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IFH 387: Introducing Indie Film Hustle Academy – Premium Film Education

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Well, I’ve been busy during this quarantine. I was racking my brain on how I could provide more value to the Tribe so I create the IFH Academy. The IFH Academy is the home of exclusive online courses on filmmaking, screenwriting, film distribution, cinematography, and more.

I wanted to bring you the best film education I could so I partnered with industry powerhouses like award-winning film producer Suzanne Lyons, master cinematographer Suki Medencevic, A.S.C, and screenwriting guru and best-selling author Geoffrey D. Calhoun.

Check out Suki’s game-changing cinematography course Light and Face – The Art of Cinematography

This workshop will walk you through how to light the most important and emotional subject you could put in front of your lens, the enigmatic face on a low budget. This workshop is unique in that it will literally guide you through the entire process of making your film. Taught by award-winning cinematographer Suki Medencevic A.S.C.

Along with these great instructors I’ll be creating exclusive courses as well. After getting bombarded with requests to create this course I finally took action to bring it to you, the Tribe. My first course out of the gate with be: Film Distribution [Confidentail] – The Insiders Look at How to Get Your Film Distributed

This course will be the course I wish I had when I was trying to sell my first film. It will cover how to protect yourself from predatory film distributors and aggregators, what to look for in a distribution agreement, VOD Myths, film deliverables, working with sales agents and producers reps, film markets, and much more.

If you sign up now you can get early access and special pricing. Click here

If you are a budding filmmaker/producer and want to learn how to produce a low-budget film then Suzanne’s Lyons course The Complete Indie Film Producing Workshop is for you.

Award-winning film producer Suzanne Lyons is about to take you from script to screen and beyond in this Mastermind workshop. After producing a number of bigger budget features Suzanne thought producing the SAG ultra-low and modified budget films would be a piece of cake. Boy, was she wrong?

Wearing 100 different hats was a challenge and she learned so much. And now she will be sharing all that great info with you. This workshop is unique in that it will literally guide you through the entire process of making your film. For special pricing click here.

You can sign up for a FREE 3 Part Video Training on Low Budget Film Producing so you can get a taste for the course.

If you are a screenwriter we have you covered as well. Screenwriting guru and best-selling author Geoffrey D. Calhoun and I teamed up to create The Screenwriter’s Guide to Formatting.

Don’t let formatting derail your screenplay. Learn how to format your screenplay in the Hollywood Standard. The course walks you through how to properly format your screenplay in the Hollywood standard. We breakdown formatting for the feature film, 30min multi-cam/single-cam television show, documentary, split-screen, scriptments, and the one-hour television drama.

Geoffery and I are working on more screenwriting courses that cover structure, development, dialog, characters, and more.

Click here to access The Screenwriter’s Guide to Formatting

As you can see I’ve been busy. I plan to create a Filmtrepreneur Masterclass as well as many more exclusive courses for IFH Academy. So if you are quarantined at home right now, and let’s face it you probably are, there is no better time to start adding tools to your toolbox.

I truly hope these courses can help you on your filmmaking or screenwriting path. I have big plans for IFH Academy. New courses, world-class instructors, and much more. Take a look around the site and let me know what you think.

Be well and stay safe out there. As always keep that hustle going and keep that dream alive. I’ll talk to you soon.

Alex Ferrari 0:02
Now I wanted to put this episode together. It's a quick episode because I wanted to announce what I have been working on for the past month or so. As you know, this quarantine has gotten me locked in. And that's a dangerous place for me to be because I just have ideas and things I want to do for the tribe and to be of more service to you guys. I launched bulletproof screenwriting.tv about a month and a half ago. So that's an entire brand new website that I launched. And now I would like to announce officially that we are launching IFH Academy or indie film hustle Academy, and at the indie film hustle Academy, you will have top and world class education for film and screenwriting. I am partnering with some of the biggest and best instructors and thought leaders in the filmmaking and screenwriting space. And I wanted to bring something to the tribe that was next level to take their filmmaking or screenwriting journey to that next place to really be of service to the community. And I think we've been able to do that with if h Academy now IFH Academy will be releasing high end courses, very premium courses. And we are launching with some amazing ones that I'd like to share with you. Now first up, of course is Suzanne Lyons complete indie film producing workshop. If you haven't taken this workshop before, this course is in sane it completely covers everything you need to know about producing a low budget feature film, from soup to nuts. Suzanne has been a guest on the show many times before. And she has over a dozen independent feature films that she has put out there that have been profitable. And she goes through her entire process on how she produces her feature films from optioning a screenplay all the way to final deliverables, and I even make a cameo talking about film deliverables. The next course I'm going to talk to you about I'm extremely excited for its lightened face the art of cinematography, and it is taught by sukima des kovitch, a sc. He's been on the show before he is a world class cinematographer with insane credits under his belt. He's been working in the industry for over 25 years, and he is truly a master of cinematography. A member of the American Society of Cinematographers he has taught at USC film school and the New York Film Academy and he wanted to create a course that would teach filmmakers how to live The scene with the very bare minimum from an open lightbulb, to Christmas lights to an iPad, flashlights all the way to Kino flows. For now lights, China lamps, everything, but he teaches you how to craft the light, how to shape the light. It is an amazing course I've been I've lit a couple of I've lit a bunch of stuff in my day, but obviously I'm in no way they're the same caliber as Suki is. And when I watched the course, I learned so much I was so excited. It's It's unlike anything else in the world right now. And he takes you from a bare bulb, one light bulb all the way to how to create like a blade runner style look or film noir or romantic comedy, or fantasy or action. He kind of goes through every step, but he takes you through the journey step by step, by the end of the course, you will understand so much more about cinematography, even if you're not going to light yourself, you'll at least understand it more and be able to have better conversations with your cinematographer. Now that course specifically, I am launching today and you have until May 23 to be an early adopter of that course, if you buy the course, between now and may 23, which is about two weeks, you'll be able to gain access to this course at the introductory early adopter price. Now that price will never ever, ever come back. This is the cheapest this course will ever be. And it will never come back to that course No, no other deals, no other anything, it will not come back at that price again. So if you want it, this is the time to take action. Now if you're a screenwriter, we've got you covered as well. We have the screenwriters guide to formatting. I teamed up with Jeffrey Calhoun from the scripts summit, and the writer of a guide for every screenwriter, the best selling book. And we designed this course to teach you the not only basics of screenplay formatting, but all the nuances all the insider tips and tricks that the industry expects or wants to see but it's not really spoken about too much out there in the world. And I learned a bunch about formatting about what what is what is acceptable nowadays, what's not acceptable nowadays, it is kind of an ever changing BCS, the basics of screenplay formatting stays the same. But a lot of other things. A lot of things that were popular are not popular now. So this is a really great course to get you started and Jeffrey and I are working on a lot of other mini courses for the screenwriters guide regarding development regarding ideas, structure, plot, dialogue character, how to sell how to pitch. All of this is coming to ifH Academy in the coming months. And I also included two other courses the definitive Super 16 millimeter filmmaking workshop, and the complete cinema camera lens primer, which is taught by Egon Stefan Jr, a veteran cinematographer. And if you want to know about cinema lenses, that course is for you without question goes over two hours, breaking down cinema lenses, breaking down Super 16 lenses, as well as rigs. and everything in between really gives you a great primer to lenses. And of course that other one the definitive Super 16 millimeter filmmaking workshop if you're interested in shooting Super 16 This is the workshop for you. It is a best selling workshop and the only one of its kind in the world. And finally, my biggest and most exciting course, after many, many years of people asking me to do this, I finally sat down and started to work on this. It's called film distribution confidential. After all, the Bockel with distributor and everything I was granted real inside information in regards to how the world of distribution works. And I had been studying it for the past year. And I wanted to put together a resource something that will help filmmakers through the path of traditional distribution of working with a traditional distributor sales agents, producers reps, and really understand what distributors can do for you in the positive and in the negative. I'll be going over how to avoid predatory film distributors, film aggregators, the pros and cons, what to look for in distribution agreements, VOD myths, film deliverables, working with sales agents, theatrical releases for walling day and date releases event and limited exhibition theatrical releases cross collateralization self releasing on Amazon Prime in today's world, you know, insurance marketing caps and so, so much more. I'm going be filling this course with anything and everything you would need to know, to partner with a film distributor and how to maximize your film release through that revenue channel. And if you want to sign up to get first and early access to that course, it is all on I FH Academy calm. I hope you guys are excited about IFH Academy I definitely am. I've been working extremely hard developing it and trying to again be as much of service to the tribe as I possibly can. I hope this education I hope ifH Academy will help you guys on your path. People who have started taking these courses, who have been I've been quietly releasing it or a little bit by little bit to some early adopters. People are absolutely going crazy really love the courses like Suzanne's courses, and Sue keys course. People are extremely, extremely excited about this as I am. So thank you guys for listening. If you want to get access to anything, just head over to ifhacademy.com. Or you can check over at the show notes. Check out the trailer for zookeys new course. And links to everything else at the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/387. And this is a no a special episode an early episode, but you're going to get a full blown episode tomorrow which I will have sukima des kovitch on the show talking about cinematography, talking about the do's and don'ts, what the world is like today for film production in this Corona 19 world that we live in how Hollywood is going to look post Coronavirus, how he's dealing with this new format that kwibi is creating, which is high end multi format capture systems. We're going to talk about all of that stuff. And I'm excited to bring it to you guys. So thank you for listening guys. I hope you guys are doing well in the quarantine. We will get through this. Hopefully IFH Academy will give you some great tools to put in your toolbox while you're waiting and preparing to get back out there and start following that filmmaking or screenwriting dream. Thank you guys again for listening. As always keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe, and I'll talk to you soon.

IFH 265: Indie Film Producing – The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking with Suzanne Lyons

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Today on the show we have returning champion producer Suzanne Lyons. Suzanne was one of my first guests on the Indie Film Hustle Podcast. Her episodes are some of my most downloaded episodes so I had to have her back on to talk shop.

Suzanne will go over a ton of information on how to produce an indie feature film. She covers:

  • The dos and don’ts of Low Budget Filmmaking
  • What is Soft Prep?
  • Contracts
  • Working with unions
  • The hell of deliverables
  • and much more

In 1999 Suzanne Lyons launched Snowfall Films and to date has produced/executive produced twelve movies. These included A BAFTA award-winning British comedy UNDERTAKING BETTY(aka “Plots With A View”), with actors Christopher Walken, Brenda Blethyn, Alfred Molina and Naomi Watts with Miramax Distribution. British/Canadian thriller JERICHO MANSIONS staring James Caan, Genevieve Bujold, Maribel Verdu and Jennifer Tilly. JERICHO MANSIONSwas an official selection at the Montreal Film Festival and the Hollywood Film Festival. British/Canadian family comedy BAILEY’S BILLION$ which stars Dean Cain, Laurie Holden, Tim Curry, and Jon Lovitz.

A drama HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS, based on J.T. LeRoy’s novel, starring Asia Argento, Marilyn Manson, Winona Ryder, and Peter Fonda. The film premiered during the Directors Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival and screened to high acclaim at the Toronto Film Festival.

In 2012 Ms. Lyons published her book through Focal Press (Taylor and Francis Publishing) titled Indie Film Producing: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking which is the #1 book on Indie Film Producing on Amazon.

We also discuss Suzanne’s new online workshop The Complete Indie Film Producing Workshop.

Here’s some info on the workshop:

Have you ever wondered what it really takes to produce an independent film? How to raise money, dealing with contracts, SAG agreements, and putting together sales presentations for investors? Then this masterclass is for you.

Award-winning film producer Suzanne Lyons is about to take you from script to screen and beyond in this Mastermind workshop. After producing a number of bigger budget features Suzanne thought producing the SAG ultra-low and modified budget films would be a piece of cake. Boy, was she wrong? Wearing 100 different hats was a challenge and she learned so much. And now she will be sharing all that great info with you.

In this Mastermind workshop, you’ll learn from her experience and benefit from her success. Suzanne will take you through a structured crystal, clear step by step process that will actually make low budget filmmaking easy and fun!

This workshop is unique in that it will literally guide you through the entire process of making your film. From her own hands-on experience, she will be addressing every detailed facet of filmmaking.


“Suzanne has that rare ability to combine artistic creativity and smart business sense… she’s proven that by taking a SAG ultra-low budget and somehow squeezing out a quality film that looks like it cost a million!”
Academy Award® Winner Mark L. Smith, Writer/Director “Séance” Writer, “The Revenant”

“Suzanne is brilliant… take her workshop and put her suggestions to work and you’ll be amazed at the extraordinary results you’ll produce.”
Ross Grayson Bell, Producer “Fight Club”

From option a screenplay, development, designing your business plan, opening your film company, hiring your line producer, and director. Finessing your budget, schedule, and film timeline. Being smart about contracts and paperwork. Casting and working with actors. The details of pre, principle, and post, choosing your sales agent, preparing for film delivery and festivals, and so so so much more.

You’ll also get a DOWNLOADABLE BONUS PACK of the real world used contracts, agreements, and business plans word and PDF worth over $20K.

Enjoy my conversation with producer Suzanne Lyons.

Alex Ferrari 1:58
Today on the show, guys, we have returning champion Suzanne Lyons and today we're going to be talking about indie film producing the craft of low budget filmmaking. For those of you who have not heard of Suzanne before, she has been a guest on the show multiple times. And she is one of the favorites of the tribe. She has downloaded more times than almost any of my other guests. So I love having her back on because she is a wealth of information when it comes to producing an indie film. And today I wanted to have her back not only just to talk about the craft of low budget filmmaking and what's changed since last time we spoke, but also about our new course that we did together, the indie film producing masterclass, and the course has been selling very, very well people are really really enjoying it and giving it some very good marks. So we're going to talk a little bit about that as well towards the end of the conversation but really this is its own masterclass on Film Producing for free because she is amazing gives away so so many knowledge bombs in this interview. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with the lovely Suzanne Lyons. I'd like to welcome back to the show Suzanne Lyons. Suzanne, thanks for being back.

Suzanne Lyons 3:18
Oh, you're welcome. I'm excited to be back.

Alex Ferrari 3:21
I mean, you were one of my first guests. I think you were Episode 10 and 11. Because

Suzanne Lyons 3:29
I love being a 10. I'm gonna go let's go with the 10. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 3:34
You were your first interview was so long, I had to cut it in half. We just kept talking. So much good stuff in that. It was It was great. But I wanted to bring you back. It's you're not we're now as of this recording. We're over 250 episodes of the podcast. So it's been? I would, I would guess it's a success. We've been doing I've been doing three years now. So now. It's doing okay right now. But I wanted to have you come back so I can pick your brain a little bit more about specific, specific things about producing independent film in today's world, because a lot has changed in the last three years since last time we did this.

Suzanne Lyons 4:18

Alex Ferrari 4:18
So first and foremost, what is the biggest mistake you see filmmakers make when they're producing an independent film?

Suzanne Lyons 4:25
Oh my God, that's that's a good question. We could probably do an hour on the phone. Maybe a day. Yeah, let's do a day. You have time.

Alex Ferrari 4:32
Yeah, exactly.

Suzanne Lyons 4:35
Cuz God knows I I've made I've made some of those, whatever those that list is, I'm in there. But I think the main one is, and this is one that I I probably didn't do for some reason, because maybe because of my business background or whatever it is. I think the main thing, the main mistake that film producers do is that they don't put the business hat on Alex. It's kind of like Well, I'm the creator. Type, you know, maybe they're a writer before that, or maybe their writer during this time. You know, they're directing as well maybe, or acted. You know, I remember one one of my girlfriends Oh, Suzanne, I've been acting for 15 years now, believe me, I've been on enough sets to know, you know how to produce a movie, come on, you know, and she would not take my class because she's argued and argued and argued with me that, um, no, no, I know. But I gotta tell you being on a set is not the same as all the business stuff that comes before being on the set. And even the stuff that is happening on the set is a producer's hat versus, you know, somebody else's hat. So I think the business stuff is so important, and people forget to do it. I had somebody who could never sell their movie afterwards, because she didn't get any of the paperwork done. There was no chain of title, no option agreement, nothing.

Alex Ferrari 5:51
What did you speak of chain title option? You're speaking like another language? What is dumb joking? Go ahead. No, exactly. No, but but that but that's it, though. And they would look at you like, Oh, I don't need to know that stuff. Yeah, I actually stole something from you from our first interview, and I said constantly, the word show and there's the word business. And the word business has twice as many letters as the word show. I give you credit, most of the time, not all the time. Not all, most of the time I give you credit. But people people just love it. Because it's so true. It Yeah, you really have to understand the business of it.

Suzanne Lyons 6:29
It's Honest to God, you're right. I mean, it's it's just and nobody does, because they think oh, well, you know, how hard is it? Right? But if you if you're now what if your movies all done? You know, you've got a 50,000 from your family or your visa or worse, you know, you know, people that are investors in your movie, and it's 100,000. And now it comes time and your sales agent says, send me the option agreement, send me the cast, you know, deal memos, send me all the chain of title stuff that you did, you know, through Washington, send me all this stuff, and you're sitting there shaking your head? What does that mean? You know, then you're in trouble because they can't go and sell it unless there's a clear chain of title unless they have all the paperwork. But as producers is, well, I'm the creative types is and I don't need that, sorry, the creative type. In the end, they'll never ever ever see your movie because there's no paperwork, so that I think I'd have to underline a million times, Alex, in terms of the worst mistake.

Alex Ferrari 7:26
I mean, I'll be honest with you, when I did my first feature, this is mag, which was a micro budget feature. You know, I I knew all these things you were talking about. And I'm like, I'll get to them. I'll and you know what, at the end of the day, when we sold it to to a couple territory's they started asking where's the chain of title? Where's this? Right? Oh, shoot, I gotta I gotta go do that real quick. You know, I pushed it off as long as possible. But it was, but at least I knew what these people were speaking of. So I got to go get them and I can provide those deliverables for them. But he saw a lot of, you know, filmmakers listening now like, Oh, that's only for like, you know, big movies like 50,000 or 100? No, no, no, if even if you got a $5,000 movie, and you're trying to sell it, and you do sell it, and you don't have those things, you can lose the deal. Without what yeah.

Suzanne Lyons 8:17
Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, one of the girls, what happened is she said to the sales agent, they were she was actually at can when a sales agent said we really love it. And you know, and we'd like to, you know, we were here now we'd like to start saying we'd like to pick it up. And that's when she called me crying on the phone. She was crying. And she told me the story. And I said, Oh, congratulations. Is that what you're calling? This is so great. And she was crying saying no. She said, I've just called the writer to do the agreement, even though it's now what a year and a half, two years later, right? And and she said in the writer said that in the interim, she had had a fight with the director and together and she said, and what I decided is that film can burn in hell for all I care. And hung up. Yes, I promise, Alex. And that was not a 50,000. That was a couple 100,000 it was a few years ago. And that was with investors. And like I say to people, if it's your own visa, I don't care. I don't care. You know, show it as your home movie, you know, to your family. I don't care. But if it's somebody else's money, oh, man, you don't mess around with that, you know, you do the paperwork. And that's what she was crying because she said she'll never ever, ever, and that's got to go back 10 years, you know, and that movie will still and never see the night light of day normal. The investors ever make their money back.

Alex Ferrari 9:29
Oh, so sad. That's sad. So what is so let me ask you, what is the business plan and a mission statement? I hear those words so often, and I know what they are, but I'd like you to explain it to the audience.

Suzanne Lyons 9:41
Okay, um, with with the business plan. And it's interesting. You mentioned that because I just read one yesterday, someone sent me a business plan yesterday, and I gotta tell you, it was so long, so so so long, and gave information that I don't need, you know, I mean, I was thinking I was sitting there thinking if I was my dentist who I know goes golfing every Friday, right? And what's he going to do if you're going to give him this business plan? And he sees in I thought, My God, he would go blurry eyed and probably throw in the garbage, right? Because what's he going to do is you're going to read something that's 70 pages, or 60 pages, or is he going to go golfing? Guess what, he's going to go golfing? However, if it's about 10 or 15 pages, and very clear, very to the point. very succinct. He's going to read it.

Alex Ferrari 10:29
No. So what's so let's start from the beginning. What Why do you need a business plan? What's the purpose of the business plan? When trying to raise money for a film?

Suzanne Lyons 10:37
Okay, well, what I do is some people do their business plan, which is kind of like your, you know, what people call a pitch deck nowadays, you know, where it's your basic, here's your, you know, maybe it's a quote, to start with, I would often start with a quote of the movie that was quite successful that somebody had talked about, you know, such and such was done for 200,000 and made 250 million or, you know, I'd start with a nice quote on the front page. And then what what it really is about then is then, you know, maybe the synopsis the bot, maybe your bio is the people that are already on your team. And the, what may be the comparables, you know, like film that Halloween was done for 350,000. And made, I don't know, 120 million, whatever. So you know, you give those comparables and you'd kind of do your pitch, you know, your marketing pitches, this is how it could go. And here's the demographic and, you know, all of that kind of usual stuff. However, what I add to mine, because I don't usually do that, I usually wait and send my business plan out to investors, period. And that's why I always include with my business plan, my ppm and my operating agreement, so therefore, my business plan, has a few additional pages to it, which is the investor proposal, which you wouldn't put in a normal business plan if it was just going out to everybody online, right. And it also has what we call the revenue scenario, which is another page that enticed the investors, which says, If you know, if this is what you know, that these are the estimates, we got, you know, the low end is going to be the movie will make, you know, it only cost 200,000. And it's going to make 1.2 million in the high end, it'll make 2.5 million for example. And here's what it's going to cost, you know, the sales agent may charge 40,000 for expenses and 20% for commission, and then we kind of minus that, and, and then we show that and those those pages they were very, very interested in and of course, everybody loves comparisons, even though they're bullshit just because Halloween did that. Is that mean? It's gonna make

Alex Ferrari 12:41
Listen Halloween paranormal activity, and The Blair Witch is on every comparable horror business plan. There you go. And once from 1970 something whenever we come out, like, like 79 80 81

Suzanne Lyons 12:56
Probably doesn't matter. 100 years from now, we're still going to be quoting Halloween.

Alex Ferrari 13:04
They use it constantly. So it is via so but but it's nice. It's It's It's fluff. It's cotton candy, it's, you know, just kind of Yeah, it's sparkles.

Suzanne Lyons 13:11
Exactly. And if you're the investor, you're thinking, you know what, yeah, it's every 10 years. But guess what, this is the 10 year, maybe this is the one you know. So so. So in mind this to give you exactly what's in mind is that quote on the first page, the second page is the investor proposal, because that's really what they care about. If they're reading this business plan that is going out to the investors here. That's all they care about is how much am I going to make? You know? I mean, what I mean, what not, how much am I going to make? But how, what percentage of ownership? Am I going to have kind of thing? And then how does it all play out in my 5050 partner like, it explains it in mine is literally a half a page. The bottom part of that page is explaining risk, risk, risk, risk, risk, risk, risk and capital letters all over the place on the bottom of the page. Right. And I love that word. And you would not believe how many people forget to put that word in all the time. Anytime I do what I think it's in capital letters, you know, mean, you know, what you're saying is you'd be stupid to invest in this, right? You know, because of the risk, risk, risk, risk risk, but

Alex Ferrari 14:10
The bigger the bigger, like, the uglier you make it look, the more they're attracted to it.

Suzanne Lyons 14:16
Yeah, exactly. Because a lot of times they're investing not just for the money, they're investing for the fun of it for the prestige, especially in the lower budget, they're wanting to come out and kind of maybe be on set maybe be an extra maybe have one line in the movie, have some fun with it, you know, maybe sing a song like we had two or three of our movies. The song in the federal credit was one of our investors or one of our investors daughters in one case, or son in another case. So right you know, for us, it's not for the fun, you know,

Alex Ferrari 14:42
For us, it's not a big deal to be on set or you know, be it but but to people outside the business. It's still a thing we still we still have, you know, hollywood still has that kind of sheen on it still.

Suzanne Lyons 14:53
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And then the rest of my business plan. The next piece is the project objective. You know, like what we plan to Do Is it just going to be a one off horror film? I'm just going back and thinking of some of mine 10 years ago, 12 years ago? Or are we doing a slate of them? If we are, here's, you know, and that was one paragraph, once again, probably about 150 words, then the next page was the marketplace kind of explaining this is what's happening in the world of horror films. And, you know, this is what Hollywood Reporter is saying about it. And I just chose quotes from, you know, different variety and, you know, different industry magazines and put those quotes in there, you know, horror films make a killing at the box office does not at all, you know, hollywood reporter. So I did that kind of page. The next page was its own comparisons. As I mentioned, the next page was the company summary, here's what's going on with snowfall films, kind of our company bio. And then after that was the team, you know, who were the people who are on board, you know, maybe the bio on me, the bio and Cade at the time, the bio on the writer, you know, little by little, once again, those were half page BIOS. And then maybe you might have your composer even though it's early, but maybe your composer is a friend of yours. And he wanted Sundance in the case of ours, he had just won a Sundance award. So it was worth putting in there. Even our makeup person on makeup costume designer at the time, had won some big awards. And it was another friend. And so we put her bio in there. So you know, a few pages on your team, and then the synopsis. This is what the films about and then I mentioned that revenue scenario that the investors loved. And then I put an article from the LA Times that talked about how great horror films were doing at the time. Now I'm not doing horror films anymore. I'm talking about this as 1012 years ago, when they were very popular. And then at the time, Alex, we had what was called section 181, in this country, which offered, you know, you know, the accredited investors the opportunity to go as high as 100%. Tax write off, actually. So I had that two pager in there that I just pulled down from the job creation act online. I pulled down the two page or page and a half on section 181. That's gone. yesterday. Yes. Yeah. It's gone. It's been gone for two years. Well, you were grandfathered last year. I'm sorry? No, I think you were either grandfathered into it. If you finished in 2016 Yes, 2017, you were grandfathered. If you did a couple, even five or 10 minutes, I think of shooting or one day of shooting with some stipulation. But then it ended, of course, you know, January 1 2017, in terms of ever coming back? I don't know, I've heard rumors that it may be coming back. But at this point, I don't know. But I do keep checking every now and then I'll go online. Corky Kessler was one of the attorneys that I you know, spoke to, and so to speak to from time to time about it. And I would advise getting in touch with him because he's the guy who, you know, was the big advocate for it when it was all happening. I believe you and at the time.

Alex Ferrari 17:46
And then so then also, what's the mission statement and regard?

Suzanne Lyons 17:49
Yes, you're right. Then there's the last thing and I didn't do this in the first one. Just so you know, the mission statement. I didn't put it in, even though Kate and I had a mission statement, which I'll mention. And Heidi and I had a mission statement for flash forward Institute years ago as well. But I didn't put it in I didn't think it was important, which is crazy. But I put it in the second one. And do you know that we had an investor come on board, just based on the mission statement alone, which if you go online and check, if you check on snowfall films right now was snowfall films calm. My mission statement is there. And it's I got to tell you a mission statement, what it does is it really kind of gives the basin's basis of what you're all about as a company. It's almost like an actor sharing about themselves of the kind of roles that they love to do or writer above the kind of scripts like it's the essence of who you are in a way right. And why you love to do something or why you're passionate about that. It's really like that. And some people it's only like a logline one or two sentences. In the case of Kate nigh, it's about a page. And with Heidi and I when we did the flash forward Institute one I don't know if that's online, but that was phenomenal as well took us a week to write it with Kate Nye, it took us a week to write the one for snowfall, it's really kind of sharing about this is the essence of what this company is all about. And this is what our commitment is to you and to the world, you know, in the area of entertainment and this is what we plan to bring to the world, you know, whatever it happens to be for you. So I think it's very important. And when I I teach at Columbia College, just the last month of the master's program, when they get students come down from Chicago, it's really fun every April and and I had them write as part of their homework, a mission statement, you know, and I think it was the first time I think the person in charge actually said it was the first time anyone had asked for that. But I said it will give them I said I wish somebody had asked me to do it. You know when I first started in the in the world of business, you know, after university because it's settled something within yourself that forces you to kind of look deep and go what Yeah, what really am I Committed to do I want to make a difference too? I just want to have some fun is to kind of about money for the for like it has you look at what is what's driving you, you know, what is it that you really are passionate about? And what do you want to do? What is that purpose? And I tell I have them do a one personal and one for their career. And I advise everybody to do one of each actually, it kind of, it's interesting, because the years ago, when I first did my first one, I think I was around 30 or 30. Yeah, run late 20s, early 30s. And I was doing a personal one. And I wrote down on my mission statement who I want to who I was because I kept writing who I am all the way down. Who I bro, who I am, is the best daughter in the world. And what I realized is I hadn't talked to my mom in three weeks. But I hadn't woken up to that, because I was unconscious of that until I wrote that. That's who I am in the world. So I wrote down and I grabbed my day timer. And I wrote down in my day timer every Sunday morning at nine calling your mom. You know what I mean? So it kind of created an existence system system for me that didn't exist before because I wasn't even conscious of who I was being Do you know what I mean? Does that make sense? Like once I got that I was the best daughter in the world, then I could take action to be the best daughter on the world. So if you're writing down, like I don't have it in front of you that but say for snowfall films, if whatever Kate nice commitment was to you, as an investor or to the industry, and this is what we wanted to bring to the party, you know, in this world of entertainment from our playground here, you know, in our sandbox, then it kind of had you really look deep and to you know, what was that going to be? And then once you realize what that was, then you could bring that into existence into being and then create an existence systems system for it for ongoing, you know what I mean? Yeah, isn't that cool?

Alex Ferrari 21:48
It is very cool. And it's a really good way for you to kind of figure out what you stand for who you are and what you want to do. So yeah, very cool. Now, should you? Should you speak to a sales agent or distributor, before you start production?

Suzanne Lyons 22:01
Oh, my God, I'd say start now. While you're thinking about the idea, if I'm even thinking of moving to Hollywood, if I'm even thinking of producing a movie, I'm not kidding, they are your first best friend, okay? Your first one, if you don't know them, what I always say to people, if you need to know people, you know, quickly, then call one of the gills or Women in Film or whoever, whatever, any organization, and say I will put a panel together of sales agents for your organization. And then you'll get to meet you know, the five or six, or whatever sales agents that you want to meet. They're important, even if you end up not using them. They're important because you In fact, I went through this with a friend of mine, a producer on the phone yesterday, because he had not done that. And he already made up his list of actors. And I said, What did your sales agent say about those actors? And he's going well, what do you mean, I'm not going to have a sales agent for another years? is in the movies not even done? We're just looking at? And I'm going Yes, you think those are great actors? And maybe they're really great on that TV show that you happen to love. But are they going to sell the territories around the world? So you've got to get to know those sales agents. That's the first thing is because you're going to need help with that. I'm not saying they're not gonna, they're going to guide you through that whole thing. No, you do your homework, you know, my movies. $200,000 It's a sci fi movie. Obviously, I want some people of note from the sci fi world on you know, here's my list, then you'll show yourself your potential sales agent a year from now. Show them now, you know, and they may say no, no, he doesn't mean anything anymore. No, this person Yeah, they sell Asia, but they don't sell the rest of the world. Well, is Asia enough? Well, maybe it is. Okay, you know, let's let's keep them on the list. You know, like, have that conversation with them. Now. That's one thing. The second thing is sometimes they can even guide you as to what you might want to even put in your script, what might be selling what you might want to highlight? Is this genre selling right now, of course, you don't know what's selling a year and a half from now, of course, but I mean, sometime they can say listen, there's a glut of those right now, I would probably step back and maybe do your rom com instead of your horror film right now. You know, so they have a good sense of the of the business that you don't know about, you know, fairly

Alex Ferrari 24:18
You know, the funny thing is, is that because you can tell sometimes now specifically in Hollywood, or that they are catering to the Asian market so much more heavily now. Yes, we're like a movie like Pacific Rim the sequel to Pacific Rim. Only recently we got greenlit for a sequel because it did very well in China. So when you win the sequel, it takes place near China. It has Chinese heroes it has like I mean, you know, it was just like so over the top that was like wow, they just in Transformers did the same thing. And, you know, Iron Man sneaks in, you know, a scene in Asia, you know, with an Asian character, but they're selling that territory. It makes them help sell that territory.

Suzanne Lyons 25:02
Exactly. But see, you might not know that you as the producer, or the creative type or whatever, right? Or the writer who wants to produce or actor who wants to produce or director wants to produce, you're thinking, you're not thinking that you're focusing on the script. I'm not saying don't take off Alex, I'm never saying, don't take off the creative at Jesus, you need to go through development. And you need to look at who you want and who your director is going to be in your line producer and your budget. Yes, of course, you want to be smart about doing all that stuff. But at the same time, you've got to do this simultaneously. Because it could mean, you know, making changes in your script, it could mean, you know, putting in an actor, like you said, Who's Asian right now, but you might not know about what's going on in Asia to the degree that your sales agent knows. And they know, I remember one time I had I didn't have an actor on my list. And I remember when the stage with the sales agent, this when Germany was the biggest country not long ago, obviously. But when when the sales agent and I and the sales agent said, Well, how come so and so I can't remember what was is not on your list for this budget? And I said, well, because he's, like, 20 years ago, what are you saying, like, haven't even heard of him in 20 years? They said, Suzanne, he's the biggest name in Germany, the biggest country the biggest sale, and I said it was it was me,

Alex Ferrari 26:14
David Hasselhoff.

Suzanne Lyons 26:17
No, it wasn't. No, but that's funny, because yeah, could have been, but it wasn't. Um, but I mean, it's still you. I didn't know that. Right. So I added him to the list, you know, and then obviously, you discuss all that with your director, because then you're you know, you might say, did the director, here are the five names that the sales agent approved? You know, who do you want in order of 12345? You know, especially on the under a million a lot of time, you know, we think it's a sales, it's a director's medium? Well, certainly not under a certain budget level, because it's well, I think, at any budget level, you know, your sales agent will help guide you in terms of in terms of the cast. But, but you know, certainly you as the producer have got to be smart. And I had somebody say to me recently, well, well, though, Suzanne, why can I even talk cast, the director is not even on board yet. And I said, Well, no, but you can at least have your list ready for him or her when they do come on board. So get to know the sales. The other thing to get to know the sales agents is, so many sales agents, now, Alex are actually production companies. So they're a lot of time providing not just the pre sales, but I mean, they're actually putting equity in. So I would really get to know a lot of them as many as you can. I think I know probably 80% of all sales agents in the world, honest to God. And in many cases, I still stay in touch with a lot of them. I mean, there's certain ones, obviously, depending on the genre, right now, I'm doing a thriller. You know, the next one is a family film. So you might be dealing with different different sales agents, you know, depending on the genre, of course that you're doing and the budget sizes that you're doing. But still, you know, the trick is to stay in, you know, in touch with them know, even if you're thinking because somebody said to me recently, Suzanne, I have no intentions of going that route, none. I'm going to self distribute self distribute, self distribute. I'm not saying that's not a good thing. I'm saying it's still a good thing. I've In fact, self distribution is probably the way to go these days. And we can talk about that too. But what I'm saying is do both, you know what I mean? Yes, prepare your script for this, prepare your marketing to that, if you're self distributing, prepare yourself for that. But at the same time, you still need to, you know, it's still eventually going to get to the world. So you still need who that name actor is in that genre at that budget level. So you still need to hear from the sales agent, you still are going to need estimates for your investor, right? That sales agent, you may change your mind down the road, when you realize just how much work it might be to software. That's what happened to a friend of mine. He said to hell with this after a few months, and that's when he gave it to a sales agent. But he ended up making some wrong choices because he didn't know any sales agents because he was so determined to self distribute. So I'm saying do both, you know, find out? Yes, you know, find out everything about self self distribution, of course.

Alex Ferrari 28:59
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Suzanne Lyons 30:27
Well, yeah, I mean, I won the last one. We We, on time toys we did. We did plan ourselves for both. And I am I had the kind of the the pleasure of interviewing RB you know, who owns the stage? 32 because he was writing a book at the time, we're from the same publishing company. So we all kind of know each other, as you know. And so we're all with with Michael focus. Know what we're actually focused press. Yeah, I've got a whole bunch of us together. So we, so it was I was I brought him in to teach my class at Columbia College, about crowdsourcing, cuz all I ever heard of was crowdfunding. Right? And he's had a book coming out. So I said, Would you come in. And, and of course, I got to read the first four chapters, because we all have to read each other's work right at, you know, because we're with the same company. So I was blown away, blown away. And I brought him in to speak to the class blown away again. And then, you know, we I ended up introducing him to the person that I was working with the director on time twice, because I was so impressed. So what he recommended in one of the chapters that I read, was to start early, super early in the world of self distribution, by even affecting your script. And in the book, it's, and I'm gonna get this wrong, because this was a few couple years ago, because I read it way before it came out. It's out now, by the way, it's phenomenal. I'm crowdsourcing. So what I did is what he said in the book, one, one of the people he interviewed and I'm no, I'm gonna make a mess of it. But anyways, the bottom line of it was, they were keeping this in mind during the script stage while they were doing the rewrites, and they decided to make one of their characters. I believe it was a vegan, either raw, vegan or vegan? Well, just so you know, veganism went up just last year alone in America. I am.

Alex Ferrari 32:12
I know.

Suzanne Lyons 32:14
In America, Alex, one thought we're talking to America. Oh, yeah, that's all capital of the world. Right? Sure. 1,000%, okay, in America. So these guys, this was a few years ago, but that's what they were planning for. They knew that kind of explosion was happening. So they decided and they started, then they started a blog. And by the time that blog was done, and by the time the movie was done, you know, a year because the movie comes out, like a year and a half later, right? Because they did this in the very early stages of the rewrites of the script. They had a couple 100,000 people in that psychographic. You know, years ago, when Kate and I started, it was called demographics back then, right? Nowadays, it's like a graphics, and it's how many psychographics? Can you get to a year to two years before your movie even comes out? And then maybe you make another character such and such or whatever, and you start a blog about that, or that's one way. I mean, I've gotten, I've interviewed people myself, actually, there's many, many ways to be smart about this. But what I'm saying is, and that's one of the talks I had yesterday to the producer, I was talking on the phone is starting now, you know, yes, I know the rewrites done, but maybe really look at who is that demographic that's like a graphic, you know, if you if there's that chance for self distribution, you know, who How can you start now, knowing that you could have a half a million people a year and a half from now. And maybe if enough at the time that you decide you don't want to self distribute, it's too damn much work. You say at the time, it doesn't matter. Because if you've got a half a million fans waiting for the movie, then you're going to have sales agents knocking on your door, of course, it did better chance to negotiate and bring their percentages down and so on. So you know, it's only a win win for you. But I'm saying it starts in the script stage. So that's the first that's the main thing I have to say about crowd about sorry, self distribution. But the other thing would be to get Alex to get RBS book, obviously on crowdsourcing,

Alex Ferrari 34:06
He's been on the show already. And we thought, well, he's been cool. He's a record by the way. He's been on the show seven times. Ah, times he's on the show. And the last one was to promote his book. So that was great. He's great. RB's, great. And of course, he's in my movie, on the corner, desire as a producer in it, and he kills it. Cool. I love that. He's, he's, he's amazing. But that's a whole other story for another time. So okay, so that's enough on that. So how, how do you deal with sag on a micro budget feature? Because sag is this big monster that a lot of filmmakers think about? They're like, Oh is the union I don't know what I'm gonna do. They're scared to death of sag. And I was one of those guys that when I first was coming home and I never dealt with them before, you know, I literally fit you know, you literally feel You know, the sag police is gonna come and get you. everything right, and it's not that way. And I want you to come out at all, I want you to demystify it a little bit for everybody.

Suzanne Lyons 35:11
Okay, good. Now, let's be really honest, even if it's a low budget, let's take candy stripers, for example, our first horror film, it was this AIG ultra low $200,000. Right? At the time, I think it's 250 now, but back then it was 200. So, but here's the thing, when you read the script, you know, it's like, definitely a five to $10 million movie. And we were going to do it for 20,000. So Kate, and Jill rewrote it based on our table read, and took it from 68 characters to 33. But we couldn't get it less than 33. So if it's 33 in quite a few locations, just so you know. So that is obviously not sake. Okay. That's not saying, you know, if you're going to get over, you know, 15 actors, and then you want to start to look at, you know, and new budget size is the ultra low or below the ultra low, then you want to be very smart is does this have to be saying what we did, Alec in the case of candy stripers is and Kate had been an actor, thank God before this. So she was I learned a lot actually, on candy stripers in terms of the casting, because I've been so used to doing it ourselves. But you know, in the movies that were five to 10 million, this was the first time we'd ever dealt in this world, right? So with the 200,000 anyways, so she said, Suzanne, it just means instead of seeing two or 300 people in the week, we're gonna see 500 this week, and we're gonna see them about every two and a half minutes instead of every five to 10 minutes. And I'm going okay, and we also because sake had something at the time, I don't know if it's still around or not. That was called my camera was called, where the actors don't have voting rights. But they are a SAG member without the voting rights, but it means that they can work on non sag movies. And I can't remember what the word is called,

Alex Ferrari 37:00
Is that it's not sag eligible.

Suzanne Lyons 37:02
No, no, no, no, no, it's a word. It's a it's a different word at the beginning, guys, anyway, anyways, got it. We I can't remember anyways, it's in. It's in my book. And I think we mentioned in the video, I'm not sure. But anyways, um, God, I actually mentioned it to somebody the other day, and it's so funny. So but until we ended up seeing some phenomenal actors, not it, but some of those weren't even the StG, whatever that word is, um, some were just, you know, happened to be just really good actors. Now, we have to see 500 actors in order to pick our five or six kids, you know, or a 19 year old or whatever, right? Um, because these were supposed to be I think, first or second year university students or whatever. So, but we saw 500 people, but we did it ourselves. And it didn't cost anything, and it wasn't saying, and it was, you know, it was fine. So, um, however, if your movie is something where you don't want to go through 500 people kind of thing, and do all that stuff, where you're saying, No, no, you know, it's only you know, Suzanne, it's, it was written, you know, for this purpose. So it's only nine characters like seance. There's a perfect example. seance was, you know, a big, big writer, you know, obviously at the time, and, and he was directing his first film. And so we thought, you know what, let's go a little fancier with this. And let's make it you know, easier for him to so that's when we said let's do StG. And because it was a we were able to it was only nine or 10 characters? Well, so it was easy.

Alex Ferrari 38:28
Oh, let me let me get through the scenario here. Because a lot of people listening are not even in the world of 200 200,200 $50,000 movie, I'm talking about more about a micro budget, meaning a $10,000 movie a $50,000 movie. And they in let's say, they don't want to populate the entire show with sag. Well, maybe they have, maybe they're getting Eric Roberts, and Eric Roberts to sag or Danny Trejo or one of these actors right that help sell the movie and the rest of them will be non union but that one actor in the whole movie is going to be sag. How do you deal with that? what's what's the process about of becoming that sag signatory? You know, you need to do

Suzanne Lyons 39:08
Well, that you might want to talk to them about because I would probably not do that to me. If you're I don't know if you can do a half signatory. You know, you don't you don't do a signatory for your company. Not ever never not, not not ever. It's only for the the company of the film like candy stripers LLC, seance, LLC, right. Like that. Never snowfall films, you know, right. You know, we're a signatory. So first of all, there's that. Then secondly, with you decide that seance is going to be signatory, its signatory. The nice that now you can talk to them about can you just do the one actor and do all non sag? You know, talk to them about that? They're very good. I know you said it was kind of to demystify. They do classes. I believe it's every second Thursday or one Thursday a month or whatever. The first thing I did when I knew when when we knew we were doing the StG movies here in United States is I decided to go and get educated and I as I had a whole list of questions, so I would recommend that go and go to that, that seminar that they give, it's free, right? And we're gonna go. Okay, so that's the first thing I would say. And then get to know some of those people. We had great point people, I never had any issues ever was saying. So for example, let's get back to the to the signatory. So then, let's say say on signatory, but because it was low budget, because it's under a certain amount and your case, you're talking Mike, you know, the micro budgets was definitely under a certain amount, we were allowed quite a high percentage, I have to tell you, Alex, of, of non sag, you know, so for example, let's just take a look at listing portal just because that's in my mind as well, there was 16 characters in portal. And I remember distinctly one of the one of the characters that was I think, I forget who it was, but it was only four or five days that he was going to be coming in. And I remember looking at these two actors were equally as good. They were in our top two, right of everyone who audition. And I turned over their their headshots, and one was non sag, and one was sick. So we went with the non tech, you know what I mean? So we were just very careful to go with as many non StG as possible, and as many as we could, that they gave us the percentage to do. But you can talk to them if you want to do where it's just Eric Roberts period. Can they do that? Or when your signatory is it full signatory with the percentage

Alex Ferrari 41:35
And also, I've heard of other movies. I know this for a fact that we're when you have a budget of five or $10,000, that's not considered a serious movie in many, many, many hallways in Hollywood is and sad would not even look twice at you. What they do a lot of times, and this is again, I've heard is that they, they kind of go out and shoot the movie, then become a SAG signatory after the fact because at the beginning, they basically say, Look, I don't even know if we're gonna make how this movie is going to turn out if it's gonna even be a movie, because it's literally so low budget, that we really are. Don't know what we have. No. And I would say absolutely not. I would say no, and Gonzaga has no problems doing that. And when we spoke this at when when they spoke to sag, they said, Look, it happens all the time, especially with comedies, when a bunch of comedians get together on the weekend and start shooting a bunch of footage. And all of a sudden, oh, look, we have a movie kind of thing. So there is that avenue. And it does that. I have heard that work as well. But I just want to hear your thoughts.

Suzanne Lyons 42:35
Yeah, I wouldn't do it. Here's the thing. If a bunch of comedians get together on a weekend, you know, and do it Sure, absolutely. And then call sag first thing, nine o'clock Monday morning, not a moment later, okay. However, if it's not a bunch of actors, sorry, comedians getting together, if it's actually something where the script is being written, and it's being thought out as to Yes, this is a 10 minute movie, I hope it turns into something, whether it be a series or whatever, then I would say no, to me, I don't care if it's once again, if it's your visa, and you don't give a shit. It's gonna be just some fun for you to put on YouTube, whatever, or however you want to do it. Once again, maybe I don't care as much. But if you are using sag or union people, I would still be cautious to me, I treat the unions like I do the government. I don't mess around if they've got rules and regulations that have been running for 100 years. I will follow those rules and regulations. I may not agree with them, but I will follow them. So I am all about the paperwork. If you would say to me, oh Susie and you know what? It's gonna cost you $45 to send to Washington, you know, to get your script. What do you you know, to get the copywriting? You know, don't bother. It's not worth the paper it's written on, you know, save the $45 put it on the screen. What would you say to me, Alex? Why don't you say, well, there I you know, it, would you Yeah, absolutely not, you know, because it's like, you're you just want to do things right? And what's the what's the problem? Why not call sake and say listen, I this is only 10,000 it's not my visa though. It's my family's visas. You know, it's kind of thing it's like if it's somebody that you do want to pay back, if it's yours once again, maybe you don't give a shit. I don't even know if I'd put it on YouTube. I think I'd be nervous if I were saying actor. But um, but anyways, um, you know, maybe say to them listen, here's the situation you know, it's only 10,000 you know, as I've got Eric Roberts because he's a friend of mine. But, or whatever I do, or my girlfriend is gonna play in it and she's a she's the same person. So you know, I want to honor that I want to find out what are the rules and if I need to do something, even if it's one letting me off the hook, you know, like I did one time with the W ga you know, where we couldn't come to terms because of the low budget. We ended up just doing a nice letter together where it was like okay, here's how we're going to make it all work for you. You know, and

Alex Ferrari 44:52
From what I understand nowadays, sag is not the sag of yesteryear. They Oh very open. They are very helpful. Especially on low budgets and they will guide you through the process. So it is definitely something that you can go after. What exactly hands on what you're doing it exactly how to do it does. Yeah. What is an APK? And can you explain why you need one?

Suzanne Lyons 45:14
Oh, yeah, the APK I know it sounds old fashioned does not say it. I'm going back to Wales like shooting in Wales, UK people, they

Alex Ferrari 45:22
Also need a beta SP master. I mean,

Suzanne Lyons 45:26
That's all the information. I remember all that good grief. Oh, God. So yeah, the PK is, um, but you still need it today. In fact, a few years ago, you even needed it, when you sent your everything off for film festivals for heaven's sakes, they would even ask for the ebk. Basically, nowadays, it's more social media, you know, back then it was, you'd wait, nothing went out in advance, everything was secret of In fact, remember? Sure, in the old days, so you might remember my first one, you know that, you know, your EP k person, your person who came in your electronic press kit, by the way, is what it is. So she would come in your PR person who was handling all that stuff. And she would be interviewing Chris Walken, for all the various you know, radio or TVs around the world. Or Nomi wants and whoever we were shooting at the time, and she would, but none of that stuff went public until we were going to be starting pre production. I'm sorry. So we were starting the teasers, like a month before the movie came out or whatever, right? That was the old days, where it's like you did all the pictures, you got everything already, but nothing happened until a few months before the movie was coming out. And only then would a website go up? And then would all that stuff start to go around to the press and so on and so on. Nowadays, we start like two years before, right?

Alex Ferrari 46:42
If you're smart, absolutely.

Suzanne Lyons 46:44
Yeah, absolutely. So you start getting all that ready. For example, with time toys. We brought on a social media person. Something like four months before we started shooting four months before, because we said to her, we want to like create a strategy. What can we do? Can we have a contest during the during the movie? Can we do like we started picking, you know, kind of kind of coming up with all kinds of things. It was almost like pre marketing, but stuff that we were going to be needing to shoot during the movies. And how do we do any PK nowadays? For example, years ago, you would do a 15 minute interview with Chris Walken. Now, on time toys, we did a little 10 second 32nd Shout outs 22nd Chodos two minute interviews I don't know if anybody was interviewed longer than two or three minutes like so because now you're starting to you know put that stuff on Facebook or Instagram or whatever during during the shooting like she would do a little you know shout out for the movie while even though the movie not gonna be out for a year during the shooting here she was each day you know putting stuff out there like building that audience you know? And using there is you know, we had some some stars you know, some of our kids on I hate to call them kids now Oh my god, on on time toys. They were already you know, stars in in various TV shows and stuff like that. So they were then you know, twittering all over the place. And so you start early, so that ebk your electronic,

Alex Ferrari 48:16
Sorry, the Twitter twittering all over the place? Let's just find out when you say it is so for some reason, it's just funnier when you say it. Cuz I can't say I can't stand saying the word. I tweeted him. It just drives me nuts. But it's a world. But it's the world we live in. But you were like twittering everywhere. It was very nice. I continue I didn't mean to interrupt.

Suzanne Lyons 48:37
That's funny. Oh, God. And then the other thing with your kind of your APK in a sense, I would kind of put in with that are the photos that are happening because your APK person a lot of time on this set will be talking to your photo person. And for me, sometimes it's that photographer who was doing all of it, you know, it just depends on your budget size. But are your iPhone and you are using your iPhone? Or your own iPhone?

Alex Ferrari 49:01
I'm telling you

Suzanne Lyons 49:02
Yeah, nowadays, I think she's probably using the iPhone more than anything, but but I just wanna get back to the photos for a minute. What happened on one of our movies a few years ago is um, I wasn't paying attention to the photographer and I had not discussed it with him in advance because sometimes you just assume that people know but he was new. You know, he was a friend of someone's or whatever. And he was very new. He was he was a phenomenal photographer but new to the industry. So came time for course the wrap party. We had over 500 phenomenal photos out for the round on a on a whatever he ended with a loop hitting the ball at the wrap party right then thought a month or two later. We get the sales agent to sales agents part of the delivery is Suzanne Can I have your photos? I said oh god photos no problem. I got over 500 photos. They said well no you know just the money shots all we care about really are the money shots no behind the scenes. No nothing just you know the money shots. Alec of those over five 100 you're supposed to send 60, right 60 are supposed to go to sales agents, I had 22. That's all. All the rest were behind the scenes. Nowadays, however, they do want some behind the scenes. And nowadays with your own social media, you want to send in a bunch of behind the scenes all over your everything Instagrams in the whole thing, right? However, your sales agent still needs 50 or 60 money shots. So just make sure when you are hiring your APK person, your photographer, your all of this interviewing kind of all that stuff happening in the photos and everything. Make sure you are not just getting them doing Oh, isn't that fun? You know, the cameras behind her, let me get her here. No, make sure you're getting what are called the money shots, I was a monster, find the kills the person or they finally capture the monster. So make sure you're getting that. Here's the other thing too, is we didn't have a publicity photographer budget, and a lot of those low budget movies. So what we did is I brought a white sheet in from home. We put it up on the wall. And our photographer who was actually a good photographer, did everybody dressed like one by one, you know, looking left looking right, looking down looking up. So you want to get all of your actor, your main actors that are going to be on the potential poster. Also, not just in the money shots you're shooting during the day, but also is stuff that you'll need clean to send to the sales agent who will be using it then for the poster. So you know, so that's why that stuff's important, you know, to look at, I think, you know, one of the bottom lines is, as we're talking, this is a lot of information going out to people, you know, make sure you get a mentor, make sure you watch, you know, the video that Alex and I did or get the book, you know, I wrote on indie film producing, and the books on no budget Film Producing or micro budget filmmaking, you know, you know, get to know the language. For some reason in this industry. Alex, I think what happens is people think, Well, you know, I've been a lawyer in New York, you know, for 40 years, and now I'm going to go out and make some movies, and I'm going to do this or that or whatever. I'm a smart guy. I'm a smart gal. I know what I'm doing. You know, so I mean, we kind of have that mindset. And I'm saying that would be like me buying a new knife set. Right? A really good quality knife set and going. You know what, Alex? I've always wanted to be a heart surgeon. I've never taken a class and I don't think I need to

Alex Ferrari 52:25
I've seen it on TV.

Suzanne Lyons 52:27
Seen it enough? It says fine. Yeah. And I've got a good sharp knife. It's pretty sharp, actually. And Alex, if you don't mind, I'd like to practice on you. Is that okay? This afternoon? Are you free? You know, you would think you'd want to call the loony bin right? Well, that's the same thing. When people are out here saying I want to make I talked to somebody the other day, and she was saying she wanted to produce, she knew nothing, not one word that I mentioned. Did she know know what that meant? So get educated, do the research, get a mentor? Watch the videos, watch, you know, nowadays, everything is available. So I mean, you know, go into this with your eyes open?

Alex Ferrari 53:01
Was it speaking of that? You have a course don't we? Amazing? I know, I know, the tribe has heard about the course that we've that you and I made I've spoken about it a bunch of times on the show. But I want to I want you to talk a little bit about the independent independent filmmaking producing masterclass with Suzanne Lyons. And I do a guest spot. So talk a little bit about the course and what we did with it.

Suzanne Lyons 53:30
Okay, good. Of course, the main thing is the guest spot without,

Alex Ferrari 53:33
Obviously, obviously, that's why you want to get 30 minutes of gold. I'm just throwing that out there.

Suzanne Lyons 53:38
And actually, guys, it really is because he really emphasizes post production, which is another area Alex that most of us as producers don't know anything about. And we

Alex Ferrari 53:48
That's a whole other podcast.

Suzanne Lyons 53:49
That's right, exactly. Um, anyways, so what had happened is to start it off, as I had written a book for vocal press back in, I think it came out in 2012 on indie film producing, because it was actually none. Nobody had written a book on the under a million, you know, the Sega ultralow, the StG modified, you know, all that kind of thing. So I wrote this book, and I taught a shitload of courses, and independent courses and courses of 50 people and so on. But I was getting busier and busier, and I just didn't have time to teach anymore. And, and people said, Oh, I love the book, but I, you know, I want more, I want more I want the program. I want some of the stuff that's in the book, some of the contracts. So finally, I talked to Alex about it and told him I was pulling my hair out, right? And you said, Okay, let's videotape a class. So we actually did if I did a class of about 20 people, and Alex came in and did an amazing job. Thank you, Alex, of videotaping it and making me look good, which was a challenge in and of itself. And so it's probably around five or six hours and it's really me going through every piece Have the book once again, you know, most the time when we say, Oh my God, I've got to make a movie. You know, it's 150,000. And this is so exciting. You know, it's like saying, Alex, I want to lose 20 pounds this year as my new year's resolution. And the first thing I do is go to the fridge, right? You know, it's kind of like when you when something is so big, you know, when you're looking at only the big picture, sometimes it's so daunting and so scary and so terrifying, that you kind of run in the other direction. So or, or go blank, like, like I did one time. It's like Elvis, you know, months went by, and I went, Oh, yeah, what was I doing now? I mean, you get scared. I'm gonna go down the rabbit hole. So anyways, um, what I did in my book is I broke it down into what are called bite sized pieces, little blocks, if I'm looking at the cover of the book now. So it's little tiny pieces. Okay, let's just worry about the option agreement First, let's just look at that. Yes, like break it all down? Yes, you're going to be, you know, a year and a half from now you're going to be at AFM selling your movie. But let's back time, that whole thing exactly, whatever about what would that be 14 months? Great. You know, from today, July 3, so you know, let's bathtime at all. And so that's what I did is once it's all broken down into little pieces, and that's what the video does. The video literally says, Okay, everybody calm down. Yes, we're all gonna make a movie. But let's go through and do piece by piece by piece, given the background at all, obviously, the first thing is that option agreement, that script that we love, then the development comes after that, then like, we kind of go through it all. And what's so great about the and I take my time, as I said, it's around five and a half to six hours. So I'm guiding you through the whole thing, literally from the moment we optioned that screenplay. Alex, I think I even went in to not just delivery and getting you know, your sales agents and all that stuff that I even did accounting and taxes, right. I even went like another year later, I think film festivals, and we we did the whole gamut in that class. And it was great, because it was me kind of talking to them. There were real students with the real questions, and they were getting the full binder, you know, on everything. And what Alex and I decided to do for you guys, is this the the cost of the usual mastermind, which is $90. But what Alex said is let's throw in a bonus packet for free. So that's in there. And that's got to be three to $5,000 worth of stuff. It's your Castiel memo and you know, various deal memos and grand Oh my, my whole business, Alex, the business plan we talked about at the beginning, that when that's in there, that's one of the 20 there's 20 items that you get for free as part of that packet. And I think we did it in Word

Alex Ferrari 57:32
We did a PDF so you can go in there and change things up and add it to your own cool it is it really is literally a treasure trove if you're making a feature film of everything you need contracts agreements, obviously always want to talk to a lawyer first but it's a it's a good starting off point. And just stuff like it's basically turnkey, almost, yeah, follow these steps. This is what will happen.

Suzanne Lyons 57:57
Yeah, very good. My god that is true. And it really is true. I mean, and I started teaching this oh god A long time ago, around 12 years ago and I've there's been hundreds of movies made I get calls all the times coming to the screening I followed your class here Here it is, you know, so you know, it's it's been proven through all the courses I taught over the hundreds of people and then all the books that have sold and people that have used it to make their movies so this is even better than all of that because it's all a concise five and a half to six hours of me going through the entire thing and you get that nice packet and

Alex Ferrari 58:34
A couple bonus things in there as well. The podcasts and stuff like that they oh cool that you can learn some more stuff from as well so I'll put a put a link to the show in the show notes for the course but if you just want to go right away it's just producing masterclass calm, and you can go right now it's 90 bucks. And it is my god of bargain at that price point. It's crazy. When I want to and and i and i hounded by the way guys I hounded Suzanne, to do this. For years. While I'm like Suzanne, just let me film. Please let me film you please, we got to do this. Please let me you'll never have to do another one of these again. Just let me let me fill you and we'll put it up. And it took us like almost a year and a half to get the whole thing done even been some busy producing, doing things. I'm shooting a movie, you're shooting movies. And it's just been like, slowly like every three months like so how's the course going? Like we're getting there. It's gonna happen one of these days. I promise you. It's done. It's done. Finally, it is definitely well worth your time. So thank you, Suzanne. Thanks again for being on the show. I really appreciate it. I'm gonna ask you some rapid fire questions.

Suzanne Lyons 59:43
Yeah, first of all, I just want to mention the blog to Alex on your site. Alex had 20-25 blogs guys on all industry related stuff. So please go and check out the blog, which is under my name on Alex's site as well.

Alex Ferrari 59:54
It's in the producers corner. So if you go into film production in the indiefilmhustle.com you You'll see in the corner at the top it says producers corner. And that's all of her articles and they are amazing. It's like a book in itself. So it's really really valuable information that's free that you can just take a look at. Now I'm gonna ask you some rapid fire questions and ask all my guests so prepare yourself what is the advice you would give Quick quick answers? What is the advice you would give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Suzanne Lyons 1:00:26
Get a mentor. Okay, absolutely. That would be the bottom line get a mentor somebody you don't have to be a lone ranger. There's over what almost a billion of us on the planet now that's a clue from God saying you don't have to do this alone. You know get a couple of mentors God's given you a clue right? Exactly a detective?

Alex Ferrari 1:00:44
Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Suzanne Lyons 1:00:49
Oh shit. You said no hard questions Alex.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:55
I said nothing. I said nothing.

Suzanne Lyons 1:00:58
God I would have oh god there's oh my god there's so many it's so funny. The first one that popped into my head I would have to say is jack Canfield yes seven was it seven seven secrets to secrets to success or

Alex Ferrari 1:01:13
Something along those lines?

Suzanne Lyons 1:01:14
Yes, it's a great book. I've read it a number of times and I'd say the other one is creativity Inc if you haven't read that oh Lord God I did I read it like I don't know three times. Three times. Oh my god by the present the head of one of the heads of Pixar capital. Oh my god on Billy if you even if you're not in the entertainment industry, you've got to read creativity Inc or get it I got it for everybody for Christmas couple years ago as well as jack Canfield. All my nieces and nephews got that one too.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:43
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Suzanne Lyons 1:01:49
Um, I think I'm still learning Well, I'll always be learning I hope till I'm 97 I went on had my thing done for based on your health 97.8. So I'm gonna be still learning hopefully right up until that time, I would say it's still to be more present Alex not just present to details, because I think that goes along with just to be in the now. Yeah, I mean, I know And luckily, I did landmark, you know, back in the 80s. So I'm well aware of all the be are now stuff. But as well aware as you are of it, it's still something you got to work on on a daily basis. Be present, be present to your friends and family in meetings that, you know, the more present you'll be, I think the more you'll have a joyful life and be successful in life. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:37
The only thing we're promised is now, now that you're promised because tomorrow Tomorrow is not is not promised at all. And three of your favorite films of all time.

Suzanne Lyons 1:02:49
On absolutely love little romance. Like teen 79 when the Oscar for the best music is whatever call Diane Lane. It's when my husband and I first fell in love and one of our first films together 1979 Another one would be Oh my gosh. Probably anything with Bruce Willis? Love Die Hard. wapsi Die Hard. Probably more than any other first Christmas movie of all time. Yeah. Oh, and speaking of Christmas movies. Oh god. Oh my god. There's so many good. Oh my god like love actually. And oh, I say the ref. I'd have to put the ref on there on my favorite.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:26
Dennis Leary. Yeah, just to make Denis Leary amazing. And of his powers at the height of his power

Suzanne Lyons 1:03:32
At the height. Yeah, it's really amazing. Yeah, but I'm so so many movies, but and of course mine I would have to say, and this is truth under undertaking Betty. I have to say that was a

Alex Ferrari 1:03:44
I remember that.

Suzanne Lyons 1:03:45
Oh my god. I love British quirky comedies. It's my favorite about my whole life. And that happened to be my first movie. Uh, you know, a crazy British quirky comedy with a

Alex Ferrari 1:03:55
With a pretty big cast back then. No question. That was fun. Yeah. Where can people reach out to you if they want to get ahold of you or follow you?

Suzanne Lyons 1:04:04
Um, for me, I know I haven't updated my own personal sites actually in ages but certainly a lot of my stuff is on your site, snowfallfilms.com. Suzannelyons.net of the updated ones should be going up shortly. Actually, I've got my wonderful guy looking after that now. So snowfallfilms.com and Suzannelyons.net. And I think all my phone number and everything is on there. Not in that office anymore if that's there, but my phone numbers there my email address is all of course they're on snowfall films. And on I haven't had a time that a lot of time this year, but I've been busy and last year I was in Toronto most of the time, but I can do privates. I've just don't have as much time as I used to, but I still do some private coaching. And some people still insist on even a couple of hours. based on the book in the video. I still get a few people saying I still have to have some private time. Whatever. So I still do a bit of consulting with that. So a little bit. Yeah, exactly. And also don't forget my YouTubes. I have 100 and 120 130 YouTubes. On the YouTube that are all industry related. Suzanne Lyons, you know, youtube.com/Suzanne Lyons.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:19
I'll put it.

Suzanne Lyons 1:05:21
Yeah. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:22
I'll put it in the show. Suzanne, thank you. Again, it's always a pleasure show. I know that we could talk for another three hours because I easily could talk for another three hours and make it into another course. But thank you again, so much for being on the show and sharing all these knowledge bombs with the tribe.

Suzanne Lyons 1:05:41
Thanks, Alex. All right. Thanks for having me. Talk to you later, everybody. Bye bye.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:45
I want to thank Suzanne for coming on the show and dropping the major knowledge bombs on the indie film hustle tribe today. Thank you so much as in if you want links to her book, the course that we discussed and anything else we talked about in this episode, just head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/265. And if you are interested in taking Suzanne's course, just head over to producingmasterclass.com. And guys, we are getting closer and closer to my big announcement on what I've been working on in the lab. I cannot wait to tell you guys what's going on. I'm so so excited. So stay tuned for more. I know I'm teasing you guys. I'm sorry. But you know how I am I just do things like this. But you guys are going to be really really excited once I tell you what's going on. So thank you for listening. And thank you for all your support, guys. And if you have not subscribed on iTunes, please head over to filmmakingpodcast.com subscribe, leave a review. It really really helps the show out a lot. Thanks again. And as always keep that also going keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.




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IFH 242: Indie Film Producing Masterclass – How to Option a Screenplay with Suzanne Lyons

Right-click here to download the MP3

In today’s episode, I’ll be giving you a sneak peek of producer Suzanne Lyons’ new course Indie Film Producing Masterclass. This is part one of two so enjoy this look inside the best selling indie producing course.

How do you legally option a screenplay? What are the agreements you need? Suzanne goes over everything you need to know in this episode. Enjoy!

Here’s some info on the Indie Film Producing Masterclass:

Have you ever wondered what it really takes to produce an independent film? How raise money, dealing with contracts, SAG agreements and putting together sales presentations for investors? Then this masterclass is for you.

Award-winning film producer Suzanne Lyons is about to take you from script to screen and beyond in this Mastermind workshop. After producing a number of bigger budget features Suzanne thought producing the SAG ultra-low and modified budget films would be a piece of cake. Boy, was she wrong? Wearing 100 different hats was a challenge and she learned so much. And now she will be sharing all that great info with you.

In this Mastermind workshop, you’ll learn from her experience and benefit from her success. Suzanne will take you through a structured crystal, clear step by step process that will actually make low budget filmmaking easy and fun!

This workshop is unique in that it will literally guide you through the entire process of making your film. From her own hands-on experience, she will be addressing every detailed facet of filmmaking.

“Suzanne has that rare ability to combine artistic creativity and smart business sense… she’s proven that by taking a SAG ultra-low budget and somehow squeezing out a quality film that looks like it cost a million!”
Academy Award® Winner Mark L. Smith, Writer/Director “Séance” Writer, “The Revenant”

“Suzanne is brilliant… take her workshop and put her suggestions to work and you’ll be amazed at the extraordinary results you’ll produce.”
Ross Grayson Bell, Producer “Fight Club”

From option a screenplay, development, designing your business plan, opening your film company, hiring your line producer and director. Finessing your budget, schedule and film timeline. Being smart about contracts and paperwork. Casting and working with actors. The details of pre, principle, and post, choosing your sales agent, preparing for film delivery and festivals, and so so so much more.

You’ll also get a BONUS PACK of the real world used contracts, agreements and business plans word and PDF worth over thousands.

Alex Ferrari 0:41
Today, guys, I have a treat for you. I'm going to do a two part sneak preview of Suzanne Lyons indie film producing masterclass. And I really wanted to share some of the amazing knowledge that she has in this course with you guys by giving you free lessons for you to hear. So today's lesson you're going to listen to is how to optioned a screenplay, which I know is very mysterious to a lot of people listening out there who are trying to make a movie, and they want to go out and try to get a screenplay to produce that movie instead of trying to write one themselves. And Suzanne lays it all out for you guys. So at the end of the episode, I will give you a link to get access to the indie film producing masterclass. But until then, enjoy this sneak preview with Suzanne Lyons.

Suzanne Lyons 2:51
So what we're going to do and what I did here, I'm going to bring this over here, Alex, so I don't have to keep moving about his first things first, right. Like I said, what we're going to do is take one little piece at a time, we're going to option the screenplay. And what some of you were thinking already is, Oh, I can't. I can't. It's my best friend. That would be like, weird. I can't ask my best friend. sign off on this. Lady, you know, that's just rude. Or it's my brother. I'm gonna have my brother like sign a contract and agreement. That's, that's weird. Right? One of my friends didn't take the class. Didn't need to sort of been around the industry for a long time haven't produced or been in other aspects, but don't need it. Don't need it. Two years later, she called me from Cannes saying into somebody who read the book. I think the stories in the book here to Susan, she was crying. There's a sales agent who wants to buy Daniel to take on the movie to sell it. Nice. Oh, that's what you're crying Oh, congratulations. She said no. The problem is she said they asked for the chain of title information. You know, the option and then transfer of the of the right of the of the ownership. And she said, and I don't have that. And I said, What do you mean? I said, I think you were making your move two years ago. As I recall, this was all like, oh, man, that option would have been done two years ago. Well, no, she said it was my best friend. I didn't want to, you know, bother her was signing something. Well turned out. She in the director I had a fight shortly after. And she said the movie could burn in hell. For all she cared. And that's about 10 years ago. And it's continuing well to burn in hell, right? Because no chain of title, no movie ain't gonna happen. She didn't even have a relationship with a best friend anymore. You know what I mean? So it's not even like it was worth it. And here's the thing, guys, if it's your own visa, I don't care. I really don't Care it can happen or not, or it can burn an L for as long as they're, you know, whatever, I don't care. If it's your visa, I really don't. The minute you start selling units and shares, you are a business person, you're opening your LLC, you've got your ppm, you've got legal documents. And now I'm going to my dentist, and getting selling him a unit on you don't get to play the game of home note with my friend, I didn't want her to sign. I had another person whose budget was 300,000. And those were investors, just one or two. That's a lot of money. I don't care how rich you are, that's still a lot of money. And didn't take the class until after that movie. And I gotta tell you, that movie will never be seen because she had no clearance report ever, ever, ever on the script, no script clearance. There are Coca Cola cans, flying everywhere. There's every product known to man, there's license plates, there's people's last name, who've done bad things. But you know, there's everything that you cannot do in a movie. And, you know, that's so so I'm thinking once again, if that was her visa, and some of you are thinking, Oh, Susanna, CGI, you know, just when to post? Well, that was a few years ago, not as easy, but even then we're not talking about one Coca Cola cans sitting there. We're talking about, you know, 10 of them moving around, you know, you have to read just read through the movie, right? But that's somebody else's money, like it's a business. So this is really important without this piece without this first piece in your binder. There's no movie. Okay, so let me tell you a couple little stories about that. It's the option agreement. Yeah. I don't care about your mom wrote the script. I don't care. I don't care. I don't trust her. But same thing, if it's your own. Okay, good. One. Good, good one. Natalie, that was really good. What's Natalie was saying is what if it's your own? What if you wrote the script, you still have to do the option agreement, okay. You still have to because it's part of delivery, which we're going to get to in a second as well. So this one here that I did is I did two today you're going to have to in your binder. This one is one that I've done for a whole ton of indie low budget, StG ultralow movies, easy peasy, or even say modified. Easy peasy. So let's just look at it a little bit. Now this price is a little high, I was paying $5,000. For the script, which I don't do, obviously, until first day of principle, or the first day of free, usually the first day of free just because, um, you know, want to make sure that I can then start the transfer. But what I did is I even offered a couple of points, which was a lot of points. You know, ordinarily, I wouldn't do that many points, because a lot of times and you're saying, Oh Suzanne, you're being so mean, and you're being so stingy. I'm not, I just want you to know, I am the most generous person. I know, I always stand in generosity, graciousness and abundance when I'm doing agreements. And when I'm doing my business plan, that's always where I stand. And Kate was to say my partner was phenomenal. And in this respect, but what I'm saying is, a lot of the times you're dealing with new writers and new directors, so you're really giving them really a check for $200,000. Because this is going to be their chance to be on the screen or on the DVD or on the VOD or whatever, right? So I would not feel too badly where you want the money to go guys is on the screen, you really want it on the screen, especially the same goes for law, you don't have a lot of room to play around. So I probably would do more like two and a half percent or 2%. And, you know, for the director, I'd made me you know, like 202,500 and the writer probably 2500 or whatever. So it's not about that the only movie you'll probably money you'll ever see is in the back end. So you got to keep as much as you can, because you also need to keep as much as you can, because you might need that that name actor. And that is done up. You know for name actors, I've done up to 7.5% of the back end of the year. It was a big name but I needed that that was in the pre sale days back years ago, where we did pre sales, I needed his name to sell the territory's in the pre sales. Sometimes you need that neighbor nowadays you need it just to sell after the fact. Right? Yeah, most of you scale the the back end participation based on the total budget of the dome, as well as the talents, celebrity status or know what I'm saying is a lot of times in the lower budgets, your you know, it's their first opportunity anyway, so it's not like they'd necessarily be expecting, you know, a 5% you might need that 5% for your lead actor. Would you scale it up or down based on the total budget of the film? No, not necessarily. Not necessarily. It not sometimes if the right now I'm working with Mark Smith, that's a different story. Yes, it's, you know, it's going to be a lower budget. I did a mark Smith, you know, he did well, that got three Academy Awards, The Revenant. And he's working on with JJ Abrams right now on another project. But the one I'm working on right now is with with Mark. So even though, you know, the budget might be lower, it's not a JJ Abrams, he's not going to get the same back end, as JJ would be giving him on that studio film, for example, or that he got on The Revenant. And he knows that. So it's, it's kind of like, you might need to save that. In our case, I probably need to say for the actor, or the director, if it's a real this particular one I'm doing with Mark is a very director driven. So you know, so just be careful with that. Honestly, I have Oh, my God. I've been with people who have given away 10% not net gross to their production designer, trying to remember the meeting I was sitting in where I couldn't breathe for like five minutes, because I couldn't believe it. I remember I was sitting was my own office, because I was doing a private, I was doing a private One of these was like four or five people. And I was so I was going over this section. And he said, Well, there's not that many points left. And he said, we've already brought on some of our team. So I said like, goo God, like it's like 10%. Like what you bring up? Well, you know, for our production designer, Suzanne, like, you know, he's He's really good. And I'm going, Oh, my God on a $200,000 movie. And then he told me, it was gross. And then I went through, you know what he had over pointed? Like, there was no more points, like there. Yeah, like he was in the mood. He was in the negative points, because 50% of the points sometimes 60. So be very careful. Or with your investor, usually, it's a 5050. Right, he had given away some of the investors back end. So just be careful, because I know sometimes we're laughing and shaking her head. But you know, it's like, sometimes it's like, oh, shit, I shouldn't have done that I or whatever. Like, we'll get caught ourselves in something not as crazy as that. But you know, so just be careful with that. Here's the Yes.

Guest 12:01
When it comes to a documentary, when you don't necessarily have a script, to protect yourself with the risk of whatever could happen whether that person walks away. Is there a way that you can kind of protect yourself with a documentary sort of story of documentary?

Suzanne Lyons 12:17
II? What Jonathan, is there a way to protect yourself with a documentary story? And you mean, in what way the person who has the life story

Guest 12:22
I guess we've got a script, obviously, then you can auction that script is That's right. That's urllc. Right. life story, and you're doing a documentary. Awesome. Is there any way that

Suzanne Lyons 12:32
I would still do the right? The like a did the like it like a book option? You know, the life Right, right. Okay. I did I yes, I did that one too. Okay. I actually have a sample of that. I brought some different samples of things today. The life rights. We did that one time when we were doing a Lifetime movie. So we did the we got the rights from the woman. Amazing, amazing story. And it was from her. So we were the exclusive. Yeah. And you'll know more about you're dealing your mentor is the producer was going to be the producer on that. Did you get in touch with the con? Okay, I gave you her information. Okay. Is that clear? So yeah, there we go it because the other thing is what if it's a book or within this great book, you know what I wrote the script for it. I have that going on right now. And you know, I've got the script for it. But now I need to go and get the rights to the book. Well, guess what happens? The agent for the book writer said, No, thanks. Just like that gone.

Alex Ferrari 13:36
I hope you guys enjoyed that sneak preview. If you want to get access to the course just head over to producing masterclass calm, and I tell you it is an amazing, amazing course. And next week, I'm going to put out one more sneak preview covering another topic, but Suzanne really goes deep into all this kind of stuff. And if you are even thinking about making an independent film or a micro budget film, this really really has a ton of information in it, as well as all the contracts all the agreements that you need in PDF and in Word files, so you can adjust them and change them to your own production. It's worth 1000s and 1000s of dollars so it's really really a great deal. So just head over to producing masterclass comm and check it out. Also guys, I have an announcement I am currently writing a book and I'm throwing that out into the universe because I need you guys to hold me to it and and now that I put it out into the universe, I have to finish this thing. It is a beast of a book and I can't tell you what I'm writing about just yet just know it is going to hopefully rock you guys world. I really am excited about it. So I hope to have that book done by years and and release it by the fall or winter. And we will be talking much more about that in the coming months as Well, I just wanted to put that out there. And it's an update on a corner view one desire, we have submitted to a few festivals, we are going down the festival circuit to see if we can get any attention from the festivals before we start releasing it, seeing if we can get any action on it. And just see what we could do with it. But there will be a new trailer coming out soon for that as well, that I'll be working on over the next month or so. So you guys could see a little bit more of the movie because I've been getting a ton of emails like where where can we see it? When can we see it where I want to see it? I want to buy it. Soon, my friends soon, I promise you. But thank you again so much for all your support, guys. And don't forget to head over to filmmaking podcast comm and sign up and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and leave us a five star review. Please, it really does help out the podcast a lot. Thank you again so much. And as always keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.




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IFH 105: Secrets of Indie Film Producing with Suzanne Lyons

This week on the show we have a returning guest, Indie Film Producing guru Suzanne Lyons.

Suzanne Lyons is president/producer of Snowfall Films, Inc. and to date has produced or exec produced twelve feature films with budgets that range from $200,000 to $10 million.  Suzanne has worked with talent that including Brenda Blethyn, Christopher Walken, Naomi Watts, Alfred Molina, James Caan, Dean Cain, Ariel Winter, Susan Sarandon, Donald Sutherland, Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Tilly, Jon Lovitz, Asia Argento, Winona Ryder, Peter Fonda, Ed Begley, Jr. and more.

Suzanne’s films have won a gamut of awards and festivals from the prestigious BAFTA award, a premiere at the Directors Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, the best picture at Shockerfest, the UK Horror Fest and acceptance into the Toronto, Berlin. LA and Montreal Film Festivals.

In addition to her work as a film producer, Suzanne designed and ran the film school, Flash Forward Institute, with a focus on marketing oneself in the industry. She has guest lectured at over 60 industry events, guilds, and organizations. In 2012 she published her book through Focal Press (Taylor and Francis) called Indie Film Producing: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking.” 

The Indie Film Producing Workshop

She is also an amazing educator. Here’s what one of her INDIE FILM PRODUCING ONE DAY INTENSIVE WORKSHOP includes:

  • How to option a screenplay
  • Forming an LLC
  • Preparing a sales presentation for investors
  • Creating your killer pitch
  • Designing your business plan
  • Getting a mentor
  • Hiring a line producer
  • Scheduling your EPK
  • Creating an empowering environment on set
  • Finessing a budget & schedule
  • Hiring a director
  • How to cast your film
  • Developing a detailed timeline
  • Creating a marketing strategy
  • The details of pre-production
  • The secrets of a great Production
  • Learning the ropes of post
  • Choosing the right distributor
  • Getting the best deal from your distributor
  • Preparing for delivery
  • Entering Film Festivals
  • Forming an LLC
  • Taxes (1099s, Accounting and K1s)

and you’ll be getting well over $20,000 worth of contracts, business plans, deal memos and much more. She hasn’t taught one of these workshops in over 6 years but after being hounded by people to offer another one she’ll be teaching her workshop on Saturday, October 29th, 2016 – 9:00 am to 6:00 pm – Encino, CA. 

And as a special gift, she’ll be giving the Indie Film Hustle Tribe a $150 off discount if you sign up by this Sunday. Only four slots left.

Suzanne drops some major knowledge on us in this episode so enjoy my conversation with the return IFH Podcast champion Suzanne Lyons.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 2:29
So guys today on the show, we have a very special returning guest after popular demand. Suzanne Lyons the indie film producing Guru is going to be on the show today she was on the show booth probably about she was I think Episode 11. So we're in Episode 105. Now so I'll tell you how long goes a little bit older. Probably about a year ago or so she was on the show. And it's been easily one of the most popular podcasts in the entire series of indie film hustle. She just drops knowledge bomb after knowledge bomb after knowledge bomb, and I wanted to bring her back and you know the years passed and and you know, and in the indie film world a year is like, you know, like dog years, there's so much stuff that changes and information needs to be updated. So I wanted to bring her back and ask her some questions about what's going on in the film world today. What she's been up to as far as indie film producing what she's seen out there in the world. And also for a lot of you guys that don't know Suzanne has been teaching for better part of over a decade now. And she's been given these very God these amazing workshops on Independent Film Producing, and she hasn't done one in about six years. But after all her students or old students or new people who want to kind of take this class again, they started the pounder and Hound or till she finally broke down and said sure, I'll finally do one. So she's doing another workshop. So if you guys are in the Los Angeles area, or can make it into the Los Angeles area, there is going to she's going to be giving one of her one of her one day workshops, which she can I'll tell you, we'll go into it in the in the in the interview, but I'm telling you, you guys, if you're in the area, you owe it to yourself if you're gonna make a movie to watch to go and take this course, it is mind blowing, absolutely mind blowing. So if you stay and listen to the entire episode at the end, if you are of course an indie film hustler podcast listener, you will get a special discount, saving you almost 150 bucks on the final cost of the course. And it's very intimate, there's only going to be 12 people. So there's only I think about four spots left. So definitely move quickly if you're interested. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the knowledge bombs that are dropped by the returning champion Suzanne Lyons. I would like to welcome back to the show Miss Suzanne Lyons. Thank you so much for coming back Suzzane.

Suzanne Lyons 5:01
Thank you for having me Alex. It was great coming back

Alex Ferrari 5:05
You are only the second guest in over 100 episodes to be asked back to the show.

Suzanne Lyons 5:11
Oh my god, I feel privileged and it being my birth date right here like this is a lovely Birthday

Alex Ferrari 5:18
Happy Birthday. You look fantastic. You look fantastic for 25 so I wanted so wanted to bring you back cuz you know your last episode which was one of the part of the, I think was Episode 11 of the podcast so many people have talked to me about it. And so many I know people a lot of people have reached out to you about that episode. Because of so like people really really loved it and you had so much amazing information that people were just soaking it all up like a sponge. So I wanted to come back Have you come back a little bit so I can introduce you again to all the new listeners since then. It's grown a little bit since back then. And and then also kind of go over some new stuff that we didn't go over last time. So are you ready?

Suzanne Lyons 6:14
I'm ready. Okay, ready? Just don't ask me any you know, hard questions like calculus or not right?

Alex Ferrari 6:19
No, no, don't

Suzanne Lyons 6:21
Terrible with the time.

Alex Ferrari 6:25
So um, Can you discuss a little bit about how you option a screenplay? Because I know that's a question a lot of people in the filmmakers have when they don't have a screenplay. What do you actually do? What's the process? in general?

Suzanne Lyons 6:37
Yeah, the process is really important to note that we have option a screenplay because so many times just give you a little bit of background. Alex, so many times, people assume that they don't need paperwork. Oh, Suzanne, they say to me, you know, I guess I'm a producer. But you know, I'm the creative type. I'm really not about the paperwork. Alex, honest to God, if I had a nickel for every time somebody said that to me, I'd be a millionaire. I swear to God, It's uncanny. There's no other industry in the world that people would talk like that, you know, it's like, I'd like to sell you some of my land, Alex, but you know, let's not bother with the paperwork, let's just, you know, do a handshake. I mean, there's no place no industry, but in this industry, for some reason? Well, we're the creative types, you know, we don't get into the business part of it. And I've actually had one of my friends who did not do any of my workshops, in the past, call me from France one time, and you know, crying on the phone about a movie that she had done a couple years ago, now, sales agents were interested in it, and I said, Oh, you're crying because you're happy? She said, No, I'm crying because they asked me for the chain of title, you know, you know, based on the option agreement, and then you know, the transfer of the option and the chain of title to the movie, and so on. And she said, I don't have that. And I said, Oh, I said, you didn't do that. And she said, No, I didn't do I didn't even do the option agreement. And I said, Well, did you call the writer and you know, I know it's two years later, and she said, I did. And the writer said that she had had a fight in the interim with the director. And as far as she was concerned, the movie could burn in hell. really badly. So and, and I was, let Please tell me that was your own money, you know that you raised that money on? No, no, I have investors. And I'm thinking, you know, what, if it was her own visa cards, I don't care. If it's investors, that's what this is a business. You know, the word. You know, business is twice as big as the word show show business.

Alex Ferrari 8:33
You know, yeah, by the way, I've stolen that line. I've used it multiple times on the show. So thank you. I always give you credit, but thank you. Oh, thank

Suzanne Lyons 8:40
you. But I mean, it's crazy, isn't it? And, and so, you know, he or she was with this movie, and with investors to pay back and we'll never, ever see the light of day, because she didn't do the first most important thing is the option agreement. You've got to get the paperwork, get the paperwork, get the paperwork, get the paperwork done, and people is that well, Suzanne, you know, she was my best friend. Or, you know, it was it was my it was family, it was my cousin. I don't care if it's your mom, get the paperwork.

Alex Ferrari 9:10
Now, let me ask you a question. So. So let's say there's a script that's been, you know, written, and then bake when the end it's written together with the director, say the writer, the director, kind of working together on it, but the writer, the writer is going to be the one that gets the copyright on it. They send in the copyright to the Copyright Office, but they copyright it to the LLC. So the LLC that they put together, owns that property? Is that the right way? Is that the right chain of command? That's right.

Suzanne Lyons 9:39
You're saying that the writer has it has an LLC usually a writer does no No,

Alex Ferrari 9:45
no, the movie, so the movie has been produced. The movie has an LLC, the writer has now copy written the screenplay to the LLC because the writer is part of the process that he's a producer.

Suzanne Lyons 9:58
Yeah, the writer hasn't done that. Writers done the initial option, right? I mean, the initial copyright age, right?

Alex Ferrari 10:05
Well, the initial copyright is the only copyright that exists is to the LLC.

Suzanne Lyons 10:11
So no, no, no, no, no, the writer probably did a lot of writers do a copyright, you know, of their screenplay, or they should. Not all of them do. And if they don't, then usually then, you know, once I, like, for example, in one of the cases on one of my projects, the writers had not done that. And I think two different cases in 12 Films where the writer had not done that. And so I just went ahead and put it under directly under the LLC. But most writers know enough to do their own copyright, they should know.

Alex Ferrari 10:43
But what I'm saying is that, in this scenario that I'm telling you, the writer is also a producer on the movie and is part owners of the LLC that made the movie, then when they after the fact after the movie was made, they're like, Oh, we should copyright this screenplay. That screenplay, then he went in and copyrighted underneath that LLC that they jointly own. So that's the only copyright that is available for that screenplay. It's to the LLC, that made the movie is that the proper chain of title is what I'm asking.

Suzanne Lyons 11:12
Yeah, I mean, here's the thing, what's going to happen is you're going to have an option agreement, and the option agreement would give give me or you let's say you are the writer, you know, you got to switch hats. I wouldn't use the word writer again, I would switch it to even if it's you, Alex, you're the writer and the director and the producer. But let's move the word over to producer because the minute song You know, it's the that's why when you that's what's confusing, is when you say then the writer is going to put it under the LLC, no, the writer and the producer it's yours it's months and maybe years later, right? And you've written that script. Even if it's your own script, you still have to have the option agreement cuz you're going to need for delivery for your sales agents when the time comes right. Got it. As part of here's the scary part is part of that option agreement, there's many times inside that option agreement, I promise you. And I had this very problem. years ago, one of the projects there was no page attached to it Exhibit B or or assignment B or assignment day or whatever. That said the transfer could happen honestly, I've read many option agreements that did not have that page in it. So if that is if that paragraph is not there, for the love of God, make sure you attach one eye and it's actually in my book and I teach it in my classes too. I very strongly teach it because I have had made that mistake. And this was when I had an attorney on board this was an early film when I actually had an attorney who gave me this option agreement and there was no transfer page attached to it. So you've got that Trent that transfer page is very important because you also your delivery, it's going to be on your delivery list as well it will have to be stapled to you know to the option agreement and sometimes that delivery pages stapled to the copyright form that you've gotten back from the government so what will happen is when you get that when that is signed early on, you know when now it's a year later you've raised the money you're making your movie and so on then then what will happen is, is you now have the right you've paid the purchase price it's only when you pay the purchase price it's not when you make the option because let's say you spend $10 for 18 months on an option but let's say the writer is going to be making 10,000 you know when you're making the movie so it's only when you pay the full purchase price that you now the LLC I'm talking to you the producer even if you're the writer but let's switch so people aren't confused so now you the producer owner of the LLC whatever the name of the movie is a lot of times you know candies Vipers LLC in my case for example, then you get to use that transfer page and you send it send off the copyright it's not like it used to be it's actually it's actually called a transfer copyright you go online you still go on to the same you know same place and on copyright, but it's actually a little different for him now, I just did it for time toys, the movie I shot in the past year. And and I was surprised to find it is a bit of a different form. Still only you know, 40 or 50 or 60 bucks, it's not a big deal, but it's a different form. And it's what what that prints for page is showing is that you the minute you get your purchase price amount of 5000 or 10,000 or 60,000 or whatever we're paying you as the writer, then that gives me the producer owning the LLC, the right to then send it back in to Washington and but in the author section the author section won't say Alex anymore, right? The author section will now say you know candy stripers comma LLC Got it.

Alex Ferrari 14:56
Got it. Got it. Got it. Okay, perfect. Perfect. So though Can you talk a little bit about business plans? And why? Why do you need a business plan? If you're trying to raise money for a movie?

Suzanne Lyons 15:07
Yes, I will in a second. But let's just finish cut Oh, no, no, there's one more piece. What's going to happen next is right now what's happening on time toys is we're delivering, right. So one of the things on the delivery items, and I spoke with my co partner yesterday, it was his first time producing my co producer on this, and he's also the writer director. And because what's what's due is the copyright report. And what he said to me on the phone yesterday is well, Suzanne, you know, isn't that just the paperwork that we did on the transfer? and so on? And that information, you know, from Washington, you know, that came back? And I said, No, it's not a copyright report is something where you hire an attorney who does that, like I use dentists, angels company in New York, for example. It's only $650 or whatever, unfortunately, that's why you've got to save money, and you're in your budget, because now a year later, right, exactly a year later. And that copyright report is then the attorney going online to make sure that yes, this was all done, this happened, you know that it was a clear copyright. There are no other copyrights under this thing. There's no liens against it, there's no issues with it, and so on, and so on. So I just want to point that out that, you know, a year after the movie, when you're delivering or whatever that happens to be, you know, that you will need a copyright report showing that there is indeed a copyright.

Alex Ferrari 16:31
Interesting, you see, this is all the kind of stuff that they don't teach you in film school. Or, or you don't learn until you go through the process, at least one

Suzanne Lyons 16:40
times the painful way of Oh my god.

Alex Ferrari 16:43
I'm like, I didn't know that. What What do you mean, I can't release my movie that I just spent a year and a half putting together why because of a piece of paper that I didn't get Oh my god. So it's all yeah, definitely, to get all that stuff.

Suzanne Lyons 16:56
Yeah, lots of crazy stuff. So let's talk about the business plan. The reason for the business plan is, is because a lot of the times a couple of reasons one sometimes you start with a business plan that doesn't have any ppm LLC operating agreement, none of that kind of legal stuff. And as saying that, you know, you're you know, that you're 50% owner, as an investor and you're going to be getting, you know, 110% back and they're not they're not at all, it's sometimes just the business plan. You know, I've done one, let's say for omega camel, where it might be some pieces, you know, some some great artwork that we had done, you know, for the animation for that, you know, that Christmas, you know, feature animated feature the BIOS on the people that are involved that, you know, they're impressive, the writer, director and producers, on kind of, you know, maybe a whole page on the demographic and the direction, it's going to go from a marketing point of view, a lot of times it's showing other you know, movies in this crate case, you know, Christmas animated specials and features that have done well compare movie comparisons, kind of your project objective, you know, what the point of doing this is, maybe it's going to be the first of a slate of Christmas projects that you're going to be doing in the animation world you know, things like that. So it's really kind of that marketing plan that people do in other businesses, you know,

Alex Ferrari 18:20
you're a business guy or a business whatever, sure,

Suzanne Lyons 18:24
every business you do a marketing plan, what you see mine are for is I usually do mine in addition to the you know, that that little packet that I do for with my ppm and my operating agreement and my subscription agreement in it for the investor. So it's usually I don't usually bother doing two separate ones, I usually make it all one pack at the minute I have my LLC, you know, from the state of California, you know, with the name of the movie or whatever I've decided to call the LLC, you know, candy, stripers, you know, comma LLC, that I'm legally able to go out and start you know, raising the money you know, the call shares or units or whatever you want to call them. And, and then I've kind of sorted out in advance then I got I do my ppm my operating agreement, my subscription agreement, and then I can go to you and say Alex, you know, I'm raising these units of 7500 You know, my budgets going to be 225,000 It's a galter low or whatever it happens to be and are my units are 3000 and my budget is 50,000 and whatever. So usually, I'll include my business plan, I'll put that page in there as well showing you what you're getting Alex for doing that, you know, you're going to be getting as an investor, you know, 120% you know, with a corridor of 9010 you know, so there's the money comes in you the investors will get 90% you know, I'll be getting as the producer 10% until you reach your full 120 and then we become 5050 partners, you know, for the next five years or 10 years or whatever. The budget is sometimes I don't keep it open to awfully long if I'm not raising a lot of money from each person because I don't want to be there's cost involved especially in California it's $800 a year to have an LLC and there's off your obviously your accountant you know your accountants four or $500 even if you do your own accounting he still has to do your K one so if I've got 30k ones because I've got you know $7,500 from 30 people you know, those k ones are gonna cost me money to do I can't do those on my own that's definitely got to be an accountant. So I'm going to be putting out money if it's an ongoing open LLC, so I close it after a certain amount of time most of the money for a film comes in in the first two years anyway Believe me your sales agent has lost interest by then right? If he's gone to six markets usually they only bother with three and then you're on a back burner somewhere forever so most of the money's coming in in that first you know one or two years but I used to leave the LLC open for five years you know depending on the budget

Alex Ferrari 21:02
now after so after you closed the LLC let's say obviously money will still hopefully come in or some new distribution revenue stream would come up like you know all of a sudden, Netflix allows you to upload directly and a paying 5000 a picture or something like that whatever the new revenue stream might be. What happens then do you just transfer everything over to your core production company?

Suzanne Lyons 21:25
idea that's exactly what I would do I haven't yet been so lucky as to do what you just mentioned that I wish Yeah, really. But nowadays things are a little different you know with self distribution there could be ongoing money coming in and so on and so on. And like you mentioned Netflix and all of those so yes, I would turn that over to the core because that that bank account is open constantly that you know my snowfall films accounts is been around for you know, since 98 or whatever. And that corporation is every year you know, so I would I would do that for sure.

Alex Ferrari 22:00
Now, can you talk a little bit about what's the importance of opening up we keep talking about LLC? What is the importance of opening up an LLC for your film specifically not a production company LLC? What's the difference? And why would you open up an LLC per film?

Suzanne Lyons 22:14
I would open LLC per film just because you don't want your umbrella company you don't want to know films just like Disney and all of those companies you think oh well that's a Disney film not really because even Disney will have taken out every single film under a different entity you know because you do if there is a lawsuit against let's say candy stripers for example then you know you don't want that affecting your overall company of snowfall films and shutting things down and having liens against your overall company and then you're you know paralyzed for the next five years in terms of making any films whatsoever what it does is it just affects candy stripers LLC period

Alex Ferrari 22:55
so it's a safety net it's a safety net to protect you the filmmaker slash producer against anything that might happen to so if someone slips and falls on the set, they're not suing the mother company they're gonna only be able to sue the LLC because that's the company creating the movie.

Suzanne Lyons 23:09
Exactly and I believe and we can check in with an attorney because laws are changing all the time. I can't go out and raise money under my corporation for those individual movies either as far as I know that might have changed but I remember at the time asking that question to my attorney when Kate and I were doing those those early movies and he was saying no no as a corporation you know, you can't be raising money for those individual entities that has to be a separate entity and they had to be called an LLC You know, it depends on which country you're in you know sometimes like in Canada I believe you do both you know, you still want to have a separate one for your movie. But you can still raise money as far as I know under a corporation you there is no LLC in Canada in the UK it's a different entity to I remember we did movies in the UK It was called an LTV or whatever so you know and you were able to have that as an umbrella and still open entities to raise money so you could do both but in the states I believe you can't raise money under the corporation I think it's under an LLC but that's I'm not positive with that because like I said we do you need to ask question to the attorney because laws change so much and no

Alex Ferrari 24:17
Have you ever crowdfunded

Suzanne Lyons 24:19
but no I never did I tried one time for Omar the camel I was going to do that just to kind of raise that initial money to help get things more off the ground because it's weird that one was costly when you're doing you know animation a feature animation and I mean just again just getting the developer element alone was costing a fortune just in a lot of those pictures done because it's a different kind of business plan you know you want it's much more visual for the investors and but I found it was so time consuming. It was so early on that was back when crowdfunding and literally was just starting right that I found it just very difficult. If I were I could probably go back and try it again. Because people have been, you know, successful, there's ways to do it now, I mean, absolutely about it. But no, I've never done that. But it's nice because it doesn't conflict with your investors, because it's a, it's called a donation, it's not called an investment. So it doesn't affect, if you're still wanting to go to investors to raise the majority of your of your money, then that's great. You know, I think I think we have to be very, very, very smart these days, about all of that, because it's no longer just about the demographic, that's the only word we used years ago, I used to work in promotions for TV network for years, in my early years, and the only word used was demographic, and that's what you would promote to that demographic, in a way 18 to 24 men or whatever it happened to be right, or children, you know, six to 10, or something. Now, it's all about the psychographics as well, you know, when we were doing time toys, we started early on, I went to the writer who was also the writer and the director and the producer, and I said to mark, let's look at the script now and see what we can do to make sure that the graphics are there that we can reach out and I had learned this, you know, from another I'm with vocal press, and there was another writer with vocal press where his book was about this very thing. You know, it's not just about the crowdfunding, but how do you do the crowdsourcing? You know, crowdfunding means nothing if you're not the, you know, very, very intelligent about crowdsourcing. And that's where this whole psychographic comes in. And what what, you know, I was learning from reading parts of his book, because I had to, you know, which we do for each other at, you know, at local press, is, is that people were literally being very smart about the script early on, not waiting until it was, you know, being shot or afterwards going, Oh, shit, why didn't I do that? Like, for example, and one of the chapters, he talked about this script, that was, you know, that they were looking at seriously in terms of making sure that they had enough different arms have kind of the octopus, let's say, to go to when the movie was done right online, because it's all about online. And they made one of their characters a vegan. And they started the whole thing online, that whole discussion about how this script was going to have a robin character, and they ended up getting a couple of 100,000 you know, people, you know, blogging about this script that was not even in production yet. This was months prior than that from the vegan community, for God's sakes, right. So can you imagine if you had like, you know, 10 different arms, you know, reaching out to all the different online entities. We're, cuz I remember when I was working at a, on a world war one movie that I have, about, you know, the spies and they were children, actually, that had served as spies because all the men were on the front lines back then I was doing the movie with Empire pictures at the time. We were working on it together and development anyways, and ended up going off into a different direction. But I remember sitting with them. And this is before I even read this section of that book, years later, this was like back in 2012 with him power. And their attorney was sitting there going, Okay, now what, you know, what, you know, where does it reach? What's the demographics, what are the psychographics? And I said, well, it's kind of like, stand by me, it'll be for for, you know, for for young people. Obviously, it's teenagers. It's about teenagers, and there'll be teenagers in the movie, but it's also kind of a family film. So I was very limited in my thinking. And he said, No, Suzanne, yes, yes, yes. But no, it's what are the other, you know, areas? And I said, Well, I don't understand in honest God, I really didn't understand. And he was a word about veterans. This is one word, you know, it's a world it's a war movie, right? It's actually takes place in the world. Okay, so there's the veterans. Okay, what else? And he kept pushing us in that boardroom that day for all of us to brainstorm Who are those other end

Alex Ferrari 28:59
niche niches, little niches of people subcultures? Yeah.

Suzanne Lyons 29:03
mums, you know, because it's, you know, it's about the mums worrying about their sons being at the war too and in this case, the children being at war you know, on the front lines. So how do we reach those moms and I'm like, all of a sudden, we had like 10 different entities in addition to my limited thinking of you know, kids six to 10 or whatever, right? Right, right. Or you know, kids 12 to 18 like all of a sudden it became all these different areas that we could then start tapping into now for example, if we had continued on with with that particular project that you could have started tapping into online you know, start you know, talking to the veterans talking to you or whatever about this was going to be you know, bringing being brought out and, and I could have been anyways, it was a fascinating thing, but I realized how, you know, when we stay in that kind of creative box for ourselves, and don't think inside the business world You know, we become limited, and then all of a sudden, it's time to, you know, to start selling it to your sales agents and distributors. And it's like you've boxed yourself in, you know, to, to, you know, to, to, to, to a smaller area for them to sell to, when you could have had them banging on your door, because guess what, you know, I've got, you know, you know, 40,000 fans already in Japan, because we've done such and such, or we've added, or the vegan character 200,000 in America that are already itching to see the movie, you know, you'll have distributors and sales agents banging on your door, as opposed to you having to go to them. Or if you're just distributing like God, all the better because then you've got a whole, you know, entity to, to sell to. So just kind of those types of things that I think we have to be so much more privy to. It's not just about having the name, although that is still a major importance, which nobody gets, nobody gets that still. mockingly you still have to have the name and your movie, you still have to talk to sales agents at the beginning, the minute you option your screenplay, and start development, you start talking to sales agents, go to AFM, go to markets, get on the phone with sales agents, become friends with them now find out, you know, I'm looking to put in, you know, this particular actor in my mood, because it's got a sci fi bent to it. And I'd like to put in, you know, this sci fi kind of actor, is that enough? You know, given my budgets 900,000, right, you know, and they'll say, No, you know, what, his name at a 200,000, you know, on a Sega ultra low 250 would be fine. But at the same modified, you know, what you got at 900,000, you know, with all these minorities you're putting in there, and this is great, but you still need that other name, you know that he's great for the feature name, but you still need the TV name. You know, somebody from the TV sci fi world, because, you know, we sell mostly foreign, it's mostly television, right? for domestic, we kind of think more.

Alex Ferrari 32:00
So that was, that was a thing when we were having coffee the other day, it was it was interesting for you to say that that TV actors are a lot of times much bigger deals overseas than movie stars here in the States purely because those TV shows are in constant rotation throughout throughout these other territories. So that's it. Case in point David Hasselhoff. We laugh he's laughing all the way to the bank. But but I mean him and Pamela Anderson, and those people from Baywatch. They had overseas because it was the biggest television show of all time. They could sell all day. I know. I know actors like Michael perrey who's really great actor, he did a few movies. He's over there all the time. Richard Tyson, anyone who has had these, these TV shows and of course, like in the sci fi world, anyone who's ever been on a Star Trek show, or Stargate or any of these things that are just constantly rotating have have a lot of value and you can affordably get them here in the States

Suzanne Lyons 33:07
yeah yeah, exactly so so you know that's that's the thing is you've got to be thinking business all the time. You know, so you can't I talked to people say well you know, I finished my movie now I'm going to start talking to sales agents and I'm thinking you're just now talking to a sales agent you didn't talk to them a year ago, like a year ago you didn't start forming relationships then and finding out if those stars are big enough for that budget size like come on guys I once again I say to my students and you know because I I teach the class having the chance to teach in almost six years, but you know, I've been busy I did four movies in the past five years but um, you know, what I say is if it's your visa, I don't give a shit Honest to God, you blow whatever you want. If it's your own money, do whatever you want, I don't care nobody cares, you know, but if you are even investing you know have one investor if it's your dad, you know what you owe that person the the everything to be a business person you know, you are a business person and you therefore start thinking like a brick what I tell people even when I spoke at house class recently, screenwriting you saw writers in the room and I have the very same conversation with them. As I do with somebody like you Alex who's a producer, it's kind of like you don't get the right to not think like a business person. Everyone on here the makeup artists, you are the president and CEO of your company. And take that on when you take that on. All of a sudden you start thinking differently, you see differently, your posture is different, your language is different, your speaking is different, how you dress is different, you know, this is a business, you know, it would be as insane and I think I talked about this on the last podcast I did with you as me saying to you know, Alex, always wanted to be a heart surgeon. You know, now I've never done any courses, Alex, but I have a really good nice, okay, I've got a chance to get a sharpened jet, but it's really comfortable. I feel good with it. And Alex said, I don't I hope you don't mind. But I'd like to practice on you a little bit. If that's okay. I don't have any fantasies, or whatever. But you know, I'm just learning as I'm going along. Hope that's all right with you. I mean, you're laughing because

Alex Ferrari 35:22
it's saying it's absolute. It's absolutely insane. But you know what, and me being imposed for 20 odd years. Oh, I've seen I've seen so many of those. I think I lost you. Alright,

Suzanne Lyons 35:33
are you there? I'm here. Yeah, yeah. Anyways,

Alex Ferrari 35:36
so no, no, no, no, I see so many of those through my course of work in post production, that it's insane. Like all these people, like you just kind of like, yeah, oh my god. It's the only industry that people do that.

Suzanne Lyons 35:50
It's crazy. And like, I've talked to somebody who comes in, I finished my movie. I'm really proud of it, you know, it was only 75,000 and you know, the units were 5000 each. So I had some lots of friends and family and some neighbors and everybody contributed it's great. It looks really great. But Suzanne, I'm having a really hard time getting sales agents, you know, and I'm going and they said so I know you know, everybody you know, I'd love some advice from you and who should I go to given you know, it's here's the genre of it. And I'll go first of all, you know who's in it, you know, who's the name because sometimes, you know, value if there's no name, you know, and, and they go, Oh, no, nobody, you know, nobody but but it's really good.

Alex Ferrari 36:29
You know, and look, unfortunately, unfortunately, the reality I know, that's hilarious. But I've heard that many times. Unfortunately, the realities of the industry as they as you know, as well as I do, is that there's so much product out there, that there's a few ways that you can stand out that you have to one is insane quality, which is basically maybe five or 10 movies a year that are so good with nobody no names in it, that it just just just transcends and completely blows out of the water, there's maybe five or 10 movies, all period throughout the period. And those are the movies that do get picked up by festivals that do get a lot of spotlight and all of that kind of there's that way there's the other way of casting someone who is an actor of name have some sort of name that has some sort of market value that because their name is on or their faces on the cover of the poster. People go Oh, I know him Let me go over there because there's just so much dilution. Or another way is genre which is becoming less and less but still genre genre. horror movie doesn't need as much names anymore though that has changed a little bit because there's so many horror movies, action movies, travel very well they will need specific names but of course you throw in a Michael Madsen that helps

Suzanne Lyons 37:51
that's what they'll tell you you still need somebody for the you know for that poster you know or whatever. And even years ago they'd say if it's a giant spider for a horror movie then giant spiders enough now what they're saying is Yeah, the giant spider is great, but I still need another name. I still need a picture on that poster shark on

Alex Ferrari 38:07
Shark NATO is not going to do it all by itself.

Suzanne Lyons 38:12
And you're right certain you know, certain there are certain movies where you know they go more the festival route because they were done more of an art house. And it's not about the name it was about the phenomenal story in the phenomenal writing in the phenomenal directing. And there's a few of those pop up like you said every year but I would not count on it you know but you think you've got those and you want to spend your next year going to festivals and praying that's great and hoping but I don't know to me hope is is not the word that I use frequently in this

Alex Ferrari 38:41
business in a business you can't use the word hope that's nice,

Suzanne Lyons 38:44
but the nice and I don't want to take it away from anybody but I used to even flash forward that month long course that I did for years, Heidi and I we you were not allowed to use the word hope for the entire month of that course by the way.

Alex Ferrari 38:57
Well like and there's another one with other way of making a movie that I didn't mention before is what we did with this is mag is keep the budget so you know to a level that is so affordable that one you could self distribute it yourself and make your money back or be profitable. or two, you can kind of just ride the wave a little bit and see what happens there's no pressure there's no stress, there's no investors, but you have to be able to achieve a high high enough quality product to make for that to make sense as opposed to just grabbing your iPhone and going out make a movie but there are but though that's another route of going about it and if by and we were lucky enough to have wonderful names involved as well which helps but but you could but it could easily been done with a bunch of just really talented actors and we could have gone down that path as well.

Suzanne Lyons 39:48
That's right and then you can do that now see you know because the technology is so available nowadays you can shoot with your iPhone you know that even few years ago

Alex Ferrari 39:57
that Andre Nadia tangerine Sean Sean Baker shot but He's I mean, he that was his fourth film. And he knew what he was doing. And it was, you know, he basically pushed that photo. And the image quality to the nth degree. wasn't like he just literally pulled it out of his pocket to start shooting. Yeah, lens adapters and everything. But that's what people don't understand. But you can do and he did it specifically for look for feeling for the texture that he wanted as an artist. So it's definitely able you can definitely do it. And I want to just share one No, you were talking about stars. I posted a movie A while ago, it was a sci fi movie sci fi bend on it. And no stars. They finished it went out to the marketplace. Everyone said exactly what you just said, who's in it. No one's in it. Don't want it. So basically, and they already spent it was probably like a $300,000 movie, let's say 250 300. So what they did is they went back got one sci fi TV show name. Yeah, for five grand. Got one movie star name? Yeah, for about eight grand. And they both worked for a day each. Oh, my God, they re edited it. I had to recalibrate and refinish the movie for them. They went back out and guess what happens? Is that what they sold it? Because they basically said, Oh my god, we're screwed. So they literally recast the parts that were already filmed by another actor, and replace them with the with the name actor, because they have to. Yeah,

Suzanne Lyons 41:27
but I hear you. But But here's the thing. We don't want to do that. You know, I mean, it could

Alex Ferrari 41:31
have been so much waste of time and money. Yeah,

Suzanne Lyons 41:33
exactly. And that's why if you start if you put the business hat on now, at the early stage, you know, then even when you're reading, here's the other thing is I'm, I, I've been I've read, I don't know, about, let's say hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of scripts, right? Here's the thing, I get emotionally involved in the scripts. And I know I'm not a coverage person. And I'm certainly not an international coverage person. So even though I'm a producer, and I think I'm pretty good at reading scripts, I still hire. Every single time you were to talk to people, when I do more for film and the other for television series. I'm saying to gals I use all the time I swear by them, I still have somebody do the carpet. Because, you know, once again, I get involved creatively, and I'm thinking Whoa, slow, down, girl, step back, you're a business person as well. I'm not saying don't worry, the business, the creative hat, I still do, I still read the script and do my notes. But I also send it to the coverage person. They're they're an international coverage person they work for, you know, a lot of companies around the world. So they're reading in a different way, without any attachment without any emotion without any involvement without any agenda at all, other than to do coverage or right. So even in that case, I kind of stick take a step back and stand in my business shoes. So in every aspect, Alex, you know, I really, look I've got to be careful because we're here because we're creative. We're all in this industry, because we're creative. So we can get so caught up in that, like your friends did early on, you know, with their movie, you know, and it was a great movie, great movie, great script, and it just didn't have names. So it's like, oh, shit, you know what we need to do?

Alex Ferrari 43:19
I need to sell this. So whatever. What do I need to do to sell this? We'll get some actors that will hopefully put it on the cover, and I can make some money now.

Suzanne Lyons 43:26
Yeah, yeah. So I think early, you know,

Alex Ferrari 43:28
so let's talk about casting and actors a little bit. Now. How do you cast an independent film? Do you use casting directors? Do you go direct? How do you do it?

Suzanne Lyons 43:39
It depends on the project and on the budget size, but even in the early days, when our budgets were between five and 10 million, right?

Alex Ferrari 43:46
Which is beyond most people listening to this podcast.

Suzanne Lyons 43:49
My firt my my first film was one of those right? I mean, that that's that's what films were really it was a different time, it was a different time. And I took you know, a lot of them were 1.8 you know, ours was it started at about 1.8 but then it ended up you know, getting some great actors and that sort of thing. So it kind of took on its own life in a sense. And it ended up being around around 400 you know about 4,000,500 or I mean close to the five so um, so but still here's the thing, we didn't Kate and I didn't have any money for those early films. So we did the casting ourselves of the main roles, you know, all the main roles. And, you know, and back then those were baby that was, you know, Naomi Watts and Chris Walken and Brenda Blethyn and Alfred Molina. We didn't really know what we were doing. But we were business women. I've been VP of Marketing for TV network. Kate was a stockbroker for many years. And, you know, it's I mean, we weren't, you know, what's called a guy in a diner, you know what I mean? You know,

Alex Ferrari 44:52
a guy guy in a Starbucks, Starbucks now.

Suzanne Lyons 44:56
So we kind of had that our business that we were, you know, Certainly, you know, wearing our business hats very well when we were on the phone because that was CAA and ICM, we're talking you know,

Alex Ferrari 45:07
those actors are they're still big but the back then they were even bigger. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show you know,

Suzanne Lyons 45:24
yeah, and I started and I was very honest with them and back then see Don't forget different time though don't forget, those were called co productions back then. So the UK used to get about 40% of your budget from the UK and and if you were doing Canadian, UK, you'd get probably 30% from Canada and then everyone used lower loo Horowitz you get 10% what was called gap back then. I don't even know people do that anymore. And then don't forget to reprise sales. So everybody including the agents and managers understood that world back in the 90s in the early 2000s, where there were this thing this wonderful thing called pre sales, big period sales you know, we'd sold Germany for 500,000 in advance based on those couple of names those early to two names, you know,

Alex Ferrari 46:07
no, so just to go back for a little bit so for people to understand what a pre sale is, is basically a country saying hey, we're going to give you 500,000 because we trust you that you're going to deliver a movie to us with these stars in x time

Suzanne Lyons 46:25
that's right yes and it was with those stars and see that's the thing is that's not the way it's done anymore right so back then the you know the the the big guys that ICM and William Morris and you know endeavor and so on back then they would say either they understood that we needed their name to sell the pre sell the movie you know we did 1.8 million in pre sales on my first movie right? Then what you do is then you match it you know then you go to your investors and say I've got 1.8 million you know we're getting 80% of that because the pre sales or whatever you know from the bank and so on and there will be countries actually it was the us it was the I believe it was Australia was the Germany I mean they were all good solid countries and good solid distributors at the time and so on. And the first one being Miramax you know so they were it was all very solid that's when you can then go back to your investors who you're also you know you're also you know trying to get those investors in the interim while you're out there selling but then you can come back with some solid you know, here's what we need to do now is we need to match it plus whatever plus the bank gap you know pretend percent and so on and so on. But um that was the way it was done so they so you literally used those names and they knew it Chris Walken knew what for example that we had to use that name to help with the pre sales his agent knew it it was it was not like it was not an offensive thing it was the way that business was done you know that's that's the way that it was done because you you everybody raised a good portion of their funding in advance based on the names in the indie world will probably even in the studio world I would guess too

Alex Ferrari 48:07
but those days Those days are gone aren't they?

Suzanne Lyons 48:10
Oh they're gone Yeah, that those ended you know 2004 2005 you know, the UK shut down you know in 2004 as we knew what and that was a very big place for all of us as you know a lot of us anyways as indie producers and I remember the day they shut down we had two movies that were going in Australia, UK Australia and coke co productions and one was in soft crap thank God we weren't in pre or principal many war but 29 movies shut down that day you know in October so I mean the world shut down that day, but I just remember Australia because we had a movie there at all. But um, I can you get if you add up the rest, I can't even imagine Can you?

Alex Ferrari 48:51
Can you talk real quick about soft prep since you just brought that up with just real quickly what's off prep do so people understand what that means?

Suzanne Lyons 48:57
Yeah, okay, good. So soft. Prep is usually in my world, the independent world because my budgets have gone from 200,000 I've done a lot of the StG ultra low lovesick ultra low sag modified and just absolutely think

Alex Ferrari 49:09
it's just we're gonna talk we're gonna talk about sag in a minute because I want to definitely get into that.

Suzanne Lyons 49:13
Love that love it. Um, and it's so doable now with the digital cameras and all of that we can do oh god visual effects. Oh my god, you should see

Alex Ferrari 49:21
we'll get in touch. We'll get into soft prep soft prep.

Suzanne Lyons 49:24
So exciting. Anyways, sorry so soft prep. So here's the thing, you know how they say the lower the budget, the longer the prep right? Well, sorry, we don't get that luxury. So we know all I'm gonna really have time for on a say gold Trello is three weeks of pre production. Maybe it's like modified four weeks of pre production right now these are not in the millions here. These are 700,000 or 250,000. So on thinking, you know, I can't do that I would not be able to sleep I'd have a nervous breakdown. You know, if I had to do my casting, and I'll get back to the casting in a second. If I had to do my locations if I had you know to work on the budget and the schedule with my line producer if my line producer had Hey, you know do all the keys you know 16 keys during that time we all have nervous breakdowns so my soft PrEP is at least four weeks prior to pre production I make a promise in my ppm or operating agreement can't remember which to my investors that no money will be spent on till the first day of solid pre production you know that three weeks when we move into an actual actual production offices three weeks of pre production if it's saying ultra low for example, but prior to that I have my four weeks where everything is done for free you know because if I if on that budget I will definitely be doing the casting all of the casting myself you know, maybe I'd have a casting assistant who wants the title casting and she's doing it for 500 bucks which I'll pay her when the time comes or whatever you know when we start principal or pre but but I have my soft prep and during the self prep Mike you know at the time who was doing those movies with me as the line producer he'd be out you know with my director looking at locations because probably couldn't afford application person at the time and and then I'd be busy with the casting and we'd be getting a lot of those things done you know, he didn't be bringing some of the main keys on board wouldn't be paying them yet but he knew Wouldn't it location for example, you know, we booked the motel for portal now we booked it we didn't give them a deposit we were what was called penciled in we actually did the paperwork we didn't sign it but we said if anything happens you know please call us if somebody comes in if Spielberg's coming in and wants your space you know let us know obviously but we got the hotel we wanted it was penciled in and on that Friday and then come that Monday I sent the deposit over

Alex Ferrari 51:57
because you weren't now you weren't officially in real prep at that point

Suzanne Lyons 52:01
exactly. So So Mike so you know my my director and my line producer were in and my you know, a lot of times the first ad because he was working with a director early on to working on the schedule and none of those people were getting paid and in my dp Of course, you know, was early on so they were all with us a lot of them were with us during soft prep and that was four weeks which four weeks plus three, I was able to breathe, you know then I promised my line producer that the minute we move into the production office which is still my office, right right with his people, you know, his production manager and and their and their assistant that I would be there for him you know that those three weeks worried about him you know, hiring the rest of the keys, if you wanted me to sit in on some of the interviews with some of the keys, obviously, I was there for him, I was there to sign the checks, I was there to you know, do whatever I still had my job to do, I still had to hire my job photographer. And, you know, I was still doing stuff working, you know, with the investors and in terms of getting them involved and who, you know, we're sitting in on all the meetings, in terms of schedules and so on. But my goal was to be finished with the big chunks of stuff, so we can rest easy. And you know, I promised him that I would have all my cast deal memos done before we moved in to pre production that all of it when he promised me that all location would be done in terms of in the same thing so that was kind of what we did during that's what soft prep to me is so very, very important. And I was very honest with people just like I am with with on the bigger movies with with those sales with those agents is like I would call them you know, at ICM saying I don't have any money, but you know, some people would hang up on me. Now what I would do when we moved into principle, and some of those movies on the big movies back then is then I would hire the casting directors to then do everybody else. But I would bring on those initial four to six big names. movies like James Caan and jovia bujo. And Jennifer Tilly. And you know, who else You know, I mean, any of those kinds of names, I would do all of that. And the early ones, Kate Nye. And then we'd share you know, we split it. And then on the smaller ones, then I did it all myself, except on time toys that was a modified which was a little bigger, and that was dealing with mostly children. And that is not my thing. So that's when we literally did hire early on a and we did have some fun. We did have funding early on actually for a longer pre production on this. So we actually hired a phenomenal casting director whose sole purpose was your children. So he did a

Alex Ferrari 54:41
show so let me send you started. You brought up sag. This is a no mystery for a lot of independent filmmakers. Can you talk a little bit about sag contracts? What's the differences between the low budget options that are available now and how you work with them?

Suzanne Lyons 54:57
Yeah, it's pretty much the same. You know if I'm bringing on somebody? Let's say it's the sake altro. All right, I can't remember what the new one is, since July 2, the new amounts came in, it used to be 100 a day, I think now it's, I don't know, 140 500 125, something like that. 125, right. So if I'm going to be used, and if you're doing a SAG ultralow, you can use quite a big percentage of non sag as well. But I would pay my non say the same as I paid my sag. The only difference is with the non sag, you know, if your budget is very low, and you're going to be using let's say, you're allowed 40% non sag, then I wouldn't be as responsible, for example, wouldn't have to feel as obligated to do you know, let's say if there's rehearsal time, not that, you know, we'd have rehearsal time, probably at that budget level, or wardrobe fittings, or what's the other one, or ADR, you know, I wouldn't be I wouldn't be paying for that for them to come in for half an hour video, I wouldn't, with saying you don't really have a choice. What I did on in some cases, when I knew I didn't have the money was say for, say wardrobe fittings. For some of the bigger actors, I would say, Okay, you know what, I can't afford that, for you to come in for that day, because you're going to charge me for a full day and all we need is an hour, I'm going to send my costume designer over to you. And that would help save me sometimes a little bit of money with every little bit would help. But with sag, you know, you really have to honor those agreements where you're paying for ADR they're paying for, you know, for your wardrobe fitting as you're paying for usually, if it's rehearsal, I do the rehearsal on the same day, as you know, they're coming in for the final wardrobe fitting and twice kind of thing. And I tell my director that we're probably only going to get that one day or half day or whatever, at that budget level. So you know, you just and then if he wants to go and work with the with the with them separately, then that's their business and we're not paying for it, you know, in terms of rehearse so

Alex Ferrari 57:00
so so but people so for indie filmmakers, you understand if you've never even worked with sag actors, the minimum of a normal sag movie is I think, what now? 800 and some dollars $900 $1,000 for a normal for a normal contract.

Suzanne Lyons 57:13
Oh, yeah. I mean, well, I remember when I was starting, I think was 750. And that was years ago. So it's now it's been two to two up since to upgrade since then. So it's got to be around 1000. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 57:22
so So normally switches out of the price range for most indie like really low budget indie filmmakers. So and you want to have access to these really great actors who are a part of sag. So the sag ultra low allows you to basically pay them what you would pay a PA, essentially, about 25 plus insurance and stuff, which is I think, like 17 bucks or something like that extra. So for under 150 bucks, you have access to really great talent, of course, the talent has to agree to it, obviously. But but you have that door opens to you. And as filmmakers making low budget movies, if you can get some of those named talents in there that are willing to work or not even name towns, but just good quality actors at that, at that price range, it opens the whole world up for for you as an independent filmmaker.

Suzanne Lyons 58:12
And Alex, you're right, because, you know, the whole idea was to stop runaway production. The reason that you've got these wonderful things, is you've got to give the Directors Guild, I think, a lot of credit for lobbying in Washington for six years. Ironically, completely, ironically, when the UK kind of shut down as we knew it, in October of 2004, that exact same month, after six years of lobbying in Washington, the Directors Guild was able to get the government to create inside the job creation act, section 181, which allowed investors of a certain you know, amount 100%, tax write off huge percent tax write offs, depending on their there, you know, what they made, and so on. So, it opened up America for the first time in many, many, many years. I think the 70s was probably the last time we had that opportunity. So you know, and what happened is the Writers Guild, not the Writers Guild. That was the last one, the Directors Guild and the sag Guild. Really, we're trying to help in this work in that whole arena of working on American soil, how can we stop runaway production, not stop it, but at least bring it back, you know, and have our actors and, and our makeup artists and all those wonderful, talented people in the film industry work here, you know, because most time if you're going to shoot up in British Columbia, I'm sorry, but you're probably going to hire majority actors from British Columbia, and your, you know, makeup artist is from British Columbia, and all those people because you're getting a tax incentive based on your local spend, right? So, you know, so they were losing for 15 years. They said at one point, there was more movie shooting in Romania than there was anywhere across the whole world, you know, West so so they said gildan and the Directors Guild were really wonderful in creating this opportunity for us, the Writers Guild, it took about another, I think, six years or whatever for them to kind of come on board. But, but it was really great, you know, to be able to have this opportunity. And it was a win win. Like people would say, oh, Suzanne, That's so disgusting. You're only paying your actor $100 a day. I remember on candy stripers going up at the end of the week to give people their paycheck. And the lead actor literally doctor said to me What's this and I said it's your paycheck for the weekend with $600 or whatever right? And he said what for and I get your paycheck for working he said I would have done I thought this was free I would have done this for free I need them I need the real like you don't like you don't I mean these were a lot of new people and everybody wanted to work and he wanted to work to get the next work and the next work and the next one move up and up and up and up and up. So it was when it wasn't anybody being stingy It was like guess what we're all in this together. We're all able for the first time in American history starting in 2004 or whatever to be able to raise money it to the degree that we were able to we had two unions that were really forthcoming in allowing us to be able to to use their incredible talent people in the in the you know, the writer in the Directors Guild in and sake, as well. And it was just a total Win win. And it was fun. I mean, we were all having fun. Now that's changed in the last couple of years. Just because a couple of the other unions have really felt that it that it's not fair, you know that we should use all unions in anything even from 50,000

Alex Ferrari 1:01:44
You know, that's getting a little ridiculous.

Suzanne Lyons 1:01:47
It's so it's very hard now to shoot in California, especially and certainly on in certain many states on American soil. So you know, it's sadly sad, but my next movie, we're actually looking at Canada, which I don't want to trust me. I really want to shoot here. Yeah, but Business

Alex Ferrari 1:02:03
is business is business. And if the union the union pushes you too hard, you're like, Well, you know what, then I have to take my business elsewhere. Yeah, and

Suzanne Lyons 1:02:11
yeah, and if the budget is higher on it, then I'm shooting here, you know, over the million. I want to shoot here, when you're under a it's just too hard. I'm sorry. But if it's too hard, it's too hard on the on the producer on everybody, you know, to use five or six unions but but but anyways, it's um, it's uh, you know, but but in the in from 2004. Till, you know, let's say, two to three years ago, it was phenomenal and so much more. So many more movies, were shooting on American soil and offering these opportunities to everyone in the industry, all the keys, you know, all the crew all the cast, it's been fantastic.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:46
So so we're gonna end the show. Thank you so much, by the way, by being on the show you did, of course has fantastic job as you always do. But since since last time, I've I've come up with a little a few things that I always ask all my guests. I don't think I asked this of you last time. So there's two questions. I always ask everybody. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn, whether in life or in the film business?

Suzanne Lyons 1:03:10
The lesson that took me the longest to learn? Well, jeez, that's really good. I didn't get that one last time.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:22
It's good. That's my that's my. That's my question.

Suzanne Lyons 1:03:26
I love it. That's harder and calculus, man. Okay, the longest to learn, I think, oh, man, there's now there's couple things first of all, in my mind went blank on I think to ask for help. is the first one that popped into my head. So I'm going to go with that. First. I think there's one other important one does versus to ask for help. Because I think for some reason in this industry, I mean, in life in general, too. We think we're Lone Ranger's. And we have to do it, you know, on our own. God forbid, you know, God should put you know, 7 billion people on the planet, there's a clue that we're not Lone Ranger's. But anyways, we never look at that we always think it's up to us, right? And I think in the entertainment industry is even worse, we really feel that, you know, for some reason, we have to be Lone Ranger's. And and when I said and that's why I think even isn't raising money at first was so hard for films. And then once we realize that doesn't have to be just me and Kate, it's like, there's a whole world out there that we can ask for help. So I think it's that is probably the first thing that comes to mind. And the other thing is that I think knowledge I think, like we talked about before, it's you've got to get really smart about whatever business it is that you're in, and not so much to rely on other people even though you want to ask for help, but you want to get to know what you're doing. You know, I love to read contracts because yes, I have an attorney but that our attorney has 50 other clients and he's busy doing 50 option agreements, you know, so I'm, I want to be smart. I will took a course on how to read contract, you know, and I read Bunch of attorneys you know books for the entertainment industry I want to get I want to be smart about knowing what I'm doing, you know, so I think those are the two things that come to mind is to kind of you know, ask for help, be willing to ask for help you don't have to be a lone ranger and secondly to kind of be smart about what it is that you're doing and you know and that sort of thing like that.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:26
And what are three of three of your favorite films of all time?

Suzanne Lyons 1:05:31
Oh my god, you're 3d my oh my god, that's so hard because I love so many genres. I love horror. I love I love romantic. I'd have to say a little romance that's when I was falling in love you know for the with with my husband. That movie a Diane Lane that's back in oh god the late 70s we were in film school and broadcasting school at the time. Little romance is one of my favorite romantic comedies of all time. Certainly Harold and Maude just because I know it's everybody's favorite. You know, you can watch it what we bought what many times certainly that's the that's a classic. I love all the diehard movies I love all the way the weapons I've seen everything probably 10 times anything sci fi I've seen 10 times. Those would be my to the end and I think you know what I have to say? One of my own own undertaking Betty. Honest to God, I mean Syria as much as I love sci fi and action and all that stuff. I'm the major action in sci fi and to me, it's like I say to my husband, if there's no car chase, it's not a movie, right? And he's always trying to drag me to arthouse movies. Um, I would have to say I love undertaking Betty I've probably seen it 100 times because I had to, you know, during all the different processes, but I would still watch it again. 100 times it's one of the funniest best romantic comedies ever. And, and I also love those the art kind of movies, too. I mean, Erich von loise one of my favorite directors and memory of a killer I think would be another one. Phenomenal artistic thriller. Very I love you know, those kind of arts movies. Panic is another one. We lost that director far too soon. That's another kind of very artistic, I love artistic thrillers. I have to remember I just saw that a couple of months ago, you know, with with Christopher Plummer. That's another artistic throw. I do love the artistic thrillers, too. But I think the first three that I mentioned will remain my first three for now.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:39
So Suzanne, I hear you're going to be teaching a workshop this month. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Suzanne Lyons 1:07:44
Yeah, I will. I mean, I haven't had time to do it. In around six years I've been busy producing one point I did a lot of the classes on indie film producing 2007 after I finished candy stands and portal those early ones and I learned so much from those early ones I thought I have to teach a class because I realized how many mistakes we were all making. So it really the class takes you but I haven't had time like I said for almost six years. And I'm limiting it to a dozen people like I did the last one I did was a dozen people it's a nice oh, it's intimate, it's wonderful. It takes you from the beginning. From optioning everything from opting the screenplay all the way through in tiny little steps just like my book I wrote a book on indie film producing for focal press back Dre in 2011 2012 and it takes you through all the steps along the way because I think when we think of oh my god I got to produce a movie and you know raise 250,000 into a Sega ultra low and get all that done, our head explodes and nothing ever happens right? We hear people talking about it for 10 year words into little bite sized pieces. That's like okay, let's focus on this first you know focus on this piece focus on this piece. So that's what I do in the workshop. It's a one day intensive nine in the morning till six, I'll have a two to three guest speakers there to kind of highlight scenarios that are kind of difficult for people. And and I'll take you through the entire thing. It's you get a copy of the book, you get a binder that's worth around $20,000 Alex because I include a placement memorandum my operating agreements, say contracts, coups, crew contracts, subscription agreements, sag ultra low budget is in their natural one. My say Antoine is actually in there. It's real stuff. It's the real deal memos that we did on those actual movies, on real movies. So it's based on the making of the sag ultra low and the sag modified. I had a person and one of my classes whose budget was 25 million and I said what are you doing here? And she said, I'm just going to map everything on and it never occurred to me so people of all budget sizes have been in there. I've had writers who are tired of waiting, who were coming in saying I'm going to learn how to do it. What I do recommend Alex is to have people in there Only that are serious if you're going to be shooting in the next 18 months, if you're not shooting your movie, five years from now, don't do the class now save the space because it is very limited. There's seven people registered already, only five left, five spaces left. And I've just got a call actually yesterday from somebody else over I'm going to talk to him today, but it's very small. Because I think that's the best way to do it. Because it will be a lot of questions and there's a lot of concerns. It's a big deal, you know, raising money. It's a big deal. Honestly, it's a year and a half year life two years of your life, you know, and then being responsible for that baby for the rest of your life. Right? You know, intense labor pains about to happen so I only want to work with with the people that are very serious. It's expensive. It's the early bird special which just ends tomorrow actually is 495 It's a course itself is 595 which is what I've been offering you know, for quite a few years now. 595. However, for your guys, Alex for anybody from hustle if they say they're from indie, indie film, hustle, then I'm going to study not just what the early bird till next Sunday, which would be you know, October 16. If anyone from your group registers by October 16. Okay. They will not just get the early bird of 495 but I'll knock another 50 off so before 45

Alex Ferrari 1:11:21
Oh, wow, that's so generous of you. Thank you so much. Welcome.

Suzanne Lyons 1:11:24
You're welcome. Well, I mean, you've been just phenomenal with me, Alex, and you're going to be continuing to be phenomenal with me I know because we've got this great friendship now with these podcasts and all this other stuff. So I really appreciate that a lot and I've had a lot of wonderful thank yous from the early podcasts I did. So I want to thank you for that. But the course to me is incredible if you go online and just even check the reviews from my book. I was looking at them yesterday never looked at them before I almost cried. I mean, I really had no idea just how impactful and helpful people said that they've read they've tried to read many indie film books. And this was the only one they actually finished because it really does set it up in a step by step I'll even discuss how to do your accounting so instead of it being $5,000 you can get it down to $500 you know with your accountant I'll talk about taxes I even did I did my own like taxes i did my own I did my all my own 1099 to help save the money on that sort of thing like my own marketing you know I talked about the social media now that we've done that on time toys we had to start a year early because we thought we might be self distributing. So how do you prepare for the self distribution aspect as well? How do you get to know the sales agents I'm going to have a speaker talk about preparing for the American Film market so we'll definitely because there's only three days four days later right after right right yeah. On Wednesday yeah the second of November so we'll talk about how do you best prepare for that you know then I you Alex, you said you're gonna offer to come in your post

Alex Ferrari 1:12:50
Yeah, I'm gonna be I'll be doing a little guest speaking on the post production and delivery and all that kind of stuff as well and I'm gonna

Suzanne Lyons 1:12:56
I can even get a sales agent to come in for half an hour so hopefully you for half an hour Heather, you know for half and Heather Hale for half an hour. And then I'll get a sales agent to come in for half an hour and you know, we'll add some stuff to it. It's going to be if I do say so myself. It's phenomenal.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:10
No middle class. No guys, so you guys know where to go. Just go to indie film, hustle, calm forward slash Suzanne. And that'll take you directly to all the contact paper, all the contact, stuff up all the contact information on how to get ahold of Suzanne and and sign up for the course.

Suzanne Lyons 1:13:29
And just so you know, the course itself will be on October 29. It's on a Saturday here in Los Angeles. Here in Los in Encino, Sherman Oaks. And so you know, it's going to be a business building. So it's free parking which is nice in the business building. A friend of mine owns the spot we're going to use it. It's wonderful. Lots of restaurants close by you'll be with great people. I mean, the seven people already that are registered, I would want to hang out with their their active guys has already produced two movies he did my class years ago. He's done too. But he's teamed up with two new partners that are new. So they're doing it together. So it's and oh, anyways, it's a really good group already. I'm looking forward to it because I'm looking forward to learning from everybody in the class.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:11
Suzanne, thank you so much for being Oh, but thank you again so much for being on the show. It's been an absolute pleasure. And I know we could talk for probably another two or three hours. But But thank you again so so much if you've dropped a lot of knowledge bombs on the indie film hustle tribe, so thanks again.

Suzanne Lyons 1:14:27
Thanks, Alex. Thanks for having me. All right, talk to you later.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:31
I told you she'd be dropping some major knowledge bombs in this episode man I love Suzanne she she has a wealth of information and I am going to be at that course. That workshop that she's going to be teaching later this month because you can never learn too much and my god she is a wealth of information as experience. So I wanted to definitely hear what she has to say. So guys, definitely check it out. There's only four spots left so just head over to indie film, hustle calm for slash Suzanne and they'll give you all the information you need for to call her contact her and sign up. So I'm gonna give you a quick update on this is Meg I am currently working on a trailer for this is make so you guys can at least see a little bit of what I've done with this movie and because it won't be able to be seen in its entirety for at least till next year until we start going through the festival circuit but I at least wanted to give everybody a trailer to kind of get a taste of what the craziness that I shot with. This is Meg so I'm currently working on it. It is a beast to do a good one. So I'm working on it as we speak. So hopefully in the next couple of weeks, I'll have something to show you guys. And as always head over to filmmaking podcast calm, that's filmmaking podcast calm and leave me an honest review of the show. If you really like it, I really appreciate it helps us get the word out on what we're doing here at indie film hustle. And if you want to go to the show notes for this episode, it's indie film, hustle, calm, forward slash 105 and I'll have the links to everything we discussed in the episode. So as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.




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