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Turbo Kid & How to Create an Indie Film Ecosystem with Shaked Berenson
I speak a lot on IFH on how filmmakers should create their own ecosystem and revenue streams, today’s guest has done just that. Shaked Berenson is the co-founder of Epic Pictures Group, a film financing, production, and international/domestic sales company based in Beverly Hills, CA.
Shaked has produced films like the cult hit Turbo Kid (SXSW Audience Award), Entertainment (Official Sundance Film Festival Selection) and the animated film Space Dogs: Adventure to the Moon. What is great about Shaked is that he has created his own ecosystem. From financing to production to distribution, all under one umbrella. This way he cuts out the middle man and he can keep more of the profits.
Shaked came to my attention when I found out he was one of the producers of the internet darling Turbo Kid. The way that film was marketed, sold and distributed is something all filmmakers should study.
Here’s the Synopsis of Turbo Kid: Set in the post-apocalyptic year of 1997, TURBO KID is a retro-futuristic nostalgic tribute to 80’s action-adventure films follows a teenager who goes on an adventure to save the girl of his dreams.
“Mad Max on a BMX: ‘Turbo Kid’ is an ’80s adventure with added gore, and it looks nuts.” – CNET
Also if you want to study an amazing crowdfunding campaign check out what the Turbo Kid filmmakers did on IndieGoGo. We go deep down the rabbit hole all things Turbo Kid, indie filmmakers, building your own revenue streams and much more.
Here’s a bit about Shaked Berenson:
Prior to Epic Pictures Group, Berenson served as Renegade Pictures’ Director of Sales as well as the Director of Technology and International Relations for the Giffoni Hollywood Film Festival. Before Renegade Pictures, Berenson was in the Israeli Defense Force for four and half years where he served in managerial and educational roles as a project consultant to Elbit Systems, and worked as a program developer for NetVision, an Internet solutions company. He holds a degree in economics and business from UCLA. – IFTA-Online.org
Enjoy my conversation with Shaked Berenson.
Alex Ferrari 1:45
So today on the show, guys, we have a producer who I've talked about a specific film a lot on the show as a is a an example of how to do it right. As far as social media as far as building multiple revenue streams. And there's films called turbo kid and it was done in 2015. And it's a really, really interesting film and how they were able to target their demographic their, their audience, how they use social media, how they've created kind of like a like a following a major following kind of phenomenon around this movie was remarkable. So I wanted to get the producer Shaked Berenson from Epic pictures and Shaked and I we also hung out a little bit at Sundance and talked a whole bunch about the business in this interview we actually you know, he breaks down what he his journeys through the business how he's an independent producer and how he's able to build his own ecosystems without having to go outside to big studios or anything like that. So he is a production company he develops projects he produces them and he also distributes them he's all within the same ecosystem and and how he's able to do that and create different revenue streams and we are different revenue streams per project. And he we also go deep into turbo kid because I really wanted to ask a lot of questions about turbo kid in regards to merchandising in regards to how we got a distributor how he got foreign over, you know, cuz turbo kid was everywhere, and it still is, and they did a theatrical release and how they did all that and the whole process. So I really wanted to go deep down the rabbit hole of how he did everything he did for tobor kid but also for everything he does in his business, and he's really inspiring and how he was able to put it all together, and how he continues to put it all together. So without any further ado, here's my conversation with Shaked Berenson. I like to welcome to the show Shaked Berenson man, thank you so much for taking the time and talking to the tribe.
Shaked Berenson 3:44
It's a pleasure to be here. And it's a perfect day because everybody's working from home today.
Alex Ferrari 3:49
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. So I wanted to ask you, how did you get into the business because this is a crazy business. I always love to ask my guests What made you want to jump into this business?
Shaked Berenson 3:59
I think it's a bit non traditional because I was I wasn't a film buff because I no real film buff. And it's very different than me. I grew up in Israel. And as many of those countries, we don't get a lot of the independent movies we basically have in theaters, all the studio films but but there are people passionate about the filmmaking process and I was playing with one of those dv cameras with my friends. You know, I'm sure everybody did the same videos in their backyard, you know, when they abusing the dog and the cat and also fake James Bond missions church to bended houses and all sorts of stuff like that. But they never really thought that it's going to be a career. I mean, it was in communication program in high school and theater. But it was more of a hobby and then in Israel, you know, you have mandatory military service. And I did four and a half years ago, I was a bit older. And because I was actually born in the US, I always knew that Want to check out my my second home after I finished my service. So I have some family here in, in LA. And there is a lot of good schools, you know, between Berkeley and USC and UCLA and great public schools. So I came here and really just coming to go to university, and I was looking for a job as a bartender. And Funny enough, I couldn't find a job as a bartender. So I started to work in a movie business.
Alex Ferrari 5:28
So you mean it's usually the other way around. People start bartending because they can't find jobs in the movie business.
Shaked Berenson 5:33
Everybody has the same reaction. But it's really true. Because I was new in town, I didn't have a lot of friends. I want to go to school, bartending is a great job, you meet a lot of people, you meet, you know, women, and you work weekends and nights. So it was a perfect job for me. But Gosh, I just could not find a job. And then I met a producer and became his personal assistant. And from there, it was one of those companies that when people leave or fired or quit, I just slowly started taking over people's jobs. Of course, not getting more money. But no, no, no, of course not. Of course, yeah. But very quickly, I started a development that started in marketing and started to do out delivering servicing that is probably something that most people don't even know too much about. Because you know, it's not something you learned in film school. And got into production from pa foreign sales. And we see in just a few years, I kind of seen the entire process. Then, the company started company was growing and making big studio films with we made with Sony and movie called ghostrider. The first one Sure, and, but the company started as independent film, and Patrick uworld, who's now my business partner, he was VP of production, and he convinced the owner because he's a big genre fan, to start a division to do genre films. And of course, because I'm the guy that always get more jobs, I was assigned to also work with him on that. So first movie, the only thing the first movie we did was blood Weaver, research director at the Mason and which we ended up selling to Weinstein Company, then we may do with the same director, a film called The Devil's chair that got into the Toronto midnight section, which was baby at the time, and was growing. But the movie ended up with Sony for worldwide. So we're developing and making movies, getting in finance, selling them and getting them distributed internationally. And at some point, we just decided to branch off and start our own company.
Alex Ferrari 7:46
Now what now you you are pretty, you have produced a lot of genre films, is there something that draws you to those kind of stories?
Shaked Berenson 7:52
Um, you know, maybe it's not a good answer. But I like the process more than I'm a big fan of almost every genre. It's not in particular, or action or anything like that, if anything sci fi probably be more of my interest. But I just like the process for me what what really exciting about filmmaking that, again, my starting a business was kind of non traditional, and also probably my motivation is not as traditional, but I like the fact that you know, you and I can be on the podcast right now, and just come up with an idea for a film, hire writer. Few months later, we're gonna have 50 people working on set creating all these jobs, their movie goes into post production, maybe there is computer graphics company in India, or Korea or Canada or I don't know what and creating jobs for another 50 or 100 people then we sell it internationally, every country has people working if it's in the theaters, lobbying, marketing, I mean, he just amazing to me how you can have a beer and come up with an idea and end up having a refill effect and create so many jobs for so many people around the world. So for me, that's really the exciting, the exciting part.
Alex Ferrari 9:07
That's, that's a great answer. That's actually a great answer. I've never had someone answer like that before. It's great because you're looking at it and you're looking at it as a more holistic Avenue as opposed to just, you know, looking five feet in front of you, you're looking at the whole journey,
Shaked Berenson 9:22
fortunate to have the opportunity to really work in all those stages. And now you know, epic is basically an independent studio, we do everything from buying IPS, or coming up with our own ideas and doing the development, getting the financing doing the physical production, we do foreign sales, so we place the films in every country and we have now in the past two years we develop our domestic distribution. So also releasing the films, in theaters and on digital and television here in the US and have the opportunity to actually touch the customer and and see the fence. You know usually we see them in film festivals, but now we can to actually interact and go directly to them. So it's, it's pretty exciting to be able to sit in a staff meeting and just somebody's like, Hey, I read a book that I really liked this weekend, and two, three years later you have it out in theaters or Netflix and, and actually have reviews and having it out there. So I think I think we're all fortunate to really to be in this industry and be able to do that.
Alex Ferrari 10:26
Now, you brought up a little bit about distribution. And considering that the world has changed dramatically, since when you first got into the business as far as distribution and pre sales and foreign sales, and all of that stuff, the world has changed so much, what is your outlook on how things are going today in distribution and getting your films out there? And what do you guys do specifically?
Shaked Berenson 10:47
So yeah, they will change a lot. I think the big turnaround was around 2008, which is right after we started a company, and we're lucky because we started in October 2007. And you know, as the economic crash, and everything, we're just two and a half people in a living room. So we were able to render the bad times. But yeah, I do remember and have reports from the good old days, when home video was, yeah, you can move it for 2 million and sell it for 20 million. And now it's, it's pretty much the opposite. So you need to be a lot more clever about how you structure your financing, and have a lot less exposure. So that means and again, I think we are living in a very exciting time. So there is so many different ways to finance a film there is crowdfunding that didn't exist in the past. And it's a way to both get financing and to get fans and marketing power in advance for the film. And it's also a testing room, you know, if you have a pitch on Kickstarter, and nobody connected, you know, maybe it means that it's not the right thing to do. Now, personally, we have not done ever any Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign. But you know, I commend people to do so and, you know, be happy to work with creative filmmakers that that want to go that route. So there is that there is product product placement. And I think we live in a world that makes a lot more niche than it used to be. If If we the world, in the past was basically controlled by Coca Cola or bank of america and all those big brands that work on these big films, there might be opportunities now with smaller film that are more niche to get more niche product. And, and I think brands also and marketers in the consumer product side, they understand that and they know the power of social media, they know the power of trending and, and they want to get their film out there, which is great, too, is all of tax incentives and different incentives around the world in the US not as much. But for example, we just finished shooting a movie called radius in Canada, which is a Canadian production. And it's the same team that we need to replicate also in Canada. So there is all these tax incentives. So if you bring jobs to different states or different countries, you get tax breaks. So we really need to be creative about the way you finance the film's and limit your exposure. So you know you can at least recoup your money back and maybe make a small profit. So you can do the next one.
Alex Ferrari 13:29
Right? So about you are as far as the whole, like streaming world and going directly and self distribution, obviously, depending on how much exposure you do have. So if you make a movie for under $100,000, as opposed to a movie for five or $10 million, is self distribution a viable option depending on the budget?
Shaked Berenson 13:50
Yes, he does. I mean, in the end of the day, there is so many tools, I mean, you can put your movie up on Vimeo and they take a very small share of it. And you can if you're good in promoting your film you can make basically like the book publishing business, that now you have a lot of authors basically do self publishing and because you don't need to print massive amounts to reduce the price. I think Amazon has a program that they basically print a book per order, which is pretty crazy. You know, it is, yeah, and in the world of streaming in the end of the day, it doesn't cost that much. I mean there are costs, that the thing some people you know, sometimes it's easy to forget, but the cost of the storage and redundancy in servers and the bandwidth. They are cost related, but it's obviously a lot less than printing DVDs and shipping them using FedEx to the other side of the country. So the opportunities obviously you know, everybody talked about Netflix and Amazon and Hulu and all those new entrants. I think it's create a great opportunities in the TV side as well because TV was such a closed circuit for basically forever and now You know, almost anyone can create a show and pitch it to those non traditional platforms and get shows finance which, which I think is it's amazing. The digital revolution I think created a very interesting marketplace that from one hand, there is more access. In the other hand, it's cheaper to to create content and to create great content. And you know, obviously YouTube is a great testament for that. But on the other hand, because there is so much supply of content, the value of the content itself went went down a lot so in the old days, you have two or three channels and you know, at eight o'clock on primetime, you can basically choose which one of those channels to watch and they could fight over the market share. Now, people have so many ways of entertaining themselves. If it's between video games and YouTube or Instagram and user generated content to what we do, yeah,
Alex Ferrari 16:02
it's kind of like in the 80s you literally just had to make a movie if you shot something on 35 millimeter it was sold No matter if it was good, bad or indifferent. They just needed content. And those those days are very much gone.
Shaked Berenson 16:14
And funny enough in the old days, like you say it could make you can make anything and it will be sold and it could maybe maybe be bad but now looking at it backwards those those films have so much cult following and so much nostalgia Yes. Seeking them and you pay double just to find where to see to
Alex Ferrari 16:32
write exactly that although I'm a big 80s and 90s fan as far as those kind of genre movies that that were made back then Toxic Avenger and those kind of movies that just were like what can you imagine a movie like Toxic Avenger well you guys you killed you I mean you know you did big spider. Yeah.
Shaked Berenson 16:51
And they're they're actually trying on an all public it is another their, you know, process trying to make a bigger remake of that. And actually, I'm good friends with Lloyd Kaufman received together on the board of the Independent Film and Television Alliance. And it's funny that you mentioned it because he has he put all of his films available on his platform back in plug in service. I don't know exactly where you guys students drama.com or something but you can find there is a way to subscribe and get all of his films for fairly low price because you know, he's he's a big advocate of net neutrality and allowing people to access the content.
Alex Ferrari 17:30
Right here. He's been on the show, he was on the show a while ago, and his place to get it is on. I think it's on YouTube. And you could actually Subscribe on YouTube because YouTube allows the subscription platform as well. It's just It's amazing. And I think at the end of the day, like you were saying I think marketing is such a big part of engaging that audience is such a big part of making movies today. Without it you really it's really difficult to get to get seen unless you're lucky enough to get a distributor to distribute movie and even then you'll never see a dime more than likely.
Shaked Berenson 18:04
Yeah, and you know, then you have big behemoths like Netflix I mean when you drive around in Los Angeles all the billboards or Netflix
Alex Ferrari 18:11
shows yeah no i know i ever everywhere you go it's a Netflix show Netflix movie an original documentary it's everywhere I mean LA is such a unique melting pot when it comes to that kind of stuff you know my my friends who come in from the East Coast are like there's movie advertisements everywhere I'm like yeah that's la
Shaked Berenson 18:31
Yeah, it's it's Netflix everywhere and then around Hollywood we have some advertisement for Las Vegas. Yes, exactly. Of course. Yeah. So so we talk Asana Netflix, basically control the advertising in the space I mean haka
Alex Ferrari 18:43
you're right I saw that I've seen so many of those billboards as well. Now one of the films I always talk about as kind of like models of that filmmaker should kind of follow his turbo kid I kind of studied a little bit about how they were able to do their stuff but can you share a little bit about first of all how you got involved with turbo kid? And then how if it was either you or your partners or the filmmakers were able to kind of get into that audience distribute Yeah, what was the distribution plan all the marketing plan all that stuff but first and foremost, how did you get involved with turbo kid?
Shaked Berenson 19:18
Yeah, so it's funny you bring it up I'm actually wearing a shirt here I'm gonna do my second plug. I like to promote what it's you know it's for other people but I just got yesterday samples from fright rags they're doing a whole line of turbo kid shirts nice. And I'm wearing you can't really see it in a podcast of course be listen very very closely you can hear it but I'm wearing a skeleton shirt that they just got yesterday sample so they should be out in the market fairly, fairly soon. But yeah, Toby could definitely touch something the audience and this Halloween we had we hadn't we found on Instagram at UK Add in an apple costume and you know, just crazy stuff. But yeah, turbo kit is an interesting one because turbo kit has obviously a lot of challenges. I think it's one one of those things that it's almost like you can you can tell anybody who's a writer or just starting in the movie business like this is the movie you should not be making, right? It's a very bloody film, right? Or, well, it's not really horror. No, but definitely speaks for the horror audience. It's comedy sci fi adventure
Alex Ferrari 20:37
with a little bit of horror dropped in
Shaked Berenson 20:38
with a little bit of horror, because there are like 4000 gallons a lot. A
Alex Ferrari 20:43
lot of Gore, a lot of Yeah. And and
Shaked Berenson 20:45
you know, it has a name that, you know, suggests that it's a kid's film. I mean, you'll be surprised to actually remember when when we start promoting it, I was sending it to the in one of the distributors. Give me a comment saying that, that it's just a bit too gory for a kid's film.
Alex Ferrari 21:04
Just a bit, just a bit.
Shaked Berenson 21:07
Sometimes you get those emails that just your mind is blown. Yeah, it's like, maybe it's not a kitzman. There's obviously a lot of things going against it. But it really fit in our model, funnily enough, because Patrick and I were, again, we're a bit different the way we do things. And we're really focusing on the people and the team behind projects. And this is why that year we had in in in Sundance, we had turbocad, which is obviously a fun entertainment film. But on the other hand, we had another film in some in Sundance called entertainment, with the very dark, experimental arthouse film with john C. Reilly and a cameo with Michael Cera and you know, great film got great reviews, but he just did completely the other end of the spectrum. And that's because we choose our project by the people not really by the genre, or, or by budget or by any other qualifiers and Jason Eisner who's you know, executive producing the project. He we really like him and and you know, we're trying to work together on his previous film called, I don't know if you hear daddy copters but it's one of the signs of being in Hollywood. That's very true. Yeah, so we really like what Jason Eisner does, we really like his hobo with a shotgun. We knew we want to work with him. We have been talking with and Timpson has you know, the the ABCs of death which is very close to what we do we actually had a film called VHS It was also a horror anthology. Then I wasn't there but Patrick met and Marie, the Canadian producer, the person who kind of you know ran the show in frontiers which is a co production market and really fell in love with Anne Marie I mean she just you know, some people you can just have a 1015 minute conversation and just say like whatever you do winboard you know um, so um, so Patrick came back you know all those kind of stars align the directors are just amazing you know, they're there again it just you fall in love with them for the first for the first minute and then I read the script and I go This doesn't make sense at all. So let's do it and I think it's one of those projects really, like nobody would ever put any financing in but but we're really the company you know, the we wrote a check to, to get to get the project done it was it was a New Zealand and Canadian coproduction so there is there was a lot of subsidies and tax credits coming from Canada and and from New Zealand through and Timpson and Tim Riley from from that side. So it was really a great team. I mean, I know it's kind of I don't like to use this you know the word visionary but it's really is like a group of people that kind of come together and say like, Okay, this doesn't make sense. But somehow we see that this will be great you know, and it's one of those films that I got the rough cut, you know, and I'm watching it and it's like, well, you know, no comments just you know, have them do what they do best and and funny enough even after the movie screened in Sundance and got great reviews, I mean the critics they loved it, we got great reviews and the fans were tweeting about it and you know, coming to us in the street we actually had Skeletor on and and Monroy and walking around the street and everybody coming through even then not a lot of distributors actually showed interest just because the mixed genre You know, when you go to iTunes, you go to action you want to have an action movie, you know, go to horror, you want to have a straightforward horror movie go to sci fi, you know you have
Alex Ferrari 24:49
it's an odd movie. No, quite. There's no question about it. It is definitely an odd movie that sticks out. It's not something that sticks into into a little box.
Shaked Berenson 24:57
Yeah, so I think I think a lot of a lot of these CBO is the way they look at something like that or finances they look like where would they put it you know in which bucket it falls into and I think that's if you look at the the slate of the films that you know Patrick and I do or we do pick up some of these but you know that's maybe a longer discussion but you know even biggest spider you know what is biggest spider it's a cop Comedy Action sci fi adventure mom's kind of a you know it's it's we we like the fact that that that the films are cross genre and a bit quirky and a bit out of the box and when people say like well where would you put it how do you know where do you place it? Well we know you know the people the people decide it's not which bracket it is in in your sub genre on iTunes or Netflix you know it's if people like filming and they like the storytelling they like the vision behind it you know, they will connect with the content.
Alex Ferrari 26:01
Now did you did your Did you with the directors or the producers? How did you guys start activating that audience? Because it has a very rabid fan base so how did you get that fan base and how did you nurture that fan base
Shaked Berenson 26:13
so we were very lucky in a sense that we premiered the film in Sundance and then it played in South by Southwest and won the Audience Award over that and I think Geez, I can open my Excel sheet I can't even count the numbers of festival we played but we played every major and medium sized and small festivals and everywhere we got great responses we made sure to be there or have presence and and have people know where to go to sign up for the turbo kit fan newsletter or to to follow us on if it's a Facebook or Twitter we try to keep in touch with people through all those outlets and and when the movie came out we just had this army of people that just will advocate for it. I mean, you can see the conversation people say like oh, Netflix is tuber kids Netflix you have to see it. You know, it's it's, you know, the people were really the ones that promoted it we put it up on I think it was 67 theaters at a time when we when we premiered it and we put it on on VOD as well simultaneously so it's available for everyone and yeah, it's really connected. Now we have a comic book that that came out of it and all the merchandising your merchandise merchandising shirts that Frederick bringing out we have a whole custom line so next Halloween you can be dressed as skeletron or Apple or the kid so we you know people just demand those things you know, you were but you
Alex Ferrari 27:47
built like a little like a little mini Star Wars in a sense, like you build an IP that you could start you could start monetizing and multiple different avenues not just the movie and a lot of ways very similar to like Kung Fury they kind of use the movie as a marketing ploy to sell other things at a certain point which is basically I think after the there's a life of the movie that so many people watch it on Netflix or something like that but then after that you're still making money with this IP for years to come based on the fan base and based on the merchandise that you're able to build is that correct?
Shaked Berenson 28:22
Yeah and it's really is all about the fans I mean, it's it's we don't plan to do this merchandising in and to like let's make more money from this it's just you go to Comic Con and and and other cons and just you see people dress up as Apple and skeletron and and the kid and then you know they demand those merchandising and then we get approached by those companies saying hey you know people want to dress like those people let us you know licensed and make and create those costumes so it really is defense more than anything else.
Alex Ferrari 28:52
Now did you do any sort of self distribute a South distribution with this or how was this distributed
Shaked Berenson 28:57
so this is where we're very lucky that as a as an independent studio we have all the distribution outlets so we we have a theatrical department we have all the relationships and the agreements so his platform so we released those films ourselves
Alex Ferrari 29:16
Okay, so you have you have you already so you don't go through a distributor or at least with that film you didn't go through a distributor you just know you have
Shaked Berenson 29:23
epic pictures group has basically three lines of three companies under the group one is the production side one is the foreign sales which you know for people who didn't know what it means is that you know, in order to place the film in Germany or UK or Russia you actually go out and license it in those countries. And then we have a huge distribution arm called epic pictures releasing that you know released films like biggest spider October kid, Nina forever. And tales of Halloween. So we released mainly genre films and family so we just released phone calls Bass dogs adventure to the moon which is a sequel to another franchise that we have for kids our main two kind of electrical pillars that the ones that we have a fan base and and we really nurture those sides easy genre and the family so for example for film entertainment which is our house we went to a different distributor that more experience in that side so for us it's also to do what's best for the film not only just to release it
Alex Ferrari 30:32
fans so then basically you've you've cut out the middleman in a sense by building up your own infrastructure to be able to sell and distribute your movie so you obviously you keep the majority of the income as opposed to the standard distribution of a filmmaker just like going hand in hand to a distributor and going Will you please release my movie and then you get the cut that you get the cut but you guys have grown past that is what you're telling me? Yeah, that's
Shaked Berenson 30:54
that's 100% correct and and do is two things it's in the good old days, there were just enough money on the table to share with everyone so it's okay if you had if you had the producer rep or an agent that sells it to a sales agent that he sells it to an aggregator and you know, everybody's taking 10 2030 50% in the middle. But still there was enough revenue to actually support the film but in today's market, the margins are so low so you have to be close to the to the market and to the audience in order to have enough revenue to the supply chain, it's just too long, you know, and it's to be close to the finance ears and the filmmakers which are the people that actually invest their time and money into the film. And that's one of the things we do but the other thing that the other the other thing that we do the other thing that we do that made us create this entire chain is to basically have the filmmakers as close to the to the audience as possible and it's a little bit hard to explain but I guess I'll give an example so you know releasing movie like tells the following right so he's been he's in Russia in theaters. In traditional models they're going to be a Russian distributor or maybe even a Russian exhibitor that worked with a distributor that then he needs to contact the sales agent the sales agent might got it from an agent or lawyer that worked for the producer and then he gets a producer right so for example if the distributor in Russia you know he has a radio station that says oh, we would love to interview Neil Marshall to promote the film you know how you have this entire chain of people that that you know by the time you get to the end of it you know three months? We yeah in our model because you know we are the people that made the movie you know the distributor just send me a text message and say hey, do you think Neil is going to be available tomorrow? And I'm like, let me check and I just sent him a text message Hey, Neil, are you going to be tomorrow at 5am available to wake up to do an interview in a radio station in Russia great done, you know, so it really helps marketing and and promote the movie everywhere. Also being close to the content you also know a lot of secrets and a lot of potential that maybe won't be realized if the product is just a product for somebody and I give you an example maybe one of your co writer is Turkish and he actually used to write and direct staff or x actor from Turkey you know, if you're, you know a sales agent and sold somebody you know that Michael aaronson in the movie or whatnot, but you don't have all that details you don't know like, Hey, you know, one of the writers you know wants to you know, you can use it to promote the movie in Turkey or, or whatever that is. So, so it's it's good to be very close to to the actual films and the filmmakers. So you know, all those little things, and you can exploit it as much as possible, because really today, in today's market, there is, you know, demand is high, but the supply is a lot higher. And you're need to turn every stone to find the revenue to pay back your investors and make the filmmakers make more money.
Alex Ferrari 34:22
So in today's world, in your opinion, then if you have a film, there's obviously outlets now to go directly to self distribution outlets, you could do tug for theatrical, you can use someone like a distributor to go into all the major platforms like Netflix, Hulu, so on. Do you suggest if a filmmaker wants to start building their own career, to start creating this infrastructure that you've created on a smaller scale, obviously and start building off of that, as opposed to trying to do the old model that really is is it doesn't benefit the filmmaker at all?
Shaked Berenson 34:58
Yes or no? So yes, I think every filmmaker and and you know, I use the word filmmaker very broadly, I think that people working in our department or you know, the actors, it's, you know, everybody's involved in the film business should be for thinking about building their own fan base and have social media and, and think about all of that and build that. So every project increases, its, its support. On the other hand, you also don't want to just put the movie out there on a one of those boilerplate or cookie cutter, distribution platforms, because as you know, for example, if you go to iTunes, if you movie just goes on iTunes, and you can do that, you know, you can put a movie on Amazon, Vimeo, anybody can put in a movie, but then your film is basically just on the platform. So somebody to find it need to actually go and search the name of the movie, or search the name of the director or cast, you know, to find it, or you need to promote it yourself, to push people to those platforms. So that the difference is that if you are in a relationship with with the platforms, and you have the marketing power, you know, and you go on Vimeo, or you go Netflix or go and you see new releases, or you see out tweak, that's the stuff that people see, and they can click on. So in a way, yes, you can release it yourself. And if you know a lot of people that that has that that relationship and enough enough awareness, you know, if you Louie ck, yeah, you can just put your your show on Louie ck.com, and people will come to see it. But if you're just starting, and you don't have that you want some help together. And also you want people that have that have a strategy in terms of how to roll out the film. So you don't over expose it. And you actually go to the right festival, you put in the right time, you release it in the right platforms, and in the right way. So as an example, you know, like, we, we have this film called inner forever, which we didn't produce, but we met the filmmakers in South by Southwest, we sponsor a dinner there for the midnight section. makers, and we met them there, we ended up, you know, going and drinking with the directors were there and the producers and a couple of cast members, and we hang out with them. We already like them as people, then they invite us to see their movie the next day. And then we watch the film. And I don't know if you see me forever, but you know, you look at it's like, yeah, this is like, this looks like a movie that we would have made. And it's basically a romance. But it's talks to the horror people. So it's for people don't know what it is. It's the story is a guy that his girlfriend died in a car accident. But then every time he has sex, she kind of comes back to life. So yeah, no, not traditional horror. I mean, she's not like a zombie running around trying to kill his new girlfriend. It's a lot more about relationship. And it's really an allegory about letting go of previous and past relationships. Yeah. But obviously, you have a dead girl that is bloodied coming out of the bed, you know, it will speak for the horror audience. So for example, this film were released on Valentine's Day as a genre, alternative date night, and we worked with feeders to give a glass of champagne with the movie ticket, you know, you kind of try to customize and find the right way to release the film. So you know, if we just put it up on iTunes, you know, it's not 100% or it's not 100% romance, it's probably to just be another thriller on the on the platform, and people have to search for it to find it, you probably get no traction at all. But using the festivals and using, you know, clever marketing strategies, you can find the audience. Well
Alex Ferrari 38:50
bred so good. Either. Yeah, I'm here. Oh, sorry. Sorry about that. So that's excellent, excellent advice. Actually, no, I was gonna ask you, if you, if you were going to some if you're going to do like, if you're going to premiere at Sundance, let's say, because I had a friend of mine who won a couple awards at Sundance, and she told me that if she would do it again, this is what you would do, I'd love to hear your opinion. If you're going to premiere at Sundance, arguably, that's probably when you're going to get the most attention for that film, on an indie level that you'll probably ever will again, you probably won't have the money to get that kind of marketing, push attention reviews, and so on. She told me that if she would do it again, she would premiere at Sundance and for a week, have the movie available on a VHS or a Vimeo, for debt for for download for viewing. Just for a week like exclusive so she can kind of monetize that attention. Is that a good plan or what? What would your advice be?
Shaked Berenson 39:49
So I'm so glad you brought it up. Because this is exactly where the traditional way of doing things kinda don't really work. So what happens is your filmmaker you make your second movie, whatever, it's great you submit to Sundance, I don't know how but you got in, right? Right. The moment the movie is in Sundance, and they announce it, you're gonna get a phone call from everybody in town, right? And what's happened is that usually at that point, the filmmakers either been convinced, or they're just overwhelmed, so they hire an agent or lawyer or somebody to sell it at Sundance, right? So what happens is, you use the 15 minutes in the limelight, in Sundance, to sell to the guy that's gonna be selling it. Yeah, so you have, you know, you're moving now, like, like your friend said, you moving out has all your attention, and you just sitting down to the guy is going to be selling it, that he's going to be selling it. And again, you kind of the toll that you move is going to be released a year later, you know, and, and you kind of lost all this cart. And also, we all know that in Sundance, you know, you have a handful of movies that have bidding wars for, you know, $10 million, but there is another 395 movies that people forget about, and, you know, two days after the release to the premiere, so and, you know, there was not a lot of articles about what happened was those films, right? So my advice would be, which your friend is 100% correct, but I would do it differently. We always advise people get somebody on board early because first of all, somebody like us or you know, company similar to us. First of all, we can help you get into sense we can help you get into the right festival, we can help you submit all this stuff. So you don't need to learn all these things on your own. And, you know, I mean, I'm sure that a lot of listeners go on Google and say you know how to submit to film festivals or getting this off the top film festivals in Europe. You know, we have a person or company that that's what she does for a living, you know, she's in constant contact with all those festivals, you know, and and know what they're looking for know when the submission dates know how to do it. So get in early with somebody that can help you with that strategy. And when the movies actually out, get its premiere, have a plan, how you're going to release it, you know, either putting in Sundance and then a week later at Netflix, or a month later, it's in theaters, or you're planning for example, October kid to premiere in Sundance, and then you have a whole plan in putting it in other festivals for the next six months before it's released. But at least have a plan so you don't have somebody was just sending it to the guy that just two months after Sundance gonna start thinking okay, what is this movie? And how what are we going to do with it?
Alex Ferrari 42:32
And how are we going to sell it? Exactly Yeah, that's that's what she told me she's like yeah, it get you get basically nine months later or a year later they release it no one you can't regenerate that interest. You can't build that back up you you've got that moment and you should take advantage so but you would suggest not to do that like week long. Like release on a VHS or Vimeo just to be able to monetize it you would say no,
Shaked Berenson 42:58
absolutely not. It's It's It's falls again, in what we talked about about 10 minutes ago, if you Louie ck, yes, you can do that. But you know, Sundance have, you know, a few 1000 people there, you have all the trades. From there to get to the real audience. It's a major, major leap, you know, I actually recommend you not, I'm going to plug another product again, I don't make any money from any of this. So hopefully, there is a business book about sales and product launch called I think it's jumping the chasm or, or Crossing the Chasm. And he talks about early adopters and late adopters and the actual world you know, and yes, you can get people that go to Sundance every year and that's the early adopters you know, if you compare it to an iPhone or an iPad or something like that, but to make the jump to actually have millions of dollars in box office or have you know, 1000s and hundreds of 1000s of people watching in the VOD it's you have this gap that you need to get to the general and the broad market and that jump is really hard to do. So in order to do that if you a household name, you can do it if you're redhead you can just give your songs for free on your website and say to people Hey donate as much as you want but if you you know have a beautiful but smaller film that doesn't have the cast and the awareness to push it I would highly not recommend to just put it out there because once it's out there it's already pirated it's already you know that other people will not want to touch it you know so so don't don't make those decisions I think without actually having a strategy what I do recommend these topics people early and this is the biggest challenge and I know that because we're filmmakers you know we know how it is to get the movie into South by and have all the phone calls. Don't get caught up with it because people are like oh my god you're gonna make focus feature is going to come in and you're going to buy the movie millions dollars and, and it's like don't get caught up with it too much because a you can still Do it right, you can see it actually go out to Focus Features before and say, Hey, this is going to be playing in Sundance, let's talk early, or have a plan and know that you can change it.
Alex Ferrari 45:12
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Shaked Berenson 45:22
You know, you can still have a good strategy, and then say, Listen, you know, we're going to screen in Sundance, a focus feature is going to come and bite us for millions of dollars, then that's going to change into that plan. But don't come thinking, Okay, this is what's going to happen. And I really don't have a full full background.
Alex Ferrari 45:38
Got it. So it's all about strategy. A lot of it's just strategy and just thinking about the long the long game,
Shaked Berenson 45:44
as opposed to go about the strategy. It's all about talking with people that actually care early. I mean, we talk with a lot of people with films that are not even, you know, fall or we'll be an epic movies, but be happy to give advice. Also, just submitting to festivals, if you don't know the people, it's also very hard. I would say it's almost like, a lot of them like putting your name on the ballot without campaigning, you know, you need to know what you're doing, you know, you need to speak with the people you need to, you know, email them or talk to him and say, like, you know, hey, you know, just, you know, just so you know, we have this movie coming out, you're gonna submit it, you know, make sure you know, give it some attention, you know, you kind of want to people to know about it, because, you know, the programmers that gets seven 8000 movies a year, you know, I mean, just imagine that the system in the process, they need to kind of flush out and bring all the stuff up to decision makers and actually put him in the program. And it seems more and more festivals are interested in bigger stuff that has distribution companies already behind them. And they're able to bring the director to bring the cast to create buzz. I mean, if you look at, sorry, that's all really, actually if you saw tails, the following, she's in luck is Mickey didn't want to come and say hi, what's going on. So if you look at the Toronto lineup, almost all the movies already had distribution. And it's great for the filmmakers and the distributor because it's a great platform to generate buzz and to get reviews and to get awareness for the film. It's great for the festival because they actually have somebody with a PR company and the ability to fly in the cast and and to help promote the festival as well. So it's a great partnership, you know, and if you are just, you know, couple of people out of film school just made a movie that might be amazing, you don't have that machine behind it, it can help you and it's not in a bad way you know, it's not like you need a money machine that is just you know, I know that sometimes it's easy to kind of look at the bigger company and say, oh, it just kind of put the posters up and they just have but but the business is filled with people that started going to a Fae and being filmmakers and just gonna learn from experience and moved up in their world and it was a lot of companies that can help do that.
Alex Ferrari 47:56
Yeah, that it's a very good point to make that there are companies out there that can help you and get that attention that you might need from festivals and so on. I'm going through it right now with my film, my first feature film that I'm going through as well and I was able to meet some certain program directors and things like that so they're aware of the movie and all you could ever do is hope to get it in front of their eyes. There's no guarantees it's just about trying to stack the deck as best you can. At least for them to just be able to watch it and it's up to and then at the end of the day it's the power of the film and if it's it's what they're looking for at that year and that time
Shaked Berenson 48:33
Yeah, you absolutely right and in the end of day a bad movies not going to get into a festival just because somebody has a relationship. Yep. But out of I don't know. I can't remember the numbers I think it's like 10,000 movies it's submit to Sundance you know they're gonna slot in a feature film what like 50 100 movies?
Alex Ferrari 48:51
I think competitions there's only 13 and I think in features I think it's about 100 some movies
Shaked Berenson 48:56
yeah like took like altogether so yeah, they have a lot of really good movies to choose from I'm not even talking about the bad movies you know you can just be a friend of the programmer and shove something it's terrible into a festival right but imagine how many really good movies that would have been qualified to be there just don't have the room you know and need to make decisions about why they're going to place this year and why they have to say listen, we'd love to have it just this year we have you know too many great movies you know it's it's a good problem to have for for everyone I guess for audience for the festival, but not for the homemakers depends not for the filmmakers if you know a few if you put 14 movies into the program and you're number 15 it's like yeah that's not great for you you know maybe you're before you're after you would get in but so so like you say it's good to know the people and I recommend filmmakers to go to the markets go to the film festivals, you know go to the networking events start to network so you do know those programmers and you know two or three years later when you actually have a movie you can say like hey, you know, remember me Like my movies finally done you know can I send you a link and then at least they remember your name and it's not just another submission through one of those platforms online platforms it's just submit submit films you know
Alex Ferrari 50:13
yeah, you need to find somebody or some audience for it you need to drive some traffic of some sort. Yeah. Now what do you look for when you're getting involved in a project
Shaked Berenson 50:22
so we really focus on the people which means that it The good news is that if you're a great person you can get in the bad news is that it means that usually we work with family and friends you know, so if you look at our films, there is a lot of repeating directors are being cast behind the camera we have repeating director of photography's and our directors and production designers and first HDS so but it's because we we know that we when we get into a project we are in for the long haul because we do everything from development all the way to distribution so if you come into his movies as we're going to be together for the next four or five six years of our lives unlike maybe you know some platforms or some distributors or if you just one piece of the puzzle you know you get the film you know right before can and then two months after can you forget about it we actually live with the people for a long time and we know that they're gonna be really high highs like you know going to Sundance and you know everybody giving you attention they're going to be really lows like you know being on set and it rains when it's supposed to be sunny and it's sunny when it's supposed to be rain and the sun is coming up and you didn't finish your night or you know you know that you have creative conflicts and you're gonna have big argument and the next day you all working together so you know we have you know ever saying that making films is a marriage it's not dating so we spend a lot of time getting to know the filmmakers and knowing and having direct chemistry you know, because sometimes like a project is amazing I can introduce still some people I don't think you know, the chemistry is not there.
Alex Ferrari 52:03
That's a really really smart way and I've out of out of being involved with so many projects over the years That's the first time I've actually heard a producer really say something like that and it's a brilliant way to do it and it's in the smart way of doing it and the guys who are successful in this business I mean, Clint Eastwood had the same crew for 30 years yeah you know and
Shaked Berenson 52:25
you build your people as you go along. Moving along the business and in the end of the day this business is so hard so risky and we can all make more money easier doing something else you know, you can do a podcast about diner politics during the election probably it's it's we all can can make money in easier ways and you know, have time to spend with our families and in and use our hobbies. But we in this business because we love it and we want to be in it and you need to know that you have your friends along for the ride.
Alex Ferrari 52:55
Now what advice would you give a filmmaker just starting out in the business
Shaked Berenson 53:01
that's that's hard You know, it's easier you know, some things like there is no right answers do is wrong answers, but there's no right answers. If you're just starting in the business is first of all, getting to know the business. I think that that there is this I guess it's an escape you know, if you go to film school, as you know, in a writer director program, and you just like I'm just going to plug myself in a room or in a coffee shop, and just write but you don't really learn a lot from that. I think that you should be out there meeting people and listening to advice don't have to take everybody's advice but it is listen to people's advice and be nice and respectable and and keep those relationship you know, give you a business card, take a business card, make sure to keep them because you also don't know you know, I suppose a personal assistant people that were I remember, we used to have assistant meetups, you know, those people are now agents and people in high positions, you know, sometimes also, you know, just take time, you know, to be there and to be friendly and make those those friendships. I think also, it's important to know what the other side wants, you know, if you're a first time filmmaker, and you have a small, you know, zombie horror movie that you want to put together, you know, don't hassle somebody from participant who's also only looking for, you know, he's in the documentary department. And before he's, you know, I mean, so try to know what the people are looking for. And these I think there is a lot more power in even coming in a party or a networking event, you know, like the American Film market and say, Hey, you know, just want to know I'm a big fan of your movies, I have nothing for you. Now I just want to say hi and my name. And if I ever have anything for you, you know, I hope that you know, maybe you remember me from this interaction, you know, and we can do that that's a lot better than trying to shove a script or you know, hold let me show you a trailer on the phone that you don't even know what the people are looking for. You know, so we get about 600 projects a year. We make about Five so that can show you like how little of them come in most of those are going to come through somebody just for the fact that we are working with friends of him you know we working with if somebody is like hey I had this friend you know we work together I worked with him I knew you guys are gonna be click, let's you know all grab drinks so we can introduce each other you know, that's a lot more impactful, then, you know, you get a lot of those emails like hey, I'm a writer and he was three loglines you know, and it's like, okay, you know, would you imagine how much time and resources you need to put to review like 600 projects god you know, just calculate you know, just calculate the cost if you have you know, a couple of creative executives doing that and then you know, when you start thinking about what the other side processes you can start thinking about what is their pains and what is their needs? So you don't just act to it, you know, it's like just to shove another script in in in a financier's hand you know now you're just creating work for them but if you actually bring value you know to the table then you have much better chances to move up ahead in the in the queue and also
Alex Ferrari 56:13
relationships if you have a relationship with that that person in one way shape or form that also helps as well.
Shaked Berenson 56:19
So tails The following is a perfect example you know, we worked with Mike Manders on biggest spider and a bunch of other things we're good friends he's friends with Excel Caroline that you know she told him about her better idea to do this anthology about Halloween basically that was it you know So Mike was like hey, let's all meet together it's all part of the same group we hang out together we you know we go to karaoke together we do all that kind of stuff so it's people you know they come they say hey, we want to do in the future but Halloween that basically we're gonna have a few segments and you know we're all going to direct something you know it's new martial that you know work with in a previous lifetime in a previous company and Darlene Bossman that we made the move in 2011 and and you know, just he just kind of came out from you know, just a group of friends there was really nothing there yet you know, there was just a concept let's make a fun Halloween movie. And we're like yeah, of course we're gonna make it you know, let's talk about what's going to be but don't forget that you can always change the script, you can always change you know, the strategy the budget, you can always work on that stuff. But if you work with people that you don't like or you have red flags, or just doing it because of the money or because the package the things are always going to be bad, you know, just
Alex Ferrari 57:37
you sir You seem to have it figured out. You try you try You speak very wise words, Yoda you do sir. Very, very wise words. And I'd like to and I love the way that you're very straightforward and honest and real about your answers. And that's what I tried to talk about on the podcast all the time. Because it is a tough business. It's an extremely brutal business and you got a lot of people sugarcoat it or or kind of tell half truths and stuff and I always try to tell it as straight as it can be and I appreciate you doing the same
Shaked Berenson 58:12
Yeah, and there is you know, there is a challenge in the business because you know a lot of people that they work for somebody you know, they're working in bigger companies and you know, there is a lot of maybes in the business because nobody wants to pass on Forrest Gump and nobody wants to greenlit something's gonna lose their company a lot of time so you speak with filmmakers in LA it's like oh this company is interested in these companies interested in this he said that he was the honest truth if somebody really wants something he says don't talk to anybody I'm going to call my boss I'm going to bring him today I'm going to bring him tomorrow let's make it happen you know all of like sounds great send me you know the next draft sounds great let me know when these updates that basically means nothing you know and and get people excited and get them maybe lose other opportunities because they're think that there's opportunities out there that they can reach to but I mean, you've been in the business you know, it's 90% of the time there is nothing there because people don't say no, you know, if somebody say no, this is not for us, I like you let me know next time if you have something that more fits what we want.
Alex Ferrari 59:16
That would be very refreshing if that was that was what the answers were in these meetings, but generally you're right no one likes to say no, it's the nicest efuse in the entire world. No one says f you better than Hollywood people. I mean, if you go to New York, they'll tell you hey man, screw off
Shaked Berenson 59:33
you know but but you know, but But again, it's all about instead of taking a position of kind of being mad about it, you just trying to understand the other side. You know, if somebody is a creative executive started working in company three months ago, he's still learning the ropes in his own company. You know what I mean? It's, it's not bad. If you sit in a meeting and somebody says like, sounds great. Send me the next thing. Just like okay, well, you know, can you please let me know what is the process on your side? What do you think are the chances You know what you know just you can ask questions and get kind of to the bottom of it and I think the other side will appreciate it too and against that like listen you know I know I want to pass on it because I like it but to be honest you know I don't know if that's going to be the thing so let's keep in touch but you know if you have opportunities go somewhere else You know, I think if if you know people talk to each other like people you can get down to the business you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:00:25
right you could get a lot farther people just talk like human beings as opposed to robots here in Hollywood
Shaked Berenson 1:00:30
yeah just look look at you know to eight year olds playing in the playground and it's like if everybody then everybody would be happier and more efficient and make more money and could create more stuff. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 1:00:42
absolutely. Now I always ask the same question last few questions to all my guests what is the the lesson that took you the longest to learn in the film business or in life? Um
Shaked Berenson 1:00:56
That's a big question. So in the film business is really is if there are any red flags walk away because there is other ways to do things because you know a lot of time you have like well you know, this project without the director is kind of like a maniac but you know, it's good cast don't don't don't do that. You know, don't do small movies now cast then doing a movie with big cast but the final tears wants his daughter or girlfriend in the movie is deleted or any one of those things, it's like forget about it, you know, it's like I rather you know, I can go work in a bank or whatever I can Uber, you know, Uber, you can always Uber, you can always right. I mean for now, soon enough,
Alex Ferrari 1:01:38
the the the cars will start driving themselves. Yes.
Shaked Berenson 1:01:41
So so you know, for now you can always Uber but they're gonna be enough for smart people, there's always gonna be something that they can do you know? Um, so that's that in life? I think. She's That's a big question. I think that somebody you know, I don't even remember who told me somebody told me or read it, it kind of sounds like one of those Facebook, you know, inspirational, bullshit quotes. It says, if you do today, what you did yesterday, tomorrow is going to look exactly like today, which kind of sounds good, but basically means that you kind of need to make the change. You know, and a lot of it comes because I know a lot of like, writers or actors, you know, they asked me for advice, like, what should they do? And I say, like, Well, you know, try to create your own opportunities. Especially if you're an actor, there is so many opportunities, you can just grab another two friends, take an iPhone and shoot the funny skit on YouTube, like you can do stuff today, you know, it's not that expensive. And also treat it like a business because it is, you know, all lucky to basically work in our hobby. And some people think that, that, you know, you try to do it as a career, you need to put at least the time that everybody else does, you know, if you work in a factory, you would at least work from nine to five, put at least that time you know get up get dressed, sit down and say what am I doing for the next eight hours because I know that that you know, some people just like you know, they it's easy to kind of fall into the getting a plate, having one meeting a day and you know, feeling like that's a lot of pressure. But you know, if you actually work in a company, if you're a lawyer, if you're an accountant, you're doing stuff all the time you know, you every 1015 minutes you're doing something productive and I think it's easy in our business because everybody's a freelancer to fall a little bit and then get into him but he talked about it earlier. It's like oh, that guy doesn't get back to me it's like well, it doesn't get back to you. Because it's a no no
Alex Ferrari 1:03:42
he's not saying he's not calling you because it's a no it's like yeah, that's great. That's
Shaked Berenson 1:03:46
again it's like oh, like it's December there's no additions you know, so whatever it's like it's December so you know, everybody was home and applying to their own house because they can't afford it because whatever they just Obering get him now and shoot someone you know the streets are empty go shoot something you know, it's like you know, get get something done that you can show value later, you know, can build your Twitter, your Instagram, whatever that is.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:11
Now, now what are three of your favorite films of all time?
Shaked Berenson 1:04:15
Um, I can I mean, there are films that I can always watch again like American Beauty or Forrest Gump. It is funny because I used to actually program I started recording a sudden a tech business funny. But I remember I think it was TBS, they used to like, have the same movie like 10 times,
Alex Ferrari 1:04:36
right? Yeah, like the Ferris Bueller's Day Off or something like that. They'll just like run it all Christmas Day. That's all they play.
Shaked Berenson 1:04:41
Exactly. So I used to basically code on the weekends because I wasn't making enough money in the movie business. I was building websites and doing all this kind of things on the side. So I was called a weekend. And I think Forrest Gump was playing in the background for I don't know, seven times. And in each one of those times you just kind of like crying this moments you know and you notice a few things even though even though it's in the background so that's definitely you know a movie you know that i think you know but you need to look up to of course you know the Alien franchise you know that's something that you know I would love to do most looking you know I once found a script that was this is a perfect example I always want to do one of those space because I'm big in CG and you know computers and computer graphics and always want to do like we don't spaceship kind of film and you know to shoot it you can build a modular model in a green screen room kind of do the things really hard to find clever scripts like that I did found once a script like that but it was attached I swear to god there were like four managers that were you know already getting like producer fees and their logo on the front and also the crazy stuff nice and I bet that script was never made because you know it's you can do that okay, somebody likes to scrape you know they want to put a million or two whatever to go and make it you should have it make it you know, don't create barriers to the film do what's best for the film you know? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That's another big lessons we didn't talk about it but what a lot of what we try and we doing in our company is the movie need to be the most important thing so everybody's interests need to be aligned with the film which is very hard when there is a lot of other factors and other companies involved that have conflicting interests and for example, this is why we do worldwide distribution we do the US distribution you know also do foreign sales because you know the distributor for example right after Sundance probably want to go out quickly right because you still have the bad reviews but on the foreign side you know if you talk with the big companies you know, they have their scheduled 1218 months in advance they need to debate to German they need to you know do their thing so so you know obviously the US want to release it quickly but then you know a movie like Tobruk aid or you know VHS we pirate everywhere and then you lose everything on the foreign side and kind of everybody kind of need to be aligned and working together. And yeah,
Alex Ferrari 1:07:08
that was one thing I wanted to ask you about that we didn't talk about is piracy like how is that affecting you and and as far as your distribution plans are because you're right if you release something in the US that's why a lot of times these big studio examples are released in Europe before they ever hit the US a week early purely for that specific reason to try to get as much money as it can before the pirates get them and it is it is a kind of way of like you can't fight the pirates it's gonna it's just gonna continue to go but how does that affect your your distribution plan
Shaked Berenson 1:07:37
it affected a lot more in the past and I think it contributed for companies like Netflix to grow and you know, obviously you know, blockbuster disappearing and all of that I think at this point piracy is pretty much stable. And I don't think it matters anymore I mean, at the end of the day you know you can watch a movie on Netflix you know what I mean? It's like you don't need to go to some pirate site right? It killed the business in a lot of countries you know and if your movie and this is exactly why it's important to have strategy in advance because we really work to coordinate a release everywhere at the same time or at least in the same window because if you didn't release a movie like in Indonesia or something like that some countries are so full of piracy that if the movie is out already then nobody's gonna watch it you know? So then maybe you can do TV sales down the road but when we talk about genre you know, it's not the most TV friendly kind of content so his family you know, content it's easier but something like VHS you know, it's for theaters you know, basically that's it in a lot of the countries that don't have develop online can view the markets. So but I think it's stable for now I think people also used to use piracy as a negotiation tool, you know, to get prices down or whatnot. I think now people realize and acknowledge that the people that pirate movies probably not going to pay even 10 cents to see your movie. So it's not really a market you know what I mean?
Alex Ferrari 1:09:11
It's not hurt it's not hurting you per se
Shaked Berenson 1:09:15
it's hurting but there is nothing like if somebody is downloading movies and watching them online pirated, you know, you're not going to be able to take $10 wanting to go to the cinema or or, you know, you're just not you're not I mean, on Netflix, you know, if somebody is already watching all their movies, and pirating online, Netflix is probably not going to get them in a subscriber until they kind of go older, and they have a wife and they just don't have the time and the headache to deal with those websites
Alex Ferrari 1:09:42
go and download and figure it out. And the technology involved them. It's not it's it's easy, apparently, but not that easy. I just don't know.
Shaked Berenson 1:09:51
It's easy when you're 16 and you have time on your hand, you know, 40 you know, it's like your kids want to see a film. It's like Screw it, you know, it's 299 to rent it tonight. To you just rent it on iTunes you know and people that can afford it I guess you know they can find it but I know like for example before we we had a panel before release biggest spider in Comic Con and I actually told on stage they said if you can't find it or you live in a country that it's not available or you can't afford it or whatever the reason is send us an email we'll take care of you we'll figure out a way for you you know we available through our YouTube channel Facebook everything and and you know of course everybody cheered and all that kind of stuff but the point is I rather people get it for free from me then because when you using pirate sites you actually supporting them i mean they're not nonprofit organizations right? They make money right advertised and a lot of them actually a part of larger crime organizations Yeah. That have porn sites and child pornography and human trafficking and drugs and I mean if you don't have I speak about it in some forums about you know where is really piracy coming from and what's the effects but if people Google there was a lot of good books about it and a lot of good information about the organized crime that involved in film piracy and the other thing is that people I think don't understand is that when you pirate movies you lose your your your privilege as a consumer to vote so when we end up releasing biggest spider we had I think it was like over a million downloads illegally right and and which was I think we calculated we had about 100 illegal downloads to every legal ticket or or iTunes to do person and then we have all these people that like Hey, where are you going to see biggest spider to it's like well, you know, he doesn't mean and people that voted you know by lost their vote by actually contributing to the film you know, you kind of lose that that that opportunity because if if even 10% of them would actually watch it in a way that we can create revenue it will maybe make more sense to make a sequel right away you know and get it done. This is why I'm a big fan of those Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaign because you bring that audience in advance you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:12:13
and I'm assuming turbo k was probably fairly pirated as well it's it seems like it's
Shaked Berenson 1:12:19
fairly pirated and again, you know, it was fine and smart and it was not big you know, that big of a budget to recoup and everything and we had great partners and and it was a very long process of you know, strategy how to make it how to release it and everything. Some of these you know, have more problems. But in terms of piracy it's Yeah, I think I think people you know, people complain that all they see in the cinema is just sequels of the same tempo bullshit, right? Yeah. But you know, it's again, it's because the consumer need to understand that when you outside of the marketplace, you don't vote so if you go to see Batman in the cinema, because Batman is big, and you want to see it on the big screen, but then you pirate the turbo kids of this world and the VHS of this role and the ABCs of death. So this rolled, and you know, the hobos shotgun on this world, you're voting basically to have the sequels made, and the comic book and all that stuff that people keep complaining about in voting for independent films not to be made.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:22
On that note, sir, that's an excellent point. Very, very excellent and important point. So thank you so much. Where can people find you by the way?
Shaked Berenson 1:13:31
I'm so accessible I mean, nobody in the world has my name. So you can find me on Facebook, chicken Berenson, EP, which stands for executive producer. I'm on Twitter at educate Berenson. I'm on Instagram, chicken Berenson. And I'm visible people in the room,
Alex Ferrari 1:13:50
I'll put you a put you on a put a link to all your your websites and stuff in the show notes. So iseki, thank you so much for doing this man, I really, really appreciate it was really eye opening. And I hope I hope the tribe really grabbed a lot of the knowledge bombs that you were tossing out there. So thank you.
Shaked Berenson 1:14:05
Thank you so much, Alex, it's been a pleasure.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:08
Shaked really brought it in this interview. I mean, thank you so much for being on the show you were you're inspiring. And you know, I wanted to also bring him on the show guys, because I wanted you guys to hear someone who was doing a lot of the stuff that I preach about all the time, is creating that audience creating that infrastructure, creating that eco system to be able to not only do this once but to do this multiple multiple multiple times, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. And continue to build not only a career out of it, but also build a company out of it where you can hire other people and start doing other things and become a bigger, bigger and bigger and that's why shark head is done so brilliantly with Epic pictures and it's really just about thinking outside the box guys you know just don't go down to well worn path. You have to create your own path and choquette is a great example. Have that So get out there and start making your movies and start building that ecosystem for yourselves guys. If you want to get links to anything we talked about in the show, just head over to indie film hustle, calm forward slash 141 for the show notes of this episode, and don't forget to head over to free film book. com that's free film book calm to download your free filmmaking audiobook from audible. And as always keep that hustle going keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.
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- Shaked Berenson – IMDB
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