touch of Evil.

John Reiss 46:09
Oh, and say, Enter the Dragon. Let's see, you know, there's also I often pick the director, you know, it's like, Who are my three favorite directors and then pick a film that's most meaningful at that time. So, you know, I'd have to do you know, 2001 or the shining, you know, for Kubrick, so, and then Wow, it's gonna be hard to pick number three out of all this, like, Do I go with Fritz Lang? Like, go with Scorsese? Do I go, you know, even Tarantino even though I hate to, you know, like hope fictions pretty amazing show. You know, I'd probably go with Scorsese, just because of Raging Bull and taxi driver, right? are two of the most amazing films ever made. And so if I had to pick one, I'd pick Raging Bull. You know, if I was forced to Sure. In a darker mode, I maybe would have picked taxi driver.

Alex Ferrari 47:05
It depends on the mood. You're in that day. Yeah. You'll notice there's no comedies. Yeah, generally I've never I have yet to hear a comedy in a top three. Generally people take film seriously. Oh, you

John Reiss 47:16
maybe see me to talk to some more comedians? Yeah, in Sakai because they'll probably a lot of them will say Caddyshack. crazyfly no

Alex Ferrari 47:25
Blazing Saddles. Yeah.

John Reiss 47:28
That hasn't really stood the test of time for me, I have to say although I still remember the been eating since you seem you know? Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 47:42
there's a lot now being a Kubrick fan. I always like asking this because since you mentioned Kubrick, you know, what's one of my favorite Kubrick films? It happens to be eyes wide shot.

John Reiss 47:52
Oh my god. I was glad when you said that. The I knew this was a setup because first of all, when you said Kubrick I'm talking about Kubrick I say it's gonna be something about I always chat so and then in then anyway, it I can't believe that's one of your favorite films what

Alex Ferrari 48:05
it is one of my it's not not it's not in my top three. But it's one of my favorite Kubrick films. And I do like and you don't like Kubrick didn't like that one.

John Reiss 48:12
Oh my god, it was just like, I just ignore that film. Okay, so hey, from Kubrick is just kind of like, Okay, that was a little misstep at the end. To think about it, you know, and that's why I don't know what happened here.

Alex Ferrari 48:28
It was a colossal, colossal mistake. We don't know what happened he was senile at the end.

John Reiss 48:35
On that I blame it on Tom Cruise before I blamed it on Kubrick's senility, although I thought he did okay for what he was supposed to do. I just think it was like a bit of a misfire and flawed and his story and concept way And

Alex Ferrari 48:49
like I said, like, That's the beautiful thing about film. Everyone's has every film hits the arc hits a person. Two different Tuesday for people hit art two different ways. Yeah. So regardless of it, so. So what can we pick? Where can people find you and find out what you're doing?

John Reiss 49:05
People can find me like if they're interested in you know, me consulting with them. I have a site called hybrid cinema that's going to be revamped soon. But you know, kind of shows some of the films I've worked on and has a link to have a consultation with me like a short consultation, see if it makes sense working together. You can also get that through john Reese comm which either the strategy or consulting link will link to that and you can find out something about me there and there's also contact and then you can also you know, follow me on Twitter, follow me on Facebook. And

Alex Ferrari 49:44
you do workshops as well, don't you?

John Reiss 49:45
Yeah, not as you know, not as much anymore for right now. There's something that might be happening soon, which will change that by you know, I mainly now participate in the ISP filmmaker labs. I'll go to events I'll do panels and stuff like that, but I haven't done I'll do the I've started doing more of these short kind of master classes. So those I still do occasionally. But I do, you know, I do those do those occasionally, but I'm just generally so busy, kind of like, you know, consulting with filmmakers these days that, you know, doing a workshop kind of takes a lot of time out and you know it just like then I'm backlogged with client work. And so I don't really, you know, I really try to just focus on going to certain festivals and events that, you know, I should be at and, you know, and you know, beyond some of the, do some things there, but occasionally I'll do some, you know, I'll probably do something I did a master class with the IDA last year, I think, you know, that was pretty well received. So I might do something with that them again in the spring, you know, just like a three hour morning class.

Alex Ferrari 50:58
So and can you list off the the books you wrote, so people know which books

John Reiss 51:02
I wrote? Well, so I've only co wrote think outside the box office, which is either available from my site or from Amazon. If you get it from my site, you'll be on my email list. And generally, I do kind of like case studies or, you know, kind of try to do extensive blog posts, you know, updates, you know, in my email list. And then, I co wrote, selling your film without selling your soul and selling your film selling your film outside the US. And I co wrote that with the folks from the film collaborative, Sherry Candler, you know, Jeff, Jeff winter, Orly revealed and then oh, my God, I'm forgetting the name of the fourth author of the second, Wendy Bernfeld. Okay. Yes. So and that's those are so in a sense, it's like, think outside the box office is a little bit of a roadmap kind of in then the other books are kind of case studies, kind of illustrating the, that's in my mind, they might, my co authors would probably scream at me right now. But, you know, there certainly weren't enough case studies in think outside the box office. And partially because not enough people had done anything by then. And, you know, and then and then the two other books are chock full of case studies. But also, you know, there's also some a, there's, you know, not everything's a case study, there's like analysis of certain, you know, kinds of, you know, distribution, like shared Candler in the first book, this is amazing thing on, you know, kind of, not peer to peer sharing your film online, and how that can potentially benefit your audience development and, you know, kind of like, counter intuitively, you know, increase your monetization, then a number of different examples, but all within, you know, a paradigm that she's exploring. So that's also quite interesting.

Alex Ferrari 53:02
It's like it's the wild, wild west, we're all just trying to figure it out. Yeah, a certain point. JOHN, thank you so, so much for being on the show, we really appreciate you taking the time.

John Reiss 53:11
It's good to be in the wild west. I mean, a, you know, we're in this time period where we're not like in the, in the Old West, you know, and we can't, we're not homesteaders, and the food's better and we're not going to get shot, and there's doctors to cure any diseases. So it's like, it's a much kinder, gentler, Wild Wild West than what used to what used to be like being in the film business in the 30s is a Far Far Cry than being in the film business in the 90s even or even today.

Alex Ferrari 53:41
Yeah, so definitely, yeah. So thanks again for being on the show. We really appreciate you taking the time, right? Man, I really appreciate john taking the time to come on the show and dump all of those gold nuggets on us the indie film hustle tribe, he has a really unique way of doing things as far as film distribution, we could all learn a lot from him. So if you want to get links to his work, his books, and his website, head over to indie film, hustle, calm, forward slash zero 43 for the show notes. And guys, don't forget, if you love the show, please head over to filmmaking podcast calm and leave us a honest review of the show. It helps our rankings so much on iTunes and really helps the show get to more and more people that need to hear it. So I really appreciate you taking the time to do that. So keep that dream alive. Keep the hustle going. And I'll talk to you guys soon.


IFH 032: How a Post-Production Supervisor Can Save Your Butt!

So how can a Post-Production Supervisor save your butt? Well, I’ve been a Post-Production Supervisor for over 15 years and have seen a lot of indie filmmakers get beaten up, taken advantage of and just plain ripped off in the post-production process.

In short, the Post-Production Supervisor is there to protect the film or project from going over budget, getting ripped off and making sure everything is done on time and budget.

Here is the official definition of a Post-Production Supervisor:

Post-Production Supervisors are responsible for the post production process, during which they maintain clarity of information and good channels of communication between the producer, editor, supervising sound editor, the facilities companies (such as film labs, CGI studios and negative cutters) and the production accountant.

The Post-Production Supervisor has a pivotal role in ensuring that the film’s post-production budget is manageable and doable and that all deadlines are met.

The role of the Post-Production Supervisor varies depending on the type of film or project and the all-important budget.

On a big-budget, visual effects heavy film projects, Post-Production Supervisors start work during pre-production, going as an in-between with the VFX House and ensuring that the producer is aware of all the creative and budgetary considerations and how they may impact on the all-important post-production period.

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I know many Post-Production Supervisors who work on huge studio tent poles and let’s just say they are aging fast! It’s a high-stress job, to say the least.

On smaller budget film projects they also advise on the limitations that may need to be applied to the shoot in order to finish it, as well as providing an overall picture of what can be realistically achieved in post-production within the budget.

Take a listen as I describe what a Post-Production Supervisor does, what to look for when hiring one and how they can save you money in post-production.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Now guys, today we're going to talk about post production supervisors and what they do, I've been a post production supervisor now going on about 10 years or so a little bit more probably. And I've worked on multiple different projects, from varying sizes, all the three little short films, music, videos, commercials, all the way up to three to $5 million feature films, working in the capacity of a post production supervisor. So I know a lot of independent filmmakers really generally don't have money to hire post production supervisor. But it's extremely important to have a post production supervisor on any size project if you can afford it. And I've already kind of went over that and nauseum in my other podcast episode, Episode 14, post production workflow, understand it or die. So I wanted to kind of go over what a post production supervisor does, and what you should look for in a post production supervisor. When you're hiring one, post production supervisors generally are there to help you or guide you through the post production process. Now, if you hire a post production supervisor, or at least consult with one prior to your production, they can definitely help you out dramatically. So perfect example is I've had a lot of movies brought to me towards the end, obviously, in post production, so they've already shot everything, they've already made all those those crucial decisions prior to get into post production, which then they throw on me and they're like, Okay, I need you to make this workflow work. I'm like, well, this is not going to work, this is going to cost you this, this is going to cost you that where if they would have just come to me in pre production, it could have saved them a tremendous amount of time and money. What I mean is this. So let's say you're starting out a project and you come to a point you consult a post production supervisor and they go and you go, I want to shoot this on a red camera. Well, if you're going to shoot on on a red camera, I'm going to ask you a bunch of questions in regards to how qualified your dp is, what kind of red camera you shooting out what kind of resolution you're shooting at, and then work you through the process of post production going down the line of the pipeline. So if you're going to shoot read, what are you going to edit on who's going to be editing it and is there is that editor technically competent, or they're just a creative editor, if they're going to edit on avid, okay, great. So we're going to edit on avid now getting the EDL out of avida, we're going to go to a dementia, we're going to be able to go to a da Vinci, or we're going to go to a baselight all this kind of information, I have to as a post production supervisor plan out all the way down the line, so everything runs smoothly, and it doesn't cost the filmmaker or the production any more money than it should and that everything runs very, very smoothly. So that's that's one step of things of what a post production supervisor does, it kind of organizes the workflow for you a good super a good post production supervisor does this. Now, another thing a post production supervisor does is also organizes everybody and kind of is like the, the director of post production essentially. So they're organizing and scheduling everything creating a schedule, like okay, by this date, we're going to lock pictures locked that this day, we're going to have first edit done eight weeks later this date, and then we have another week or two for re cuts. And then we have another week or two before we find a lock. Once we find a lock, then we go into color and visual effects. I'll get to visual effects in a second. Once we get that in, I need these elements in by this date and this date in this day. And they're just scheduling everything for you. Because as a filmmaker, it's very difficult, if not impossible, unless you have post production, post production background to kind of organize all this. And that's where a lot of filmmakers just fall flat on their face. And I've seen it so so many times in my in my my company, my post company, filmmakers coming in the door with like, well I just shot this and this and that and they just didn't understand the full the full scope of the workflow and not understanding what a post production supervisor could do for them. So post production supervisors also work with budget and understanding the budget of post production and what things are going to cost so they're in charge of hiring editors in in a perfect world. They're in charge of hiring the editors or at least organizing and scheduling the editors, hiring runners assistance, di T's, organizing anything that deals with post production there, their hands are in it. So if you have Have a $30,000 budget, it's their job to get post production done for that $30,000 budget or $5,000 budget depending on what it is. They also organize audio and audio is a whole other Gambit. You know, it's it's I don't do audio personally in my company. But I've obviously worked with tons of different audio houses. And audio has a whole other set of deliverables, all sets of workflow that needs to happen in order to get things done. And this is the job of the post production supervisor to not only take care of it all, but at least with me, I always like to educate filmmakers that I work with, and producers that I work with. So they're more educated in the process going down the line on their next project and their next project cuz it just makes life easier. for everybody. It's always wonderful for me as a post person to get a project that technically has no issues, that I could just kind of run through it and just do my job as opposed to having putting out fires constantly, because filmmakers were just uninformed, or didn't know or just ignorant to the process. And that's fine. I mean, but it's always a pleasure working with professionals who understand the workflow and understand what we do. And it's great to have that experience. So it's my job as at least at least the way I look at is my job as a post production supervisor, colorist editor, what have you to educate filmmakers who are working with me. So as they go forward in their careers, they become more educated and become better at what they do. And hopefully, later on, hire me again, or hire my company, again, to do more work for them in the future, because I had a positive experience. Now also a post production supervisor has relationships, like I have relationships with different audio houses, different visual effects, companies and visual effects artists and things like that, where I can actually pull together a team fairly quickly and at a very affordable cost. Because I have those contacts, I have those relationships. And that's something that you're paying for when you hire post production supervisor is those contacts there. They're the ones that are going to be able to like, basically, if you say, look, I got five grand to do color, you're going to go well, I know I got my 15,000 20,000 $50,000 guy, and I got a $5,000 guy. And let me see if I can get that $15,000 guy to come down to 5000, or work with the 5000 and see if we can make sure make sure the quality that he could put out is equivalent to the 15,000. This is jobs. This is the job of the post production supervisor as well to be able to negotiate these deals to be able to create create the most production value for the dollar. Now another thing that post production supervisor does, he puts out fires a lots of fires all the time. Anytime you're dealing with these digital digital workflows from red or airy, Blackmagic, gh, any of the DSLRs any of the workflows that are coming in, there's always going to be problems, there's always going to be emergencies, things that just don't go right. And unless you technically have the expertise to handle it, it's really helpful to have a post production supervisor on board. Sometimes, filmmakers lean on their editors, because editors nowadays are more technically more have more prowess in the technical aspects of filmmaking and post production. But when you start getting into some deep stuff, you know, they might get into the weeds and be a little bit over their head. So post production supervisors are there to get you out of the weeds. So that's another thing that a post production supervisor does and can save your butt while working in on your film. Now another part of the post production supervisors job is deliverables, being able to get deliverables out to whatever your final outputs going to be for your film, your project, your television show for whatever form of media you're going out to, we're going to stick with film for right now. So depending on what your final outputs going to be for K DCP, which is a digital cinema package for theatrical digital distribution, if it's going to be an H DSR for 1080 p Master, depending on the different if you're doing to a distributor, if you're doing it yourself, there's so many different variables that are in play that if you don't understand a lot of the stuff that I'm just talking about here, it could end up costing you 1000s and 1000s of dollars because you might do a whole bunch of deliverables because someone told you to because they're trying to make money off of you and you really don't need them. So one piece of advice I can give you is don't do deliverables until you absolutely positively need them. Your deliverable obviously at the end will be a digital deliverable which will be a quick time with a pro res Quick Time is more than enough out of 4k resolution is fine and you can have all your audio deliverables embedded in that same quick time. And as far as dcps HTS Rs, beta SPS for God's extra Digi betas, any of those other kind of deliverables that you might need. Wait until you absolutely need to have them before you spend the money to do that. Because a lot of times filmmakers and I've seen this happen, they they'll they'll just go on spend 1520 grand on deliverables, and then they're just sitting there on a shelf, they're never again used, they're not getting, you know, just wait, wait until the last minute that you can actually have to spend the money to spend it. So that's one piece of advice. But the post production supervisor will guide you in your deliverables depending on what your final outputs going to be. So again, if you're going to be doing self distribution, going through a VA Jack's, or Vimeo, that's one set of distribution, one set of deliverables, if you're going to be going to you know, you need a screener for Sundance, that's going to be another set of deliverables if you need if you're going to a theatrical through tugg. And you're going to be doing a self distributors, yourself distributing a theatrical run by yourself, then that's another set of deliverables. So there's all sorts of different deliverables. And this is again, a minefield of different options that can cost you 1000s and 1000s of dollars unless you do the research and understand what it all is, or consult or hire a post production supervisor to kind of guide you through this process. And one final tip here when hiring a post production supervisor, you should always check their credentials, check their IMDb and their resume to see what kind of budget levels they have been though IMDb can be adjust those budget levels can be adjusted fairly easily on IMDB, so something that says a cost $7 million, or $5 million, really could have cost half a million dollars, and they just put $7 million dollars on there to make themselves look bigger. So that does happen. I've seen that happen many times. So but check at least what they've done. And if you can't call a filmmaker who's worked with them prior to see how their experience was, that would be very, very beneficial. Always try to find someone that you trust, and that has experienced to do it. So you don't get you know, I make sure they are actual post production supervisors. And then I just editor saying oh monitor, but I was supposed to supervise, make sure that they have credits, make sure they have experience doing it because post production supervisor is a very important position in your crew. And they will either can bury you, or they can help you sail across that sea with calm waters. So or if not, that ship can sink very, very quickly if you hire the wrong guy. So now you can get all the links and things I was talking about in the show notes at indie film hustle.com forward slash zero 32. And there I'll have all the links of anything we talked about in this episode. I hope this was beneficial to you guys a little bit I do, I'm gonna do a shameless plug. I am obviously a post production supervisor, as well my company num robot does this kind of work as well. And if you need any consulting if you don't have the money to book to hire a post production supervisor throughout the entire process, just paying an hour or two of someone's time at the beginning of the process is probably the best money you'll spend in production. So you could also always go to indie film, hustle, calm forward slash consulting, if you want to have me consult on any of your projects. So that's my shameless plug. Thank you. I hope you guys learned a lot on this episode. Next week I'm going to be doing a visual effects supervisor episode to talk about how to work with a visual effects supervisor and what a visual effects supervisor does. So please head over to filmmaking podcast calm and leave us an honest review of the show. It greatly helps our rankings in iTunes. So thanks again so much guys. Keep that hustle going keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.


IFH 030: How to Make a Music Video with Gabriel Iglesias (Fluffy) & Ozomatli

So you want to make music videos. Want to follow in the footsteps of David FincherMark Romanek and Spike Jonez? It’s not a bad plan at all. Many filmmakers start off in music videos. It’s a great place to get experience, learn the tools and experiment.

I’ve directed a few music videos in my day and have worked in some capacity on hundreds over the years. I wanted to do an episode where I breakdown my process for making a music video. The music video in question is for the band Ozomatli and the stand up comic Gabriel Iglesias aka Fluffy.

Gab and I have done a few projects together over the years, two of which were music videos, Hey It’s Fluffy and Stand Up Revolution.

I had an absolute ball shooting both. Today we will be dissecting Stand Up Revolutionwhich was for his Comedy Central show “Gabriel Iglesias Presents: Stand-Up Revolution.” It was a large production for me and I learned a ton.

Check out the final product and the behind the scenes video for Stand Up Revolution.

I breakdown the process of making the music video and discuss the dark side of music videos…the business!

I had an amazing experience working with Gabriel Iglesias and Ozomatli and my discussion on the dark side has nothing to do with them. I wanted to open the eyes of young filmmakers who are just starting out and want to go into making music videos for a living.

Listen to my experience on the “business side” of music videos and then make up your mind. I’m not trying to scare you but filmmakers should know what they are getting into and set expectations accordingly.

If I may quote Terence Howard from one of my favorite flicks Hustle and Flow:

“It’s tough out here for a pimp.”

I hope this teaches a bit about how to make a music video. Take a listen to the podcast and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:52
Now I know this is indie film hustle, but a lot of filmmakers start off in music videos, David Fincher Michael Bay, Ridley Scott, a few a bunch of other people started on commercials and music videos. And I think it's a great a great tool, a great place to learn, experiment and grow as a filmmaker. So I've shot a few music videos in my day, not a lot, but I have worked on Gosh, probably hundreds of music videos with some of the biggest artists in the world. But I did direct a music video with for a band called Ozomatli, a Grammy Award winning band also motley and the stand up comedian Gabriel Iglesias as also known as fluffy. I did two videos for them for Comedy Central. And the second video is called Stand Up Revolution. And that's the one we're going to be concentrating on today. It was a very, very big budget. Well, not big budget, I mean, but it was a bit it was the biggest budget I've ever worked on. And it was a pretty large brought up large production. So I wanted to kind of break down the process a little bit. At least my process is not the ultimate process. This is just my process of how I shot the music, video, my experiences with it, and so on. So before you finish listening to this, it really would be helpful for you to watch the music video that I have in the show notes. If you're in a car and you can't see it, it's all good, you can watch it afterwards. So first thing I do when I get a song, when I get a music video gig is listen to the song, listen to it, probably about 2030 time to just have it on repeat constantly, constantly just listen to it. And then as things start, as ideas start coming up, images start coming up, I started jotting them down, I start figuring out concepts and start putting it all together. And since of my mind as an editor, it is easy for me to kind of put things together in that fashion. So I started thinking about ideas and I knew the budget was going to be a little bit larger than our last budget. So I came up with this grand idea of you know, visual effects, there's going to be bomber planes, there's gonna be a huge warehouse, it was going to be 1000s of extras digital, and it was just going to be this massive thing because it was a revolution was called Stand Up Revolution. So Gabe, you know, saw my initial concept and he's like, you know, Alex, I really love it a lot, but I don't think we can afford this. So we kind of toned it down. So Gabe gave me the idea. He's like, Look, I want to shoot it at the Roxy. And now the Roxy for those who don't know is a legendary club here on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. So I was like he's like just make it around the Roxy and let's come up with a concept around the Roxy. I'm like Okay, so now I had my location. So that made it a little easier. So then I just started building up this whole story around gay plane playing a ballet, and then the Kardashians come up and they kidnap the kind of kidnap the Kardashians and take their place to go into this red carpet to go into the show to see Ozomatli. And it's this whole kind of surreal thing. So then Gabe, and his main man, Martine are dressed up as Kardashians, which you haven't seen the video yet. You're missing out. They are quite sexy men. Now I know a lot of people, a lot of directors like the storyboard says I'm not an artist and I am kind of a perfectionist. I don't like storyboarding, unless I have someone who will do the storyboarding for us. For me. At this point I didn't on my film broken I storyboarded everything as the book that I released called the art of broken definitely shows. So I do like storyboarding, but for music videos. Generally there's not enough budget to do storyboarding. So what I like to do is shortlist so I actually shot list everything out very detailed and very organized. And generally I'll have a shot list of let's say 20 shots for a scene, which will then be pared down to probably about 10 shots and we might shoot eight because that's just the way the cookie crumbles. So I always kind of shoot for the stars and then just start paring things back little by little as the day goes on. So like I said before, our location was the Roxy which had its own unique challenges. Working in a kind of legendary, legendary club But they were wonderful to work with. And always, you know, wherever your locations are, you know, I'm talking about, you know, a larger, bigger production kind of music videos and a lot of you out there are going to start doing low budget music videos. So you're going to kind of run a gun and you're going to do kind of guerilla filmmaking and that's good. That's perfectly fine. That's what I did and that's what I still do on many occasions. But this was kind of like the you know, for me at least it was kind of like a really kind of a Rolls Royce experience having everything you know there and legit. So, the equipment we used we used, we shot it on the red epic, I decided to shoot 4k because and I know if you guys have heard my don't why indie filmmakers should not shoot 4k episode, which has been the most controversial episode and the most listened to episode in the history of the show. I do love shooting 4k, I didn't shoot 5k because 5k was overkill. And also it just I the workflow at the time I didn't have the gear to really make the workflow run very smoothly. At the time I shot this probably a few years ago couple a couple years ago about three years ago or so. So we decided shoot 4k and we were gonna we're going to end up mastering the 1080 p anyway for broadcast. So it was perfectly fine. I got to recompose a lot of shots, because we shot 4k. And then we also used another beautiful piece of technology called the techno crane. Now if you guys as filmmakers ever get a chance to use a techno crane, please do so it is the most wonderful and beautiful piece of film gear I've ever played with in my life. It is it is an expensive piece of gear. You know it's what gets those really dynamic shots. Basically it's a crane that goes anywhere and does anything almost almost automatically so you can kind of just hover 30 feet right above the ground and then just swoop up and come down and the video that I did before with Gabe called Hey, it's fluffy. We shot an entire his entire backyard which was a big huge pool scene with a ton of people. I let I literally didn't move the camera off the crane, it just stayed on the crane, the entire shoot, we just kind of floated the camera round got all the sorts, I got so much coverage it was it was amazing. So I fell in love with it right away. So we had to have it for this one as well. So the techno crane was a wonderful experience. I'll put some links on in the show notes so you can kind of see what the techno crane is and the experience it is. So when filming a couple tips when filming a music video, make sure you record your production audio, you won't use your production audio, but it's wonderful and helpful for sinking when you're going to sync up the song to the footage so it's really helpful sometimes like in our case, we actually had some skits and some dialogue that was before and after and during the the music video so we actually needed to record a natural sound. Then we I did we had a few different setups on the music video we had the performance setup, which was the main setup of the band on the stage at the Roxy we had the skit out front of the of the Roxy which is Gabe and Martine doing some dialogue, kidnapping the Kardashians and coming out dressed as the Kardashians in drag. And then the red carpet scene as well that we had a huge red carpet scene with a bunch of celebrities walking by with a ton of extras. And then the crowd scene inside which was all there was like an actual little fight fun fight and scene of Gabe and Martine and in the in the front of the crowd and things like that. So a couple tips. As far as a crowd, when you hear crowd you're like oh my god, he must have had 100 people there. We did. And we had a we actually paid 20 actors 20 extras to be there. Anytime you're going to get extras. You know, it's great to hire your friends or bring your friends along and things like that. But being an extra is actually really tough work in the sense that you have to be there all day. And if you're not getting paid or you're getting paid a little bit and you're not a professional actor, or professional extra, it's difficult because you basically just have to be there all day waiting around doing things and a lot of times your friends will bail on you after a few hours because it's not as glamorous as it looks on television. So it is it is a tough job. So we actually made a conscious effort now we did have some friends and we did through extra friends in there. But generally I think about 15 or 20 extra that were there all day. My my amazing line producer Sean definitely helped out a lot. And by the way, if you're doing a music video, God, please find a producer. Find a line producer or a producer, unit production manager, someone who can help you if you're the director and you're going to try to produce this as well as direct and edit and cast and everything else. You're going to lose your mind depending obviously on the size of the of the project. But if you can't at all, even on the smallest budgets even on budgets that I had were, you know, 500 bucks or 1000 bucks to do a music video. always hire or try to find someone to take that off your plate as a director, because as a director, you have so much on your plate already tried to deal with locations, getting lunch, all that kind of stuff is really, really difficult to do. So I had a great line producer called Sean Newhouse His name's Sean Newhouse. Shout out to Sean. He's amazing. And I worked with him on multiple projects handful a project with him. And he is he was great, so invaluable. Without him, I couldn't have done it. And then I also hired a wonderful dp Ernesto, I'm not going to massacre his last name. But Ernesto who might be on the show in the coming weeks, I'm trying to get him on. He's a big time dp now. But our nestos wonderful. And he was he brought all his toys to play with his cameras and stuff like that. So it was a lot of fun to shoot with him. So find a good dp, find a good line producer. Those are two very key positions that you that you really need to find when shooting a music video. So anyway, to how I use these extras, we just kind of grouped them together and shot, specifically, you just fill the frame, all you have to do is fill the frame, if you can fill the frame, you're able to have the illusion that there's more people in the shot. So the same extra that we're using in this inside the club were the same extra that we were using outside the club when we were trying to do all the fun, all the photographers and all the crowds and the fans trying to get to the inside inside the bar, the exact same people, we just we change their clothes, change their hairstyles, and we're good to go. So you have to think about those kind of things. Because if not, it would have cost us a fortune even on a decent sized budget music video, it would have cost us a fortune to have 1500 people there because it's not only about 50 or 100 people it's about feeding those people housing those people you know bathroom breaks for those people bathrooms for those people, there's a lot of other things you think about like oh, I could get 100 people were like well there's a lot of other costs involved down the line. So always keep thinking a few steps ahead and not just thinking about what you can get right now which is what I talked about on another episode about post production workflow or don't hire a dp just because they have a camera, a red camera because they might you might have that camera now but working down going down the workflow pipeline might be a headache for you later or you might have not thought of things that cost you more later so free doesn't always mean free. I digress Sorry guys. So we shot this it was wonderful. We shot it all out in about 12 hours I think 1012 hours was a night shoot. So it was it was pretty exhausting. And then I basically brought it back in transcoded everything at the time, we did not have at least I didn't have options to edit this in raw so I transcoded everything using my Red Rocket and then edited in Final Cut seven, Final Cut Pro seven edited at all and then brought that EDL exported that EDL after I was done editing it export that EDL into DaVinci where the Vinci resolve which is my color suite that after that I colored it all in raw I reconnected the raw colored it and raw use the red RAW file to get some amazing looks I'm able to do things that I wouldn't have been able to do unless I would have shot a 4k raw perfect example if you notice towards the very end of the music video. There's I think the last shot right but the second to last shot is Gabe opening up the door. Well that is a that is a full I shot that full 4k I had to zoom in because I didn't have the time to get the coverage that I needed. So when I shot it I noticed that I didn't have any coverage with the door with with Gabe opening the door without showing them showing the audience the to kidnap Kardashians inside so I had no way to do it. So I wanted to do a little pop in so I popped in reframed it shot that I did a shot to them and then I cut back the game and then it worked perfectly. I would have not been able to do that if I wouldn't have shot in a 4k and 4k but would have shot that 2k or 1080 p i would have been in very big trouble I wouldn't have been able to finish off the shot the way I want it to. So that is one of the luxuries of shooting at a very high resolution as long as you can handle the workflow. So we put it to 10 ADP sent that over to Comedy Central and it aired on game shows stand up revolution which I think it was in the first season that aired I think that was the very first season at air that music video and it's gone on to be downloaded God I think about 2 million times on gabes YouTube channel because it gives you to channel is insane. You guys haven't had a chance to listen to Gabe his standup is hilarious. So I'm going to put some links in the show notes to Gabe not that he needs my my little traffic might God but so that was kind of the real kind of quick tips on how I shot this music video. We also have a making of video inside the on the show notes as well that Sean Newhouse my producer shot with his brother and kind of gives you a little bit more detail. And you can kind of see the layout of how we did everything. in there. You'll see my interview I'm exhausted. You can see my face It was it was it was a rough week for me that week. So you'll see me a little bit tired. Not my normal, energetic self. So I hope this helped you guys out a little bit on how to make a music video. I've shot a few music videos in my day and night. Like I said, I've worked on a ton of big music videos over my career, and I've seen a lot of music videos. So music videos are a wonderful way to get started in the film business. And if you want to try to make a career of it, my God, God bless, go for it. It's a little rougher and I'm going to go on a little bit side note here on the business of music videos, right now doing music videos at and trying to make a living doing music videos, it's really tough because the budgets for music videos have dropped so dramatically. That something that normally you know, I remember the days that I was working on music videos back in the day in the 90s, where second and third level artists from from labels, not even the big artists was like second tier third tier artists were getting 100,000 $150,000 budgets for their music videos, shooting on film, big visual effects the whole ball of wax, and now you hear these big you'd be surprised at some of the biggest, biggest celebrities biggest music stars out there. They're doing music videos for 10 grand now I know a lot of you in the audience are saying 10 grand, that's a lot. Well, you know, when you start adding it up, if you want to try to make a living on this, if you make one of those a month or two of those a month, if you're lucky, you're not gonna make a whole heck of a lot of money. It's a it's a, it's a very, it's a very tough hustle, at least from my point of view, where I'm standing right now it's a tough hustle. So and 10,000 is a huge budget. For music videos. Nowadays, that's a big star, that's a star that if I mentioned the name of the star, you would go, Oh, I know them. So don't get me wrong, you know, Taylor, swift and Beyonce are not doing $10,000 music videos, but they're the top of top tier, the top tier. Some other big stars that are doing side projects are just you just be surprised. Now every song gets a music video and they can't afford the artist and the labels can't afford to just be putting out $200,000 music videos for every song You know, there's eight songs in an album they're so on. So they can't afford it. So they have to drop the cost of it. And also because there's so many people doing music videos, and so many people doing them so cheaply, they brought the budget down. So that happened with commercials and happens with everything else. But they brought the budget down so much that now it's almost a joke to shoot a music video. So you know, when I do a music video has to be at a certain level, a certain budget level, at least for me where I am at my career at this point. If you're just starting out, do what you got to do. If you don't get paid, don't get paid. Just start getting out there, start you know, experimenting, start making a reel for yourself. And then slowly you can build up and when you're first starting out, you're going to not going to get paid. You're not going to make a whole lot of money right up front. But at least you could start building the experience building that cachet. And a lot of the big big music video directors that I worked with, did exactly that. I worked with one director, who was that literally camped out at the label, until finally they gave him a shot to do a music video. And then from there, he started going growing and growing, growing until he finally got got Rianna and when he got Rianna that door open once we all know he didn't meet reatta music video then everybody came calling Jennifer Lopez came calling in Jay Z came calling and NAS came calling and all these big huge rappers and artists started coming out of the woodwork form. But you know, that's a one in a million kind of story. Most music video directors are just hustling man. And I know and I know that I've worked with a lot of them. They're hustling and you know, a lot of them are trying to get into commercials because they're like, man, I can't keep doing this. You know, it's fun, maybe for the first six months or a year but afterwards, you're like, you know, am I gonna keep doing this, the budgets aren't going up, you know, have a hell of a real already. And I'm still you know, it's a tough gig. It's a tough hustle. But music videos are a lot of fun. And if you can get in there and get to those bigger budgets, and get to those artists and sign up with the proper production company that can get you those kind of gigs, then that's the way to go for it. But that's a little bit of the side note of the business of music videos. One of the reasons I don't do a lot of music videos anymore, is because the budgets went down so much, that it's just I just can't do it anymore. You know, I have a family to feed. You know, I'm not 21 anymore, but you know if I was if I was younger and just starting out, man, I would be hustling hard, hard, hard, hard. I know one director, one music video director that worked underneath that other music video director sokoine the one who did Rianna and, you know he was a young kid man. And he's just started hustling hard just started getting all these music videos one after another, just you know working for free, just shooting, shooting, shooting. He got picked up and now he starts doing other music videos. Now he's doing photography and now he's going into that world and you never know where it could lead but the music video business itself to sustain yourself. It's not like the days of David Fincher Michael Bay, Spike Jones. Those days are gone and they are Only around for very, very few of the high level music video directors out there. But most of those guys are not just music video directors anymore. They also do commercial work, which is where the real money is, as well as some do feature work at narrative, web media and so on. So I hope this episode was a little bit helpful to you guys kind of helped you a little bit on how to make a music video. It's not a full blown tutorial, but it kind of gives you an eye into my process of making a music video, and kind of a little bit of a little bit of a window into the business side of music video. So now if you guys want to watch the standard revolution, music video, and the behind the scenes making of it, head over to indie film, hustle calm forge slash zero 30 for all the show notes, I want to put all the links of everything I talked about in the show notes as well. Please don't forget to head over to filmmaking podcast.com and leave us an honest review. It helps the show out tremendously guys. Thanks again and keep that hustle going keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon. Thanks.




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IFH 024: How I Made Over $90,000 Selling my Short Film + Video Tutorials

Making a Short film can be tough but selling a short film can be impossible. Here’s my story on how I did both.

I directed a small action short film a few years back called BROKEN (Watch it on Indie Film Hustle TV) I shot the short film on MiniDV Tape (yes I’m old) on the Panasonic DVX 100a, the indie film workhorse of its day.

My team and I filmed it in West Palm Beach Florida (not exactly the Mecca of the film industry) and it starred only local, no named actors.

Now once the filming was over I marketed the living hell out of that short film. It went on to screen at over 250 international film festivals, won countless awards and was covered by over 300 news outlets.

That little short film had a life of its own. I even got a review from legendary film critic Roger Ebert (to hear the full story on how that happen to take a listen to this podcast: Getting Attention from Influencers & Gatekeepers)

BROKEN is essentially a demonstration of the mastery of horror imagery and techniques. Effective and professional.” – Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert, short film, short films, indie film hustle, film school, independent film, robert rodriguez, indie film, moviemaker, red camera, arri alexa, cinematography, digital filmmaking, filmmaking, alex ferrari, guerrilla filmmaking, NYU, USC, Full Sail University, Sundance Film Festival, film festival, tarantino, kurosawa, cinematography, short films, short film, indie films, filmmaker, how to make a movie, short film ideas, filmmakers, filmmaking, film festivals, film production, guerrilla film, film distribution, indie movie, screenwriter, screenwriting, short film competition, film producers, short films online, how to make short films, film distribution process, great short films, good independent films, digital video production, list of film festivals, watch short films, marketing video production, indie filmmaking, filmmaking software, short film contests, short film festivals, how to make an independent film

Roger Ebert at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Now you must be asking,

But Alex how the hell did you make money with it?

Well, I knew that no one would pay “real money” for a 20-minute short film, shot on MiniDV, with no-name actors, and from a first time director to boot. So I thought like a Filmtrepreneur and planned to create a guerilla indie film school with over 3 hours of footage, tutorials, commentaries and more. 

By creating all the supplemental material and packaging with the short film on DVD I created a viable product for the marketplace.

VOD (Video on Demand) and digital download technology were just getting off the ground and still very expensive if it worked at all. Youtube was not “Youtube” yet, it had just launched. So DVD was the only way to go.

I went after every message board and film news outlet I could get my hands on. I’d had created so much hype around the release that on day one I sold over 250 DVDs for $20.00 a pop. That’s $5000! 

The orders kept coming and I went on to sell over 5000 copies worldwide (and counting), shipping them out of my bedroom in Fort Lauderdale, FL. 

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Speaking on a panel at the Director’s Guild of America opening night at Hollyshorts! Film Festival

10 years later I’m still selling copies today, as crazy as might sound. I’ve probably have generated well over $90,000 selling that little short film over the years. All because I understood my marketplace and what it needed. 

At the time there was nothing on the market like the BROKEN DVD; no courses on how to make a low budget indie feature or short film with low budget technology. BROKEN has found a new life in Indie Film Hustle’s first online educational course “BROKEN (Watch it on Indie Film Hustle TV)” More on that later.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So this episode today, I wanted to talk about a question that I get asked a ton. It's something that I did almost 10 years ago now was 11, over a little was 11 years ago at this point. And I talk a lot about this little short film, I think in the most, it's the most talked about short film in history. But my film that I did 10 years ago called Broken, I was able to do something very special with that film back then, and continue to do stuff with that film. And my other works today. And I wanted to share with you guys a little bit of how I was able to generate a substantial amount of money selling and self distributing, broken and now my other works as well. So when I created broken, it was a short, I'll give you a quick, quick story about it if I haven't mentioned that already on the show. But the quick story of broke it is that it was a shot as a small short film, shot for about $1,000 shot on mini DV back in 2004. There was no high end technology back then. So I was editing it on Final Cut shot on a mini DV. But what I did do was create a look for the film because of my post production experience. And I took the format of mini DV and did something really cool with it that a lot of people hadn't seen before. So what I did was did a lot of color grading and made it look in a very filmic. And the way it was and a lot of filmmakers started asking me how I was doing it and how I did it. So when when I released the trailer, like when I first started the movie, I had no plans on selling it. I don't think I didn't even understand what I was going to do with it. I just wanted to try to get it out there and see what would happen with it. But as I started posting in places and posting the trailer, in places people kept asking me how did you do those visual effects, which by the way, we did over 100 visual effects in this little short film. So people were asking me how did you do the visual effects? How did you do the had the magic, that camera looked like that I have that camera, which was the dv x 100 A the workhorse of its day. I still love that little camera, they were asking me how I'm able to do it, I can't do it. I have that camera, well, your techniques. So that started giving me the idea. When I first was about to start doing broken, I looked everywhere for some sort of resources to be able to make broken as far as like DVD tutorial something to show me how to make a mini DVD movie editing on Final Cut just something to teach you how to make independent film and believe it or not back in 2004. There wasn't a whole lot. There was actually nothing, I couldn't find a thing about how to make movies for that kind of budget with that kind of technology. YouTube was just it's an infancy was just getting started. And it definitely wasn't owned by Google at the time. So the quality was really horrible as well. It just there was nothing there. So I saw that there was a a hole in the marketplace. So I was like, Well, you know what I'm going to do this. I'm going to learn a whole bunch of stuff on how I did it along the way. And I documented everything I had to documentary crews following us through the entire five days shoot documentary crews being my friends.

And we shot just hours and hours and hours and hours and hours of behind the scenes footage of how we made this movie. So then I went on and spent about six weeks I would imagine to create over three hours or so of behind the scenes tutorials, kind of like a gorilla film school and put it on DVD. Now while this was going on, I was creating a buzz about the movie. For about six months, I was creating a lot of buzz about the movie. I was getting into film festivals. We were winning awards. We were getting written up. We went to Sundance, we've just done a whole bunch of different things with the film. And I was on spin offs to me now I know this now is like you I was doing a product launch. A lot of people talk about doing a product launch online. There's a sequence that you go by and I was doing it and I didn't even know what I was doing at the time. But I was actually Creating a product launch sequence, creating anticipation for the product. So when I started released it, it was very excited about the movie then, when I announced that I was creating this DVD, about how to make the movie, and how I made it, and all the tricks and tips of how I did it, and it was so full of information so full of rich content, the indie film community at the time, really, really just embraced it and went crazy for it and started sharing it and started talking about it. People were already getting excited for I didn't even do any pre orders, I should have done pre orders, I didn't do any pre orders. All I did was like, Hey, if you want to know when it comes out, just sign up for my email list. And I was even getting email lists at the time. And that wasn't something in vogue back in 2004. So I was doing all this kind of instinctually I can't say there was a master plan that I was doing this back then. But so anyway, the day opens that I launch it, all of a sudden, I just hear Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, all my emails keep coming in from PayPal. And we sold over 250 DVDs in the first day, which was about five grand, because we were selling the DVD at 20 bucks a pop, my partner and I had to run to the post office handwrite all all of the addresses hand stamp all the addresses, we didn't have any infrastructure laid out and the printing of postage, nothing. So it was it was pretty crazy. And then it just kept building and kept selling and kept selling. Okay, building a building. But I was able to create a tremendous amount of press and a tremendous amount of energy around the product. But it was all about creating a piece of a product, if you will, that had content for people like I know, I wouldn't have been able to sell the short film by itself. It just didn't make any sense. It has no stars in it. Yeah, it's an action genre. And, you know, there's a lot of visual effects and things like that in it. But there was just no way someone was going to pay 510 20 bucks to buy this on a DVD, there was no digital downloads, no VOD at the time, that was at least accessible to indie filmmakers like myself. So when I was able to do this, I, I was able to create this, this product that had a tremendous amount of content, and people just went crazy for it, and then start talking about it and start sharing it. And what I was able to do is generate a sold, we've ended up selling over 5000 DVDs, over the course of the years have gone by. And it was all because I was able to identify a hole in the marketplace and understand what they wanted and fed my marketplace fed my audience what they wanted. And what they were asking for. It was pretty humbling, honestly, the whole process of what happened with broken so I tried to do something similar later on with our next film sin, where I was able to do some stuff on with some digital downloads through iTunes. But that was a kind of wonky way of doing it didn't create a bunch of content, like I did with broken was just wasn't as big of a movie. And then years later, I created my movie Red Princess Genesis, which is the animated prequel to references blues, which is the live action short for my feature film that I hope to make one day. And I created a whole bunch of content around that. So what I decided to do recently is to create a new brand new guerrilla indie film school encompassing all of my movies, and giving you almost seven hours of how to stuff like how to everything from pre production production post production, how to market your film, I do brand new content on how I marketed the film's how I went through it, how I how I built the websites, what techniques I used as far as theories and the concepts that I used, why I was doing certain things still hold very true today. So I put this all together under the name lipstick and bullets, lipstick and bullets was a Blu ray compilation of all of the stuff I did, and released that in England. I got all the rights back. And now I'm going to distribute them as an experiment through indie film hustle. So indie film hustle will present the guerrilla indie film school lipstick and bullets edition. So it's gonna have a ton of stuff. It's available. Now, if you head over to indie film hacks, calm, that's indie film hacks, calm. And since you're listening to this podcast, you're going to get a coupon for 20% off. Right now I'm selling it for $47 that will go up in the future. Right now. It's an introductory offer, I think it's a super deal for that much content, or you can rent it for 15 bucks. We're doing it all through VH x.tv going to have the the some representative from VH X on the show in the coming weeks as well. So look out for that explaining to you how how to do video on demand or self distribute through their platform, which is amazing. So far, I love it. The coupon code is I FH tribe. That's I F h tribe and you get 20% off the sale price of $47. So it ends up being like $37 and change. So you get almost 10 bucks off. So to wrap it up guys create how I was able to create this kind of amount of money with a short film is these key elements you have to remember. Now write these down, understand your audience, understand where your audience is, go to that area, where they are, where they're hanging out, whether that be on Facebook groups, whether that be in on forums, at film festivals, wherever they might be hanging out, depending on what that group is, if it's about, I always use the vegan chef example. But if they're vegan chefs don't go to the foodie blogs go to, there's so many different places you can go just find out who your audience is, okay? Once you find out who do you audiences, then start crowdsourcing them starting interacting with them start, you know, asking them what they want, when you find that information out, then build a product that you can sell to them through your movie. So whatever that movie is, and I'm using the word product, but it's really your movie. So write the movie around it around what they want, build a product base about what they want, whether that be hats, T shirts, extra extra materials, film, schools, whatever, whatever they want. If it's you're doing a movie about vegan chefs rom com about vegan chefs, my God, you'd be a fool not to create a whole series of videos on how to make vegan like, you know, a vegan chef of vegan recipes, and show them how to do it, because that's what they want. You know, that's something that they would want to do. If you're making a horror movie, it would be awesome to do tutorials about how you're making, you know, the heads explode, how are you doing it, you know, how you making the fake blood recipes, stuff like that, believe it or not, people really, really love, especially if you're focusing on other filmmakers or other people who are trying to do what you're doing. Once you do that, then you sell the product to them. And now how you how you sell that product to them in 2004 2005 DVDs with the answer, there were no other options. Today, I would not suggest you do a DVD, it's not a great place to it's a lot of upfront costs, and time. And all that stuff, I wouldn't do blu ray either. What I would do is strictly video on demand through through companies like VH X through Gumroad, through Vimeo Pro, any of those guys just do it directly to your consumer and cut out the middleman as much as you can with your project. And again, this is a case by case basis. Some projects have budgets that, you know, this is a much longer conversation about which project makes sense to do VOD and do this for short film and what I was doing to make perfect sense I spent $8,000, you know, I was able to recoup my money and then some with with what I was able to do. If you were doing $100,000 movie, you better have a heck of a marketing plan, and a heck of a business plan on how are you going to be able to recoup your money. And that goes into crowdsourcing crowd, crowd building crowdfunding, all those kinds of different topics. But that's how I was able to do you know, generate a tremendous amount of money, close over $90,000 Over the years selling broken as a broken on DVD. And now I'm continuing to sell not only some of the hand picked stuff from broken, that is still very relevant, I'm not going to give you a tutorial on mini DV. But a lot of the a lot of this cool stuff that was still very, very relevant today. I have picked that by creating and also created a bunch of stuff for red Princess references Genesis sin, and then marketing materials on how to market all of A plus tons of commentary tracks on composing and visual effects and all that kind of stuff for indie film. So I also include in this guerrilla indie film school, my book, The Art of broken, I've always been a big fan of all the art of books like The Art of matrix art, Sin City, and so on. And Ken Robinson and Dan create, and I put together this book with all of the artwork from not only broken, but for the defunct feature film version of broken, but there was so much artwork, and you can kind of see as an example of what can be done with some with a short film for God's sakes. But it's another product line. And we did sell it a hardcover hardcover copies of it. During the days of broken when it came out. We sold a handful of them. But I wanted to give this to you guys not only as an example of what can be done with a project, but also just for fun for people who just want to see all this cool, amazing artwork they all the artists did. I also include all the marketing materials of all the four movies that I did. So all the poster work all the kind of extras I did on the websites and things like that. So you can kind of see the progression of how I was able to market all of our films, and how we were able to get into over 500 film festivals and so on. And how about that you also get my ebook on how to get into film festivals for cheaper free. And that gives you a complete detail explanation of how I was able to get into over the into over 500 film festivals after the first 30 or so film festivals. I spent I spent over $1,000 in submission fees were broken, it was ridiculous. But after a certain time, I was like, You know what, I don't know, if I'm going to be able to like, at this point in the game, any film festivals I get into after this, how much more they're gonna like boost my career boost the film. So I was like, You know what, at this point in the game, I'll be more than willing to pay a submission fee if I'm able to play in the movie, but just to pay to submit and just maybe I'll get into it wasn't playing that anymore. So I decided to create these techniques that worked very, very well.

So you also get that in this package as well. It's a hell of a package, it really, really is a hell of a package, I would have killed to have it. And for the price, honestly, it's awesome. And you get to watch it as much as you want, whenever you want to watch it. Again, head over to indie film, hacks.com indie film hacks, calm and use that coupon code ifH tribe. So on a side note, guys, I wanted to thank you again for making this podcast the number one filmmaking podcast on iTunes. I am humbled beyond, by beyond all recognition. It's amazing that within a three month period, this little show has been able to rank all the way as to the number one spot or filmmaking in iTunes. So I humbly humbly thank all my listeners, all my all the all the tribe, all the indie film hustle tribe, for doing that. Thank you again, so so much for helping us get to that point. And please, if you love the show, or if you just want to give us an honest review, head over to iTunes, give us a review, give us a give us a good rating. And that will help us even get more and more people to listen to the show and help more and more filmmakers. So thanks again guys for listening. I really hope this helped you guys out a lot inspired you a little bit that it can be done. So keep that dream alive. Keep that hustle going. I'll talk to you guys soon.


IFH 018: Don’t only hire DPs because they own a RED Camera!

Now before I get a bunch of hate mail please let me explain. I love cinematographers. You can’t make a movie without one and I don’t take their craft lightly. This is one of the reasons I wanted to do this podcast. Being a DP is by far one of the toughest positions on set. The pressure is immense.

With that said the explosion of low-cost cameras (RED Camera, Black Magic, Canon 5D, Nikon, iPhones, etc) and lighting gear has thrown a huge amount of “cinematographers” into the marketplace.

This podcast is a warning to young and inexperienced filmmakers not to hire, not only a director of photography but any top-level crew member solely because they own some of the latest cool gear.

This advice also goes for the sound department, editorial, lighting, visual effects and definitely color grading. When hiring any top-level positions on a film production it should be based on resume, demo reel, credits and/or reputation.

Related: Why filmmaker SHOULDN’T Shoot 4k

It takes a lot of time to learn a craft as complex as cinematography so don’t be fool by someone who happens to have the new 12K Camera that hit the market. Owning a RED Camera or equivalent doesn’t make you a cinematographer, years of working and learning your craft does. BTW, that 12K camera doesn’t exist yet just in case you were going to google it.

Now if you have two cinematographers in the running to shoot your first indie feature film, short film or film project and one has a full RED Camera (DRAGON) or Arri ALEXA package and the other one doesn’t then, by all means, hire the great DP that owns gear (only if you can handle the post workflow).

Listen to my podcast: Understand Post Production Workflow of DIE! for more on that.

Owning your own “kit” or gear is almost a must to work in the film business today. Hell, I own my own gear and I package deals all the time that would cost a ton if you would have to hire a colorist and a separate color grading rig.

All I’m saying is don’t hire a crew member just because of the gear he or she owns. You’ll thank me. Take a listen to this episode to hear the horror story that cost.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Today is a an episode, I think that's long overdue. It's something that a lot of first time filmmakers make mistakes. And this is kind of in my series of pitfalls and things to kind of look out for. It just is just based on my experience as a filmmaker and as a post guy as well seeing it from other filmmakers point of view. But today's story, and today's topic, is something I learned the hard way at the very, very beginning of my career is not to hire a cinematographer, based on gear and gear alone. And that is a mistake a lot of first time filmmakers or filmmakers in general make because they get glassy eyed when a dp shows them a new red or I have an Alexa or this and that. So I want to talk to you a little bit about what a cinematographer is, and I'm sure I'll go over it really quickly. I'm sure most of you know what a cinematographer is. But I have the utmost respect for cinematographers and cinematography, it is a very difficult job. As a colorist, I see what they do. I see a lot of times people see the final image and they don't realize how difficult the day of the shoot was or that production didn't give them the lights that they need or their assistant cameras up that day or a million other things. But the DP gets blamed for it, especially in the color room because all you see is the final image. So it's the DPS job to make sure that final image looks as good as possible, regardless of the problems. But it's a lot of times a thankless job in many ways. It's great, they praise you when you do good and they destroy you when you do bad. So it's a tough job. So I have the utmost respect for cinematographers. Now with that said, the explosion of low cost camera gear and lighting gear has exploded the number of quote unquote cinematographers in the marketplace all around the world, not just Los Angeles, all around the world. I had this happen to me in Miami, but as well as other places as well around the world as well here in Los Angeles as well. So the problem is that nowadays people say well, if you bought a red, does that make you a dissonant photographer, because let's say I have $150,000, burning a hole in my pocket, and I go out and buy a full blown dragon system, full set of lenses, the best money can buy. And then, you know, I also have a $50,000 grip truck with every piece of lighting known demand, you, you would assume that someone who has purchased all this gear would know what they're doing. But time and time again, I've realized that that's not necessarily the case. So when you hire a dp, you must look at their work, you must interview them, you must understand it if they understand the kind of budget level you're at, because you can get an Academy Award winning dp but if they're used to playing with very big toys and your budget is $100,000 it's not a good fit. So that's a side note but I'm gonna tell you the story of what happened to me when I first first got in the business shot my very first big big thing I was shooting back in the early 90s I was shooting on film 35 millimeter film, believe it or not, and I knew this this company that happened to have film cameras, lighting, lighting kits, they had a whole business shooting a bunch of different things. They have a soundstage everything all in Miami and these guys wanted something new cool stuff on there real so I tell them look you know if you guys jump on board, you know I'll give you a copy of it for your real and you know, blah blah blah and we all kind of work together. But on the outset it looked like these guys knew what they were doing. I mean they had a full business doing it. What I didn't realize is the business that they were in was a kind of like, infomercial, kind of lighting and corporate video kind of stuff. They had no idea how to do a high end fashion, Nike commercial, which is what I was doing and I was doing actually did three commercials with them. And, and I was shooting 35 and they had 35 millimeter cameras. And it cost me about $50,000 to do my demo reel which was about three what ended up being five commercial spots. When I was all said and done, so I package them all out to do them in like five days and you know it tried to do it is, you know, affordably as possible. Because there was no digital anything back then it was like I was barely able to edit this on on an avid back in the day. But anyway, so we want to start shooting and I didn't get one dp, I got to DPS and now my crew was top notch I had a good producer who was working with me. And she basically inherited these, these the IPS and all their gear if she didn't choose them, she didn't know she was a seasoned professional. After day one, the crew that day one excuse me, our one the crew walked off the set from from from them because they said we're not working with these guys, these guys are idiots, they have no idea what they're doing. So the producer had to talk them back blah blah cuz the crew was actually a professional film crew. But these guys were complete idiots. And what happened is, if you ever are on a set with two DPS you need to run away. There's no reason for to DPS ever. at all, there is a dp there's a grapher that's that standard, but to actual Director of Photography is with core edits as director photography's both of them talking about how they're going to light the scene is absolutely insanity. The crew members, four years later after I worked with him and many other projects, they kept referring to them as the two monkey DPS. Because they would just jump all over the set. They used to use a light meter and they wouldn't light and they would check the light meter 50 times a minute to see how their lighting was and they would pull out 400 lights from their massive grip truck to light this scene. And the crew was like what are these guys doing? So I was pushing the envelope I was shooting very unique stock of film, I actually gave them a booklet that I created on how to shoot the stock a film it was called reversal film stock to get some very unique looks. And I because I I even felt that they didn't know they've never shot anything like this before. So I did all the research to have them understand it. And then I was on top of them a lot of times because I'm technical. So I was always like what's your what's your F stop? And you know, how is it it and what are you doing and all this kind of stuff. So fast forward to the entire the end of this thing. One of the commercials came out so so horribly, horribly bad that I literally burned the negative, I didn't give it to them. I actually went outside of my house opened up a big metal pan dumped to the 35 millimeter negative they're embarrassed it because I would never I never wanted to let anyone see this, let alone them get their hands on it. Because they they would have promoted it as their work. And I didn't want my name attached anything like that. So I had to then reshoot a bunch of stuff with another dp who was actually a real dp, who had also had his own camera, but I saw his work and he came highly recommended and so on and so forth. But that experience taught me that you never hire a cinematographer. Based on the gear that he brings. The gear that he brings is a huge plus nowadays, these owner operators are becoming the norm, because you can hire a dp who owns a red camera, and that's just part of his day rate, or owns an Alexa or owns his own lens packages. And those are those are costs that you don't have to incur. And the DP is doing that because that way he gets more work or she gets more work. And that's wonderful. And there's a lot of DPS. You know, I did I did an interview with my good friend Suki who's in the ISC amazing cinematographer, he owns his own Alexa camera, you know, because he wants to own his own Alexa camera and it makes him a more valuable dp because he has his own camera. Because now every every almost every dp has his own packages, even the even the biggest DPS will have you know, I was talking to get model Toros DPS, right hand man who's a good friend of mine, and they they own 20, Alexa's and, you know, 15 or 20 reds and, and they rent it out. And it's just part of their business plan now so there's nothing wrong with a dp that owns their own gear, but you can't hire them based solely upon the gear that they bring to the table. And that goes with anybody with anything a sound guy that has all the greatest gear. I've had bad experiences with that as well. You know, you can't hire people based on the gear that they bring, you have to make sure that they can do the job, right. I would rather hire someone who doesn't have their own gear who could do the job right and rent the gear somehow. or hopefully find someone that has both together. So I'm a word of warning. don't hire people based on their gear, look at their work, interview them. Ask for references. Because I'm telling you, you will get burned. You will get burned badly and I did it on A small, you know, commercial shoot, you know, $50,000 not small to me, but comparatively to a million dollar movie, half a million dollar movie and or feature, you know, smaller I did 32nd spots. So if I would have done a full short film with them been with these guys for three, four weeks on a feature, I would have shot somebody, literally I think and I think the, the crew would have done the job for me. So don't hire monkey DPS. No, I'm joking. You know, just just like I said before, hire people based on their merit and on their, on their skill on their reel and on the personality if they mix with you or not, because the DP is your right hand guy, as a director as a filmmaker. If they, if you don't mix with your dp, it's gonna be a long, long, long, long shoot. So make sure and it's kind of like dating, you know, before you jump in to marriage, you should date them, talk to them, really get to know them, make sure you're making the right decision because it is a relationship that you will have an intense relationship you will have for the duration of the shoot, whether that be a few days, which is not that big of a deal. But if you're on a feature, could be extremely detrimental to your final product. Or absolutely beneficial if you hire the right person. Because a dp can also save your butt. If you're not a technical director and compose shots for you and you can handle the actors and things like that there's a lot of things a good dp brings to the table. And it's imperative to have a good dp when shooting a feature film. So I hope this story word word of warning helped you guys I hope that you will hire people based on their merit and not on the gear that they bring to the table no matter how beautiful the gear is. Don't care what new Reddit is don't care what Alexa it is don't care. Anything and Same goes for posts just because a guy owns a full blown color system, make sure he does he knows what he's doing. Make sure he's colored a bunch of movies, make sure he understands how to deal with your kind of file format. I mean, it goes with every crew remember that brings gear or has gear to bring to the table. Alright, so I hope it was helpful to you guys. Thanks for listening. Remember, head on over to iTunes. You could just go to indie film, hustle, calm forward slash iTunes. And leave me an honest review on the podcast. It really helps us out a lot to get these reviews and helps us get the word out on indie film hustle. So thanks again for your time guys. Keep hustling. Keep making movies, don't let your dream fall to the wayside. You got to keep going no matter what. Alright, thanks again guys. Talk to you soon.




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IFH 017: Indie Film Distribution on VOD with Linda Nelson

The world of film distribution is filled with unknown landmines. Even more mysterious is how an indie filmmaker can get their film placed on these elusive VOD or Video on Demand platforms?

Video on Demand’s definition has been broadened in recent years. Before it only meant VOD on your cable box from Comcast, Time Warner or Direct TV but today that list has grown dramatically.

There are over 170 different videos of on-demand platforms available to indie filmmakers today. Some of the top film distribution/VOD platforms are:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu Plus
  • Vimeo Pro
  • YouTube (Paid)
  • Roko
  • GooglePlay
  • Amazon VOD HD
  • Amazon Prime
  • ViaWia
  • Snagfilms
  • iTunes
  • Playstation
  • Vudu

But just like a fugley teenager trying to get into a hot nightclub on South Beach, there are bouncers at the door who don’t want to let you in.

That’s where this episode comes in, we have a video on demand expert Linda Nelson from Indie Rights, the film distribution arm of Nelson Madison Films. Linda walks us through the maze of VOD and film distribution options and explains what it takes to get your film placed in the potentially very lucrative platforms.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So without further ado, sit back and enjoy our interview with Linda Nelson. Linda, thank you so much for joining us on the indie film hustle podcast, we really appreciate you taking the time.

Linda Nelson 0:00
Thanks so much for inviting me, it's always a pleasure to have a chance to share with filmmakers.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Great. So um, let me ask you a question. I know a lot of indie filmmakers don't understand the term VOD or video on demand. They have an idea of it. But can you explain the kind of what exactly is VOD video on demand and what does it entail?

Linda Nelson 0:00
Well, I think in the past VOD video on demand, I think most people thought of cable and movies on demand on their cable network. But as the digital world has evolved, video on demand just means movie. Well, in our case, movies that you can get and watch whenever you want. There are many forms of VOD while they're still cable, VOD. What has become even more popular, our digital platforms like Amazon and iTunes and Google Play and VUDU and Hulu and that type, which are app based. And so I think that's probably the biggest distinction right now. And and the shift is for people to move away from cable and to these app based digital stores.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Got it. So then, so the different VOD platforms like Netflix, Amazon, those are the kinds of things

Linda Nelson 0:00
And they're all they're all quite different. There are. There are some very distinct different types of models of VOD. And that's a really, really important distinction to understand something like Netflix, which is a subscription based video on demand platform, people pay a fixed fee, and then they can watch all they want. In the case of Netflix, it's not something we're thrilled about for independent film because they pay very low fixed flat rate fees. And once your film is on Netflix, you won't sell or rent movies anymore because people can get it for what's perceived as free. So we that's something that we highly discourage, especially in the first four or five years.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Okay, so Netflix is generally not what it's all cracked up to be. I mean, they are the kind of the big poster child for VOD, I guess, in some ways.

Linda Nelson 0:00
You're the thing with Netflix is first of all, now they are already 80% serialized content. Oh, yeah, a TV show they are becoming like an HBO. And that is their business model. And, as far as, as movies, studios will give them their older films, because they can get a decent price from them. If you have a name and your film, if you have an indie film with a name in it, they might offer you a fairly good amount. Say for example, you made a 10 or $15,000, documentary or even a $40,000 documentary They might be willing to pay you something comparable to that if it's either a documentary that is a very important topic right now, or if you have a narrative film that happens to have, you know, you caught a rising star, for example. And this person is now blown up for you know, so those there are some exceptions where they will pay a decent amount for an indie film. But in generally, in general, they pay a low flat rate fee that's payable on quarterly installments over a year. And it's usually so low that that you do cannibalize all of your paid transactional. Now. That's not to say all subscription platforms are not good for indie filmmakers, because there's nothing better than amazon prime. Amazon prime is also a is also a subscription platform. However, amazon prime is pays by the view. So really, yeah. So the more you know, I mean, different distributors have different deals, but on certainly for us, they pay by the view.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So how does that so how does, how does amazon prime work? Because that's really interesting to me. I've never heard that.

Linda Nelson 0:00
Oh, yeah, no, so that's amazon prime right now is probably our biggest revenue earner for our filmmakers. Oh, wow. And, and the biggest mistake, and this is something that I, I used to advise filmmakers to go on create space and do create space themselves. And there are still people that recommend that like, there are several podcasts that I've heard recently where people say, Oh, you can do Amazon yourself?

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Can you can you explain what CreateSpace is for our audience,

Linda Nelson 1:53
Okay. CreateSpace is a company where you send them a DVD, and they will, they will sell your DVD on Amazon for you, you can set the price. And you also have the option to put it on Amazon Instant Video where people can rent and buy it. So now, there there are several problems with this. And this is something that if you cannot get more traditional distribution, or you can't find a distribution company to work with, as a last resort, you can do this, and you still will have your film out there. And we I always you know there there are a lot of people that are recommending totally do it yourself and direct to audience. I'm think it's a really bad idea unless you absolutely have fully researched and cannot get any other form of distribution. Because what happens with Amazon, and CreateSpace was a was the first company to offer this kind of DVD on demand option for filmmakers. And it was great. And so Well, we certainly started with that. And then Amazon bought them. Okay, so that CreateSpace is now owned by Amazon. But it is an option for anyone, anyone can put their film there. The problem is, these days, everybody is making beautiful HD films, either gyuto 2k, or 4k, and they're in their HD. However, when you go through CreateSpace and make a DVD and go on Amazon Instant that route, you can only go in standard definition. And you cannot get into Amazon Prime amazon prime is only available through partners of Amazon, like our company in the REITs. Hmm. So you have you have to go through an aggregator Gator or a distributor. A lot of people think that we are aggregators, we are not we are actually a distributor. So got it there. And there's a big difference. And what is the difference? The big difference is that we are actually direct partners. And we have a direct partnership deal with Amazon and Google etc. And this is a question that filmmakers must ask anyone they're considering doing distribution by because right now there are hundreds of companies out there saying we'll get your film on Amazon, we'll get your film on iTunes, and Netflix, they are not partners with those companies, they are then going to come to a company like us.

Alex Ferrari 2:12
So it's okay. It's a middleman between the middleman.

Linda Nelson 2:12
What's happening is that the old school form of distribution where there are layers and layers of middlemen is being replicated in the digital world. And the reason that that's happening now is because many of these distributors just couldn't fathom that DVDs would dwindle as quickly as they have. And so their main business was DVDs. And if they didn't get on the, on the digital bandwagon, quick enough and now those doors have closed pretty much. In other words, Amazon, they iTunes, they have all the partners they need. So now you have to goes through one of those partners to get your film distributed. So that's really important. But the thing to go back to the original discussion points of about Amazon being amazon prime being a paid subscription base, they do pay per view. So we teach our filmmakers, how to build engagement with their audience on Amazon, so that they then move their film into the recommendation algorithm. And, and what's important there is that you get plenty of reviews. And and you can encourage that with social media. And so we teach filmmakers how to do that. And, you know, we have a number of films that are very high ranking on amazon prime.

Alex Ferrari 2:14
Now, are those are those pay per views? Is that a standard flat rate? Or is it

Linda Nelson 2:14
It is and I'm not at liberty to discuss that?

Alex Ferrari 2:14
Fair enough. Fair enough. I just thought I'd ask.

Linda Nelson 2:14
And that's because, you know, companies have different deals with different people.

Alex Ferrari 2:14
So fair enough. Fair enough. But it's but it's obviously the best deal that you have right now for filmmakers is amazon prime? Well, one of them,

Linda Nelson 2:59
Okay. There are there are exceptions, we sometimes we don't put people on prime right away if we feel that a film has a lot of potential for paid transactional. Okay, so So far, we've talked about subscription. And Hulu Plus is also subscription. So though, and they do pay by the view as well. So Hulu, plus, Amazon Prime, Netflix, those are subscription based programs. And also there are some new ones that cinedigm has out that were participating in like, documentary Rama, new Dov channel, which just really just started last week, it's great. We should talk about that later, too. Absolutely. And those, those are subscription channels. So that's subscription VOD. And then the next type is called paid transactional or P VOD, or T VOD, as some people call it. And transactional means that people are either they're pulling out their credit card, and they're paying to either buy or rent your film. Now, when I say buy, they're not actually physically buying the media. except in the case of iTunes, you can you you can physically buy the medium and download it to your device. But that's not the way people prefer with when you buy on like Google Play, or Amazon, what you're buying is the right to watch it forever. Okay, it's not like a video store, or wherever a couple of months of DVDs are gone. And that's the end know, once you're up on Amazon, you know, could be there for 20 years or 40 years. Who knows, we don't know yet how long that is. But for as long as Amazon exists, you can go back and watch that movie that you've purchased. If you rent it, and that's for a fraction of what you would buy it for. They each platform gives you a certain amount of time for you to watch it like it might be a week, or it might be you get five views, different platforms give you a different, you know, opportunity to but you're actually paying for that purchase, or the or rental. Well that's a paid transactional and there are some films that really lend themselves to paid transactional. Well, and and so when we see a film that we think has that we might postpone putting it on prime, the reason prime does so well is that people don't have to take out their credit card. And any I don't have to tell you people are reluctant to pay for something where they don't recognize the director, or they don't recognize any of the people that are in the movie, of course, right of course so it's you know, like how often do you do that it's rare

Alex Ferrari 3:00
There unless it's a topic maybe that you're interested in

Linda Nelson 3:27
I'm saying there are documentaries for example, that that that you're interested in, and they're topical, or there's a cause behind it. We have one film like by the name of it's called the title is fray and it's about a young marine that comes back from the war with PTSD. And so that film is done well because there it's not a lot of there are a lot of veterans and families of veterans that are really relating to that film. So you know, so you can take a film like that and and sell a lot of DVDs or you know, purchases or rental. So it just depends on the film and what and what you've done with the film prior to bringing it to a company like us. For example. Frey hat we do a small limited theatrical release on select films. That film got the most superb critical acclaim from the LA Times of any movie I've ever seen. I've never seen a review a more glowing review in a while or something like that just, you know, it really raises the profile of your film. Because other papers all over the country pick up those reviews, if they don't have film critics, it's on Rotten Tomatoes with all of these big juicy red tomatoes. And people look to those places, you know, when they're looking, you know, for a film and trying to decide, do I want to spend money to watch this, you know, right, so so so many of those things. So that's the paid transactional. And then the third type that's quite popular now is ad based. Or a VOD?

Alex Ferrari 4:58
Oh, I've heard of that one.

Linda Nelson 6:13
Well, Hulu, regular Hulu is ad based.

Alex Ferrari 6:22
Okay. When you watch like YouTube, like a YouTube almost,

Linda Nelson 10:24
Well, YouTube, yes, YouTube is totally ad based on my shoe have a rental channel, like us where we have just, you know, just like it's just like iTunes, but it's YouTube. And you can rent all of our movies there, or buy them in SD or HD. So, so but but people that don't have that aren't partners with Google, they can put their films up there, they can put their whole movie up there and then have ads every five minutes.

Alex Ferrari 11:38
I've seen the worst starting to do that. And that is that a decent way of generating some sort of income

Linda Nelson 11:43
Millions of views, you have to really, really get a lot of views, we have one filmmaker who makes quite a bit off advertising revenue on his YouTube channel. But what he does, and cleverly so it is that he will take like the first 10 minutes of his movies, and they're so good and so engaging, that people want to watch the whole movie. So he has ads on those 10 minute clips, you'll have an ad before, maybe two in the middle and one at the end. And then he has links to where you can buy it where we're distributing it. Mm hmm. In the description, and annotated at the back end of the film. Smart. So So somebody watches 10 minutes, he does crime documentaries. Okay. his newest one is called killing Jimmy Hoffa. And it's fascinating. I'm so done. Right? And so he makes quite a good income from those clips. Okay, and at the same time, they're advertising the entire movie, so that this total, so if somebody goes, Oh, wow, I want to see the rest of this. They can just click right on that video on YouTube, it'll take them right to Amazon Prime.

Alex Ferrari 12:26
Interesting. That's a great, that's a great business model for the parent, none of the following you have and so I actually, I actually heard of a filmmaker putting out half his movie, or like, at least 40 minutes of his movie on BitTorrent for free,

Linda Nelson 12:37
Yeah, and that's not gonna run ads. Exactly. They're not making an advertising correct. Do it on YouTube. Not only are you you know, having that as an ad. I just, I'm not a big fan of bit tour. Okay. Because I think that it is so abused. Oh, yeah. You know, we have a very bad time with piracy on our library of films courses, especially ones that we put out theatrical, and they use those as teasers. I'll take that movie fray. And they'll even if they don't have a copy of the film, they will use that to get people's email addresses, and then further market to them for the films that they do have.

Alex Ferrari 13:06
Like every industry, there's always a CD.

Linda Nelson 13:08
And I tell people you once a month should check and have a form letter that you send out to them, telling them to take it down, etc. But don't obsess over it. Because there's no way to get around it. There's always going to be piracy. I mean, even on YouTube, you can find full full versions of some of our movies. And what they'll do is they'll throw it into an editing machine. And then they'll put a red square around it, and then the content ID can't recognize it. That's why they do that, because I actually see a red border or even just two pixels all the way around it. And it's not going to trigger. You know,

Alex Ferrari 13:32
The content, the content. I do. Yeah, because I've actually I've actually gone on YouTube. My daughters have gone on YouTube, and they type in like Finding Nemo. And then I come back later and I'm like, and they're like, why are you watching the entire Finding Nemo movie on YouTube? And I look I'm like, Oh, God, so that makes I was like, how is it? How is it Disney taking this down? Like I you know,

Linda Nelson 13:44
Yeah, there's so many. I mean, the second you can get like even a DVD of your film or a blu ray. All the pirates got to do is play it on their blu ray So you're on their television stick a camera in front of the screen and they can get a really good copy of it

Alex Ferrari 13:54
With a with a good nice with a nice camera absolutely yeah yeah it's

Linda Nelson 13:56
So I mean it's you know and it's always been I mean there's always been piracy with D o 's every you know i mean you go around New York or LA and stores with pile stores you know I've seen them and you know and if they're really sophisticated they'll dump them into Spanish and hit that market or whatever

Alex Ferrari 14:09
It's like a little it's like a little business if you will piracy

Linda Nelson 14:13
A big business right I tried just try to encourage people don't obsess over it because be some some of our filmmakers gets upset about it yeah and just say you know, you have to understand maybe 10% of your businesses you're gonna lose because of that

Alex Ferrari 14:22
It's just it's just it's just yeah there's it's it's like a

Linda Nelson 14:24
Has enough honest people out in the world pay for it if you make it a reasonable price

Alex Ferrari 14:27
Well that's what happened with iTunes in general with music like that's everyone was downloading music for free until iTunes came around and made it accessible easy and affordable like oh buck a song I'll pay a buck a song alright. And and they tried to do it now with movies as well and it's I think helped both industries dramatically. Which brings me to my next question.

Linda Nelson 14:38
Oh, yeah, well say one more thing about the ad base Yes. There are numerous channels that are advertising based like TV TV Are you familiar with TV TV?

Alex Ferrari 14:46
I'm not

Linda Nelson 14:47
Do you are you familiar with Roku?

Alex Ferrari 14:48
Roku I am of course yeah that's Yeah, that's like a little box you buy and there's

Linda Nelson 20:58
A little box it's just like an apple tv except it's got like 3000 channels instead of a couple of 100 so right it's a great deal and a lot of people that are you know have cut the cord like myself or people that have never had cable have Roku boxes there's millions of them out there now and it's filled with I'll bet there's 100 movie channels on there that are advert ad based and like snag or Hulu you get to share in the advertising revenue so so depending on how many views you have, you will get a percentage of the advertising that is placed on your film so Toby TV is a really popular one and so if you go to B TV comm you'll see you know there's a there's the film's Aaron and you know for myself personally I don't like to be interrupted with ads but for people that really don't you know are on a budget and and they don't mind because it's like regular television

Alex Ferrari 22:35
Right old school old school television without the fast forwarding

Linda Nelson 22:40
Well you can fast forward

Alex Ferrari 22:41
Oh you know you can't fast forward through

Linda Nelson 22:43
Oh no, not yet. That's what I mean you can't even change channels during the year

Alex Ferrari 22:48
Of course that of course it's

Linda Nelson 22:50
Just that's it

Alex Ferrari 22:52
You know it's mind blowing to me like how quickly it all changed it's it's it's within the last five years that this this is the whole industry has changed so dramatically and people are it's in many ways is the wild wild west still out there? It's

Linda Nelson 23:07
Definitely still in its infancy

Alex Ferrari 23:08
Nobody knows what like it that's why I wanted to get you on the show because I know a lot of people a lot of filmmakers have no idea what to do with their movies you know I come from a post production background I've been doing it for 20 years and I've delivered I know hundreds of movies and and I've seen been front row to so many of these movies that just go nowhere or they have no idea how to market it or they have no idea

Linda Nelson 23:30
For that now is I believe it's the very best time in history yes independent filmmakers there's so much opportunity even if you are have to do it all yourself you can still do it oh absolutely it's there but you have to work without leaving without leaving your house

Alex Ferrari 23:48
Pretty much pretty often

Linda Nelson 23:49
You have to have you know print a bunch of DVDs and put them in the trunk of your car like people used to do right right a no longer necessary you can do it all from home and not just about being industrious and entrepreneur doing your homework and and learning to be an artist entrepreneur

Alex Ferrari 24:06
Which is what we promote in SAM here that's what we promote because I think a lot of filmmakers just want to be artists or they just want to live the the entourage life as a as as I put it sometimes they just want to be you know they want that oh you make a movie you get into Sundance you when they write you a check and the rest is history. It doesn't happen like that and you and the more and more stuff is out there the more and more you have to become more of that entrepreneur as a filmmaker and really hustle that's why we call ourselves indie film hustle because you have to hustle out there and you can make a living as a film.

Linda Nelson 24:36
Of course you can I mean my partner and I we make a living, making and sharing films we have a production studio that's Nelson Madison films and indie rights is the distribution arm of that studio and exam and it's full time it took us a while to get here.

Alex Ferrari 24:53
Oh no yeah, that's the other thing.

Linda Nelson 24:55
Day jobs for a long time.

Alex Ferrari 24:57
Oh, and trust me, I know this. A lot. A lot of filmmakers don't get that like this is this doesn't happen overnight, it takes it's a long, it's a long play. It's not a short flight. So one question I always get asked, how do you get your film on iTunes? And is it? Is it all that it's cracked up to be? And should you even put it on iTunes?

Linda Nelson 25:16
Well, I will say that iTunes is not our strongest revenue generator. It has huge market share for studio films, or independent films, it's much more difficult to get traction on iTunes. But I have to say the first two places that people ask us about when they come to us to explore distribution is can you get me on iTunes and Netflix,

Alex Ferrari 25:42
Of course.

Linda Nelson 25:44
So I always had to go through that explanation, one about Netflix that I already gave you, and why they don't want to be there, especially the first couple of years. And then I tunes part of the issue with iTunes right now. And hopefully they will correct this is that it is not a true streaming in the sense that you have to download data to your device. And you have to run iTunes software on your device. Okay, that's not true with Amazon, or Google Play, or Netflix. Right? You're not right, right, YouTube. So you know, they're not it's not a cloud based system. So people don't like waiting for stuff to download anymore, people will become very impatient. I mean, God forbid, I mean, five years ago, you had to go to the video store. And actually,

Alex Ferrari 26:35
What is this? What is this? What is this video store? You speak of? I don't, I don't understand what is this thing? What's this concept?

Linda Nelson 26:42
So you know, so we've, we've all become very spoiled. So now iTunes, anybody can get their film on iTunes. If you don't sign up with a distributor, you know, like, indie rights? You can there are some pay paid. Ways To Get on I do there several companies, now you pay them 15 $100. And they will put you on iTunes,

Alex Ferrari 27:09
And you'll never make that 15 $100 back?

Linda Nelson 27:11
Well. It depends on a lot of things. It depends on how much you work your social media with a huge amount of, you know, social media effort. You can, you know, but should

Alex Ferrari 27:26
should, should you have you could go to amazon prime, or you could focus all that energy towards another place.

Linda Nelson 27:31
That's right. I think I think there are more productive places. I mean, we always put our films on iTunes, because people want to be there there is a cachet associated with being on iTunes. But a lot of our films, it's almost impossible to find them on iTunes. You know, because the iTunes has a huge market share when it comes to studio films. Not so with independent film. Everybody wants to be there. But it's really hard to find films there. They don't have good search, right? They don't actually they're horrible, terrible search. So they're so the discoverability is low. So we don't particularly focus on marketing on iTunes.

Alex Ferrari 28:14
If it comes something comes up it comes of it, and then you put it on

Linda Nelson 28:18
Filmmakers or filmmakers that it's really important to, you know, we give them the tools and show them how to market on every platform. But But, but they have to be willing to put in the work. So I mean, you know, I think and here's the other thing, I recommend that I definitely think everybody should put their film on iTunes. I'm not saying don't I think they should all all be. I think that people develop viewing habits. And there are some people that only watch movies on national TV or iTunes. There are some people that only watch on Amazon. I used to only watch movies on VUDU which is Walmart's app, right? But I switched to Amazon at some point. Probably about a year and a half ago or something like that. I love Amazon. It's beautiful. I love it. And then also I use I use m go if I want to watch a brand new movie. And I don't want to go to the theater. m go is great.

Alex Ferrari 29:20
What is m ago I've never heard of them go are you on a computer? I am I will obviously we're recording this.

Linda Nelson 29:28
If you can look at m go.com mg.com m go is up probably a newcomer I will call them still even though they've been live for probably close to two years. Okay. What happened was that the studios, this is my theory of what has happened. The studios woke up one day and they said oh my gosh. The first bite out of all of our revenue is going up north to Silicon Valley. The companies like Netflix and iTunes Should Amazon right? All right, well, why aren't we getting the first bite out of our own films? So the six studios went to DreamWorks and Technicolor, and Technicolor built them a video on demand platform called m go, which is for movies go. Okay, right? Uh huh. And be an all six studios have their films there. Yes. Sometimes they have films that are that are still in the theater. Okay, so there is a premium, but like the people that are willing to stand in long line for the next iPhone, or stand in line for the next new sneaker, there's always people that want to get things first. And so even though they might be a little dazed, they'll stay start out their pricing a little more expensive, because you can't get it anywhere else. But then it goes down to the kind of the same prices as like Amazon, or iTunes, whatever. So, so everything's there, now they decided to partner there's a couple of nice things about that they decided to partner with a couple of independent companies, studios, like ourselves. So indie writes, we have about 30 or 40 Films up there. Okay. And, and on top of that, they are the only one that has a decent 4k library,

Alex Ferrari 31:27
Of course, because they actually, of course, the technology is there, and they own 4k.

Linda Nelson 31:32
So we have five, yeah, five films out on 4k there. Now you have to have a 4k television, Samsung, and then you can rent five of our movies in 4k. The only place right now where we're seeing that

Alex Ferrari 31:49
For at this moment, at this moment.

Linda Nelson 31:52
It's going in that direction, of course, and we certainly recommend every indie filmmaker, to shoot and for shooting master and 4k now. There's no reason not to.

Alex Ferrari 32:03
Except for the post cost.

Linda Nelson 32:06
I mean, we wish okay. Our last feature was called delivered. And it's an action adventure. And it's got some you know, special effects in it. Crime Thriller. We made that movie for $50,000. We mastered it in 4k, we shot Mehsud in 4k at home.

Alex Ferrari 32:29
Okay, of course,

Linda Nelson 32:30
We shot on red. Sure. We beta tested Adobe Premiere when it first came out for them. Okay. And so we were able to do all the special effects everything in Premiere,

Alex Ferrari 32:47
And at a $50,000 budget, you'll it much easier to get your money back.

Linda Nelson 32:52
Yes. So so so it certainly it certainly can can be done. I mean, you know, I think I think what's happened with Final Cut Pro, I mean people that just have abandon it for, you know, either premiere or avid. We happen to like, premiere better, because after effects is totally integrated into the timeline. So there's no in re ingesting composited footage. Right? Right, right. Fabulous. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 33:21
Well, I've what I've started doing is actually I've started cutting on DaVinci. The DaVinci, resolves new, the new version came out with its own editing system incorporated in DaVinci. resolve. And I was like, Oh, this is beautiful. Because now i'm able

Linda Nelson 33:35
For the same reason we use premiere premiere. They're all tools. They're all they are but and premiere is so cheap. Yeah, exactly. Okay, for 2995 a month, you have all the tools you need.

Alex Ferrari 33:49
It's amazing. It's pretty remarkable, right? That emco thing is pretty, pretty cool. I've never even heard of that before. So I'll go

Linda Nelson 33:56
And go, Oh, you know, it's an app. on mobile. It's a mat an app on it. Actually, Mo is the default Movie Channel on Roku.

Alex Ferrari 34:07
That's fascinating. And there are some movies that are in the theater still. I mean, I think eventually, it gets us off the thought this isn't off topic. Yeah, this is off topic. But do you actually think that in the future, we're going to that the studio's want to get away from theatrical, and certainly they want to get that window close closer and closer to like a month, as we've seen, do you think in the future, there's going to be a point where going to the theater will just be much more of an issue, because something you can't get at home, you can't get IMAX at home, you'll never be able to get IMAX at home, or maybe that big, but it's going to be more event films and it's just going to be like slowly, just be going more and more VOD and more almost like a week windows two week windows sometimes.

Linda Nelson 34:48
I think it's already there. Really? Sure. How do you know do you know how few movies make it to the theater wide release?

Alex Ferrari 34:56
You know, it's almost impossible. Yeah.

Linda Nelson 34:58
So To me, in the world of independent film, we're already there. Got you a couple of 100 movies a year, getting the theater. That's it, if you're lucky, if you're lucky in that and that's it and, and and the rest. You know, there's 1000s made every year

Alex Ferrari 35:16
1000s 10s of 1000s

Linda Nelson 35:20
I mean if somebody if Sundance gets 11,000 app you know submissions there no it's like

Alex Ferrari 35:27
You know it's a match so that's only Sundance so then add probably another 10,000 on top of that, and they and they all and they all star percentage and they all star Eric Roberts

Linda Nelson 35:39
Well, we just we just got an aircraft.

Alex Ferrari 35:41
I'm sure they're everywhere.

Linda Nelson 35:44
He likes to work.

Alex Ferrari 35:45
I he does I worked on I just I have three features I just finished with Eric. That's why I'm making that.

Linda Nelson 35:51
Oh, yes, we just were putting one out for Halloween while it's already up on Google Play called Halloween hell.

Alex Ferrari 35:58
Oh, cool.

Linda Nelson 35:59
Nice Dracula.

Alex Ferrari 36:00
Oh, that must be fun. It's fun. It must be fun. So let me ask you a question. Do you still think filmmakers should attempt to sell physical DVDs and blu rays as part of that? Yeah, absolutely.

Linda Nelson 36:10
Absolutely. We, we offer physical DVD, retail DVD to select films that we are distributing? I mean, there, you know, I think some are, are better suited for DVD than others. But absolutely, we are we see DVD sales comparable to

Alex Ferrari 36:34
Amazon sales. Okay. So it's all it's all case by case

Linda Nelson 36:38
It is. And so like what I was speaking about with, you know, platforms in your original question about iTunes, people go on iTunes, and my response about viewing patterns. People get into a habit, right? And you know, what you want your film everywhere where people might want to watch it. And whether that's a VOD platform, or or physical, DVD or Blu ray or something, you know, right, or Blu ray. And, you know, so you definitely, you want to get your film out to as many possible places where there's a good chance that people are going to view now that, that being said, there's probably 250 VOD retail stores, and we only do the top 10. Because that's where all the traffic is, of course, you know, so I mean, we don't recommend you're doing all of those, I mean, doesn't make any sense. You know, so

Alex Ferrari 37:35
You can't market you can't market to all of those, right?

Linda Nelson 37:37
You can't market to all of them. And and the percentage that you would get off of the really small ones is it's not worth putting the effort in. Because the delivery process is arduous. I don't have to tell you.

Alex Ferrari 37:51
I'm gonna ask you a question about deliverables a little bit later.

Linda Nelson 37:54
I'll do the things that I want to make sure. deliverables, QC are starting your social media early.

Alex Ferrari 38:01
Okay. We'll talk about that a second. Because I have it that was a very, I wanted to I wanted to get a distributors point of view, because I've been preaching about deliverables forever. But now I have a filmmaker. I have a personal for my good friend of mine, who won Sundance a few years ago with her film, and she's now going to be releasing a new film coming up. And what her plan is, is to do VH x and video on demand and sell directly to her audience. Now, obviously, she has cachet from Sundance, a very bad idea. Tell me Tell me why she did her first point was going to do that. And then try to do you know, traditional VOD and things like that in at the same time, but at least the sell directly. Right. So Tommy,

Linda Nelson 38:47
It's it? And I'll tell you why. It's a bad idea. One, like I said, if she does, like Amazon on her own.

Alex Ferrari 38:59
No, it wouldn't be fair. No, the only thing the only platform she would do my checks VHS and video of Vimeo Vimeo on Vimeo. Yeah, that's it all the other platforms, she would still leave open. And she wouldn't do anything else by herself. But VHS specifically because of the ability to package hats and T shirts and exclusive content and things like that to make that $10 sale turn into $100 sale because her community has. She has a large social media team

Linda Nelson 39:23
If you want if you want to know if a platform is a good place to put your film. You should use a site called compete comm and put in the name of the site. And you will see how many monthly unique eyeballs go to that site. Or you can make a choice of going to a site that has 100,000 a month or a billion which would Where do you want your film? Right? It's not a hard question. It And I'll have you on, let me see if I can send you a link. Right? Alright, hold on just a second. There. We're very excited about Vimeo we have a new Vimeo channel, okay. And part of why we're, we're excited about it for a number of reasons. One is that it is global. Okay. And, and I think that's really important, you want to be able to have your film available globally, right. It's not important for all films, but a lot of films, you know, can do really well in in a global or international setting. And there's a right time to do that. What you don't want to do is do that early, because then you might really damage your ability to work in foreign sales. For example, we're going to AFM, of course have our office for the first time, okay, usually we just go there and try to sell but this year, we decided

Alex Ferrari 41:11
Oh, you got an office fantastic. got enough. I'm hoping I'm hoping to be there. Hopefully, we can catch a coffee.

Linda Nelson 41:17
And having an office is important, because you get the buyers list and you make while you're set up all your appointments ahead of time, of course, you can't get at the buyers list without having an office. So that that's was a huge step for us, you know, to finally make that jump. But when you have international buyers, and they come to you and they're interested in their film and your film, and they find out that you're you're already selling it on Vimeo, in Germany, they're not gonna they're not gonna go for, they want all rights. Most foreign deals are all rights deals. Okay, so you have to be really careful with that. So if you exploit that too early, you could really damage your ability for international sales. For that, that's that's one reason for

Alex Ferrari 42:04
Like Vimeo on demand. Yeah, Vimeo.

Linda Nelson 42:07
Okay, so so. So, if you did do it, you should limit it. But it's up, but yeah, but um, the second problem is that those sites, you must drive all the business correct. All right. And the pool of people that you're driving to is tiny, miniscule in comparison with the traffic that's on iTunes, and Google and Amazon and Amazon, just miniscule. And, but but it is important so that you do have that foreign option. And what's nice about it, and I like very much about Vimeo is that you can geo block easily with a chicken, just one checkbox, you can turn off a country goddess, so so it's possible that you can salvage that situation for foreign sales, you could say, Okay, well, we'll stop selling. And if it's early enough in the game, then then that still works. I think that they're great adjunct sites to do. But I think if you're going to put all your effort into driving sales to those sites, you're going to get burnout. so that by the time you do the big sites, you know, are you going to have any energy left? I mean, yeah, it's all about Yeah, yeah, you know, and then then you're going to get nowhere. Because because you really, if you put the effort into like Amazon, and the end the big sites, you're going to, you're going to have a really good chance at sales, but you're not going to not if it's a year down the line. Right. So and, and, and you won't get the physical DVD with that. Got it. All right. So I just really think it's a matter of opportunity, your opportunity for revenue is tiny on those sites, absolutely tiny, and it's gonna take a lot of effort to drive, drive sales to them.

Alex Ferrari 44:04
It's a case by case basis at that point. And also, if you want it again, how much energy are you willing to put in? Right? And it's a lot easier to drive people to Amazon, everyone knows it's easier. It's quicker VH x, you know, to drive people to that site to try to buy your product. It's gonna it's a tougher sell, but could be lucrative. It all depends on it.

Linda Nelson 44:25
Can I just Vimeo channel Yep, I got it. And now we're, we've worked very hard with Vimeo to create a channel. And there are very few companies that have this. I think there's only like three or four that have a channel like this. And I think slam dance has won South by Southwest and Sundance.

Alex Ferrari 44:52
So your company and Scylla scope. That's right, you're in good company.

Linda Nelson 44:56
So I think because we're going to mark we're We're gonna market this channel. If you're on this channel, you're going to have a better chance.

Alex Ferrari 45:05
Of course, yeah. Because your

Linda Nelson 45:07
Film scene, right, and it's beautiful.

Alex Ferrari 45:12
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. No, I'm looking at it is gorgeous. I'll put it in the show notes. So everybody could go and check it out.

Linda Nelson 45:27
Okay, yeah. And so so um, you know, we're, we're really excited about this. And Vimeo, I think, finally realize that just working with individual filmmakers was not going to bring enough because they have to depend on on individual filmmakers to market their films. And that's just craziness. Right? So they've decided to start working with select distributors. Perfect. That makes it perfect. Oh, so Indy writes, you know, is very thrilled.

Alex Ferrari 45:59
It looks it looks gorgeous. It looks gorgeous. And again, it's at the end of the day is getting eyeballs on films.

Linda Nelson 46:04
It is and and and you know, it's a, you know, they've done a really beautiful job of it. And, and so we're we haven't officially launched it yet, but we're going to be launching it as part of our promotion for ASM. Okay, because it's a great place for all of the buyers to watch all the trailers.

Alex Ferrari 46:28
Perfect. Yeah, you're right. It's global. Yep, you're right there and just go to it. Alright, so things have changed so much.

Linda Nelson 46:37
You know, so this is, you know, that's our plan.

Alex Ferrari 46:40
I remember when I was I was mailing out demo reels on three quarter inch. Because nobody wanted to watch it on VHS.

Linda Nelson 46:47
It's so expensive.

Alex Ferrari 46:49
Oh, God, the costs are expensive. And now the cost is almost nothing. It's just time. It's about time and internet connection time. So, a couple more questions. What is the most effective marketing plan an indie filmmaker should use if they have a small budget like Facebook or Google ads? Or what would you suggest?

Linda Nelson 47:11
Well, if you have zero budget, social media, right? And, and it's, it is a synergistic combination of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and possibly Instagram. But if you effectively use those for in concert, you can do it for free, you can get it set up so that you don't doesn't take a lot of time, all of them can be scheduled. You know, so, you know, it wants it takes a little while to get everything all set up and working well. But once you do, then you could do it one, or you can do it like one afternoon a week. You know, and if you spent years you know, I you know, pouring your heart and soul into a movie, that's the least you can do is one afternoon a week, right? should be doing it every day, one evening a week, or half a Saturday or half a Sunday, you know you need to it's like you know, like you're you know, I always compare it to you know, having a child because our movies are like our children in some ways. They you know, you go through this pregnancy, and then you go through the birth, which is your release, and then a lot of filmmakers just like ignore their child they neglect their child you have to nurture your your movie just like it was a child and you have to you know, you have to take really good care of it and raise it and and then it it'll be something for you to be proud of that the world can see. The other thing

Alex Ferrari 48:49
A lot of filmmakers think it the process is over when you win, when you lock the cut, and it's up, but not anymore. You that's just like probably 50% of it. And then then you continue to market and push for another six months to a year.

Linda Nelson 49:04
Yeah, even even you know, I think even more do I mean and the time that you spend on it will decrease but but the better job you do early on more attraction it gets send you the less you have to do down the line. Right, exactly. But but we have films that are 20 years old that are making money.

Alex Ferrari 49:23
If it's good content, it's good content, right, the bottom line. Now can you touch upon split rights for a film, I know that that's a term that's been used specifically now in the VOD, and digital rights arena where a filmmaker might have the rights to sell their their movie on their own website per se, like this avh X. But then they give all the rights to everything else outside of that. Can you touch a little bit? No,

Linda Nelson 49:46
We don't. We don't have a problem with that our. Our contract is actually we still consider it a non exclusive contract. However, we do require that you give us the top 10 platforms. Got it. Dan, if you want to do 20 other smaller sites, you know, that's fine.

Alex Ferrari 50:03
Or if you want to push VH x or or do whatever you want,

Linda Nelson 50:06
Here's the thing you can you can you on your website, you could do VH x or, or Vimeo, but then again, you still got to drive the business, of course. Right. So maybe you're better off to embed

Alex Ferrari 50:23
Google Play, right, or Amazon

Linda Nelson 50:26
Or Amazon and use their embeddable. So you might be better off to do that. Right? Yeah, I make more money doing that. We have people selling our movies as affiliates.

Alex Ferrari 50:40
Yeah. That's a whole other conversation. Yeah, right. Yeah.

Linda Nelson 50:44
And they're making money for us. Right?

Alex Ferrari 50:46
Exactly. Yeah, they'll they'll put it on their site, and they get a percentage. And, yeah, it's just got it. The more I talk to you, the smarter realize how much things.

Linda Nelson 50:57
And the thing is, that doesn't cost. Nothing it does, it doesn't come out of our pocket that comes out of Amazon's pack, they pay that. So which is fantastic. So so you know, so it's, we don't mind if people do that. Also, if someone comes up with a broadcast deal on their own, we don't take a percentage of that we don't. We were filmmakers first. Got it. We started making movies. And when we when we found out how bad most of the distribution deals law, charted indie rights, because we didn't want to give our films away.

Alex Ferrari 51:33
And hope and hope to get money one day, maybe.

Linda Nelson 51:36
And so so we started indie rights in 2006. And we started it with a bunch of filmmakers that were on the festival circuit with us.

Alex Ferrari 51:46
Like, hey, let's just put something else

Linda Nelson 51:48
Yeah, let's all band together, you know, and and it just grew from there, you know. And so it's, you know, I mean, we're filmmakers first, we're very conscious of, you know, what filmmakers want to do. And so we try to be as fair as we can sit not require any digital platforms. But we found that people were going and doing Amazon on their own. And then they would that messes up us being able to do it, and then it's not even an HD are able to go on prime. So we we changed our contract slightly just to say that we do need these 10 platforms. Got it. So so you know, Vimeo is not on there, by the way. And part of the thing with that is that Vimeo, will allow multiple people to have movies video on demand, although I would assume that that may change at some point.

Alex Ferrari 52:47
Yeah. So in other words, if you can have it on indie rights, that I could sell it on the side. It's kind of weird, though. I mean, it would be a bit more censorship right now. Well, one thing

Linda Nelson 52:56
Yeah, I think it I think it probably makes more sense to be on a channel if they start marketing these channels. Right? So I mean, if you go to vimeo.com, slash on demand, and click on discover, you'll you see, you know, the ones that are there, although that's not where the traffic comes from. You know, you still have to drive the traffic for this indie right, this site that you saw there, and then we have to drive that traffic.

Alex Ferrari 53:21
Well, one thing I was talking about that other filmmaker, the one that won Sundance, she actually tells me that she has the digital rights for it. So she had it on Vimeo and she's like, I make a check every month off of it, people find VHS, no, you have to actually push there. But on Vimeo, there's so many filmmakers they're looking for and film fans looking for material that she at least with her case, she found that it's easier. People just discover her on Vimeo a lot easier than other platforms.

Linda Nelson 53:49
But it all depends how much she's making.

Alex Ferrari 53:51

Linda Nelson 53:53
Making 20 dollars a month.

Alex Ferrari 53:55
Hey, hey, it's not so much not so much. Exactly. So, um, two more questions. One you wanted to talk about that new VOD platform at the beginning of the show you were talking about that you just started like started a week ago. What was the name of that one? You don't remember if something you just saying at the beginning of the show. You're like, Oh, we got I want to talk about this. This the the new VOD platform that opened up a week ago.

Linda Nelson 54:19
I last week, I said that

Alex Ferrari 54:22
You don't remember. Okay. Um, or something that opened up a week ago. I forgot what it was a marketing something or other that was opening the marketing or distributor. Don't worry about it. I'll edit this out. Can you please go?

Linda Nelson 54:37
I mean, maybe I was talking about Vimeo because,

Alex Ferrari 54:40
No, it wasn't. It was a new It was a new something. But anyway, don't worry about it.

Linda Nelson 54:44
M go is pretty new,

Alex Ferrari 54:47
You know what, I'll go back and listen to it and I'll email you just just for our own clarification, but I'll cut it out the word. So Linda, can you please this talk about the wonderful Have deliverables and specifically as well QC and what that means,

Linda Nelson 55:05
Okay Well, it's kind of a broad topic, but absolutely critical to the success of your movie, and something that you need to be thinking about before you shoot one frame at a time, and we have, we have about close to 350 films in our library now. And I have to tell you, half of them fail preliminary to see that's pretty good, excellent. And it is it's gotten, it's gotten better and better. But, um, we do a preliminary QC here. And then of those ones that pass the preliminary QC that we do once we send them to iTunes who has a very arduous you know, QC program, probably another 50% of those will again not pass that QC it needs some kind of adjustment. So So I think the most important thing to know is that you should have some idea what deliverables are expected from you before you start shooting your film so that as you shoot it as you edit it, you can edit it in such a way that you will be able to deliver what's required and and so, you know, I mean, we were actually thinking about publishing on our site, our deliverables lists so that people can get a better idea that would be what it says because I'll tell you half of the films that we get if they have been edited on Final Cut Pro come to us as dual mono instead of true stereo because the default is not to have stereo pair and we specifically in red type on our deliverable list mentioned this and show you a picture of what the waveforms look like yet still half the films we get our dual mono and no platform will take that so when you when it's and that's that luckily that's something that you as long as you still have your film and can it's on an editing timeline you can render it out in the proper way. But it's very time consuming. You can lose two or three months because about your release date just because of that.

Alex Ferrari 57:47
No I know I've like I said I've delivered I've delivered a ton of movies and I mean before used to be like 15 or $20,000 between just you know HD cam HD SSRS DCP now and then I was doing betas and Digi betas up until last year Believe it or not

Linda Nelson 58:04
Yeah yeah no I know it's like amazing

Alex Ferrari 58:08
It's insanity but nowadays with digital deliverables I mean you just need a good pro rez for to to HQ

Linda Nelson 58:16
Yeah, that's what we use for 4k or not for 2k Okay, oh yeah you know just for just for regular standard HD on like Amazon and all that that's that's plenty if you want to be 4k then you know, I mean there's a new UI HD format spec that we have for 4k films. And but other things that people maybe aren't so familiar with is that it is if you are doing us distribution you must have closed captions and yeah, that's awesome. Captions used to be very expensive you could easily pay 1500 bucks to have a post production house do it oh then the price kind of went down to 800 when it got more more competitive and then 400 and we have for the past year and a half been using a company called rev comm who does it for a buck a minute and they do a fabulous job.

Alex Ferrari 59:10
Wow, that's not many I've heard

Linda Nelson 59:12
Of that. There are $100 and they do a great job and if there's a problem with it, they'll fix it.

Alex Ferrari 59:17
That's That's great. That's actually I'm gonna actually use those guys

Linda Nelson 59:22
So so that's a you know, that's a requirement we have to have it. Most people think that captions are the same as subtitles they are not okay, subtitles do not contain ambient or atmospheric sounds like for example, because captions if a door slams and that's significant to the story you must say in their door slams because captions are for the Deaf. So a phone ringing a door slamming a siren. Those are things that must be in there that would not be in there just for subtitles.

Alex Ferrari 59:57
What was the name of the airline? What was the name of the company again?

Linda Nelson 1:00:00
rev.com rev.com

Alex Ferrari 1:00:03
And they do multiple languages as well.

Linda Nelson 1:00:05
Well they are just getting into the subtitle biz or the the foreign subtitle business and that's more expensive

Alex Ferrari 1:00:12
Of course of course okay

Linda Nelson 1:00:15
So they're great for that so that's that's the number two issue we have if you plan on selling your film foreign you must make separate tracks for dialogue and of course Yeah, and I can tell you this is especially true for small low budget films you get your noise in and dialogue in the same same track Oh, I know you're done yeah. You must isolate your dialogue

Alex Ferrari 1:00:47
And then let's not even talk about five one and a lot of times that whole process as a whole

Linda Nelson 1:00:52
That's difficult because and then probably the rest of the you know what we do now because people have such a hard time with 5.1 is we asked for to progress one with stereo embedded and one with 5.1 embedded if you have 5.1 right because it's really hard to get the 5.1 very few people I can tell you out of 300 Films probably maybe 10 or 10 to 20 have actually mapped the 5.1 correctly so on the first on the first cracks no no I know it's very difficult

Alex Ferrari 1:01:29
It is it unless you hire someone that knows if you

Linda Nelson 1:01:33
Want 5.1 We definitely advise you using a post house

Alex Ferrari 1:01:36
Yeah, or some or post supervisor.

Linda Nelson 1:01:39
Exactly. So so it's you know so that's that's that's really really important. Then there are some other things you cannot people that are used to selling to broadcast filmmakers. They're used to putting color tone color bars and tones on their films. It's strictly prohibited for digital platforms the pro res file that we get cannot have any color cop color bars or tones on the front

Alex Ferrari 1:02:08
But you do slates right of course.

Linda Nelson 1:02:11
You mean production bumper

Alex Ferrari 1:02:13
No just a slate like you know what? No slates either

Linda Nelson 1:02:16
Oh nothing interesting the movie should just start at the end and it can start with your production company

Alex Ferrari 1:02:22
Of course yeah of course of course yeah

Linda Nelson 1:02:23
No nothing on the front okay. Has nothing It should have just a few frames of black on either end

Alex Ferrari 1:02:30
And then information on where all the tracks lead and things like that if there's multiple tracks like I guess not on the video but on the side

Linda Nelson 1:02:37
No, no, no, no, it's you have to map it to our spec.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:41
Oh then that There you go.

Linda Nelson 1:02:42
So then you'll know we're there. Ah, there we have you do eight tracks left toward the left and right stereo.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:48
Got it? Got it. So let me ask you What do filmmakers need to do to submit their films to you?

Linda Nelson 1:02:54
Oh, we have a forum on Facebook.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:56
Okay, simple as that

Linda Nelson 1:02:58
It's very very simple you go to indie writes movies there's a tab that says distribution and then it says submit your film here and you click on here and you'll get a form and you know it's it's that easy and

Alex Ferrari 1:03:13
And where can and where can everyone find you find information about indie rights things like that.

Linda Nelson 1:03:18
You can go to indie writes calm Nelson Masson films calm or you could on you can go to Facebook. But if you just go on Google and you put in indie writer Nelson Madison films we take up the the first five pages if somebody can't find us they got a problem.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:38
I always find that fascinating. I always find that like I couldn't find your mic. Do you not have Google

Linda Nelson 1:03:45
Just put in Nelson Madison films and and if you put in that then it'll take you wherever you need to go.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:52
And so this is the last question is I asked all my guests that come on the show it's a very difficult question. So prepare yourself. What are your top three favorite films of all time?

Linda Nelson 1:04:02
Oh my god. It does.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:04
It can be anything that tickles your fancy at this moment in time because I know that's a really tough question love.

Linda Nelson 1:04:09
We love crime thrillers. Okay. So any of Michael Mann's great we love it. Yeah, you like like True Romance. That type of film. We love. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:26
Oh yeah. Sergio Leone. Absolutely.

Linda Nelson 1:04:29
And of course, we like big films like Apocalypse Now. Blade Runner is one of our favorites. And you know, so we love really, we like big movies. Of course, Blade Runner. And the thing is you can make a big movie and I think it's a big mistake that a lot of first time filmmakers make they think they have to have three people on a couch in an apartment. You know, it's not true. Not $50,000 film we made had had a cast of about 30 and 22 locations and you know, what did you shoot? What did you shoot that by though, oh my gosh all over downtown LA and shot it all LA, all around la out by Palmdale we shot quite a bit of it. And we actually were able to rent this little six room motel for a couple of days to do all of the stuff out there and, you know, everybody slept there and we had all of our equipment there and everything and we shot on red and 4k. And, and using social media was critical to doing that. And we didn't talk much about that. But it's something you better have a Facebook page come day, one of the idea of exactly Okay, not not in production even before then when we like for our next film, the day, we made the first page of the script, and that was our profile picture to start to put it up on Facebook. Because we use social media to help produce efficiently we, we put up descriptions of all the locations we needed. And we told people if you can get us a location for free, put a picture of it up here we gave the descriptions of it. We didn't pay for any of our we had we had sites that charge the studio's $15,000 a day for free. Nice, hey, and then we said you'll get a you get a location scout credit on the back of the film. And that and we did that. That's great. You know, so I mean, just things like that. We did a lot of auditions. We had put upsides for parts. And we had people prepare their own video audition and upload it. Looking at that stuff.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:44
Oh, yeah, of course, the inner workings.

Linda Nelson 1:06:46
No, so you save the cost of you know, like, you know, having casting office.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:52
So you so you cast it, so you cast it everything online,

Linda Nelson 1:06:54
Not everything, but a good portion of it.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:58
Oh, my God, that's accessible. Yeah, it's like thinking outside the box is what you have to do. And that's what a lot of,

Linda Nelson 1:07:04
Believe me, those people are Uber fans. All of the people that you engage during production feel like they are a part of your movie, and they will share your movie with all their friends. Mm hmm. And hopefully, that's something you cannot get after the movies done.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:20
Right! It's harder to build up that momentum. Yeah, that's much harder to build up on that. That's why I didn't we didn't touch this either the crowdfunding thing, but a lot of people go to crowdfunding, and they're like, I just put it up on Kickstarter, but I only made 20 bucks. I'm like, because you have no following you have,

Linda Nelson 1:07:34
I would say you need at least 10 15,000 people ready to go at launch day. If you want a really successful, you know, not if you're only raising like $5,000 No, but I mean, if you want to, you know, raise $100,000 you need you need a bunch of pee, you need a good size audience ahead of time. You can you can get that on by having the page on Facebook and getting as much put together and elements attached as you can early on.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:04
And that's what I think is separating filmmakers. Now as much as much as talent is separating it now because it's so much in quality. It's now who's willing to do the work, who's willing to go out there and hustle that that that get the fan pages up, do all that kind of work. And that's separating people from other filmmakers who just oh, I just wanted to make a movie.

Linda Nelson 1:08:24
And it really factors into our decision on what films we're going to take for distribution I have to tell you why it's so important because what happens is we have a form that you fill in when and then you have to send us a blu ray or DVD screener because we want to watch it the way people are going to walk most people are going to watch it, though we watch it on a nice big flat panel TV. And but in in the information that we asked you for we have a you know quite a extensive form that you have to fill things that that are important. And this is also true when you're trying to get in film festivals. One who's in your film, and just because there's nobody in there, that's all right. To what festivals Have you been in. And it doesn't have to be Sundance or slam dance but we have to see see that you've made an effort to even get it in regional. Sure. So if you if you will come to us and you have no Facebook page, and you're done and no and no festivals, you know, we can see that you're not ready to make the effort that's required. Right? Right. And I don't care how good the film is. It will just disappear into a black hole. Absolutely. Absolutely. So so we those things are important. How many fans do you have on Facebook? It's It's It's important.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:41
It's extremely important. It's extremely important. Linda, I won't take up any more your time. Thank you so so much for being on the show. You laid out so many gold information bombs. On on this on this podcast. I think my audience got a lot out of it. Thank you so, so much

Linda Nelson 1:10:00
You're very welcome. And the more the more they know, you know, the easier Our job is, and the more successful our films gonna be. So we're very happy to share as much information as we can. Thanks again, Linda, thanks for the opportunity.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:14
Hope you guys like that episode man. It was a very eye opening episode. For me, Linda really threw out a lot of gold nuggets and a lot of information about VOD, that I didn't have any idea about before. So I really want to thank her a lot for what for the information she gave us so if you have any questions for her, please head over to indie film rights, or Nelson Madison films.com and get information about her and what her company does. Also, don't forget to head over to film festival tips. com that's Film Festival tips.com where I show you my six secrets to get into film festivals for either cheap or free and helped me get into over 500 Film Festivals myself So guys, thanks again for all the love and all the downloads and all the great comments we've been getting about the show. I really feel like I'm connecting with you guys and giving you guys a lot of great content so please email me or message me on Facebook or tweet me or any other way you can communicate with me. any topics you want me to cover any buddy you want me to try to get on the show any information that you want me to get to you. I'm open to any ideas I really am here to help you guys and give you as much content as humanly possible. Alright, and again if you do love the show, please do me a favor, head over to iTunes and give us an honest review about what you think of the show. It really helps us out a lot and rankings in iTunes. So thanks again guys. And don't forget, keep your dream alive. Keep on hustling. Talk to you soon.




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IFH 012: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Business

So many independent film creators just want to think of themselves as artists. That’s perfectly fine but it’s called show business for a reason. If you don’t understand the business you won’t be able to create the show. Filmmakers need to think more like a filmpreneur if you will. Put the business back into show business.

If Coca-Cola comes out with a new flavor do they do market research? Do they create a marketing plan to introduce the new product? You bet your butt they do.

Now when indie filmmakers or filmpreneurs create a new independent film or “product” most of the time they just throw there finished baby into the marketplace and hope for the best.

This is NUTZ! All that time, hard work, money, pain, blood, sweat, and tears that go into creating an independent film is for nothing. Do they just hope for the best? It’s insanity.

In this episode, I share with you what it takes to change your mindset and start thinking of your independent film not just as a precious piece of art but to also think of it as a product that needs to do well in the marketplace in order for you, as the filmmaker, to continue putting on that show!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So this week's I want to talk about something that's kind of been dear to my heart for a long time. It's one of the core pillars of what indie film hustle is about. indie film hustle is about giving you guys the tools to survive and thrive in the film business. One of the big misconceptions about making a movie is that it's only art. And there's a reason why it's called show business. It's it's a business to and there's a reason why there's double the letters in the word business than there is show because it's twice as important as the show. Because without the business, there is no show without the show, there is no business. But the business side of it is what allows us to continue the show to go on and continue to make more shows, and so on and so forth. So I want you guys to change your mindset a little bit and start thinking about film, and your projects as product. And that's a very, very key point to make. Because you have to think about your film as product, how you can monetize it, how you can sell it, how you can continue to make a living, doing what you love. First step is create an understand that your film is your product, when Coca Cola is going to release a new flavor, they don't just throw it out in the marketplace and wish for the best. That's what most filmmakers do, they raise the money, they put the money out of their pocket, they put it on credit cards, they have no idea where the movies gonna go, how it's going to be sold, what's going to be sold, how where if it's going to be sold overseas, if it's going to be sold online, if it's going to be sold to a distributor, if it's going to get into a film festival, if it's not, if it who's going to be I don't even know who their audience is, most of the time, they just make the movie because it's like I gotta make my movie. And that's great. And you need that energy to be able to make your movie, but you need to know how to sell that movie, you need to know how to be able to make a living doing this. So by thinking of your film as a product, like Coca Cola would do with a new product line, they do market research. So when you have an idea for a movie, or you have a script that you're thinking about making into a movie, do product research, call, talk to talk to your friends, talk to people on Facebook, on Twitter, on message boards, just go to where the topic of your movie is about and figure out if this is a movie that's going to be even sold. If people are even interested in watching this or even buying this. So you have to do some market research on your product before you release it. This is product release 101. Once you find out if the product is a viable product, then you have to go and find where your audience is. So then go and find what the audience is. So like if you're making a movie about a romantic comedy about vegan chef, and he happens to be a main character the whole thing's not about being a vegan chef, but he's the main character in it. Let's say he or she is a main character in it. And now your audience is not only for ROM coms, but if you're smart, you can go after the vegan movement, the vegetarian movement, the the organic movement, the gourmet food movement, the chef, the chef, crowd, the foodie crowd, there's so many other avenues of places and customers that you can look for for your film. Now I'm talking about this in the assumption that you're going to try to sell your own film, if you're going to try to sell to a distributor or things like that, this is also very important, but I'm coming, I'm coming at it from you. Because if you honestly if you if you're going to go sell to a distributor, and you don't know if this is going to be a viable product, more likely it's not. So I've had a lot of films that I've worked on, that never didn't have a star in it, and they just kind of put it out there. And the distributors like Well, there's this is not a viable product that can't sell it, it's not an genre, it's not this, it's not that it's a drama, with no stars in it has very few awards, it really doesn't matter even if you want Sundance, that you're not gonna be able to sell this. So I'm coming at it from a point of view of you're going to sell your own product. So you go to where the audience is, and you start marketing to the audience about what your product is. So if you're making a movie, I would get an I would start marketing the movie, in the pre production stages, start getting people excited about it, start putting out a poster, putting out obviously the website's most important part. And on the side note, guys, I'm going to, I'm going to come out with a lot more information about this, I'm kind of just going over it right now. But I'm going to be coming out with a lot more information about how to market your film, how to create a brand about your film and things like that. And I'm actually thinking about creating a course, specifically about an online course where people can, I can, you know, show people how to create a brand, how to sell it, how to product, launch your film, how to gain social, social media, following how to build that audience, how to sell to that audience, how to package your film, how to package your brand, and so on. So if you guys are interested in that, please give me a shout out, I'm going to do some market research right now I'm doing this on the fly, hit me up on my email or my Twitter or my facebook or my Instagram or wherever, and hit me back and say, Hey, I would love to, to buy that product. And I would really be interested in that product. I'm thinking about putting it together, it's something that some people talk to me about and say, you really should put something like this together, I'm still thinking about it. So because it's such a it's gonna be a tremendous amount of work, anything I do, I'm gonna do 110% video, audio worksheets, workbook ebooks, the whole ball of wax. So um, let me know if you guys are interested in that. So on this, I was just on a side note, sorry, sorry to go on a tangent there. But so create your find out what your audience is go market to that audience, then start building up hype about the production while you produce a while you're shooting it while you're in post, and then start talking about the product launch, which will be if you're self distributing it, I would stay away from doing a DVD or Blu ray alone. But if you're going to self distribute it through VHS or gumroad, or Vimeo pro or any of these places, start hyping it start hyping up the release date and all that stuff, and then start looking about how to package that movie because the movie itself, in many ways is just advertising for a larger product line. Let's all take a note from George Lucas. Star Wars made money. But where he really made money was his his other ancillary products, whether that be the lunch boxes, and so on. I'm not saying that you guys got to make lunch boxes for your independent film. But if you create enough hype around it, depending on what the kind of what kind of movie it is, what kind of genre it is, who's the stars in it, if there are any stars in it. You can create t shirts, hats, and package them all together to make your let's say a normal $10 sale turned into $100 sale because someone was really excited about who's in your movie, what your movies about. If they've been invested through this entire process. They will they will pony up 100 bucks. A lot of movies have been doing this product, this kind of marketing plan and it's worked great because instead of having 10 people buy 10 movies, you need one person to buy one package, t shirts, hats behind the scenes, how tos, soundtracks, autograph posters, all sorts of different things to give your audience what they want because they want to do they want to buy this. So that is one way of going about treating your movie like a product. I'll give you more tips coming up in further shows but I really just wanted to kind of go over and start the conversation about treating your film like a product and a lot of people don't talk about it like this. It's also an artistic You know, this is an artistic medium. But you know what the people who survive in this business and I keep saying business because it is a business. People who survive being a filmmaker in this business all understand the business side of it. Every single big movie director that you ever admired. Under stood the business even the most art house directors under stood the business Woody Allen has been making his movies for the last 30 years now 40 years, he keeps them under a certain budget, he attracts very, very amazing cast. And he does his movies the way he wants to do them. But he understands that the business is that I mean, he couldn't make a movie for $100 million, or Woody Allen movie cannot be budgeted $100 million, it'd be very difficult to make that money back. But at a $5 million movie, he could. And he did that over time. He built that up over time, he has a huge following of people who would just show up to a woody allen movie, because Woody Allen made it. And, and so a lot of other filmmakers as well, especially in the indie world, like Mark duplass, from the mumble core crew, and a lot of other filmmakers who keep their budgets low. And they just keep selling to their audience because the audience loves them. This happens, this is the same, this is the same thing that goes with indie rock bands, indie music, people that they just have a following. And that following pays them. And they love them. It's a wonderful exchange, I'll make art for you, you pay for my art, so I can continue to make art for you, and so on and so forth. This is the way it should be. So I hope this episode was helpful to you guys. I'm going to be doing more of these kind of episodes, kind of talking about certain topics that I feel passionate about, and hopefully give you guys great content by doing that. So please hit me up in the comments of the show notes. And let me know what you think. Also, let me know what you think about that idea about creating a product line based about how to market not only you film yourself as a filmmaker, maybe your company as a brand, all sorts of different avenues that I'm going to be going down in that course. But I want to see if you guys are even interested in me talking about it or doing the course so please hit me up. Thank you so much for all your support. Please don't forget to head over to the iTunes Store and give me an honest review. It really helps out the show a lot. Getting getting higher ranking and more people can actually enjoy the indie film hustle tribe, as you will so thanks again so much guys. Keep hustling. Keep making your movies. Don't forget, make your key Don't forget that your movie is your product that you need to sell to keep doing more movies. I'll see you guys next time. Thanks.


IFH 011: How to Produce Your First Feature Film – Part 2

Here’s part two of my interview with Suzanne Lyons. This week on the show I’m excited to have uber independent film producer Suzanne Lyons. She has been living in the indie film space for over twenty years. Working on SAG Ultra Low Budgets to over $15,000,000 budgets she has seen it all.

Suzanne Lyons takes you by the hand and walks you through what it takes to produce your first feature film. She goes over the pitfalls, legal concerns, deliverables, selling to foreign countries and most importantly of all how she gets her financing for her feature films.

She laid out such amazing information that I had to break the episode up into two parts. I spoke at one of her famous indie film producing workshops and learned a ton while I was there. Suzanne Lyons also wrote an amazing book called Indie Film Producing: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking. I suggest you all pick it up. It’s better than film school!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So can you share with us a few pitfalls or any pitfalls that you might have come across producing indie films? I know that's a really broad term question but anything you can share?

Suzanne Lyons 0:58
Pitfalls that have come across producing so as a producer You mean like areas for me? Yeah, um I'd have to say let me just think back think for me some of the time because I so trust people so much of the time I'm somebody who's who has been really trained to kind of fall back in love with people on a daily basis you know, even when you know we kind of have a falling out or something I'm really great I'm really really really great at forgiveness I worked on it for years you know, I really processed it and still do obviously no distinction is ever complete. I mean, we're always processing through life as we hit New plateaus and and peaks and so on. So um, but for me there was there were times when I think I trusted people so much because at those first interviews, you know, let's say you're a production designer or a makeup artist, costume designer or line producer, whatever Am I so trusted that everybody was on the team and people were excited as excited about the project as I was and that I never I never kind of stood in leadership enough because I think my trust level was so high or maybe I just wasn't standing in leadership enough maybe a little bit of both don't know as I'm kind of looking back that at that meeting when you have your cast and when you have your crew together sorry I'm sorry now that I kind of didn't create some stronger parameters like for example one of the things that people had to do in Flash forward turn was sign a contract or you know make a promise that you would not complain to anybody other than the person who could do something about that complaint. And that would be for the whole 30 days of the program right? It was a month long program and you were not allowed to complain to anybody who in your life who was unless they were the person who could solve that like for example you had employees around you you know all your your colleagues at a firm or wherever and learn development somewhere and you had a problem with your boss you were now allowed to sit around and talk about that problem or you know, share those complaints or whatever you had to go directly to the person in charge that is something I wished I had put on every crew deal memo when I think back in time so much time is wasted on sets when I would hear people coming and saying you know so and so was saying that you know, they were not happy with this or so and so is not happy or whatever, I would hear these things from other people and I'm thinking that the time spent wasted was heartbreaking. If I had had people make a commitment on that first day at the table read when the whole crew is together and when I meet with a cast at their table read on that first day that first rehearsal day then you know and say listen you know here's the way we're going to run the set you know let's all get on board together as a team you know what is there anybody who's not feeling that way? Is there any reason you're not you know, I'm making this a safe place for you to tell me Are there issues that you're dealing with Have you worked with that person before and not been happy? Let's get that out now. You know, I found out that on the last movie there were two keys you know who who had hinted who had had a falling out prior to and that kind of led to some issues and that sort of thing. So I said let's let's you know bring everything up now let's clear the air let's get on the same team. And then I would probably say to them, you know, what is your commitment? You know, if you if if we come out with this great movie, and it does well, in your near your names or up on the credits. What can this do to your career? What can it make possible that's not now possible, literally create a space of great power. ability. So people are all in the team together, kind of like a football team or a basketball team or, you know, some sports team, like being in the Olympics together, you know? How can we make this such a win win for everybody? You know, what do we need to get out of the way? How do we need to clear the air to make that happen? And how do we need to get excited and create possibility and opportunity for people to make that happen. And, you know, the other thing is, you know, let's set some parameters like this thing about let's not complain, if we got a complaint, go to the person who can solve it, right? Now, let's go right to the top. Okay, MC, let's, you know, if you're with a costume designer, and you got issues, go to her, you know, let her know, so that she can let me know or whatever. And so, you know, just set set the parameters that you would in a business, if you're in a business business, you know, companies, big businesses, you know, bring in consultants to work with them on how can we have great relationships with each other? How can we be honest with you? How can we communicate, that's the other thing is I notice communication breakdowns happen a lot on set, which leads to problems. And I'm responsible for that everything that I'm telling you comes back to me, I'm the producer, I'm the one setting the stage, the director sets the stage to a degree for the tone, you know, in terms of his vision, or her vision, but as the producer, you said, You're the one sending it early on, and pre production all the way through into post and beyond. Because it's your job as the producer. And so everything I'm saying that, you know, those fallouts that have happened over those films over those years. That's all my fault. Not i'm not i'm not beating myself up here, Alex, I'm just kind of creating a wake up call for other people to know what the pitfalls were that I fell into, you know, that I didn't, you know, maybe when I trusted that person early on, that they were going to get the job done. And I didn't ask them for a timeline. I'm thinking somebody specific on the last movie, when I didn't ask her for a timeline. That was my fault. Because I know with certain people in certain positions, we need their timeline. And people just because I have been studying business for 30 years. And teaching business for all this time, doesn't mean that everybody has those distinctions. She didn't even know what a timeline was, right. And I said, Well, given that your, you know, your job is to do such and such, I need to know over those months, what you're going to be doing, when those milestones are going to be happening when you're going to be setting this up and that up. And people don't have the distinctions of business. And yet making a movie as a business. And just because I'm a business person, like I said, doesn't mean that my cast and crew have that as well. So I'm not saying that you have to hire a management consultant, I'm just saying you as the producer need to know those skills. In my god, you better be trained in those business skills, so then you can start implementing those early on, and be standing in that leadership mode, knowing that you are the person setting the stage, you know, for the next number of months on this film. So I think that's that's the, that's probably the main thing is to set that tone by standing and leadership, and standing in that business arena, putting on that business hat. And knowing what what really needs to happen. It's not that you like that person, you hire them, you they went through the interview process, great, you really like that key, your line producer likes that key, you know, he or she is great, but okay, what needs to happen over those next two months, to ensure that they stay that way, because their fears are going to come up, you know, their their concerns and in tears are going to show their ugly heads when push comes to shove, you know, sort of thing. So what can we do to make sure that we were able to handle that, and that people don't move into reaction and anger and upset, but that we can resolve things before they get to that state. So it's a lot to take on as a producer. But once again, if you were that business hat, and you stand in leadership, you need those business skills on set. Prior to

Alex Ferrari 1:25
That is absolute gold, honestly, that that last whole answer is, is something that they don't teach you in film school, and you learn if you're lucky, after 20 years of making movies, you might not ever you ever may never figure that out until it's until it's towards the end of your career. So that is a huge, huge gold nugget that you gave the audience so thank you for that. So what is the importance of a business plan and when going after when going after financing specifically? And are some tips to actually make it look great and make it

Suzanne Lyons 2:27
Oh my god, that's so good. Holy Lord, I just got because I'm also doing the exact producing right now. Right? So I'm working with some investors. So two different production companies sent me their business plan a couple weeks ago, and I'm I mean, when in the future, I'm going to ask both if I can use both as what not to do, oh my god, the ultimate and what not to do. I mean so so the ultimate and what not to do that it's a poster child for what not to do. Right and the other one is the most brilliant phenomenal, phenomenal business. Just playing I ever saw to the point where they are starting production in two weeks, just so you know, oh, wow, amazing cast, I'm not going to, you know mention who they either are at this point, but sure, um, but anyways, phenomenal difference. Phenomenal difference. And one of them, you could you know, like I like I said to that company and that team is because they couldn't see anything wrong with it. And I'm thinking guys, have you looked at any others I actually said, because when I did our first we looked at 10 I mean, 20 I mean, all I could do was say please send me your business plan, guys. You know, your movies done now just send it to me. I just need more examples and about books on it. I went online, I had mentors for God's sakes to show me what to do. Did everything. I was a new arena. For me, it was a learning curve, but my god learn, you know, go through it. Right. So I said to them, you know, did you look at others? And what is this based on? Oh, no, no, we didn't look at any others. I mean, it's on my computer. Now. I wish I could show it. I mean, there's when I sent it to my in my investment group, my broker, he's like, I can't send this anywhere. Susanna, how can I send this off? There's no operating agreement. I mean, there's no shows what's in it for the investor. There's no real list of comparable films for people to see. There's a wish list of actors that go from Oh, my god cruise, Tom Cruise. Right? All the way down to I mean, you know, to my neighbor, right, right, right. I mean, such a range of three of which, I mean, I've everything not like zeroing in on, here's the three that we're looking to go to. No, I mean, just, I mean, just, it was just like, some of it's not even kind of legible. No one from nodding, going to place the phone number who to call? No, I mean, some of the BIOS were not clear, not all the BIOS were there. Anyways, they're not that not a great synopsis that went along with it either. Just not a lot of care given to it at all sloppy, whereas the other one was one of the most brilliant things you've ever seen. Now did it probably take more time? Yes, but it's a business, every movie you do is a business business, each business launch out there in the world, every launch takes time. So if you're serious about going out in raising money, or sending this off to people who are sending it to brokers for you, or setting up meetings, or going to a sales presentation yourself, or whatever, then sorry, but you've got to put the work into it. If you don't know how to do it, then read other people's get a mentor, you know, bring in an assistant who's done it before and give them a credit. I mean, if you don't have the money, give them whatever, like, but just do something to that you. And I've done very small versions. I'm a big believer in not big business plans. You shouldn't like my God, my book talks about keeping it as simple as possible. You know, my, my investor, does he want to, you know, read an 80 page business plan, you know, you know, on let's say, my dentist on his Friday off, or does he want to go golfing, he wants to go golfing. So I'm not going to give him 70 pages, I'm probably going to give him 10 or 12 pages. But there's a way to make those 10 or 12 pages phenomenal. And giving him all the information he needs.

Alex Ferrari 2:34
How big was the phenomenal one? How big how many pages was it

Suzanne Lyons 3:42
What you know what I was thinking soon as I said, I was gonna go in and check. It was probably about 15 pages Oh my God, but it was beautifully orchestrated tight, tight, very really tight, really lovely. They had done their homework, they they literally listed the areas of the potential demographics. And when I worked with empower a couple years ago, I was doing my world war one, we were trying to get that one off the ground at the time, when they were doing bigger budget films. And one of the things that's their big philosophy over there, and I got kind of trained a little bit by them when I was was there, you know, in meetings was that look, you know, be really, really good about what are those demographic? And psychographics Okay, so maybe it's a kids movie, you know? And it's a faith based movie, for example that you might be doing in my case let's let's just take mine actually wasn't faith based, but it was like family values. It was World War Two, a children's movie on Boy Scouts. It was about the the Boy Scouts who had served in World War One, you know that, wow, tons of hundreds of 1000s of boys got served in World War One as spies for the allies. So what happened is, so of course my brain went to it's okay you know, my demographic is kids. And maybe another demographic is you know, moms and dads, you know who buy it for the kids or take it and I remember sitting in the meeting with them power and they came up with probably 10 different demos. graphics and psychographics, they said veterans, you know, soldiers, you know, faith based communities because of the amazing family values, the whole teamwork thing, they created demographics that had to do with teamwork. I mean, it was, so they went on and on and on creating psychographic and demographics that my little brain hadn't even thought of. Right? So maybe it means sitting with a group of your friends, you know, and brainstorming, you know, a little bit on as to what, you know, what are some other demographics and psychographics that this could be, you know, what am I not thinking, I've only got my one brain. And even that is, you know, overwhelmed at the moment. So what are some other things, you know, brainstorming sessions are worth their weight in gold, get to get a bunch of friends, take them out to, to breakfast and or get them lunch on the phone on a on a, on a Skype call? And inside guys, my inner all I can come up with with three things, what are others? You know, I mean, that in itself, if I'm an investor reading that it's no accident that they've been able to raise so much money and bring on the, the producing team and the, and the cast that they have, because when you see that you'll go, Oh, my God, um, you know, it's a, of course, you know, I could feel that I would contribute my money, because look at the arena's it's going to be going to in their case, you know, or in my case, if you were an investor, and all I said is, oh, yeah, this world war one movie, you know, is a great movie for kids. And you think, well, that's great, but then if I started listing, you know, veterans and, you know, faith based communities, and that that interface started going on, you go, Oh, my god, there's all that other group that I could be selling, that could sell to, then you as an investor would feel far more confident. So they really did their homework on that. And, and other areas as well that I'm blanking on. I don't have it in front of me at the moment. But they've really kind of looked at what are the areas of importance in a business plan, and they really delved into how could they make it look as appealing as possible.

Alex Ferrari 4:05
Okay, that's that's a Yeah, that's a I know, that's a big kind of black art is business plans. As a general statement, I made a business plan once that and it was not 15 pages. That's good to hear now. Now, do you have any tips on how to raise money for your film, or an indie film,

Suzanne Lyons 4:05
It depends on how much money it is, if you're going out, like Kate and I were doing with this with those Sega ultra lows, you know, if you're raising 100,000 150 200 250, you know, even up to 300, I would say, you know, pretty easy to go in the very independent route. Because if you're keeping those amounts under 10,000, that is something that your friends, your families, your colleagues, your dentist, your chiropractor, I mean, you could literally sell units, and offer the kinds of benefits that I was offering in a great, great back end and great, you know, perks and all kinds of things like that, and make everybody have some fun with it, and that sort of thing. So I think that's something that's very doable, opening the LLC, you know, creating your operating agreement and your ppm, you know, doing a business plan, start going out to people setting a very serious timeline for yourself.

Alex Ferrari 4:05
Now there is paperwork. And a lot of filmmakers understand there is paperwork you have to fill out to be able to go out and ask for money correct? Other than Yes, unless other than crowdfunding, but

Suzanne Lyons 4:05
You have to and you could also do crowdfunding at the same time because that's not that's a donation that doesn't interfere with your private placement memorandum. But you know, go online and read operating agreements and plate private placement, memorandums. And you know, you don't have to hire an attorney, it's going to be 20 25,000 to have them do it for you. There's lots of templates out there, got in my course, you know, that I teach privately. Now, the binder includes all that stuff, probably 20 to $25,000 worth of stuff and in contracts, of course, but what I always recommend to people, even in my book, I always say I'm not an attorney, even if you're using a template from somebody else or online. You know, if you can't afford to have the attorney to do it from scratch, which most of us in the low low budget world can't then at least go to them and pay them an hourly rate to read it over for you. And you know, better to pay $300 then, you know, 5000 or 20,000 for something, but at least have them read it over because they may say oh you know what? This part's outdated it needs to be updated here they'll circle I did that on the last movie actually where he found four little things for me that were off. Oh, that was great. Yeah, and and i in for $200 i got i got i mean for I'm sorry for two hours for $400 I got this attorney. It was fantastic. So anyway, so that's a possibility is to really do it yourself. And I think that part's fun. And it's a bit challenging. You know, you go through that learning curve, you open your own LLC, which is $70 you go online just takes a few minutes. You pay the $70 so when sad done then you've got that ability to then you know start putting your ppm together your operating agreement and then of course your business plan and that whole thing took Kate and I about double two or three months our first time around to put all that together on our first film when we were doing that little low budget candy stripers and and then we were ready to then start going out and talking about it and that sort of thing. And then we held a few business, a few sales presentations and we also brought on a lot of people as kind of associate producers to help us and introduce us to other investment others investors and things like that. If it's more money if all of a sudden you're starting to ask for 25 or 50,000 I did try that on Omar the camel on my Christmas or the Christmas camel, my animated special feature I ran into a lot of problems because that one was asking for more money. And what happened is even though people would be excited like let's say if your dentist actually saying he's excited about it, when you start hitting people up for big amounts like that those people are at such a high scale of income and net worth that they don't make the decisions anymore a lot of the time on their own movie on their own. Sorry, on their own, you know funding they have a team who makes those decisions for them. I remember once on one of my projects um I think I can't remember which one it was um, it was I think there was two guys from the Lakers it was it was I think was a faith based movie god I'm blanking on which one it was anyways it might have been over the Christmas camel or maybe the scouts honor they were did they definitely wanted to put it was over the camel okay. They wanted to put money in fact they wanted to fund the whole the whole thing I think the budget was 3.2 million and they were determined to do the whole thing I mean these guys were like there was so many this happened in a couple of times with that Christmas movie I have to tell you where people were like oh my god I love this I had at one point there was almost a competition and all of it fell apart all of it because once it got to their team, their accountant it's like no no no no we don't put money on film here you know we're putting your money in I don't know stocks bonds real estate you know whatever I don't know whatever investment teams do for their clients so but these guys as much as they want to do the movie they they did not end up putting their million and a half each into the movie so that's I found that was interesting now is that always the case no i'm not saying don't don't not do it you know certainly go for it and give it a try. Especially if you're in a state or a country where you know you're going to be getting you know 35% back tax credits where you know you actually have a possibility of bringing on a star where you can do some potential pre sales in advance even if they're not as big at least you know you've got that maybe you've got you know you've got a friend who is a good star or you're able to bring that person on because of the type of project it is or the book that it's based on or whatever then or the fact that it's a true story or whatever I mean if you've got that going for you where you can say to the investor yes I know it's 3 million but you know what, the chances of getting the money back are good because we know we're getting at least 30% of that tax incentive back and that 30% is going directly to you the investor that you have a guarantee on you know and then we're going to bring the cost down because we've done some pre sales and or whatever or by the way we've got so and so on the movie Donald Sutherland is on the movie now. So that helps you know with that you know then I'm not saying don't do it I just saying that I found it harder because a lot of times those people didn't necessarily have to say it was their investment team who had more either accountants who more ran their lives than they did. Yeah and then the next thing of course is then you know obviously looking at the bigger budgets which I'm helping some people with now where you're going to actual brokers you know where you you meet up what you you know, you make it a point to find out who are some of those investment groups around you start asking questions, you start you know, talking to it, you know, exact producers and, and, and brokers and, you know, and start finding out what are ways that you can maybe, you know, get into that world a little bit more and see what's going on in that world and what's needed in that world. And that's when you start to maybe then have to get into those fancier you know, presentations and business plans and so on. And then the other thing is co productions, you know, obviously if you've got possibility of doing co productions, that will be excluding the US but you know, if you've got a great project, you know, by an Irish writer or Canadian writer, and you've got, you know, a director on board, some countries, they're getting more open where you're allowed to maybe have an American director or whatever, but for the most part, it would probably mean director and writer outside the country just because those are worth a lot of points. So director and the writer, then you can do co productions, you know, where you do a Canadian British co production where that gives you do two sets of incentives and and that sort of thing and then potential for maybe a telefilm funding I know that one of the projects I've been helping out with recently they got a tremendous amount of money from telephone and they even got a fair amount of money from their their distributor what is telephone what is cell telephone is the Canadian company that supports like like most countries in the US in the UK they do the same thing where if it's a really if it's really supporting that country or in some way it's like promoting a good family feeling or good quality film are based on a Canadian book which is like the one we did you know a couple years ago on a very big Canadian book then there's you know that possibility of them putting in some funding early on and and that sort of helps to also hit up your sales agents early on because sometimes now the sales agent I must say I'm one of the ones I've been hearing about recently they got a I'm not gonna say how much but I was shocked at how much money they got in advance to make the movie I can't even tell you how much it was I was so surprised it was like the old days yeah so I mean there's you know, there's always kinds of different ways you just need to be smart about you know, go go to the American Film market and sit in on those seminars and get some mentors You know, I think you know me Alex that the main thing I always tell people to do is get a mentor you know, obviously do the right protocol for getting mentors, go on my YouTube channel and watch my 10 tips on the protocol for getting a mentor please before you will get a mentor and that's at youtube.com slash Suzanne Lyons and then click on the one about mentors but get a mentor who's been there done that who knows the investment world that's what I did that's one of the first things I did when Kate and I were looking at doing some bigger budget films as we talked to one to know took some mentors out to coffee so you know I will say there's a lot of different ways nowadays and there's a lot of money in the world now a lot of money going and people have done the real estate thing they've done the stocks they've done that I mean you'll be shocked at how much money is going into film these days so there's no shortage there's no scarcity there is a tremendous abundance you know and think outside the box and think outside your country i mean you know I'm literally I've been reading projects that are based in China Of course right now yeah, I'm working on a phenomenal project that's based in China and dealing with two Chinese Chinese companies that have offices here in LA and and made a point to get to know those companies you know,

Alex Ferrari 4:05
You mean you made a relationship with them first?

Suzanne Lyons 27:39
You bet I did yeah Honest to God I went to coffee with with one of the guys and be you know, we became good friends and then I met another one and invited him to come and even speak at one of my classes so you know and then I talked to some people who are already in China doing productions and kind of finding out the pitfalls you know what to watch for and so on and that was literally one of the top probably one of I would say one of the top three producers I had coffee I'd say a good two and a half hour coffee meeting with her last year during when she was over here for one of the one of the markets so yeah created those relationships now we enter net and not we didn't end up working together but we I learned a lot about about what they're looking for and so on and you know was able to create more relationships based on my relationships with her so I'm in Korea too that's the other one is working obviously with with Korea is another gigantic market at the moment. So that's and I've been forming you know, those relationships you know, and I'm open to you know, to just kind of finding out what's going on around the world I've got very good relationships in Germany which is one of the big markets of the world and and recently you know, and I have a really good relationship with one of the top companies there and I had a script recently that I thought might be a fit and sent it turned out it wasn't a fit but I create the I've kept that relationship going and I've been friends with them now for probably about 10 years as they've gotten bigger and bigger in the UK where I started I still have lots and lots and lots of relationships in the UK Of course and you know, it's a small world I mean, you know, me I mean you just you know, you've got to be and I go to I went to strategic partners one year as a producer, it's 150 people that they put together and they it's no cost you know, to you as the producer other than your flight to Halifax and it's rainfalls, Tiff it's fall as the Toronto Film Festival overlaps by a couple of days and they set up all the meetings for you and you all meet with each other it's kind of like the dating thing where you have like 10 minutes together and it's right yeah speed dating at you where you pitch your projects to each other and phenomenal companies from all around the world. I think the year I was there, South Africa and India I think were our two sponsors. But um, everybody was there from around the world anyway, but they were the main sponsors and and, you know, I made a point that cost a little bit of money but hey, I have a business so I have to invest in every year I have to look at investing in some sort of training or relationship building or things like strategic partner or going to TIFF or going to the American Film market or whatever. Yeah, it's part of my business. I've got to keep getting trained and creating those relationships. I mean, I got a call from Singapore media Academy a couple years ago to come and teach a course over there and my first instinct was oh my god all the way to Singapore. And then my second instinct was Don't be ridiculous. I met every producer in Singapore for drinks after at six o'clock when I finished teaching every night I met with him I went to the studio I met everybody that was in India Indonesia. So I've got my relationships in Indonesia now. I mean, you know, it's all because I took made that effort and and I had, I had a ball teaching, I'm still friends with all the students for God's sakes, you know.

Alex Ferrari 30:57
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So let me ask you a question. Do you need a name actor nowadays in your in your indie films?

Suzanne Lyons 31:13
Yes, you do. I don't even even not even a giant spider would be good right now. I mean, I think even if you've got your giant spider like when the old days with our horror films, I think you still need that, that actor to go along with him or her. And here's the thing as a producer, what I would say is, is be really smart about putting together phenomenal combinations of people. It's not just who is high on the Richter scale of IMDb anymore. It's all about, you know, what is what? In addition to that, what are some social media? phenomenal people, you know, like in the movie, I did not the last one, obviously, in the one before, you know, we looked at some great great actors obviously, there's people from the TV world in there. From from Glee, actually, and then from the feature world who got Jake Busey, Heather Morris, then then we looked at who's big, really big, it was a horror film. So who's big in the, in the, in the YouTube world in the in the social media world, and Perez Hilton had 10 million fans 10 million. So he's, of course in our movie,

Alex Ferrari 32:16
And then he promoted it. And of course,

Suzanne Lyons 32:19
He's gonna be promoting it like crazy when the time comes. So we really looked around for what's a great, and then there's another person in there, she's a phenomenal singer and model. And she's really great in terms of her number of fans. Yes, I'm not going to say you don't sacrifice by having people who can act, they still have to be actors, of course, and there's still something that you know, that they want to do and that they're, that they're good at. But looking make sure that you're also handling all those bases. so that by the time you get to the distributor, if you decide to go to the distribution and sales agent route, that you've got that that ammunition, you can say Listen, you know that, I mean, in the last movie, I use this amazing singer songwriter, he's just adorable, this young young guy, just the most sweetest guy, it was these boys that you know, who find these chest of toys for the future. You know, he's got 2 million hits 2 million hits on his YouTube, you know, so for me going to, and not to mention everybody else in the movie. I mean, we were really smart about it, I also would have this wonderful guy from the WWE to some used to now, you know, I've got phenomenal, obviously bass hits as well and in great social media. So I mean, it's, it's all stuff you've got to keep in mind, it's a business, you've got to be smart about how you're putting that whole thing together.

Alex Ferrari 33:34
Now, do you? Do you What are your feelings between traditional distribution and now this new self distribution models?

Suzanne Lyons 33:40
Sorry, my phone's ringing, so you'll just have just give me that I apologize. For some reason, I can't hear you as well, when it rings. So there's just It's almost done. I think it's almost Okay, go ahead. Okay,

Alex Ferrari 33:50
I'll edit this out don't worry. What are your feelings on traditional distribution versus the new self distribution models that are available? Yeah,

Suzanne Lyons 33:58
I'm really thrilled that after 120 years, you know, the tables have turned because for all those years, you know, the producer, you know, spends, you know, three or four or five or 10 or whatever years of their life trying to get that movie off the ground and, and getting investors who trust them to get that money back. And then you make this great movie and then what happens it goes to the sales agent, and there's such an expensive a lot of the time they recharged tremendous amount I find for the first you know, money in for their expense, as well as, you know, high percentages for commission. Sometimes now they're going back to the old days, because I think there's a lot of them concerned of the 25%, which you know, it's just astronomical, not to mention the expenses, and then the distributor that they sell it to if you do a domestic distribution, then a lot of times you don't get any split, right. So you know, I mean, maybe a few, but when I was doing candy stripers you know, you sold it for that one amount is same with the whole world actually. It's called a buyout. So whatever that buyout is, if you're getting I don't know 3000 You know, from the UK, that's it, and that's probably it for 10 years or seven years, 10 years or 12 years. Yeah. And then in domestic, you know, you might be getting, you know, 50,000, but that's for probably 15 years. So those are BIOS. So if it all adds up to, you know, 300,000, and your movie was 250,000. But don't forget your sales agents is taking off their commission, and they're also taking off their, you know, all that expense, you know, of 25 to 50,000, or whatever that is, then by the time, you know, and then you pay your residuals and so on to to, to say, you know, your investor, you know, barely gets their money back, which means you as the producer will investor would get what, maybe a third of their money back, and and then you as the producer aren't making that money to make it worthwhile. So, the producers, the directors, I apologize, the distributors, and the sales agents always said, Oh, Suzanne, you know, we want you to be part of our team and, you know, continue to use your movies, you know, but if, if I can't get a success, full amount of money back to then make my investors happy enough to reinvest, then how can I make that next movie, so there is no team, that's all bullshit, you know, if they all they'll be on and they've got 20 or 30 other movies that they're selling at the AFM anyway, or more in a library of 200 or 300 movies, so they care little after two markets, they care very little about your movie, you'll be lucky, if you even see it, by the time you get to the third market in their suite at the American Film market, which is what happened to us on one of ours. So you know, a lot of times it stops after that one year of markets, that's it, and then they've sold as much as they're going to sell for the world, you've barely made your money back if or maybe a portion for the investors if that. So and that's it, then you're done for seven to 15 years. So with a self distribution model, you know, if there's ways that you can, you know, be able to sell directly to a fan bases that you've got through your actors, or whatever, you know, or sell through your own, you know, setting up of whatever channel you can possibly sell, you know, by by creating that, that you know, fan base over the next year for yourself for that niche market for yourself, then there's a chance where you can make the money where you as the producer, so then not only you will actually make some money for change, but you can pay your investors back, they're happy, they want to contribute back and make the next one. So then it becomes a thriving community, for the producers and it's not scrambling to try to get that next one, you know, and then you're exhausted by the end of it. And and, and never want to make another movie again because of what you've gone through. Or you're on or your investors are unhappy because you weren't able to pay them back only a portion of any. So I just think it's so nice that the tables have turned for the first time ever. In these past couple of years. It's brand new, we're not sure quite how to do it yet. There's a book coming out, called crowdsourcing, which is going to be fantastic bifocal press. So that's going to be phenomenal and, and I can't wait for that to come out. because that'll kind of give more ideas on how can you build those nice markets in advance, you know, how can you get people? How can you even look at your script in such a way that you can add things into the script now. Excuse me, where it can then help. Let's just go back to vegan. Okay, if you can add that to your script now that one of your characters is a vegan, or raw vegan, that opens up that whole new community of online promoting that whole group of people, which is now hundreds of 1000s of people, right? Right. So you now have control over that because early, early enough on you're adapting your script to create a way to then increase your potential for self distribution down the road. And even if you want to go the old fashioned route of distribution, even then you can say to your distributor, hey, guess what, I have included five different areas in my script, where I have got a potential for a music video which is what I'm doing right now by the way with my singer in my last movie and our goal is to is to literally have 500,000 fans hit you know hits on that music video by this time next year when the movie comes out, right? I put in there let's say you put in a you know, a vegan or whatever, let's say you put in maybe there's, you know, a faith based arena or in the case of family values very big right now. Let's say there's what you know, another area that you might be hitting on maybe it's veterans, you know, that you put in there now so that opens up another community, you know, so if you're saying to your distributor Can you know eight months from now guess what? I have opened up because I'm thinking early enough in my script. Now my movie is done. And I have now got 1 million hits on those five different arenas that I continued to do. nurture, you know, since these videos came out, and these YouTubes came out, and these chat rooms came out, or whatever I've got, I've got 1 million people ready to buy this movie, you know, and in some cases, you can even break down, I hear anyways, and find out where some of them are from, you know that, you know, 25% of them are Japanese, so your sales, so your distributor, they are, you know, my god, oh my god, that wouldn't create a Japanese sale for us or whatever. So, I mean, it's time for the producers to get really smart about this whole thing. And know that we've got some say, in the matter now, and we're not at the beck and call of the sales agent. And the distributors, you know, that we can actually, you know, do some generating on our own to either self distribute, but you have to be very smart about it, to prepare a year or so in advance, or that we have at least ammunition that if we do go to the distributor, and he offers us 25,000 for our family film, we can say not you know what, I got other distributors knocking on the door, sweetheart, because I've got 3 million fans, you know, who already want to buy this movie. And then you create the competition where all of a sudden, then your numbers up to 500,000 for domestic or whatever. Who knows. You know, it's the early days, obviously,

Alex Ferrari 41:13
Wild Wild West is still the wild wild west out there. .

Suzanne Lyons 41:17
Yes. Yeah. Very much. Yes It very much so. And, you know, and it's like I said, with some of these new books coming out and that sort of thing. It's as another gentleman that I'll give you his name to maybe interview because he's he was he's remarkable. He's the one that's going to be writing the book. He's the owner of stage 32.

Alex Ferrari 41:39
Oh, yeah. What's his? Yeah, I know, stage 32.

Suzanne Lyons 41:40
Yeah, Richard, and he and he's, he's just absolutely brilliant. And he's doing a tremendous amount, probably more research than anybody at the moment on this whole arena. But I interviewed a lot of people for my book, too. There is a whole chapter in my book on different areas of self distribution as well. So there's some great people there who've kind of laid the laid the the road for us. But that was a few years ago, and now even more more has changed. And we have daily. Yeah, daily daily, I know. But anyway, so it's good. That was a good question, though.

Alex Ferrari 42:11
It was fantastic answer. Okay. So I have I have two fun. I have two more questions, and they're fun. Any crazy on set or off set filmmaking stories that you can share with us?

Suzanne Lyons 42:25
Crazy on set filmmaking story or offset?

Alex Ferrari 42:28
Like just just a fun antidote that you would like, this is how crazy our businesses because I know I have 1000 of them, but I'm sure you do, too.

Suzanne Lyons 42:37
And do you mean something where I were where we kind of learned a lesson from You mean,

Alex Ferrari 42:42
It could just be you if you want to if there's a lesson to be learned great. If there isn't, if you're like, this is the crazy stuff to happen on the set this day.

Suzanne Lyons 42:51
You're right now that's a book. Oh, geez.Oh my gosh,

Alex Ferrari 42:56
If you don't remember anything is okay.

Suzanne Lyons 42:59
Because the only the one that that I remember was actually where we had such a breakdown in communication, that I had to make an executive decision. I was the only producer of for a few weeks on that particular set. And we had a lot of different cultures. There are three different languages for different cultures from around the world. And there was major breakdown and upset and anger and everybody was fighting with everybody and I mean it was just I've

Alex Ferrari 43:19
Tower of Babel, it's a tower of Babel.

Suzanne Lyons 43:22
God was unbelievable. On believeable. Unbelievable, unbelievable. And I had to make an executive decision at the end of week one, I decided to throw what we would call a wrap party. And we had a party on that Saturday night where it was the most amazing party ever where I thought I'm not even go I've been said to the other actors when I'm going to walk until midnight. It opened at nine I rented a club and and we had a four in the morning. And I said when I show up at midnight we'll see what happens and then we'll know if we're you know what, what the next number of weeks is gonna be like, and I walked in at midnight and it was hilarious. People were like, who had been fighting we're dancing with each other waltzing with each other drunk Of course I'm trolling everybody love you. I love you man. People who I know we're practically in fistfights the day before right it was so absolutely hilarious and I honestly the rest of that was the most was the best experience on set I have ever had

Alex Ferrari 44:24
Awesome so so let's Yeah, lesson learn is have a drunk out party after week one on all your movies, and you'll have a smooth smooth transition the rest of the shoot. He started trying to get started and last question I asked this question of all my guests it's a tough question but I always like pointing it to everybody's to see what you think. What are your top three films of all time?

Suzanne Lyons 44:52
Oh, not just the ones that I did you mean myself? You mean my top three films? Yeah. Oh my god, that is hard. Oh, I'll just

Alex Ferrari 44:57
Pick three. Just three films that That tickles your fancy at this moment It's okay.

Suzanne Lyons 45:02
I'd have to say little romance is the very first one that came to mind little little romance. Which one's a little romance? Diane Lane? Yeah, she was 12 Yeah, wow. Okay Yeah, it's just one of my favorite I'm a big romantic comedy person and my night and I love it. Okay, um oh my god I could probably name a million of them um probably I mean this is oh my god there's so many probably Harold Harold and Maude I'd have never heard was everybody's top three. And I mean, I could list a whole lot of those ones that like come up just like that. You know, like I can do a wonderful job, but just bubble up second. Yeah. Awesome, great, fun comedies and all that kinds of stuff. But I would say some, because I'm such a big fan of of also, like the action kind of thriller that I have to say also, Die Hard. I just saw so good. I just love it.

Alex Ferrari 45:58
Isn't that like one of the most perfect action movies ever made?

Suzanne Lyons 46:01
Oh my god. I probably seen the first I've seen them all a million times. But I think the first one probably 10 times. Honestly. And I mean, yeah, I could go on and on so many different movies. And then of my own, I'd have to say my first which was undertaking Betty a romantic comedy shows her associates. It's so funny. It is so funny. And it's so adorable. And oh, Chris Walken. Hilarious. Brenda Blethyn is amazing. Alfred Molina is amazing. I mean, Naomi is hilarious. I mean, it's just one of my favorites.

Alex Ferrari 46:28
Now to go back to diehard for a second. There's a group of action movies in the 80s I'm a big 80s guy I love 80s action movies and I the bad ones from Canon and the good ones and all of them but the three that always stuck out to me as three of the some of the best action movies ever made diehards on that list. Lethal Weapon

Suzanne Lyons 46:48
Lethal weapons my next one yeah.

Alex Ferrari 46:49
And predator.

Suzanne Lyons 46:51
Oh yes, that was

Alex Ferrari 46:52
Preditor is one of the best action Yeah, and john McTiernan direct the two of those diehard

Suzanne Lyons 46:58
That's right, I've seen them all multiple times so you know, there's multiple

Alex Ferrari 47:01
Oh, and I must have seen Lethal Weapon and die hard but probably 50 I work in a video store when I was growing up so I watched so many movies so many times

Suzanne Lyons 47:11
Ohh my God me too and for sci fi now that you may I think if I were to do the show five and you threw a sci fi in there as much as I love all the sci fi like weapons, Rog and all those things, I have to say fifth Fifth Element I think was the fifth element my top sci fi of all time. I think, my god, there's so damn many good ones. But I had I think I might have to go

Alex Ferrari 47:30
I'm in fifth element is it is one of the most unique sci fi films ever made by and Luke and Luke bussan at probably the height of his powers, anything with Luke Bussan, anything was at the height of his powers.

Suzanne Lyons 47:44
I'd watch anything. And I think for foreign for foreign for me, I would think memory of a killer is probably one of my favorite foreign good records. That would be Erich von Loy. Okay, okay, Erich von Loy. If you haven't seen it, rent that memory of a killer. I think one of the best in terms of Yeah, for you as a director. And I know Eric, personally, and I stay in touch all the time,

Alex Ferrari 48:11
Is that the one where the heat is that the one where he's a an assassin, and he starts losing his memory. Yeah, yes. I saw the trailer. I think I've even seen the movie years ago.

Suzanne Lyons 48:22
Yeah, that was Yeah, I had to call his agent to get it was hard to it was hard to get.

Alex Ferrari 48:26
It's a different world now. And I was like, with Netflix and and yeah, everything. It's so accessible. So Suzanne, thank you so so, so much for being on the show. You've you've it's such a great show on breaking it up into two parts.

Suzanne Lyons 48:41
Sorry for talking so much.

Alex Ferrari 48:43
No, it's wonderful. You laid out some amazing gems for my audience. And like I said, what we do at indie film hustle is I'm trying to create a world a community where they get the truth of how it really is not the stuff that teaches school, not the stuff in a lot of books, like people who actually have done it have been there and show them like, exactly what you've, you know, taught what you just teach and what you've said in this one. We just did an interview with Doug Simmons. I know I'm sure yeah, of course, for years and years. Yeah, and did a great, a great interview as well. And he's like, I took his course 15 years ago as well.

Suzanne Lyons 49:20
22 years ago for me. Exactly the first thing you do first thing everybody everyone's gonna get to LA take down score

Alex Ferrari 49:27
Take down scores, and then and then go read a Robert McKee story.

Suzanne Lyons 49:31
You do that one? Actually, I did both. You write the first year here. Those are the two that you have to do.

Alex Ferrari 49:35
You got it. It's just it's a prerequisite. You have to do both of those. And then you're ready. And then you should win an Oscar any day after that. Yeah, exactly. Thanks again, I won't keep you anymore. So thanks again for being on the show. And we really appreciate it.

Suzanne Lyons 49:49
Great. Thanks so much, Alex. That was fun.

Alex Ferrari 49:51
Well, I don't know about you, but I got a ton out of that interview. Suzanne was remarkable and I learned a ton from her. This interview so I hope you guys picked up some gems as well. So before we go head on over to freefilmbook.com that's freefilmbook.com to get your free audio book download from over 40,000 different audio books you can download for free. So thank you guys so much for all the love all the reviews. The show is growing so, so fast so I'm very very grateful. Please keep sharing the links please keep sharing our posts on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. And if you can, please head over to indiefilmhustle.com/iTunes. And leave us a good review or leave us a review an honest review of what you think of the show. It really does help us out a lot. With the rankings on iTunes, you have no idea how much that helps us out. So thank you again so much and keep that hustle going. Keep fighting for your dream. Don't ever stop. We'll talk to you guys soon. Thanks.