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IFH 402: Debunking Myths & the Future of Indie Film with Emily Best

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Today on the show we have returning champion Emily Best. Emily is the founder and CEO of the crowdfunding platform Seed&Spark, which she started with a group of independent creators after the challenges and lessons of producing my first feature film, Like the Water

“Storytelling can change the world – when everyone can see themselves reflected in the stories we share, we empower all people to take part in shaping how we see our past, our present and our future.” – Emily Best

I wanted to have her back on the show to talk about the state of indie film and how filmmakers can survive and thrive in the future. I recorded this interview before COVID-19, just around the time TUGG went under (you can read about that here).

We have a spirited conversation about the future and how the mindset of filmmakers needs to change to make it in the future. Enjoy my conversation with Emily Best. 

Alex Ferrari 0:27
Well guys, today on the show, we have returning champion Emily Best from seed and spark. And I want to have Emily back to kind of talk about the state of indie film, how to debunk a bunch of myths that filmmakers have about not only the filmmaking process, the distribution process, how to raise money, all those kinds of things. And I couldn't have a better guest to do that. And I do want to let you know that we recorded this pre COVID so there will be no mention of Coronavirus or anything like that. In this episode. I recorded around the time that the film The film, theatrical film aggregator, I guess you would call it tugg went under. And we kind of talked a little bit about that and future film aggregators and all that kind of stuff as well. But there is some amazing, amazing content in this episode. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Emily Best. I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Emily Best. How are you sweetie?

Emily Best 3:20
Thank you so much for having me? I'm doing all right. It's a Friday.

Alex Ferrari 3:23
It is a Friday. It is a Friday. I'm so glad to have you back. You were one of my original guests. I think you were like in the 20s if I'm not mistaken of the podcast, and now we're getting close to 400. So it's been four years over four years since we've spoken. I mean we spoken but we haven't been on the on the show. So it's it's crazy. It's a lot has happened in your world that in mind thing. I remember you were a great interviewer back then. So I'm super excited to experience x plus 400 hours of practice I am I have the pressure, the pressure. I don't know if I could take the pressure this is this is way too much. So for people who don't know who you are Emily, can you talk a little bit about who you are, and tell us a little bit about yourself?

Emily Best 4:12
Yep. I am the founder and CEO of a company called seed and spark. Think of seed and spark like a Digital Studio. We are built to increase equity and inclusion and entertainment and optimize for the cultural impact of the work our creators make. Fundamentally I believe Equity and Inclusion happens when creators can make a sustainable living from their work wherever they are. Diversity has to be both demographic and geographic and along a lot of dimensions. And building equity is really about building pathways that everyone has a fair chance of using. So our company is sort of divided up into three pieces that all work together to form our version of this Digital Studio and unlike studios that profit off creators our hope eventually is just to profit with creators. We have a national education program, we teach about 120 live workshops a year in more than 50 cities. And we have some online education as well. On our website, we teach creators the tools for creative sustainability, we teach them how to understand connect with audiences learn to monetize them. We teach pitching, we teach distribution, then we have a crowdfunding platform that has the highest campaign success rate in the world. And until this year, we have been entirely focused on motion pictures. We've helped more than 2000 projects raised over $25 million with the highest campaign success rate in the world, which is about 80%. And this year, as I said to you, before we started recording, we're rolling out across other storytelling verticals. So the highest campaign success rate in the world is now not limited just to filmmakers. If you make, you know, podcast, books, games, software, music, theater dance, what am I missing, there's so many ways to tell stories. If you're a storyteller in any medium, you can now take advantage of our suite of tools. And then we work on on distribution with creators. So we do have an online streaming platform. It is highly curated right now because it's it's actually not our core focus, we really see the streaming platform as a tool in the toolkit of creators who are building creative distribution strategies. And that's really where we have focused our attention. So we work with creators on building event ties distribution, sort of rolling their, their content, I have to say content now, because we're not just talking movies and shows anymore, rolling your stories out for live audiences in different places, through various event tie strategies. And then our newest addition is we have found a pathway for right now just film, although we have figured out that it won't be just for film in the future. But our pathway are to bring films into workplaces to help companies build more inclusive workplaces. And so if you think of that education is sort of the pipeline and the creator cultivation. Our online platform is where you can build audiences and make your work. And then we have these distribution strategies. So that's a studio it just built really differently for the things that we care about.

Alex Ferrari 7:32
That's that's man, you're busy lady. We're busy. I mean, I thought I hustled My God, you guys are Stephens bark hustle. tmcs. Exactly. So you, you, you lot how old is seems Mark's been around for how many years now?

Emily Best 7:52
Seven, and a pinch, Sherif. We launched in December of 2012. Okay, and we relaunched the website and what is time, Alex 20. The Fall of 2015, we relaunched the website. And that I would say was really when we kind of started to get off the ground because the first version of the website as any, anybody out there who used us pre 2015, sorry about the technology. We were doing our level best.

Alex Ferrari 8:22
You actually you actually talked to me around that time it was around the fall of 2015 is when I launched the podcast in the summer, so we would have probably been around that time when I interviewed you. Well, I can't I can only tell you from my experience, everyone listening, I crowdfunded my first film, this is Meg, with seed and spark in 2017. I think it was 2017 if I'm not mistaken, and I had a wonderful, wonderful time. And I first of all, I can't stand crowdfunding personally, it's just too brutal. It's, it's really hard. It's hard. It's brutal. It's emotional. It's just it's rough. But the experience with you guys and working with the platform was wonderful. And, and we were able to fund the film completely. And I was able to shoot the movie pretty much in in black and like I was in the black when I was shooting. So that was amazing. Case Study, and we're gonna follow up with you after Yeah, I mean, I was literally I was because I already started shooting because it was such a small budget before we launched the campaign because it was just me a camera and my main actress, I'm like, Okay, before we bring in all the other cast, let's just shoot all the stuff we're gonna shoot at you in your house. And we did that. So as we were shooting, like in my crowdfunding video, there was there was scenes from the movie already, because I was already shooting so I was already shooting the movie. So when I was all said and done, we looked at the numbers. I'm like, I think we can literally be free because we didn't have to worry about money. Yeah, so I looked at the entire experiment and the entire experience is an experiment for me. as a filmmaker is like, you know what, I'm just gonna try this. And if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. It's, you know, it is what it is. But it worked, it did very well. And also got it It also got accepted to. So we sold it to Hulu. So it was great.

Emily Best 10:15
So when when you're already in the black, we like you're not worried about sales price as much. And you're just like, that's the cherry on top. That's awesome.

Alex Ferrari 10:22
No for that film and went to Hulu, I got sold internationally to different territories. And I and I, you know, I sell it on my own streaming platform, and I still make money with it all the time as well. And my partner who's the star of it, Jill, we're very, we were extremely happy and see the spark was just wonderful part of it. So that's why I always promote you guys. Because you're, like I say you personally are kind of like a shining light in the mud. In darkness that is destroying this industry in so many ways.

Emily Best 10:51
We're in it, we're in a weirdly dark time for as much money as there is going into the business. We are in a weirdly dark time. I mean, you and I talked about this. I don't know a couple weeks ago, I came out of this sort of January festival scene. I'm feeling really distressed. Because you know, I go there. And I talked to festivals, and I talked to indie distributors and I talked to platforms and I talked to theaters and I talked to creators, I talked to producers. And none of them are like I'm rolling in cash. They're like, Where the fuck is the money? Money, I'm not making money, he's not making money. They're not making money. She's not making money, like, Where is the money. And I'm scared when when distribuir closes, when tug shuts down. There is an indication that the ecosystem is not super healthy right now. And it doesn't surprise me. So over the last seven years, we've seen the great pivot to streaming, right Netflix 1010 years ago decides we're going to go all streaming, they have this big vision, they're not wrong about it, except that nobody's talking about the fact that they're not a profitable business. Right, they have a ton of income. But it doesn't seem to be coming from a model that nets profit. In fact, they're $26 billion in debt 20 to 26 like that.

Alex Ferrari 12:23
They're using the Amazon, they're using the Amazon model that they're just gonna go into debt and debt and debt. But the main difference between the Amazon model and them is Amazon is extremely diversified where Netflix is not.

Emily Best 12:33
Yeah, that's right. And so we see that happening. And there are a couple of things that that really bothered me about this model. Number one is, as everyone else in the industry has gone, the way of subscription streaming, there are three things that are happening that I think are challenging, and I'm gonna name them up front. So you can remind me because by the time I get to number two, I will already forgotten. That's what small having small children did to my brain, I understand. Number One has to do with personalized recommendation algorithms. Number two, is what it does for creators long term sustainability. And there was a number three, look, I've already forgotten what the third one was, maybe I'll get there. So number one is, if all of these major companies are competing around subscription streaming, what they're competing for is the most of subscriber time they can so that you don't have time to like go to another platform, right? They want to be your sort of soul space. It's by competing for subscriber time, it means they're optimizing for keeping you on the platform. And they're all doing this through personalized recommendation algorithms, personalized recommendation algorithms, those are like math functions that are trying to figure out what you would want to watch. If they are programmed to keep you on the platform. They're programmed to keep you comfortable. They are not programmed to challenge your worldview, or change your mind or make you think differently, or build empathy for your neighbor. Now from the place that I sit in the universe talking to creators all across the country who are trying to tell untold stories, and raise up voices that have not been listened to, for the last century of Motion Picture entertainment. They are trying to build bridges, build empathy, change minds change perspectives. And yet the mechanism for delivering entertainment is literally programmed to thwart its cultural impact. So that's challenge number one. Now, I think that leaves a lane wide open for creators who want to build real community for platforms that want to bridge the online and offline experience and for theatres and festivals to become this meeting place. Because if the platform is programmed to keep you there, and to isolate you inside your own bubble, there's always research now that shows that personalized recommendation algorithms create the same kind of content bubbles on your streaming platforms, you get in opinion bubbles on social media, right? So so that's one challenge that has to do with like audiences are getting isolated. Good and insulated with the way that entertainment has gone even as we have the rise of equity and inclusion in entertainment, and these creators want to do exactly the fucking opposite of that. Since you haven't scolded me, I'm gonna assume I can continue to drop that.

Alex Ferrari 15:15
I mean, I was just gonna let you go, and it's okay, I've dropped an occasional f bomb on the show as well. So you can, you can go, thank you. You're passionate, and I appreciate, you're passionate about it. And listen, I have some episodes that make a sailor blush. So

Emily Best 15:32
I probably won't do that. But I did. I did finally read something that said people who swear more trustworthy. And I was like, that's why I do it. Sure, sure. But that works. The second thing is that we're starting to see these Digital Studios, operating like the pre trust bust studios. So they're signing all these first look deal where they own all your material upfront. And there, they are spending a shit ton of money on a few creators who have no long term upside against the content. So it used to be, you know, you could you could sell off. I mean, what your experience is, is there's like a really long tail monetization strategy. And if you build something that's really good, and it has presence and

Alex Ferrari 16:22
Seinfeld, friends or

Emily Best 16:24
Anything like that, like you could make money on it for the rest of your life. That is going away. Yep, it is right. And creators across the board are beat or being turned into work for hire against their own IP.

Alex Ferrari 16:39
See, even down, it's an emergency, they're coming.

Emily Best 16:45
But this part is crazy to me. And I see creators like lining up to give away their IP into 99 year contracts with Netflix, who could cancel you after two seasons, because it's financially beneficial for them to do so. And then they own your content forever. Yep, your baby your stuff. Right, they can decide where you go, somebody who is not talking to you is writing a recommendation algorithm that may never surface your content to the appropriate audience because they, you know, the math function hasn't really figured it out. So that's the second piece that I think is, is a huge challenge and is is really disrupting the marketplace. And the final piece is that with the exception of Disney, Apple and Amazon, Disney makes content to drive to their live events. And Apple drives you to buy devices, and Amazon is selling you content. So you buy toilet paper from them, right? But the other the at&t, right, which is now Time Warner, right? They own the pipes, they own the devices, they own your internet into your house, and they own the content on those pipes. Like these are massively consolidated conglomerates. These are not ethical business models. And they are driving the price of creativity down as they're competing for one another. It's sort of like Uber and Lyft. Like in order to compete, they have to drive the price that they are paying drivers down, down, down, down, down. So you're commoditizing creative labor, yes. You're not giving people an opportunity to build long term equity. And they're sucking up a ton of capital. But these are not profitable business.

Alex Ferrari 18:30
It's not sustainable. It's not sustainable at all. But I wanted to ask you, because I've wrote I've written about this a lot as well. I believe that there is a devaluation of media in general of visual media because it happened with books in the book. And in the in the publishing industry. First, it happened then in the music industry. And now it's happening to us. So if you want to see a model of what we're going to be just look at the music industry, there used to be 10, student 10 labels. Now there's like four. And before you used to have to pay $18 for a song now it's essentially free. Beyonce is making Beyonce, one of the biggest stars in the world is making a 10th of a cent every time it's played on Spotify. And that's considered good. So there's no sustainability into and that's where we're all going in the in the in the film industry. Would you agree?

Emily Best 19:18
Yes. And the way that musicians get around it is they tour and they build a direct relationship with their audience. And that's what creators across industries have to learn to do. Yep. So that's what that's really what we're building on the distribution side. I'm seeing spark is like the infrastructure for creators to be able to tour things like movies. And there are lots of examples of it in in is, you know, 10 years ago was 10 years ago or eight years ago with a film called good Dick was one of the first sort of, you know, widely lauded self theatrical releases, but people had been doing events is releasing I mean, don't sis dolomite? Yeah, exactly dolomite you have Tyler Perry, Cheryl Bedford did this with dark girls. I mean, there are people who have been doing versions of this because they've been left out of the mainstream in the first place. Um, I actually think dolomite is one of the best examples or a creator of any kind to follow. Most especially because like he wasn't discouraged while he was bad at it.

Alex Ferrari 20:28
He was he was like, he was like a successful ad would.

Emily Best 20:32
But yeah, but he was, but he was basically like, while I'm bad at it, I'm just going to work until I get better at it

Alex Ferrari 20:38
Exactly.

Emily Best 20:40
Perfect, and therefore I quit. It was such an incredible story in that way.

Alex Ferrari 20:44
And he also what he also understood his audience, he understood his niche audience, and he made a product for that niche audience. And I watched that movie. And as I'm watching that movie, I was just like, this is amazing, like roadmap. It's a roadmap on how to do it. And he liked he took risks. He put all his royalties up from his music, his comedy albums, to the and he did like 10 movies or something like that. And he owned them.

Emily Best 21:07
It's also a lesson to make stuff that's important to your audience, right, like, seen at the end, where his co star stops him and says, Nobody puts people like me, I've still been like, Nobody puts people like me on the screen, like, it does. It does matter, right. And so I think all of this is an opportunity. What it means is, filmmakers have to stop subscribing to the myth of getting picked. They really have to stop stop subscribing to the like, I'll just go away and make the perfect thing. And then I will get noticed. Like, it just doesn't work like that anymore. Not if you want to build long term career equity, like, could you maybe write a really great script and get it picked up by netflix? Sure. It's a lottery ticket. Is that but is that also not only is it a lottery ticket? Like is it the best way to build long term career equity? I mean, I don't know like go ask people who've had their shows that they worked on for years and that they loved and nurtured, canceled after a season or two with no information or data about how that decision was made. And see what they say.

Alex Ferrari 22:15
Exactly, it's because I feel that not only screenwriters but I think filmmakers are living in the past and they're making movies like it was 1990 and then all of a sudden, you know, for lack of a better term Miramax who was the the company I know, but that was the company in the 90s who did what they did they you know, if it's not Miramax, Fox Searchlight or Sony classics those guys, they came in and and and built up, you know, built up these careers area, you know, remember in the 90s in every every month, mariachi clerks reservoir, you know, Linkletter like there was so many, and so many filmmakers are still living in that amazing stretch of launching white male filmmakers careers. Exactly. There was the occasional john Singleton and Spike Lee, but that's, you know, a rarity, and none and then Robert, the only Latino in the bunch. I think, being a Latino myself. So that's why I love Robert so much. But yeah, but that's basically what it was. And people are still thinking that and I think now this is the first time I've actually even thought about this. But you're absolutely right, is screenwriters are still living in the world that you're going to write a spec script or either get a job on on a show or sell it or something like that. But that's not sustainable anymore, because you're not going to get the back end and the residuals that the industry has, has lived on. I was talking to an actor the other day, who was a very, he was a very successful character actor. He's been in 1000 things. And he was telling me He's like, Alex, that the residuals are gone. Like I used to do one or two national spots a year commercial spots, and he was good. He was good, those are all going away. And now 80% of films are being done with non union. So the unions are starting to lose their their power. You know, it's it's a very scary time. And I keep telling people, this is a good economic time. We're not in we're not in a downturn, we're not in a crash per se. It right 2008 happens again, or worse. What do you think's gonna happen to the tugs and distributors of the world, even Netflix's of the world for that matter? Yeah, I mean, I

Emily Best 24:21
think I think that's a really interesting question to ask because there are some companies like seed and spark like gum road, who we built ourselves to be around for a while.

Alex Ferrari 24:34
You have a solid foundation.

Emily Best 24:36
Yeah. And a business model that I mean, crowdfunding emerged from the ashes of the 2008 financial crisis, right? That's, that's what crowdfunding was built to overcome. At the time, it was like people who had rich uncle's, their rich uncle's weren't investing and so they had to turn to a thing and now crowdfunding has gotten A lot more sophisticated. And also we don't have like, there was also built on the like Facebook, open social graph, which doesn't exist anymore. A lot more sophisticated, but it's also available to a lot more people. And, you know, we've certainly spent all of our time making it a tool that anybody from any kind of background can actually use successfully. But it means, you know, it means coming to work differently. In terms of the the financial time, I think there are more tools available to creators to monetize their work than ever before. But it's not. You don't make your work the same way that you would, if you were aiming for a Netflix and you don't, you know, you don't raise two and a half million dollars for a movie and make it and then figure out who's going to buy it Oh, like, I just don't think you should do that anymore.

Alex Ferrari 26:00
You can do that with $100,000, let alone two and a half million new lessons 100,000 you can lose.

Emily Best 26:06
I was gonna say it's actually more important not to do it with $100,000 movie. And that's, that's why we started teaching workshops on distribution is to really give creators the tools, they needed one like, Okay, so we've been teaching these crowdfunding workshops for half a decade now. And we started teaching them in Atlanta, and we did a creative marketplace survey there and a few other cities where we were teaching where there's like big, solid, creator communities, and like a lot of talk about like creating a sustainable, independent ecosystem. And so we surveyed creators on what what are your challenges and funding and team building and distribution? And in funding? everybody's like, Where are the investors? Right? Which is like, just a question you have for the rest of your life.

Alex Ferrari 26:50
Where's the money? Where's the money? Yeah.

Emily Best 26:51
The second question is like, what are the challenges of building team and those are like, you know, finding the core team, making sure it's diverse enough, being able to pay them like these sorts of things. By the way, what we have seen from economic surveys of our crowdfunders is that 80% of money raised in crowdfunding goes to pay cast and crew, which I find really exciting. That's awesome. Because it's a job creator. And the final section we asked about was distribution. And we laugh, we have a laugh in the office, because most of the answers to the questions that we asked about distribution, were just literally question marks.

Alex Ferrari 27:30
Nobody knows. Nobody knows.

Emily Best 27:31
People didn't know what they didn't know. And we're like, Okay, let's do this. So we created sort of a distribution one to one about like, what what is it really, really to distribute in this marketplace? Like, what are the steps? What are the capabilities, what are the possibilities, we interviewed a bunch of like key players in independent distribution and TV, etc. And then we built we, we pulled together a bunch of case studies of creators who took the time to really get to know their audience, built up the important organizational partnerships and influencer partnerships and festival partnerships, and, and really always had their larger career in mind. And similar to your story, managed to really well monetize their films, and make sure those films reached the audiences that they really cared to reach with them, which we have myriad examples of where distributors fail to do it. And something I often do in the room. Because, you know, we're in cities across the country. And so some cities who are like, you know, basically never featured in movies that we all see on the big screen, right, like cities that are kind of absent from our national imagination. So I go in, and we're in a, we're in a room of 200 people. And I'll be like, okay, Who here is working on a project, that's like, really not like anything that's been made before. And like, half the hands might go up. And I'm like, cool. I just want you to know that that means no sales agent has ever sold a movie like yours before. And no distributor has ever distributed a movie like yours before. They are not the experts. They know things based on their past experience. But you've just told me they've never had an experience like working with a creator like you on a movie like this. So if you don't show up, being able to talk to them about who your audience is, how they like to be reached, how they like to be talked to everything that dolomite knew about his audience that got the the record label to call him and the studio to call him. It wasn't until he knew all those things, that distributors were literally lining up to work with him. Right? And because he knew all that the popular critical opinion didn't mean shit doesn't matter. Right. So I feel like there's just this mentality that like, I'm just the creator and I all I'm supposed to know is the creative thing. If you don't know at least enough to be dangerous. You're done. Yeah, and there's so many examples. movies. Like there was there's some really terrible statistics actually of like movies made by black directors, who would go to Sundance and get a nice looking distribution deal. And the distributors really didn't know what to do with black films Besides, like, put them out on DVD during Black History Month. I'm not joking. It's just ridiculous. I have specific examples to point to, and they don't make their money back. And then that is a mark on the Creator, not the distributor. Correct. And that is a mark on an entire quote, unquote, niche audience, even though it's like 13% of our population, plus everybody else who doesn't need to look like the protagonist in the movie to enjoy it. There's a lot of us, by the way, right, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 30:46
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Emily Best 30:57
So it's, I think it's, it's just a time for us to deeply reevaluate the myths of success, our system and start elevating different stories about what's successful.

Alex Ferrari 31:10
So I, you know, I went to, I wanted to ask you this, because, I mean, I've been I've been neck deep in the distribution side of stuff now for a while. And then once I got involved with the distributor, you know, debacle and became kind of like the spearhead of that situation, which by the way has not finished, we're still going through stuff with that that scenario. I was invited to go speak at AFM, and I know your feelings about AFM. But I've read your feelings on AFM. And that's fine. I completely understand. By the way, AFM dropped two days off their schedule for this year, because na went from a place anymore because it went if we went from 800 distributors down to 351, this year, and then next year is probably going to be less. And but the one thing I did notice, because I went this year and I went last year was the that I just realized that nobody understands what's going on. None of the distributors are really at this at that level, the mid and low level distributors, which are where a lot of these indie movies would get picked up by you know that the big, not the big studios, not the Fox Searchlight, or even God forbid any of the major studios, there's only a handful up there that will even look at them. So we're talking about mid level and below. They were clueless, like I literally was in meetings with with distributors, and they were trying to pitch themselves to the distributor, you know, people, filmmakers, like hey, we want to help this, you know, we want to pick up all those distributor movies. I'm like, haha, okay, so I would do the meetings. And I would just sit there and I would listen to them. And I just asked them about their business model. And they would just lay out this old rehash crap kind of system. Yep. And then I just turned to one of them. I said, you, you guys really don't know what, what's going on? Do you have no idea how to make any money with these? Do you? There's no guarantee.

Emily Best 32:56
It's every time I talk to somebody who's launching a new new streaming platform. And I asked them what their customer acquisition strategy is. And they're like, Oh, you know, like Facebook ads, whatever. I'm like, cool. You're gonna compete with Netflix and Apple, and like they're buying all the keywords that might matter to you. And and frankly, if your differentiator is like diverse content, for example,

Alex Ferrari 33:17
Or indie groups that Oh, yeah. And there's a lot of indie distributors, like indie streaming, no one cares. No, this is not 2019. India is a budget level, it is not a genre. Not anymore. Like in the 90s. That's when indie kind of started, that was the whole indie genre, which there were and there were a lot less films and all that kind of stuff. But when you launched your streaming service you had an audience built in from your email was perfect, was really smart.

Emily Best 33:42
And even then we fundamentally don't believe that that's the right path forward. Like, it is a tool in the toolkit of creators who are building these larger connective strategies. I'm like, for me, if you're going around and doing amazing events around your movie, let's say or your podcast launch, or you're doing like live book tour, or whatever, that stuff should be available online, so that after the event when all those people had a great time, go home to their friends and are like, I just watched this amazing movie and their friends, like where Can I see it? The answer can't be nowhere. Which is often the case, right? So to us, there are some versions of what was formerly known as day and date that we think when built around events can we've actually seen can really work Naomi mcdougald Jones's shuffle vampire tour is an incredible example.

Alex Ferrari 34:34
Friend of the show, friend of the show.

Emily Best 34:36
Yes. out everybody go by the wrong kind of women.

Alex Ferrari 34:41
Yes. She's great. She's what she was, well, she was wonderful. And I had her when I heard about her story. I had her on the show and, and she's very frank about the whole situation. She's, how depressing it is. And you know, like, you know, when she went to like her day in and day and she's like, but iTunes, the numbers weren't there. I'm like, Well, that was the one thing I was gonna say about FM. I realized that See VOD is essentially almost gone for independent film. It's dead unless you can personally give a very rabid audience. And you could drive that for maybe a week or two. But the days of what the Polish brothers did with four lovers only half a million dollars on TV that's gone.

Emily Best 35:15
You drive it to your own website at this point, or you drive it to like what Naomi did is drive it to seed and spark. We're getting paid between 20 and 50 cents a minute stream, then it's valuable,

Alex Ferrari 35:25
Right? So then, so it's a TiVo has gone. s VOD is kind of like if you if you're lucky enough to even get an S VOD deal, meaning like a Netflix or Hulu deal, which those deals are very far, few far between now because they're just focusing on their own content. Yeah. Then you got amazon prime, which now rakes from a penny to an hour to 12 cents an hour, depending if your algorithm likes you. So that's not really the greatest thing. So now the big keyword is Avon. So Avon is where a lot of money is being made. And I saw it, I saw I see the numbers from A to B, I see the numbers from Pluto. Now, peacock is gonna come out as an A VOD platform as well. So a VOD is that we're all going back to television is hilarious. But that's where the that's where the money is for independent films next year, it could be something else with the landscape changing so rapidly, because you and I both basically win since 2015, you know, basically been coming up together. And we've been, you know, we're in different sides of the battlefield. I feel like you see us you're at some point, I'm over here. I'm in this trench, you're in that trench. But we're both seeing what's happening. And as it's just insane, that the whole landscape is changing so rapidly, that these quote unquote, professionals have no idea what's going on. And I think the the, the casualties are the creators and the filmmakers.

Emily Best 36:41
Yeah, I would argue that it's not necessarily they don't know what's going on, as it doesn't behoove them to pay attention to it. There's not too scary, right?

Alex Ferrari 36:51
To have ostrich syndrome,they have an ostrich,

Emily Best 36:53
They're disappearing really rapidly. There's some of them who have, you know, one of the indie distributors out there who I won't name, still occasionally picks up movies out of the festival circuit does kind of mostly service deals, they do like 30 movies a month,

Alex Ferrari 37:12
Will not be named but we all know who it is actually backed up by a softcore porn business. When it's like, you know, you know, like, skinemax?

Emily Best 37:26
Like zombie sluts to or whatever. Yeah, like, yeah, that's, um, and that's fine. They're not upfront about it. But like, that's fine, like, do that business.

Alex Ferrari 37:37
But that's not what they said. That's not that's Oh, my God, it's so.

Emily Best 37:47
So I feel like, um, you know, nobody is going to solve the problem of distribution for creators. And something that we just keep saying over and over again, is distribution is not something you get distribution is something you do great part of your job to build your career. I don't as the CEO of my company get to be like, Yeah, but actually selling shit to customers is not my problem. Like that's insane. Only problem is business, that business. There is like, there is no content without a consumer, unless you are super rich, and are just making things for fun. It's a hobby, like a hobby. Yeah, if you if you want to make a sustainable business, you have to care about your unit economics, and you have to care about your customer. And you have to know about your customer, and you have to know how to find your customer. And like creators. I've seen creators sort of shudder at all this stuff. And I'm like, sorry, but like, What makes you so special, that you shouldn't have to think about the person who's going to spend their hard earned dollar on the thing that you made, when in fact, your audience is probably just as smart as you think you are. Preach, preach and preach. And the reason that I love and invest in crowdfunding so much is like, you cannot find a person who has run a successful crowdfunding campaign who doesn't have five at least audible stories of this person found out about my crowdfunding campaign. Who either you know, knew me from way back then or I've never met them before in my life. And they were so inspired. They did XYZ for my film, and it changed the game. Like everybody has that story. Like we have a I shot my first movie in Maine. And so if you're going to shoot a movie in Maine, like there has to be a lobster vaccine or what are you doing?

Alex Ferrari 39:44
I mean, seriously, why why would you not?

Emily Best 39:46
And this guy showed up on time in the morning with a giant baki bought us 25 lobsters which was 5x the number we actually needed and dropped them off and was like you kids, have fun. left.And that happened because of our funding campaign.

Alex Ferrari 40:07
That's amazing.

Emily Best 40:08
I don't honestly know, we would have kept the lobster vaccines specifically, if somebody hadn't been like, y'all bring your lobster because like, it's expensive. So so I feel like the thing that you discover when you start to really meaningfully engage with your audience or your customer, if I'm allowed to call them that, is they will love you and support you and do things for you. You haven't imagined, like we three of the filmmakers who have used our website throughout the years just became investors in seed and spark. That's awesome, right? thumb at very, very small amounts who were just like I just you what you did on the platform, change things for me, I want to get involved in your next. So your audience may be the next group of people who support your film. And cultivating that audience is about making everything that happens after this film easier for the next one, and the one after that.

Alex Ferrari 41:00
So Emily, what you're telling me, let me get this straight here. You're telling me that as a filmmaker, you have to think about your audience, you've got to think about the business, you also have to create your art, and you're not just going to get picked out of the crowd or someone from out Hollywood's gonna come down and tap you on the shoulder and say you will now have a career for the rest of your life. Is that what you're saying? What is that? You want to hear it clearly, please?

Emily Best 41:23
Yeah, finding a river if you don't like it. I didn't pick capitalism. Not my like, favorite version of economics. Okay, but like, this is the one we live in. And the landscape we live in is there is a ton of opportunity. Finally, we the chip, you can literally go online and with free tools, you can make your movie available behind the paywall tomorrow, right? That was not true. 50 years ago, right, or what I don't know what his time anyway,

Alex Ferrari 41:51
10 years ago was very difficult.

Emily Best 41:53
Um, so there is tremendous opportunity. But we live in an incredibly fragmented marketplace, across independent creators, that is incredibly consolidated at the top. And the reason that we go out and educate filmmakers is because the more consolidated it gets the top, the steeper that mount Hollywood becomes, and the harder it is to ever get picked at all.

Alex Ferrari 42:22
If that's what your goal is,

Emily Best 42:24
Well, the thing is, if you super invest it, look at dolomit. He's super invested in building a direct audience relationship, no matter after he got told no. And then they called him. And that's what happens. You build a really great audience, they come fucking calling you.

Alex Ferrari 42:41
I can only tell you that since you started you were one of my first guests from the moment that I interviewed you to the moment I have now. I've been trying to get into the Hollywood I look, I drank that kool aid that mariachi Kool Aid A long time ago. And it took me until I was 40 to make my first feature film, because I was waiting to get picked or playing the game. And I changed the rules. Because I said, You know what, I'm not gonna wait any more that tools are here, I'm gonna go out and do my own thing. And the second I changed the rules, and I said, You know what, I'm not gonna play by your rules. I'm gonna play by my own rules. I'm gonna create my own little sandbox. Yeah, and I'm gonna do my own thing. And the second I did that, in these last four and a half, almost five years, you I can't even tell you how much how many people have come. You've contacted me purely because I'm doing my thing. I'm doing it my way. And I don't need them. It's kind of like a bank loan.

Emily Best 43:28
Here is like a credit doing more than that, though. Well, you are you are amplifying the voices in the community who are making more opportunities available for creators, you're sharing your experience incredibly openly. You're making it easier for somebody else to make that switch that you made earlier on in their career, and you're providing them the tools and information to do that. And that's some that's the superpower I think we have. The challenge with the notion of independent film is independent sounds like it means a lone wolf, doesn't it? No. We will not create an infrastructure for ourselves that can compete with any individual Hollywood studio unless we are unified. And it's what people like Naomi did when she went on the road for the joyful vampire tour. They were literally filming and cutting episodes at like Kiwi is a genius like I don't know how she did it on camera, cutting the thing putting the story together. And it was amazing. It was amazing. You know, and and probably driving the van sometimes. Anyway, like I think there's the, the sharing it back and building the expertise and kicking the door open and pulling the people up behind you. That's actually the most powerful tool we have for manifesting a really healthy ecosystem. And I do think it's on the businesses to be super transparent about their own unit economics and their own, you know, capacity to stick around because There are some platforms that that creators are relying on that are super, super leveraged. You know, and it makes it hard for them to stick around that makes them really vulnerable. So I just think it's like, you know, it's a time where we do have to be, we do have to be experts in our industry, because it's on us to remake it in the, you know, in the, with the values that we really actually want to, we care about

Alex Ferrari 45:30
No, no question and and it's, it's tough enough. Everything we're talking about is tough enough as independent films like this is, like, remember before the tough part was to make the movie now that that's not the toughest part anymore, the technology has made it so affordable, now that you can make an affordable, good looking independent film, the problem now is getting it sold, getting it out there doing all that stuff. And then it's tough enough without companies like distributor going under and and you know, doing what they did. And and the situation with tug is another scenario, which is still developing story. But

Emily Best 46:04
Yeah, we don't know what we don't we don't we don't know. But with with, with companies like distributor, I think it's so important for filmmakers to ask really key questions about how they make money and how they distribute money. Now, look, there's not a lot you can do if a company is like literally not being forthcoming about what's actually happening,

Alex Ferrari 46:23
or mismanaged or just look, companies don't wonder all the time.

Emily Best 46:26
Totally. It's an especially in our business, it's like it's distribution companies have been going out of business since the dawn of time. It's not anything new. I think that we talked about this with distributor, the aggregation platform is not a distributor, those are two very different,

Alex Ferrari 46:46
They should be just a pass through, they should just be a service, their post house, essentially,

Emily Best 46:50
it's it's very often that some of these technology solutions are sold as sort of distribution, you know, deals or solutions. And they're not. They're just technology solutions. And I think it's important to be forthcoming about what it takes on behalf of filmmakers to really leverage the tools. So like, we weren't just going to build a crowdfunding platform and be like, this is the best one why cuz it is a crowdfunding platform is what the fuck you make of it. But that's not also fair to say to people, like, here's a great tool, get good at using it Good luck. Like, the reason that we invest so much in education is like if we want to be the quote unquote best in the world, it's only because our creators are the most prepared, they're the most prepared to succeed. That like our secret sauce really isn't more than that, is that we we prepare creators probably better than anyone else. And we're, we're sticklers about it a little bit

Alex Ferrari 47:54
As you should look, come on. This is a such a brutal business. I mean, I'd rather you be a stickler than, you know, getting your hand your ass handed to you

Emily Best 48:03
Be a stickler and have you have a good first successful crowdfunding experience, then, you know, burn you on credit, like, these are the platforms that have like 10 11% success rate, like people come to us all the time. from other platforms being like I had a terrible experience, I never thought I was going to crowdfund again. And they come to one of our workshops, and they start to feel like a glimmer of hope and possibility or on crowdfunding, we've converted a lot of people who've had unsuccessful campaigns into successful ones, by simply preparing them, and we can't do it all for all facets of the business, we're not here to prepare you to produce like for production, we're not here to prepare you for every single element. And we certainly can't conceivably prepare everyone, because you know, every film, in this case, every film is, could have a totally unique distribution plan that's actually appropriate for it. So what we can do is equip creators with enough knowledge to prepare themselves. But like, that's as far as we can take it, and you're doing a lot. Sure, but I just think like, you know, there is a big personal responsibility piece here. And I totally, I get the like, why should I have to do at all and I'm like, because capitalism, frankly, and like, I don't like it either. But, but I would rather do it all. And I say this to people all the time. Probably 70 to 80% of my job is shit I don't particularly love to do. Right. And I do it because the 20 to 30% is so rewarding. I wouldn't have it any other way. And PS, I get to choose who I work with. And I don't have to work with assholes and that I will choose to sleep over for the rest of my life. Like if I have to lose sleep over other parts of the business so that I never have to work with an asshole happy as a clam. But that's I mean, I think that's part of it is like, you know, there we also sell creators this myth that like When you're really successful, all you have to do is the is the cool part. No. And that's just never true. There's always like, I'm pretty sure that a lot of those really successful actors don't love going on 20 City press junkets Oh,

Alex Ferrari 50:17
yeah. But they know the business. They understand the business.

Emily Best 50:20
You know, and we all have a version like it's what is it? Like everybody has to eat a shit sandwich. It's what ships in to tolerate eating?

Alex Ferrari 50:27
No, it's no it's a gamble though. Tourists I heard him speak once. And he said, being in Hollywood, like eating a shit sandwich, you could change the bread, you could put some lettuce on it, you can put a little nice vegan mayo on it whatever you want. But at the end of the day, you're still eating shit. That's exactly it. Now, the one thing I've been pushing a lot in, in the last year or so. And I've been talking about it loosely over the course of all the time I've been doing this, but is the concept of being a film intrapreneur being an entrepreneurial filmmaker. And I do truly believe that the only six The only way for moving forward is to become an entrepreneurial understanding every business creating multiple revenue streams, that includes touring, that includes ancillary product lines include services, you could build all these things around films and or companies and or filmmakers and creators. And you're not just handing it over to a third party company and praying that they're going to give you a check. That could be one revenue stream, but not all of them. Is that is that Do you agree with that concept?

Emily Best 51:34
Yeah, you know, there's a, there's a term that a friend of mine introduced to me recently, which is that of a portfolio career. Yes. And I think when you talk about creative entrepreneurship, it's often not built around a single vertical of storytelling, or a single monetization stream, right? Like, I don't think anybody is really just making money making even the big directors are all directing commercials on. Like, Scorsese directed a lineup like yeah, cuz they probably were like,

Alex Ferrari 52:08
He was making a commercial the hiring an actor.

Emily Best 52:11
Yeah, exactly. Like whatever it is, like, like there are you have to diversify your revenue stream over time. And I think for freelancers, it can feel super hectic to think about, well, I have to do a little of this, and a little of that, and some brand work and some whatever. And then I do my own stuff. But the concept of a portfolio career is like, you know, my experiences that some of the most multi talented, multi capable people I've ever met, happened to end up an independent filmmaking for whatever reason that is. And so these are people who it's not just that they have multiple talents, but they have multiple interests. And I do think there is a way to synthesize that if you think about all of these interests, laddering up to a portfolio career, it's a career that actually is built up out of all the things I'm interested in and talented at. And I don't have to feel like I'm just a jack of all trades, master of none. like to be a CEO. It's a portfolio job. Oh, God. Yeah. Right. Like you have to have leadership and management skills and some HR skills and some like, a little bit of technical understanding and a little bit of it. It's a it's a portfolio job. Being a film director is a portfolio job, you have to know so many things about so many things, just to make a set really go the way that you want it to go beyond the

Alex Ferrari 53:31
Politics and all of that stuff.

Emily Best 53:33
Yeah, being a producer, one of the most portfolio jobs in the universe, like you have to be able to, like organize all the coffees and entice and dazzle investors like it's a crazy fucking job. So I think like it's in line with the full skill set. And if I think about the creators who have built incredible long term IP value, the duplass brothers work with a lot among them, like Mark talks all the time about going up the Hollywood Hill, like coming out of their first like big Sundance premiere studio thing. And realizing that was not what they wanted to do, then making everything for super cheap, owning all of the IP and now having a giant library to license long term wealth that they have built, right?

Alex Ferrari 54:23
Yeah, exactly. Like what Tyler what Tyler Perry did, he's built an entire Empire. Dude,

Emily Best 54:28
and has anybody made a more baller move than Tyler Perry recently, teaching a former Confederate army base and converting it into a big deal.

Alex Ferrari 54:39
One of the biggest studios in the world, honestly, and yeah, and Hollywood still adores them. And Hollywood still ignores him. He's kind of like the the most ignored mogul ever. Like you don't need them. He doesn't know he doesn't and he knows it. You know, he used them for what he was good for. But now he easily now he's got what a Netflix deal going on. And also have other stuff that he's got going on. It's it's, it's insane. And I love that, like the duplass brothers are amazing. There's, they're, they're one of the they one of the inspirations for me making this as mag, because I did it with a scriptment and, and I did all that stuff. And I was lucky enough to, to meet not meet. But I saw mark and Jay speak one on one of their book tours for that great book that they wrote like brothers. And I had one of the winners of the of your of your thing. The heroes. Yeah, yeah. Oh God, to their two young girls, that Megan and Hannah. Yes, they were out filmmakers. They were on the show. And they were just so excited to be filmmakers. It was just like, so happy.

Emily Best 55:45
I wish I could bottle their energy and distribute it to everybody because I just, they're having a like, you know, it's hard. But like, they managed to have fun in ways that I just really admire. They said, the silliest, most wonderful birthday message I've ever received in my entire life came from those two. And actually, Megan has become an instructor for seed and spark. So she's teaching our workshops. I'm just about to go to Winston Salem, and do a creative sustainability summit with her. Yeah, so they're, yeah, they're remarkable.

Alex Ferrari 56:18
I mean, what you guys what you're doing Emily, and what you've done for me, you are honestly one of the few good people doing what? I don't think that's true. I really appreciate No, no, no, listen, listen. Before you before you stop me, I'm gonna say something. Okay, cuz I know you're gonna do that. No, no, no, no, no, look, there are many good people. And there are many good people, you know, taking the taking up arms, and there are many. But you're one of those shining lights and have been since I started, I've started 20 years ago, 25 years ago in the business, but during this time, though, you know, we've been coming up coming up there, I've seen people come and go, I've been I've seen people, companies come and go, people rip people off all this kind of stuff, you've been very constant. And only you've only had the, the the best intentions in mind, at least from what I can see from what I have known of you is you're truly trying to help creators, you're truly trying to help filmmakers with your platform and the way you're doing it, and doing it on your own. And by the way, by dancing to your own song, you know, there's no question about it, you definitely are dancing to your own song. And you created a platform that you're like, you know what, screw the big boys, I'm going to do it my way. And I'm going to help filmmakers, and I'm gonna help great now you're helping all creators with your platform. And, you know, that's what I try to promote with indie film, hustle, and with my other companies as well, is to try to help educate and push filmmakers forward. And also give them a nice nice spoonful of reality. Because I'd rather them get a spoonful than a punch in the face from somebody else. And and I think you do the exact same thing. So I do appreciate you doing what you do.

Emily Best 57:55
That's so kind of you. I does. On our door, the door between our conference room in our kitchen and the office.

Alex Ferrari 58:04
Yeah. Can you see what that says? This is we are truth tellers. That's awesome.

Emily Best 58:09
That's a really important key thing. So when you talk about the dose of reality, yes. I think the most important thing we can do in this business to help ourselves and our peers is to tell the truth. Yes. To be honest about the experience of good, bad and indifferent to, it seems inspark we feel like it's our responsibility to like really research things and understand the real dynamics of what's going on and like make whatever phone calls we can make behind the scenes to like, find out what's really going on to talk to creators who've had distribution deals that like look favorable and like, unpack, well, how did it actually go, you know? We are truth tellers, I feel like really defines what we're trying to do. Because I think we're in the business of telling fantastic stories. We can't do that about the business of telling the stories. Because we've really shot ourselves in the foot buying a myth that doesn't exist. Oh, yeah. dispelling those myths in favor of giving people something they can do every day that they own, that they control. That's so much more exciting to me than like, I mean, I love making it like that. filmmakers like Meghan, Hannah got to work with the duplass brothers. Like, that's so delightful. It's so wonderful. But like, Mark and I joke like the the whole point of a crowdfunding rally is when you get to the end of it, you've already raised money and built your audience like you don't need us anymore. You know what I mean? getting picked would be the icing on the cake, but you've proven to yourself You don't need to get picked. You can pick yourself

Alex Ferrari 59:59
that's Amazing, absolutely true. Now I'm going to ask you a few questions I ask all of my guests. Okay, what advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Emily Best 1:00:10
Sorry, to break into the business today. Start talking to your audience, get to know them, get to love them get to understand them. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life, I think my actual, it's not a lesson. It's like constant maintenance is how to be responsive and not reactive. So in leadership in team building and decision making, when you're working with lots of people collaboratively in this age of like instant digital communication, text messages, text message, and emails and all of that, it can be very tempting to just react and, you know, right back right away. And I think being responsive and building a little thoughtfulness into how you react when people say things to you that you have strong reactions to where people write things to you that you have strong reactions to. And that is a that is a forever challenge. And so I have to be in it like a good space in order to be there. So whatever care it takes me to maintain this sense of responsiveness and not reactiveness I think is really important.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:24
Emily, I can't thank you enough for being a champion of filmmakers and creators out there and in for doing fighting the good battle that you are fighting every day. So thank you so much for everything you guys do at Seton Spark.

Emily Best 1:01:35
Thank you. Thanks for this great podcast and great interview Alex.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:40
I want to thank Emily for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs on the tribe. If you want to get links to anything we talked about in this episode, please head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/402 and I'll also have links to the first episode Episode 23 that we do with Emily which is really an masterclass in crowdfunding for filmmakers. Thank you guys for listening. I hope this episode was of value to you on your journey. As always, keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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IFH 342: Making Money Self Distributing Your Indie Film with Naomi McDougall Jones

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Today episode is probably one of the most important shows I have released in some time. On the show is filmmaker Naomi McDougall Jones the writer, actress and producer behind the indie film Bite Me, a subversive romantic comedy about a real-life vampire and the IRS agent who audits them, directed by Meredith Edwards.

The filmmakers of Bite Me have decided to take a radical approach to distribute their film: they’re doing it themselves. For 3 months, they traveled in an RV around the U.S. and screening the film wherever they can – be it a theater, a bar, or someone’s living room. Not only did they tour around the country like carnies they also documented their entire process with a docu-series.

EVERY FILMMAKER NEEDS TO WATCH THIS SERIES. It is mandatory for every IFH Tribe member. I’ve never said this before so take it seriously. It will save you a ton of pain and suffering. Naomi is so open, raw and honest about her experience. Get ready for one heck of an interview.  Enjoy!

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Today's guest is Naomi Mcdougall Jones. And she is one of the filmmakers behind the independent film bite me which is a subversive romantic comedy about real life vampires and the IRS agent that audits them. Now what's incredible about this story is what they did and how they went about trying to make their half a million dollar budget back. Now they have no bankable stars in the movie. So there was going to be a little bit of an uphill battle to be able to recoup that money. And then when they went down the road of trying to find a distributor, they were just so disinherited by the horror stories and how the system is literally rigged with most distributors, not all but most distributors. And that whole model, that whole legacy model of traditional distribution is kind of set up to screw the filmmaker, I hate to say it, but it's the truth. There are really, really good distributors out there, like indie rights, which I highly, highly recommend. And there's a couple other ones. But generally speaking, every distribution company I've dealt with, other than a handful have been just horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible. And Naomi really wanted to kind of do something interesting. So they literally went on a tour around the country. And they called it the joyful vampire tour of America, where they rented an RV, put some things on it and went around to city after city like a carnival, and, and showed their films and sold their wares. Older ancillary products made money with their movie, and were in complete control of the revenue coming in. And their bravery of what they're trying to do. And this entire crazy journey. What's documented in this must see, I repeat, must see documentary series called the joyful vampire tour of America, where they literally as if I may quote her, they pull their pants down and show the good, the bad and the ugly of everything. They're completely transparent with all of their numbers. If they screw up, they let you know if they make money. They let you know what they could have done better. What could they have done worse, they interview other other filmmakers and their processes in this series. It is an amazing must see series for anybody wanting to make a movie in today's world. And specifically, you're going to try to self distribute your film. A lot of the things that we talked about in distribution, you know, even six months ago, eight months ago a year ago is obsolete now. It everything changes so rapidly. You know why? Because the industry is trying to figure it out. Everything is changing so quickly. The consumers are changing so quickly. Everything is changing so quickly, we got to try to figure out ways for independent filmmakers to actually make money. And Naomi was wonderful. She's a wonderful guest. She completely is transparent with everything and drops knowledge bomb after knowledge bomb after knowledge bomb with also a few inspiration bombs as well. So I'm not going to talk anymore. Without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Naomi Mcdougall Jones. I'd like to welcome the show. Naomi Mcdougall Jones, how you doing?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 5:32
Hey, I'm great. Thank you so much for having me.

Alex Ferrari 5:34
Thank you for being on the show. I greatly appreciate it. You guys reached out to me. And I heard about your craziness. And I said I need to I mean, you're insane. And I love it. And anytime I mean, insane filmmakers who are good at it, because there's crazy insane, which is just like, I've lost my mind. I'm an egomaniac and that we've met those filmmakers. Yeah, but but you were you're good kind of insane. Something ambitious. You have Audacity. I love that. You had an audacity, I'm like, we're going to do this watch. So I felt that was a perfect story for film intrapreneur. And because you are a film entrepreneur without question, you are a a definition of entrepreneurship without question. So before we get going, I want to know, tell me a little bit about your film bite me and how it came to life because we're going to talk a lot about this film.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 6:29
Sorry. So binary is my second feature film. I wrote it. I was one of the producers and I started it. And it is a subversive comedy about a real life vampire IRS agent who audits her.

Alex Ferrari 6:45
Now when you say real life vampires like someone who identifies as a vampire.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 6:49
Yes. So there is a real global community of people who identify as vampires in real life. Well, you say of course, but not everybody knows.

Alex Ferrari 6:56
I mean, I've been I'm very, I'm very hip that way. Yes. Because when you say vampires, like cuz people might think is like, Is this like, interview with a vampire? I'm like, No, this is like, these are people who are real, who are in the lore. I mean, I, I had a lot of golf friends in high school, so I am aware of this.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 7:12
So so some portion of that community believes that they need to drink human blood to stay healthy. And they do through donors through donors. So so the genesis of the film was wanting to I to write a really great romantic comedy. I love romantic comedies. I'm really sad that the genre has taken such a horrible nosedive.

Alex Ferrari 7:33
Ever since Nora Ephron left us.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 7:35
Yeah, I know.

Alex Ferrari 7:36
She was so wonderful

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 7:37
The early 2000s it's just been terrible.

Alex Ferrari 7:40
It's been pretty rough.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 7:40
So anyway, so I was sort of, like, how do you? How do you make something smart, and edgy and well written and feminist and just like a well made movie that is also a romantic comedy. And I found out about this vampire community. And those two ideas kind of smashed together. And

Alex Ferrari 7:57
What what I mean, I heard the story when I when I saw the trailer, I'm like, well, this is genius, like, and the reason there is the IRS agent is, is because they are trying to identify as a nonprofit because of their religion. Or,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 8:11
Well,

Alex Ferrari 8:12
How does that work?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 8:13
So they so vampires would tell you that that vampirism is not a religion, it's it's a fact of their lives. Sure, and identity. But the vampires in the film have registered as a church, right, basically, for tax reasons. Right, possibly, to scam the government slightly. They get audited at the beginning of the film. And that sort of sets the whole story in motion. I mean, seriously, that just alone is hilarious.

Alex Ferrari 8:42
I mean, just that concept is it's a very high concept in film, which is great. Now, the other thing that I found interesting about this, is that you guys, you guys raised a lot of money for this film. I mean, I mean, and no, it's considered in the in the world of studios, a low budget, you know, argue some of them would even argue to say it's a micro budget, I wouldn't call this a micro budget, but it's a low budget film. The budget from what I've read is half a million, correct. That's right, that is a lot of money for a for a romantic comedy, with no marketable quote unquote, actors in it. So how, first of all, how did you raise the money for this kind of project? And then we'll talk about how we're going to get the money back.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 9:29
Yeah, well, so I made my first feature film, imagine I'm beautiful on a true micro budget scale for $80,000. And that we had crowdfunded most of that, and then kind of cobbled the rest of it together through some small investments. And then, you know, we made the film and it won a bunch of awards on the festival circuit, that film actually even got a traditional theatrical distribution deal, but we put it like and there are some things I love about true micro budget filmmaking, but we wanted a bigger.

Alex Ferrari 10:03
Yeah. You want to eat? I get it. You want to time to play.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 10:07
Pay ourselves and people and things like that

Alex Ferrari 10:10
Bigger toys to play with. Got it?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 10:12
Yeah. So we, when we felt like having demonstrated that we could do that with 80,000 that we could go out and raise the half a million, which we did over a three year period, it took us three years to raise the money. Yeah. Which is as you as from the face you're making you know, it's brutal.

Alex Ferrari 10:31
Well, yeah. Because how many how many filmmakers Do you know are still looking for that money to drop any day? Now that investor is gonna drop that money? And when you look, and you look at the clock, and you're like, oh, wow, five years have gone?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 10:42
Oh, totally. And, and, and it's brutal, because during that period of time, there's no guarantee that it will work, right? Because you also know that right there, the filmmakers were, like 20 years into this and never have found the money

Alex Ferrari 10:54
A day before a day before the money will go away.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 10:57
Yeah. Right. So. So it's just sort of like the sheer willpower of yourself and your team to keep going and the belief that this will eventually work out. But so we did raise, we use the New York's tax credit. So we took out a loan against the 25%, New York tax credit towards financing the movie, and the other 75% we raised through equity investments from private investors. We raised it from around 20 investors. So it was a it was a matter of cobbling together smaller investment amounts.

Alex Ferrari 11:32
Okay. So that makes that makes sense. And the tax credits are a huge deal. Especially. I had another New York filmmaker on the other day. And they they were saying that here, New York is a wonderful place to shoot. I hear they're just super open. And you know, and now let's think it's like 300 bucks. He told me that for all permits, like you could shoot

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 11:52
Yeah everyone assumes it'll be really, everyone always thinks it's really expensive to shoot outside in New York, and it's actually the cheapest place to shoot,

Alex Ferrari 12:01
And has the most production value. Yeah, they were they're really open because everyone here at La You mean you even you can't you need a permit to shoot in your house. Right? You I mean, technically, you need a permit to shoot in a house if someone calls you like if you're shooting a little movie in your house. And if some if the neighbor doesn't like and calls the cops, you will be ticketed, and you will have to go to court and pay a fine Oh, it's because because we're in LA. So that's why you assume all big cities are like that and they're not LA is LA is murderers,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 12:33
Although funny thing. So we have a scene that takes place in Central Park and and what we learned about Central Park is that you don't have to pay extra for the permit. However, you do have to convince the people in charge to let you shoot in Central Park. And and they've segmented Central Park into a series of tiny little fiefdoms. So even if you're shooting in a really bright area, you have to go convince like five different people to let you shoot on their patch of Central Park.

Alex Ferrari 13:02
That it's just basically like, like Lords Lords of the manor if you will. Like little like fiefdoms like little fiefdoms like you were saying, little Lords that you have to convince us Lord, can we shoot on your grass? It's free, but we just liked you know, yeah, but we need your blessing. So please. Wow, that's, that's super weird. That's hilarious. That's actually hilarious. Um, okay, so you're shooting in New York, you're shooting this movie. Now? Did I have to ask you a question? Did you at ever consider trying to cast a more marketable name, or a more marketable, traditionally marketable name in some sort of parts, which will make it easier to sell them? A film of this budget learned? I'm just curious that

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 13:48
I mean, I think realistically, for half a million dollars, unless you're friends with that person. It's it's virtually impossible to get bigger actors than we got. I think we certainly had ambitions to do that. And I feel like there you always hear these stories of like, people getting so and so for this tiny film. And I feel like underneath those stories, they're almost always related to those people before. Because because the problem, of course, is not the actors, it's the agents. And so like, of course, we put offers out to bigger people, but I'm almost certain that their agents never gave it to them. Because why would they don't want Daniel Radcliffe doing this film when Marvel might call at any moment and pay them 17 times the cost, right?

Alex Ferrari 14:38
If you're, if you're offering him let's say $50,000 for a day, the agents gonna pull in a little bit of money off that they rather pull it off the millions. Right and that's something and that's something that independent filmmakers even listening to this or watching this are not aware of this like, agents you there's so many Guards or gatekeepers to some of these actors. So like with my first film, I had an insane cast, but they were all friends of ours and they were all like they like all come out. I'm in LA Oh, come out for the day. Yeah. And, and these people have been in big huge movies and, and but they were all friends. So it really does help

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 15:19
It makes all the difference. Because as I'll tell you, we're really crazy story. So our cast, as we'll probably talk about in a moment are not like a list actors, but are named actors, in a sense, like they've been on their faces. So one of those actors we were, I had actually written the part in the film specifically for and we reached out to her, we, through our casting director, we submitted an offer to her agent and and I had actually written a personal letter explaining this that with the offer, and we haven't heard anything, and I was like this agent has not, has not given her her this offer. I just had this feeling. And so we had a mutual friend, and I asked the friend if she would just be willing to forward my letter to this actress. Just to make sure she'd gotten it. And within about half an hour, this actress called me and was like, of course, I want to do this movie nobody's ever written apart for me before. And her agent had not given her the offer. And she had to call her agent and be like, Hey, what's what is going on? And they were like, Oh, um, oh, yeah. Sorry. Sorry. And then they were incredibly obstructionist, like, the whole time trying to make a deal with her.

Alex Ferrari 16:40
Oh, absolutely. There's there's there's two quick, quick acting stories. One. The same thing happened when Tarantino when he was doing Pulp Fiction, submitted for James Woods. And James was agent didn't give it to them. And then after the movie came out James Woods, Matt quit and then quits like, yeah, I sent that to you like what? And his agent never gave it to him. And he was pissed. Sure. And there was another story of some filmmakers who this great story, they actually went to a film festival and Ed Harris was speaking. After the talk, they bum rush, the stage jumped on the stage. And they had a DVD player portable details A while ago, DVD player and showed them showed him the trailer for his for their film that they they would like like, you know, like a sizzle reel that they'd shot. And they literally went into the back. He's like, Come follow me. And he went into the back alley to smoke. And they tell him his whole story that I want you to play the par because you're you will be playing our alcoholic father, father and all this. And, and Harris said, Yeah, I'll do it. And I mean, and that Harris, if you remember, has doesn't do independent films. Like he's, he's one of those actors. He never did. But he said he was going to do it. Everyone at CIA was just trying to torpedo that left and right. And it was Ed that said, Sure. I'm doing this guy's so make it happen. So unless you're able to get direct access to some of these actors, it's it's extremely difficult. It's impossible.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 18:14
Well, because the agents are directly disincentivized from allowing that to happen. Did you know if you heard about Bill Murray's hotline? No. Okay. He's talking about please. Oh, please, Oh, please. Oh, Bill Murray does not have an agent, and refuses to have an agent for this reason. So Bill Murray has a hotline number that you can call that anybody can call and leave a message pitching their project. No. And then then from there, so so I read this story once written by a filmmaker who had eventually gotten Bill Murray to be in his movie this way. And he said, so he called the hotline and he left a message with a pitch. And then, like, three months later, it gets a call from Bill Murray being like, can you meet me in LA for lunch tomorrow? And the guy was like, like, No, I can't I'm so sorry. Like, I'm in New York. And Bill Murray hangs up the phone, click and the guy is like, and then. And then three months after that, Phil Murray calls him again. And he says, Can you be in? Can I pick you up at Li x in like, 12 hours? And the guy was like, Sure, yes. Yes. So he gets in an airplane goes to LA x. Bill Murray picks them up in the back of a limousine. They drive around for like, three hours or the driver dies or after three hours, they talk about the movie, Bill Murray says that he'll do the movie. And then they drive him back to LA x to drop him off. And the guy is like, like, Can you just like write on a napkin or something that you agreed to do? no proof that nobody's ever gonna believe that this happened. Right and what it will do? I don't think he wrote it down. But he did do the movie eventually.

Alex Ferrari 19:56
Wow. That's amazing. But you have to buy How'd you get this number? I'm not gonna promote it. But I just curious how do you know I think you can google it like I think it's I think it's a it's just a thing. Yeah. I love Bill Murray. I just absolutely love Bill Maher. He's like the coolest human being coolest. I mean, amazing. Okay, so did you call Bill Murray, you should have called the business. There wasn't a role for him. He could have played the female vampire he would have so love it. Alright, so you you've raised half a million dollars to make this romantic comedy about vampires. Now, when you were doing this, did you have a niche audience in mind? Did you figure out like, okay, we're going to target this group of people, because I'm assuming the the vampire community itself is a the people who identify as vampires is fairly small comparatively to the general public. But people who like vampires is a fairly large, yeah, niche audience. And then there's four and there's horror fans and people that actually it could spill over to was that was that a thought process?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 21:04
Oh, very much and actually circling back to the casting conversation that we were very intentional about how we cast based on the audience, even though we we weren't able to get bigger actors. So our our working hypothesis was that our our audience was going to break down into two groups. One, we lovingly term the mega nerds. So like people who at which I would like.

Alex Ferrari 21:31
I have a life size yoda behind me. So

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 21:34
I just I just clocked that

Alex Ferrari 21:38
this is a safe space this is a safe space.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 21:41
For people who play d&d people who are larpers people who are mega, sci fi comic,

Alex Ferrari 21:46
Comic Con, Comic Con,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 21:47
Comic Con, that sort of thing with the Vampire angle, and then secondarily, people who love romantic comedies. But we figured that that we needed to be a little bit more specific with that groups, we we figured people who love romantic comedies, and also Harry Potter, because the the the film is very much about sort of the feeling of being an outsider, and wanting to be seen and accepted. And so we felt like the people who were at the convergence of that were going to be the right people.

Alex Ferrari 22:22
Interesting. So that was just a demographic, I'm assuming in like direct ads and things like that is what you're talking about. target those people

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 22:29
We right, so we didn't test that. At the time we tested it before we released the film, and it did prove to be correct. But I am a person who likes romantic comedies and Harry Potter quite strongly both and so we figured that that was a pretty good cipher, mega nerd got it met. Yep. So and also the film has an almost entirely female creative team at the lead character is a is a super badass, edgy female character. And so we figured also, we wanted to grab people who liked that kind of edgy, feminine feminist content

Alex Ferrari 23:02
And know how did you target them through like Facebook ads and things like that?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 23:06
Through Facebook? Yeah. So when we eventually released the film, we had a number of marketing tactics. So so we did do the Facebook ads direct, okay. And then, and we, we had slightly different messaging that we marketed the film as to those two groups. So like, for the mega nerds, we pushed the vampire angle more strongly. And for the rom com people,we push the love stories angle more strongly.

Alex Ferrari 23:32
Interesting. And that actually, because I mean, I always preach in you know, as a filmtrepreneur like you have to niche down niche down niche down and understand who your audience is. So I find it interesting like because if you can try to, if you're going to try to reach romantic comedy lovers, that's too large of an audience. You don't have the resources to to do that. But when you combine the Harry Potter romantic comedy area, it niches a down, but it's not a niche that you would conceive normally it's like, and that's an interesting concept. I've really never thought of it that way. We're like, Okay, well, people who like romantic comedies, and also like Harry Potter's are probably gonna like this, let's do a test. Let's do a test ad, which you could do for 20 Yeah, 35 bucks, 50 bucks, right, and just kind of just test out your hypothesis.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 24:18
And it was interesting. So we we tested way at the beginning of the putting together the marketing materials, we we did a B test those two different demographic groups with our trailer. And we had exactly the same click through rate from both groups, which was really interesting because we thought maybe we've learned that one was stronger than the other and then target the phone that way and it actually came out totally evenly.

Alex Ferrari 24:42
Real. That's interesting. So that's a good way for people listening is well, you did market research prior to like you was trying to figure out how to do this by by doing these kind of like little test Facebook ads and stuff like that. You're basically doing a lot of the stuff that I preach, which is fantastic. And Hi, you're on the show. All right. So obviously, you had a very show you had a good,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 25:03
though just to close the loop on the casting thing quickly. So because we had the feeling that that was who our audiences, we then decided that it was important to get actors that that had fan following specifically in those groups of people

Alex Ferrari 25:18
so smart,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 25:19
that aren't necessarily household names, but we've been known to those people. So we really wanted a Harry Potter actor very much. And we ended up getting Christian Colson, who played Tom Riddle and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. And then we got Naomi Grossman from American Horror Story. Perfect. And then Annie golden from Orange is the New Black, which we figured she's fabulous content. I mean, she's incredible. So we tried to think about casting.

Alex Ferrari 25:45
So it's so that is, again, what we preach. And it is, it is so wonderful to see this because, you know, look, if you made this movie for 50, grand, you have less to risk, but you have half a million dollars, which is a substantial amount of money for an independent film. And you're being very smart. So far, in this journey, I'm seeing it, you're being very smart and strategic on how you're doing this. Because again, I've always said like, if you're gonna make a horror movie, you might not be able to afford Brad Pitt. But you might be able to afford Robert England to come out for a day or two, who has a huge horror following. And if you're doing something that's aimed at 80s Horror, I mean, he's a dude that you would probably want to cast and probably affordable, comparatively, you know, to, you know, obviously, you can't get Brad Pitt or Meryl Streep or something like that. Right. But they actually are larger in the niche that you're trying

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 26:34
zactly it's who were. So we had, we had two young women. We premiered at cinequest in San Jose, California. So to

Alex Ferrari 26:44
get my foot my first film was it was awesome.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 26:48
I left in the quest. So we had the premiere. We had two young women drive 30 hours from Michigan, to San Jose for that premiere, because Christian Colson tweeted about it. And then later, they moved to North Carolina before we had a Brooklyn screening where Christian clothes was going to be there. And they drove another 20 hours from North Carolina to be at that screening and meet Christian Colson. Like that is the kind of fan that you want.

Alex Ferrari 27:18
Yeah, yeah, that's the kind of fans you want. And you in, in all honesty, you can't do a film like this without that kind of strategy. Like it's like, if you just like, grab, you know, grab a whole bunch of friends, or no name actors or non recognizable non marketable actors and try to do half a million out, which I've seen multiple times, it'll die on the vine, it just won't go there. So you have to this is like, you need something. You need some angle,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 27:45
that's going to turn out the people.

Alex Ferrari 27:47
That's awesome. That's awesome. Alright, so you finish making this movie. Now I'm assuming during this process, even during the making of this movie, or prior to it, you're already thinking how you're going to distribute this thing? Correct?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 27:59
Yeah, we were, although to be perfectly honest. So my first feature film, as I said, had gotten a distribution deal, which at the time, felt like oh, my God, it was a theatrical It was 10 cities.

Alex Ferrari 28:13
And you're still counting the money that they keep sending you, right? I mean, it must be tiring to to swim in the gold coins like Scrooge McDuck, and let's be real,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 28:24
I will tell you exactly what happened with that movie. So we got to do and I and we actually, I believe our distributor work wasn't we're honest people, which I think in and of itself is incredibly rare. And but we we have made to date came out in 2014, slightly less than $5,000. We have received from that,

Alex Ferrari 28:45
from the, from everything

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 28:47
from everything, Jesus, and to And to make matters worse, a year ago, that company folded and got their their titles got bought by another distribution company, which happens all the time because these distribution companies are turning over like that. And that company has had our film since last August, so a full year, and we have not received a single report or check from them. Despite the fact that we have emailed and called them multiple, multiple times, we had a lawyer contact them like they just won't,

Alex Ferrari 29:22
unless they're like if you want it to us. Yeah. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Basically, when is the original contract up in one year? Okay, and then it'll come back to you. And then you can do whatever you want with it.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 29:45
Right? So thank God it was a short I mean, it was a six year contract, which is relatively,

Alex Ferrari 29:50
it's relatively short, anywhere between five to seven is what I recommend, which is not recommend, but it's just generally you know, I literally just got a call from a filmmakers like yeah, this Distribution numbers they will not be named. But they offered a 15. Year. Yeah. Your deal with no money upfront with no money upfront. So my call you're dominating the film that your donation it's a donation. Right off, it's a write off because you're never going to see a dime. Oh and 100,000 PNA locked off at 100,000 psi. So I talked Are you kidding? Are you kidding me I'm never see a dime. Yeah. It's predatory these guys are.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 30:34
It's just we made it. We made a docu series about the tour, which we'll talk about in a while but but in the course of part of that docu series was that we wanted to be radically transparent about our data, and numbers and revenue and everything, because we feel like a huge problem in this space is that nobody has any information. So we're essentially all making dumb decisions, because we don't know what have any information. So because we've done that a number of other filmmakers began reaching out to us who had gotten to traditional distribution deals. And were, were willing to disclose to us what had happened. Numbers wise. So we had a pair of filmmakers Come on our on our series and talk about what happened. And it was

Alex Ferrari 31:23
the abuse for beating the beating Yes,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 31:26
well, and like the thievery. Oh, straight up. And so then we had a lawyer contact us who, who spends a lot of time fighting this stuff. And he said, I mean, hit the whole phone calls in the episode it and I'm and I'm crying by the end of the phone call, because it's so horrifying, what he told us. Wow,

Alex Ferrari 31:46
I would like to talk to him. Oh, totally talk to him, I will put you in touch. And we will talk after afterwards because I I really need to talk to him. Yeah, you know, I've talked about distribution. And you know, the whole film to printer model in general, is about giving power to thinking about film as an entrepreneurial endeavor, thinking of your movie as a product and audiences and selling it and all that stuff. And to use traditional distribution as a partnership or as a hybrid part of part of the hybrid distribution model, where you still retain some sort of control. And you don't get lost, you know, I know Sundance winners, with their movies that that got lost in bankruptcies of distribution companies. And yeah, their rights are locked up for years. And by the time six years rolls around, no one cares about their Sundance winner right anymore,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 32:36
right. It's so one of the filmmakers who came on our series to talk was that they didn't win Sundance, but they were at Sundance, which is, you know, like,

Alex Ferrari 32:44
know, when it's a witness winning, that's winning.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 32:46
Yeah. And they have received $0 back from their distribution company. So far.

Alex Ferrari 32:52
I mean, yeah. That's insane. Okay, so so you, you, were going to get about the docu series in a little bit. So your distribution plan, what was the idea? Like, when you started going down this because I'm assuming you feel responsible to pay back these people, and and even possibly make a little money on on this deal. So you as a responsible filmmaker, we're like, Okay, guys, we've got half a million, how are we going to make this back? What was the what was the thought process there?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 33:26
Yeah. So initially, we started going down the same old path of applying to film festivals and wanting to be picked, like Cinderella out of the masses and sort of like

Alex Ferrari 33:39
in lottery ticket, the lottery ticket mentality,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 33:40
a lottery ticket. And it's really two lottery tickets, right? You have to win the lottery of the film festivals to get into a major Film Festival, where you can even be looked at by seriously by distributor, if there's any left to win the lottery again, to actually get a distribution deal.

Alex Ferrari 33:55
Yeah, so basically, and there's only what 567 in the US five, there's five that matter. Yeah. And even then, even Sundance,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 34:06
though I had, I had a distributor, somebody who's worked deeply in distribution, tell me the other day off the record that she said, you know, all these distribution companies tell filmmakers Don't worry, if you don't get into one of the top film festivals, we still look at other festivals, whatever she's like, that is bullshit. She's like, the reality is, if you don't get into a top Film Festival, you are screwed. If you got into a top Film Festival, you are still probably screwed. But there is a tiny percentage of chance that you're not totally screwed,

Alex Ferrari 34:35
unless you go at it from a different point of view like you are and what we talked about. Okay, so alright, so So what was the RCW went down the normal traditional path at Sundance, you submitted to Sundance

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 34:48
Sundance, we were not accepted to not really a Sundance kind of movie.

Alex Ferrari 34:53
I mean, but also, you you did crowdfund with seed and spark, right? We did, yeah. Okay. So can you talk to us about quickly about you know, cuz I crowdfunded my first film on scene. And I love Emily and I love what they're doing their fan rates. They're fantastic. And you know, did you so you crowdfunded this. How much did you raise when you crowdfunded, crowdfunded? 35,000? So that's that's a good amount. Yeah, that's a yeah without question and then you and then you get the investments for the rest. But you started to build an audience with them. Yeah, with with seed and spark and then see the spark has their own kind of, you know, distribution output deal like their service and they have to deal with, with quiver and all that kind of stuff. Right, then you don't have to deal with quiver anymore. You got to quiver. Liz manna shell at Sundance source, Liz. Yes. A friend of the show.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 35:45
We had, we had gotten to the final rounds of being selected for their creative distribution lab. And they have a deal with quiver that if you're a finalist, you get a discount.

Alex Ferrari 35:54
Awesome. They were on the show. They were on the show. Did you get the funding a quick funny story about Liz. She called me and she's like, Alex, we have this distribution grant. We want to give people filmmakers way. But we have like 15 people who've signed up, I need help. Can you get the word out? I'm like, like, Are you kidding? Are you kidding me? Give me a minute. And then and then I put her on the show. And I go, be careful what you wish for. And they were in the data that shut it down. And I said it and they were foolish enough to leave their emails on the show. I'm like, don't. She's like, No, no, we don't mind. We want to help. I'm like, okay, and you're like, Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. It was it was brutal. Yeah. That's awesome. Alright, so you went down that road, say so. So go ahead, continue.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 36:43
Okay, so we, I would say we spent about from like September to, to know, to like Thanksgiving sort of going down that path, having initial conversations with distributors and sales agents. And simultaneously sort of feeling our own souls dying by the by the just like sort of soul less horrible now horribleness of that process. And also. So I had had that experience with my my first feature film and my producing partner Sarah Wharton's past feature films, I had very similar experiences with traditional distributors. And, like, we were just kind of getting like, it just began to feel like, we were gonna hand our film to a person who is going to throw it off a cliff, again, in exchange for a large percentage of our revenues, like just

Alex Ferrari 37:37
throw it up against the wall and see what sticks.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 37:39
Right. And also, I think what was different this time, too, is is at this current moment in film distribution, you can feel the despondency wafting off of the distributors themselves, like you're in these conversations, and they're just like, well, we don't know what works. I love your movie, and I have absolutely no idea how to sell it. You can just feel the despair. But I feel

Alex Ferrari 38:03
it. But I think also distributors have the same problem as independent filmmakers is like they, they can't get above the noise like No, no. There's certain bigger distributors. I mean, I'm not even talking about Lionsgate or the studios or anything like that. I'm talking about just like even bigger indie distributors names. These guys. They just basically pump it out through their outlets. So they'll put it on iTunes, Amazon, they might make a red box deal if you're lucky, that maybe they'll do a limited theatrical if it has some sort of maybe if it maybe they'll get Netflix or Hulu to buy it, they'll just submit it, but they just basically shotgun it, they don't really have a plan. And it's almost impossible for a distributor without major money to distribute it to to get any sort of awareness for a film, even if you dump five or 10 million bucks into PNA. I still mean that's nothing

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 38:56
totally and and yet, there is no doubt that we are in a profound distribution crisis right now across the board. Like it's not it's not it's not like it's the distributors that not that piece of it is not the distributors fault. But But in that landscape. I feel like it makes the prospect of going with a distributor even worse. Like they're just like flinging stuff out. And nothing's working.

Alex Ferrari 39:25
Because it's it's to it they they've caught that they're basically I hate to use the term blockbuster but then don't be blockbuster. That's what that is they got into they got fat. This is the way it's always been. And then when Netflix and when Netflix showed up and offered blockbuster to buy them for 50 million and blockbuster said no kid, we're fine. We're good on this video store thing. We don't need your DVD home sale thing, whatever you're doing. And but that's what that's where these old school distribution distribution companies are coming from. They're just they have no idea how to handle the new landscape and It's changing. daily, daily, daily.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 40:03
It's insane. Yeah, insane. Right. So I'm so in the middle of that mess there. There came a moment around Thanksgiving where we were just like, we just looked at each other. And we were like, we're not doing this again. This is horrible, and not gonna work. And his movie is too good. We have too much money on the line. We're just not Nope, we're not doing it. So we started. I had a dream actually, literally is what happened?

Alex Ferrari 40:28
Yes, MLK Yes.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 40:30
That we were driving around the country in an RV on something called the joyful vampire tour of America releasing the movie,

Alex Ferrari 40:38
you had a dream? You literally physically

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 40:41
dream that that was happening. And I called and I called Sarah the next morning and I was like, this might be crazy. But what if we just rented an RV and did the drive vampire to America? And God bless her she was like, Yes, and we should put things on it.

Alex Ferrari 40:59
This is the audacity I was talking about this is what I love about the story.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 41:04
So in just last December, we I had the stream and we basically started calling everybody that we knew within the industry and and sounding out this idea.

Alex Ferrari 41:15
Oh, and oh, that didn't go well. I'm sure

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 41:18
you know, the nothing will signal how giant a crisis the industry isn't as basically everybody's was Francoise. Well, nothing else is working. You may as

Alex Ferrari 41:27
well try. Oh, wow. That's that says volumes.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 41:31
Right? One, one woman read us the riot act about how we were throwing our careers off the cliff but truly wild for that phone call. And when it finally happened, I was like, Oh, this is finally happening.

Alex Ferrari 41:43
Okay, good. We we are crazy. I mean, can't everyone can agree with this.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 41:47
This is insane. Everybody else was just like, we don't know, probably try it. Um, so I guess we decided around Christmas that we were going to do this. And then we had from January to May to put together the tour. And and the basic thinking behind the tour was okay, if the hurdle is that it's really hard to get people to leave their houses. Now to watch a movie because you have infinite content from your sofa, then you have to offer people an extra reason to do it. Yes. So we thought a piece of that is certainly having the filmmaker be there being able to do a q&a after people meet the filmmaker got to talk about the movie. But we felt like there needed to be another element that that wasn't quite enough. So we came up with the idea that we would throw a joyful vampire ball after every screening. And that we would invite the audience to come dressed in costume, to the screening and the bar and the party.

Alex Ferrari 42:47
And if I may stop you for a second. And if you understand your niche, which you guys definitely do understand your niche, that audience would love to dress up and go.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 42:58
Oh, yes. Right. And, and funnily enough, the the desire to dress in costume, and wound up expanding way beyond our niche audience. Like it turns out that most adults are just looking for an excuse to wear a costume.

Alex Ferrari 43:15
Fun fact, fun fact, for everyone listening out there. People just want to dress up.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 43:20
Yeah. Um, so that was that was the concept. And then we we ran some back of the napkin math and quickly understood that we could not physically make back anything close to the budget, from the tour itself, because I had three months that I could do physically go on this tour. So we had, we had to do a three month tour and and Okay, you can't do a screening every night or you'll die. So maybe like, initially, we thought we'd do like 20 to 30 screenings over that time. Count the seats, them most you can make is like $40,000.

Alex Ferrari 43:59
So just from but that's just from ticket sales, that doesn't include other streams of revenue.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 44:05
Right? So we so we decided quickly that the model that we were going to test was to use the tour to drive online sales. So we got the film transactionally on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. And and then we did a partnership with seed and spark so that they would help us market the tour. And so the film was available for subscription on demand through seed and spark. Which was worth it to us. Because if you're if they're your only subscription platform, they pay 40 cents per minute watched of your movie, that's amazing, which is bananas, which means that you make more money if somebody watches on seed and sparkling even if they buy a ticket.

Alex Ferrari 44:51
Wow, I wonder how that is. I have to call Emily, what's that business model working like? I

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 44:55
mean, I think the the only explanation I can come up with Is that they're artificially inflating it at the beginning of their model to try to attract filmmakers. And then eventually that will go down. But

Alex Ferrari 45:07
like Amazon did, yeah. But I'm happy to reap the benefits in the meantime. Fair enough. Fair enough. Okay, so so and then what are the other revenue streams that you were able to create on this tour.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 45:22
So, merchandise, merchandise, the major ones. So we, and because of the nature of the film, we've, we felt like, we just had a merchandise sort of extravaganza course waiting for

Alex Ferrari 45:36
it. But also don't forget, and I hate to interrupt you again. But that this audience is known for purchasing stuff, like Comic Con geeks, mega nerds, this is what they'd love to do. So they'd love to dress up, and they'd love to buy stuff. Thanks, great audience, great audience to go to Target. So I'm just trying, I'm stopping you every once in a while. So everyone hears and understands what the mentality and the process is because you guys are doing, you're basically hitting every note so far as the film intrapreneur you're hitting every note so far, so far, you're hitting every note.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 46:08
Okay. Um, so we had DVDs and blu rays print made up, we had posters we had very nice and that enamel pins, we had two kinds of T shirts. One that was the film's and one we had a very funny love sex.

Alex Ferrari 46:26
Design,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 46:28
Design.

Alex Ferrari 46:29
So okay, and I'll stop. I'll stop. I'll stop there. One more time is that now you understand your niche audience and you're creating not only merchandise off your movie, but you're also creating merchandise that that audience would like that is kind of related to your movie, but not directly related. So like the love socks, t shirt is just something that people who like vampires would probably buy,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 46:49
Right? Yes. And that design, one of the characters wears that T shirt in the movie, but

Alex Ferrari 46:54
Oh, that's so but that's but then you see again, now your product placing? Yeah, your movie. Oh my god. You're so hitting all the thoughts. Oh my god, I love this. I'm so glad I have you on the show. Alright, so continue.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 47:08
Um, okay, as we add hoodies, we had mugs, we had three different designs of mugs. And

Alex Ferrari 47:18
I think that's it. And then you sold every at every event you would sell merch ended, how much revenue Did you generate from all the merge through the whole tour? Give or take? I believe? Nine $9,000. Okay, so that's a nice, Hey, I'll take it if it's on the floor. You know, it's a nice, it's a nice, it's a nice chunk of change. Why not? Okay, great. So now, and then what other revenue sources? Did you create the ball? How does that process work?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 47:44
So the balls, we ended up deciding. Okay, so So the way it ended up working with venues and the balls is some venues, the screening and the ball would be at the same venue. So the whole evening would take place. And, and generally there, there was only one ticket price, and it was for the whole thing. And those tickets tended to be more expensive, right. And some theaters were or some venues were more traditional theaters, and they, they either didn't have the space or wouldn't let us do the ball at that venue. So in those cases, we would have the screening and then move everybody to addict who wanted to come to a separate venue, usually like a local bar or something for the ball. Okay. And in those places, generally, we didn't charge extra for the ball, we ended up deciding that it was more worth it to have the people come and meet us and be engaged and buy merchandise that like the longer they hang out the drunker they get, the more merchandise they're going to buy. So that's a plus, we just didn't feel and particularly because in those situations, we would be doing them often at bars where other people were present, it became kind of complicated to be able to it didn't feel like something we could really charge for. If I did this again, when I do this again. I would I would always do it in venues where I could do the whole evening in one place. It didn't really work very well when you had to move people. And then I would charge more for the whole experience. So so quite often at these events. My so my husband was always working the merchants my very, very nice husband who moved into an RV for three months to test a distribution model. What always work the merge table. And quite often people would come up to him and give him cash donations towards the film as they left the theater. Which was really interesting. I mean, totally unsolicited. Obviously we weren't asking for donations. But what that signaled to us is that people consistently felt like they had gotten more value than they had paid for. So that they would have paid more money for the experience that they got was a cost what was the cost for the for the ball and the ticket So a lot of a lot of places we were hamstrung by, by what the movie theater normally charged for movies. So some places that was like seven or $8. Whenever we could control it, we charged usually 20 for the movie plus the ball.

Alex Ferrari 50:17
Cheap, though, I mean, Ukraine, that's so cheap, you could have easily charged 5070 bucks easily.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 50:23
Yeah, we wanted to test it. And see, I think, I think in the future, I would, I would charge more.

Alex Ferrari 50:30
Yeah, because you're creating an experience, you're creating an event, like even a even if you go to a bar, sometimes the cover is going to be 20 bucks. Like, you know, there's, there's ways that you could have,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 50:41
we definitely lowball that with, with the feeling that we were really testing a model and we needed to, like, it was something that people weren't going to be used to attending, it wasn't really a concept that audiences were going to understand. So we had to kind of like, make the bar for entry. pretty low.

Alex Ferrari 50:59
Got it. Got it. Alright, so so when when it's all said and done, what were the the rough numbers coming in from the tour?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 51:07
So from ticket sales? I think it came in at about 17,000. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 51:15
Okay. And then close it, and then close balls.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 51:18
Yeah. Okay. About 17,000 from ticket sales, which we could have, I think, had we sold out every venue. We would have made about 40,000, I think. But we were marketing 51 screenings in two days with a very small team.

Alex Ferrari 51:41
So yeah, that was my next question. How did you actually put asses in seats? Like, what what? Because that's a lot

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 51:46
of money. A lot of right. Yes. So we, we tried everything. So we did, we did a lot of paid Facebook ads, both to drive online sales, and then also to drive people to screenings. So we would target people in a specific geographic area. I've been to screening, and the geographic targeting ads worked. Shockingly, well. I thought those wouldn't work at all. But consistently, at screenings, people came because they saw an ad on Facebook. One lady drove four hours to see it in costume because she's on ad on Facebook, which I find shocking. Whoa, because there's not a lot of places you

Alex Ferrari 52:30
can dress up as a vampire. And without being scanned at a scarf that and go there. So you, you really I think you you you left some money on the table. If I made it. Yeah,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 52:42
he did. But But the other thing is, we went, we went in blind, like we had no information, because there's no information. So there are 100 things I would do differently next time. And part of the reason we were doing the docu series is so that now other people can have our information and do better with next time. So we did paid for Facebook ads in almost every place, we had a local host, whose job was to help hustle their friends helping posters around town. A street team, that's great team. Yes. So they they were crucial. Like I would say that was probably the most effective means of getting people into seats. And oh, actually, so we with seed and spark, we ran surveys about this. So we we would have people sign up via text for our email list in the theater. After the screening, which everybody should do this is this worked incredibly well. And then the first email they would get would have a survey, asking them to tell us like why they had come to the film and where they'd heard about it on all this stuff. And so the top the top reason by far was hearing about it from a friend who was not involved in the film. So either word of mouth or local host. And then the next three tied reasons were paid Facebook ads, hearing about somebody it from a friend who was involved in the film, and hearing about it from the venue. Interesting. And then everything else like there was there was hardly anything else that even rate ranked on that scale. I mean, we did a lot of other stuff. So we we did have physical posters hung most all around town, not just at the theaters, but like around the communities. We we did we had a lot of very active social media life even outside of the paid ads which was effective we we did Facebook event pages which I do think were quite effective. We we targeted local grassroots organic we grassroots methods to target local organizations. So anything involving Women in Film, we would reach out to them anything and any really any local film groups, we would reach out to any local vampire clubs, any local d&d clubs, any LARPing groups, any Harry Potter clubs, they're a shocking number of Harry Potter clubs around the country, we'd reached out to them.

Alex Ferrari 55:22
Did you think Did you do any conventions? Like to show up at any conventions? You

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 55:26
did? We were invited to play at spike con in Utah, which we did, which was awesome. I think, do it playing more cons is going to be part of the next leg of our strategy. But we only played one on the tour itself.

Alex Ferrari 55:40
Okay. So Alright, so and then when so you obviously were thinking about developing ancillary products during the movie, obviously, cuz you had people wearing t shirts and you already thinking about ancillary products. So that was part of your strategy as well. Like, we're gonna self merge. We're gonna sell some merch on this like this. Before the tour, you were thinking of selling March?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 55:59
Yeah, I think that was always in our minds. Okay. Although, again, we we thought we would go down a more traditional path. Like, I think we were thinking we were helping set up a distributor to do a good job. And then, right.

Alex Ferrari 56:09
I'm sorry, I come. For people who are listening, you just see my face, like a distributor did like I my face said everything I was like, Yeah, right. You know, like setting. That's such a, that's such an indie filmmaker thing. This is a we all do is I'm gonna set them up properly to do a good job like they don't care. So now that you've done this, this, this tour, yeah, that you were trying to drive digital sales? Did it drive digital sales? And do you have any sort of numbers with that?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 56:38
Well, so here is the giant problem with these digital platforms is they don't tell you for three to six months. They don't give you any numbers for three to six months. So unlike any other normal marketing thing, I mean, like with with selling tickets on the road, we were able to, to very much adjust our tactics as we went, as we learned and saw was happening every night, and you just don't know. So that is a huge problem. So we will definitely make those numbers public once we have them, but we don't have them yet.

Alex Ferrari 57:11
And then what's the you were talking a little earlier about the next leg? What are you doing? How are you continuing this audacity of a journey?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 57:21
Well, so the tour ended two weeks ago, and we've all been in a bit of a coma, we all gave ourselves permission to be in a coma more or less since then. So we don't have an exact plan yet. We're going to start putting that together next month. But some things that we're definitely going to do start getting on the con circuit more aggressively. We have somebody who's helping us with foreign sales, we've we've had a lot of interest from international territories for the film.

Alex Ferrari 57:55
So So how are you processing that? Are you doing that to a sales agent? Or are you going to an international distributor?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 58:00
Well, I don't know yet. So we have, we have an Australian sales agent who I met through a friend. And his is like, actually trustworthy human, unlike most sales agents, and so she has very generously offered to help us sort of like suss out what the best way to go is q1 to wait till the end of the tour so that we had our materials. So one of one of the big advantages to the tour outside just the revenue we earned from the tour is that we now have video testimonials of people in costumes all over the country talking about how much they love the film, how their favorite film, you know, it's like so we have our documentary filmmaker who was with us making the docu series is putting together a sizzle reel for us that we can now send with our trailer to distributors. We're gonna go Holy shit, they ended up getting like they got people to come out in costume to watch this movie.

Alex Ferrari 59:01
But you're in the distributors with international. I'm assuming you're not going to get rid of you're not going to give them domestic. No, no, not domestic, internationally, internationally. Okay, and then you're just going to try to go territory or you're going to go to AFM or anything like that to see if you can do anything. I think we might try to go to AFM. Yeah. Okay. If you're there, we'll have coffee. I'll be there. No. Have you ever been Yeah. I've never been no. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Oh, prepare yourself. It's a it is it's an interesting place. Let's just get that way. I went one year and the biggest movie of the year was Steven Seagal versus mike tyson in a movie and of course you need to watch that movie because I want to know who wins. But that's the kind of place yeah, it's Yeah. Did you It's a Unix Unix place.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:00:02
Yeah. Speaking of soul crushing. And then I think eventually, we will try to just to make a deal with one of the streaming platforms. I think the feedback we've been getting is that the good thing about the streaming platforms at this particular moment is that they're all these new ones coming to market in the next six months. And they're all looking and they're all they're all looking. So it's, it is actually a little bit more of of a seller's marketplace right now than it has been with streaming platforms.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:36
Okay, and I'm assuming you try this. Did you submit to Netflix and Hulu yet or not yet? I am not yet. Okay. All right. I mean, it's you guys have I mean, you're you are hustlers. You are indie film, hustlers, your, your films, your printers, you are hustling that you're keeping going, you see most filmmakers would have just said, Well, that was the end of the tour. We're done. But you're like no, no, no, as we continue this journey,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:01:00
and this money back yet, and I think, like, part of this experiment to me, is to try to figure out like, Is there a market? Like, is it possible to make back half a million dollar money on indie films right now? And the answer may be no. And if the answer is no, because so to speak about digital sales for a second I, we don't have the final numbers, but I have a niggling feeling that we may have reached a moment where people are simply unwilling to pay even 299 for Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:37
I know the the future is is a VOD, is it's that's the future. I mean, I know filmmakers making a ton more than a VOD than they are an S VOD, or T VOD.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:01:49
Right. Without question. So that Oh, right. Also airlines, we're gonna try to make some airline deals, airlines,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:56
cruise lines, the churches not so much with the vampire movie, but they're vampire churches.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:02:07
Yeah, so I, I, I now suspect that our revenue model was wrong. I bet that that the tour will not have driven transactional sales in the way that we needed it to. so and so. But I think we have to look really into the abyss here as filmmakers and say, like, is it possible at any budget level? If it isn't? What does that mean? And and maybe the answer is that, like, you just have to make very micro budget films? Or the answer is that, like a lot of the arts, that the goal isn't actually to make money, it's to make impact. And that that ceases to be the goal.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:55
As long as the budget justify you justify the budget, then?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:02:58
Well, as long as you are completely upfront about that with your

Alex Ferrari 1:03:02
investors, if everyone understands that, like, Look, we're making art here. And this is an art exhibition. And we're gonna put it out there. And this is the way it is. Yeah, I mean, to answer your question, I'm, I'm in I'm in the, in the trenches here every day in the indie film trenches. So the answer is, yes, you can make your money back. But you and that's what the whole film shoprunner model is about. It's about rethinking how you do it. Could this movie if you would have made this movie for $100,000? Which is, it's still a decent budget $100,000 if you would be very close to making your money back more unlikely, you know, so it's about always about the budget and keeping that overhead low, or, or whatever, there's always that balance, like, you know, if I spent a million bucks, well, what do I need to do to get that million bucks? And vice versa? So if this for argue argument's sake, if this movie would have cost $50,000, the tour would have been great. Right? The tour would have been great. Well, except, yeah, give or take, I mean, you're not gonna make all the money back on the tour. But you would be really close, you know, and even on just merge sales, you would have done pretty well, I mean, obviously costs and stuff like that, but yeah,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:04:15
right. So I but I have to say that and obviously, the money is important. Obviously. However, there, there is another bottom line here, which is impact. And I have never felt as an artist, like my work was having greater impact than on this tour ever. It was astonishing. To travel the country and go to Vicksburg, Mississippi and Wichita, Kansas, and like these places that I have never been and show my movie and talk to people afterwards. Many of whom had never met a filmmaker before. Like, I feel like in New York and Los Angeles, we forget actually what a big deal that is. Because if you can find a screening without a filmmaker in attendance, it's like amazing. But like in Vicksburg, they had never met a filmmaker before. Like for them. For them, it was like, I may as well have been Steven Spielberg, you know, and, and I had this one really fascinating dialogue with a woman in Columbus, Ohio, who the my film, lovingly pokes fun at Christians. But this woman, what, what took a great affront to that, and came barreling up to me afterwards. And was was very hurt about the fact that I've made fun of Christians and I and I said, you know, I'm so sorry, you feel that way, we had this whole really extended conversation about the concept of comedy and punching up versus punching down and sort of like, at the end of it, she was like, well, it felt really great to be able to say that to a filmmaker, because normally nobody, here's my responses to movies, and I was like, That is awesome. You know, and, and, and the idea, my hope, my dream now is that if we could get like an Oregon Trail of filmmakers, doing these tours, and bringing film independent from some parts of the country that do not see independent film that have no access to anything, in an in person setting other than the Avengers, and and they could meet and have these dialogues with filmmakers of all different backgrounds and perspectives, that would change the country, it would,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:29
it would, and I would, I would agree with you on that. And I think that the future of independent film, there's going to be, you're going to need to do a lot more work. So I think that's gonna, that's going to thin out the herd, if you will, because there's not many filmmakers that I know. Who wants to get into an RV for three years on it. And in travel the country, there just isn't. And it's going to that's what it's going to take it's going to take thinking about movies differently, it's going to think about how can it create other revenue streams from this film? Is the film a loss leader, where I made the film for 100 grand, but I'm really making money on these online courses or books or, you know, depending on the subject matter, you know, yeah, all this all this kind of stuff. It's about thinking about it differently. I do believe there's a space for us. But I think we're gonna turn into more carnies, where I think that you've got to provide a service that the studios can't exactly period, right, and what your you were able to do the studio, there's no Avengers ball. Now. Now, they also made $2.7 billion, so they don't care. Because that's not what that's not what their business model is. But for us, the scrappy, independent filmmaker, the film shoprunner, we got to figure out other ways to make it happen. And I, I always look at this whole process as the creative process. The movie is just one part of this entire, from casting to creating product lines do doing this tour. This is all creative. Yeah, absolutely. And has to become a part of the dialogue and has to become part of this process. Because you can't just drop off to a distributor, like as very, very, very much of city clearly have said in this in this episode.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:08:15
Right. And so many filmmakers, both before the tour, and during the tour was like, Well, I think it's really awesome what you're doing, but like I would never want to do all that work. And like, then but but to me, and which I have sympathy for on the one hand, but on the other hand, a Why are we making movies if no one's gonna see them and be I with you, like I found I loved being on the tour like getting I'm a filmmaker getting to show my film to people 51 times and listen to them laugh and have them come in caught like it was the greatest? I mean, I put I it's one of the greatest periods of my life.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:50
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, are, you know, you're not the first film to ever go on a roadshow, there's many have done it before. But and there's many that will do it after. It's creating a business model that consists state of the art because, you know, as I say, the word show, and there's the word business, and the word business has twice as many letters as the word show. And there's a reason for that. Because without the business, there is no show and as much impact as you want to make, when it would be better to make a film that you can not only make your money back, but everyone gets paid, you get a little bit of profit. And you could do it again and again and again and again. And if you control everything, you create your own portfolio, where you have actual revenue streams in that, like, maybe you'll get a report. Right. That's the future. That's the future.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:09:37
Absolutely. And I think the key pathway to that future is more films being willing to offer themselves as case study as radically transparent case studies. Because a filmmaker within their lifetime is not going to make enough films to crack the model based on their own experimentation. And so we have to be honest with each other even when we fail. You Like, we just have to, because then we will figure it out. Because there I believe I'm with you, I believe there is a model out there. But we don't know what it is right now. that's for damn sure.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:08
I mean, the model that has worked for me is doing ultra micro budget movies that have good production value that are aimed at a niche audience. And then in your control everything. And, you know, my first film cost me five grand to make. And I sold it to Hulu, and I sold it internationally. And I drove sales, but I have a platform. And I was able to build off that and there's audience building, and there's that whole conversation we never even got into. But that that is a possibility. If I would have made that movie for 50, or 100, grand, I don't know, probably probably would have been another statistic. So it's, it's a weird balance. This is a weird, it's a wonderful and an extremely dangerous time from being an independent filmmaker, because there's more access than ever before. But the competition is just, it's crushing it,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:11:01
I would say I would say the noise more than the competition gets it. I feel like it would feel differently if if you were if it was just like, eat, like such great work was being made. And you were like, up against like, anywhere, and you were losing out to films that like blew your mind. And that doesn't feel but sometimes you see those films, but I it's just it's sort of the noise.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:21
But but also with that said, The competition is not just films, it's amazing television. I mean, the television that's coming out right now it's where all a lot of independent filmmakers are going. Right? Cuz I mean, and you're competing for that hour? Oh, yeah, no, you know, your go. phones and video games, social media. In America, there's a million other things. So there's just a lot of competition for eyeballs. It's

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:11:45
what's interesting, again, about that, so so my hypothesis going into the tour was that you could maybe salvage the in person experience as long as you relied on, on online viewing for money. And I actually think it's the reverse, because the number of people that came up to me and said, like, this is the first meaningful human interaction I've had with strangers in months. And like the hunger of people to it is harder to get them out of their houses, for sure. But once they're there, you can give them like borderline religious experiences, with very little effort, you know, just but in the simple act of putting them in a room and giving them context to interact with other people.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:33
Yeah, it's it is the future is the future. I think this is a this is a model that can work. I think at a certain budget range. It could work without question, I think at this budget range, it will work but it's going to take longer, it's going to be hard hustling, and, and it's an experiment. You guys are really in your investors must be really cool. People

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:12:54
are really cool people. They're extremely cool. And we did ask them like we we explain, but But the other thing is like, okay, so I think you're right, I think there's money that we probably left on the table. How are we hold? No, but are we better off than if we had gotten a distribution deal? Yes, that we are you have money, we have some money, you actually got some money. We made more in the first week of ticket sales from the tour than I made for my entire first feature film from a distributor.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:27
Correct. So yeah, right. I mean, that pretty much says everything you need to say. So as a as a business person is you have to look at like, Okay, well, what cost does that potential revenue justify? And that's, that's, it's like, it's like, you got to look at it as developing any widget, keep the cost as low as possible by still maintaining as high quality as possible to be able to create a marketable product. You know, and then also, art, you know, it, there's that it's a weird, we're very unique, strange business. You know, we're the only we're the only business that says, We're gonna invest a million dollars into something that we kind of maybe figured maybe there'll be some way we'll make our money back

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:14:15
like this and has no inherent value. That's value will be decided upon financially upon completion,

Alex Ferrari 1:14:24
right? Because this is about random people, right? This This has a value. Yes, this phone has a value, and it costs X amount and it has this X amount of value attached to it. A movie. I mean, the room, you know, the movie, the room, which is considered one of the worst movies of all time, has a specific value attached to it, right. Is it better than producing your film? No. Is it better produce than most films? No, but is it more profitable? Yes, absolutely. Tommy was so is a millionaire off of this movie because of the perceived value of that. film. So it's such a crazy thing.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:15:04
What right, which is crazy as a business, and it's also the only art form that is expected to make money like no other art form is it really right is expected to make money.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:12
Right, exactly. But because the value the cost is so high, the cost is so high to create our art, you know, and there's so many and it's a collaborative art. So it's not even one person. It's a collaborative art. So now you've got to deal with all of that and the politics and the person doing well. I actually I came up with I came up with a basically an idea of what why we are is insane as we are, and you are literally a carny. I mean, you literally went on the road and put up a tent and put a shell on and packed it up and moved to the next step. So I mean, I was considered as of carnies. But I think we have to get ourselves checked out for Sally Lloyd, because we might have a bad case of filmmaking. And I think, and I think once we get bitten, there's no vaccine. Like, you're done. You're done. You're, it's over and, and to be a little bit more crass. It's kind of like herpes, because it's dormant A lot of times, but it flares up, and it's with you for life.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:16:08
Like, even even in the worst day, on tour, I would go into that theater and listen to an audience full of people laughing at the jokes I had written and I was like, I'm good, I'm done. My life, there's nothing else I can do. I don't even need money, I'm

Alex Ferrari 1:16:21
fine. It's, we're insane. We're insane. But if we understand our insanity, and we if we, if we are self aware enough of what we're doing, because a lot of filmmakers or not a lot of filmmakers are delusional. Trust me, I know, I was very delusional for many, many years of my career, I'm sure you might have had a few years of delusion, as well. But if we're self aware enough, and then we actually become smart about how we can actually create our art, and make a business out of art, and then create other revenues he streams to, to support us while we're making our art to the point where we're able to eventually do this full time. That's the dream. And I think also a lot of filmmakers have this whole, I need to make a million dollars, and I have to work in the studio system. And I have to do what like that dream that Hollywood's been selling us since the 90s. If I'm able to make money that pays my rent, and puts food on my table for my family, and I'm able to provide a service, which is entertainment, or some other service that I'm providing my audience. Isn't that the dream? Like man is Yeah, right. It's like, I don't need billions of dollars. You know, I don't, I'm happy.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:17:28
They do need to be able to pay my rent. And I think that's the people we're still not quite there yet.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:33
Right? pay your rent, pay your people that work with you on this crazy people that you conned into doing, going on these crazy journeys with us as filmmakers.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:17:43
But I mean, I do I do think there's something to the duplass Yes, model for sure of of very low, keeping the cost low up front by giving everybody a piece of the back end with the Touring model, because one thing. So I will say that, that having the name actors did help to a certain extent. But Naomi Grossman, who is one of them, hustled her took us off for us. And and like, got every cousin she has to come out to a screening and got every person she knows in every city. And she put more butts in seats, not because she's famous, but because she like hounded people to come. And for that reason, she was the most valuable actor. And I think, actually, if you if you had a whole team of filmmakers, actively hounding people in cities, because they were gonna get a piece of the back end, we would have sold more tickets than we sold because we had famous actors.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:45
Yeah, there's, there's, there's multiple different business models, and I think the duplass brothers have been able to they cracked the code. I mean, the duplass has cracked the code A while ago. And if you remember their first films, they were made for nothing. Right? And

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:18:58
You're also friends with famous people, which again, like what now but now right now?

Alex Ferrari 1:19:03
Yeah, not when they were starting out when they were start when they did puffy chair. You know, they had they had Sundance because they got the short film The year before, but it took them a minute before those famous people friends. And now they can leverage everything that they have. But you know, the whole Marvel story with them. Right? Have you heard that story? Marvel called the doop losses. And they offered them a movie. And they turned it down. Because they said it's just not us. And that is self awareness. And that is a clear understanding of what is important to you as a filmmaker that said, Look, we would be locked up for three years. And it would have been fun maybe but it's that it's kind of like that. We don't want to do that. Like we want to make other films we want to employ our friends. We want to go out and do this to tell the stories we want to tell like why would we lock ourselves up for write this kind of film like we're good. You know, we're making Netflix movies. We're making Netflix shows we're doing HBO shows like I don't need that. That every filmmaker that hears the story, many of them are like, You're crazy. I'm like I said, No, he knows. And they both know exactly what's important to them. Right? And I think that's where we all have to be. Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my entrepreneur guests. What advice would you give a filmtrepreneur starting a project today?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:20:26
Liberate yourself from the system.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:29
The matrix

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:20:31
Unplugged from the matrix,Take the red pill, because from the beginning, because the other thing that I like, if we had known from day one of making bite me that this is what we're going to do. A we would have done things differently, and we would have been able to set ourselves up so much more successfully.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:52
Very good. Now, what is the biggest lesson you've learned? Going through this audacity? of this this tour of this project? where you are, what's the biggest lesson you've learned so far?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:21:06
The system is a lie.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:09
The Matrix is a lie.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:21:11
Right? It's true. Like, I mean, I just can't tell you how many things people said to us like, well, you're never going to get theaters to agree to this Really? Well. So many theaters said yes, that we had to cap the tour at 51 screenings like that was not that like they're just the idea that film festivals are the be all end all know, when, when in reality, they're eating up your profits? Realistically?

Alex Ferrari 1:21:34
Of course.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:21:36
It's a lie. So like, think differently,

Alex Ferrari 1:21:39
Think differently. Okay, perfect. Yes. like Apple says, think different. Back in the day. Now, what is? What did you learn? What have you learned from your biggest filmmaking or business failure? Like that first movie, besides selling the traditional distributor?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:22:00
Yeah. I mean, I feel like it's the same.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:10
Just don't just just

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:22:11
It's that, that the decision to set to give your film to a distributor, is the last decision you get to make with that film, basically. Whereas that's great. Whereas whatever mistakes or successes we had with this tour, we now get to make an infinite number of decisions. Next.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:34
Do you see Do you see yourselves partnering strategically, with a traditional distributor? Like carving out certain rights, like actually doing a real partnership if you found good distributors? Because I have, and I have.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:22:49
Sure it's so hard to know, I mean, this is the problem? Like they all sound great up front? And then. But yeah, I mean, of course, like, if the right opportunity came along, I think particularly internationally, it makes a lot of sense. And

Alex Ferrari 1:23:05
It just all depends, it all depends. Because there are there are models out there, there are distribution companies that I work with, that can do good stuff. But I would agree, like if you just sign everything over, if you can try to, you know, like, I'm going to keep the DVD rights, I have the rights to sell it on my website, something that's a huge thing. Like, if all hell breaks loose, I can still sell it on my I might, I could sell it on my website. I could put it on Vimeo plus and sell it Right, right, if worse comes to worse. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:23:46
The system is a lie? Okay, so basically, you grow up watching the Oscars and you like, and then everybody talks about Sundance, and it's like, there's it's so it's feels magical. So true, and it just isn't and it and like, and it's so I feel like I've had to learn that lesson over and over and over again.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:08
Okay. Now, in your opinion, what is the definition of a filmtrepreneur?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:24:15
Think a filmmaker who understands that their job does not end when the picture is locked.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:23
That's great definition. Great definition. I love that. Now, where can people find out more about you about bite me about everything you're doing?

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:24:33
Well, I have a website. What 2019 NaomiMcDougalJones.com

Alex Ferrari 1:24:42
It's not Geocities. Sorry. Isn't on is it on AOL no joke.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:24:49
Maybe How Does that ever work? Exactly. Um, bite me. thefilm.com is our films website. And I would very much encourage people to watch our doctors series which is on YouTube, you just search for the joyful vampire tour of America. It's 12 episodes. It's that was made by Kiwi Callahan. It's incredibly funny and fun just as like an adventure story of us living in an RV for three months traveling around the country, but also does, we pull our pants all the way down and everything. So if, if I had had that tool as a filmmaker six months ago, my life would be different.

Alex Ferrari 1:25:28
Wow, that's awesome. Naomi, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you, I'm so glad we were able to finally get together. And I hope and I do hope that this episode really educates some people out there and really inspire some people to do something and also terrify some people. Because it ain't easy out here. It isn't easy. And like you said, the filmmaker understands that their job is not done at cut. Final Cut is a really great definition of a film entrepreneur, because you've got to think about other things, you got to look at things differently, as you so wonderfully put. So thank you, again, so much for being so candid, and dropping some knowledge bombs, and inspirational bombs on the tribe today.

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 1:26:12
Thank you so much for having me.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:15
That was an epic interview. Naomi, thank you, again, so much for not only being on the show, but for everything you're doing for filmmakers with that amazing series, which by the way, the series is available on indie film hustle TV. So anybody who has membership to indie film hustle TV, you can watch the entire series there as part of your membership. It's also available on YouTube as well. But I will put links to all of that in the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/342. I'll also put links to the movie where to buy it rented, see it and support this amazing group of filmmakers who are trying to make it happen for not only themselves, but to help the community as well. And I'm always behind anybody, any filmmaker, who is willing to be so open minded and completely transparent about their process of trying to make money in this in sane business. So thanks again, Naomi for coming on the show. Now, if you haven't already. And if you really liked the show, it really mean a lot to me, if you head over to filmmakingpodcast.com it'll take you straight to Apple podcasts, subscribe, leave a review, it really helps the show out a lot. It really, really, really appreciate it. And I have a little bit of update on that book, The rise of the filmtrepreneur, it is about a week away from me delivering it to my editor and getting everything ready for our October release. So I will keep you up to date on that. All I'm going to tell you guys is this, this book is going to blow the lid off this piston. I mean, I go buckwild on the business in this book, I really really do it is a eye opening book that tells a lot of truth bombs and a lot of hard realities about this business, but also gives you a blueprint on how you can actually make a business out of your filmmaking out of your films and to be able to build an actual business around what you love to do. So if you want to, again, preorder that book, head over to filmbizbook.com that's filmbizbook.com which will take you straight to Amazon where you can preorder the book to be the first to get it. Thank you again so much. This has been a cross over addition with the filmtrepreneur podcast of course if you haven't gone to the filmtrepreneur podcast please head over to filmbizpodcast.com. That's filmbizpodcast.com that takes you to the filmtrepreneur podcast. It is growing very, very fast. And it's getting a lot of great reviews. A lot of tribe members are heading over there. It's a lot of great, great information, new episode every single week. So thanks again for listening guys. And as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

LINKS

SPONSORS

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

IFH 316: The Duplass Brothers, $50K, 18 Day Shoot, & One Film

Right-click here to download the MP3

Today on the show we have directors Megan Petersen & Hannah Black. They are the winners of the Seed and Spark/Duplass Brother Hometown Heros Contest. Here more about this remarkable contest.

Join us for an opportunity to have your feature film executive produced by Duplass Brothers Productions, Salem Street Entertainment, and UnLTD Productions and be eligible for a total of $50,000 in no-interest loans for your narrative or documentary feature. Whether you’re from a small town, the suburbs or a special corner of a major city, now is the time to bring your hometown-centered story to the screen.

Their film is called DROUGHT.

Join Sam, her Autistic brother Carl, estranged sister Lillian & friend Lewis, as they try to navigate life in a small town. It’s 1993 and the south is in the worst drought in history but Carl is fascinated by weather. Hoping for a better life, they steal an ice-cream truck to become storm chasers.

 

We sit down and discuss all things indie film, what it was like to direct this film while having the guidance of indie film legends like Jay and Mark Duplass.

Enjoy my inspirational conversation with Megan Petersen & Hannah Black.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

LINKS

SPONSORS

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

IFH 081: Top 10 Tips to Launch a Film Crowdfunding Campaign

So today is the day. The THIS IS MEG Film Crowdfunding Campaign is LIVE! Click here to check it out: Down the Filmmaking Rabbit Hole.

I’ve been working for months on this campaign and am very proud of what I and the team have done. So below I wanted to share the Top Ten Tips I have learned from the many experts, guests and successful campaigns I’ve reviewed in prepping for my launch.

Before we get into the tips, here is the final trailer for the film This is Meg, the project we crowdfunded and used as a case study.

I’ll go in greater detail on all these topics in the podcast so definitely take a listen: Top 10 Tips to Launch a Crowdfunding Campaign Podcast


Top 10 Tips to Launch a Film Crowdfunding Campaign

Assemble a Team Ahead of Time: You are not an island! You need a group of amazing people who are willing to help you on this journey. Check out our Launch Team for THIS IS MEG – Click here

30-day campaigns work best: Of all the film campaigns that met their goals, 32.71% of them ran their campaigns for 30-39 days, while only 13.87% of successful campaigns ran for 60 days.

Keep your campaign page updated: On average, successful film campaigns post 5 updates. Updates can include anything from press mentions, new incentives, celebrity endorsements, events, – anything that you think your community would be interested in. After all, your contributors are giving their money to help bring your film to the screen, so naturally, they’ll be interested in any updates you provide. Continually updating your campaign page is one of the best ways to keep your community and fans involved in the process.

Estimate Costs Carefully: So many filmmakers just pull a budget out of their butts. Breakdown what you really need for your entire filmmaking journey.

Study Successes and Failures: I studied sooooooo many campaigns before we launched. I took courses (see the free crowdfunding campaign below) and analyzed both successes and failures.

Give Fans An Inside Look: People want to be part of the process. Bring them into your process, your filmmaking craftsmanship.

Add New Perks through the Campaign: One unique aspect of film campaigns is that filmmakers have a huge range of creativity for your incentives. From signed memorabilia to meet-and-greets to set visits, you have lots of ways to incentivize your backers to help you reach your goal.

Include affordable perks: Don’t make the incentives for the private skyboxes, create incentives for the bleachers too. Make the journey accessible to all who want to join the trip.

Include a pitch video: For God’s sake make a good pitch video. I go into a ton of detail on this in the podcast. Check out our pitch video and let us know what you think:

Build an Audience & Networking: I can not stress the importance of building an audience before you launch. Not only that but also know where the audience for your film hangs out online so you can reach them.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I wanted to today's topic, which I think was is very appropriate is the top 10 tips on how to launch a crowdfunding campaign for your film project. And like I said, I've been doing a lot of studying and I've been taking a lot of courses and analyzing a lot of different campaigns. So these are top 10 tips of things that I found to be useful and pretty much agreed upon by all the experts as well. So let's get right to it. So tip number one is assemble a team ahead of time, I've actually been putting together a small launch team to help me launch today to get the word out and they're kind of like the army they're the this is Meg army, the indie film, hustle tribe army going out there and hopefully posting, announcing to all of their fans all of their communities to to get the word out. So it's really helpful to build that team ahead of time now that's part of the launch team, then you have to have a core team of people behind you, whether that be a group of friends, who are taking different areas of the launch, whether like okay, you're going to handle social media, you're going to handle graphics, you're going to handle videos, you're going to handle all this kind of stuff. So you should have team members organize with that and that and that should be hopefully people in your film crew, whether that be your producers, your writer, whoever can do the job properly. But you have to do this with a launch with a team It's very, very difficult to do this by myself by yourself. And trust me, I do a lot of things by myself. But when it came to this campaign, I am bringing in the the big guns, if you will. So definitely assemble a team way before, I would say at least 30 to 60 days before you launch would be helpful. Second tip is that 30 day campaigns work the best they are historically the most successful in campaign a film campaign. So don't go to a 45 or 60 day or 90 day for God's sakes, it's too long to maintain that campaigns too long to keep that that flow going. 30 days is free, it takes forever. So Believe me, I would definitely stick to a 30 day campaign. All the statistics say that that works the best. So definitely do that. Tip number three, keep your campaign page updated. So definitely update your your page as often as you can with what's going on what's happening with your movie, what's happening with the the crowdfund campaign and all that kind of stuff, as well as prepare ahead of time for stretch goals, because a lot of filmmakers underestimate what they think they can get and get that stretch goal ready because let's say you put out I only need $40,000 for to make my movie. And all of a sudden you get 40,000 in a week, well, what are you going to do for the next three weeks, you've got to create stretch goals. And then you have to understand what those stretch goals are going to do. You have to tell your your community what those stretch goals are for. So you can hopefully get more money and make a better movie. God, I hope all of you have this problem that you've made too much money and have no idea what to do with it. So let's all pray and hope that that is the problem. Now Tip number four, estimate your costs very carefully. A lot of times, filmmakers will just throw out a number kind of like pulling it out of there. But like is $40,000. Well, what is that $40,000 for and is that going to be enough to get you through the gambit get you through the journey of making your film, and is it going to be just for pre production, production, post production, marketing expenses, deliverables, distribution, expenses, all that kind of stuff has money attached to it. So if you're only going to do one campaign, which I suggest you don't do just one campaign, that's why you see the spark, because you can actually do it per category. So let's say you start off at pre production, production and post production, deliverables, and so on. But if you are only going to do one campaign to raise all of your money, make sure you estimate your costs very, very, very carefully. Tip number five study successes and failures. So I have been, I'm the kind of guy I think you guys know by now that I go deep down that rabbit hole, and anything I do or attempt to do. So I been watching so many pitch videos, so many analyzing so many different campaigns over the course of the last 30 to 60 days, to see what works, what doesn't work, how they lay their, their, their campaign page out how they put their videos together, what worked for certain genres, what worked for didn't work for certain genres and what failed miserably. And what was great successes. So definitely study people that have done this before, so you can learn from them. One campaign I loved was Kung furious campaign. If you haven't looked it up. If you ever know about Kung Fury, just type in Kung Fury, and you'll see it it's a pretty cool campaign. And what that guy has been able to do with that project, since the campaign is pretty pretty crazy. So definitely check that one out. Tip number six, give your fans an inside look. Now by giving your fans an inside look I mean like shooting behind the scenes videos. With you can Snapchat you can use Facebook Live or periscope to give them a real inside look to your projects. I've taken it to to the extreme by creating an entire membership site that will be giving them the entire educational journey of what we're doing with this is Max, I've taken that concept and really just put it on steroids and just gone full blown with it. But you don't have to go that big. I would say I would suggest that just you know, uploading videos showing people who you are what you're doing, really connect with them on an emotional human level. You're an artist, and you should be connecting with your fans in that way. So showing them how you're crafting a scene what you're doing, how you're doing it is very, very fun for a lot of people. And what might seem boring to you, because you've might have done it a bunch of times is super exciting to someone who's never seen it before. So definitely give them an inside look now seven Tip Number seven, add new perks throughout your campaign. So as we go forward through our campaign, we're going to be adding new perks based on what we kind of feedback we get from our community. from you, the tribe and and also Julie's fans and all the other people that we're going to hopefully gather and get the word out on the on the campaign. So we have a bunch of other perks kind of lined up, but also a lot of other people like, Hey, we really would like to get tickets to the, to the, to the premiere of the movie, or something along those lines. So we'll create those perks as we get forward and also up by updating and putting new perks in it. It keeps things a little fresh, and people get more excited about certain things. And believe me a 30 day campaign is a it's a marathon. So you have to do things to keep things going. After also doing my my research, I found that the most successful campaigns on all platforms added at least between 10 to 15 new perks throughout their campaign, as other perks fill up are gone, they keep adding new things to keep things really exciting and fresh. Now, tip number eight include affordable perks. So you know, a lot of people can't throw down 100 bucks, 200 bucks, 500 bucks or 1000 bucks or higher. But they might be able to throw in 1015 bucks, 15 bucks, 20 bucks, five bucks. And you should make things available up to like between a $5 and $30 range. Another little side tip on incentives or perks is at $25, you've got to give them access to the movie. Like that's kind of shady if you don't. So whether that be a DVD, whether that be a digital download now when it when they get access to it, it's a whole other story because you have to wait for distributions and so on and so forth. But you will, you will have to give them access to your movie at one way shape or form, whether that'd be private links through Vimeo or through your own distribution platform, whatever it might be, have to give them access to your movie at the $25 or above, incentive or perk. And also guys, when you're doing these incentives, make sure you do your math man because a lot of people will you know we'll spend say all we're going to give you a DVD, and I'm going to give you a T shirt at 25 bucks. And I'm like with T shirts costing you 10 bucks to make and your DVDs cost you another five bucks to make five or 10 bucks to make, let's say let's say let's say that you're not doing a big run of DVDs, and you're going to spend six bucks to make seven bucks to make a DVD and 10 bucks to make a T shirt because you're not making 1000 of them. Well that's 17 bucks, don't forget the commission that the the form the platform is going to take which can be anywhere between three to 7% off the top. And then and then on top of that you've got to ship this stuff. So then you have to take care of shipping as well. So all of a sudden that $25 donation turns into either $1 donation or actually you lose money in the donation so please do your math on on your perks and incentives. Because if you don't just gonna just shoot you're gonna shoot yourself in the foot and it's not gonna make a lot of sense. Now, I know this next tip This is Tip Number nine is it's going to seem very, very rudimentary or obvious, but I'm gonna say it anyway, include a pitch video, you got to include a pitch video guys don't, don't launch a campaign without a pitch video and send it consider that you guys are not making that transforming pen that makes your coffee kind of product you're making a film. So that stuff your pitch video better look good, better sound good, because the quality of your pitch video will tell your fans or potential donators or contributors, the quality of the movie. So if you make a really crappy pitch video, they're gonna go well if they made a really crappy video, they're probably gonna make a really good movie. So why am I going to send you know, donate any money or contribute any money to this campaign. So you really got to make it look good sound is super huge, guys. It's not a big deal to get good sound. You could either borrow a good decent mic, you know, on Amazon. I know a lot of filmmakers out there are like a bare budget but the mic you're listening to right now is an audio technica mic that I bought on Amazon for like 79 bucks. And it's amazing. It's a USB or, or XLR mic, and it's 79 bucks. And it sounds just like you're hearing right now it sounds awesome. So you could either put it right above you with a boom pole that cost you another 3040 bucks a really cheap one and have someone hold it or you can you know, you know, rig it somehow. So it's just above you and get it really close to your to your mouth as close as you can while being out of frame. And you've got good audio now you can record that directly into your camera, but I would record it into something like a little Tascam or a little zoom or something like that. That will that will give you good audio and I can give you a whole we're going to talk all about audio inside the syndicate about that but those are just quick tips on a really good audio. And I say that because audio is the one thing that people tend not to forgive, they'll forgive bad picture but they will not forgive bad audio. So and I've seen so many pitch videos that the Audio was just bad. And they might have good images. But the audio was bad. I'm like, Guys, can you get a frickin mic for God's sakes? So sorry, I'm going off on a tangent. Make sure you you make it look as good as possible. Don't make it so polished that you're like, Well, why the hell do we need money. If these guys can do all this crazy stuff, just make it, make it real, make it good, make it fun and interactive. Watch a ton of videos. I'm also going to put a link in the show to show notes, this amazing course that Emily best. And the good folks over at Seton spark put together, it's a free course, on YouTube, I put them all up on indie film, hustle, there's about 11 classes of five minutes each or something like that, that takes you through the entire gambit of how to actually put together a really successful crowdfunding campaign. And I would advise everybody who's going to do a crowdfunding campaign, whether you're going to do with seed and spark, or Indiegogo or Kickstarter, watch that video, watch that course. It's really, really, really, really good. So the last tip, tip number 10. build an audience. I can't tell you how much I have to impress upon you. You need an audience guys. I always say it. But when you're going to try to crowdfund you better have an audience are understand where the audience for your movie is. So if you're making a horror movie, go to all the horror, Facebook groups, go to all the four horror forums, do all of that and just see where they hang out and then ask them during the process. Hey, guys, I'm making a horror movie, what would you guys like to see in it, and start building that community up, start building up that excitement of people like oh, wow, this would be great, I'll do this or do that. And all of a sudden, they're they're invested in your project, before you've ever they've ever even donated a dime. So that's a good way. And this takes time guys just takes, if you're just doing it for a specific movie, it could take, it could take three, four or five months, I would suggest at least six months to a year prior to start building it up. And then as you get closer and closer start doing it, you could do it probably within a six month time period. Anything shorter than that, as far as building it to a big point is going to be harder. But even if you have 30 days to 60 days, at least understand where everybody is. And at least that way you can target them very specifically when you're going after the your your core audience. But ideally, is to build an audience. It's taken me about nine months or so now, to build an amazing audience with almost 10 months now to build an amazing, amazing audience with the tribe with you guys in the film hustle tribe. And you know, I hope that it all works out. And you guys helped me out with this project with all the great stuff that I've given you over the past almost year. But that's the goal is you provide hopefully you can provide valuable content value to your audience in one way, shape, or form. And again, like I've said before, it doesn't have to be tutorials or podcast talking about the making of or something like that. It could be humor, look at Kung Fury, their their campaign was amazing. their social media is amazing. And they're just showing you they're basically providing value in entertainment, and making you laugh and making you smile and making you nostalgic for wonderful 80s cheese, if you will. So that definitely guys build that audience up. So you can hopefully tap that audience to help you make your movie and sustain you through many other projects that come and I did study many filmmakers who have done not one, not two, but five or 10 different crowdfunding campaigns that have crowdfunded multiple projects for them, whether they be TV series, or web series, short films, feature films, Doc's all all just they people continue to follow them because they love what they're doing. So that is a very big, big, big tip. Tip number 10. And then as a bonus one guys, network. I know that sounds weird, but just network network with other sites network with other people who can help you in your genre or what you're trying to do with your crowdfunding campaign. So if you are doing like, I always use a horror because it's easy. But if you're doing a horror movie, it would be beneficial for you to kind of build relationships with horror film, websites, you know, or horror sites, sites that will love what you're doing. And that's what I've been doing with. With indie film hustle. I've actually networked with a ton of different filmmaking websites. I'm going to be launching I think today with at least two if not three, podcast, talking about the indie film syndicate, this is mag the crowdfunding campaign, the whole ball of wax, because I've been able to build up those relationships over the course of the last almost year or so. So it's been, it's something that you should definitely look into. If you're trying to do a crowdfunding campaign. Definitely network with people or websites organizations within the genre, or kind of project you're trying to do. So that's it. Guys, those are the top 10 plus a little bit more tips on how to launch a crowdfunding campaign. And we will be going through, as I said, in the film's indie film syndicate, and also in podcast and other things like that articles over the course of the next 30 days talking about how the crowdfunding campaign is doing what I'm doing to promote it. If you guys really want to see some cool and innovative, I think innovative marketing techniques on how to push a crowdfunding campaign out there. definitely keep a close eye on our social media, and our on our Facebook page, our Twitter page, specifically, but also on our Facebook page, our Pinterest, Instagram, and so on. Because I'm going to be doing some stuff I've never seen before. And I'm really curious to see if it's gonna work. But I'm gonna do some cool stuff and just keep an eye out. And I'll tell after the campaign is over, I will release all of my secrets. I will talk I'll do a podcast about it. And just kind of tell you guys, some of the highlights of what happened with the with the crowdfunding campaign and what marketing techniques worked, and what marketing techniques did not work. But I hope that this episode, and my whole experience going through this, this whole crowdfunding campaign is that it's not this mountain, this massive mountain that you can't climb yourself to create your own projects, guys, I mean, even if you're trying to raise $2,000, for a short film $1,000 for a short film, you can do it, it's not out I mean, you you believe it or not, there you have, you have a community already, it's your friends and family. And then from there, you start building off that as your foundation, and then you start building up a lot farther and farther and farther. And you provide more and more value out there for other people. Again, don't forget that value is so important, provide value provide an outlet for them, I can't tell you how much help I've gotten purely because of having a you know, a very big filmmaking podcast, or having indie film, hustle calm, you know, because I've been able to build up this audience. It is super, super important, guys. So provide that value, and doors will open for you. I guarantee it, trust me, I guarantee it. So this is doable, guys, you can do it, there's no question about it. I'm talking a lot of smack now because I haven't even you know, we don't even know how much money we're gonna make with this in my fall flat on its face. And that's the exciting part about this whole journey for me, man, you know, I am putting myself out there in a big, big way, I can fail miserably, I can make a hike it, I cannot raise the money for the campaign, I can, I can make a horrible, horrible movie, I can, you know, that's not going to do well, I there's a lot of things that I can just fall flat on my face, but you know what, I'm going to do it, and I'm going to be brave, and whatever, I'm going to let the chips fall where they may and I have a confidence in myself, and what I'm able to do to hopefully make a really, really amazing film, and hopefully raise enough money to make that film in the way that I want to make it and we're not asking for a lot of money, it's really a small amount of money in the grand scheme of things a 10 to $15,000 feature film, with the kind of cast that we have is is very, very small. So I'm hoping that that somebody else sees the value of what we're trying to do. So thank you guys so much for for all your support. And again, anything you can do to help with the making of this mag whether that'd be promoting it through your social media, or, or donating even as small as five bucks or as big as I think 20 $500 is our biggest incentive right now. Please do so it really would help a lot and it would mean personally a tremendous amount to me. So thank you, thank you so much. Again, those websites are this is mag comm to go and check out our crowdfunding campaign. See how I lay it all out by the way watch it look at it, because trust me, what I did was studying a lot of different successful campaign so whatever you see there is a combination of all of these elements from all these other really successful campaigns. So definitely take a look at how I laid everything out. Take a look at our pitch video. See how we created that pitch video. I'm going to do in the syndicate, we're actually going to do a whole breakdown on how and why we created the how we edited the video how we shot the video, how we went back and did reshoots for the video, how we did different edits so you can kind of see the progression of from the original take edit one to the final version so you can see what we cut out how we tightened it, how we grew it and so on. So take a look at our pitch video and learn from what we did again in my fall flat on our face. But again, this is based off of a lot, a lot of research. So definitely take a look Got it. This is mag comm if you want the show notes for all those links I was talking about, as well as the link to this amazing mic that I'm talking on. Go to indie film hustle comm Ford slash 081. And of course if you want to check out the indie film syndicate, go to indie film syndicate calm, that's indie film, syndicate s YNDICA t.com. Thank you guys so so, so much. I really, really humbly appreciate everything you guys have done, and hopefully we'll be doing in the next 30 days for for indie film hustle for the tribe. And for for this humble filmmaker just trying to make his first feature film. Keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive, and I'll talk to you soon.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

IFH 080: FREE Crowdfunding Course & Why I Choose Seed & Spark.com

With all the choices out there to crowdfund your film, it can get kinda crazy! Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the two Goliaths in the arena with Seed&Spark.com playing David. If you know the story the two Goliaths don’t fear David but this David has a hella of a punch.

I choose Seed and Spark to crowdfund my new feature film THIS IS MEG, because of a few reasons:

  • They have a 75% Success Rate (2 times any other platform)
  • The average raise is $17K (2.5 times any other platform)
  • Their average fee is only 3% (40% Less than anyone else)
  • They guarantee distribution if you hit a certain benchmark

How is this possible you ask, well it’s because they focus on one thing…FILMMAKERS. They don’t crowdfund for the next transforming coffeemaking pen. Seed and Spark are all about indie filmmakers and creating independence for film artists. Take a listen to this episode and find out how we are putting our crowdfunding campaign together for THIS IS MEG using this awesome platform.

When you’re done listening to the episode take a look at the remarkable FREE Crowdfunding Course created by Seed & Spark to entertain, educate and make you a truly “independent” filmmaker.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Now, I wanted to talk a little bit about this because as filmmakers I want to ns as part of what I do with indie film, hustle, I want to give you guys as much information and as much advice and help as I can in your filmmaking journey so you guys can achieve the goals that you're setting out for yourself. And a lot of times, there's a lot of misinformation out there a lot of mixed messages out there. And I just want to give you my point of view of why I'm using seed and spark as opposed to the other two big boys. Now, before I start this episode, I want to let you guys know, seed and spark has not paid me a dime, and is not giving me anything. For me doing this podcast, I don't even know if they're even aware that I'm doing this podcast right now. I just want to do this from the heart because I love what they're doing, and how they're doing it. And I will show you hopefully a successful campaign at the end of this 30 day journey with this is mag, but a few reasons why I wanted to jump on seed and spark as opposed to the other guys their success rate, they have a 75% success rate, which is two times better than any other platform out there. Because they focus on filmmakers seed and spark is focused on filmmakers not the next fountain pen that transforms into a transformer or a robot that you know boils a cup of coffee for you. They focus specifically on filmmakers, and helping filmmakers get their stories funded. And also distributed which I'll get to in a minute, the average raise on the site is $17,000. So the average average raise of money is 17 grand, which is two and a half times more than any other platform out there. And they average the average fee that they take is 3% which is 40% less than any other platform out there. So those three are huge reasons. One of the three of the big reasons I chose them. But one of the other things I love about what Emily and Sina spark is doing is they are the first platform where a successful crowdfunding campaign means that you'll get distribution. So if you launch your campaign with them, and you get at least 500 followers, on your seed and spark page, you're guaranteed distribution through Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, Google Play Amazon, Instant Video Time Warner, Comcast, Cox, Verizon, FiOS, and VUDU all because you use their platform, Kickstarter and Indiegogo do not offer anything like that, you know, it is insane. They also provide a filmmaker gift box that contains over $8,000 in product services and festival waivers to help you on your filmmaking journey, I mean, and again, you have to get up to 500 followers to get that but it's pretty damn cool that there that's accessible to you where the other guys don't do it. Now, unlike Kickstarter, you don't need to reach your entire goal to get the money, you need to get at least 80% of your goal. And Indiegogo, you don't have to reach your goal, you get whatever you get. But I think the 80% rule is really, really cool. And there's no hard way of getting that and I'll explain to the explain to you in a minute why. The other really cool part of the platform is that unlike the other guys, you get to not only ask for money, but you can ask for wishlist items, kind of like a wedding registry or baby registry, where you ask for items that have a value associated with them. So if you want to, if you need a lens for your camera, well, if you're gonna go rent that lens or buy that lens, let's say it, let's say you're going to buy the lens and it's going to cost you 20 $500, or you're going to rent it, it's going to cost you 250 bucks to rent for the week. But you can ask to borrow that lens for the week from somebody who has it. And when somebody wants to support you, and they'll let you borrow it, that's $250 worth of value there. If you want to ask for someone to help you cook meals for the crew, get an offer. And also wish list crew members like a boom operator or a cinematographer, or a colorist or anything like that. They can offer their services for you if they really liked the project. So these are really quick ways to achieve your final goal. As opposed to just hard earned cash. The wishlist does have a value to it, as well. So I think that is so so cool. And so innovative for for filmmakers, because a lot of times filmmakers might not be able to give you cash, but they might have a house for a location that they'll let you use and that's also extremely valuable. So again, that's one of the other reasons and really fun reason why I wanted to use seed and spark as well as the crowdfunding platform for this is Meg. I have not crowdfunded before I have crowdfunded. Well, let me rephrase that. I did crowdfunding once before, and I used Indiegogo at that time, and this is going back probably about five years. And I put up an ad and I was asking for 2500 bucks to finish one of my short films. That was the animated short film read princess blues Genesis. And a day later, I got an email from somebody Who said, Hey, I'll just pay you everything. I just want to be a project associated with the project. And I was like, wow, okay, great. This is how crowdfunding works. And that was the only experience I ever had with crowdfunding. So ever since then it's there's a lot more information out here about crowdfunding, and it's an art, and there's a lot more noise out there. So I'm hoping that I provide I'm providing enough value for helping, you know, helping us to make this movie. And in turn by you helping us make this movie, you're able to see how we make this movie and learn from our mistakes, and from our victories on how we make this movie, how to make a micro budget movie in today's world, with today's technology, all the way through distribution. So those are a few short reasons why I absolutely love Emily and seed and spark and what they're doing. And they also have a free crowdfunding course that they have on their YouTube page that they just released a few weeks ago. And I told them, I wanted to promote the hell out of it, because it's something that everybody who's ever even thinking about crowdfunding. Regardless if you're going to go on seed and spark or not, I would say you should. But regardless of that, they are remarkable. It's a remarkable course it tells you everything from the very beginning, all the way to the very end. They also provide you a crowdfunding to build your independence Handbook, and education deck, which helps you build independence again, they're really about build you building your own independence as an artist and as a filmmaker and to make a living doing so. And that is a message that rings so true to my core principles and beliefs at indie film, hustle, and I think it was just a synergetic combination working with seed and spark on this is Meg. So if you want to go on the journey with me, and with that this is make family and see how we actually go through this whole crazy process of crowdfunding a micro budget film, head over to this is mag comm which will be live next week on June 21. And and if you want to check out the indie film syndicate, just head over to indie film syndicate Comm. And check that out as well. And you can kind of see what we go through with this whole process. And it is going to be a process without question. So and also on a side note, guys, I might be a little late like I am with this podcast. I know I usually release on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I might be a little late during this, this crowdfunding campaign. I'm running a lot of heads, I'm shooting a little bit of the movie, I'm putting the crowdfunding campaign together, I'm creating marketing elements. I'm also creating content for indie film, hustle, as well as doing podcasts, living a life having a family and so on. So bear with me, if the podcasts are a day or two late, they I'm hoping and I'm still aiming for two a week, at least for the next month. And then when the crowdfunding campaign is over, I might drop down to one a week, purely so I can focus on getting this as make done and also feeding the indie films and syndicate to make sure you guys are getting all the value that I can give you guys as well. But don't worry, I will continue to do two episodes a week. I know a lot of you guys need me on your long commutes to work and back or on your jog. And I really from the bottom of my heart guys thank you for all the outpouring of love and and support for this is Meg and the project and everything you guys are the reason I keep going sometimes, you know, I'm here killing myself trying to get this crowdfunding campaign going but I stopped for an hour so I can do this podcast and get it out for you guys because I know it's something you guys want and need. And I'm here for you guys. So thank you again so much. As always head over to filmmaking podcast calm and leave us an honest review guys, it really helps us out a lot. And moving forward head to this is mag comm for at least the next four to five weeks. And please help us out with the crowdfunding campaign and check out all the insane incentives one incentive that you guys might be interested in? Well, there's a few but then we're going to be doing incentives like an executive producer credit and associate producer credit with IMDb credits, accordingly, a post production workflow consulting phone call so I can kind of help you work through any of your workflow issues or actually help you create a workflow for your Feature or Short Film dinner with myself and Julie in LA. We do not pay for flight or our lodging sir, but we will pay for the meal and and a really cool one is I'm offering a few guest spots on the indie film hustle podcast. So if you want to come on board, and be a guest on the show and talk about yourself, your projects your company, promote your stuff as well as just talk shop talk filmmaking stuff. Questions whatever, you'd be a guest on the show and you'll be broadcast out to everybody. So it'd be a really great way for me to to talk with you guys and have you guys on the show and hopefully help out the campaign as well so it's a win win for everybody so I thought that would be a nice little incentive I kick out to everybody as well. And as you know, we have autographed this and you know, we've got tons of, you know, rare memorabilia from movies that the cast have done and so on and so forth. So really, really, really cool stuff so definitely check it out. This is mag.com and that'll be live again June 21. And you can check out everything I discussed in the show notes at indie film hustle.com forward slash 080 or zero 80 and you can check out the links to see the spark the campaigns and everything else we spoke about and seed and spark AC to spark calm guys, definitely check them out and I will be putting links to all of the videos in the online course because it is in sane really, really definitely check it out. As always guys keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive, and I will talk to you soon.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

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