Alrik Bursell is a filmmaker, producer, cinematographer, editor and director. His been working in video production for over 10 years and worked on everything from feature films, to broadcast commercials to DVD instructional videos, if those even exist any more.
Alrik’s first feature film The Alternate was shot in the winter of 2019, did it’s film festival run playing over 20 film festivals and winning 15 awards worldwide, and have secured worldwide distribution for the film, which is coming out in the USA/Canada in September 2022.
The Alternate follows Jake, a videographer who discovers a portal to another dimension in which he has everything he has always wanted: the perfect version of his wife Kris, the filmmaking career of his dreams, and the daughter he never had.
Jake quickly starts traveling back and forth between these two worlds – spying on his other self, falling in love with the alternate Kris, and getting to know his daughter. Jake soon sees that his alternate is not as perfect as he seems and decides to change places with the alternate Jake and take the good life for himself.
Please enjoy my conversation with Alrik Bursell.
Alrik Bursell 0:00
As a filmmaker, you should just be aware of what you're up against and that like, these fantastical fantasy outcomes are like so so unlikely that they should not at all be embedded in your your your hopes and dreams for the success of your movie.
Alex Ferrari 0:17
This episode is brought to you by the Best Selling Book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion. Alrik Bursell, How you doing Alrik?
Alrik Bursell 0:34
Doing good! Thanks for having me, Alex. I'm like so stoked to be back, man.
Alex Ferrari 0:38
Yeah, man. Thanks for coming back on the show. Man. I'm excited to talk about your new film The alternate, which is I know a long gestating project. I think
Alrik Bursell 0:50
The last time I was on the show, I was like in crowdfunding, like super sweaty, super nervous, just like please help me make people.
Alex Ferrari 1:00
Please help me please. Oh, sir. Can I have another cup of porridge?
Alrik Bursell 1:04
It happened though. So thank you, everyone.
Alex Ferrari 1:08
So now I wanted to have you on the show. Not to only talk about your new film, but I think it's a great opportunity to talk about the state of independent film, because it changes so rapidly so often in our business. I mean, yeah, God, I mean, it's from from basically from the 90s on it's been so 80s on basically, but the 90s on, it's really just changed so much. And it seems to be changing faster and faster. Every every month, there's something new showing up some new service coming up some new way to make money some way some new way, we're getting screwed by somebody, or some company or something. So there's always something so I'd love to hear your opinion on from your point of view. And from you know, obviously you do the interviews on Making movies is hard. And with Liz and and you guys are kind of on the pulse as well as I am on what's happening in the indie world. So in your opinion, what do you think? Where do you think the state of independent film is, sir?
Alrik Bursell 2:05
Well, I guess let's like try to define it a little bit better. Like do you mean, like indie film with like anybody? Like including, like known well known filmmakers? Like, you know, the Darren Aronofsky is of the world and people who are like making indie film, quote, unquote, on their own, but like you have budgets and things are you talking about, like the little, you know, people I'm talking about?
Alex Ferrari 2:29
Let's just put it this way. How many Darren Aronofsky is are listening to us right now? All right. So that so I don't Sure.
Alrik Bursell 2:37
It just frustrates me because like, you look at fucking indie wire or whatever, or some of these places, and they're like, indie film, and then they just start quoting all these like 5 million $10 million movies. And you're like, that's not really what indie film is, like, indie film to me is like million or under, you know, and people who are just scraping their budgets together, like don't don't necessarily have any massive talent, no one would know who they are. You know, like, that's kind of where I see like, indie film, it's like, the movies that like, you know, XYZ is picking up, you know, and like, you know, companies like that, like the smaller and
Alex Ferrari 3:11
A24, you know, the A24's of the world.
Alrik Bursell 3:13
Yeah, barely all the A24's is like, if you get to A24 toilet you kinda already.
Alex Ferrari 3:19
I mean, I'm seeing I'm seeing a bunch of the A24 films lately, and there's some that I have no idea other than the director who the hell they are. So there are those, but then there's the of course, they're everything everywhere all at once. Crowd as well. But yeah, but no.
Alrik Bursell 3:34
Yeah. But that's movies and stuff. saphenous is like, you know, booksmart Yeah, etc. It's like, you know, come on. I mean, like, I feel like A24. Like, maybe they are picking up some stuff that's like, you know, from these unknown, like struggling filmmakers, but I think for the most part, like if you get on their radar, it's like, you've kind of ascended to like another scope, then, you know, the majority of indie filmmakers?
Alex Ferrari 3:57
Yeah, exactly. Yeah,
Alrik Bursell 3:59
I should say.
Alex Ferrari 3:59
So no, I think so. To answer your question. I do think that like the the whale and the, you know, Darren Aronofsky is film that's coming out and a bunch of other films that you know, everything everywhere all at once is, quote, unquote, an indie film. And I would say it is because I talked to the boys. And it was it wasn't a $500 million movie though. Or it was basically the craft service budget of Dr. Strange. And they both match the multiverse in a very different way. So I think the state of independent film I think the artistic state, at that level is going strong. There's still a place for it. It's harder now I think to even be seen than it was five years ago, 10 years ago. But I'm talking more about the state of independence. What like, like the alternate like that kind of film?
Alrik Bursell 4:47
Well, yeah, I mean, I felt like you know, the what I'm seeing is, you know, you really Yeah, shoot your ass off to make your movie. You know, and then like, if you're lucky you get into like some some really great film festivals, you know? And then if you're a spike will the 1% you get into like, you know, South by Southwest, or these game changing film festivals that like, you know, agents and managers are suddenly paying attention to you, and you're getting those kinds of offers, and then your career is like, whatever, you know, but that's like such a small percentage of filmmakers, it's like, yeah, like, like, literally the 1%, you know, and then everyone else, it's like, you're basically get get you get into this film festivals, you're trying to get the best absolute distribution deal you possibly can. And then, you know, you get pumped out into until the digital marketplace, most likely, maybe you get on the streamer, maybe you'll get on the stream, or eventually later down the line in your in the life of your movie, but it's kind of like you're just out in the ether. And that's sort of up to you to do the promotion, and to get people to watch your movie. And then in that case, when you go with a distributor, is you gotta like split the profits and everything. But I think, you know, with going with a distributor, you get like, a lot of other bonuses, you know, like,
Alex Ferrari 5:58
Yeah, like not getting paid, like not getting paid. And, and no rewards, like access to a good depends, depends depends on,
Alrik Bursell 6:05
You could probably hire the same PR team, that your distributors hiring, you know, whatever, and do it on your own, and pay that money upfront, but like having that kind of support in the infrastructure can be helpful, like, we did get a lot of access, you know, to different outlets through them. And our, you know, our trailer ended up picking up like, you know, 160,000 plus hits, you know, on YouTube, kind of through, like, the work that that team did have, like, you know, hitting up all these different channels, and like getting the word out on the movie. So I think like, to some extent, like unless you want to be like, you know, managing a PR firm yourself, and then paying that cost up front, which is like, you know, you already spent all this money making the movie, like, do you really have another $5,000 to pay a PR team out of your own pocket, you know, when when you're going to distribute, maybe maybe you do, you know, if you want to do self distribution, but I basically feel like, I guess the state of what I'm saying is that, you know, even at the highest, like, even I had, like a level of success that is like, it's like really exciting and acceptable, we're kind of all on the same playing field still, you know, and like, it's like, kind of up to the filmmaker to to get the word out and their movie, and to, you know, have it, you know, recoup its investment hopefully. And then if not, like, you know, at least get you on to your next project. So I feel like that's sort of what the first feature I really feel like is useful for is like, you know, using that as like, you know, what your short film used to be like, your mom used to be your calling card. Now, I feel like your first feature is your calling card, getting those reviews, like you know, on Rotten Tomatoes, and like getting a rotten tomatoes rating, or, you know, at least just getting some positive reviews from some sort of critic, it's like, that's all ammunition you can use to make your next movie, like when you're approaching investors and protein production companies, you can point to your, your successes, and then that can be like, Okay, well here, let Now trust me to you know, take a little bit more money and go make my next movie, you know,
Alex Ferrari 8:00
So is the is the first feature, in your opinion, a loss leader? Or is there is there so
Alrik Bursell 8:07
I mean, I mean, I feel like there is like some potential but I think especially as a filmmaker, like you're definitely not expecting to get any any kind of payment on the first feature, you know, if you're lucky to get your investors money back, but like you as yourself, like, you're not gonna get any kind of pain.
Alex Ferrari 8:23
But isn't that but isn't that I mean, look, you know, I know we look at things from the artistic filmmaker and sanity Kearney world that we live in, it is insane, right? Here's the delusion that we have ingrained in us at a DNA level to be even in this business. But on a business standpoint, you look at it and like, it makes our business is so insane, that you spotted spend $100,000 on on a product and have no idea truly how to make that money back. Or, or million dollar hopeful hopefully, if you're at the million dollar stage, you've got a few things in place to guarantee it.
Alrik Bursell 9:05
But it seems like a lot of people even at the million dollar range are kind of in the same boat as $100,000 range. It's like I think when you get to the for the presale deal and you're like making a deal with a distributor, you're before you make the movie, and they're given you an MG before you even you know, go out and shoot anything. I think that's kind of where, like, it actually makes a little bit more sense business wise, where you're like, not just like, you know, hemorrhaging money into a project. But, you know, getting those deals isn't easy, you know, and passable set up and everything. I mean, I've seen it done a lot, you know, and like have people on the show and like talk to other people who like this is what they do. But it's it's definitely not like as easy as it sounds, you know, it's pretty hard to get that kind of, you know, that magic little deal to happen.
Alex Ferrari 9:50
Right! Exactly. And it is all those kinds of deals are all star based. They're not. They're not they're not artistic based. They're not like oh you
Alrik Bursell 9:58
It almost doesn't even matter.
Alex Ferrari 9:59
If it means, obviously because we've seen a lot of Nick Cage movies Bruce Willis movie,
Alrik Bursell 10:06
It just has to be like in the right genre. It has to have like the right no member of thrills it has to feature the star enough. And it's like it's got to hit some some beats. But besides that, like, yeah, it can be whatever.
Alex Ferrari 10:17
Yeah. And it's, I mean, I mean, I'm going to AFM this year. Are you going to him this year?
Alrik Bursell 10:23
Going to be out there, though, with multibillionaire. So if anyone's looking for cyber filler and international market. Yeah, we'll be out there on the booth, you know.
Alex Ferrari 10:36
So, you know, Bob, I'm going to be out there at AFM this year. And, and every time I go to AFM, it's just it's a it's an absolute education for people to go out there. Because yeah, even if they have no movie just to walk around to see how movies are sold. It is you have been there, right?
Alrik Bursell 10:52
Yeah, I went once and I tried, I was foolish enough to think that I could try to raise money for the alternate before it was made at AFM. And I did like 20 pitches to all these different companies and everything. And they told me all told me the same thing. It's like, oh, well, either if you have the budget, or you have the cast, or cast and half the budget, then we can talk. But if you don't have at least half the budget, or cast, or cast, you know, then we're not we don't care.
Alex Ferrari 11:18
There's not even a conversation. It's not even a conversation.
Alrik Bursell 11:21
And at that point, it's like, well, if I had cast in money, why would I even need you? I would just make
Alex Ferrari 11:26
Exactly, exactly. But you know, I was talking to a client the other day, who made a movie at the sub $100,000 range. And they they made them and they came to me and they're like, What do you think? And I'm like, You're not gonna make a dime. And then they're like, Well, what do I do and like, recast one of the spot one of your parts with a name actor, go out and get somebody for a day for like 10 or 10, or 15, grand, and Shoot it, shoot them out in a day, pepper them out for the entire movie, make sure there's enough of him in the movie or her in the movie. And now you've got someone on the thumbnail. And now you've got an opportunity to maybe make your money back. But without that person, you're you're dead in the water. And I just know, it's not a made. It's an absolute fact, because of the
Alrik Bursell 12:19
Oh, the kind of movie. Okay,
Alex Ferrari 12:21
That's the thing. It depends on the genre. So the genre of the film was not action. It wasn't, it wasn't one of those jobs. And it wasn't like, our house backyard film. So it wasn't like, it didn't, it didn't have a place to be. So I'm like, Dude, the only way you're gonna even try even remotely have a shot is getting a face on on the thumbnail. And he's exactly what he did. We worked and got a name actor, we worked with a distributor. And we went to the distributor and said, Hey, give me a list of 10 people who you would be interested in this bill, if they were in it. We went through the list and we just started knocking them off and making offers until finally one said yes. And we got him shot him out in the day peppered him throughout the entire movie. He's like, Oh, my God, the movie so much better. I'm like, yes, because you've got a real, like an actor who has real credits, who's a real professionals been doing this for years. And now we're going to go into the marketplace, but there's a fighting chance at that it's sub 100,000. It's sub 100,000. So that's it's a good, it's a good kind of place to be as a filmmaker is a sub 100,000. Because you start going to 5300 every every 10 grand that you go up, you better just know your shit better.
Alrik Bursell 13:34
Yeah, no, it's totally like keeping keeping your costs low. It definitely helps the chance of recruitment for sure. You know, and I think like, if you're self distributing, like if you can make $50,000 That's, you know, a genre film, you know, like an Action, Thriller, Horror, sci fi, whatever. I think the chances of recouping on 50k You know, especially if you're cutting out all the middle people is really high. But you know, then you have to ask yourself, like, what do you want to do with your life? Like, do you want to be you know, promoting a movie and selling a movie for like, two years? Like, it's kind of, you know, some people are really into that. And some people like me, like, don't really want to be like I can, I can spend, you know, like, a couple of months promoting a movie, but like, I can't do it for a year. That's just too much.
Alex Ferrari 14:18
Right! And that's the end. That's another that's another thing that's really interesting, because before you know, when you go to film school, they teach you how to make, you know, $100 million movie. And that's what they teach you to that like, and they tell you, you could do this, you could be the next Chris Nolan. And that's fine. And you might be but chances are, you're not going to be because there's only so many Chris Nolan's in the world. But I think that before there was a problem getting into the business because things are so expensive to make movies were expensive to make good high quality was expensive to make. But now that the bed the barrier to entry is so minimal. You could make I mean, I made my last two features for sub 10,000 and got one of them I got one of them on Hulu, the other one was sold and both of them were sold internationally, and I made my money back fairly quickly. But yeah, but the
Alrik Bursell 15:02
10,000 or less, that's, you know, you know, I mean, you got a chance,
Alex Ferrari 15:08
You gotta, you have a much better chance with with, you know, one had more faces in it than the other one didn't the other one had no stars in it. But it was basically experiments for me, it was just kind of like, let's see what happens. And I was expressing myself as an artist and all that kind of good stuff. But I think the problem we have now it's not that we can't make a movie, it's we can't get our movie seen. So if the filmmaker moving forward doesn't have some plan in place to get the movie in front of eyeballs to get into. And that's why I wrote my book about, you know, finding a niche, focusing on that niche and trying to build product or build films for that niche to get in front of that audience. Either you do it yourself, which I agree with you not everybody's got that, that thing in them that they can sell. So I get that, but they need to have something in place, whether that be working with a PR firm, having a producer who's really good partner with someone who's really good at it. And I think the end is that maybe have a distributor and distributors that I know. And in my experience, they're trying to figure shit out to
Alrik Bursell 16:09
No that and they're kind of in the same boat as we are, you know,
Alex Ferrari 16:14
They don't know what to do either. And they're trying to figure it all out. And I mean, I went to meetings at AFM during the whole distributor debacle, when that went down. And I got on my Yeah, and when I broke that story, I you know, my face was all over the place. So all these distributors were bringing me in to like, try to, you know, whoo, my apparent like two or 3000 filmmakers, I pulled together in a Facebook group that were pissed off a distributor. And they're like, Oh, give us those films. And I'm like, okay, yeah, I'll take the meeting. And I would ask them, and they would just tell me their shtick. And I'm like, let me ask you, what do you do this, he doesn't have any idea how you're going to make money back on these films, he does not. Now we just throw as many, we throw as much shit against the wall as we can, and something usually sticks. And that was really eye opening to me when they said that, because it's just before there was a plan that before there was like, you went to a distributor, they had this, this, this, this, this, this, this, I can go through this, I get money from this than this. And that still does exist at the 5 million and above the Nic Cage films, the, you know, 20 million and below that kind of genre stuff that still exists. But for the 100,000 and below 500,000, or below million and below, unless there's talent involved. It's it's very, very difficult for them to try to find a place in the marketplace. And then also, for when your movie is done. There's about 3000 other films sitting waiting to come in. So yeah, they don't spend as much time on your films. Is that Is that a fair statement?
Alrik Bursell 17:44
I think so. Yeah. I mean, like, when I was talking to my distributor for the alternate, like, you know, he definitely had a little bit more care into his thoughts about it, you know, like, he was like, you know, this, this is similar to a movie that we had a few years ago, we did really well with it, we think that this has a lot of potential to do the same kind of business, you know, and, you know, he kind of like went in it with that way, and that they were very strategic, or the way they were creating the art, I loved my art that I made, I thought it was beautiful. I have it on my, you know, framed poster over there. But like, you know, they're like, all the distributors like my, my international in the US were like, this is just not gonna work, you know, this just is not going to sell. And so then they made one and then like, suddenly that that's the one that everyone likes, it's their own the trailer, that distributor made the US distributor, then international distributors using that same poster, and I guess they're having a lot more success with it. But that poster, so it's just really interesting, the way it all works, and the whole the way the whole business works, and like what is eye catching? What makes people click, you know, and the theories behind it. But again, in the end, like you said, no one really knows. We won't know if it worked until we see the first quarter numbers,
Alex Ferrari 18:50
I'd argue second or third quarter numbers. Because it's, you know, AFM is coming up, and then hopefully, Ken will come up after that. And those would be the two big markets that they go to sell your film at. But it's, you just don't know. And that's the other thing you said very, you said something that's really important for people listening to understand, won't the poster that made them click? That is something that needs to be in the head of filmmakers because there's still this magical dreamlike thing with theatrical and yeah, all that and that's wonderful. And we all you know, many of us grew up with the theatrical experience and I want my movie in a movie everything every filmmaker wants their movie in a theater, because it's it's the ultimate experience of it. But unfortunately, unless you're Chris Nolan, you don't have the juice to do that all the time. So you're gonna live on a thumbnail? Yeah, and
Alrik Bursell 19:53
That is not even the best assignment the best thing for your movie, you know, exactly. Make a movie under a million dollars like you probably don't want To put the movie into theaters, because you're just gonna lose all this money paying for that and like the, the, like the the last you're gonna get from the from the theater owners or whatever. And then, you know, in the end, it's like you're taking taking away juice, as you'd like to say from the, you know, the online sales, because that's where you're really gonna get your money. But if it's like split between theatrical, and you know, the online, like, then you're not going to make as much money online. And, you know, like, that's where your real money I think is going to come in. So I feel like the theatrical is like a really beautiful thing. And if the distributor wants to do it, and they can make it work or whatever, like totally great, like, let's do it, but like, you know, I wouldn't push it filmmaker, I would let the people know what makes money and what doesn't make money, make those decisions, you know, if they think that the actual runs good for your movie, and you're actually gonna see some, some extra revenue from it, then great, but I just don't think that's 90% of, you know, movies at this budget level, you know,
Alex Ferrari 20:56
And isn't it interesting though, that you know, in the 80s, in the 90s, our films had a, a movie, you would be able to either buy it for 20 bucks on DVD, or VHS, or you would get someone would have bought it and other people rent it. Then when TVOD showed up, iTunes showed up, then you got 399 for your movie and 999 for your movie, that was your value of your movie per customer is that before obviously before that theatrical, you know, there was a ticket sale, and you would get a split of the ticket sales. And that was the value of your movie, where in today's world, the Netflix thing, the Netflix effect, and the Amazon Prime effect has now brought our our product down to less than a penny for review. And that's what the value in the marketplace is for our films without a major star or something that loves, like, brings it up or niche or, you know, word of mouth or festival that maybe gives it some sort of juice. But what do you think of that?
Alrik Bursell 21:59
I think that's why behooves you to keep your movie on for sale or rent or as long as possible and like not go to prime not go to these other, you know, avenues until you've really exhausted your sales, through rentals. And in, you know, digital sales, you know, or if you have a DVD or your DVD sales, you know, but I feel like a lot of people I see this even with people who are doing self distribution, they just want the movie to be out so people can see it. So they can like say, Oh, just click on Prime video, just click so they just upload the prime and they get it out quickly. And it's like, oh, no, no, no, if you made a movie for even $1,000 Like, don't just put it on prime, like make your friends and family or your network, rent it or buy it. And then suddenly, you're gonna get that $1,000 back, you know, but if you just put on an app, like you said, you're never gonna get not even $1,000. So you're never gonna get $1,000 back on Amazon Prime. I mean, maybe after like five years.
Alex Ferrari 22:53
Not even not even. I mean, it's literally it's literally they're trying to get fractions of a penny now, like they gotten down to a penny. And they're figuring out and in fractions of a penny for for certain for certain films. But the place that I've seen and I've I've been talking about for a while now is a VOD, a VOD seems to be the place where there is money still to be made. And even more so the next level of a VOD in something that people the filmmakers are really like, their egos get really twisted into not because of this is YouTube. If you can get on these YouTube movie channels that have 1,000,002 million, 5 million subscribers, and get a piece of that ad revenue, which is do YouTube as a VOD, you know, it's not just to be included in and freebie these are. These are real places. I see the numbers from from distributors. And I'm like, wow, this is the Avon is the place where I still make the most money off of my movies. And I think it's kind of where we're the it's the hopefully the place where we can make the most money because at that point is like someone clicks. And if your movie is good enough, and keeps them playing and watching, you're gonna get ad revenue. So it really is about how good your movie is. Have you heard the same thing and your world? Pretty much?
Alrik Bursell 24:16
Yeah, I feel like a VOD is becoming like a real crown jewel for returns for films at our level, you know, and some people even recommend, like just go straight to a bar and like don't even spend time on you know, the rental and the sales but like I feel like you know, for certain movies or just I guess certain distributors like they still feel that that's a role, you know, great place to make, you know, a big chunk of revenue. So they still want the six months or whatever a year, however long it is like doing you know those sales and then go to Avon afterwards.
Alex Ferrari 24:48
You know, it's really interesting with the whole TiVo thing, because everybody I talked to everybody I talked to you. Nobody makes money on TV unless you can drive traffic unless you can drive traffic and most distributors don't understand how to drive traffic, sit to hold it for six months. And T VOD is I feel I mean, unless the numbers are coming in, you're like, oh shit. But T VOD is just because it's up on iTunes and up on Amazon Prime Amazon to purchase or rent unless you can.
Alrik Bursell 25:17
Although Yeah, this is in YouTube and whatnot.
Alex Ferrari 25:19
Fandango. We know that stuff. You get five cents from Fandango. And you'd be amazed. But it's I talked to so many distributors now who are just like, I just want to go to Avon in the filmmakers are freaking out. And they go, they just don't understand that that's where the money is. And if you could drive all the traffic from the beginning to a VOD, you'll make more money than you will letting it sit on T VOD, because, unless you can drive traffic look, I had I had a success story of entrepreneurs successful Mark Toya who made a million dollar robot, you know, action movie in this, which sounds horrible in the in the jungle?
Alrik Bursell 25:57
To me, I love rice kinds of movies.
Alex Ferrari 25:59
What that movie, but the reason why that works is because the visual effects were on par with anything that the Marvel did Marvel Studios has ever put out. It's so good. I can't express to you how good it is. So he's gotta hear it. He had a over a million dollar deal with a distributor. And he just looked at the contract. He's like, I'm never gonna get my money. upfront, by the way, it was it was a million something upfront. And he's like, I'm never gonna make my money with the way this contracts laid out. Screw it. I'm just going to self distribute. And he self distributed the whole thing. And he's made I think it's six, six or $7 million. At this point. He made all his money. He made all the money back of the budget in three months on T VOD. But he ran Facebook ads. He ran YouTube ads here and just he was that PR firm that you're talking about? Right? Because he comes from a commercial background and he enjoyed it. And it worked fine for him. But it is possible in today's world, and he's still making money still making money. He's like, Yeah, I'm going to release another one. I'm going to I'm going to put another TV ad campaign out and I'm just and he's still got while is it? I don't think he's gone. I don't think he's gone to a VOD yet. I think he's he might have gone to it. Yeah, he did go to Avon prime. Yeah, he did to prime. And he put he's like Alex, I was making. I think he said like 30,000 a month on a VOD. And he was a billion minutes stream. And he's like, this is ridiculous. Why am I getting such little money? For so much? Amazon is getting so it's just like, but this world that we live in? It's crazy. Yeah.
Alrik Bursell 27:34
I wonder if he because I was on Prime right. Getting that which one of the one where it's like, you know, he was getting billions of images viewed and then getting 30,000 hours back. That was Amazon Prime.
Alex Ferrari 27:44
Yeah. But then he took by the way, he took it off Amazon Prime. He's like, screw this. And I'll just he's done. So he won't he's not doing any AVOD anymore. Right now. He might go into the two b's.
Alrik Bursell 27:54
I was wondering like what is to retail? It must be way better than that. You know, like if he was getting an early minutes viewed on TV, he probably getting lots and lots of money back?
Alex Ferrari 28:02
I'm not sure. And I have to remember. I'm not sure if he's on TV already. He hasn't been on TV yet. But that film will be top 10. On TV. It was called monsters of man. Okay, how to look at Monster monsters of man. Yeah, I have two interviews with them. The first one was us discussing him going on this adventure to do a million dollar self distribution experiment because he didn't give a care. He didn't care about the money. And he's like, Screw it. I don't care. And then two and a half years later, he comes back and he's like, Yeah, made about six $7 million at this. And I'm still going. Thank you. Thank you for your book, Alex. I'm like, Oh, Jesus. All right. So. So there is that was a wonderful case. That's a lot. That's like a turn. But it is a huge return. But he even told me he's like, I go he's gonna be a sequel. Because probably not because this is not a real business. He because he comes from the commercial world. So he's been doing commercials for 30 years. And he goes, That's yeah, he goes, Alex, I make more money on my stock footage than I do doing this stuff. Because it's that's a real business. And I was like, wow, and he's a businessman, and he's, you know, owns real estate and other things like that. So it's really interesting to see. And he and by the way he's been offered. He's been talking to all the big I mean, he won't say who but we all know, there's probably a superhero company or two that's talked to him already. And he's, and he's because what he was able to do, he was top I think when he went on to on iTunes, he was like number two. I think I think endgame was the only thing ahead of him. Like he just he just and people were like, Who the hell is this guy? Where did he come from? Why is this look so good? He did this for how much shadow Shadow Ball on reds. He's like had three or four reds with them and shattered all up in the jungles of the Philippines and stuff like that. Never never built a set, never built a set everything location.
Alrik Bursell 29:53
Wow. Wow, amazing.
Alex Ferrari 29:55
These are all great. These are great stories. But that's an anomaly. You're talking about it. Yeah,
Alrik Bursell 30:01
I mean, it kind of brings me to like, my overall point about independent filmmaking is like you're not, you're not really doing it for the money, right? You're doing it because you want to make movies. And because you have stories to tell, and you this is, this is the thing that you want to do with your life. And I don't think you even think you're doing it to like, necessarily start this career, that's going to be your main thing forever. I mean, we all hope that's what it ends up being. And we all hope that we get to that level. But I think if you're going out to make an independent film, like you should be just thinking about it as like, you're creating this piece of art that you need to create, because you are an artist, and you're a filmmaker, and you have the story that you have to tell and share with the world and that you want people to see. But like putting any more weight behind this than that, I think you're just gonna be let down. Because like, if you're, if you're going into it, like trying to make a bunch of money, or even getting a return on your investment, or, you know, getting an agent or a manager or starting your career, or you're gonna like start directing television, or I'm gonna get offers from Marvel or whatever, like all those kinds of things, like, you know, that's all pipe dream stuff. And I think like if you go into making your movie with those sort of pipe dreams, and that's like your expectation, there's nowhere that you can go but down, like, you're only going to be let down from experience. But if you go into it thinking like I have this movie I want to make, I'm really excited about it, I love the story. Like I really want to get this out to show people I want my movie to, you know, hopefully inspire someone else to make their movie or like, inspire them to think about like characters or my story, or whatever it is, if you go into it with that, like, you're more than likely going to enjoy the experience, because you're probably going to hear from at least one or two people who connected with your movie once you finally finish it and release it, you know. And so I think those are the kinds of reasons we should be going into making a movie like we should be focusing on the art itself, like not the outcomes of the art, which are completely out of our control. You know,
Alex Ferrari 31:51
That's what I do with my first two movies, I did the exact same thing. I finally because most of my career, I was under that delusion, of like this short film is going to blow me up or this thing is the thing that's going to take me to
Alrik Bursell 32:04
Have that right,
Alex Ferrari 32:05
Right. Right. So then I finally just I went, I'm like, I'm just gonna go make a movie. 3030 days later, I was shooting my movie after the moment, I said, I'm gonna go make a movie. And then that's the one that gets sold to Hulu. And that's the one that gets sold internationally. And then I shoot that other one at Sundance for four days. And, you know, and just go and just make a movie. I'm like, I don't know what's gonna happen with it. I as I was flying home, I was like, I don't know if I have a movie. Like, I didn't have time to see if I shot all the footage I needed. I don't know, I think I did. You know, things like that. So it's kind of like this. I when I let go of the outcome, man became much easier, much more fun to make movies. But let me ask you this, then why, and I know you've met a lot of filmmakers. And I know you are one as well as I, why is there so much delusion? In this profession? I mean, Cookie makers don't have this delusion, like I'm gonna make the greatest cookie ever. Generally doesn't. It doesn't work in other architects like, I don't want to make the biggest figures ever think of Frank Lloyd who? I'm the one like you don't say I'm sure they don't those people.
Alrik Bursell 33:10
Architects maybe a little bit closer that cookie makers but
Alex Ferrari 33:14
But but generally speaking, it's not. It's not that the infestation in the entire populace of that, that that group of artists is not as delusional as filmmakers and screenwriters for that matter, because what is it about this art form? Painters aren't that musicians? Maybe? But again, there's no, there's not that it's just I find such a delusion in what we do with so many people. So why do you think that?
Alrik Bursell 33:44
I can, I feel like it's embedded in the art form in a lot of ways. You know, like, if you look at, like, just think of like, the classic phrase, like, I'm gonna make you a star kid, you know, it's like, this has been going on since the beginning of cinema, like this whole idea that like, you can be a star on the stage of the screen, you know, and so I think you're going into making your movie, it's kind of natural to think like, yes, like, I could be the next Robert Rodriguez. Like, he did it. He scrapped his movie together as $7,000 or whatever. And like, now, he's a big star, like, I could be like Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino, or, like, you know, all these, like, complete, like, outliers in the industry. And it's like, you just, you know, you fall in love with these movies in with these artists, and then you kind of like, you know, start to see, like, Oh, I could be like that, like, that could be me, you know, you sort of see your idea of your movie and your art getting to that level. And so I think it's just sort of a natural progression. But I think, you know, it's obviously completely misguided. And I think it's into some way it's almost sold to us, you know, like, like, oh, well, what are the filmmakers by the Hollywood selves behind Hollywood? It's like this, like really enticing, like, yeah, come out to Hollywood and make your fortune, you know, it's like, you know, it's like this whole like, sort of thing and I think You know, you gotta look at and like maybe back, you know, in the 80s in the 90s, like it was much more likely that that could work out for you in that way.
Alex Ferrari 35:08
But less competition, less competition different marketplace. Absolutely. I know every month marketplace Yeah, every every in the 90s. Every month there was a Richard Linklater, a Spike Lee, John Singleton, Robert Rodriguez Tarantino and Kevin Smith. I mean, I could just keep the list keeps going on and on. Of every almost every month, it was one of these magical stories, Napoleon Dynamite, Joe Carnahan. I mean, it was just constant in the 90s
Alrik Bursell 35:32
More lucrative back then to like, AHS marketplace, you know, D Mark, in the marketplace, like, I think those two kind of lead into each other. And like, it was a way that people could, you could make a movie for zero money, and you could make a big profit, you know, like, and, obviously, movies cost a lot more back then. So it couldn't be zero. But like, you could make a movie for like, whatever, half a million dollars, a million dollars or something. And then like, you know, get a big profit back. But, but yeah, it's just not the same anymore. Like, you know, like, like, it's like the whole Napster effect of everything. It's affected films, it's affected everything, you know, all art form is suffering for it. And I think like now, you basically, you can't get that big of return on a movie so easily. It's like it's much, much more difficult. And I think going into it, like, as a filmmaker, you should just be aware of what you're up against. And that like, these fantastical fantasy outcomes are like so so unlikely that they should not at all be embedded in your your, your hopes and dreams for the success of your movie. Like you should definitely try to like, like, it's good to have dreams. It's good to have fantasies, but it's good to separate rate them from the art you're creating. Because like you don't want it to be entangled, because then you're just going to think that your art sucks if you're not famous after you make it.
Alex Ferrari 36:51
Right. And then you go into a depression, and then you just figuring it out, and all this kind of stuff. But isn't it fascinating that I know a lot of people listening to us right now are saying that's for everybody else. That's not going to be me. Yeah. Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Am I wrong? How many people listening right now have that thought in their head? Like, that's for other people? That doesn't? That's not me. And
Alrik Bursell 37:15
The other one that's different.
Alex Ferrari 37:17
But dude, I'd say the same thing. You said the same thing. We all we all go through this process. And only after years of being battle hardened by the business. And by the way, all of those stories that we're talking about the Roberts and the and the Clintons and the Kevin Smith's and all of that stuff. I've had a lot of those guys on the show. And I've talked to them about their struggles at the beginning. And they knew it was real for them at the beginning to hear they had success. But there was no guarantee for that success. And by the way, the one common The one common thing that I've gotten from all of those kind of like those 90s filmmakers I've had a pleasure of talking to is none of them had an outcome that they had in mind. None of them none of Robert wanted to go to the straight video market. That was a that's all he cared about.
Alrik Bursell 38:08
Business he saw that business opportunity. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 38:11
Right that was it. He wasn't expecting to get signed by Sony and and get it and he didn't even want a mariachi to be released. He's like, no, no, no, no, that was just I was gonna go straight to video. I didn't know that's not my first movie. He was freaking out about it. And like it's something like what Ed Burns did with Brothers McMullen where he was working as a PA at E.T. Entertainment Tonight. And they had Robert Redford showed up to do press for quiz show. And in the elevator as the doors are closing, Edward comes in hands him a VHS copy of brothers like Bolton's rough night. Here. This is my movie, Robert, please take a look at it. Three months later gets a call from Sundance. Yeah, Robert gave us a VHS how's that movie coming along? It's an almost done how can you plan that? That's what that was. Then saying like you hear these kinds of stories, you're just like, but that's the stuff that feeds the delusion. I think it just it's we all like how many people listening right now have put together a business plan? Probably not a lot but the people who have put together a business plan to raise money are using these as references of how movies are made. Blair Witch Project. Paranormal Activity, Napoleon Dynamite. Like did you think that
Alrik Bursell 39:27
You're gonna take the outliers off your
Alex Ferrari 39:32
You can't do it but that's every time I've read a business proposal. If it's a horror movie, absolutely. Blair Witch and, and paranormal activity are they and saw and saw
Alrik Bursell 39:41
Yeah, you got to take those out. You got to like look at the movies that are like, you know, not the ones that you know, completely exceeded expectations and blew up and were special movies of the moment or whatever, you know, like, like looking at like I don't know, like when I when I was making my deck for the altar and I looked at this movie called Spring I don't know if you've seen spring but um It's like a sci fi thriller that was made for, you know, right around the same budget as my movie. It did get to Sunday. And that Sunday in South by Southwest, I believe and you know, it did really well, I think was an XYZ movie. But like, those are the kinds of movies I was looking at, like ones that were made around for the same budget as mine, you know, didn't have stars, like, mine was gonna have stars and like, try to find those movies that look like your movie. But like, don't put a movie in there that doesn't look like your movie, because then you're instantly gonna do you know displeased and in mislead even your investors to, you know, thinking that, you know, you're gonna get something that you you can never deliver, you know,
Alex Ferrari 40:37
Now let's talk about your new movie, the alternate how, how long did this film get? Just was just getting started, get made?
Alrik Bursell 40:45
Well, so yeah, I wrote the first draft and like, I believe it was March of 2014. So what's that, like, over eight years, until like, this,
Alex Ferrari 40:55
This is insanity. This is the insanity that we live in. As artists,
Alrik Bursell 40:58
It takes a long time takes a long time. I mean, you know, and I went to AFM to try to sell it or to raise money for it in 2017. And so basically, from 2017, till we shot in 20, the end of 2019. That was like when I was like, actively working on it, and like trying to get it made, you know, I mean, I was still working out that whole other time. But it was more like just trying to figure things out. And, you know, rewriting and rewriting and rewriting and, you know, failing at raising money over and over again. But then 2017 is when I raised my first amount of money, and then like, met my producer, you know, raise more money, and then eventually, you know, got it made a couple of years later. So yeah, it's been a while. It's been a while.
Alex Ferrari 41:40
It's been it's been a while, right? I always love asking this question of filmmakers. What was the, you know, as a director, there's always that day that the entire world comes crashing down around you. And that's generally everyday but what was the worst one on this day? What was the worst like moment in the production? And how did you overcome it?
Alrik Bursell 42:00
Yeah, I think it was the second day maybe of the shoot. And we were setting up the basement office set up for Jake, he's got this, you know, really cruddy office that he does his editing. And he's a filmmaker, sort of, like autobiographical in some way.
Alex Ferrari 42:15
I was, I was about to say, I was about to say,
Alrik Bursell 42:18
He's got a big beard, you know, come on, like, whatever. So, yeah, it was, I was in charge of the office, because I was I had all I was using my own computers, as Jake's computers in the office scene. So I was the one who was, you know, entrusted to, you know, make sure the computers were working and make sure that everything on the screen that needed to be, you know, on the screen was on the screen, and I was having all these issues, just trying to get set up, we were like, way behind, like, three hours behind on the second day in the office. And I had to like go and like, at lunch, I had to, like buy a hard drive, and like go pay like, like, get some money to pay somebody, like because I'm a producer too. So I had to like go to the bank get like a large amount of money. And like buy a hard drive. And like get back that was like during lunch and then get back and a half hour, 45 minutes or whatever to like, you know, direct and then somehow eat at some point. And I was just so upset man, oh, my God, and I recorded audio logs while I was making the movie. So like on on my podcast making movies, it's hard, you can actually hear the log of me like on my lunch break, like talking into the phone and just like freaking out about how everything is going wrong. And how we ever came in, I think I got back to the set after after getting those things. I just talked to my DP, I talked to my production designer. And we're just like, look, we're just going to do, we're just gonna, these are the scenes that we're going to be able to do today. This is what we're going to do, we're going to revise a schedule, I talked to my ad, obviously, and we just like, sort of broke down how you're going to solve it we got through the day. I don't think we went over if we did wasn't much. And then you know, we kind of had had to replan the rest of the week to make it work. And I think that was when we added another day to production because we were supposed to be out of the office in three days. And I think we ended up shooting in the office seating for four because we just had too much we had to do in there. But yeah, I think the way I overcame it was just like having these conversations with my team. Breathing slowing down, and then just you know, looking at the schedule, and then just like going, just checking off things that we don't have time to do moving them to another day and and making the movie man and you know, it ended up working out.
Alex Ferrari 44:24
Now, going with the theme of what the alternate is about which is kind of like alternate universes in the multiverse and that kind of thing. What would you if you had an opportunity to go back and talk to your younger self? And just for one thing, you could tell him and go okay, dude, this is going to be the trip about your filmmaking career. What is that one thing you wish you would have known at the beginning of your career that was really difficult for you to learn along the way?
Alrik Bursell 44:57
That you really just like you don't need anything Special, like, you don't need any, like special person or special chip or is this, there's nothing that you can learn, that's going to open up the doors and like, you know, make you able to make your movie, like, you just have to make your movie, you know, and I think like, once I made the feature, it was sort of like, this is just like making a short, but like, you know, 100 times harder, you know, it's just like, you know, and it's not like, you know, shorts, 10 minutes in the movies, 100 minutes, it's not like 10 times, it's literally 100 times harder to make a feature. But I think if I just had known that, you just have to do it yourself. And the same thing that I did to make my short is the same, it's the same exact process I'd have to do to make my feature, but I just knew that and I knew that I didn't need any special, you know, sign of approval or, you know, manager or agent or big production company or like big check from an investor or whatever if I if I knew that it wasn't about that and it was just about doing the same thing I've been doing. I think I might have been able to make the feature a little bit sooner if I had that kind of that kind of knowledge and confirmation that it's just like you just need to do it you know?
Alex Ferrari 46:08
Amen brother preach baby preach. I think so many of us always wait for permission to thy permission for somebody Yeah, from somebody didn't make it and I think I got caught up in that same thing. That's why I was like, I was waiting for permission for 40 years. And I just said screw it. I'm just gonna go make my movie the way I want to go make it I'm just gonna grab a camera and grab some friends and make a movie. And employ worked out. You know, thank God it worked out. But yeah, we are. I think that's also built into the system is like, Hey, you could be a star kid. But you need my permission first. Exactly. And that's kind of in the in the DNA of us as well. We're now we're trying to just like, No, you can go and do it yourself. And you can get out.
Alrik Bursell 46:52
There's nothing stopping you. You know, like, no matter who you are, where you are, like, you have the ability to go make your movie, you just need to buckle down and do it. You know,
Alex Ferrari 47:01
And to be smart and to be smart about it. Don't go and make a you know, 100 100,000 or $500,000 period drama piece with no stars in it. Expect to make your money back.
Alrik Bursell 47:12
Please don't do that. Movie. I mean, I just haven't I love genre movies. And that's all I make, you know. So like, that's what I do. But yeah, I'd say like, for your first feature, if you make it a genre movie, you're gonna have way better chance at success. And if you go with any other genre like John drama or even comedy comedies are hard, man, you know,
Alex Ferrari 47:32
Comedies and dramas are are just, we just walk around AFM and tell me how many comedies and dramas not family films, not faith
Alrik Bursell 47:44
Flintstones. Flintstones based on family
Alex Ferrari 47:47
Different different conversation. Why? Because you're focused on a niche, you know, throw Dean Cain in and have a puppy save Christmas, and you've got a movie that's going to sell.
Alrik Bursell 48:00
You gotta made man.
Alex Ferrari 48:01
I mean, is it the dog that saves Christmas movie? I've said it so many times on the show. Make a dog the same as Christmas movie? You'll sell it?
Alrik Bursell 48:08
Yeah, no kidding. I feel like I haven't a couple of filmmakers on who do faith based and family films. And yeah, they're doing good. Just to say that I don't really good.
Alex Ferrari 48:18
They do? Well, because it's an it's an audience that not a lot of filmmakers focus on and they need content. That's one area that doesn't have a lot of content. Family Films, believe it or not, not a lot of content, even romance, like romantic comedies. Hallmark has that kind of covered. But um, yeah, it's just tough, man. It is tough. So the Go twos are always action thrillers, and sci fi. And on a lesser extent, horror, obviously. But there's so much yeah, it's whole it because it's so easy to do a horror movie like that's, I mean, in the sense of production, not making a good horror movie, but just in the sense of production. Anybody can go get a monster mask, go in the forest kill a bunch of teenagers and then you got a horror movie, or scary movie in the house or something like that. And believe me, I've seen that movie too many times. Yes.
Alrik Bursell 49:13
Rather, the thing that's so funny is is a really good version of that movie that everybody's gonna want to watch a billion times, but there's also like, 1000 bad versions.
Alex Ferrari 49:25
Exact look, there's jaws and there's Sharknado and I don't know how many times I'm gonna watch Sharknado I've never seen it. I think I've seen clips of it.
Alrik Bursell 49:35
But just think of the money man Sharknado Boy, that was a success, but on success,
Alex Ferrari 49:41
But it was in by the way launched an entire genre of like, you know, the alligator you hurricane and like, you know, Velociraptor preacher or whatever that movie was and they just, they just started combining crazy things after Sharknado but when you hear Sharknado you're like, Oh, yeah. understand what that means. Yeah, it's just yeah, I get it. Tornadoes with sharks. Yeah, got it. Got it done. Done. But if you're gonna watch a killer shark movie, which is the one you're gonna watch again and again, it's jobs. Yeah. No Holds still holds to this day. Even with the fake shark. It's still wonder,
Alrik Bursell 50:14
I wonder what our children will be saying about jobs in 1020 years. If they'll be like, yeah, JAWS is so fantastic or Jaws is gonna die out with our generation.
Alex Ferrari 50:23
I don't. I don't, man. Jaws is a masterpiece in the sense that it's just, I think, because we don't see the shark so often. And because that's the reason if we saw a lot of shark, he would have it'd be dated. Yeah, but that's one of those movies that you like it was in the 70s There's a handful of 70s films that hold there's a lot but there's, but like the ones that stick out, like in the especially in this genre range. There's not a lot of genre. 70s films, there's great dramas, there's, you know, but like genre, JAWS obviously Star Wars movie like Rocky. Yeah, rocky holes.
Alrik Bursell 51:05
It's so good. So good. Yeah, these are the requirements. And these are like my favorite movies. Like, we I mean, alien.
Alex Ferrari 51:14
Alien is, I mean, alien is alien. I mean, but But again, it was, it was done at such a high level at that time. So Jaws is is a masterpiece. It is an absolute masterpiece, and in horror, and in thriller. And what Steven was able to do in that film is will never be redone. It's just you think about like,
Alrik Bursell 51:33
What he went through to get made and like how many days they shot and like the whole month, the whole shark thing? And it's like, it's crazy, man. It's crazy. No, it
Alex Ferrari 51:43
was it was insane. Insane. One day, I'll have Steven on the show. And I'll ask
Alrik Bursell 51:47
Please, can I can I sit in the corner when you have Steven on the show and listen in I would love.
Alex Ferrari 51:53
I'm sure everybody's gonna want to. I'm gonna want to sit in the corner. One day. So this is where I'm gonna ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Alrik Bursell 52:11
Yeah, just just make your movie. And if it's a short, if you haven't made a short yet make make a couple of shorts. If you've made a couple of shorts and you want to make a feature, go make a feature. Even if your heart is telling you I need to make a feature. I haven't never made anything before in my life. Make the feature just go out and make whatever you your heart is learn you know make because that's what's going to be good. And then that's what you'll learn from
Alex Ferrari 52:35
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Alrik Bursell 52:41
Yeah, I think that like, you know, you basically you don't need permission. You know, like we were talking about before that you just need to go do do it with your team, create your network, create your family to go help you make your movies because like you're not going to be able to do it on your own. So find those those those collaborators and stick with them because they make all the difference.
Alex Ferrari 53:01
And three of your favorite films of all time.
Alrik Bursell 53:04
Good fellas. Alien Terminator.
Alex Ferrari 53:08
Solid, solid lists or solid solid list. I throw Alien and Aliens in there both because yeah, extra pieces.
Alrik Bursell 53:16
I was gonna say Alien and Aliens. I was like, That's too late. I gotta throw another one in there that I love to it's a terminator. First Terminator.
Alex Ferrari 53:24
Yeah, and Terminator two is also another masterpiece as well. But and where can people see the alternate and and also to find out what you're doing and the good work that you're doing.
Alrik Bursell 53:35
So if you go to my website, www.alrikbursell.com You can find links to the alternate and all the places and everything. It's, it's on Amazon, it's on Apple TV, iTunes, it's on Vudu. Pretty much any place that you can rent and buy a digital movie, you'll be able to find the alternate so go look for it and you know, buy it rent it and rate it, rate it wherever you can, you know, Rotten Tomatoes, you know, whatever IMDb letterbox or any of the places ratings would be great and be honest that you know and love good one. But you know, I want your honesty too.
Alex Ferrari 54:10
No honestly, just only good ones, please. I don't care about honestly.
Alrik Bursell 54:16
Oh, yeah. And I also have a podcast called Making Moves as hard. You can find us at making movies as hard.com we are only released one episode a week. I'm like Alex who can manage to release like 1000 episodes every week. But yeah, if you if you love these kinds of podcasts, you might like ours too.
Alex Ferrari 54:33
It's very I highly recommend their podcasts it is I've been I've been a guest on it a few I think a couple times if I'm not mistaken. Yeah, twice. I'm we're do we're due for another one soon. I think we're gonna might be doing one.
Alrik Bursell 54:46
We might be doing something very special. We can't announce it yet.
Alex Ferrari 54:48
I can't say anything. Maybe something's happening maybe. But, but listen, I mean, thank you so much for coming on the show and in talking shop with me and congrats. After this epic long, almost 10 years, almost like what eight years
Alrik Bursell 55:05
Almost nine years, nine now
Alex Ferrari 55:08
Almost nine years getting this me you finally you finally gave birth to this baby indeed yours. But Congratulations, brother and thank you for all the hard work you do and helping filmmakers out there as well my friend.
Alrik Bursell 55:22
Thanks, Alex. Thanks to you too. And yeah, I love your show and I love all the things you do and yeah, keep it going, man because if you're not around, I don't know what we would do.
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