BPS 368: The Brutal Art of Guerilla-Style Indie Filmmaking with Adam William Ward

Today on the show we have writer/director, Adam William Ward. His new film is called Wally Got Wasted. I brought him on the show to discuss the crazy misadventures he had shooting guerilla-style in the City of Angels, Los Angeles. L.A. is probably the toughest city in the world to shoot a guerilla-style film.  His stories are not on filled with knowledge bombs but are entertaining as hell. Here’s a bit about the film.

“Wally Got Wasted” is like “The Hangover” meets “Weekend at Bernie’s.” It follows the adventures of 3 friends who accidentally kill a scumbag, then screws up getting rid of the body, so they are forced to pretend he is alive as they are chased through downtown LA in one crazy night.

Enjoy my entertaining conversation with Adam William Ward.

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Alex Ferrari 0:02
I'd like to welcome to the show Adam William Ward, brother. How you doing?

Adam William Ward 4:00
I'm good, man. Good to be on here.

Alex Ferrari 4:01
Yeah, man. We hooked up actually. I think it was this. We were at Holly shorts. And I was I screening This is Meg there that night or not?

Adam William Ward 4:12
I'm not sure to be honest with you. Because I did not catch you in your screening. I caught you in the lobby.

Alex Ferrari 4:18
I might have been afterwards or something like that. Yeah.

Adam William Ward 4:21
Daniel and the other guys who run Hollyshorts introduce me to you. And then yeah,

Alex Ferrari 4:26
Yeah, yeah. And then we run into each other at AFM and in other places. So it's a small it's a small small town. So before we get into your movie in the ridiculous story, and how you made it, how did you get into the business in the first place?

Adam William Ward 4:44
Um, well, I mean, I was doing theater in high school and I like they named an award after me the a ward award. I was successful in high school theater. And so that builds

Alex Ferrari 4:55
You're huge in Japan like you're huge in Japan. You can't even walk the streets in Japan.

Adam William Ward 5:01
It was important because it builds confidence.

Alex Ferrari 5:03
Of course, of course

Adam William Ward 5:04
Like, and then I went to film school and hpu Hawaii Pacific University wasn't really film school. It was like a visual calm degree. And then eventually I made it to LA and I was like, What the heck do I do? And I was on a session on a plane ride and accidentally sat next to Jimmy Schmitz and Jimmy Schmidt,

Alex Ferrari 5:22
Jimmy, Jimmy the Schmitz, really?

Adam William Ward 5:25
The actor Yes. And he told me, he convinced me to go to an acting school, on Meisner acting school. And so I went to that acting school and then I just really dived in acting 100% from there, and I acted in was 11, short films, and oh nine. And I was a lead in three indie features in 2010. And two of the indie features never saw the light of day, I mean, they never even finished, you know, they had, I mean, one of them, I played Jesus in the head, like a whole boat on the ocean, and like waves and wind and rain and the movie never gonna finish, it's still never seen the light of day.

Alex Ferrari 6:05
Anytime I hear stories like that, just just it makes me so sad. So much work so much money, so much resources, and I've seen them I've seen those movies myself.

Adam William Ward 6:13
Yeah. And so after that experience of being in those features, and none of them turn, some of them not coming out, and some coming out not being the best. I was like, I gotta, I can't keep running out this just as an actor I have to take, I got to wear some other hats. And so I raised the money to shoot a TV pilot. And then everything fell apart. And then I was like, hold on, I'll write something. And I wrote it. And I ended up directing. It's called three guys in a couch. It's on amazon prime. For now, it's a TV pilot. And that was like my introduction back into filmmaking. You know, I had like, I had, I had a short film I made in college, which was horrible. And I had a god so I like I was showing it to people in the industry. It's horrible. And, of course, I was met with the Hank. Because I worked at DreamWorks the first day I moved here Actually, my brotherhood.

Alex Ferrari 7:08
Not a bad Not a bad gig is that when you land,

Adam William Ward 7:11
I got like, I got very lucky. I met with Mark Graziano. He's the head of post production there. And he basically just it was just a meeting and he was like, You seem really cool. We need some help around here. You know, we got Transformers Indiana Jones, like disturb you. Like, why don't you stick around and help? I was like, Okay, and so I worked there for like three months just running dailies of like, heartbreak kid, and like all these other movies, and I was in the editing bays on Disturbia. And watching Steven Spielberg like walk by it's like, my first month in town. You know, it's like, it's so cool. And they get free lunch, they get free lunch at DreamWorks. It was it was a big deal for me at 23 solid. And then from there, I went and worked at Warner Brothers. For Todd Phillips got directed hangover. I didn't know it's on hangover. Um, and I just was so excited about that script. They were really excited about another movie called man which which never came out. But hangover. I was like, hangover, hangover, hangover, and you read the script, you read the script before the movie came out. I read the script before the movie came out. I gave notes on the movie, I ended up in my notes. I heavily like cut a scene that ended up getting cut in the movie, which is great. But um, yeah, it was it was a great experience. But at the same time, it was like what am I doing? I need to go act and and then I met Jimmy Schmitz on the plane actually before after those jobs. Oh, yeah, it was that was that and if so, oh, fast forward to three guys in the couch. I made that and then from three guys in a couch someone at Fox all three guys and characters as a TV pilot I did and totally independent. And they brought me in and I was like, so excited. I was on Fox lot and they were like, Listen, we'd love to develop a new show with you. And I was like, Okay, sounds this is this is great news. You know, so I came in every week you know, I didn't sign anything I just went in and they they were developing ideas with me and like saying you know you should I like that idea. Go with that.

Alex Ferrari 9:13
So hold on a second but you had no representation at this time you did representation? I don't know. So you literally based on some dudes word at Fox. You're walking in and pitching ideas and developing something with no paperwork. No money. No nothing. You were just so excited to be on this lot. You would do anything

Adam William Ward 9:34
like kid absolutely excited. Yeah, like 2524 years old. I'm like dude on Fox. They want to develop a show with me I'm telling all my friends you know like this is a done deal in my head. You know? Nine months I drive No. No. given them idea after idea. The guys probably count as boss on my ideas every day like I came up with this idea.

Alex Ferrari 9:58
Nine months. She did this?

Adam William Ward 10:00
Nine months, nine months old, a couple different scripts for them. And one of them the one I was most excited about was parole officers and they were excited about it too. And so they he's telling me, we I think you're gonna get a million dollar budget for the pilot episode and let's set up a table read for all the exams,

Alex Ferrari 10:20
No contract, or nothing, do nothing have any data they bought you coffee? Have they ever done anything for you?

Adam William Ward 10:28
That that I remember. So anyway, but they did not know was I was taking all these scripts, and I was copywriting at home. So I owned everything. So at least I was covering my ass and he was somewhat smart. Like, nowadays, I'd be like, well, let's get a contract.

Alex Ferrari 10:46
You know, that's a napkin, a napkin, something, anything.

Adam William Ward 10:52
But when you're green, and you're young, and you're excited, you just go in a box every day it was was such a big deal to me. And so, you know, so from there, the table read was cancelled the day before the table. And he was like, I'm sorry. You know, we actually have an idea now that similar to that were shocking. That's what he says,

Alex Ferrari 11:15

Adam William Ward 11:16
So I decided well, okay, screw that. I'm gonna go and I'm gonna make it myself. Because first I'm heartbroken for a couple months and then I'm like, I'm gonna go my girl upstairs on my own. So I ended up finding it some independent money and shooting for like five grand, but it's a TV pilot. That's also on Amazon Prime for free for all. Okay, and when we did a lot with a little I mean for that little amount of money it looks pretty legit and pretty exciting. I'm you can just type in Google parole officers trailer and the trailer pops right up, it looks great. Um, and it was kind of my playground. You know, it was really well, I learned a lot about how to make film. And I mean, I had film school, but it doesn't really compare because film school you have a bunch of people that don't really want to do it. You know, with these at least I had enough to hire a crew up I had a first AC I had a grip, a gaffer, I had all that stuff. And so you can really lead people down in direction. So three guys in the three guys in account and parole officers I both got to do on my own. I directed to other short films that somebody brought me on to direct so that was nice, just for experience. And, and I was still acting in a lot of stuff and auditioning for stuff. But yeah, eventually, I think it was 2014 we started writing the rough draft for gorilla or for while he got wasted, which is the feature. And while he got wasted if nobody knows, it's about three regular guys, they're gonna have a night out on the town to cheer, the heartbroken guy up. And they accidentally kill somebody. And they have to get rid of the body all in one night in LA. So that is the premise of the movie while he got wasted. It's like hangover meets Weekend at Bernie's. Got it. So we wrote it in 2014. It took about a year to write it. And then and we want to we actually won in Pittsburgh Film Festival best script in 2013, I think or 2015. And then, with the script, again, you have these heartbroken things where you go to studios and you try to get it made legit. And you know that fairy tale kind of a fairy tale, this old fairy tale. And we actually had Sony really, really interested in it. The head of post production there, she was like, Oh my god, I'm looking for a script to jump into producing for years. This is the script I love. This script is phenomenal. I'm going to bring it to all the executives at Sony and we're gonna make this movie. I said, Well, I want to direct it to when she was

Alex Ferrari 13:46
Have you not seen parole officers? I mean, have you not seen? So it's on Amazon.

Adam William Ward 13:53
She was so excited. It wasn't at the time. She was so excited, calling me two three times a day for a month. And then eventually, nothing. Just total cut off. And she was going to meet the executives the next day. I don't know what happened there. You know, it just got cut off. I kind of know what happened, but I won't get into too much. But needless to say they didn't come through. So we were like what are we going to do? So we decided to raise the money on our own and shoot and shoot while we got wasted. So we sold units to the movie and and raised some money not as nearly as much as we wanted to. And we I we shot the whole movie for 70 grand. So I mean it's we only had 40 grand in the bank. And we had 30 grand we were supposed to get from my partner, my business partner and writer partner Seth. He had somebody in a bad business to rob him of like a lot of money and so the 30 grand that he was going to put in was gone. So literally I was like I can shoot it for 70 grand. And he found out he lost that money the first day of shooting while he got wasted And so he found out the very first day. And so he like, it's funny the photos, the videos of him everything. He's, you can tell he's having a nervous breakdown, like, like, take a photo on like half an eyes open, you know, like, he's literally like the wheels are turning because he thinks he has to talk to me that night and tell me we shut the movie down. So he eventually comes to me after you know, the day of shooting is over for 1213 hour day. And he says, Listen, man, we have to shut the movie down. I don't have the money. And we still have 40 grand in the bank. And I said that nothing in the world could shut us down. I said, I've already done all the work, everything's done. I said, we just have to stay true to the course now. I said, we'll put it all on credit cards. We're not gonna shut down. Nothing's gonna stop us. So that's what we did. And we ended up we shot 38 in 22 days.

Alex Ferrari 15:53
So that was like an Alexis well, right.

Adam William Ward 15:57
Yeah, I mean, I pulled up a million dollars to $750,000 worth of papers. Really. I mean, we had Arri Alexa, we had cranes. We had jib arms. We had good 310 grip truck. We had the whole crew from the TV show Teen Wolf came over on our movie. I mean, the movie looks like a studio movie. Everybody who sees the trailer everybody sees the movie, they assume it's a studio movie. They don't think it's an independent movie.

Alex Ferrari 16:26
I know the trailer looks insane. I mean, it looks really really good. When I saw it. I was like, Wow, this looks the production value is there. You can tell it's it was done by professionals. But one thing I want to I don't want you to skim over is that you said you pull favors, but you pull those favors, because you built those relationships over the years, right?

Adam William Ward 16:44
I've been here. I've been in LA since Oh, six. And you know, everybody sells this dream of like making it overnight. But no, I've built a lot of relationships, a lot of goodwill. There's a lot of people that support me and know that I'm never going to give up. And so all those people come to the table when you really I mean, it's my first feature while you're wasted is my first feature. So they they come to the table and they really support you they know, you know, the grip truck guy. I was one of the guys who didn't even know me. And he's like, it's your first feature. Don't worry, I got it. Like the deal he gave me was insane on the grip truck. And it was just like, he didn't know me and he was like, it's your first week. I get it. Like, people want to help. People are supportive. And you know, people really do want to help. Especially I mean, LA I got lucky I met a lot of great people, but especially in small bunkie towns. I mean, you say you're making a movie. I mean, if you're listening to this and you're in like Nebraska, like everybody around you is ready to help you. You know,

Alex Ferrari 17:42
I've had people on the show like that one one that did it in Africa, I think it was Kansas. goodland tans Kansas, the whole movie was about the town. goodland. And but it was like this kind of like, you know, no country for all men style movie. But all in, in this town. And it was like and he got the production value. He got a red box deal. He got a theatrical for it. It was like it's, and it cost him I think like 100 grand, but everybody like, his mom was catering it. And the whole town knew it. It was insane.

Adam William Ward 18:18
It's amazing how people they want to support you. They want to help you but I mean, the truth is the movies only as good as your talent. How much you make sure the scripts right? Make sure yes. Like, the more I do this, the more I realized, if you don't make magic on the day, the days used, you know, like literally, I mean, we had a few days when we made magic A while ago wasted a lot of people love the movie. Don't get me wrong, but and that's why movies shoot one page a day, three pages a day, it takes that much time to make something magical. You know, you go home and go Wow, that was amazing footage we got today that needs to be every single day. Because you need to make magic every single day. You know, when you're entertaining people if you if you want to be on the bar that I want to be on.

Alex Ferrari 19:06
Right exactly on that Spielberg bar and that Nolan and Fincher bar

Adam William Ward 19:12
That and it's a lot easier to do when you have a lot of money. Because you have more money and you win. Money equals time. And so if you don't get good footage in six hours, you just keep shooting this, you know, because you have enough money or you plan it, you know, so they're already planning so they have so much time to shoot the scene

Alex Ferrari 19:33
And also support crew.

Adam William Ward 19:35
Yeah, exactly. My movie, somebody is wearing three hats. You know, I'm wearing six that's alone, you know, but like my you know, one person might be doing costume and props and makeup and something else, you know, like, and they're not getting paid what they deserve. You know, no one's getting paid what they deserve. So if you have any problems, you know if you feel your worth is not being met. You know, you're not gonna work as hard as you can. So really, it's it's a labor of love. It's you know, everybody involved, it has to be a labor of love.

Alex Ferrari 20:06
And you also acted in the film.

Adam William Ward 20:09
I do act in the film. I'm one of the three leads. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 20:11
So you're not only a cameo, but a lead, and you're directing and producing and you wrote it and few other hyphen, it's, I'm sure. Yeah, cast it everybody. About by the locations? Mostly? Yeah, I mean, a lot of stuff. So how do you I mean, on a budget like that, on the speed, that turnaround that you did, how do you direct and act because I look, I was in my movie for five minutes, at literally a screen time in my last movie, where I had to play myself, unfortunately. And it was like, I'm trying to direct them, like, Do I look good? Am I okay, it was brutal. So I can't even imagine what you did. So how do you do that man?

Adam William Ward 20:54
I think, you know, for a long time, I was just acting. So I mean, that's the thing, I have enough experience with acting that I'm pretty good at it at everything that I like 300 cats or parole officers, I'm also leads to nose. So I have experience acting and directing. I kind of worked my way up into a feature acting and directing. But I mean, it's not an easy hat. I mean, you're sitting there acting with somebody, and behind the camera might be a cop or security guard, like asking, where's your permit? Like, you don't have, you know, and I'm still like, acting lines, as I like, I'm thinking in the back of my head, like, I have to go deal with this problem. Right, is take, you know, but at the same time, and that's the thing, too, is I, I can't give myself as much time as I give other people I usually take the last take, and I go, I'll do it in one take, you know, because it saves time, you know? And so I mean, I'm lucky, you know, people love like my acting in the movie, there was an England review that like, compared me to Jason Segal and praise my acting a lot. I'm so thankful for it. But to me, my opinion is it's it's not really my fullest acting ability at all I would, I would have been way better of an actor if I could just focus on acting in the film, but my life is what it is. And you know, you get a deal with what you got. So I feel your brother, I

Alex Ferrari 22:13
feel Yeah. Now, what is the biggest lesson you took away from making while I got wasted?

Adam William Ward 22:20
I mean, kind of knew it going in the biggest lesson, which is like, you just got to do it. You can't, you know, don't take no for an answer. It's so many people said you can't do that. What you're what you're trying to do, you know, clubs, fast food, restaurants, trains, cars, bars, every location imaginable. So many people said, Listen, you need to slow down and you can't do this for the amount of money you have, you know, you can't. And I I've always just press my luck. And always, I'm one of the luckiest people you ever meet. I tell people that all the time because I am positive thinking as positive results. I mean, that is kind of the outlook of it. And that's the thing that I learned it was it was proof in the pudding. I mean, we made it.

Alex Ferrari 23:04
So now what is the biggest fear you had to overcome when directing this film?

Adam William Ward 23:12
Oh, I don't know that I look at it. I have time for fear. Day. I mean, you know, there's no fear. I mean, that's the thing is that I'm the captain of the ship, you know. And we eventually had all together probably 100 people work on the movie. I have no time for fear. I have no time for doubt. I have no time for any of that stuff. I'm sleeping two hours a day, on average. Because after 12 hours of shooting, and then straightening up, where we're shooting, helping what everything I everyone I can working 15 hours a day. And then when I get home, I have to try to go over the next day and make sure there's no problems and really start trying to take care of those problems. And I mean, we had all kinds of crazy problems. I mean, emergencies every day, you know, then if the producers that come on board can't fix it comes back to me. You know, I've been like the cave location. We shooting this gigantic cave up north in California. They called us the day before and said you can't shoot. Okay. I'm like, we have a whole crew and a drivetrain. Like I'm coming tomorrow, like we're shooting. They're like, well, the cave didn't get finished. Sorry. The women didn't get finished. It was was it a real cave or set? It was it was so they dug in the ground. So half the cave is real. Dealing. It's fake. So half the breaking cave of Styrofoam. So we couldn't shoot in one direction. We're not painted. It's white, you know? So they basically go You can't come You can't shoot, I go, we're shooting and we're coming. And I had to figure it out. I went there and I was like, okay, we're going to shoot the whole scene in one direction. The whole scene so, you know, we cheated and no one knows when they watch the movie. No one's mentioned at once, but they're facing same direction, we just lighted it a little different, you know, so there's different because there's texture to the cave. So if you light a little different, looks different. So people that are talking to each other, the backgrounds the same, but it's different, you know, and no one's ever noticed, you know, so we got lucky with that. But there were so many other emergencies, too, we had, I think the the hardest stuff was shooting. I think the biggest thing I did learn is I need more support, but I need a good producer that can try to shield me from problems. So I focus more. And we had a lot of emergencies, we unfortunately had a crew member had a son overdose, man. So you're dealing with that upsetness, with the family dog guide. There's all this external stuff that makes things really hard on you. Because I have people calling and crying to me all day, every day. And I'm usually the people that come to people that they come to when they're upset. And I can't be that I can't take on any more hats. So I can't be there for my actor whose son died, you know, I can't I can't even take that in mentally, or emotionally. Because the time I spent thinking about that, or even taking that in, I will not be thinking about problems that we have on set that I need to solve. So it's just such a focus, you know, you really need such a focus, and but you really just need proactive people that can spot problems before they come. And if you had like two or three around you, you're you're really better off and don't get overwhelmed.

Alex Ferrari 26:32
Now, what's the craziest thing that happened on set?

Adam William Ward 26:36
To crazy? There's so many crazy stories. Um, I was I mean, almost every day, I was convincing security guards and cops to let us shoot. Because we have permits in some places and some places we didn't. So I mean, there was one day we were at a casino. We had no business at a casino.

Alex Ferrari 26:53
We didn't have a permit at the casino. No. Oh, Jesus. You are nuts, man. Like I've I've shot crazy places. But I don't walk into a casino and shoot that with an Alexa no less. It wasn't

Adam William Ward 27:05
in the casino was outside of casino. Here's the thing I got going for me. I got a grip Trump and I got a grip truck. 310 grip truck, I got a crew with 30 people. And everything looks legit. So everybody assumes I'm supposed to be there. It takes a while. For security to get up call the higher ups and higher ups. You got a good 30 minutes at least before they really realize you're not supposed to be there. Because you look so legit. Right? And I took full advantage of that. And we're at the casino and the security guards come up. We've only been there 3040 minutes. We're already shooting I'm shooting. I'm actually shooting my shot. I remember and behind the camera. The security guard goes up somebody goes Hey, what are you guys doing here? We need to see your permit you know and David Lee while writer dye guy drew drove the grip truck shot the behind the scenes was shot off still photography, he will normal numerous ads. He goes to the copy goes, Oh, we have a permit. I'll find it for you if you want like and they both the security guys go. If you don't have bro, we don't even give a shit. And they left. And I was like they're like of course you guys belong here. I'm sure we'll keep an eye out for you make sure nobody bothers you guys. I'm like, is really it's is a union crew. So you have cops security guards coming up to you every day asking if you belong here. Now my crew is a deer in headlights. They'll stop the freeze oh my god as a cop. So usually I'd run up talk to the security guard. And what I would normally say is Hey, how's it going, man? How long you been on shift today? Right on man? You gotta look like you had a good lunch, man. That's awesome. Well, you have a wonderful day, man. I'm going back shoot. Alright, see you enjoy watching us make a movie. I go back to the crew, the crew

Alex Ferrari 28:57
This is before they come in. Now this is a different day. No, no, but this is like before they would approach you or you see them coming and you just hit them first

Adam William Ward 29:05
nice bottle. I usually if I spot them before we started, I'll go up to them. Because the crews like oh my god. security's looking at it. Go up to the security, I'd say something like that to the security. I come back to the group. Oh, we're all agree like guys, we're good. They think we have permission. We don't have permission. The security assumes we have permission because I was so friendly and upfront with them.

Alex Ferrari 29:28
Right? You're not trying to hide or steal anything.

Adam William Ward 29:30
I go and say hi. Good to see you guys are like man, we must not get the memo. You know, we shoot for hours that one particular day. hours before anything happened. They ended up calling the higher ups who call the higher up Kevin was trying to figure out who the hell we are. We shot for like three hours before they even noticed weren't supposed to be there. Right. Then the head of security comes I can't say the location but the head of security comes to this place. It's very big company. And he's like Whoa, he happens to come right at the worst possible time. Because someone in my crew is running next to a moving object that's extremely dangerous and not safe. And I would not have had them do it. I didn't want them to do it. But I was distracted looking at a shot. And the DP got excited with the first ad. And they were like, go run, run and bang on the window, you know? And no, no, don't do that. But unfortunately, he did it right when the head of security walks up. So literally had a security walks up as we're doing something that's unsafe, not we're supposed to do. And he's like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, like you need, you need to shut this down. Like, what I don't know what you're doing here, where's your permit, you know, you need a permit to be here. And I literally took 30 minutes to convince him, like, I saved up all my money, that my whole life is in this. I'm shooting a YouTube video that's going to change my life. I can't stay movie, you know, wherever you'd really need a permit for a movie. I'm

Alex Ferrari 30:59
shooting a YouTube video with Alexis and a three ton group chat,

Adam William Ward 31:02
because he actually said that he said to me said, looks like a lot of equipment for YouTube.

Alex Ferrari 31:09
And then you should have to just like, have you seen YouTube lately. I mean, the production quality has gone up.

Adam William Ward 31:15
Eventually, after like throwing myself at the jury, like, Oh, my God, you have to let me shoot here. He said, Listen, you can shoot. But don't go back near that moving object other than go shoot on the statute in the parking lot, shoot whatever. Well, I arrange my shooting schedule fully knowing that we have to do the most dangerous most, you know, not deemed risky, risky, risky shooting first. Because if we get shut down, we could then maybe shoot farther away from the most important location. So I already had shot everything I needed to shoot in that location when he showed up, I want to do one more shot. So we ended up shooting on the steps like it's safe for us to shoot on steps. Okay, we're carrying a dead body. I'm steps like, why would you let us do that. But he had to leave, he had to like another emergency. So it didn't matter. So we shot in the parking lot, we shot on the steps. And then by the end of the night, we were like, okay, we need that one more shot, let's go up and shoot it and then just get the hell out of here. So we went up and shot it. And then by the time he showed up, we were packing up, because they'd call them and said, Hey, they're up here again. But by the time he got there, we were done. We left we were about to leave here in the parking lot lever. So I saw him up there talking to them. And I was like, Oh, they call them for sure. And then just like, we're out by I didn't wave. I didn't wave I just left. But yeah, it was risky business. And there's all that kind of stuff. You know, I mean, like, it was, I'm very good at convincing people are especially on this one, too, to do something maybe they don't even want to do because it really is my whole life at that moment. You know, I put 1000 of my own money in there. And I'm not a rich guy. You know, and just my whole life is on the line. You know, I mean, in the future don't get made. I don't want to try to make another one. So, you know, I, I make my case,

Alex Ferrari 33:06
what I thought what I find fascinating is that you actually stole locations, and got into guerilla filmmaking in Los Angeles, with a large footprint of a grip truck 30 crew members, Alexa, like you did the opposite of what I did, which I shot at Park City, with a small camera to people in my actors running around when there's 1000 other 10 1000s of other people to take the attention away from me, you did the opposite. Like, if you would have came to me and said, Hey, we're gonna steal all these locations Los Angeles, and I was I would have told you straight up as a as a consultant, I would have said, you know, chances are, you're gonna get shut down or I probably wouldn't do that. Well, let me see the list of locations just like it's like it but you only could do it with like one camera and a guy like you can't just have like, roll up there, you know, 30 deep, but you did and it and it seemed to work out for you. I want to go down this road a little bit with the guerilla filmmaking because it's not something I've talked about a lot on here on how to do illegal stuff. And it's definitely that's great. It's great. It's gray area, it's you know, you're not doing anything illegal. It's just

Adam William Ward 34:18
you're allowed to shoot anywhere we're looking. Yes, you are. anywhere if you don't put a beanbag if you don't set things on a sidewalk or somewhere. So if you have someone holding a line or holding a camera, everyone's moving, you're allowed to shoot there, you're allowed to shoot, there's nothing they can do about it. You know, we'll have cameras everywhere they have their phones, you know you can start making rules that people can't have cameras or no one could take their phone anywhere. So really, it's legal what's on what's not legal is when safety comes in. That's

Alex Ferrari 34:50
all private is how private property are they does even matter anymore.

Adam William Ward 34:53
Um, if it's private property, yeah, probably Matters, I'm sure But no, not at the place that we work. Private. Well, I guess other companies. But yeah, so yeah, we're but whatever

Alex Ferrari 35:07
you didn't put you didn't so you only busted out the cranes and stuff when you had permits?

Adam William Ward 35:13
Um I mean, we use the steadycam a lot.

Alex Ferrari 35:18
That's not touching the floor. So you're good.

Adam William Ward 35:20
Yeah, I can't think of any time No, no, we we had Jabbar. Yeah, we grill at some places with jib arms and stuff like that.

Alex Ferrari 35:30
But your your strategy is brilliant, because you're just you're like, literally like, these guys can't be this stupid not to have a permit. And that's your strategy. Like, you were just rolling so deep that everyone's like, these guys have to be legit. They have to be legit. There has to be legit. I mean, if not, they would be insane.

Adam William Ward 35:48
Yeah. Yeah, that's pretty. That was our strategy. I wouldn't suggest anybody.

Alex Ferrari 35:53
I wouldn't either. But it works. In Los Angeles. No less.

Adam William Ward 35:57
It worked because of me. Because I'm, I'm that guy that just says it's gonna work. I believe I'm like, I believe in my luck. And I pressed my luck. Like, as hard as I could press it. I literally like my Lucky Charms box was empty. By the end of the movie, I can feel I had nothing left of luck, all your lives, all

Alex Ferrari 36:15
your lives have been taken out all your nine lives.

Adam William Ward 36:18
They've built up again, you know, but at the end of the movie, I was stuck. We got shut down one day out of all the days one day, you know, we got shut down in my apartment. We got shut down at my heart. All these days grilling these crazy locations. And we're shooting in front of my apartment. It just so happened that we were shooting at rush hour. I was getting laughed at the same time I was getting. I was looking for something I was getting dressed for the next scene. I was very distracted in my apartment. What? We have to try to go under the radar a little bit. I go outside, they're directing traffic on my street. I know they got spotlights on the road, the whole roads laptop lit up like a like who's doing this? My first ad might.

Alex Ferrari 37:09
That's Yeah,

Adam William Ward 37:10
I didn't talk to everyone about trying to go under the radar a little bit. Now we could have got away with all of that not directing traffic per se. But on top of it. Everyone's yelling. So then the head of the neighborhood rot watches called in my neighborhood. And she's not taking no for an answer. She wants to see a permit. So we're shooting actually we're shooting the most iconic scene in the movie where we walk out in slow motion with Wally, for the first time in public the dead body. And it's just this the slow motion scene with the music. Well, that was shot with literally a woman to my left screaming. I don't want to see your permit. I want to see your permit. So I think at one point, Patrick, actually Mitch, our lead one of our lead guys looks left. He's looking at the lady in the shop. screaming at us. I want to see your permit. If you watch the movie, you might be able to see him glance left. That's what he's looking at. Luckily, the shot has no sound we wouldn't have been able to use the shot. Yelling. We got to take seven I wanted a third take but we couldn't get it there take she was like I went up to her. I talked her I was like oh my god, are you okay? Did we bother you? I tried to get to the root of the problem. So first thing I want to do because if we offend somebody, we bother somebody, I want to make sure that we're not going to do it again. She was not having that. She was like, I want to see your permit. I was like I have somebody go get the permit. She's like if I don't see the permit in two minutes. I'm gonna call the cops. And so I literally had to be like, I guys were shutting down because I know for a fact, we only have two more shots here tonight. Okay, we're coming back here in three days. And not only are we coming back here in three days, we come back here and three days, and I'm shooting people in the movie. I have people dressed as cops. We're not allowed to dress the cops. And I have people getting shot. Like I'm coming back here in three days. The last thing I want is the cops show up tonight and be aware of this whole frickin debacle. So I'm like saying, sorry, we're gonna shut down. I tell the whole crew guys, we're done. Alright, we're back out we'll go next location because they have another location that night to shoot. And the crews like totally salty and pests, everyone's super pest at this point. But I'm like, don't talk to her leave her alone. You know. And of course that my business partner actually was we went out to dinner with his parents. He didn't leave set very often. But he decided he deserved a break or something. He went to dinner. And when he came back, we were shut down. And he had a frickin mouth down. He followed the lady home like yelling at her and like I was like, Oh my god, but it was hilarious because my crew everybody wants to yell at the lady when they walk past her because she's literally on the other between my apartment building and where we were shooting. And like don't talk to her. Don't talk to her and James Babs and the guy who played while you did a phenomenal job. He goes to our way to destroy our thing ever. I'm making this silly goofy comedy, destroy our and he's wearing the full on American flag. He's in the outfit. He's a droid Are you say What did you say? She didn't say anything. What did she say? She felt bad I think after shutting us down saying how disappointed everybody was. But anyway, went to the next location. So when we came back here the next day and we shot the scene where the guy gets shot with a gun and and how, like, did

Alex Ferrari 40:30
you have blanks? Please don't tell me you shot with blanks?

Adam William Ward 40:32
No, we did not. We ended up special effects. We had the same special effects guys that did better actually worked on our movie I pulled favorites.

Alex Ferrari 40:40
Of course you did. Why was it you pull favorites. That was the set favorites. So then but so so then you just had but you still had guns and you had cops guys dressed as cops with guns. Not a good thing in LA.

Adam William Ward 40:53
So the cops eventually did get called that day. But luckily they got called after the cops was over, I got lucky. And that's why I shot it first. And by that time the cops and the guns were put away. So the cop posted up on my street down at the cul de sac. Just you know, like, I don't know, 50 yards, 40 yards from my house, my apartment. And the only thing we had left was all the cars. So we have the SUV we have all these lights pointing in the window. We have the camera strapped to the hood, all things you're not allowed to have without putting it on a tow truck. Right? And how are we going to get out of the driveway and pass this cop. So luckily, there's no lights on my street. So what we did is, we turned out all week, we set up all the lights, they're all pointing in the window, the cameras on the road, we turn out all the lights of the car, okay. And we drive down the street pull out of my drive, when we pull down the street and go around the corner, I get out of the car, I turn on the camera, I turn on all the lights. And then we proceed to go and we shoot we shoot for 40 minutes or whatever we come back to the apartment, a block or two away, I turn out all the lights, I turn off the camera and we pull in and he never saw the camera. He never saw any other than he was supposed to down there for hours watching.

Alex Ferrari 42:09
Just to make sure that you guys didn't shoot.

Adam William Ward 42:13
Well, he was waiting probably for us to light up the street again. Because she told him he was shooting in the street when we never shot in the street. We never went out there. So he's not going to come up to my apartment. He can't do that. So and he never was in a position to see my driveway. So we will go there. You know we we

Alex Ferrari 42:30
hear what you're saying. You're insane. Did you say actually and believe it or not, I had another filmmaker I'm not sure if he was on the show or not. But they were shooting in their house and a neighbor. And they had it was all everything was in their house. Everything was in their house. They had nothing outside it was all lit from the inside everything right? The neighbor calls because they're making too much noise. The cops come and knock on their door, Nick, do you have a permit to shoot? And you la you need a permit to shoot in the house. And they they and they they gave him a ticket. And they had to go to court and it was like $1,000 ticket. And it's like it's LA is no joke man they've made they know knuckleheads like you and me. They know we're going to go do stuff like this. And they're gonna get their piece. That's just the way it is. But so I'm assuming you had production insurance. You had production insurance for all of this, right? Yeah, you had to grip and all that kind of stuff. Did you do sag?

Adam William Ward 43:31
Yeah, we did. I do want to say though, I talked to every single one of my neighbors that are close. Yeah, what we're doing right? Number instead of you have a problem, let me know. Like, you know, and just kind of prepare them mentally. It was like, Please bear it. We're only here two days, you know, and only your one day, one more day. And, you know, they all like kind of knew what was going on. They didn't really like it. But they were like, okay,

Alex Ferrari 43:56
yeah. Because, because that you're guilting your neighbors because if they call the cops, they're like, dude, you got to see me every day. Like, why are you being that way?

Adam William Ward 44:06
I prepped them ahead of time. You know,

Alex Ferrari 44:07
that's a smart way of doing it.

Adam William Ward 44:09
Yeah. And I basically I begged and pleaded before knowing full well, that if somebody gets pissed, I'm screwed. So it was kind of like, Listen, I'm so sorry, we're doing this. But it's just the one day and I promise we'll be done before this hour, you know, so they just had to bear and take it because I mean, 3040 people running around my apartment. Were loud. Louder than than not being loud. We're definitely not a normal night, you know? But they were you know, they were nice enough. They were all

Alex Ferrari 44:38
they were set for that lady except for that lady.

Adam William Ward 44:40
That lady down the street. Yeah. As ever that lady down the street, and nothing else

Alex Ferrari 44:45
to do with her life.

Adam William Ward 44:47
everybody else's do busy with their life. Exactly. But, you know, I mean, you learn a lot, you know, and I also know I'm pretty positive. I was in a different city. I mean, I was golden. Really golden They're gonna say what's going on are your tools, you know,

Alex Ferrari 45:04
we'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Adam William Ward 45:15
So, I, you know, again, like I press my luck 100%.

Alex Ferrari 45:20
So I actually when I was at Park City shooting my movie, the cops made a U turn behind me as I shot that it was like, it's one of my favorite shots in the whole movie because they literally are in my movie. They make a U turn. I don't even shift they looked over at us and not because it's Park City. There's 1000 people with cameras running around, like you could do whatever you want during that festival. It's, it was brilliant, but, but I was nervous as hell. But after like day one, I was like, Oh, hell with this. As when we went to we went to Sundance headquarters and shots. Mind you, I did not get accepted to Sundance. So they might be a little perturbed I'm not sure.

Adam William Ward 46:04
By getting accepted Sundance, because you're, you know, they they're so about minorities right now, you know,

Alex Ferrari 46:10
hey, I'm Latino, man. Come on. Now, but you're not a gala. No, I'm not a gay one legged Latino. I need to be a gay, let one legged Latino, who, who really wants to dance, and used to be a woman, and robot all that. But he said, Listen, I put down if you're transgender, and you used to be a woman to get into it, you know what, and and all joking aside, oh, we're joking. For everyone listening. We're just joking. But it is true. If you look at that. I mean, they are all about diversity and getting as many different kinds of people in but I always thought, This is what I always said, like, if you want to get into Sundance, here's a recipe. It's make a woman about a one legged hooker. Who lives who lives in, who's Puerto Rican who lives in the Bronx, she she's a ballet dancer, she's a stripper by day, but she really just wants to dance, you know, and he like that, that gets in. That's a good thing that that

Adam William Ward 47:08
gets in, that'll get it. I'm not knocking it. They're supporting those people. And those people need to be supported. I just knew that while he got

Alex Ferrari 47:17
so much the Sundance movie,

Adam William Ward 47:19
you know, they're not going to a movie about some dead guy running around town. It's not their style, and everyone has their own style. It's all good. You know, you're gonna have to see it on amazon prime.

Alex Ferrari 47:30
So let's talk a little bit about your distribution, man. So what is your distribution model and your plan? And how are you planning to get it out there? Because it is a little bit more unique than usual.

Adam William Ward 47:40
Um, right now we're on Amazon. You don't need amazon prime to watch. You can just watch on Amazon. A lot of people like oh, I don't have prime, you don't need prime just while ago wasted. It's right there on Amazon. Ah, yeah, it's been successful so far on there. But we're not nearly as successful as we need to be eventually. But in about 30 days, we're going to be using aggregator we're going to be on all the platforms will be on video on demand on on Cox on spectrum on direct tv, iTunes, iTunes, Google Play on all the platforms. We're going to be on all the platforms soon. And we're slowly taking over a country by country right now we're in America, and we're in England, and we just got in Germany. And it's all independent grassroots. We did not go with a distributor distributors gave us some offers a few different ones. But ultimately, my business partner Seth Himes is a online marketer, like he's a huge online marketer, and he was excited to do the marketing for this and excited to see the numbers every day and, and analyze what's working and what's not working. And we have a product that looks like a studio movie. So we thought that people would purchase it like they purchase studio movies. And so far, it's been great. I mean, I just told you before this meaning, you know, Sunday alone 60 people rented the movie and and 10 bought it, you know, so just got to keep plugging away and honestly, we need to start trending on platforms and stuff and I'm excited to be on the video on demand because I think when you're new on video demand you're like top 10 on new releases and some edited about that that's just free advertising. Um, and yeah, it's very much a college movie so very nippy in that way. And it's a comedy there's not a whole lot of companies that are good out there. Oh, we have our little niche market and we know it and we're just going for it and it's been great so far. It's been really great. podcast or radio interview like every three four days. Be interviews is what

Alex Ferrari 49:44
But obviously you've been waiting for. For my podcast as a special one. Obviously,

Adam William Ward 49:48
Yours is a big one. loyal fans, you know,

Alex Ferrari 49:54
I have to I'm stroking my own ego. I appreciate that, sir.

Adam William Ward 49:57
You're a great interviewer.

Alex Ferrari 49:59
Okay, stop. Stop, just stop. It's not it's not genuine. I can I can sense it. I can sense it on this show. I know you are. No, no, dude, I know I don't when I heard the story and I saw the video This has been we've been trying to do this for months. God's like six Gods almost he got it's like August. I'll bet you in August of last year when we met. Yeah. And the movie was it was done. But you were just going through all the, hey, maybe this guy will pick it up. Or maybe I could get there. You were still trying to figure it out.

Adam William Ward 50:31
You know, that's the crazy part. And it's like, every step of this way. I'll say this. For all the filmmakers out there every step of this way. There's that dream of like, someone's going to come on board and make. And it just never happened. Every step of the way down making the movie casting the movie. You know, distributing the movie, every single time. It's like somebody comes along and they kind of offer you a deal, but it's not really a deal. And in the end, that is the thing I've learned the most is betting yourself. Like, if you know you're the hardest working person in the room there bet on yourself. I'm not gonna stop until while he got wasted. It's a classic is as a hometown is a classic. People talk about that indie movie while they got wasted. I won't stop until that's the case. And I can bet in myself, you know what I mean? And it's going to be a pure effort of like, I see the numbers every day, people run it every day, and I'm going to get it until it's millions of people. And I won't stop until this. It's it's the hustle, baby. It's the hustle. As Mark duplass says the Calvary is not coming. And then oh, it'll get easier. I mean, like, I got really lucky on this with a certain amount of people. We got the same dp is teamwork. Like I said, we got some great actors. We ketamine nominated, actually, she won a Golden Globe, Sally Kirkland. Larry Hankins in it. He was like, Oh,

Alex Ferrari 51:47
I know, Larry.

Adam William Ward 51:48
I did a movie with Larry. So many things. I mean, he's great. Alec soul came out of retirement. Alex holes in the back room. We did the Russian Roulette scene. I'm not sure if you know, he was phenomenal at it came out of retirement for it was just so great. And I wrote that rule actually for JK Simmons, which is really funny. And I thought JK was going to be in the movie. So I used to have this job. I used to inspect Tesla's right. And I'll tell the story. So I go to JK Simmons house. I'm supposed to inspect his Tesla. They're like, Hey, we I'm like the best guy to inspect the Tesla's at the time. So they're like, we have a job for you. We know you do show business on the side. So we have this Jeff, you say go to Jake Kay's house, right? I'm like, I have to have to talk to JK like I want to try to get him in the movie. And I want to try to talk.

Alex Ferrari 52:39
So how LA is that? That the Tesla guy that's coming over to check the Tesla's gonna pitch JK? Is pre Oscar or after Oscar. It's literally a month after the Oscars. There's just one actor and he's doing and he and he's doing the Allstate commercials Got it?

Adam William Ward 52:58
Exactly. Like go to his house, right. I'm like, okay, I just got to get them. I'm fine with them. I was holding my head up vacates, like, um, here's the keys of Tesla. Here's the car in the driveway. If you need anything, let me know when he walks back.

Alex Ferrari 53:13
As as he should, as he should. There's no other reason to have a conversation with I mean, unless you want to with the Tesla

Adam William Ward 53:21
tech. So I'm sitting there inspecting the Tesla and like, literally, my mind is racing or what the hell am I gonna do? Like, I have to have to talk to this guy. And I can't be weird about it. So what can I do? He's like, y'all done. I'm like, I actually I have to take a drive and we have to take a drive. We don't have to take driving. We don't we're not. We don't take pride. I made this shit up. So I did. Like, do you want to take a driving test? I'm like, I don't really feel safe driving. I think you should drive. I'll ride and just kind of feel how it is. We drove for 15 minutes. We drove 50 you

Alex Ferrari 54:03
had JK in a car for 15 minutes. Okay, everyone listening. You see, this is the personification of hustle. This is like he's just figuring it out. As he goes, Oh, brilliant.

Adam William Ward 54:18
I was so depressed when he went back and said, Oh, my God, like this opportunity is gonna go by me. I cannot let this go by. I'm so brilliant. So I got him in the car. We drove around. He's like, Is that good? I'm like, no. car drives on the freeway. We got on the freeway. so ridiculous. Like, you know, I'm talking to him about how it started. I'm talking to him about music. I'm talking. I'm trying to befriend him as much as possible.

Alex Ferrari 54:47
I'm assuming I hear he's a cool dude.

Adam William Ward 54:49
He's a very cool, dude. Very nice guy. very down to earth. Dude, I got the car with him. I said I have to admit to yourself. I said I watched whiplash last week. I'm a little intimidated. little little scary right now. And he was like he laughed. He was like, Nah, man, you got nothing to worry about. I was like, Well, if I was a way to disarm

Alex Ferrari 55:09
them, way to disarm them right there, look at that.

Adam William Ward 55:12
Like, if I was driving, one of the reasons I didn't want to drive, I figured you might be coaching like in whiplash. And I think I couldn't handle the pressure. And I couldn't laugh again, you know, and it was on there. We were just, we were vibing and talking and stuff. And by the end of it, I mean, we did a video together. I was like, it's my nose. Like when I wanted to do a video with him. We had a ton, you know,

Alex Ferrari 55:31
No, no, you did not do a video with Jake. Is it on video? Yes, I did. Yeah. Okay. So if it's on YouTube, everyone listening and watching, I will put a link or I will, I will embed that video in the show notes. Because that's gonna be genius.

Adam William Ward 55:44
Yeah, I did a video with them. Um, I lied because my sister's birthday was like, five months from that four months. I'm like my sister's a famous singer. I don't know if anybody knows that. zz words. My sister. She's, she's a great singer. But I was like, Listen, I have this idea for a video for my sister. It's a birthday. I don't know if you'd help me. Do he know who she was? You did not know. But um, like, he was just a nice guy. I'm like, I have an idea to do this video for where I sing or Happy birthday. And then all sudden, you interrupt me and start doing the whiplash thing. And like, No, no, do it again. And he was like, he loved the idea. And so we did the video together.

Alex Ferrari 56:24
What like with your phone, like right there?

Adam William Ward 56:27
Yeah, with my phone right there. Yeah, yeah, we did it in his driveway. phone number, and I got him to watch the parole officers trailer. At the time. He laughed out loud when you watch the trailer, which is golden. And I said, I'm about to make my first feature. And he said, you know, well, maybe, you know, maybe we work out maybe I could. Maybe we could do something together in the future. So I literally wrote the scene, the Russian Roulette scene in the movie for JK Simmons. I had a cell phone number at that point. And it just didn't work out for him to be in the movie. He had too many ways so much work, but he was gone. The whole summary was like in Europe for other movies.

Alex Ferrari 57:04
Yeah, I was gonna say I was gonna say the agents would have kibosh that,

Adam William Ward 57:08
oh, agents or were extremely against that he did. But then we almost had Bradley Cooper do the part two, but he was shooting stars born so we can get that either. Jake J. Bradley Cooper is really good friends with James Babson plays Wally. And so they were like college friends and everything. But he's like, dude, Bradley would probably do it for one day, but he can't he's shooting this movie A Star Is Born, which I didn't know how big it was gonna be at the time. It's his first time directing and he's having a baby with his wife. So it was like, there's no way he has the time to do it. But I was I get I've actually got Alex and Alex killed it. I'm super happy that Alex killed it, though. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 57:48
that is a great, that's just such an LA story that said, like, you can't do that anywhere else in the world. Like you can't, hey, I'm just gonna go pick because I've heard so many stories of people like trying to meet celebrities or like you saw that movie living in Oblivion, right that old like 90s, that movies about making an independent film. And the D i think it's the grip or the gaffer has a script in his back pocket the entire movie, or it's either the scripted gaffer, the DP, and he keeps trying to pitch it to the lead actress who's like that one actress who one time was famous as she's now doing into movies back then. It was brilliant.

Adam William Ward 58:24
Oh, absolutely. And the truth is, this is good advice for anybody. Listen, when you meet a celebrity, you can go for the photo. I mean, go for the photo if you want whatever works. But the truth is, this industry is so small, that don't pitch them. Don't try to get them any try to be friendly. That's the number one thing is trying to befriend them. Try to get them to remember your name. Try to make them laugh. Try to make them laugh. I always try to make them laugh. And I wish I knew that when I saw Steven Spielberg, I see Steven Spielberg every day when I went to DreamWorks, he'd walk in with his dog. I was terrified to talk to him because my brother got me the job and it's like, don't get fired. So it's like I can't you know, I can't talk to Steven Spielberg. Well, other than Hello, but I seem like every day, but why are you not like trying to make this guy laugh, like you have a tool, you good at making people laugh? make him laugh, you know? Now I know nowadays, it's like literally befriend these people. And that's what you need to do. Even if you can get them remember your name. You'll see him again. You'll see him again. You know, you see these people again. But befriend them. That's the number one thing if you try to pitch him, everybody tries a pitcher. I mean, shit. People try to pitch me now movie ideas all the time. I can only imagine if somebody else said the movie idea. And they're telling me I'm like, I have 15 movie ideas. I don't know how I'm gonna make all the ideas I have let alone an idea you have. And you don't realize like, any idea I have. I have to be completely in love with it, because it is a labor of love. Oh, you're going to be in it for a couple years. Yeah. So these movie stars. I mean, can you imagine how many people pitch them like they do? not want to be pitched, make them laugh, entertain them, get them to remember your name. And then leave it alone and see him next time or get a photo at the end, you know, if you want, but don't try to pitch them. It's the worst thing you can do. Because they're not everything that's business. They don't want to talk business, their agent talks business. You know, that's

Alex Ferrari 1:00:20
great. But anyway, but yeah, exactly. Like, you know, if you know, they play golf, or you know that they like a certain kind of movie or kind of music. That's how you connect with them in one way, shape, or form. You have to connect with people on a human level, not on a business level.

Adam William Ward 1:00:34
Not on it's like you going up to the CEO of Apple being like, I got an idea for Apple, like, you think he wants to hear that from the link.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:42
It's like the I it's like the iPhone, but it's like an iPad, but then it's on your wrist? Like we're good. Thanks,

Adam William Ward 1:00:51
Buddy. You know, it's funny. But you know, I know a lot of filmmakers watch this. And so that would be my advice to them, you know. And if any filmmakers are watching this, I'm Adam William Ward on Instagram, if you want to connect with me, oh, and you watch while he got wasted, and you want to talk to me at all about the movie, I try to keep up with all the messages that I get from people that watch the movie, and I really enjoy people that love the movie. So if you do want to connect way more on Instagram,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:17
And obviously if they want to pitch ideas to you, where do they go? To? And should I just tweet my idea to you, Adam, is that? Can I just tweet it?

Adam William Ward 1:01:29
I don't usually use Twitter, so you can tweet me all you want. I'm on I think I have like 150 followers, but I don't really use it. So

Alex Ferrari 1:01:38
Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests, sir. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Adam William Ward 1:01:45
Do it, do it, don't break into the business, make the business trying to stop trying to put your hand out to somebody else and start doing it yourself. There's every all the tools in the world are there for you. Now, we have high def cameras we didn't have 10 years ago, you don't need 35 millimeter anymore. You can self distribute your movie. You know, you have all the platforms, you can get an aggregator to put him on platforms. You can do it all yourself or you need his money, of course. But you know, you pull that

Alex Ferrari 1:02:12
Not even that much and not even that much.

Adam William Ward 1:02:15
No, I mean, you can pull off a lot with a little. If you're in any filmmaker, stop putting your hand out start start making your own business.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:23
Can you tell me the book that had the biggest impact on your life or career? book?

Adam William Ward 1:02:28
I would say reading I don't know. I just thought you your book. Alex is gonna make the biggest difference.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:33
Oh, you mean? You mean this book? Give me this one right here shooting for the mob that one

Adam William Ward 1:02:38
For the MOBS by we're gonna make the biggest difference of my life. No,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:45
Thank you for the plug within my own show. I appreciate that.

Adam William Ward 1:02:49
So that books a big one for me. I sent you a book called catching the white tiger, which I am now responsible after this week of writing into a movie script. Someone's paying me to write a note for Yeah, that's awesome, man. It's a book about a man's life story. We came to America and made it made it made it all come true for himself. And, and so that's going to take up a lot of my year. I mean, obviously, I'm going to do other projects, but I just got hired on for that. So that's awesome did. And that's actually a lesson to a lot of people out there too. It's like, you don't know what's coming next. What you just got to get your work out there. People see it, and opportunities come but you don't know what opportunities gonna come? You know, I hear people all the time. It's like, I'm gonna do this. And then this is gonna happen. You don't know what's gonna happen. Stop trying to figure it out. Yeah, just make it do it. And stop thinking about outcome outcome is not important in art. focused on the art and and have a plan. I'm not saying don't have a plan, like, how are you going to get it out there or any of that, but don't have expectations of what's going to happen. Like, that's out of your control. Like, oh, an agent, I'm going to get an agent from this. I'm going to studio movie next. And this, these are all things you can't control. And it's really just stupid of you to try to put that kind of pressure on yourself. Well, that's the kind of pressure that will end your career doesn't happen. It's the heart Why put the heartbreak don't have any heartbreak, just literally stay focused on what you're doing. And make a piece of art and or whatever, if it's mine. I don't know how much you want to do while I got wasted as a piece of art. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:25
I was I was gonna say something, but I just let you go, sir.

Adam William Ward 1:04:30
But, you know, that's what it is. You know, a lot of people are making this. It's hard to them. It's passion that drives it and just do that and focus on that and have fun doing it and stop focusing on an outcome. That's my

Alex Ferrari 1:04:44
Now what's the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Adam William Ward 1:04:48
Bet on myself. It's the same lesson. It's It's, you know how, you know, I've been in this now. 10 years hustling So much time was wasted on trying to wait for somebody to help. So much time is wasted on a studio or somebody saying this is going to happen and you just go home and you're excited. And, you know, but the truth is, like I've given up on that dream, and I'm sure that if I even happen one day, I'll get a studio movie or getting tight with Netflix or somebody and they're like, we want you to make stuff. sure it'll happen. I don't care at this point. I just don't care. I'm gonna keep making stuff because I want to make stuff. Stop waiting for people. You know, that's the number one lesson is go do it and stop waiting. It's the same thing with investors. I'm going to have a I think I'm going to teach a foam course eventually, but with investors, I learned so much on Wally and we didn't raise that much money. But we we raised enough to know and you got to realize when you talk to investors, I had 10 people turned me down, compared to the one person that did it. Or maybe even the ratio is higher, but I can sniff bullshit mile away on someone who's not going to invest. Because a lot of people want to talk to you about it, but they don't actually want to invest so much with all that stuff. And it does come back to not wanting to wait for people just kick ass yourself.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:12
So three of your favorite films of all time, sir. as of today,

Adam William Ward 1:06:19
Um, I mean, it's funny I Braveheart is I always want to mention because it's so well executed. He did it and he starred in it, which is mind blowing. I know how hard that is. And for him, he had 1000s of people that he was in charge of not 100 people. And the moral the theme of the movie is everybody dies, but not everybody lives and to have a film and comprehend conference, that whole ideology and show it to make you feel it. At the end of it. You're like, God, I want to do something spectacular in my life. He executed is enough.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:51
I'm gonna I'm gonna throw a quote that's gonna blow your mind. I just heard this quote today, and I'm going to use it on another show. Many most people die at 20 But uh, buried at 90. Yeah, Isn't that pretty? True? Isn't that amazing? I heard that quote. I was like, I'm sorry. Especially in Hollywood, they kill your dream. They at 20 you die. And then 90 you because they don't they don't go anywhere. They just stay. They stay in the safe zone this entire time. And it's it's especially in this.

Adam William Ward 1:07:23
That was one of the reasons I stopped working for the studios, you know, went to DreamWorks or went to Warner Brothers. Every single person around me, Todd Phillips, his assistant was a filmmaker was a director. But he was he was his assistant for 10 years. He was 10 years older than me. And I was like, what you want to be a filmmaker but your is it but

Alex Ferrari 1:07:42
Because they're hoping because they're hoping that one day Todd's going to come down go You shall direct?

Adam William Ward 1:07:47
Yeah, exactly. everybody around me was hoping to do another job. I found I found literally 80% of the people at the studio system wanted to do a different job. And I was like, and they were all 10 years older than me at the time. They were about my age. And I was like, I can't if I want to do what I want to do. I gotta go do it. I can't do this in turn to do that. I got to just go do it. You got to prove yourself. So you know, anyway.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:12
Alright, so so that's one. One. Really. Another one was predator back in the day. That's the best. It's one of the best top five action movies of the 80s. Just bar none.

Adam William Ward 1:08:23
I mean, you have everything you have the biggest buffets like badass dude,

Alex Ferrari 1:08:26
It is it. There's so much testosterone coming off of that film. It's just like you got to do what's wrong. You got the CIA pushing too many pencils. Like it's just that, you know, it's that heart that handshake with the two arms at the beginning of the movie, which is now literally a meme.

Adam William Ward 1:08:45
Brilliant. It's phenomenal. You have all the toughest guys in the world at the time in the end that are in cinema, and you have a monster that's actually worthy of killing a ball.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:56
Like, can you know, it's probably

Adam William Ward 1:08:59
How I was introduced to me was amazing, too. That's one of the reasons why it is my favorite movie because of how it was introduced. I was not allowed to watch it. I was too young.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:07
I was gonna say, and

Adam William Ward 1:09:09
I had to wait in the other room when my brother older brother watched it and I could hear the monster like Yeah, and I was so captivated. You know, I was like so captivated. I was six at thetime. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:09:21
And he's watching it on VHS, obviously.

Adam William Ward 1:09:23
Yeah. And then a year later, I was allowed to just watch the end and I saw the monster finally that I was just like, Oh my God, look at this monster. And then a year or two after that I was finally allowed to watch the movie. So it was like a four year process. And it was just the coolest look at monster I don't think they've got that monster right ever since the first movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:44
No really, man. I mean, it's been I mean, it's just it's hard to it's like perfection man. Like it's hard to take that that that that series anywhere else man. It was like, the only time I saw it happen was like with alien. Like Alien is a masterpiece but aliens is a masterpiece without without question, but then it kind of

Adam William Ward 1:10:06
Cameron took it to another level. He took thearchaeology and he went, that's why like, everybody's like, Oh my God really is going back and doing aliens. I'm like, Yeah, but James Cameron so I want to go back and do alien. anyone's gonna do it like really did amazing Don't get me wrong but dude the second one he took it to the whole of the left

Alex Ferrari 1:10:23
I mean and and Jimmy Jimmy's doing some some blue people movie again four of them in a row so he's all right he's kind of busy

Adam William Ward 1:10:29
Terminator. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:10:31
No no it will terminator he's producing Terminator,

Adam William Ward 1:10:33
But he's writing as well.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:35
I think he's writing it. So if he's writing it, I'll go see it because it hasn't been a Terminator since Terminator two. And actually, that's where they're picking it up from they're literally just gonna like nothing else happened. We're picking up straight from Terminator two.

Adam William Ward 1:10:46
That was one of those I heard about it. I get it. I can just get a caviar that movie

Alex Ferrari 1:10:53
You in every buddy else in your age range in my age range.

Adam William Ward 1:10:58
I'm gonna keep rockin do a while, but. And third. Third. Oh gosh, I gotta think about that for a second. I gotta. I'll throw in a comedy Wedding Crashers. Yeah. And at the time, actually, like it was the same year it came out I think, or the year after. I was heartbroken. It was the only movie that made me feel better. I just watched Wedding Crashers like over and over again. Like, it's just such a fun movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:23
It's both of them at the peak of their powers. Yes. Oh, and and and

Adam William Ward 1:11:29
I made them both movie stars. Really? I mean, like, oh, one priority was a movie star. But

Alex Ferrari 1:11:33
But that took them that blew him up. And I can't believe I'm blanking on his name. Vince Vaughn Vince Vaughn. Thank you. Yeah, Vince Vaughn. He that blew I mean, he swingers got him going a little bit. He did a few things. But Wedding Crashers just catapulted them.

Adam William Ward 1:11:49
I ran into bits recently, and I was like a normal guy, all the shit. But just like, a bunch of kids and stuff. So I just left them alone. I actually didn't talk. But oh, and Wilson I met was I think this is the viceroy or something. He's hammered. He's frickin drunk out of his mind. And I literally have three guys in a couch that DVD, and I and somehow the producer with him thought that he knew me. So I came up and I sat with them. And I was drinking with them. And he was like, they will waste it out of their mind. And the producers like Yeah, he introduces me at a different name. I don't say no, I'm not him. I just keep hanging out. And I handed him three guys in a couch the DVD and I'm like, Yeah, man, check out the show. You should come on some dive. It's just oh, you probably ended up in the trash. But you know, they were super friendly.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:49
More Hollywood stories. We should do a whole episode of just your Hollywood Story, sir. I have many of them. Now where can people find you? And while they got wasted

Adam William Ward 1:13:00
While I got wasted right now is on Amazon. Are you gonna do is Google go to Amazon and type in while they got wasted? Please write us a review. We need reviews on Amazon. It really helps us and rate the movie on IMDB in 699, around $15 I think the buy on there. And the movie in about 30 days will be on all the platforms. So you should be very easy to find pretty soon Google Play video on demand and everything. Yeah. And to find me, Instagram is Adam William ward. You can connect with me on there. I'm on Facebook too, but not a lot of people use Facebook anymore. And the same thing Adam Ward, you can google me Adam way more everywhere. I'm Adam William ward. And I'm going to be making a lot more stuff three guys in a couch is free on Amazon Prime parole officers is free on amazon prime. And while he got wasted is our feature which I mostly talked about tonight, on Amazon. So please check it out. And I hope you enjoy it.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:57
It has been a lesson in guerilla filmmaking in Hollywood stories. It's been an a very enjoyable conversation, brother. So thanks for coming on, man. I appreciate it.

Adam William Ward 1:14:07
Thanks so much. I was happy to be here Alex.

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BPS 367: Making Money Self Distributing Your Indie Film with Naomi McDougall Jones

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

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

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

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome the show. Naomi McDougall Jones, how you doing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 7:35
Yeah, I know.

Alex Ferrari 7:36
She was so wonderful

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

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

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

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

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 8:11

Alex Ferrari 8:12
How does that work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 21:46
Comic Con, Comic Con,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 25:18
so smart,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 28:45
from the, from everything

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 40:28
Yes, MLK Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 46:26

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 46:28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 1:20:29
The matrix

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 1:21:34
Of course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BPS 366: Using Filmmaking for Change in the World with Jon Fitzgerald

Today on the show we have filmmaker and author Jon Fitzgerald. Jon has twenty-five years of experience in the independent film, internet, and film festival communities, a rare leader with a unique combination of skills.  As a filmmaker, he has produced a number of award-winning documentaries; and as a consultant, he has guided many independent film projects through the maze of festivals and hybrid distribution models.

As a co-founder of the Slamdance Film Festival (1995), he led the event the next two seasons before being named the Festival Director for the prestigious AFI Film Festival in 1997.  After running AFI Fest for three years (1997-1999), he created a consulting business, guiding the launch of numerous film festivals (Bahamas, Lone Star, Orlando), directing several others (Santa Barbara, Topanga, and Abu Dhabi), and consulting to dozens more.

Jon authored his first book, entitled Filmmaking for Change: Make Films That Transform the Worldwhich was ground-breaking in the space.

Again, based on the premise that powerful stories can create change, Jon founded Cause Cinema, connecting social impact films to related causes. The Company acts as a filter to the best of social impact cinema, integrating numerous film programs, social action campaigns, and unique exhibition models, giving audiences the tools to take action.

Enjoy my conversation with Jon Fitzgerald.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 2:09
I'd like to welcome the show Jon Fitzgerald man, thank you so much for being on the show my friend.

Jon Fitzgerald 3:19
Absolutely happy to be here.

Alex Ferrari 3:21
Thank you, man. And like we saying off air. You your book makes a cameo in my film on the corner of ego and desire. When we're in the bookstore we pan across is the first book that scene in it. It's not a quick pan there's it's a moment you read the title. So I wanted to give you a shout out for for the book. I love that. I love that. So before we get started The reason it's here movie. Yeah, exactly. Now, real quick before we get started, how did you get into the business?

Jon Fitzgerald 3:51
Okay, I have a film degree from UCSB and broke into the train program at William Morris. And back then it was actually triad but it was it was acquired and did the development thing a while socking away my per diem, working on a script that I'd started in film school, and eventually raise the funds to shoot it. And like everyone else, really wanted to premiered at Sundance, but it wasn't to be. Fortunately for me, I had met a couple other filmmakers at the I FM in New York that year. And they didn't get in either. And so we all banded together and started slam dance. So I kind of by accident, became a festival director. We all did it together the first year as co founders and then I became the director for year two and three in Brighton. Peter Baxter was one of the producers of a film in the first year he came on as a creative director and then I moved on to take over As a fi fest director, and then Peter took over slam dance. So that's the short version of how I got into this indie film space.

Alex Ferrari 5:08
That's it. And Dan has been on the show, Dan Mirvish has been on the show multiple times, and he's great. He also makes a cameo himself. Oh, man, he hustles man, like, there's no tomorrow. And he actually makes a cameo in the movie, and his book makes a cameo. I tried to bring as many people as I could.

Jon Fitzgerald 5:29
He's great. And he, you know, I have to give him a lot of kudos. He's the one that you know, wrote the first press release that was in variety. And he was he was a big help. And he's, he's a great guy.

Alex Ferrari 5:42
Now, um, you wrote a book called filmmaking for change. Now, I wanted to ask you what the book is about, and why did you write it?

Jon Fitzgerald 5:50
Sure. Well, having done film festivals for a number of years, again, you know, as a festival director, especially curating movies, I found myself on a panel with Michael Lisi. And we're walking back to the hotel. And I said, Hey, I become more interested in what I call social impact movies and wondering, you know, why they don't have a book on this subject? What would it take to make that happen? And he said, Well, send me an outline and the first chapter and you know, if it makes sense, we'll do it. So that's kind of where it started. And it's true, I had become much more interested in, in documentary, and even narrative that that, you know, were movies with some social relevance. And so I did that book. And, and really was thinking along the lines with with some of the other books that this could be something that was taught in film schools, to really help filmmakers, learn how to take ideas, and make documentary, but not just talking heads documentary, but how do you how you take a core of an idea and sort of break it down into a narrative structure. And I used some other Michael ABC books, the hero's journey, for example, Joseph Campbell's hero's journey, and the 12 stages, I'm sure you're familiar with that. And so that was kind of the anchor for for the book and how to have, you know, development and production, and then distribution and how you could take all these pieces and think of these movies as, as, as more narrative stories, and and then I made a handful of documentaries along the way that I could kind of reference in the book as examples.

Alex Ferrari 7:42
Now, documentaries are an easy, an easy play for social impact. They're kind of you know, if done correctly, they're kind of built to do that. Where I find it a little bit more complicated is in the narrative space. Do you have any tips or suggestions? And also examples of narrative films that have really hit us has created social impact besides coming to America? Of course?

Jon Fitzgerald 8:08
Well, I it's funny, you say that, because I, you know, when I was writing the book, obviously, I had to do a lot of research to give it some context. And what you really learn when you kind of take a deeper dive is that a lot of movies over the years have been social impact movies, you're just not labeled that way. And you think you even think about, you know, Schindler's List. You know, you think of greenbook Yeah, right. If you think I mean, if you look at the Oscars the last few years, it's its spotlight, you think of a lot of big narratives that actually have something to say. And and so I think it's, it's not something that audiences are necessarily looking out for consciously. But I think because there's so much wackiness going on in the world. I think that one of the reasons why we're seeing kind of a spike in documentary and even social impact narrative is that people are more interested in learning now about the world around them in different cultures and, and getting to the crux of some of these big issues.

Alex Ferrari 9:13
Now, how do you dance though, the line between preachy and entertaining because if you start preaching, people tune off even in documentaries to a certain extent. I'm a huge fan of documentary and you know, the whole plant based food movement was started with a documentary basically with four knives. Yeah, I'm sorry. Forks Over Knives is in my book as a case study. Yeah, fork over knives, food matters, all those kind of what the health and cow spear see and all these other ones. So they're very powerful and even back in the day with Roger and me with with Michael Moore and his social impacts with his documentaries. Yeah. But how do you dance the line between preaching and entertaining?

Jon Fitzgerald 9:59
I honestly See think it's, it's it's a combination of different factors that don't necessarily all apply into each project, I think each kind of has their own their own anchor, obviously, with more you've got, you've got a charismatic figure who you kind of want to watch, because he's so crazy. But there's other, there's other documentaries, where the filmmaking style is really interesting, you know, you think about life itself, right? documentary made a few years ago, and they used animation. And this this, this, you know, this guy had grown up with with, you know, a disorder, essentially and connected back to Disney movies. And so I think it's really a question of what your style and your structure is, and, and if you can somehow weave in a narrative? Oh, I mean, there, there is a reason why, you know, there's a beginning, a middle and an end to most of the more popular stories, whether it's, whether it's a book or a movie, so, so I think that's the key. And I think, you know, filmmakers are getting it. And that's why if you look back, and to some extent, you could, we could thank Netflix, they've, they've really, you know, busted open the doors for documentary in the last few years, I think, with such a deep library, and, of course, HBO. So they're out there. And, and there's a, there's a reason why people are paying attention now. And I think it's because these stories are told in such an interesting way.

Alex Ferrari 11:33
The one thing I found interesting about your book, and what you're trying to say with it is that it does really fall into the concept that I've kind of been preaching about, profusely over the last six months, or longer, is this whole concept of being a film shoprunner being a an entrepreneurial filmmaker, and finding a niche, and then feeding that niche providing service to that niche, impact social impact movies are literally that you think, I mean, unless it's a very broad, like, you know, racism, or the Holocaust, or even that those are still niches of the larger society. They're kind of pre built for that, do you have any tips on how, because I know, when you're making a social impact, film money might not be a specific goal. But if you're raising money for a cause, for for a foundation, then generating revenue is as important as if it was going into your own pocket even more so than at that point. So still, revenue generation is still extremely important for, for filmmakers even doing social impact movie. So do you have any recommendations in regards to what you've seen over the years?

Jon Fitzgerald 12:46
Yeah, that's a great point. And I love the idea of your book, by the way, and I, I've consulted for a number of years helping filmmakers kind of figure out their marketing and distribution strategy. And one of the things that I've been saying a lot in the last few years is you really have to think of your movie as a brand. And you have to think about it as a product and not just find a distributor, stick it on that show. And, you know, see how many people might find it, I, you do have to do all the things that I'm sure you cover in your book, in terms of, of social impact, what's what's interesting, is, you need to have a call to action. And, and when I talk to filmmakers about this, it kind of all starts with the goal. And then you back into the process from there. And each film kind of has its own goal, right? Because a film about homelessness is not necessarily going to have the same goal as a film about the environment. You look at a movie like racing extinction, you know, they created an amazing campaign. And I don't know if you had a chance to check it out. But the the new book that the second edition, has a whole new section, which is called activation to your point, which is, you know, how can you take this idea that was built with a mission in mind and put it in motion? And I think what racing extinction did, which was brilliant, is that they they took this concept of, of climate change. And and, you know, they put different challenges in there with call to actions. And did you know that animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5% of global mission? I mean, and then they talk about the fisheries as you know that 90% of the fisheries are over fish. So they talk about these issues, and then they follow up with with questions and solutions and what you can do as a person to make your contribution and I think part of the problem is that people get overwhelmed with the idea that oh my god, there's so many problems. How can little old me make a difference? You know, and I think it does have to start with us and we have to just know that every little bit counts.

Alex Ferrari 14:58
Yeah, there's um I'm thinking a movie camp like boys don't cry, which obviously touched upon, at the time, really, you know that, you know, LGBTQ rights, which was something that was not even discussed when that movie came out really was kind of like one of those films. And it could have been at the end, like, hey, if you know somebody, put on it, go to this website, sign up, and get help, or whatever that might be or, you know, get assistance or whatever there is, there's always an ability, and I think the filmmaker just really needs to be very clear about what their endgame is. I've even seen big movies who that touched like, I mean, obviously, Schindler's List, you know, with, this was a social or social project that he that Spielberg created, which was, you know, to record every Holocaust survivor in America, you know, and he use Schindler's List as an as a catalyst for that as an educational tool. I think that you're right, that filmmakers really need to be very clear about what their endgame is. And also, I was going to ask you, how can filmmakers, depending on the the social impact of trying to make and the niche that you're trying to do? How could they? Or should they team up with organizations in that niche to get the word out in ways that you can't and also as a, basically free marketing, because if you're making a film about the environment, let's say we are specific, something even more niche than that. And there's an organization about that they have 1000s and 10s, of 1000s, and hundreds of 1000s of people on an email list, and they can market your film for free essentially, do you agree with that?

Jon Fitzgerald 16:39
Absolutely. Just hit it right on the head. I mean, with with virtually all of these, what I call, cause cinema movies, you know, the these are, these are projects that have not for profits, depending on the category, whether it's the oceans, or homelessness or education, veterans, you name it, all of them have organizations to support this effort. And, and it is, in a way, almost a sponsorship or a partnership agreement that that is developed between filmmaking team and, and, you know, company, really, it's going to them and saying, Look, I've got this content, and it supports your mission, how can we help each other? How can you get our message out to your audience base, maybe it's giving you some content for your website, depending on what their forum is, but it really does come down to understanding after you get past, you know, underneath the layer of the goal, it's what's your, what's your distribution plan? Are you are you interested in playing on Netflix or HBO? And what if they don't want you? You know, are you? Are you going to play in schools? Are you going to play in high schools you to play in colleges? What is your What is your action campaign that supports the screening? Are you going to have bumper stickers? Are you going to have T shirts? What is your call to action? And I think once you back into what your distribution model is, I did a movie a few years ago called the Milky Way. And it's about breastfeeding in America nice and restoring the nursing phenomena, right? It'll blow your mind just how bad America is at this. This, really, and kids,

Alex Ferrari 18:28
I trust me, I know, we did sue me. I was psychotic. And my kids were in my wife's belly. I was just like, I did so much research. I watched so many documentaries. It was like, Baby, you're breastfeeding. And she's like, I know, and Don't tell me what to do.

Jon Fitzgerald 18:42
But what's what's crazy, though, is is that a lot of people just assume that, you know, formula, the nutrition factor or whatever, but they don't they don't realize it's the skin to skin in a anyway I know about. I know more about that now that my wife did when she was breastfeeding. But But the point is, is that these filmmakers weren't making it to make money. They Yes, they were on Netflix. Yes, they got the exposure. But it was more about how do we do a screening campaign that will give mothers an opportunity to see this movie and who are the right partners to do that. So with that particular film, speaking of tug, unfortunately, we did a campaign with tugg. And frankly, these filmmakers did not set the bar super high in terms of how many people had to see the movie to trigger the screening their thing and look at their 1520 moms in that theater. We're good that we help we're in so they didn't do it for money. And it's it's it's a wonderful thing to see when you see the emails flooding into ladies. They're both they're both essentially nurses in to see the impact they're having and that is a perfect example of a social impact film that we created with a beginning, middle and end. It has a story. There's the good guys and the bad guys There's some animation. And it's an interesting, it's an interesting story. But it does make a difference. And they knew that it wasn't about how much money they were going to make. It was about connecting to these groups, and having their Facebook and their Instagram and all these social media platforms and websites, in that nursing category that could do outreach for them. Because as audiences want to know about this subject,

Alex Ferrari 20:26
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So let's since you've touched upon it, I want to talk a little bit about distribution. And that is, it's a dirty word, in many ways, and has become a dirty word. And at the end of the day, it's always wild, wild west, it's in people think it's, oh, no, everything's so much, you know, easier, or it's more controlled, there are rules, there's absolutely no rules, it's worse than ever. And I've literally, I actually had conversations today, actually with filmmakers, who are going through this whole tug situation if if anyone listening has not listened to Episode 373, where I, you know, break the story in regards to what happened with tug and, and what tug was and everything. But that there was documentaries, who had educational series and educational content that was licensed by tug. And now they're, they're going to lose eight to 10 grand and like, that's, you know, plus all the all the exposure for the cause, and everything. It's brutal out there. So it's brutal out there for filmmakers as a general statement. But it's even I think it's even a little bit more heartbreaking when you're when you're doing this for almost a nonprofit. And there are nonprofit filmmakers out there that just want the cause to get out there. And they still get screwed. And in the in the films get screwed. I mean, you're you're in that you're in this space, you're definitely in the space of distribution as well. So I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas about what can be done, what should you look out for? And we touched a bit a little bit about the entrepreneurial filmmaking model, which I do believe is the future or hybrid version of that. But what's your what's your take on it?

Jon Fitzgerald 22:19
Well, I I think I tend to try and look at things like a little bit more of the silver lining side, I, I do think that it is it is really disturbing when you hear about a stripper and tug. And these these, these companies that were doing so well for filmmakers that, you know, shut down. I will also say, though, that that by having so many new streaming channels, and frankly, channels that that aren't necessarily curating, there isn't as difficult of a barrier as there as there was some time ago. I mean, clearly, if you don't have a relationship with iTunes, you don't have a relationship with Netflix or HBO, it's gonna be hard for you to get good traction there. So I do think it's a challenge. I think, to your earlier point, I do think filmmakers have to be entrepreneurial now. Now more than they used to be. It wasn't just, I'm a visionary, and I'm going to create an idea, then give it to a sales agent who's going to rip me off and try and sell it. You have to, you have to build up, get creative on your own. But I do think there are a lot of opportunities out there, you still have to do your homework, you have to know who the right players are. And you still I believe, you know, some of these content creators are creating channels for themselves. Right. Roku has over 2000 channels now. Right. And there's gonna be some consolidation, of course, but but there's a lot of opportunity out there. You just got to do your homework.

Alex Ferrari 23:48
Yeah, I mean, I even have my own streaming service, you know, so that's dedicated to filmmakers. So I mean, a lot of people have streaming services. And, you know, I think the future is curation. I mean, you can't like I agree, I guess I can't compete with Netflix. Not many people can Amazon can't compete with Netflix, let alone me. So they're the broad spectrum channels, I think will start to just die off because they won't be able to be sustained, their funding will finally crap out and they'll end they'll close. And I've seen that already happening. But I feel that the niche, the niche, or curated channels are going to be able to survive because people will want you know, if you're into documentaries, curiosity stream is a pretty good deal. I just, I just signed up for 12 bucks for the year. I'm like, okay, it's Yeah, it was a quick like, end of the year ever Black Friday sale. I was like, Yeah, sure. I might wait, why Why? Why not? You know, so that that makes sense. And I think you're right, there's just so much more homework. That filming

Jon Fitzgerald 24:52
There's a lot out there. There's a lot out there and I do I do agree there's going to be some consolidation for sure that there won't be 2000 And channels in five years, but but the point is, do your homework and see which of these channels have your niche, you know, and and I do think that there is something to be said for curation, especially if you're focusing on a specific category, I think, you know, throwing as many ideas against the wall and just hoping a channel that has 17 genres is going to promote your title. That's, that's a bit more of a challenge. But I do think, especially for dogs, and some very specific, like sci fi, very hot, right. So I think if you if you if you're in a certain category, and you do your homework, and you can find a home, you have a chance to succeed there. And I still think having a website and, and having fans and creating community, as you know, I mean, those are, those are the audiences that would come and see your next movie. So I still think you don't want to just give it up and wait for the checks to roll in. You gotta you gotta gotta keep hustling

Alex Ferrari 26:03
When you're preaching to the choir on that one, but, but I see it too, that the distributors, you know, when I was at AFM this year, they're they're scared, they don't know what to do. I mean, all their golden calves are gone. So they they're, I asked, I literally asked a distribution company was in a meeting with me, I go, you guys really have no idea how you're gonna make money this year are you they're like, we're just gonna throw up things as many things up against the wall as we can and see what sticks and things are and the wall is moving. And the things you're throwing up against the wall are moving. So it's a constant game of musical chairs, and nobody really knows what's going on. So that's kind of why I always again, talking about entrepreneurial is the exploitation of the movie is one revenue stream. While you should be creating multiple other revenue streams from other products and or services, like food, like I mean, a fork over knives, I mean, those guys, I have them in my book as a as a case study as well, because yeah, they were really food matters. Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Even even Kung Fury, Kung Fury, that little short film, remember that? That guy he you know, the niche of 80s action movies? I wouldn't say that's a social impact film, but depending how you look at it, that's okay. That's okay. Um, I worked on a really bad Steven Seagal movie. You mean? So? Um, pretty much almost all of them except for the first maybe three or four?

Jon Fitzgerald 27:28
Yeah, well, I've done the ground I have to say like,

Alex Ferrari 27:32
Oh, wait, is that the one? Is that the oil one?

Jon Fitzgerald 27:36
Yeah, and actually on Deadly Ground is the one that I worked on.

Alex Ferrari 27:41
Okay. Horrible. It's horrible. It's someone with Michael Caine right

Jon Fitzgerald 27:45
Under siege I think was the first one right that he was actually decent at. So under siege way.

Alex Ferrari 27:50
So are arguably, this is my time of life. So I worked in a video store during this time. So this is I there's like I've said before on the show, there's a window of time that I will challenge anybody to a trivia situation. So from 87 to 93. I pretty much watched everything that was put out. So during that time there was above the law hard to kill mark for death out for justice. And then underseas showed up out in the middle of the pack. Yeah, so under siege, I would argue is probably his best and was his biggest hit and it was a warner brothers release. above the law. Not bad. I have a small good place for me in hard to kill. But I did remember he did on Deadly Ground. If that's if I'm not mistaken. That's the oil one in Alaska. Yeah, with Michael Caine. And he directed

Jon Fitzgerald 28:42
McKinley, Billy Bob Thornton. It was a it was an awesome cast. But he directed he directed it. Yeah. And he was

Alex Ferrari 28:48
so drunk on his own power. I could only imagine what that was like.

Jon Fitzgerald 28:53
But it was a cast of what not to do in studio production that that movie would check all the boxes. But that was

Alex Ferrari 29:01
but that was a movie if I remember correctly, that was a social impact movie. He was trying to say something about American Eskimo, was it Eskimos or American Indian and oil and the Alaska. It was Alaska. So it was like the natives of Alaska and all this. So it really was a bit preachy, if I remember correct, it was like a bit preachy. It was bad. It was just bad. nothing good about bad cinema. It it started to it started to do

Jon Fitzgerald 29:29
a lot about it, was it It puts the money in my pocket. Did I say I could get closer to making my independent film that was the kind of helped me get to slam dance. That's the that's the way to look at it.

Alex Ferrari 29:40
That's an absolutely wonderful way to look at it, my friend. Now, um, do you have any tips for finding funding for the social impact films because when you're doing a social impact film, funding opportunities are more relevant than the action movie star. Eric Roberts and Michael Madsen. So you have places you could go to get that work. Do you have any tips for that for

Jon Fitzgerald 30:06
the listener? Well, you know, I do, I do cover that a little bit in the book. And I have a list of, of organizations, and it really just depends kind of on how much you're looking for. There's probably half a dozen or so and I know seeding the spark has has a lot of information about that. fledgling, you can, you can go to the doc, the IDA, website Chertsey a really long list of organizations that support docs, a lot of grants. What, what's also interesting is that is the crowdfunding campaign is kind of shifted to equity crowdfunding, yep. And so now you can get a you can get a piece of the movie instead of just, you know, a T shirt. So, so I do think there are a lot of opportunities. And as we both know, you can you can make these movies for next to nothing. So it's just a question of how creative how creative you can be. But the other thing I'll just add is there are companies like creative visions, right, that, that really support as a fiscal partner, and with a lot of tools and outreach, and a lot of examples, and they have talks and they bring filmmakers in and they they really support this social impact space, with a lot of information and resources, that that are hard to find in one in one shop. So that's another organization to know about. And I think moving forward, there has been definitely an uptick in social impact cinema over the last 20 years,

Alex Ferrari 31:42
I mean, just from the moment where I was talking that little magical moment when I worked at a video store that you know, from there, I don't remember seeing many, you know, it was the ad so is a little different. But there wasn't a lot of social impact films, but they have becoming more and more and more and more. That God I can't believe unconvenient Inconvenient Truth. Yeah, that launched an entire conversation.

Jon Fitzgerald 32:05
I talked about that a lot in my book. Oh, that's what that's what triggered me.

Alex Ferrari 32:09
That was such a great, it was such a great. It's such a powerful use of the medium. I mean, what they were able to do, and I actually taught trailer editing in colleges and classes, and I bring out the Inconvenient Truth trailer. That trailer was so well edited. It was so powerful, and it's al gore in doing a slideshow slideshow, like incredible what they did. They made the movie he made al gore kinda cool. It was kind of weird watching that. And then you watch a movie like supersize me which completely started a conversation a global conversation about obesity and about food and about so much so that the multi billion dollar company stopped supersize. Exactly it was it It was amazing. So these films do do hit and in the in the just hypersensitive times that we live in where any little thing offends the corporation's are so sensitive to this. So if Can you imagine if supersize me showed up today? Oh, my. Oh, my Could you imagine? Because that was like, that was that pre that wasn't pre internet, but it was like early. It was early. He was really whenever that come out? Like That was the 90s it wasn't Yeah, it's more than it was more than 10 years ago. No, it's definitely the 90s if I'm not mistaken, but late 90s when when that came out so late 90s or early 2000s but it was like pre Facebook free pre insane social media. I know you're looking it up go ahead go look it up to try and find it while you're talking. But yeah, but so the I think that there is an uptick and I think it's a very powerful way for a filmmaker to make a difference in the world and also change minds and and help people with with this because we have we work in arguably the most powerful media in the world as far as cinema television content like the video content. You know, you can watch a movie and your life changes like yeah, make a difference you know, yeah, and and and it Yeah, so 2004 By the way, okay, good. I was I wasn't too far off.

Jon Fitzgerald 34:26
Not too far. But the the thing is, these movies are movies that you you start a dialogue with somebody that may not know anything about it, right? You see something it's like hearing a new song, you want to tell your friend about that new song, you see one of these movies in it and it strikes you somehow makes you want to talk about it and share the information and one of the things that I think is is the next wave. I started this bit with cause cinema and then I got sidetracked with these other ideas but is, I believe There needs to be a more concentrated approach at connecting the cause to the movie. And so that if you see the movie, when you finish the movie, you're actually on a landing page that tells you more about the causes, if you want to get involved or make a donation or read more about it, that's something that hasn't really happened yet. And I think, you know, participant media was, was the was the likely candidate to assume that role, and they did a lot with with their digital, and then they shut it down. So somebody needs to do that in a big way. Because what you don't want to do is see one of these movies that can really make a difference, and then kind of go out to dinner and forget about it, right? You want to be able to make a difference. And that's why calls to action are so important.

Alex Ferrari 35:51
Yeah, I just saw the film game changers, which was I just read that was the biggest documentary in iTunes history within two weeks, which about vegan athletes. And I've had so many people publicly now come out like Dolph Lundgren and iron, Robert Downey, Jr. and all these people that watch the documentary that just like, yeah, I'm changing. I'm not trying to preach here, guys eat your meat, it's up to you. But I'm just I'm just using it as an example of a film that's had immense impact. I mean, I haven't seen an impact in that space as much probably since either what the health or fork over knives wasn't fork over knives, the first that I

Jon Fitzgerald 36:36
think Forks Over Knives, well, I think food matters might have come around first, but I think Forks Over Knives is the one that really busted it open. And they were smart talking about your entrepreneurs. You know, they they had, they had a companion piece. They had a magazine, they had a website. I mean, they've created a whole franchise around this, but but i think i think that, you know, Louis, who also did the cove, right, yes. And extinction. So he knows what he's doing. He's got an Oscar and he knows how to make a difference. And I think with with that movie came out of Sundance last year, right, I didn't see it, they're game changers. So yeah, it's gonna have an impact for sure. And more importantly, back to your other comment about distribution. It doesn't really help if you have a message and nobody sees it. Right. So you got it. You got to find your audience and and not everybody's going to have the luck of, of an acquisition at a Sundance and and an iTunes,

Alex Ferrari 37:33
iTunes deal. And also having James Cameron or Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan as your executive producers. That doesn't, doesn't didn't hurt in the least. It's a man I wanted. I wanted to thank you again, for being on the show. I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Jon Fitzgerald 37:54
I think I think mentorship is key. Find people that are doing what you want to be doing, and reach out to them because most of them are willing to help. And and if you know what genre you want to be in, try and find somebody that's making projects in that genre. I think one of the other one of the other challenges is some people think they want to make movies, but it turns out, they don't want to make movies, they just want to be connected to the movie business. So I think, you know, part of the challenge is to figure out which part of the business you want to be in right? And and then figure out who can mentor you and give you advice on on on the best path to reach that goal.

Alex Ferrari 38:35
So I see you mean to tell me there's people in the business who just want to be famous and don't really care about the work stop at Johnston. Yeah. And next you're going to tell me distributors are you know, a lot of distributors are predatory. Like what do you what do you say? What is it's up is down, down is up cats and dogs living together? mass hysteria?

Jon Fitzgerald 38:54
I think the key is get into a train program and and be willing to do internships because a lot of those internships lead to full time gigs.

Alex Ferrari 39:01
Yeah, and if not a start punch. And if not, you start building that rhinoceros skin that you need that you need to build up in this business without question. Right. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Jon Fitzgerald 39:17
I think the lesson that I learned over time in the film business was I kind of believe that if you did something and you did it really, really well, that you, you'd be able to make a lot of money. I love that. That's awesome. And then I realized, okay, if I want to be a really good curator at a really good festival director, or I want to teach film classes, or write or write books, unfortunately, most of those don't generally pay. making documentaries is not going to make you rich. Now, I'm not saying I got in this to get rich. I'm just saying I think I kept saying I'm not going to think about The financial picture of what I have to do to get my kids through school. Sure, I'm gonna work really hard and, and so I think the lesson was, you know what you got to go the other way you got to you got to love what you do. And fortunately for me, I've loved every minute of this journey. I've got to make movies, I've got to meet and discover tons of filmmakers. I love what I do. But But you, the lesson I learned was you can't think about where the money is going to come from. And think that just if I do this really well, I work really hard. And I'm good at that the money will come because the truth is some of these, some of these categories in the film space don't pay as well as you know, producing a movie for 20 Century Fox. And even those films sometimes are Disney.

Alex Ferrari 40:43
Exactly. There's no more 20 Century Fox or Come on, come on, it's gone now. And three of your favorite films of all time.

Jon Fitzgerald 40:54
I have to say Citizen Kane. I saw it in film school. And no, that's kind of an easy answer. Life is beautiful. I had the pleasure of showing with Panini and everyone there at the Chinese when I was running a FF I love that movie. And Gosh, my third one. I think one of the most impactful movies for me kind of coming out of film, school. Sex lies and videotape.

Alex Ferrari 41:22
Yeah, Soderbergh's first film and actually what put Sundance in the mouth?

Jon Fitzgerald 41:27
Yeah, very influential. Well, he generalists are three, those are three, three big ones.

Alex Ferrari 41:34
Yes, even is, in general, very influential. What he does, and what he's doing now with iPhones is pretty insane. So I'm glad there's someone like him out there doing what he's doing. And for that, and for that same back and forth. And also, I'm glad that you're out there doing what you're doing, and fighting the good fight and helping filmmakers. Find not only, you know, meaning sometimes in using this medium to actually help other people, which is very important, but also helping them find their path in this business and in life. And if you once you get a taste of this, of doing something social and something that helps other people, it's fairly addictive. And very rewarding. Yeah, yeah, it might you might not live in the Hollywood Hills, but you're happy, you're happier, I feel but you know, you live in the Hollywood Hills and have social impact. I mean, look, Arnold did it.

Jon Fitzgerald 42:26
One of the taglines I use for cars cinema was she good? Do good, feel good? Hey, that kind of sums it up, right? You get to see good social impact movies. You want to do good, right? With the call to action, and you'll feel good for doing so.

Alex Ferrari 42:43
That's a that's an amazing,

Jon Fitzgerald 42:45
Thanks for having me. Man. I it's it's an honor to be here. I've been I've been listening to your show and huge fan.

Alex Ferrari 42:51
I appreciate that. But thanks so much. And real quick, where can people find you and you and your work?

Jon Fitzgerald 42:56
causepictures.com is is is kind of my my anchor organization. And then for the book, filmmaking for change, obviously.

Alex Ferrari 43:06
Thank you so much, brother, I appreciate you coming on the show and keep fighting the good fight my friend.

Jon Fitzgerald 43:11
Thank you, you too.

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BPS 365: Making Money & Cracking the Amazon Code for Self Distribution with Ismael Gomez

Today on the show we have a filmmaker that was able to crack the Amazon code and actually make money self-distributing his low-budget film on the platform. His name is Ismael Gomez.

Ismael Gomez is a Cuban-American filmmaker. In 2009, he received an Artist Fellowship grant to pursue his B.A degree in Film Production. After completing his studies, he began to work as lead editor on several motion pictures and commercials for theatrical and TV releases. Some of his projects have been screened at Cannes, Starz Denver, Tribeca, and Miami International film festivals.

His film is Death of a Fool. 

A teenager and his dying grandfather conduct afterlife investigations in Miami when a mysterious man hires them to find the secret to immortality.

Ismael was able to generate close to $75,000 in rentals and sales on Amazon using about $9000 in Facebook Ads. In this conversation, I dig in deep on how he did this, his techniques, and how he used the Filmtrepreneur Method to create additional revenue outside of TVOD.

Enjoy my conversation with Ismael Gomez

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 2:49
Now guys, today we have a success story as a story of TVOD, actually working with Amazon and cracking the code of Amazon and making money with an independent film. The filmmakers name is Ismael Gomez, and his film is called Death of a fool. And he was able to use $9,000 of Facebook ads to generate $72,000 in sales through teavana on Amazon. And in our conversation, I dig deep in his techniques, how he did it, what his ideas were to target his specific niche audience, and much, much more. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Ismael Gomez. I like to welcome him so his Ismael Gomez III How you doing?

Ismael Gomez 3:43
Good, Alex, thanks for having me on the show.

Alex Ferrari 3:46
Oh, thanks for reaching out, man. I appreciate it. Anytime there's a filmmaker who wants to talk about distribution and the truth behind self distribution numbers, raw data and all the other little warts and all good and bad. I'd like to talk to them. Because it's rare, like you said in your email. It's a rare thing. You there is not a lot of transparency out there. So before we get into that, how did you get into the film business?

Ismael Gomez 4:14
Well, you know, I was, so I was born in Cuba in Havana. And I was oh,

Alex Ferrari 4:23
I couldn't help it, man I have. It just comes out.

Ismael Gomez 4:28
So I was born and you know, I was born in Havana. And I grew up watching, you know, Disney Pixar movies. And actually, the first time I went to a theater was to see the Lion King and I was obsessed with it. Like when I came out of the theater, I was telling my mom and my dad like, this is what I want to make. And he started as a cartoon, you know, like animated films. And then my dad because he was very well connected in the artistic world. He would get me into the film festivals in Havana. And I saw Apocalypse Now when I was like nine See if you can imagine being nine years old and watching Apocalypse Now. So, you know, I got really obsessed with that and, and I had the opportunity when I came to the United States. So I came to live, immigrated to the United States with my mom, my dad was already here. And I came on a plane in 2009. And I went

Alex Ferrari 5:23
To everybody listening. Us Cubans were known for being good swimmers. To play my parents came on planes as well.

Ismael Gomez 5:33
Yeah. So I came here. And I always had the passion in Cuba, but I, you know, I finished high school, and Cuba. So when I got here, I went straight. After one year that I got all my papers and everything. I went to the New York Film Academy, and I started studying film, and it was a great experience, because they're very hands on, you know, so I really, I've never shot I mean, I've made home videos, but I was there shooting with extra film, like 16 millimeters at 35 millimeters. And it was a pretty cool experience. It was an amazing experience. And after that, I, I moved back to Florida, I got my bachelor's in film, because my whole family was here ready. And so after I graduated, I went back to New York, and I started working as an editor. So I realized a while I was in film school, I realized, all right, I don't think people hire directors. Not off the bat. Not very often. So directors end up always working on their stuff. So I have to develop a second skill, you know, and I also realized, for me in the editing is where really the magic happened. Like I would be able to save because my shootings were always super chaotic, chaotic. And when I got to the editing, I kind of like make things work a little bit. So I realized, like, this is where the magic happens. So I've got to learn this skill. So I got very, you know, well versed in Final Cut seven, rest and peace, and

Alex Ferrari 7:09
The recipes.

Ismael Gomez 7:11
And, and then you know, and then premiere when it came out in avid, and then Final Cut 10. And so I started editing and I started editing my friends, short films, my own stuff. And then I got my first feature film. And then I got my second one. And I ended up editing like, I don't know, like nine feature films already independent feature films. And yeah, so and then after that, I, I moved back, you know, my girlfriend was here, my family was here, I was up there by myself dealing with the winter, you know, my Caribbean flesh, she's not used to those.

Alex Ferrari 7:45
They don't like to fiddle with her so much.

Ismael Gomez 7:47
He couldn't deal with it. So I came back here. And I have this movie death of a fool. And I have division of my company, rabbit hole pictures. And at that time, moonlight came out. And I was like, I saw what Barry Jenkins did in Miami. And it was very inspiring. And I was like, you know, I can I can do this I can be, let's say a big fish in a small town. Right? I can start here. Try to make fantasy films, which I don't see actually when I was doing a lot of research when I made death of a fool and thinking about other fantasy films shot in Miami and I couldn't find anything. So I got very inspired. And I was like, You know what, I'm going to open the company here. I'm going to start making films here. And yeah, that's kind of like how I happened.

Alex Ferrari 8:39
So it's so funny because you you you've walked very similar path that I have, because I did the exact same thing. I was like, I'm going to be a director. But I see that no one's hiring me right now. Because I'm 20 whatever young. And I started getting into post and that's exactly and it's and I discovered the exact same thing recipes found that seven, but also just everything happens there. And that's sometimes I think a lot of filmmakers don't do that. They don't understand that you need to have a skill that pays you while you're chasing the dream while you're building those tools in your toolbox. That's extremely Sure. Well, you jumped on your first feature much patch took me 20 years to jump on my first feature, so you've jumped in much much quicker. So a lot of begging. Oh, I can imagine I can imagine. So tell me so tell me. Tell me about your film death of a fool.

Ismael Gomez 9:29
Okay, so death of a fool was actually based on a semester film that I did a nyfa the the Film Academy and so I have been writing it for two years. And I was already in Miami and I started submitting it to screenplay competitions. And then I ended up being semi finalists in like three of them and then quarterfinals in two of them and then blue cat it's a screenplay competition in LA We ended up winning it in 2008 2018. Joe, my co writer and I, so we both won the competition and they give you $10,000. It's the cash prize. So that was kind of like the beginning of the funding process of the film. So after we won blue cat, we ended up like talking to some investors that I have worked with in the past for other projects or other businesses that are that I was running. And, yeah, it just took a lot of convincing and, and really, in it also, I got very prepared in terms of, you know, not counting on Sundance and or, you know, the lottery, the lottery ticket, and really trying to think, how would I be able to recoup this money? You know, so we were able to bring a few investors on board, then I did, I would say, like, 30% of the financing myself. And yeah, we got everything together

Alex Ferrari 11:06
What was the budget?

Ismael Gomez 11:09
It ended up being, like, $103,000. So 100, 100,000, which was really challenging, because let me tell you this stuff that we pulled with $100,000, because

Alex Ferrari 11:21
It's a fantasy film,

Ismael Gomez 11:22
And you know, you got like, you have a magic fruit and you have like, like magical places, and you have it's like flashbacks, like the 70s. So there's a lot of crazy stuff. And yeah, but you know, I had an amazing team. That's what I can say the cinematographer, the producer, everyone was just so awesome. And that's the also the cool thing about shooting in Miami that not a lot of films have been shot here. So everyone was really excited about that, you know, people were willing to just work in give you good rates and all that to make the film happen.

Alex Ferrari 11:56
Yeah, that's exactly what happened with me. When I made my first film there. It was so excited just to be like, oh, someone's shooting. Let's Let's do this. You know, it's not bad boys. But we'll do it. Let's go. Which is really cool. Now, you when you made the fit, you finished the film. And I'm assuming you went down the the festival circuit and the distribution path. So tell me about what you felt. Did you do the festival circuit at all? What did you feel? Well, I I sent the film to Sundance, of course, because we all have to donate money to a reference retailer now.

Ismael Gomez 12:31
So I was like, you know, let me send it here. actually listen to my tog refer. Layla Kilburn. She was a she had been to Sundance like seven times, he even won with documentaries. So, you know, I sent the film to Sundance and I did. I think Sundance was the Film Fest, I had just finished it and I didn't want to sound like work in progress to film festivals, you know? So I sent it to Sundance and then you know, got the rejection letter. And around the time, I had a really tough call. This is the when we get into distribution, because then 2020 had just started, you know, and I had to wait probably till the summer when the film festivals were gonna open again. You know, like the fantasy film festival salsa like Fantasia. Yeah, Fantasia Fantastic Fest, you know, also, I was like, should I wait until the summer? Like waste six eight months and wait for this film festival? Or should I just launch? Do do a theatrical premiere in the Coral Gables the art cinema and launch the film? And on Amazon, or should I just wait for the film festival? So I really hate being passive. You know, and putting, like, hoping that someone else, you know, allows in by the way, I didn't I didn't even you know i i heard about the Coronavirus in China and all this. This was like in January, or February. And, and also I had an eye opening experience because I ended up going to Sundance with the co founder of rubber Hill pictures. One of my best friends, Larry. I told them, you know, we should go to Sundance even though we didn't get in. I feel that we hear so much about Sundance, and I've never been to Sundance, so we should go check it out. You know, and for me when I went there. And the eye opening experience that I had is that even people that I saw got into Sundance, were struggling to get a distribution deal. Oh, absolutely. And I saw I saw everyone hustling. And I'm like, okay, they made it here and they're still hustling and trying to get a distribution deal. I'm thinking they may get like, ripped off. So this is not even a guarantee, you know, so I think I might be better off off just distributing the film myself learning this process, I try to do my best and really be self reliant, you know? So So yeah, so I made the call and I told you know, I spoke to my, to the producer of the film. And I told her like, I think this is the way to go. And we had the screening. Here Coral Gables we it was completely sold out. And then two weeks later, because you know, it was still hot. And I I released the film on amazon video. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 15:32
No. Did you? Did you get some deals? Did you get some deals offered to? Yes, yes.

Ismael Gomez 15:37
So I spoke to a few. First of all, I saw all the episodes on indie film hustle about distribution, you know, and I wrote, like, I actually have a notepad and I've wrote every time that I had an insight or something that I didn't know about ever write it down and then revisit. You know,

Alex Ferrari 15:55
You were prepared. You were locked, locked loaded. When these guys came? I thought,

Ismael Gomez 16:00
Yeah. So they came, you know, they came trying to buy a few of them. I think a few of them have good intentions, I would say. But still, I was like, even though,

Alex Ferrari 16:13
What were the kind of deals you were getting, you know, don't say names, just kind of deals

Ismael Gomez 16:18
With sales agents, you know, I feel them wanting to wanted to charge me which I thought, I don't know, if you really think the film has potential and you can make some money. Why would you want to charge me? You know, upfront, I put, I guess, you know, they need to keep their business going and all that. But that, for me was a, you know, a red flag. I didn't want to, even though if you have good intentions, I didn't want to get into that because it was morning that I would use that I can use some Facebook ads, things like that, you know? And with distributors, they a lot of them didn't reply them. The ones that did, they had, like 15 year, you know, 15 year term contract. Yeah. And I was 15 years, like, you're gonna own my movie for 15 years. That's a long time with no money upfront. With no, no minimum guaranteed.

Alex Ferrari 17:09
And it was there any? Was there any marketing capital? Or? It was like

Ismael Gomez 17:13
100,000 $50,000 every year? It was. I was like, Alright, you're gonna spend $50,000 in my film every year, I guess, year they had that sunset. Yeah. And then and then you could you could, you know, you could, I was like, is this negotiable? And then there was said yes. And then Okay. And then they would negotiate and bring it down to 10 years. And you know, $20,000. And,

Alex Ferrari 17:40
But isn't that isn't that interesting that they said this a bunch of times that they throw out a worse deal to see if you bite and if you bite? Oh, good. I'm gonna screw you now. Yeah. And then if you want to negotiate, I'm just going to screw you a bit less scoring. At the end of the day, you're getting screwed.

Ismael Gomez 17:57
Yeah, it's kind of like they want to they want to stab you. Right? And they first put like a shotgun. You're like, Oh, shut down. That's really bad. And then they show you the knife. And so Okay, I guess a knife is not.

Alex Ferrari 18:09
Would you rather get your head blown off? Or just a little, a little stab in the back? It's just so so so. So then So okay, it's none of these. Obviously, none of these deals. After listening to everything I've said. You just said? No. If you wouldn't listen to all these podcasts, you might a bit Paulie. Yeah, probably. That's, that's, that's why I want that information to get out to as many as humanly possible, man. Yeah, it's a waste of me. Sure. What did they promise you? They promise you to get you on all the platforms, right? Yeah, we'll get you on all the platforms and somebody over at Netflix. So we'll pitch Netflix. I know somebody over at HBO, maybe I could get you an HBO deal. I guess I'm gonna Showtime, maybe we could do a paid cable deal. what's what's the special placement, well, then I get the special nice iTunes chart and all those goods. If you go with us, like if you go through an aggregator you're just going to be thrown in. But if you go with to get special placement on iTunes, and that whole scenario, it's it's so and it's getting worse. The predatory aspect of distribution is getting worse and worse, as everything starts to tighten, tighten around. So that's why I wanted to bring you on because you're pretty fresh. You're like this is happening within the last three or four months. Yeah, you read these off and

Ismael Gomez 19:26
Alright, so I had sorry, and even the ones that have good intentions, let's say they're still a business, you know, and they still need to survive

Alex Ferrari 19:35
Business markets.

Ismael Gomez 19:36
And if they have 10 films, and nine of them are performing better than mine, you know, they're gonna they're gonna sell those, they're going to pay more attention to those nine. It's not only that, it's also like I was put this analogy that it's a business right and if my film is a tangerine, let's say and people here buy watermelons. They will mark him Fill them as a watermelon to people who like watermelons, because they have to sell. And I don't want my Pete like, I want people who like tangerines to see my film, I don't care about people who like watermelons, because then that's where the bad reviews come and people, if I feel that I'm actually, you know, cheating, right, and I'm lying to people, because I made you think that this was one hell. And you came, saw my film pay for it, and now you're feeling happy. You know, and I understand that. So I that's, that was also for me, like, I wanted to have full control. You know, I'm a little bit creepy. So,

Alex Ferrari 20:35
Yah know, and obviously, so you're telling me that distributors might lie in trailers to get by the movie? I can't believe that, that seems so unlike. Yeah. Um, and that's the other thing that that filmmakers don't understand is when they do sign a deal with the distributor, unless it's in the contract, they have no control how that movie is presented. poster design trailer design. I mean, it's, I mean, I remember when I had my I had a short compilation, and a distributor picked it up, I was able to get it back from him. But he put on the cover some woman with a gun, what not? She wasn't even in the movie. It was it wasn't even the movie. I was like, what, what is it? What is this, and it's, it is a nature of what they're trying to do as the old model of doing things. So it's gonna be interesting to see how this is gonna keep going. So obviously, you decided that stuff, the traditional distribution was not going to be your path and your budget range makes it a good viable option for for self distribution. So tell me your journeys of self distribution and what and what's, what happened?

Ismael Gomez 21:47
So, you know, I started looking into how would I sell distribute, like, where you know, what platform I would use. So, you know, there was Vimeo, which obviously has an amazing, like, an amazing potential, because I think you keep, like, 90% of the revenues. And then there was Amazon. And then there was all the things like selling from your website, like gumroad, I think is called, you know, a bunch of those. But for me, just thinking as an audience, like, it's better, like people trust is a big thing, right? So people trust Amazon, people don't trust Vimeo or gumroad. Not a lot of people like 1% of the people so

Alex Ferrari 22:34
That movie going people, like people buying online products or courses or things like that, they might want to do gumroad and Vimeo, the filmmaker will understand who they are, but general public Well,

Ismael Gomez 22:44
yeah, so I was like, you know, Amazon is the best deal. And also, you know, even though I could have gone through an aggregator, right, um, I think I looked into film hub and bitmax. You know, I felt like, I don't want to sparse like, the attention. Like, I want to just have one place where I can send everyone and here's the film, watch it, which I also think if all the sales go there is going to help with the algorithm. And more people, they will promote her film to other people. Right. Right. So So I was like, you know, and I actually I did, I did a few polls on Facebook groups and stuff like that, where do you watch movies? And I would see, Amazon was always the top one. So I was like, okay, Amazon has to be and I thought of myself, I mean, I rent movies on Amazon. And so so yeah, so I chose Amazon. Which, you know, Amazon is amazing. It's great that they give the opportunities to filmmakers, you know, and I have spoken to them before it kind of it's kind of, you know, kind of sucks that they take 50% You know, I think I wish they would take less like like Vimeo, but you know, it is what it is you got to deal with.

Alex Ferrari 23:58
So first so for people to understand, so you they take 50% of your transactional?

Ismael Gomez 24:02
Yeah, like so transactional video. T VOD. You know, if you if you sell if someone buys a movie for $10.05 goes to Amazon and five goes to you. So they take 50% of them.

Alex Ferrari 24:15
Yeah. And you know what, I have the same. I mean, I self published my books through Amazon. And they're actually worse, worse than 50% sometimes. But the different that probably exposure. Yeah, you are the largest marketplace where everybody has their credit card, and everyone trusts everything. So a 5050 split might sound bad, but the amount of the amount of access you getting for that 50% is the only thing that makes sense for that scenario. But now if you would have signed the deal with a distributor than they would have taken a percentage of that. So at the end of the day, you might have 15% and now you might even get really 10%

Ismael Gomez 24:54
if you're not what I'm really curious about is like how much like how much Amazon I wonder if Amazon offers that same type of deal to big companies like Disney and Warner Brothers, if they give them 5050 or if they offer because I feel like, you know, a small businesses entrepreneur, the starting, they should offer better deals for us than Disney. But you know, that's that's not the way the game. So

Alex Ferrari 25:23
that's not the way the world works, but and we could have a whole episode talking about Amazon and how they treat filmmakers. But at the end of the day, they have opened up a marketplace that filmmakers, so let's take let's take Amazon off the table that they shut down into, like no more filmmakers. Yeah, that really, that really hurts a lot of a lot of businesses. So I'm really grateful. I think it's amazing. I think they're doing but I agree with you. It should be like 70 7030 is fair. 70 Yeah.

Ismael Gomez 25:51
70-30. I mean, I think it's amazing. I'm really grateful that I can do this stuff, you know, but if I have a basis in front of me, it would be something that I will bring up

Alex Ferrari 25:59
also also a Cuban brother. Yeah.

Ismael Gomez 26:05
So yeah, so I decided Amazon and then

Alex Ferrari 26:09
TVOD mostly right. Yeah,

Ismael Gomez 26:11
I personally, you know, I have seen a bunch of my friends gone through distribution and gone through Amazon too. And for me, something that I learned is to not undervalue your art. And this is something that I learned actually in the theatrical screening. So when I had the premiere of Coral Gables, we sold out the whole screening, and I actually brought some merchandise. And I remember, you know, it was like this, my cousin who's an artist made like this cheap printed poster, and like this wooden kind of like frame, and it was really beautiful. And we only made like, 20. And I was thinking, you know, I'm not gonna make too many, and we're gonna sell them for 20 bucks or whatever. Because, you know, not a lot of people gonna buy it and stuff. And like, we got there. We screened the movie. And right, when people came out, it got sold out in like, literally in one minute. And people want to like, we want more, we want more. And I was like, Oh, my God, I should have brought this more. Like, should we make more, you know, and the screening will sold out? Like, there were like, let's,

Alex Ferrari 27:17
let's talk numbers. So let's talk numbers on that screening. So you rent it out the theater, or was it a split?

Ismael Gomez 27:22
I for wall, the screening, so I ended up? So what are the costs? It was like, so they do by the hour, so it was like 250 an hour, and I ended up doing three hours. So it was like 750. And yeah, I did. I did like a q&a afterwards with the the cast?

Alex Ferrari 27:41
And how much? And how much did you end ticket? sales?

Ismael Gomez 27:45
Yeah, so I ended up using event rights. Again, for control, you know, I put the price on the tickets, everything. And between the tickets, and the merchandise I ended up making, like 13 1400 bucks. So it was a good day.

Alex Ferrari 28:02
Your, your profit, your profit, and about the merge how much the merchant take you over?

Ismael Gomez 28:06
Well, that's what the merchant was like. The tickets were like, 1100 and the merchant was like, 300. So combined, they were like, 1400 you know, today. Yeah. And I thought of I mean, I thought like, you know, I can't keep doing theatrical in Florida, South Florida, maybe, you know, do like five or 10 more of these, you know, um, but then I ended up like, two weeks after on February 20, I launched the film on Amazon. So the first thing that I did was Oh, so talking about Amazon for me, learning from that experience. I was like, you know, I'm gonna put my film for sale first. So you can only buy it for like only purchase option,

Alex Ferrari 28:53
and no rental.

Ismael Gomez 28:55
Just strictly because I knew the people that just seen the movie. We're going straight to get on T ball and we're going to rent it you know, there was a lot of people I got older emails that were waiting. So I went straight to T VOD. I think I put like 1499 was the first price that I did. And I put no rentals like the first week like the first 10 days because I knew it was going to be hot you know, those people were going to come and buy the movie. So I did that I put it for purchase option only. I get into any Oh, so I got a lot of you know, newspapers radio everywhere you know talking about the premier Coral Gables like local news. And and then a lot of social media and over Facebook and Instagram. And then I ended up just putting the purchase option for those 10 first day so and then only the let's say the warm audience the loyal audience right the true fans came those, those first 10 They purchased the movie. I can't remember the exact number of how many people you know, but I was. While that was happening, I've started learning Facebook ads, I already had, like ran Facebook ads in the past and Instagram, with some other businesses that I had in the past and also with the with rabbit hole on Instagram, but I hire someone to pretty much kind of teach me, like all the ins and outs, you know, all the tricks and little things. And even though you I thought that I knew a lot like this person really taught me a bunch of stuff that I was like, oh, wow, that's how it works. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 30:37
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Ismael Gomez 30:47
So, so that gave me a lot of insights. And I slowly started using Facebook ads and Instagram ads. And for me, what I think has worked so far, which I told you in the email, like, I feel that a lot of people always want to like, I want my film to be seen as many you know that many people as possible, see my film, right? And I found that's a big mistake. I mean, if they could see it for free, of course, try as many people as you can. But when you have to pay for the Facebook ads, you have to make sure that the person that watches the film, right though the trailer, the teaser, they're really, you know, they trust the brand. And if they don't know the brand, you know, why will they click to watch the movie? So for me, the name Miami, right was the that trust. So, for example, when I was running ads, I realized the copy that would get the most, let's say engagement was when I would put like a you know, Miami releases new mystical adventure, a new fantasy film, because I I thought if I put like rabbit hole pictures releases a new, you know, Mr. They're like, Who's rabbit hole pictures. But when you put Miami people somehow in their heads, that's what I'm guessing they're guessing like, Oh, so Miami, it's kind of like, made this film like the city itself. You know, it's it's made in Miami, so then I only targeted like 25 mile radios, racism and miamian. And that started getting you know, a lot of attraction, then, you know, a lot of experimenting, I think you have to do a lot of testing. Like a lot. Like, you know, I had a teaser on the one minute I had a trailer, which was a minute and 40 I had pictures. You know, I have different copywriting. And also, you have to get this is a trick that I learned also that you have to have social proof before you send out. So when I would first create the ad, I'd have like my small group of you know, friends and family that I will send it to them and be like, okay, like this comment that you saw that you love that or whatever. So when the advertisement will go out, right? You have social proof, someone sees and they're like, oh, there's people coming to you. There's people liking it. Let me check it out. Right. And so what I started doing also the strategy was I would do video views. So it's one of the options when you run Facebook ads. At first I started doing traffic, which was kind of like a mistake, but you the traffic strategies pretty much Facebook finds people that would click on the ad and would go to the website where you send them. But by doing video views, Facebook pretty much finds people that usually watch videos, like they watch the most percentage, let's say videos. So I started using the video ads, and that's sort of getting better results. And people will still click on it and go to the website. Right? And then I would do video views Monday through Friday, and then Saturday and Sunday I will do a reach strategy, Facebook ad, which I would say okay, so for Monday through Friday, I do this video views. And then Saturday, Sunday, I create an audience that everyone who watched the video from Monday through Friday 95% of like people who watched 95% of my videos right? I would make that an audience Facebook would find all those people create a custom audience and then on Saturday and Sunday I would just target those people again and with a reach strategy and be like okay, now reach as many people as you can within this parameter that I just put that they're ready a warm audience cuz they saw the teaser and find them and show them again you know, the trailer so that will bring that will bring really good

Alex Ferrari 34:57
You're using a you're using this based off of a 14.99 price point not that I started

Ismael Gomez 35:03
Yah when I started doing Facebook ads, I already had the rental option. So I actually brought it down to 9999 and 599. So I started seeing you know, what most of the rentals will be on Amazon and I saw a bunch of like new releases were not 599 for. So I put a 599. And actually, this was really funny because you have to you have to test things out. You have to just don't be afraid of like, sometimes people want to be tooled, like logical. And you think of like, Oh, my films, an indie film, who would rent it who would pay 599. And a lot of people don't know, you know, like normal audiences. They don't know. They just see. They just see a film and it's a cool trailer, a cool poster. Maybe they don't know the actors, but the genre itself, right, since it's a fantasy kind of mystical supernatural film, the genre itself will sell the film and if they connect with Miami, they will sell it and actually, I did a crazy thing for like a week. I didn't make a profit, but I broke even. But when the whole Coronavirus hit, they started doing this whole theatrical premieres for 90 9099. So actually up for a week, I removed everything that I put it for 1999. I was like, You know what, maybe people will confuse me with like Disney. And like any, like, the invisible man that was also coming out during that time. And, and like, I don't know, like, 10 people bought it, like 10 people bought it. And you know, it cost me a lot in Facebook ads. So I kind of like I ended up breaking even. So I was like, you know, I know that I can find more people, but it will cost me more. So let me let me just bring it back to to a different price. And I like what I had it before, but it was it was it was a you know, an interesting experience seeing that they were actually someone be willing to pay 1999 for the film, just like they would pay for any of those big studio films, you know.

Alex Ferrari 37:02
So it's not let me ask you in regards to the facebook, facebook ads, and Instagram ads, a lot of times I found that filmmakers who spend a lot of money on those, the ROI doesn't make sense to return on investment because they they're either not optimizing properly or their their offer is just too low of price, like you're talking about 99 cents, and when 99 to 9399, you've got to get volume, you know, so if you spend $5 to get a 199 rental, that's not business. So how did you make it work?

Ismael Gomez 37:33
Well, yeah, I mean, I kept the price of 599, you know, good rental, and purchase a 999. So I knew that every time there will be a sale, I will make pretty much $3. Right? So from 599 50%. So I knew that Okay, I have to make under, you know, under $3. And so I would make sure and this is really hard to what happens with Amazon is really hard to track the sales that come from the Facebook ads, because Amazon doesn't give you the information. Right? Amazon keeps all the data for them.

Alex Ferrari 38:13
So you have no so you can't do a facebook pixel with it.

Ismael Gomez 38:17
with Amazon, no, you can't because it's on the Amazon page, right? So pixel that right? They're not gonna let you pixel that. So you could I couldn't do a pixel. So it was, but what happens is that say, like people what I'm guessing like people, a lot of times they try many strategies at the same, like, what I would do is say I'm going to stick with one strategy one week to see the results of that week, right? And then I will see, okay, so this week, I spent this much. And this much came in. And you know, I wasn't doing anything else. And I have kind of the clicks on the Facebook ads. And I saw that, you know, every 25 cents, someone was clicking on the ad. So I started as kind of like comparing the numbers, and then after one week, I would switch to a different strategy. And that way, you know, I would kind of like know what strategy worked the most. But again, for me, it was all about that, like you have to know your audience, you know, and, for example, I also thought even though the film has a, let's say, the film is about a grandson, the grandfather, right? They're like afterlife investigators. So there is a younger audience and there's an older audience. And for me, I focused mostly on the older audience because they have money. Number one, you know, younger audiences I say it you know, for my sister they don't like to pay for stuff they want just free content, you know, cuz I mean, you know, they grew up on YouTube and even I sometimes they struggle like oh, should I pay it? Should I really rent this movie or Should I wait until it comes out on Netflix or any? You know? So it's that's just the subscription mode has changed, you know, people's mentality when it comes to that, right? So I was like, I have to focus on the older audience because they're the ones that are really going to pay for this, right. And most of the time, maybe they're bringing their children you know, their grandchildren, whatever, to watch the movie. Now the problem with the also have to think about the downsides, like the problem with the older audiences so so they don't leave a lot of reviews, right? Older people don't go on Amazon and start reviewing, you know, like, Oh, I love to film or whatever. And which actually, you know, the reviews is such a tricky game, because, you know, mostly like, people who only have negative things to say are the ones that go and review. Like you watch the world that is like this was the best movie ever. And you don't go on like IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes, and you don't review it. You're like, this was amazing. But then, you know, those pesky haters, negative people, the trolls, they just go there and start like, Oh, this was awful, you know, but it is what it is. But then I tried to like, you know, if I saw that someone watched the movie or tagged the trailer, or the post or something, I've messaged them, like, please, if you liked the movie, leave us a review on Amazon because it can help you know. So but it was a combination, Alex of of a lot of like, work on my site. I did, I did a lot of like, say, you know, guerilla marketing myself with you know, on Instagram, I, for example, the Coral Gables art cinema, I went on Instagram, and I saw you know, that they had 8000 followers. So I will go to each one of those followers, and literally messaged him, like, Hey, where am I am film company, we just make this film. If you like, you know, this type of genre go check it out. Literally every day, I would message onto like, Instagram blocked pretty much like you exceeded like your limit for today. So, you know, so it was it was a combination of things, you know, and like being on the Miami Herald on the newspaper, also, you know, brought sales and then just combining all that with Facebook, Instagram, and, and just doing a lot of work. And also, like I told you trying a lot of different content people, sometimes you create, we create a trailer and that's it. Like they market everything without trailer. Like, you know, I have Trailer Teaser short clips, like I least like out of my like 30 different types of like assets, let's say

Alex Ferrari 42:39
Right now. The the thing that's fascinating, as well as that you decided to focus on your local regional market, which is something that most filmmakers Don't think about because they're like, Oh, it's just the local, I need to be big. I need the world to see my movie I, I need to be as big as Terran to Dino and Nolan. I need to do that, where you focus on the regional, which is extremely powerful. That's a much warmer audience. If I can take your tournament, it's a much warmer audience. And a lot of people will just support because you're a local boy and Miami's not a small town either know, it's some big city, it's one city, it's one of the big in the US. Absolutely. So but even with that, you were still able to generate interest and revenue from that. So that's, that's a really great way of doing it.

Ismael Gomez 43:32
And that's not you know, that's also like, you know, this was like, I at the same time, while I was in post production, you know, I really studied a lot of like marketing, you know, like Seth Godin. Sure. Yeah, you know, the purple cow and there's another guy called Roy Sutherland he's from London you know, and really started marketing and, and try to learn as much as possible and one of the ideas is like, how, you know how ideas like spread, right and everything starts small like if you think about Facebook, how did Facebook start Facebook started in Harvard. And then it started with only Ivy League's right. And then once they got the ivy League's when people see something that they like, they will tell their friends and the friends will tell the friends and that's how things spread. So I was like, I'm only going to focus in Miami and then from there on, actually, later on, I started seeing there were some sales in the UK where I was doing no marketing, and which was really interesting. I was like, I don't know how people in the UK are watching this. But I guess they're just like because they see as an American movie. They're they're watching it but you know, I really focus just a local and make like I would target Miami 25 miles radius, right. And I will say people who liked Pixar, Disney, Harry Potter, you know, films that we've kind of had the same tone to my film. Um, and then I would also do besides that, and would narrow down down the audience that they would also purchase on amazon.com, which is pretty much everyone, but you know, but that would really put it, like, just find those people that have purchased on Amazon, which you know, that, like, they have Amazon Instant Video, whatever. And they like these type of films are similar.

Alex Ferrari 45:25
Now what? So let's get some numbers, if you don't mind, what are the returns of all of this work? And how much revenue Have you generated? With off of Amazon?

Ismael Gomez 45:35
So Amazon has been like, a $36,000 which That's insane. Which is, I mean, when you really think about it was 72 you know, but that's 36. To you. 36. To me, yeah. 30. So

Alex Ferrari 45:53
you generated 72,000 gross, off of this technique off of what you're doing. In your in your $100,000? Yeah, indie with no stars attached. And a unique genre being like fantasies, not, you know, it's, it's, there's less, there's less sharks, or less blood in that water, it's a little bit more blue ocean, if the fish is better in your area. So it's a niche. It's a niche. It's a large niche, but it's a niche. So you've been able to generate, and then how much does that cost you?

Ismael Gomez 46:27
And then yeah, and then $9,000, in marketing around $9,000. So far, so that profit ends up being like, what 27 plus the one I made in the theatrical premiere. So

Alex Ferrari 46:40
I don't know about I don't know about you, but I will spend $9,000 every day to get 27,000 Oh, yeah. All day, I'll just continue to feed that beast. So it's fascinating. You're one of the few heard of, you're making it work. Now you have a very, there's a lot of unique elements, like in every project, like and you mentioned range 15, in your email, that was a unique set of circumstances in a unique time period, every movie is going to be a little bit different, like your movie might be hitting at the right time with the right mood that

Ismael Gomez 47:16
Also helps in you know, the I mean, the whole vacation that everyone was stuck home, you know, stuck at home,

Alex Ferrari 47:22
looking for new fresh content, and then you just happen to be fresh content. I also know how to market it. Because I've done my homework, I've done my research. And I want you to I want to I want you to tell all the filmmakers out there, please, because I've been preaching this for the longest time that filmmakers need to understand marketing, they need to educate themselves on the distribution, process itself distribution process all the non sexy, because everything you're talking about is not sexy. It's not as sexy as the new Alexa with a new cook lens. Yeah, you know, the techno crane that I'm going to work on, and it's not the sexy stuff. Can you please tell the audience the value that you have found by doing that deep dive into marketing? Because obviously it's working?

Ismael Gomez 48:06
Yeah, I mean, I will tell you this, this is how I think about it. If you know how to market, if you know how to distribute, if you know how to sell anything, then you can make anything. Right? It's not like you make something and then like, how am I going to sell this? It's like learn how to sell things. Like I think of like Steve Jobs, which I think is once one of the greatest marketers ever, right? How he created apple and all those things, and he would find a how to like, think about it, I help people pay six times more for an iPhone, which is pretty much does the same as a as an Android, you know, an LG, like,

Alex Ferrari 48:48
It's just not as pretty

Ismael Gomez 48:49
Its not as good. And it's the brand because you grew the brand change by he connected with a certain type of appeal. And for me was like I thought about, like, you know, I have because people just like to make things that you know, as an artist, you just want to think about the creative process, but then you end up being you know, at the mercy of like, you know, distributor and sometimes you will find a good distributor but like, even if you have a good distributor, wouldn't you want to know how that works? And they might not even you, I mean if you know your audience, if you know your movie, your input might be, you know, so valuable for them that might help even with the sales. So for me, it's like you have to learn, you know, again, like I was recommend Seth Godin. Ma all his YouTube videos. He also has a course that I took online. It's called the seven the marketing seminar. Roy solid land from from Great Britain. You know, Gary Vee Gary Vee. It's amazing. Yeah. You know, he's actually doing tea with Gary Every morning at 9am I thought, yeah, he's, he's pretty cool. He's got a bunch of good stuff, you know, and and yeah, and of watching the film, hustle all the episodes about distribution, you know, try to learn as much as you can, because that's the only way that you can be self reliant and, and not depend, again on the lottery ticket of getting into Sundance and, and I also thought about that I was telling Larry the my friend, the co founder, I told him like, you know, like, I think of Disney, okay, there's so successful, but I think of Disney. I think of like, you know, Warner Brothers, they don't go to no film festivals, they don't care about film festivals. They go straight to the audience, why should we? And I love film festivals, I have nothing against them. Right, but you playing by the rules? So why should we be like waiting? I was I will keep some minutes of Film Festival. But we shouldn't be waiting for that to be our strategy. We should be just getting straight to the audience, you know? So So yeah. So that's that's it.

Alex Ferrari 51:03
It's it's an inspiring story. But I really appreciate it, you've been able to do the numbers that you've talked about, which is that no one's getting rich, you're not getting you're not you're rolling around in it. But it's a you're building a business, you're saying,

Ismael Gomez 51:17
Pay my investors that that's the most important thing now that I'll be able to pay my investors, you know, that I can talk again, for my second feature film that I want, you know, so it also creates that, you know, trust, which is really important, and I'm building my audience as well, people who already saw the movie and liked it. And, you know, saw the company in Miami, so

Alex Ferrari 51:37
I just thinking just thinking for listening to your story, I think you could definitely benefit from reading Rise of the film entrepreneur, I think your head's gonna explode. For sure, if I may do a self plug. No, I think there's a lot of I think you're leaving a lot of money on the table. Honestly, with this, but you're doing fantastic. By the way, you're doing better than 99.5% of filmmakers I talked to. So you're doing extremely well. But I think you could even do, you could take it to the next level. But I'm really, you know, I'm really excited that you are good example of what how filmmakers can make money on Amazon during COVID. This is all happening. This is all happening during COVID. And what are your plans now? Because you know, you did this all t VOD, which is something that unless you know how to drive traffic t VOD is a lost cause. Unless you can drive check traffic and target an audience or have an audience to bring along with you.

Ismael Gomez 52:33
Yeah, I mean, I'm gonna keep you know, sometimes the the sales are down. Sometimes they go up. It's a little bit you know, but I'll keep investing a little I think I may expand now to Florida. Try to expand to Orlando Tampa, you know, but yeah, I'm gonna keep in. I actually put, you know, I found the right spot. Now I have the movie for 299 and 1499. Because I feel there's a actually I feel that somehow I'm getting sales with a marketing sometimes I think Amazon is promoting the movie itself. Sure. I brought money for them. So I guess the, the algorithm or whatever. But I would tell this, also going back to the whole distributing and stuff like for me, I would never put my movie for free. That's just like,

Alex Ferrari 53:24
So your not, we're gonna put it it's about like Amazon Prime.

Ismael Gomez 53:26
And I see I would I would suggest to everyone, I mean, put 99 cents, you know, like, that's, that's an okay price. If you have a movie they unless, unless you really don't care about recouping your money because it was your own money or something and you just want to get people to see your film. And in that case, I mean, you know, you can also put it on YouTube, right? If that's your strength, but if you really have to make money to pay investors to recoup some money, forget about as VOD, like, you're not going to make a lot of money. Unless maybe you have it on. I don't know to be like a bought at other places, but just put it

Alex Ferrari 54:04
AVOD AVOD at a certain point when you're when your sales have gone down to a point because like nobody really makes a whole lot of money on the S VOD Amazon platform anymore. That's pretty much gone. But AVOD, as we speak today is a re I've seen the numbers. I mean, there's 10s of 1000s of dollars being made by certain films in certain genres. So there is potential there, but absolutely milk this cow for as long as you can. AVOD could wait, it can wait a year. It could wait two years before before you go to AVOD.

Ismael Gomez 54:36
Sorry, I forgot to mention that I actually I put the film also on film hub now, as as VOD because the rest of like other English speaking countries don't have T bot. So I couldn't rabbithole pictures. You know, I couldn't put it on the rest of like Latin America have to say also because I do have some Hispanic stars that are well known in Latin America. So and I have the movie subtitles. Oh, that was something that actually bothered me. from Amazon, that they didn't let me they didn't let me put Spanish subtitles. They don't have that option, which I thought like you're missing out on like

Alex Ferrari 55:12
they're they can't deal with that kind of complexity from the masses, they can deal with that complexity from distributors who handle 234 100 movies. And they allow that situation. It's a completely different business.

Ismael Gomez 55:25
Like if you go and actually no, no, like Amazon doesn't doesn't allow Spanish subtitles on any film doesn't matter. Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 55:33
Now they stopped it. Yeah, you're right. They did stop the subtitling and now it has to be I think

Ismael Gomez 55:38
it's so I don't know if it's a legal issue or what but I told him, like, Netflix has been doing this for like, years. And like, if you really want to compete, like you're missing on, like, let you know, the whole like Hispanic audience in the United States that would rather, you know, like, my, a lot of my family members, you know, they when I actually put the movie with subtitles, because they understand English, but you know, you will miss a lot of little details, not the same reading in your first language, you know, so, yeah, that was one thing, but through film hub, that now I'm putting it on Latin America.

Alex Ferrari 56:10
But have you had anything from them yet?

Ismael Gomez 56:12
Nothing come in yet? No, nothing. It's been recent. It's been recent. I haven't done any marketing also out there. So I'm just letting it to see, you know,

Alex Ferrari 56:23
See what happens well, keep us keep us updated on the film hub thing I'm really curious to see. I haven't heard a lot of success stories from film hub, meaning that filmmakers actually making a lot of money. So I'm curious to see, in theory, he sounds great in the in the in the marketplace. Sounds great. But I'm curious to see real hard numbers come in. But man, you're an inspiration, brother. Without question, I'm going to ask you a few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Ismael Gomez 56:56
Um, I would say focus on providing value to others, which is something that, you know, me as a director, when I started, I, a lot of my friends now that work with me had a really hard time working with me because I was sort of a dictator. And it was always like, you know, I would always think of my movie. And this needs to be perfect, because it's my film and my name is on is and I'm the director. And then that was just bring a lot of suffering, really, because I will be so frustrated and stuff. And when I kind of switched their mentality and started thinking about a be, you know, a provider value service to others to the crew, I want to, to really try to have everyone in the crew to reach their maximum potential in the cast, I want the actors to do the best performance that they can I want the DP to have the best images. And I'm just the catalyst for these people to really push them hard, so they can get there, you know, and also for the audience's going to watch my movie, it's not like watch my film is like, how can I really make your time worth that you can spend an hour and a half watching my movie, and you're gonna have a lot of fun. So I just kind of like switching that mentality of, you know, providing value to others in it really. You can tell when you work with someone who's just there for a paycheck, you know? Yeah, I don't I don't like working with those type of people. I feel I can see when there's someone there who obviously I want to pay everyone. And I think everyone should get paid, but they're there because they care about their craft more than a paycheck, you know?

Alex Ferrari 58:41
So I would say no. And what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Ismael Gomez 58:50
On film, or in life I would say, Don't take it personal. That's it. Don't take don't take film reviews personally. You don't know who that person is. If they like, if they like happy endings, and you had a sad ending, of course, they're gonna hate your movie. You know, they had don't take personal the film projects, the film festival rejections. Maybe they didn't even watch your film. Maybe that person had a bad day. God knows. Right? Don't take it personal. It's it doesn't. It doesn't say anything about the quality of your craft and all of your film. So that's it, you know?

Alex Ferrari 59:36
And then what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Ismael Gomez 59:42
That's a tough question.

Alex Ferrari 59:44
Three that come to your head right now?

Ismael Gomez 59:45
Well, I mean, definitely The Lion King, you know, as a child and in Cuba, I would say, I think of films in like different stages of my life. So I would say definitely as a child The Lion King and the gold rush from Chaplin.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:03

Ismael Gomez 1:00:05
Yeah. It's a fun movie. I always loved watching the movie now, as a grown up, I think, you know, I've seen brilliant films, you know, a lot of brilliant films, but I feel that films that let's say that I really saw and were like, really changed my perspective on what a movie could be. That I was like, I've never seen anything like this, I would say the tree of life from Terrence Malick and synecdoche, New York from Charlie Kaufman. Which is, which is really funny because I see Kaufman, which I think in my opinion, Jesus, he's the most original writer and creator like in Hollywood, when it comes to film. I think his stories are the most original. And I see him struggling to make to get financing and I'm like, I mean, if Kaufman is like going through this, I'm okay. You know? Yeah, it's fine.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:05
Exactly. Now, where can people find you your movie and you work?

Ismael Gomez 1:01:09
Well, the movies on Amazon, you know, Amazon Video and they can find us on you know, rabbit hole pictures on Instagram. rabbitholepictures.com. Rabbit Hole pictures on Facebook everywhere. Rabbit Hole.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:25
Yeah, it's my thank you so much for being on the show, brother to you. You're an inspiration. I'm glad to highlight a success story, you know, on Amazon in today's world, and teavana and everything else. So thank you so much for coming on and being so raw and honest with your with your numbers in your experience, man. Thank you, brother.

Ismael Gomez 1:01:42
Thank you, Alex. I hope this really helps a lot of filmmakers out there and you know, keep hustling.

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BPS 364: Producing Terrance Malik & Build a Mammoth Empire with Tanner Beard

Today on the show we have renaissance filmmaker Tanner Beard. I Had the pleasure of meeting him at the Mammoth Film Festival this year. His adventures in Hollywood are pretty amazing.

Tanner Beard is a film and television actor, producer and director as well as CEO of Silver Sail Entertainment and Mammoth Film Festival. SSE was created during the industry strike of 2008 with a concentration on cultivating professional media content without sacrificing the integrity and artistic vision of the content creators themselves.

Tanner has since produced various projects including a travel show, award-winning short films, award-winning documentaries, commercials, music videos and multiple seasons of a web-based television series. His feature film producer credits include critically acclaimed ‘Hellion” starring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis, and ‘Legend of Hell’s Gate,’ which he also wrote, directed and starred in alongside Eric Balfour, Henry Thomas, Jenna Dewan Tatum, Summer Glau, Kevin Alejandro, and Lou Taylor Pucci. Mammoth Film Festival was named by the press as “the biggest first-year film festival ever created” in 2018.

In early 2015, Tanner Beard entered into a four-film partnership with iconic Oscar-Nominated Director Terrance Malick and producer Sarah Green. ‘Knight of Cups‘ stars Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Cate Blanchett, Michael Fassbender, and Natalie Portman. The only documentary of the partnership, ‘Voyage of Time,’ was produced alongside Brad Pitt, who also narrates the film. It recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival and had its North American Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Enjoy my conversation with Tanner Beard.

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Alex Ferrari 2:35
I'd like to welcome the show Tanner Beard, brother, thank you so much for taking the time, man.

Tanner Beard 3:44
Absolutely, man. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 3:46
I appreciate it. You for everyone watching this and not listening to it only. You have like the coolest backdrop ever on the show. It's like you're literally in a beautiful.

Tanner Beard 3:56
$30,000 backdrop. We did a blue screen. I'm actually hanging I'm actually suspended on some wires right now.

Alex Ferrari 4:03
Right? And that's not even your face. It's all like James Cameron.

Tanner Beard 4:06
I'm in Wisconsin. This is a body double here. I think it has a studio in Pasadena.

Alex Ferrari 4:11
Exactly. So we had the pleasure of meeting for the first time on at the mammoth Film Festival where you are one of the co founders of and we're going to talk more about

Tanner Beard 4:23
Our second one, by the way. So yeah, I had somebody like any film hustle out there. So thank you.

Alex Ferrari 4:28
I appreciate it, brother. And it was you know, it's we're going to talk a bunch more about the mammoth Film Festival later in the interview. But I just want to tell you how much I loved Love, love the festival. Even though I was trapped for two days by the mountain of Kubrick style snow from the shining. We figured we could sell more merchandise

Tanner Beard 4:50
If we had everybody snowed in.

Alex Ferrari 4:52
It's very true

Tanner Beard 4:53
Because we sell a lot of gloves and scarves and things of this nature. So it was really just a ploy by the film festival to make more money for me

Alex Ferrari 5:00
And it works or I don't know how you got

Tanner Beard 5:03
A hell of a blizzard man. Yeah, I will say like for us on the on the mechanical side of it obviously it's like man just please let it stop snowing for two more seconds so we can try to get more people to the theater or get the people from the theater back over to like a an interactive panel discussion or get them to mammoth con or something. But for everybody it's like we're internally we're like thinking like oh man are not going to have a good time. You're not going to have a good time. It for us it was like everybody was like smiling and being like do this blizzards crazy right? I'm like you're happy

Alex Ferrari 5:41
I've never crazy and a few a few episodes ago we had dairy is bred on Friday for dairies and I met him at the mammoth Film Festival and both of us have never experienced actually being trapped in a location we've we've you know, like the flight has been canceled because of weather and you are in the town where the weather's happening I've had a canceled from flying too sure but never been locked landlocked that

Tanner Beard 6:09
Close the roads and everything too. So air travel It was like physical travel of any kind. But I will say it and kind of hats off to the town of Mammoth Lakes. You know, they did they moved heaven and earth. It was it was a festival in town so the bulldozers and stuff like you know, they didn't they weren't as fast as they could so hats off to the town of Mammoth Lakes for like making it possible for us to not have to keep we don't have to cancel one thing.

Alex Ferrari 6:33
No, no, no, that's true those those those and those bulldozers were no joke man I signed like,

Tanner Beard 6:37
And the tires on them or like, I'm like looking up at the tire. So it's pretty awesome

Alex Ferrari 6:43
It was pretty insane. Alright, so let's get so let's get into it, sir. First, how did you get into the business in the first place?

Tanner Beard 6:49
I started off as an actor. I moved out to Los Angeles in 2003. I used to be a if I was if I didn't get into the motion picture business. To be a pro golfer. It's what I was really into. Snyder, Texas. Shout out to Snyder Texas, Patrick Malone, Barry Tubb powers booth Kevin Alejandro. So moved. I got a I did this film contest when I was in high school. And I was really into like Guy Ritchie films at the time.

Alex Ferrari 7:17
Sure, as everybody was when that when that movie came out

Tanner Beard 7:19
Back from like lock stock. And I shot I think about what I did when I was in high school. I shot this town like run around with guns, and like the town square. But it's Snyder, Texas to like, Nobody. Nobody really cared. But there's also like, on any given Sunday, you'll see like to Turkey walking down the street in like our town square. That's how I kind of West Texas is places. So it's like, it's just kids with guns in the town square and not a big deal. They're kids, you know what I mean? So I'm thinking and we're dressed up like mafia guys. Anyway, I think about it now. And it's just so crazy what we used to do. And maybe that's why I won this film contest, because they were like, well, these kids must have gotten permits, and they're they're really taking care of they're really on top of it. We were just like crazy enough to do it. But I made this little Guy Ritchie esque type of movie. And, you know, for that reason, just getting to use the town is my asset, got a scholarship to Auburn University, which back towards Auburn, but I just didn't want to go study film in Alabama. Right. But yeah, but but I think at that time, I kind of got like, my parents were like, Oh, well, maybe these crazy videos he's been making, maybe they actually maybe we'll get somewhere one day. So with that said, I went to the New York Film Academy at Universal Studios. They're in Los Angeles, right there and Universal Studios. Oh, yeah. No, no, look, I get it. Like I remember as a kid like Spielberg's, oh, yeah, album, offices, there. And I remember one day course we used to smoke cigarettes back in the day, it was so much cooler. But I remember there everybody, everybody in the film business had to take their cigarette break. And they were all like, there was this one grouping area. But what was cool is you could see into Spielberg's office there. And I remember seeing him and Tom Hanks in there going over some storyboards for, I believe it was terminal at the time, and I just remember thinking like, I'm, I feel like I'm in the right place. You know what I mean? It's like, it was such a reward to be like, if I'm here learning film and Steven Spielberg's over there doing film, it felt like a really good place. So I've always kind of had a love for New York Film Academy just for that. And then you get to film on the background of Universal Studios. And this is like such a commercial for them right now. The big deal on my life is an 18 year old kid coming from, you know, tumbleweeds and pump Jacks out to seeing Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg do a storyboard together. So that got me out to Los Angeles. And I really meant was just trying to do the acting thing for a long time. I still do. I mean, I still love to act as long as I could do like one or two projects that I don't make a year. I still feel like I'm in the acting game, you know. So I've gotten to do some, some pretty great projects there. But My real, I think passion is just filmmaking in general. You know, I like to I like to be a part of great teams, great people, great projects. And luckily, over the span of 15 years, I've been able to work with some amazing people. And it's funny, I've gotten to do some really big movies, but like, the smaller movies that you have far more, you know, your hand dipped in are the ones I'm like, more proud of, like, I got to do a movie with like Christian Bale. But anybody somebody would talk to us, like, tell us what it was worth, like. What was it like to be a part of knight of cups? I'm like, yeah, it was great. So we did this movie in Spain, for like, $80,000 called six bullets to hell, and I just sold it. You're like, Yeah, that's great. So you know, it's just like a fourth of like, Who cares?

Alex Ferrari 10:44
Yeah, yeah. They just want to see who the big star stuff all the big stars and stuff. Yeah, yeah. Cuz you actually kind of made your bones coming up doing kind of DUI, DUI. Kind of filmmaking?

Tanner Beard 10:55
Yeah, man. I have a production company called silver shell entertainment, which I just found this old at this house. I just found this old like puppy thing is fantastic. I've been looking for these. But silver. So entertainment. We've gotten to do some really great films. We did Helion with Aaron Paul went to Sundance that was actually speaking of being snowed in at places. So my first Sundance experience. I was also snowed in, but up in a house. A bunch of us have rented a house, what year what year, that would have been 2010. Okay. And it was a horrible snow year, but like, we all thought it would be great. But that said, there's like 15 people staying at this thing, a bunch of just different organizations. I mean, it's like where I met Shane West who became a good friend of mine. But if you were up in that house at the time you were there you miss three days of the festival because there was no way they could like get you out of this house. So it was like this really weird scenario. Speaking of the shining man, you know, it's like this giant, somebody like giant mansion and we were just there, but it's where I get to meet you know, Steven Garcia, who I do business with today, Jeff caligari produce Waterstone entertainment. meet these people. Today, a couple other producers I stay in touch with and I was like how fortuitous. You know that kind of relationship where you said you got snowed in with with derrius you guys got to connect. It was cool that when I got snowed in at Sundance, I still talk to these people to this day. business with them. So it's kind of weird how the snowy mountain film festivals can sometimes really bring people together. Oh, absolutely. No. new slogan for mammoth is gonna be

Alex Ferrari 12:28
Snowed in that's the best that's the best networking you could do that working to do. What do you can't go anywhere? No, it's absolutely true. Like you got no Internet's down. You can't do anything all this kind of stuff. You're like, what are you gonna log? It's I'll talk to these guys.

Tanner Beard 12:42
Yeah, exactly. What's great. Hey, you know what? It's old fashioned. Just talk to another human these days?

Alex Ferrari 12:47
I know. Right, exactly. So you kind of tipped out a little bit about kind of projects you worked on. I mean, you've done a lot of indie work as well as a producer. You also direct as well, and do some directing as well. But you also produced with this, this young upstart? What's his name? Malik.

Tanner Beard 13:05
Going places

Alex Ferrari 13:06
Terry Terry Malick is

Tanner Beard 13:08
This kid he's gonna beat them speaking in New York Film Academy. I there was a class I used to study Terrence Malick in film school. Sure, because he is after getting the luxury of of meeting him. And I haven't had that many conversations with him directly when I have met them all years, that's for sure. Sure. And he's such I mean, he's you can ask anybody in the business. He is the kind of he's, he doesn't even make movies, he makes something beyond them. You know, that's how I've always kind of felt, when I got to know him a little bit better. I always thought of him as like, I was like, Man, you're like the Albert Einstein of filmmaking, because you're just you just see them in a different light in a different in a different way.

Alex Ferrari 13:49
He's on a different wavelength than the rest of us. There's no question about it

Tanner Beard 13:52
His his artistic nature is probably the most true to form because he doesn't care who you are. If it doesn't work. You're just if you're just not a part of the story, like you're just you're gone. You know what I mean? He's like, Edward Scissorhands. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 14:03
And he doesn't care who it is.

Tanner Beard 14:05
No, no, he does it but but not in a tacky way. It's just like, like visionary way, you know what I mean? He doesn't play into like it, you know, and, and on the day when he got to shoot them, it's like, it's I feel like it's more for him. I can't speak for him. But I feel like it's more for him where it's like, he got to see the whole story himself. So he'll show you the story that he wants to put together. And if you're a part of that, I think a lot of people are like I made the cut. It's like being you know, it's like an audition.

Alex Ferrari 14:34
Because I remember I mean, and for everyone, for whoever's listening who doesn't know who Terrence Malick is please Google Terrence Malick. He is a legend up there with Kubrick in many ways, when Kubrick his Eyes Wide Shut, Terrence had come out that same year and I think I forgot them I think it was last week or the new world. He was doing that. That same year, if I'm not mistaken might be mistaken. But and they were like to wrap Lucy's have been released because he hadn't made a movie in like 25 years or something like that.

Tanner Beard 15:05
Yeah, now he's I don't think he had made a movie since the Fed red Thin Red Line, right, which was which was the a one of my favorites. It is the most beautiful piece of art. It's incredible.

Alex Ferrari 15:15
It's amazing. It's amazing. So that's that's who Terrence Malick is. And you've been able you were able to produce for three or four of his projects,

Tanner Beard 15:23
It turned out to be four because one of them was extended. So I met Sarah green. I can't mention Mr. Malik, without mentioning Sarah green, because I wouldn't know you know, have had the luxury of being a part of those films had it not been for her. But with when Silverstone or timid did hellion Sarah green, took that to the Sundance Institute, the Sundance lab and had been working with them. So we got partnered up with her and Jeff Nichols, who's also just the best. And I was like, Wow, man, these are just two incredible people in their fields. And I was so you know, I've been working with Suzanne Weiner for so long. It was nice to get to meet Sarah green through her. So when that happened, it just allowed me to, you know, it's kind of like put yourself out there right place right time. You just never know, I can go opportunity's going to open up for you. But if you're never out there, you're never going to be able to be in that situation, you know, so I can't really describe how it happened. It was just a lovely time in my life. I guess you know what I mean? But in the back of my mind, I'm like, well, I've been grinding for 11 and a half years with not getting to that place where I feel like I'm getting to do something substantial. You know, it's a lot of indie films. I've done 25 movies up into that point. And nobody I you know, people ask you like, so if you've been in anything that I've seen, I'm like, No, have you seen like an indie film that came out like two years ago at NAB? I mean, it's just like, no, but then you say these names like, oh, have you seen Christian Bale's knight of cups? names on that one somewhere even though I had zero to do with it creatively. But, but but in turn, uh, you know, where I got to come in is in helping the team get that movie to the finish line. You know, those films like literally had practically already had been shot, there was just, you know, so much so much going on with all of them. Mr. Malik had shot so much and to get them out individually, that, you know, they still need to kind of bring on team members to come and help assemble. And so that was like a big deal, but it was the night of cups. With Christian Bale, Natalie Portman. Cate Blanchett, just the list goes on. Yeah, it's insane. And then there was another film called song to song. That was Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender.

Alex Ferrari 17:43
Natalie Portman, Yeah.

Tanner Beard 17:45
Planted a lot of the same teammates and that, and again, the list goes on and on with that. But one that I was that's really special. I got to I mean, Brad Pitt was a producer on it. And he also did the narration. But it was a film called voyage of time, which was a 45 minute documentary that Mr. Malik had been making for and I kid you not 40 plus years. He has been on this documentary for 40 plus years. And there's a much larger version of it too, that Cate Blanchett narrates, and that's the one that we premiered at Venice Film Festival. And like, I've never been, you know, my redneck Texas West. You know, West Texas asked had never been part of something like that. Like, I'm at the Venice Film Festival standing next to Sophocles who did a little, little thing called planet Earth. Sure. And, you know, like, a couple other gentlemen, like one of the gentlemen that produced Titanic, I'm just like, sitting there. Like, this is like, so surreal. And then after it's over, you have to you have to sit through like a 10 minute standing ovation, which is to marry and you know, the end, the Venice Film Festival, and even Berlin and stuff. So that for me was just like, it wasn't like a rite of passage, it was kind of like, I felt like a, like a, like a final Wish Foundation or something.

Alex Ferrari 19:06
I make a wish, make a wish, wish or something. I Make A Wish Foundation. Yeah.

Tanner Beard 19:10
Um, but I will say, you know, sometimes you do have to take a step back and, and really be grateful and also feel gratified for for the work that you do put in, you know what I mean, if you don't have if you don't take those minutes and say, like, you know, if you don't kind of reward yourself with saying, like, Well, you know what, man, maybe I do deserve to be here a little bit because of the work that I have put in for all the years and hell just being honest, and doing business in an honest form. I feel like got me here faster than trying to, you know, Snake my way through this industry where it's just like, you know what, man just keep putting in the time and the work honestly, and it will reward you. You saw an invoice and it did heavily from 2014 to 16. Really. Those are some big years, big years of my life. So I think I went to like 1215 festivals during that year because not only did I have my own press projects, but we had all these, you know, Malick films and stuff coming out. And then one thing that was really cool, went to the Toronto International Film Festival and Brad Pitt version of Voyager time was the first IMAX movie that TIFF had ever done. So I was like, oh, man, like now when they're doing IMAX movies, like 16 years down the road, or whatever, I'll be like, I got to do the, you know, I get to be part of the first one there. Which was kind of cool. But um, but yeah, it was just absolutely educational, and, you know, breathtaking to even get to have conversations with with Mr. Malik. And these films are, you know, they're they were well received more. So in Europe, I think, in America, just the storytelling and what people are used to, but they're made, there's some of the most beautiful, you know, some of the most, oh, my God, forgetting a huge piece of it. tchibo

Alex Ferrari 20:52
not to say chivo. Evo did the cinematography for these pictures, by the way, for everyone listening. chivo is arguably one of the greatest cinematographer of all time, and he won three Oscars in a row.

Tanner Beard 21:03
Yeah, I don't think anyone's ever done that before. And honestly, man, like, if he shot these movies before he went and made those, that's how long these were in post, you know what I mean? So like, this was his, you know, this was like his, like, starter, but he's, he's incredible man. So to have my name anywhere close to Sarah green, Mr. Malik, tchibo. And all of those amazing actors. He still feels like I'm not doing anything in the world.

Alex Ferrari 21:26
So Alright, so you have my my recognition there. So now you've done a couple, you had a couple of conversations with Mr. Malik, what is the best? First of all, what is the best story you've heard? Or like the best experience that you can share the interaction with him? And then also, what is the wisest thing? Or the biggest lesson you took away from working with him?

Tanner Beard 21:48
It just, these are both great questions, and they're just really cool stories if you're a fan of his at all. So one thing I kind of heard was on set that like, you know, he'll kind of do some takes, and the there's no scripts, you know, really, like, he's had conversations with the actors, they kind of find their way as they're making these films, which I think is why a lot of these actors get excited about the challenge of coming on and doing something so completely an utterly different, and then knowing that they have, you know, the safe hands of Mr. Malik holding them as they as they perform, and he will, he wouldn't ever let them fail. But I did hear that, you know, he would occasionally just write something down and just slip it to them. You know, like, for instance, I think it was camera, if it was Ryan, or Michael, or excuse me, Mr. Gosling, or Mr. Fassbender, who might call them by their first names. But I remember there was a scene where they were shooting, and then I think he'd wrote something like jump on his back, or something just out of nowhere, just to see how they would react to it. And also, that actor has to go and make that circumstance of real of why he would go jump on his back, he in his mind had to go figure that out, too. So that's the lovely challenge from the actors perspective of like, Okay, well, why would this character jump on his back? Let's figure this out. So I think that is such a lovely thing. But, you know, a couple takes one binding. On the note, the next thing you know, that actors having to pull it off, and this actor is having to react to it. I think that's what tchibo is there to can't capture so well. And for and for, you know, them to all kind of, you know, it's like Mr. Malik's the left hand and she was the right hand and for them to capture that. And work in tandem is just, I think, what makes this movie so special. So that was one instance where I thought like, What an interesting way to go about directing your picture. And then another one is when we were at the Berlin Film Festival, excuse me. Now, I'm just talking so much, but we were at the Berlin Film Festival. And this was even my first time meeting like Christian Bale, which was obviously like, really exciting to me. Just trying to like, maintain composure. I'm really excited to chat with Mr. Malik. there because I was I was kind of surprised. He came all the way to Berlin. he's not, he's not known for typically showing up but, you know, Film Festival, he didn't go to the actual film festival, but I got to talk to him at the after party and stuff afterwards. And we were sitting there and we kind of had this great conversation, which I wish I could say I really remembered, but it was just so like, I was just hanging on every word he said. And really, we were talking about everything but the film we were talking about sushi spots in Austin and you know, this is like, I got to have like a, like a buddy buddy conversation with you know, Mr. Malik, which was so much cooler. We're talking about like, why this whole foods is better to go to the mat and like, more cool because I'd spent so much time in Austin at this time. So I'd come back a little little while later and maybe the you know, the single cocktail that I had gave me a little bit more courage, but I was like, You know what, man? I would just I'd be I'd be I'm gonna regret it. If I don't go up and say like, you know, I would love to have this picture. You're with Mr. Malik would ever be up like a real special wall hanger and since we've been able to work together, maybe it wouldn't be that big a deal. So I walked up to him, and he was like speaking with kin cow and Christian Bale and I just my big dumb six four ass just walked over to him was just like, Hey, mister man, you got a second. He's like a Tinder Oh, yeah. And I was like, Hey, Mr. Malik, I'm on my way out before I went, just want to say thank you for everything, and it's gonna see if I get a photo with you. Oh, he's no, it was it wasn't like a bad meal. Okay, and I was gonna say he never takes mixers.

Oh, no, he doesn't. But that's what he said. And like me, you know, I'm 2028 29 years old this time. I don't care. I'm gonna go ask anybody for anything. Jordan, I'd be like, Hey, man, I'm on my way out. But do you care if I get a photo? And he'd be like, yeah, hurry up. Yeah, you know what I mean? So it's just, it's just what I did. But what was so cool about it? Is he was like, oh, tinner, I actually have this horrible phobia of cameras and pictures. He's like, but I would love to take a picture of you. And I'm like, saying I've ever heard so so he grabs my phone. And like he like, directly directly up against this doorway. And I'm just like, this is the coolest bone in my life. Meanwhile, my audience is Christian Bale and kin cow who's kin cows, one of the biggest producers in the world, new Christian Bale is like sitting there, like, is this kid doing? You know, in my mind, anyway, I'm sure he was like that pairing. But Mr. Malik kind of pulled me aside, and he just kind of like, got down. And he, he took a picture. And they handed it to me, and I was like, This is 1000 times cooler than me being like, no, with him in a picture. And so I have the picture here. I don't know if the camera can see it or not. But this is the picture that Mr. Malik took with me. Wow. And I was just like, I'm keeping it forever. And, you know, I need this to get a frame. But it would just be like, why is this picture of you in your bathroom? I like quick, that picture of me. You know, as a as a young filmmaker, as a person who never wants to stop learning and somebody who doesn't take for granted who they get to work with sometimes. That was a really special moment because it was so endearing from him. Yeah. And he took the time with me and just it was just a really cool thing that makes you want to kind of pay it forward. If you ever get to that point.

Alex Ferrari 27:22
That's insane. That's a very long winded Terrence Malick sport. Now what is what is the biggest lesson you learned from him? Um, well,

Tanner Beard 27:34
I mean, he just has this overwhelming fanbase of people that work for him. There's not one person that I've ever heard of working with Mr. malloc. That is like an asshole shoots forever. You know, it's like, everybody's kind of like, they're, like, being a part of his picture. You know, it's like, he's he's got the canvas. And you're either the easel you know, the brush or the paint, you know what I mean? If you're working on his set, and I think everybody really appreciates even being the easel, you know, or, or what have you. So, I don't know, I would say the way he treats people is a long way. You treat everybody nice, and then all and then people want to work with you next time. Even if even if the situation is great. Even if a blizzard comes in and wrecks your film festival. I found it very endearing from my team that they were like, you know what, man? We're gonna we're gonna take Saturday this next year. You know, so I think the way you treat people is probably the biggest thing I've picked up working for Terrence Malick, for sure.

Alex Ferrari 28:40
And one one last question in regards to Mr. Malik. There isn't anybody alive that I can think of that has his kind of clout or power to to make the kind of films he wants to on his in the way in the fashion he wants to do it? With the kind of cast I'm you're talking about the biggest movie stars in the world coming in? I'm assuming that working for $20 million is that's not these budgets of these films. They're they're basically like, I just want to work with you. What do we need to do to make this happen? The only person I can think that did that. Prior to me, too, was Woody Allen. And then also Kubrick and other than those three, there was really never like a carte blanche. Like Spielberg of course has that and Scorsese has that but but they play in different sandboxes their sandbox is a much more expensive. Yeah, you still like just to come out for like the mere fact of work part of it. Yeah, yeah. There's not that many guys alive doing it.

Tanner Beard 29:39
A lot of people show up for Rodriguez. But you're right, that's a different sandbox.

Alex Ferrari 29:43
That's also another different sandbox as well. You know, so what do you think it is about Terence? Is it just a myth? I mean, the mythos of him because he's

Tanner Beard 29:52
a big it's a it is because obviously, he didn't know him and you like there's people that don't know that, you know, I have actor friends. And they were like, dude, you gotta get me on the next family picture. I'm like, I don't have that capability. You're talking, you're barking up the wrong tree, pal. Yes.

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

Tanner Beard 30:21
You know, but it's I think it's the people that he surrounds himself with his production team, you know, Nicholas gandha, kin cow, Sarah green. I think a lot of those people have a big thing to do with it. Because they're all Jeff Nichols. I mean, you know, her and Sarah green, him and Sarah green, excuse me, you know, they make incredible films to with incredible cast. But I think it is just the fact that he offers such a different kind of theme park, that it's these actors want to come and ride those rides, because they've never written anything. I've never seen a theme park like this before. And I think the freedom and also the challenge, I think he's the only person who has the mental finish line in his head that, that allows them again, such a safety net to come and fail, Be courageous, make mistakes, and be brilliant. And I think Mr. Malik provides such a platform for that, that that's the allure of anybody I mean, to, to show up on set and have a little inkling of your character, but still not knowing what you're doing. But knowing that you're working with Natalie Portman across from you like that's, that's fun, man. That's that's about

Alex Ferrari 31:32
it's, it's terrifying, but yet fun.

Tanner Beard 31:35
And parents fine. Dad joke one, six are coming up. So stay tuned.

Alex Ferrari 31:43
I appreciate that. So when you so when you're producing that, how do you pick your projects? I mean, I'm assuming you get bombarded, especially after your track record, that you get bombarded with people going, Hey, can I make a movie, I want you to produce my movie, what's what's in a story or in a project that makes you go? That's it?

Tanner Beard 32:01
Yeah, man, I'm the worst producer on the planet. For the simple reason that I have my own projects, like we have our own slate of films, I'm still trying to like I'm trying to get this Christmas movie off the ground that I intend to direct. And I've been trying to do it for so long. But all these other things keep coming in where it's like, when it's your project, you're like, I can get to that anytime let me go run off and do this or whatever. I've been very fortunate and just, you know, I don't have any representation. I don't have people working for me, or, you know, I get a lot of emails that people wanting stuff for me because they assume I can do something for them. But I'm so out just trying to make my way in the world today. That I don't fund movies. You know, the little bit of funny, I just did a Bone Thugs and harmony documentary with my director, Tim new thing, but that was the only in house project we've really done since hellion, which was the 2013. So it's, it's hard to say man, but I, I'd love to talk about producing and help producing but I think these movies just kind of fell into my lap due to the circumstances of what I was working for. It assumes like I'm out there just producing a lot of stuff. I'm really out there, man, I'm writing, I'm grinding. I'm acting, I'm trying to get my own stuff off the ground, we have a great slate coming out. And really, I was so busy making these films up until about the end of 2016. And I'd always had this dream to do a festival in Mammoth. And Funny enough, there used to be the mammoth Film Festival in 2008. And that was the first film festival I ever went to. And, and, and you know CUT TO 10 years later, I've competed in everything from Sundance to Berlin, to Venice to TIFF. I've competed in probably the top eight of the 10 film festivals in the world. But my very first one ever was man, a film festival, which they stopped doing about 2010. And I think it kind of was going on during the 11 and 12. But they weren't really having a film festival. So I'd always just kept my eye on and I tried to take it over in 2010. But at that time, I was like dude, you couldn't even there wasn't even an airport in Mammoth, you could like fly into commercial. So much has changed. mammoth has grown to where I'm glad I got to go off and build my career up a little bit where I could come in and have a little bit more knowledge and like we bring in great panel discussion people because I've met them in film festivals from all over the world. So the festival world's been my life, huh? it you know, even I remember the one of the coolest film festivals ever had was South by Southwest I believe in 2017 where we had the opening night movie with with Gosling's song a song. And then I had a movie that I produced in Baltimore called Silvio. And then I had acted in a film that we shot there in Austin. And, and I was just like, dude, I've got a movie I produced, got a movie that i've you know, produced an accident. And then I got a movie that I just acted in all here at South by all premiering This is probably like the highlight of my life. So I took That standpoint and said, You know what? This is pretty cool. Things are going well. I think it's time to go and try to build mammoth Film Festival because I just acquired the name in 2016. So, I grabbed Theo Dumont, who's a friend of ours.

Alex Ferrari 35:14
Yes. The,

Tanner Beard 35:15
By the way, Theo also is Spike Lee's publicist. Yes. Tonight a couple years ago or a couple years ago, geez, couple days ago, there's

Alex Ferrari 35:23
recording. Did you see the picture of him holding the the Oscar?

Tanner Beard 35:26
Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. So Holly shorts is, you know, probably arguably the largest Short Film Festival in the nation. They do like 10 days of shorts. It's incredible. But that's all for your Dumont, who's a co founder of mammoth Film Festival. So I grabbed Theo. And I was like, Hey, man, I really want to make this festival in Mammoth. I kind of have the name mammoth Film Festival, nobody else can use it. Let's take a trip down there in January 2017. And go check it out, see if we could do something down there. And we grabbed Tomic Mansouri, who is who I was also doing a film with called Riptide. They got pushed. And I think that was another thing. We were doing this movie with Val Kilmer called Riptide. And he had some medical issues that held the movie. And so we we decided, well, let's not let's stay proactive, let's go do this film festival thing. This is a sheer sign of like, it's time to take a step back before you can take a leap forward. So we went out to mammoth, and it literally, by the time we got out here in January 2017, we left a couple days later, of you know, can we do a film festival here too, we need to pick a date. That's kind of how excited some of the people that we were talking to her about it. And with you know Theo having his experience, you know, me coming being kind of a film festival rat. And then Tomic with his, you know, work at events and coordination and overall design. It was kind of a Dream Team. And then we brought on other people like Alexandra chando, who's a great actress who's, you know, has had her own television shows and everything else. Excuse me, Dylan Efron, who's one of my best friends, Zach's brother, came on board. And Nicole Castro, so kind of started to build this dream team. But it really was like filmmaker, like filmmaker Festival by filmmakers. Everybody has like ties into the industry, which was really exciting. So CES kind of stopped producing, stopped making movies, and really started to concentrate on mammoth, which was hard for me because 2017 was the first year I never acted in a film I had acted up into in something. Every single year, from the year I moved out to LA to 2017. So I was like, Damn, man, like, this is the first year. I can't call myself an actor, which is like, what my overall passion led me to do. Like, I hate the acting industry, not not being able to have control of your career. So I think that's why I started, you know, making films and doing other stuff. But then those became far more lucrative. We're just kind of like, left my love in the dust, you know. But for me mentally, I don't have to say, I'm an actor, I don't need to go out and tell people that I just know that that's what drives me, you know? Sure. So that was the first year I'd never acted anything, because we're building you know, this festival. We're kind of building like a six lane Street. And like a town of shacks at the moment, you know what I mean, it's kind of filled with this festival. But if we don't build this six lane street in 10 years, you know, won't be able to facilitate. So we started out big and ambitious, and everything else. But with a name like mammoth, you're not gonna do anything small. Right? So I hope to get back into some movies. Like I said, we have a Christmas movie we're trying to do. But I think if I take even like another year off, and just really concentrate on building the solid foundation, there's no telling how high this building can be,

Alex Ferrari 38:43
you know, no. Oh, without question. I think the again, my experience with mammoth, I mean, this is the second year and I remember I remember Theo and them telling me about the first year of and it was an insane launch. Like it was the biggest first year ever for a film festival. You showed up, you showed up wherever you showed up big. I mean, you guys came with the guns blaring. And then this year, too, when I was there, I was like, this is a second year. I mean, I've been to hundreds of festivals in my life. And I'm like, this is a second year festival like this is insane. Like, you know, Yeah, I know. You've got amazing talent. You had amazing stars around you had great films, you know, and, and the only thing you could equate it to is like a mini Sundance like it. That's the only thing you can equate it to anyone who's been to Sundance and been to Park City, you're like, Oh, I can smell that same thing happening here. And I can see 10 years down the line, or even faster. This turning into a really serious, you know, one of those big top tier festivals without question. It's got the potential to do it without without question. Also, I

Tanner Beard 39:51
think during the timing that it's in, it's you know, it's right after Sundance. So some people are like I just went to the cold I don't need to go back to the cold but also you Sundance is getting up there in age and I would never disrespect Sundance in any form or fashion. But I think a lot of people have been Sundance. You know what I mean? I think a lot of people be like, I've been like three or four times. Yeah, but not a lot of people. You know, it's kind of like we're just offering kind of another alternative. And right now, there's so many fantastic movies that don't make it into Sundance. And sometimes won't make it into South by, because everybody kind of based on that Sundance check. You know what I mean? So what's been kind of great, and I think the reason we've had so many world premieres is it's very difficult to pull off a festival in February, because you have to start planning damn near in September, because you got to go through Halloween break, you got to go through Thanksgiving break, you need, like, it's all through the holidays, you got to like, it's like, your gears are turning and just the machines shuts off. And it takes like, several minutes for that machine to get cranking again, and then boom, it shuts off because it's Thanksgiving. So you know, it's it's taxing to do the festival in February, but at the same time when February rolls around, it's a great timing for people to like, have a little bit of time to go and stuff like that. I know, there's a little bit of pilot season and award season stuff like this year was kind of interesting, because Sundance went a week late. Yeah, Lin went a week early. And then the Grammys magically showed up during our festival. Last year, the only thing that impeded our festival was the Olympics, which we had Olympic parties, and we watched him here in Mammoth, hell, half the town, you know, practice here and the Olympic team practice here in Mammoth. So it was kind of like we embraced it, you know, as part of our festival last year, but there was no you know, Sundance was still back in January where it's supposed to be they weren't coming into February. But we do you know, we are we do like this time of the year we do like this event. And I think like I said, it's hopefully going to be if you didn't get into Sundance, maybe you got into to mammoth because we are offering like a marketplace here with so many great companies which I'm sure you got to you know, meet a lot of but you know, Scott so many people Paperchase films was here looking at spotlight pictures was here looking at movies, Lionsgate was here looking at film. So the fact that you can now hopefully by year 2020, come here to know if your movie got accepted as a world premiere, or even not a world premiere, or just a movie without distribution, you can get bought and sold at mammoth Film Festival, that's going to be the game changer for us. Because as me as a filmmaker, I know that would make a huge difference. Fine, go and, you know, dunk through Indiana, that's fantastic. But if nobody's going to play my AR, by my film, it's just just some people watching it. And that's cool. It's great. And so what this industry needs to continue to have, but like, also, it's a business, you know, I want to get my stuff bought and sold, I want everybody to see it not just you know, at people in a Film Fest

Alex Ferrari 42:48
Are you going to start doing you're going to try to do kind of like TIFF does with like a little mini market.

Tanner Beard 42:53
We started it this year, it was more of like, kind of the they had the outside looking in, there's not like a physical room that we're we're establishing yet. But I think already going into next year. A lot of the people that speak on our panels will also be there. You know, having meetings, you know, like trying to, you know, kind of like Cannes does, whereby just goes and sits on the beach and talks movies. And you know, so that's why I want to create here, but also can goes on for several days. And there's so many things going on, there's so many people there, you don't feel like you're missing out. mammoth is so tight knit and small. That like if we schedule something at two o'clock, I don't want people to go miss the world premiere of a film that we're having to show it two o'clock that maybe should be shown at seven so everybody could see it. So I don't want to South by Southwest and just spread us out and just other chaos. But I do want to have it like controlled areas where like everybody feels like they can go and catch at least 90% of everything at our festival, so keeps me old and condensed. I don't want to get too big for our britches too fast. But I wish that I said that you're one because we kind of heard we started off way too big, you know, never change it.

Alex Ferrari 44:08
You know? That's, that's awesome. And now I wanted to ask you, just from your point of view, what do you think the future is for independent media, moving forward independent films, independent series independent things, because the landscape is changing so much, and I'd love to hear your perspective on it.

Tanner Beard 44:25
It's going to struggle, you know, but I don't mean that in like a way that it's like, we should be fearful of it. Let me let me take that back. It's going to have to pivot a little bit and be it's kind of I think it'll tear off where it's like you have indie film, and it'll have its own world and that that world will eventually have its own walls around it because right now, so many people don't really go to the movie theater, which means everything you're watching is is on your your television or on your devices. But I'm very guilty of that, too. I have such a fast paced life. I try to catch stuff when I can. But when I do go to the theater, I'm like, Yeah, I love going to the movie theater six times a year for me. You know what I mean? I'm here. I wish it was 12. I wish it was 30. You know, but it just at the end of the day, the older you get, that's harder to get to the theater. But I think that's why film festivals, why there's so many of them. But why they're also so important is because it is that, you know, it's to say it's a car, it's a rock concert, man. It's like, I can listen to Led Zeppelin all the time. But when I hear they're having a real life performance, I'm going to do whatever I can to go, you know, so kind of the same thing with film festivals. It's like, Oh, yeah, well, I can watch this on my TV. But I can go watch it in the theater with the people that made it and the actors that are going to be there. You know what I mean, I could talk to them afterwards. I can't talk to you know, Josh, tomorrow after watching his, you know, movie buddy games, or Netflix or whatever. So I can call them up be like, Hey, man, that third scene, like, where do you shoot that?

Alex Ferrari 46:03
Exactly. There's, there's, there's definitely something very unique about the film festival experience. And that was the thing real quick, that the access, that you get to all of these celebrities and producers, is unprecedented. Like at Sundance, these people are ushered in and ushered out in the riffraff, we'll never be able to contact them. But at mammoth man, you just you're hanging out at the same party, the same everything. And there's, at least at this point in the game, it's still very open to access to them. I'm sitting there talking to producers and talking to actors and things that would never happen at Sundance, like you would have to sneak into a specific kind of party. Sure, well,

Tanner Beard 46:45
we want to grow, obviously, but we also I appreciate you seen that, because that's something that we're definitely striving to do is if you're at this festival, you're at the mammoth Film Festival, we want you to know that you're jshint standing shoulder to shoulder with everybody else's equals when you're there, you know, like, that's, that's a really cool philosophy. You know, if you if you do come to just see the stars or just see you know, a certain movie or just try to come and get an autograph, that's okay, too, doesn't mean like, you know, you're not, you can't be a part of this person. But that's why we think we try to do a little bit of both. We have these kind of, they're not networking events, they're just simple festival parties. Like we did the tipsy elves at ski lodge party. Yeah, that's something due to the nature of our location would be very fun. But also, like a good time to be like, man, I went to a party with, you know, Logan, Paul, or I went to a party with, you know, so and so it doesn't matter. Because the next day, we'll probably see, you know, Jessica Alba, like, on your ski lift, you know, went up there and then you'll see her at the world premiere of whatever showing at seven o'clock that night. So, but that was kind of my experience. My first time going to Sundance is, is I got to, you know, I got to like literally see Jessica Alba like snowboard past me my first time I'm trying to like learn how to snowboard and stuff. And like that was several years ago now. But 10 years ago, I was like, that was a really cool moment. I'm like, I want to bring that to mammoth. You know, I want to bring this this kind of accessibility, but at the same time, you're right, we do have to kind of be a little somewhat cautious and, and try to get people in and out. And also they're, they're here to to see their movies and do specific grass and you got to get them there. And you can't give me an autograph session or something like that. But

Alex Ferrari 48:21
But I will see it by the way. I didn't see any of that. I didn't ever sir. I mean, it was all very respectful. I know nobody's like you know, in for you to like have to fly up, set up shop in Mammoth for an autograph. You've got a lot you got you need some more things in your life to generate. I mean, if I'm like flying up like that.

Tanner Beard 48:40
I mean, I saw the way that the mall got mauled. And Jennifer Morrison, people love lamorne Morris, who was out here a lot of people were like, should I go take a picture? And I'm like, I'm not the picture police. Everyone's right there. Go talk to him. I don't know what to do. Exactly. Pretty we have I don't know if you get to go to the mammoth media Institute is kind of like our 501 c three. It's what kind of houses the film festival in our film summit, which is our film education program, our interactive panel discussion. But as a 501 c three we try to like do fundraisers and whatnot. So we can do things like the mammoth Film Festival. But we have a really cool bowling tournament. I don't know if you get to all I came to it. It's that celebrity charity bowling tournament. And last year was our first one and it was a blast. But what we did learn is like we just allowed too many cameras everywhere. Because we wanted everybody to capture it. It was our first one this year we really tried to structure it more so like more of a contest you know like last year it was more kind of a free for all like who won I don't know it doesn't matter. We're having fun. This year was like No, team one versus team two. You know, it was like kind of a big deal but it got really heated inside of the octagon if you will. And we had a you know stadium seating on the seats and just found got a lot more involved in that but that's another thing if you did happen To go to a panel and you might have missed seeing somebody that you wanted to see on the red carpet or seeing their film or something like that, at least with the with the bowling opportunity, if you come to that, you know, you get a chance to kind of see everybody condensed, you know where you're not bowling with them. It's a it's a tournament for the you know, the for the charity, but it's really cool to say, oh, man, I miss getting to see so and so on the red carpet, but it's really cool. I get to see him I'm three feet away from him now and they're bowling how much more fun is this? So that's something that isn't film related, but it is film related with the people we try to cherry pick the players from people who have movies, you know, in the festival and stuff like that. So it's it's become a lot of fun. But I think even next year, the bowling tournament is going to be really intense and with some heavy hitters I think we're doing a golf tournament fundraiser this year so

Alex Ferrari 50:49
you get I don't know how you're gonna golf and mammoth this time a year at least

Tanner Beard 50:53
No, not this time of year it will be in June but Mammoth Lakes does have a beautiful Gaucho beautiful golf courses here. And so we're gonna have some fun, nice when that stuff so

Alex Ferrari 51:02
So let me ask you a question in regards to your what you wish it would have happened when you were younger? What do you wish someone would have told you at the beginning of your career?

Tanner Beard 51:15
I think I people did tell me that. I think people told me to be patient, you know, like it's a marathon, not a race. It sounds so stupid. But I'm actually I don't know, what would have been any better than what I'm getting to do right now. Right? I mean, I'm so fortunate to I mean, I don't forget where I came from. I'm a small town kid from West Texas man. You mean idolizing people like powers booth and Barry Tubb and Patrick Malone, Kevin Alejandro that left Snyder and became like, kind of, you know, bigger name actors and stuff. And I was like, that's cool. They showed me just simply getting out of something that isn't like, how do I put this gracefully? somebody that doesn't, you know, that isn't necessarily like your dream or your ambition of your location. going do that. I feel like I'm really getting to do that. And what's tough, but something I wouldn't change is I kind of get to do it on my own terms. Not to say that I don't wish I had like a badass agent at CAA. That was like, getting me Marvel auditions or something like that. Like, of course, like I'm not stupid. But at the same time, there's a there's a huge gratitude that comes from doing it yourself, which I think you're one to speak on that I think darious is want to speak on that. And when you do it yourself long enough. Like eventually, people just assume that you didn't do it yourself and they want to come they want you to come play on, you know, on their playground too. And I think I've had a lot of that. So just, man, just all the next thing you know, like 10 years went by, but you feel like you haven't accomplished much. And then you look at some of your accolades. And you're like, Damn, actually, if you'd have told me at 12 I'd have gotten to do this or like I have a an office inside of a movie theater right now with some great guys like Brian hammers and boundaries and flashbacks are grown. They're together, and we all do the film festival together. And I'm like, Guys, do you realize that we have a often office, a top of movie theater, but if you'd have told me this when I was like, 15 would have been like, life is gonna be just dandy. But also, man, you know, I've been out in LA for 15 years, I would hope that I have a smile on my face at this point. I don't and so I'm just really grateful. But I'm damn sure not done. And we damn sure ain't plugging away and trying to, you know, take over the world. Right. But it's, it's cool right?

Alex Ferrari 53:33
Now what is next up? What's up next up for you?

Tanner Beard 53:36
Well, we are we have a movie called just be Claus. And I think we were gonna, there's so much snow on the ground that we're kind of teetering of like, do we actually try to go ahead and go take the kind of pre production? Like, can we shoot this somewhere in May? to look like, early, early December? Or do we just wait until next year? Oh, yeah, cuz there's so much there's so much stuff going on. Otherwise, I mean, there's I have like 11 projects in the works. Awesome, dude. All of them are just like, waiting for the like the green light to go. You know, we have a comic book that we just did a graphic novel called in the name of the gun that we're trying to turn into a series, but we just wanted to own both IPS. And it's really fun. And we want to go out and shoot it in Spain. I'd love for like the El Rey network to pick it up or something like that. So we'd love to, you know, I'm going to talk to aiza about talking to Robert about that. You have the Christmas movie, we have a video game that we're pitching. There's I mean, there's a ton of stuff. There's all sorts of stuff, man, but it's the things that are going right now actually mean if I could plug anything. There's a great film. I don't know if you get to meet Kyle tequila, who was Yes, Yes, I did. Um, in cheering Einstein, both those guys are now board members of the mammoth Film Festival. But they did a movie this year together with their I think it's the first collaboration with their company. common enemy that starred Alexandra daddario Johnny Knoxville and some some just great actors key and Johnson that was just considered a leader right now. And your old pal Tanner beard got to finally like, like not play a bad guy and something. But again, you know great connections of mammoth Film Festival going off and spring. Other things, this movie called we some of the darkness, I think was a big contribution, you know, to some some collaborations that happened at mammoth Film Festival, but that should be out either later this year, early 2020. But really awesome film. And very excited about that. We shot it up in Canada. Cool, was a really cool deal. But Kyle and those guys are just the best and are killing it. So well.

Alex Ferrari 55:43
I want to ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests. Yeah. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Tanner Beard 55:50
Find a good core group of people that are like minded and just start working with them. Some may get weeded out as you go along. But if you have five you know men or women that you want to work with, to throw off and start shooting little shorts, little things. Hell, you can do so much on your iPhone these days. It's ridiculous. You have an outlet on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, even if you can get one of these. That's what it's all about. But find that core group of people because you will probably wind up working with them for the rest of your life.

Alex Ferrari 56:19
Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career? The Bible? Yeah, and you know, I knew you were going to be trouble.

Tanner Beard 56:31
I know, um, I will say, as a product of being a stubborn cowboy in West Texas. I didn't read a lot of books. What I will say the biggest impact of my life was another stubborn stubborn cowboy who didn't read a lot of books played Wolf Man and Top Gun a gentleman named Barry Tubb. He did a movie when in my hometown in Snyder, Texas when I was 16 years old, and allowed me to come and be on that film set, which has Julia Roberts Bruce Willis. Natalie Maines from the Dixie Chicks Joey Lauren Adams. Mr. Robert, what movie was this with called grand champion?

Alex Ferrari 57:09
Oh, yeah, I remember that movie. Yeah,

Tanner Beard 57:12
Grand champion. Essentially, it was like Free Willy but a boy and his cow in West Texas, but for me, it was my film school. And I got to have it at 16. And the fact that this gentleman Barry Tubb allowed me to come and be you know, not only on his set as a kind of a, you know, a gopher, but eventually, like he would, you know, I was just there for access, and I just got my driver's license. He's like Tanner, take Jr. Over to the Coliseum. You know, it's like, okay, so you're driving around Julia Roberts, like Miss Daisy style. And you're like, so how's things I'm like, 16. But to get that engagement like you just that's when he caught a bug and to get to sit and watch 35 you know, 35 millimeter being and Mike my job became cable Wrangler. Like, when they're doing the dolly, I had the core to the monitor. So like, I learned how to wrangle cord. And like I took it so serious man because like I didn't want to get fire you know, fire

Alex Ferrari 58:09
Let's just say there wasn't like a little like $5,000 independent movie or some big players

Tanner Beard 58:15
$3 $5 million movie or something like that. It just the people that would come by I remember like, they'd be like Tanner, you need to go escort George straight from you know, this room to that room because there was just nobody there. And I'm like, the stuff that I got to do so young and like trusted in, made you kind of grow up in the business and also Danny motor, who's Julia Roberts husband now, he really kind of took me under his wing and showed me a lot of stuff about cameras. I learned a lot.

Alex Ferrari 58:38
Was he was te assistant camera cameraman.

Tanner Beard 58:40
He was the he was the DP

Alex Ferrari 58:42
Oh, he's a dp gotcha.

Tanner Beard 58:43
He just come off of the Mexican with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. I think that's where they met. And then he was recommended to be the DP on this movie. I think it was his first dp job actually. But like, just getting to learn about panel vision and seeing film, even though we don't use it today. It was like, I feel very grateful for getting to see that where if I was 10 years younger, right now, nobody would have the luxury of getting to hear that.

Alex Ferrari 59:09
Just, you know, money, just money money.

Tanner Beard 59:12
Like $1 dollar flashes. But for me, that was kind of my film school. You know, I saw people just doing it and like, just, it's kind of like when you go to an NBA game for the first time you see on TV, then you're like, this is just people playing basketball.

Alex Ferrari 59:29
Like it's at a very high level.

Tanner Beard 59:31
You know, yeah, it's bad. But at the other day, you're like, these are just huge dudes playing basketball. Like, wow, this is you know, it's like, just the realization of you can do it too. That's all you know, I think is what, what that what that kind of meant was so

Alex Ferrari 59:45
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Tanner Beard 59:50
patients, man, because you know, you want it now, right now. You know, back when I was just doing acting, it's like if you didn't get an audition, you know, it was like Like the end of the world when you're 22 you walk, CSI New York and you're like, God, man, that guy only said four effing lines. And I didn't get it.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:11
I'm not good enough for the four lines. Like who you got a Harvey Weinstein in this business? Wow, he's become an adjective. Right? Right. He's become an adjective.

Tanner Beard 1:00:24
Man, it was like, it just was everything was like so life or death, especially like when you're out there. You know? You know, you're trying to find a job. Hell, man, I had a new job every week, just because I didn't want to have a job because I wanted my job to be acting full time. But am I okay, well, now I'm a taste tester for Burger King for 20 bucks, so I can put gas in my car to go to the next thing, you know what I mean. And then Luckily, as time went by, you're able to start garnering more money and I feel very grateful and stuff, everything I have now. But you know, it's just the grind at the time, like I guess just picked if you can just know that like you're in this business for a long, long time. And I see friends of mine that have been like, been in huge franchises. And then like, you know, four or five years later go by like they're back to auditioning and stuff like that. So you know, it's we all we have this great team of people again, best advice I could give is grab yourself a great group of people and allow them to be like minded, you know, friends of yours and because you're gonna help each other throughout the years, I mean, absolutely, man, my friends. You know, they support me and everything I do. I try to support them and everything they do, we wish we exchange stories, we exchange triumphs, you know, exchange of victories and sadness. And it's a, it's a family that you have to build. Because it's such a independent and very lonely industry if you allow it to be but it can also be the opposite. If you find a family, you know, very cool.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:43
Now the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time, tombstone. Cause my favorite movie of all time I love Tombstone, man, Val Kilmer. Why did he get in an Oscar for that?

Tanner Beard 1:01:55
It just black bad time it came out in like December. Yeah, it's just bad timing. Yeah. But absolutely be one of the best performances ever put on film. And everybody says that to this day. Oh, no. Yeah. JACK was at the film festival, his son. I always want to go up and say something to him about Tombstone, but I got to keep it cool. But that one was definitely my favorite movie. Braveheart is another one of my favorite films amazing film. And you know man, it used to be gladiators number three but when I really break it down No Country for Old Men Wallace film

Alex Ferrari 1:02:35
Its perfection

Tanner Beard 1:02:37
You know there's not a there's there's no music in that movie except there's a little bit of a little bit of ominous tone when we first see Javier Boredoms character get by get out of the car. There is a little bit of ominous tone and not one stitch of music for the rest of that movie. Can you believe that?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:54
It's so well. flawless. No, it is it is that as the as the Cohens at their at the height. I mean, I mean, they're just and Josh Brolin was all of them Javier, I mean, just

Tanner Beard 1:03:07
They shot it in kind of my old stomping grounds in West Texas out there and about four hours from Marfa, but that's where they kind of shot.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:14
Now, where can people find you and the work you're doing?

Tanner Beard 1:03:18
Um, yes. I'm @BradPitt. So yeah, well, you know, I would rather plug I am. I'm terrible on social media. But I do have Instagram. It's @TannerBeard. Everybody gets mad because I don't follow them. Because I only follow mammoth Film Festival and silver cell entertainment. But nobody's like, dude, if you follow me, do I follow you? But like, I look at stuff.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:39
I got things to do, man, I got time to follow.

Tanner Beard 1:03:42
It's not even that I'm more on Twitter, if anything at Tanner beard on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and the whole nine. But really, it's it's at Mammoth Film Festival on Instagram, @MammothFF on Twitter. And I believe it's @mammothFF on Facebook. So and then silver, silver silver team entertainment. That's another plug. So man, Tanner, it

Alex Ferrari 1:04:07
has been a pleasure talking to you, brother. I really has been congratulations on your success. And I look forward to to hanging out at mammoth many, many years to come.

Tanner Beard 1:04:16
Absolutely. Well, Alex, thanks for let me talk your ear off because I get really excited and I just ramble on from story to story. So I appreciate you listening to me.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:23
Thank you, brother. Appreciate it.

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BPS 363: Editing for Directors with Gael Chandler

Television editor and author Gael Chandler is on the hot mic today. 

Most of you may know by now that I started out in post as an editor. Anytime I have another editor on it’s like sailors recalling old battle stories, which are always very entertaining. It is a whole other world when a director says, ‘CUT!’ to the final scene and the elves of film production, EDITORS, get to work. 

While I am curious to hear Geal’s stories from behind the scenes, I would like to focus first on her new book, Editing for Directors: A Guide for Creative Collaboration which was released in August of 2021. 

This is her fifth publication which shares tools and lessons from her expert experience in film production/editing. Gael has been nominated twice for the Cable Emmy award for comedy editing and has taught editing practices and history at Loyola Marymount University and California State Universities at Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Northridge.

Editing for Directors: A Guide for Creative Collaboration focuses on how directors should be working with editors. It guides directors through postproduction, starting with planning for editing during the shoot and ending with the completion of their film. This thorough, well-illustrated book:

Describes the artistic, organizational, and technical skills editors bring to the party; with tools on what directors should look for when hiring an editor and the best ways to work with an editor; It further explains how and why directors should plan for editing before they shoot a frame. An entire chapter is devoted to relating the history of editing and cutting tools and how they have affected the language of cinema and present-day editing while defining and discussing cutting-room terms, practices, and workflows.

Gael filmography credits her editing on wonderful 90s television shows like Max Headroom, Deep Dark Secrets, A Mom for Christmas, Family Matters, and The Very Retail Christmas. Some of her other books include Film Editing: Great Cuts Every Filmmaker and Movie Lover Must Know and Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video.

It’s always fun to hear unique stories from seasoned technicians and the huge technological revolution or evolution their line of work has had to face as well as their adaptation processes.

Please enjoy my conversation with Gael Chandler.

Right-click here to download the MP3


  • Gael Chandler – IMDB
  • Editing for Directors: A Guide for Creative Collaboration: Amazon


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Alex Ferrari 0:19
I like to welcome the show. Gael Chandler. How you doing, Gael?

Gael Chandler 0:22
Good. Good to be here.

Alex Ferrari 0:24
Thank you so much for being on the show. Like we were talking about earlier, anytime I get an editor on. It's like a couple of salty dogs like sailors talking about the olden battle days in, which are always very entertaining. I'm sure you have some amazing stories of what happens when the door closes in the Edit room, which is always and we'll talk a little bit about that about the conversations that happen in there and with the producers and directors, but really wanted to focus this episode on your new book, editing for directors, and focusing on how directors should be working with editors and it's something I've been trying to teach. Every time I every time an editor walked into my suite, I tried to teach them to work with me. But before we jump in, how did you get into the business?

Gael Chandler 1:10
Um, I was a projectionist in Northern California. And I got into the AIA, and when they wouldn't let women in. And then I, it was a mixed local, which meant you could work on movies. And since it was Northern California, a lot of La films came up here. And so I started doing location work as a grip and lighting. And again, I was the only female and I was discouraged. But I did and, and I was also then at Sonoma State University taking communications courses and I took a film history course thinking that was sort of frivolous, but the teacher was fabulous. He ended up founding Tribeca, and being the director there of the festival and and I just really got it it sort of all came together. I had been a box office cashier then projectionist. And so in 79, I left for LA and and somebody said, you, you probably editing would be the right fit for you. And it was,

Alex Ferrari 2:25
yeah, editing is I fell into Editing by not wanting to be a PA. I said, Hey, that sucks. I don't want to wake up at three o'clock in the morning, I'd rather sit in an air conditioned room all day, and maybe get carpal tunnel.

Gael Chandler 2:39
Well, it was funny because one of the location guys said, Why do you want to go to LA and sit in a dark room behind a movie all day? And it wasn't good? It was? It was a fair question. But it was obviously more than that.

Alex Ferrari 2:51
And when did you start you actually started cutting on film?

Gael Chandler 2:55
Yes, 16 and 35. And then I was working at Alan Landsberg productions as an assistant editor on 16. And a we would what I had what we call the sinky pool, we just would think the dailies and then eventually you could be as assisting an editor and they went video, three quarter inch, and we were on lining on two inch. And and any rate it this these technical terms, you know, there were two processes then it's very interesting that online has gone away. And but you know, what eventually of course happened was that it was the film people were doing features the video, people were doing TV, which was what I was in, and they all came together with the digital evolution in the early 90s. And everybody finally was on we're on the same systems and and the systems could talk to film and video and that's what's evolved from there. But basically, it was a huge revolution and I I was lucky that I got in fairly early. When I got in I was I was taught the opposite way. I was taught nonlinear editing first, then online editing then film, so by the time I got to film on a flatbed, I was like, You mean to tell me you want me to take a razor blade?

Alex Ferrari 4:18
Cut this and tape it what are we the Flintstones What is this Barbera? It was completely beyond me, because they already taught me a computer which was so much quicker and online even was online. You know, we're gonna see mX 3600 or Grass Valley or a Sony, a Sony editing system. All those were so much faster. But I did get to cut the was it. That episode of Gunsmoke is it is the episode of Gunsmoke. Everyone, everyone, everyone cut on that right if that's that, that's the one thing everyone

Gael Chandler 4:52
Yeah. And and, you know, I know where my book is about is for directors and there may be some directors That all of this online and splicers and all of that, like, it's before your time and why should you be interested in really what I want to say the takeaway to people that are young, that are directing and editing from all this is that is the word change. Because I personally trained hundreds of professionals and students on digital editing equipment. And the students, you know, they kind of came of age with the computer, but that editors and assistants did not. And, and change is going to happen in your career. And it was very interesting witnessing how people reacted to it, some people were film forever, and I can't cut unless I can feel it in my hands. And that may sound crazy to somebody who's never been on film doesn't want to be on it, we'll never have to be on it. But the point here is change. You really edit and you direct the well let's just talk editing, you edit with your heart and your head. And whatever medium comes down the pike Next, you're gonna jump to that whatever new technology with cameras and all that, as Lucas said, you know, artists 50% technology, and, you know, oil painting, change things, watercolors, you know,

Alex Ferrari 6:32
chart and

Gael Chandler 6:33
technical evolution set out, and I've been talking about, you know, our, our stuff that we happen to live through, you will be living through different ones. And just and just know, you're going to have to learn new software and new words and new terms. Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 6:50
I mean, right now we're talking about things like, you know, you know, people are editing editing on Final Cut and DaVinci and premiere and those kinds of editing software's, and we're still calling it, you know, we're still looking at it from a screen perspective, meaning that it's a two dimensional seat at screen. in our lifetime, you know, there's very good possibility that there could be an editing of a holodeck scene, Ito, and it's all holograms, and there's going to be editing systems to edit that there's going to be things that are beyond our comprehension. Now that this generation who's young now like, Oh, we came up with the avatar, we came up with Final Cut, and now they're like, well, now have you used the holodeck is system, that's insane. It's gonna change, it's gonna change.

Gael Chandler 7:35
Yeah, and the tools are something you want to learn and see what they can do and see what you can do with them. But the principles of how you tell a story and reached an audience are always there. And and they're evolving to know without question,

Alex Ferrari 7:51
so in your opinion, what is the most misunderstood part of the editing process from a director and producers point of view?

Gael Chandler 8:01
Um, I think people think editors just make cuts, it's kind of like thinking a dressmaker, just make stitches, you know, you're making a whole costume, or, you know, in the terms of editing, you really are the person that is telling the story. In the end, whatever you conceived in the script, or the documentary outline, or whatever you shot on location for the documentary, or the scripted piece. Even, you know, I work primarily in sitcoms, stuff would still change in the editing room. And that's where you have to make performances work, and locations work. And as you know, you are a, you're a colorist, or Alex, or you have been and you have to balance the color, and make make the looks work. And I think the tools today, you know, allow you to do so much more. But anyway, to get back to the question, I think the conception that I think the real takeaway is that the editor is the is a storyteller as much as the person who wrote the story and scripted it.

Alex Ferrari 9:12
Yeah, and it's funny, because actors really should give bonuses to the editor at the end of the film, because it's them who cut together their performance. I've been in the Edit room where I've had to cut a performance and you're cutting the best of the best and like literally shaping someone's performance and saving them sometimes, like when they're, their performance is not that good. Maybe you cut away to something else and then come back or cut to reaction all in the in the service of the movie, but also in the service of the performance. And without the editor you know, it's just a bunch of takes and some texts are good, some takes aren't so you got a bad editor involved. They could choose the wrong takes, and make that performance horrible, and I'm sure you know, looking through all that old looking through For a Jew, there's a lot of stuff that you have to kind of cut through just find that, that one second that one frame that makes that scene work.

Gael Chandler 10:09
Yeah, and, and that's what, why my book, the publisher, actually, Michael weezy, came up with the idea to really help directors because they may be, you know, you've gone through as a director, you've gone through, maybe months, maybe years of pre production in planning, and then you've finally gotten to film your baby, and now you're trusting it to this person who you may know or may not know, and are they going to get your film the way you want it and, and make it work in areas that you may have? Know, are problematic. So as a director, you know that where you're finishing is editing. And so you really want to think about that from the beginning. And, and, and, you know, I talked a lot about how, you know, I talked about how you pick an editor, how you, you know, how you want to develop trust? And

Alex Ferrari 11:10
how do you how do you pick an editor? How's it what's a good some good points for a director to pick an editor to collaborate with?

Gael Chandler 11:18
I mean, I think I think you talked to people, you know, you obviously interview people, you, you know, look at their resume, you look at what they've done. And I mean, it's kind of it's a short term marriage, or a good affair, I always like to say, you know, you want somebody that will get your intent as a director, you want to look for that in a person. And you but you also want somebody that hopefully, you will help develop a relationship where you can hear their feedback and hear from them. This isn't working, or, I mean, directors love to be problem solvers, they love to fix performances, I mean, I've been kissed in editing rooms, because, you know, by directors, because they were like, Oh, my God, I was so worried about the scene. And we hadn't talked about it. And you know, and you love it, when you can make something work. And and you, you know, the other thing I wanted to say was, the the editor is really receiving your raw material, no matter, it's really, it's a blueprint until it gets turned into something in the editing room. And it's what the audience is going to see. They don't care if you spent 10 days working in the snow. You know, sledging through tunnels to get a shot of the shot doesn't advance the story, or say what your film is about or do something, it's not just a gorgeous shot, or, you know, or a hard, a hard earned shot, the editor is very objective. The editor is, you know, detached from the set, most of the time, and a lot enters like to go to the set, a lot of us don't, because we want to keep that objective eye. And so I would say all of that is what you're looking for an editor.

Alex Ferrari 13:09
Now, how does the director shoot for the cut?

Gael Chandler 13:14
how an editor? I mean, I've been a director. Yeah, how a director would shoot for the cut is to first of all, well, not First of all, a major thing would be to think about sound people don't think about sound. And you know, poor sound can harm you more than poor picture, really, people can't understand stuff. You know, go and listen to locations, think about how you want your movie to sound. The other things are, you know, work on screen direction, don't cross the line. Or if you do cross the line, understand what it is and why you're crossing it. Um, Maintain eye lines. If Alex is looking down while I'm talking or looking at the ceiling, the audience might think he's bored with me, or doesn't like me, or is this interested? In if we're looking right eye to eye, you know, we're connecting. We may be fighting we may be whatever. But um, you know, eye lines are very important to maintain when you're doing drama. That's an another thing that you need to think about.

Alex Ferrari 14:31
Yeah, I mean, and also just those, I think the biggest piece of advice I always give young directors is cutaways to shoot cutaways. For God's sakes, shoot cutaways just shoot like Robert Rodriguez with El Mariachi. He just shoot the dog. And anytime he got in trouble, he just cut to the dog or he cut to a turtle or we cut to a vase or, you know, obviously if you can choose cutaways that mean something even better, but just safe The shoot cutaway, a hand hands moving, you know, reactions, hair flipping, those little things are what we love as editors, because then you can really sculpt the scene. Because if you've got to stay with that performance and you have nowhere to go, I'm sure you've run into that wall, you're just like, oh god, I need just something that cutaway to

Gael Chandler 15:22
thank you for bringing that up. That's another major thing that you want to think about as a director, when you're shooting, um, you know, coverage, if you have a scene that's not working and you don't have any where to go, then you're stuck with a boring bit in a scene, unless you can cut away to something. And, you know, cutaways can be really interesting, you know, a treasure map, people want to see what, what everybody's talking about a close up of that, you know, and I always say, a close up of Meryl Streep's pace is worth 1000 lines of dialogue. Um, you know, film is a very, you know, faces say a lot. Um, but get those close ups Get, get those over the shoulders, get different angles and shots, because it gives you more options in the cutting room.

Alex Ferrari 16:14
Yeah, I was in the cutting room once. And we had the scene that it was just long. And it was like an emotional breakdown. But it was just so long. And it was we'd like this cut that like, we wanted to cut two ticks together. And we could actually like, Oh, my God, we didn't shoot any cutaways. And the camera was in the room of the Edit room, and the dog of the director was in the room. So we just put the dog on the couch, I threw a light up, I lit it, and she shot it with the camera. That was the same camera she shot the movie with. And then we literally just took the card out, inserted it I'm like, okay, we're good, though. Can you imagine that in the early days?

Gael Chandler 16:54
Well, it I was on a show where a little boy goes to a construction site with his friends and they're playing around. And they, they somehow get one of the big machines going and it's going downhill. And you know, it's very exciting and upsetting and all that. And of course, he lives and he's fine. But what and they shot like 15 angles, and this was a half hour sitcom. So this was a big scene. And it was very unusual in a single camera. So it was unusual to get that many angles. And what they didn't shoot was the boy, they didn't shoot close up of the boy. And the editor just said, You, we need this, we got to have this. And I was very lucky to work with a very famous editor who actually couldn't understand the system. So I ended up having to operate it for him and anticipate where it was going to go in this scene in many other scenes. So it really advanced my editing. But at any rate, the director said I can't do that we're off the location, we're back, you know, on the studio, and he's the director, the editors said put them in a chair. So they literally took you know, a set chair and put the kid in and raised them up and and shot him and it made all the difference in the scene.

Alex Ferrari 18:16
Yeah, it's it's, it's, it's pretty remarkable what you you can get away with today's.

Gael Chandler 18:23
Yeah, I mean, you know, puing your, your characters and people's reactions is cueing your audience on how to feel it's really important.

Alex Ferrari 18:31
Yeah, I mean, it's something as simple as a glass being put on the on the table, things like that, those little things that when you're in the heat of battle, it's hard to think about and that's something as directors, we're in the middle of, you know, 1000 things are coming at us. And we're like, Okay, everyone, stop, I need a shot of the glass. And like that's a hard like, you got to be as a director, you got to be comfortable with yourself. Like, we're getting into ot or we're about to hit lunch. I'm like, Guys, I need the glass hitting the table. And at the moment people are like this, this prima donna like, but it that one little move saves the scene.

Gael Chandler 19:09
Well, and, and you know that the B roll is is just as important. David Watkins famous and photographer who got the Academy Award for out of Africa, in his accent, and I put this in the book actually, because it always stuck with me and it never fit in any other book that I wrote. But this one it did because he he was so complimented on out of Africa because the shots of the animals and you know, they did stuff from literally from helicopters, they didn't have drones, and that's it. And, you know, they're gorgeous. And so people would come up to and say, Oh, he you know, he did such a great job and he said, that was second unit that was B roll. And then they can Oh, you know, he shot the principles he shot Redford and st you know, and so, you think about of Africa without those shots and it's a different movie. No, absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 20:03
I, I love that example that Hitchcock. I saw, I saw a documentary with him once about the editing process. And he's like, this is how powerful editing is he goes, let's say I shoot a shot of me. Then the next shot we shoot show is a baby playing. And then you see cut back to me smiling. Now, the emotion that you that the audience gets is like, Oh, isn't that cute? Now all you could do is replace them center shot instead of a baby, a beautiful woman in a bikini, a young woman in a bikini, same thing all of a sudden, oh, what a creep. That is the power of editing. And that's something directors really need to understand. If you really, I mean, you should absolutely if you're a director, study Hitchcock. I mean, it's math every one of his films. There's a masterclass in editing. But it's so so powerful a cut a shot an angle, can change the entire perception of the scene. Do you agree? Yes. And have you heard of the cooler shop? In fact? The Which one? Oh, yes. Yes. From? Oh, God. Yeah. Yeah. From the Russian from the one. That's the famous picture of the guy going crazy. Hold the frame. Yes. Right. And Hitchcock, we didn't come up with it. It was him actually, if I'm not mistaken. Yeah.

Gael Chandler 21:22
And, you know, one of the things that I did in this book is it's very practical, you know, from pre planning and direct and editing, as editors are being brought in more with pre planning, especially a pre Pro, with previous with animation editors. I really cover that what a director needs to think about from you know, pre production through archiving, you want your film to last, you want to think about archiving and more wrote, you know, how can you reach future audiences? How can you create revenue streams, even though you know, you're just lucky if you're doing a doc low budget or anything low budget, you know, you're just thinking about getting the movie may not alone archive, and but I go through that. But at any rate, one of the chapters that is one of the chapters I love the most, in the longest is, on the other side, broke up a little more, is on the history of editing. And I put that in there because I want people to understand that editing really is the language of the film, and editing you really like no other art, you see how people think and how they feel from second to second in a flash cut of three frames or a long dissolve it you play with time you play with people's emotions the way no other medium, I think really does. And so part of that chapter I I talk about the Russians, and their they had their revolution. And so all the filmmakers were tasked with, you know, teaching the proletariat what was what the rules of communism have. So they started the first film school and mascot, which still goes on to today. And they did they had short dance, they didn't have film so they they didn't couldn't do long masters like Americans could and they chopped up a Citizen Kane, they chopped up a lot of they looked at a lot. And that sense of Cain hadn't been shot and but they looked at a lot of American films. And one of them cool shot, I forget his first name. They had some leftover footage from a White Russian actor who was very well known. And he had left the country with the revolution. And so they took, I'm afraid a few, some frames of him and intercut them with a young girl picking a flower. And people thought he was smiling. And then they cut to him again. And they well, but first I cut to the girl, then they cut to him, people thought he was smiling. Then they cut to a woman in a coffin, a young child and a cough. And they then they cut to him, people thought he was sad. Then they cut to a woman on a chaise lounge and they thought he was amorous. And it was the same shot each time. And so the whole This is relates to what you said about Hitchcock, and the smiling and the creepiness it you know, is that in the Russian theory, but you can use whatever you work, you want it they juxtapose Shots, shots affect each other, and people take meaning out of shots that were shot at different times, different days, different places, etc. Humans just our brains want to do that.

Alex Ferrari 24:45
And it's so funny because sometimes I'll see a movie because there's so much content being created today. Watch a movie that's you know, off off brand, let's say it's not a big movie, you know, it's an independent or, or something along those lines and or it has to star in it and, and I watched it and and then the director and the editor make a mistake. And you see like, Oh, they cut to that and like that's not the meaning like, wait a minute that feels weird. That person shouldn't be feeling the way they are. And it's, and it's obviously a mistake. It's not like, you know, the woman shouldn't be feeling, you know, jilted, she should be fielding something else. And it was a look, it's a, it was an energy and because it were the way it was juxtaposed to what they were cutting, it just feel it just you just get taken out of the of the of the piece. It's pretty, it's pretty powerful stuff. And Hitchcock again talked about it's so so so much where he wanted to like literally play the audience's emotions on a piano, eventually, to get to that point, which he pretty closely did with his editing. But it's pretty powerful. And to go down the Hitchcock rabbit hole, just for a minute, arguably one of the greatest, most talked about scene edited scenes ever is the shower scene, they did a whole documentary, just a shot are seen. As an editor looking at that, can you kind of talk a little bit about that? So directors listening, can understand that they've never seen it? Or they've heard about or maybe they watched it, what value it would be to go back to what he did and what the editor did, in that. That what is it? forgot how many frames it is, but how many seconds is 48 seconds or 56 seconds? Or whatever it is? how powerful that was?

Gael Chandler 26:28
Yeah, I've read a lot of Hitchcock, and I admire him and a lot of ways to and I highly recommend Truffaut on Yes.

Alex Ferrari 26:36
What a great book and movie.

Gael Chandler 26:39
it you know, as a director, you know, truphone, the French loved Hitchcock and Truffaut interviewed him, and they went through every movie. And Truffaut really asked him a lot of questions. And it's really, you know, and I do quote, from Hitchcock, in the book, you know, about the birds and, and, and, and part of how we conceive the birds musically and, and, and their thoughts and now they're this and now they're that, but the shower scene, I I honestly forget now how many cuts and how short it is. But, you know, it was flash cuts and and you you saw a woman being chopped up and attacked and it was, you know, we it's stuck with everybody who's ever seen it and it still works and amuse. It's the music, the music. And he always got Bernard Herman to to compose his film. And I mean, vertigo, I talked about vertigo in the book, actually, I didn't get into psycho so much, but in vertigo, he has very, he has like, carousel music. Everything's twirling and the beginning the vertical, I put in the shots, Thurman doll is coming out of people's eyes. So everything is very circular. And it supports his, you know, the idea of vertigo. But yeah, the shaft we're seeing is we're seeing you know, Buster Keaton's train chase in general, is incredible. And, you know, but there are a lot of fantastic. I mean, I mean, the fugitive, I remember with Harrison Ford, you know, with the editors guild that we screen that that they had a screening in the 80s. And people just, this was an Indian industry audience and people just stood up and clapped.

Alex Ferrari 28:32
Right if you can break through the Indian industry audience you know, you've got something now I remember watching the fugitive as well. It's remarkable then you go by the way that just just to finish off on Hitchcock that shower scene, what's so brilliant about it for me is you never see the knife go in. You never see the knife touch her skin ever because it wasn't allowed at the time I think or something his koco was going around the the sensors but that's the brilliant part but your mind connected at all because of the cuts in the music that you were like this woman is But you just said this woman was getting chopped up. She really was. There's no there's no there's no graphic hit of it. Yes, there's blood there's flashes there's this and that the eyes and the motion, but there's no actual, you know, skin knife penetration in the scene, which is that's the brilliant part about one of the many brilliant parts about that sequence. But the one thing you were saying about action sequences is now I think sometimes you go the other direction like there was a scene and I think taken two or taken three one of those that had Liam Neeson running and no Liam is not 21 and he's running he's jumping affect offense. They counted how many cuts just from him jumping offense was like 15 cuts. And you're like you're basically cutting making you're forcing the action by the head. The Edit is kind of keeping pace because they actually see a 60 year old man, jump offense. not that exciting. But with the music and the cut, but it was just so much you just you don't let anything sit. And sometimes the most powerful cut is not cutting, is that fair?

Gael Chandler 30:18
Yes, in some times the most powerful kind of silent. Like after you've had a big action scene, it's like music, you can have staccato and go cut, cut, cut. And then, you know, let's just the obvious war is a very obvious example, after the battle, and then you just need, you know, the dead people on the battlefield or people collecting themselves, the audience to collect themselves. It's editing is very rhythmic. And I think you know, you and your editor, as a director, you want to pick somebody that that's going to go on the journey with you. Because you may have directed a lot of pictures, or you may be new. But each thing you do is, you know, is going to be new, even if it's part of a series or it's a routine show, you're going to bring what you bring to it, your eyes and your talent. And you just in editing, the app continues.

Alex Ferrari 31:16
The The one thing I've always had a problem with, with younger directors or just inexperienced directors is when they walk in the suite, they really truly don't understand the responsibilities of an editor. And a lot of times, you know, I always I always I go there, there's two camps of editors, there's creative editors who have I've dealt with, and there's online editors, and not online in the traditional sense. But the online is in like putting in the final visual effects, cleaning things up, tightening up technically getting ready for the export that stuff because a lot of creative directors I've worked with are clueless when it comes to any of that stuff. They're there just for the creative. And if you go Can you insert a vo effects like I need an assistant for that? I can't, that's not what I do. Can you talk a little bit about what the responsibility of an editor is, traditionally, and what so many editors are nowadays, like myself, when someone would come into and I would edit a feature, I would edit the feature, I will put in the visual effects, I would attempt visual effects, I would do a color grade, I would prep it for final I would prep it for a sound, I became a post supervisor at that point. Essentially, I was doing everything I was doing creative, and I was doing online. So there are those kind of hybrid versions. But traditionally, what are the responsibilities of a creative editor? Let's say?

Gael Chandler 32:36
I think traditionally, the responsibility is, as I've mentioned, to tell the story, and to see what characters work, what characters possibly need to be dropped or cut down or shifted what scenes need to be shifted? how, you know, how does the the conception hold up in the editing room and, and a lot of directors feel for the first cut, that they need to represent you the director's vision, they they you know, you need to see it the way you thought it was going to work. And then the two of you can go together and tinker with that or drastically change it or do whatever you're going to do. You know, when when editing started, in modern times of say, the 50s you were editing on film, and you had one or two tracks in one picture. Now, with with the system, you know Alex and other people, that editor work that editors work on, there are an infinite amount of tracks, you can have tracks within tracks within tracks, and not just audio tracks, but video tracks. So you can do you know very simple effects fades and dissolves and you can do green screen, you can do very complex video effects. Now those really complex ones, you're probably not going to do on the system, because they're going to take up too many system resources. And you're going to drop them in and you know, on a big Video Effects show you're going to have a video effects editor and a whole department and, you know, probably a post House of some kind behind you. So you know, in answer to your question, the editor can be simply the you know, the storyteller making things work, or they can be you know, they can be doing everything like you did Alex they can be doing all the effects, they can be doing the video, you know, all the sound they can mix right on the system. You can put in Scratch track right on the system, which is really handy when you're working along and seeing if things are working and maybe you have to add a video that you didn't anticipate or you have one and you want to see how it lays up against your picture. So there's no real answer to that any

Alex Ferrari 34:54
any more before would be just the one thing it

Gael Chandler 34:57
just depends on your budget and You know, is it a commercial? Is it a feature? Is it a doc is that you know,

Alex Ferrari 35:05
but I do think that the director should be very clear with the editor on what their capabilities are, because they might walk in thinking that they can online the whole thing. And they're like, I really can't. And the editor should be honest, too. Like, I'm a creative editor, I maybe be able to get you a little bit closer to the finish line, but I can't do everything that you need me to do. So that did both parties really need to be clear about that. Which is something early on that that wasn't even a question, who's the editor just cut and then someone else the online editor would take over and, and take it there was there was more division of duties, where now it's just all, everybody, even the director like myself, I direct and I edit. So I come in, and I'll do my own post, and I'll do my own color, and I'll own everything.

Gael Chandler 35:51
Yeah, I mean, you know, where you're starting. And that's why, you know, I wrote this book, you you want to know where you're finishing? Who's doing what? And? Yes.

Alex Ferrari 36:03
Now, can you talk a little bit about what the assemble cut is, because the difference between the assemble cut, and the my definition, at least, maybe yours is different, but the assemble cut, then there's the the first draft of the first cut, basically, the first draft cut, then the final cut, and then that's it. But the assemble, cut, my definition of the assemble, cut is always like, you literally look at the script. And whatever scene is there, you just cut it together, and you put it all there, regardless if it works or not, is that an assemble cut in your definition as well.

Gael Chandler 36:38
And not, you know, to me, a first cut is where you're putting everything together as scripted as outlined, an assembly to me is more, you're sort of putting the shots together within a scene. And it you know, it all depends on whether you're fine cutting or rough cutting, I mean, a lot of people like to know, some editors work by, you know, they sort of get things going and get things in order, and then they go back and fine tune it. And to me, that would be more of an assembly sort of know the shots you're going to use and you put them together. Others of us and I find cut from the beginning, I cannot I mean, either I can't find enough, I want my timing from the beginning. You know, you will, you will find, you know, if you're a director and you're sitting with an editor cut and you're working together, that you Your mind is always going five shots ahead and and sort of a little behind where did I come from? And where am I going? And well, if we go here, then this is going to be we're going to have to do this and if we you know, you know, it's very intense, it's it, you know, it really uses you come out and you're kind of exhausted. If you haven't been editing for a while, it's a very intense, you know, seeing what works and then and then it is like, like music you want to drop back you want to go away for an hour or a day or a night an evening and then come back and see you know, what was that thing we've got really high on yesterday that really was like the greatest thing we ever did or does that hold up overnight? It's a lot you want you want it in editing you you may there may be a lot of trial and error and and and and that's just the nature of the game.

Alex Ferrari 38:42
I think that I wanted to kind of touch on something you just said as the because sometimes in the Edit room you you are in this delusion, this 12 hour oh my god we just cut the greatest scene of all time and then you go home you sleep on it you come in, you're watching like yeah, that doesn't work what happened you really need to give yourself that pace and not only with a scene or a cut, but with the film you need to go away from it for a while because once you're in it for so long, you lose perspective and sometimes you do you need to just put it you know turn off the computer for a week walk away do something else then come back to it's got like writers, writers who are writing and writing and writing at a certain point they just got to stop when they're done. Put it away for a few weeks come back and reread it to see if it's truly the genius that they thought it was in the first place.

Gael Chandler 39:31
Yeah, you know it because I it's a great analogy because you know when I've done a lot of script writing also and you know when you write you want to get the the script the best that you can and then in the same as editing you want to get the cut as best you can. And then at a certain point you will you need feedback. I mean you are creating this for an audience and so you need to get people you know, a loyal focus group. Have some kind to come in and say, I don't get this main character or I don't like that scene or that's really hard. And and then he then you decide what you're going to do from there.

Alex Ferrari 40:13
Fair enough. Fair enough. Now, can we talk about the holy place that is the final cut or locked cut? The I call it holy, it's sacred. Because as an editor, when the cut is locked, many directors and producers think that's fluid. No, it's locked. If it's locked, that means that audio is working on it, visual effects are working on it. Score is working on it, if you change a frame, the whole thing comes crashing down, can you just talk a little bit about that?

Gael Chandler 40:48
Yeah, I know, I totally get your point, when you lock a cut, it means you're not going to change another picture frame. And so that it will not get shorter by your frame, it will not get longer by a frame, it will stay exactly the same length. And this is incredibly critical for the the sound editors. Because if you you know, on a feature, you're going to have, you know, Foley, you're going to have effects. And then you're gonna have dialogue editors, and they are all dependent on this cut. And if you change it by one frame, their timing and your sound is off, the music doesn't start right that, you know, and so then the same goes for music. So they do what's called conformed to the to the latest, the the locked cut. And that's what you mix to, you don't want to be having the bombs fall and you've taken out half a scene in oops,

Alex Ferrari 41:49
oh four frame or frame, one frame will knock the entire thing out of whack.

Gael Chandler 41:54
So it's not efficient of the studio's time, or money. And your job is going to be on the line if you if you unlock the cut, and, you know, past a, you know past time when when people are really mixing. Having said that sound editors call it becomes it becomes unlocked or it slips a little. And you kind of can get away with certain things and everyone knows it. Like if there was a cut between Alex and me. And let's say it was a dissolve. And it was 10 frames long. But let's say we want to wait it so we see more of Alex now, instead of me, there's still gonna be 10 frames, but we're gonna we can Yeah, we you can slip you can slip a little. But again, you know, if you've got something that has very precise timing, and you've got all these people that you're paying, you're going to be paying them more and it is going to take longer. If you are frame I don't want to use the word

Alex Ferrari 43:03
No, I know the word your I know exactly the word you're gonna say frame frame effing my drift here.

Gael Chandler 43:11
Yes, till the till the last minute. And you know, the truth is with today's digital editing systems, people change stuff after they've been on air Lucas went back and changed All Star Wars and re colored them and, and redid some of the effects. So nothing really is fixed anymore. I mean, I'm being honest here. I mean, in terms of getting your movie made and staying employed, you want to stick with the lock, cut and hit the deadline. And all that. But the truth is stuck. You know, people do go back into shows. And if it's your movie, you can do what you want till the cows come home if you're paying the bills, but just know that it's going to it's going to cost you time and money and and you may lose some people along the way because they get other jobs or they get too frustrated. The frustration is a very good

Alex Ferrari 44:05
word to use. And since you were up north in Northern California, you must have heard of the lore of Star Wars, the first Star Wars in Juba, Georgia that the first cut of Star Wars was an absolute dismal mess and it was horrible and because the thing the studio stuck in with an editor that he didn't want and the first cut looked horrible. And then he had to go in with his wife and I forgot who the Academy Award editor Thank you went in and some of those two wasn't there was two there was there was Marcia Lucas and Paul and I honestly forget the third and but there was but there was another one and then everybody went back in and and made it into what we are today but it was completely it was destroyed and then saved in the cut same footage, same footage, but just put together differently. And that's the power and look what look at the power of the editor did for for that film and all the things have come afterwards.

Gael Chandler 45:09
Yeah, I mean, Paul Hirsch actually wrote a book about his career.

Alex Ferrari 45:13
Yeah, I saw I saw that one recently. Yeah.

Gael Chandler 45:15
Yeah. And I actually put it in the book. So I do talk about the Star Wars and, and how they introduce Luke at a at a different point and how they cut stuff down and, and and just how, exactly how they crafted it and rearrange the scene with Obi Wan Kenobi and Princess Leia and, and Luke, where Luke says, No, I can't help you and leaves and he appeared callous in the first cut. And they just rearrange things. And so that's in the book actually to,

Alex Ferrari 45:51
to analyze, to analyze something like that, because that's a great learning tool of like, you know, Luke, if you cut them at the wrong time, it looks callous the other time It looks a row it's editing is powerful stuff, guys, it's extremely powerful stuff is is a weapon, in the creative battle that can be wielded. And you got to be very careful with it.

Gael Chandler 46:14
And just, you know, just know that the great Lucas, you know, made mistakes, I mean, everybody all the greats have, they've done all kinds of stuff. And and and, and you're gonna learn and and do your great make your great imprint. And the faster you The faster you make these mistakes, the faster you learn, so you have to make as many mistakes as fast as possible and continue making them throughout your career because

Alex Ferrari 46:37
everyone does. There's very few directors who have a perfect filmography. Very few, if any, that have an absolute perfect, you know, some artists are, it's hard to hit the home run and what is a home run? What's the definition of a home run and in art, you know? Now I want to ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests. I normally ask what's your three of your favorite films of all time, but I'd love to ask you what are the three of the best edited films of all time, in your opinion that the editing really took a kind of a front seat?

Gael Chandler 47:12
Well, Raging Bull is is one that come to a lot of people's mind. And to be honest, before I wrote this book, I never paid attention to sorry about the phone. So Oh, just the violent nature of the relationship. And I and the woman being brutalized when it came out in the 80s. I, I wanted no part of the film. But in writing the history chapter, I actually ended up ended up reading and writing a lot about and researching a lot about the film. And I think I'm there as an example of that film school maker and Marty Scorsese Scorsese, you know, an editor, Director pair that have, you know, that are bonded for life, and that I've done incredible stuff since Woodstock when he was an assistant director, and she won the Academy Award for a documentary, which is really unusual for Best Film, anyway. So I would definitely say Raging Bull, because it just takes things to a different level. And it was planned a lot of those slow mo shots and the sweat flying across. I mean, it's, and I would not only look at it, I would read about it, because that will help your directing and you're thinking about editing. For that, definitely one

Alex Ferrari 48:40
of the couple of things you can think of or just two of your other favorite films that you just love watching. Um,

Gael Chandler 48:48
you know, there was a movie that came out in the 70s when I was a projection it was it was called from noon till three. And it was jus Ireland and Charles. What was the action star her husband? Charles Bronson. Yeah, Charles Bronson. And I would like to see it again because you just don't know how things hold up. It was basically the story and that that he's, he's comes into town and they have a noon to three they have a romance. And then he's arrested and goes to prison. And she's like, a stereotypical, like a schoolmarm or something. So this was like the greatest, you know, one of the the big thing that happened in her life. So the whole town becomes about this robbery and they recreate him and her and all of them. And you know, they romanticize the romance. And then he comes back from prison. And he wasn't really a robber. He was a snake oil salesman. I think that got caught up and she sees him and it's just Like, there's nothing there. It's like she has gone into the fantasy. So I guess it wasn't the editing in that one so much is just the story. And then the other my other favorite film is is prime of Miss Jean Brodie original and I think that I realized is it's because it's the whole teacher student relationship, and that we all have teachers in our lives that eventually we outgrow. And, and I've watched that film since I was in my 20s. And my views of that have really changed. So, I don't know those. The one really spoke more to editing in his famous for it, but the other two are just some of my, you know, film segments.

Alex Ferrari 50:51
Hey, that's a good answer. And where can people find your books and in the work that you do?

Gael Chandler 50:58
Um, my books are on Amazon, you can just put my name in ga e, l. and Chandler and they're also available from my ever loving film publisher Michael weezy. productions style.

Alex Ferrari 51:12
Fair. Good. Gail, thank you so much for being on the show. I it was it was fun talking shop with another editor and I appreciate all the work you're doing and helping educate directors and editors around the world. So I appreciate you. Thank you so much. Thank you.

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BPS 362: How Indie Films Can Use The Mandalorian Virtual Production Tech with Rene Amador

What if indie filmmakers could access the same virtual production systems used on the hit Disney+ show The Mandalorian? What if you could use that same technology at home for your productions? What if it cost less than most RED Camera packages? Today’s guest wants to do exactly that. Rene Amador is the co-founder and CEO of the virtual production tech company ARWall.

Rene boasts 24 years of working with 16 startups, starting young working for his parent’s startups in silicon valley. He’s also directed over 350 commercials, short films, and pilots. Most recently as co-founder at ARwall, Rene won the SXSW Accelerator 2018 AR/VR category pitch, has been acknowledged as a top AR tech evangelist in Hollywood, and designed the first ARwall Lab in Burbank.

Rene and his team have developed a professional virtual production system that filmmakers can use at home powered by the most powerful real-time graphic engine on the market. How does this all work you may ask? ARFX requires a tracker and at least two sensors installed on set.

Once the tracker is calibrated and attached to the camera, the director of photography has the ability to move anywhere inside the tracked space. The virtual scene runs on the system updates in perfect real-time, no matter where the camera is positioned. This creates a seamless window illusion into the virtual space.

Filmmakers really put this tech to the test on Disney+’s Star Wars show The Mandalorian. If you haven’t seen this show do yourself a favor and get a monthly subscription to Disney+, sit back and enjoy.

I also recommend you watch The Gallery, a behind-the-scenes show on how they made The Mandalorian.

I’m not saying a newcomer to the filmmaking process will just be able to pick up this tech and make The Mandalorian but the tools are there for filmmakers who are ready to make that leap.

This is a massive jump in how filmmakers tell their stories. ARWall’s Home Studio is the next jump for indie filmmakers. The cost is cheaper than most RED or ALEXA cameras.

This technology is one of the most exciting filmmaking tools to come out since digital cameras became the norm. Not only is this tech cool but the speed that it became affordable for the independent filmmaker is mind-blowing.

It took a decade before we had access to the same ground-breaking technology that was used in Jurassic Park.

Rene and I talk virtual production, The Mandalorian, the future of the AR Wall, and how indie filmmakers can start using this technology today.

Enjoy my conversation with Rene Amador.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 2:21
Now I know a lot of you have watched Disney plus his show, the Mandalorian which is a Star Wars The first Star Wars television series. And it was one of the biggest shows of last year and the new season just started last week. I am a tremendous fan, as many of you already know. But what I was really interested in was the virtual production techniques and technologies that they use and implemented to make a giant very big budget looking show on a budget now mind you on a budget is relative in the Star Wars universe. But let's just say that they were able to put together hours and hours of content for less budget than you would have to spend on a standard Star Wars movie. Now, when I looked at all of this, obviously there's a lot of talk about how this might help filmmakers and production companies deal with the Coronavirus doesn't need a lot of people, you can be very enclosed, very bubble like and you can have a lot of production value and you can save a lot of money because you don't have to do as much green screening and visual effects costs. But I was like this is all great. And again, you know, just like when the T rex showed up in Jurassic Park in 1993. That's really great. But how is that going to help us as independent filmmakers? Well, today's guest is someone who is going to help you get access to this insane technology on a budget. Now today we are speaking to Rene Amador from AR wall. And AR wall is one of the industry leaders in this virtual production technology. And when I saw their newest product, my mouth dropped to the floor they have created the AR wall home studio, which allows you as an independent creator as an independent filmmaker to use same or similar technologies to what they used on the Mandalorian at a very, very affordable price. We're talking less than the cost of a red camera. Now Rene and I get into all of the tech knology how independent filmmakers can use it, what it would do for your production value? How do you get those amazing backgrounds that you're going to be able to move left and right. I mean it is it's just an insane, insane world that we're walking into. We're that much closer to literally just shooting on a holodeck from Star Trek, which is basically an entire room that looks and feels almost like a real room. But it's all holographic. We are very, we're just getting closer and closer to eventually being able to shoot on the holodeck. And this technology is that next step forward. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Rene Amador. I'd like to welcome to the show Rene Amador. How are you doing, Rene?

Rene Amador 5:47
I'm doing just fine. Thanks for having me, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 5:49
Oh, brother, man, thank you for being on the show. Man. I truly appreciate it. I am I have to say before we get started, man, I am such a fan of what you guys are doing at AR it's it's mind blowing. Absolutely mind blowing. But we're gonna get into all of that in this episode. But before we start, I have to tell the story because we were talking about it before we got on.

Rene Amador 6:11

Alex Ferrari 6:11
And please tell. Please tell the audience how we know each other.

Rene Amador 6:17
Yeah. So I mean, I think you reached out because we had some big press recently, we came out with some big announcements recently. And, and just this morning, I was thinking Alex Ferrari is such a familiar name is the type of name you don't forget, right? So I was thinking this sounds so familiar. I went back to my personal email from like, you know, over 10 years ago, and went and looked and put your name and found I've been on your newsletter since about 2007. And the Sigma factory, and I think it was originally because you, you were kicking butt on the DB x 100. A and then the HV x 200. And you were one of the few people that was doing visual effects intensive stuff on those cameras. So we were we wanted to use those same cameras. So we were following you to see what you're up to what your workflows were. And then that you came up with a bunch of like workshops to and I think I actually might have purchased them. Yeah, but I think the original way that I that I heard about you is we we had a we had a couple films go to Dragon Con 2007. Your your shorts were there as well. Once I saw those, and I think we were actually in contention against each other. I was like you won first prize. I won second prize. Wow, that that's awesome. Isn't that wild? Yeah. So that's how I first learned about I was like, Who the hell is this guy?

Alex Ferrari 7:41
Why is this guy Why did it Why do you get first place? What the hell's going on here? I got to watch these things.

Rene Amador 7:49
I have an email here. First email from your newsletter, June 2007. What a blast from the past.

Alex Ferrari 7:58
I was when you told me this story. I was absolutely floored. Because, first of all, I can't believe you have email from 2007. So that alone, there's issues that you need to work out. But but that and then you read the email was about my second film sin and you know, Hey, guys, I want to let you know about my new film. It is so funny how that little short film I did in 2005 people still talk to me about it and still reach like when I and it happens more often than you would think like I The last thing I thought of when I when I rang in to our interview today is you were gonna go Hey, dude, I like I remember broken like I just didn't larious That's amazing. It's pretty, pretty amazing, Matt, but thank you for sharing that insane.

Rene Amador 8:46
I'm a fan, just to be clear. And it's awesome here. You know, I'm here just to interview you. Basically.

Alex Ferrari 8:55
I'll come on your podcast or anytime you'd like the AR podcast anytime you. So how did you get into the film business in the first place, sir?

Rene Amador 9:05
Yeah, um, so I think originally, my dad, my dad wanted to be a filmmaker way back in the 70s. And I ended up going into computer engineering instead. So he, he was as one of the top software engineers for the defense industry for about 40 years. But through that entire period from even a young age, that spirit of filmmaking was still inside him. And he definitely, you know, imbued my entire upbringing, my, my, my media culture, with that love of cinema. So you know, I grew up, you know, before the age of 10, watching Fellini and Kurosawa and all these intense films. Just really just thinking like, Okay, this is just this is culture. This is what art is not really knowing that, like it's pretty unusual to get that type of education as a young child. in cinema, so at about the age of 10, I, you know, made a pretty determined statement to my family, like, I am going to be a filmmaker, I'm going to be director, you know, screenwriter and make these projects, do some TV, do some film, you know, just do what I can. And it really, I think it was a couple films that did that. For me, obviously. I think like science fiction films were pretty big for me Star Wars. But then there was one in particular, which people may laugh at, which is din, the David Lynch movie, I happened to own that, because my, my dad was pretty big, big David Lynch fan. And I don't think I'd seen any other films, the first film I'd seen of his. And when I just in the first 10 minutes of that film, you see the set design and the production design that that they brought to that project. And you just think, somebody, his job is to get paid to make the sets. And, and just to think, what, how much fun and how much amazing creativity goes into that type of collaboration. I thought that that's something I have to be involved with. Because you know, as a kid, you look out into the rest of the world. And you're like, who else is approaching that level of creativity and that level of storytelling and imagination. It's not really something that you see out in the world. So film for me was that moment where I realized dream and imagination and reality and career could all come together into one package, and really create something special. So that that's how I really got started. And then just just kind of thinking of that mentality at a very young age. And then I made my first project, obviously, for us for a heist, you know, trying to get rid of doing homework.

Alex Ferrari 11:59
I did that too. It was awesome.

Rene Amador 12:01
When make a video, we made a video. I think my first video was called Deron Gatto, it had to be in Spanish because it was for Spanish class. And it was just it's basically kind of like a Lost Highway rip off. Like some weird surreal thing where people were, you know, in dark lighting looking intense, that type of thing. And that was a lot of fun. And one of the things that happened when I was making it is literally everyone said to me, hey, you've done this before, like, I can tell that you've done this before. And I'll be like, Nope, never done that before just watched every single behind the scenes, you know, DVD thing that I could get my hands on. So that's how I got started. And then in senior year of high school, I made a very popular video called real ultimate power, the official ninja movie, which was based on their website called real ultimate power dotnet, which is very popular at the time. And that got over 3 million views that video. This was in 2002 in high school. So I personally set up the

Alex Ferrari 13:02
How'd you get the views? Where were those views? because YouTube wasn't even around yet.

Rene Amador 13:05
You're correct. So there's two things. One is it's an adaptation of a website into a video, which is something that hadn't really been done before. And in fact, we found out that the only other projects who have done at the time was something called undercover brother, which I think you may remember that was actually a website to begin with. So we were in this we were part of this little wave in the beginning of viral content, where basically we're adapting websites into video. So we we got linked on the front page of that website and that's where a lot of loaded viewership came from. However, there's a there's another component of it, which is that I was very active in 4chan in the something awful com forums, which are kind of the precursor to like read it. And unlike mean groups and that type of stuff, and actually in this something awful form groups with BPI, BYOB and FYI a D. I can't say what those mean on air No, they're acronyms people who there's something awful will know these I was a regular on these in and being able to put the content out, you know, I would be making means shareables This was 10 years before you know, eight people even knew what a meme or shareable was, I'll be making them for the film for my for putting them on the website being like, look at how ridiculous this is putting a link to the video. And that's that's how we made it have that. So we reached millions of views. And that was such a new strategy at that time. And what's funny is 10 years later, I was doing exactly that for Fox. Which is so weird. Exactly that for Fox actually for American Idol. For one of the top brands in the world. I was doing that meme and shareables creation with so going full circle, but that's really how I got started doing my own distribution setting up webhosting myself, and then back when you had to think about that type of stuff, and then that project was extremely absurdist. It was very similar, I would say. It was inspired kind of like by the Christopher Guest movies waiting for guffman that type of stuff. I'm a really big fan of Christopher Guest. Just the whole, that insane improv energy where anything can happen and that sensation of awkwardness, I kind of see him almost as the spiritual successor to Fellini in the way that he casts off oddball characters that look odd, and just give you a certain feeling. And then they go off and do something that's highly unusual or just highly tense. And it gives you such an intense narrative feeling. In those moments. I really enjoy that that type of stuff. So if you if you know that about me, a lot will make sense about my films, because they tend to have an absurdist really irreverent, and a kind of a screwball sensibility to them.

Alex Ferrari 16:02
Well, that's, that's awesome. And yeah, I did the same mean situation in 2004 2005. When I did my short films, it was it. I mean, those that was such the wild, wild west man, it was such a wild wild west back then. And I, it's hard for people to understand that, you know, you couldn't just put your film up, like us literally couldn't, there was no YouTube and even YouTube smocked in 2005, like the quality was atrocious. It's the technology just wasn't there and let alone to stream. You know, you know what I did with sin, that second film that your email, I actually, I actually wanted to sell it on iTunes, but couldn't, because there was no technology to get it up on iTunes. So what I did was, I would sell the download of an iTunes file, the M v four file or whatever the iTunes format is, I would sell it on my on my website, and then they would click dollar 99 to rent it, and then they would double click on it, it would open up in the iTunes app. Back then.

Rene Amador 17:02
Yes. I mean, I think, you know, remembering backups that time and how this how difficult distribution was online? That's a genius move. I used this, this is really going to data I use something called real player.

Alex Ferrari 17:16
Oh, I remember. Of course, the web the the flash is flash based, right? or close to Mr. Flash place, but I know for a player or Yeah, something like that. Yeah.

Rene Amador 17:26
It was JavaScript, possibly flash or you know, Shockwave or whatever the hell they had

Alex Ferrari 17:30
That shock wave. Whoo. Remember, dream weaver.

Rene Amador 17:37
So yeah, I mean, you would have to build the actual infrastructure of distribution at that time, and it was such a pain in the butt. And when YouTube came along, really, the original people not might not realize it's the original pitch that YouTube had wasn't even as a video destination, it was at as a pitch to Video Creators, hey, we'll make it super easy for you to get your video online, then you can embed it wherever you want, you know, you're there everywhere. It wasn't meant to be a destination site. It was only later when people started linking directly to the YouTube page instead of their own website with the video embedded, that it started to become a video destination site. And that was very interesting to see happen in real time.

Alex Ferrari 18:18
No, it's it's increasing. And I also by the way, I have I think, and I want someone to tell me differently, but I think I have the first filmmaking tutorials up on YouTube.

Rene Amador 18:30
I wouldn't be surprised because oh, five. Yeah, I think I bought them. And I remember it being I remember it being unusual. Like I hadn't heard like, I'm trying to think like, it was almost it almost felt infomercial, Lee, you know, like, you know, like a, you know, learn how to meditate or something, you know, you would see that kind of stuff on TV. But you didn't you know, it's not like now we're you know, masterclass and you know, how to cook and learn how to do this or that or it wasn't a common thing. And the fact that you were doing something on media creation was pretty unusual because at that point, it had just become viable to do to do like fully digital media. And then you were you had realized oh, man, like like I can, you know, do screencaps and I can do all sorts of stuff and so you were showing the entire process in an interesting way that I don't think that had been done before. Like Where did you learn how to do that? Because I don't think there's

Alex Ferrari 19:26
I was, I was a post guy did I was I was editing since 96. So I just kind of understood the the post production aspect of things and then I have a marketing head and that's how it kind of all combined that with everything else I've done in my life. It kind of came up and started doing it I always just figured out like and even then I still didn't get it because I left YouTube I should have stayed I should have stayed and it's gonna make it if I would have made tutorials just kept making tutorial videos. I would own own the filmmaking tutorials base but I bought I'm now not a teacher, I don't I'm a filmmaker. Spielberg didn't do tutorial videos. Why should I? And that was the ego spoke speaking, but who knew? No One No one knew no one knew. Exactly. But what So? So we're here to talk about your company that you've co founded AR wall. First of all, which is if I'm if I'm correct about, it's a company that deals with augmented reality, and versions of that, can you explain to people what augmented reality is?

Rene Amador 20:30
Absolutely. So we call ourselves an AR xR company, which basically means augmented reality and what they call extended reality, or some people call it mixed reality. And basically, what this means is we're combining live action elements in real time with CG elements. And it's different from traditional visual effects, which is entirely a time shifted process where you shoot and then you do the compositing at a later point. So we're, we're not, we're not in that game, we're in the game of capturing it on set live, whether it's a live stream, a live broadcast, or live to tape type of scenario, where you want to give the impression of a live broadcast. But the whole point is you walk away from set with the final shot with the final pixel. And that's a fundamental shift in the way that people have been conceiving of virtual production. Because I think, when it comes to film and TV, prior to us coming out to the scene, most people's heads were at pre visualization, which means, you know, you hire the third floor, we work who's worked on Star Wars and Avengers films, one of our one of our sister companies that that we love working with. And so you, you have a temporary composite, which isn't even meant to be like a full, like fully 100% tract composite, it's meant to be reminiscent, and just to give the the filmmakers on set, like an idea of what it's going to be like. So that's not final pixel. And that's where real time graphics have been relegated in film and TV for quite quite some time, about 10 years. When we came on the scene in 2016, there was no solution that was fast enough to do. Like the window illusion and camera tracking the way that we did. There was some stuff for experiential, unreal, had something called VR cluster. And then Barco had developed something for industrial use that use goggles with like big ping pong balls on them, that type of thing. But nobody had looked at how do you combine those experiential and industrial tools that were being developed for, for commercial purposes, into the media industry, so that you could actually get the CG in a realistic way sutured behind the live action actors with sets. So we we saw that as our original challenge. And we actually accomplish that in 2017, and immediately signed a Netflix and NBC Universal project called nightflyers, which was our first project. And to describe what we're up to here, basically, what's happening is, if you think of traditional rear projection, you have a giant screen, it's giving the sensation that the act or the sets are in a location in which they're not actually so in space, or moving or in a forest or whatever the case may be. The problem with reprojection is as you move, as you transpose the camera, move the position of the camera, you begin to see the static rigidity of the to the plate behind the actor and set where the where the reprojection screen is. And that's because obviously, the illusion of parallax is broken, right and this skew is in the skew is not incorrect. The perspective is not correct. So what we realized was with the new real time, like the new advancements in immersive in VR, and AR, and that type of stuff that were happening in 2016, there would be an opportunity now to actually track the cameras position as it moves, and update the vantage point onto the rear projection plate. So that in under, you know, 41 milliseconds, the time that it takes for a shutter to open and close, we can actually update the background dynamically, so that it always looks like you're looking into a deep window illusion, like a deep environment on that screen. So it's basically a way to combine traditional rear projection technology with new immersive tracking technology. And that's that's what what our vision is.

Alex Ferrari 24:48
So I can only imagine what someone like Stanley Kubrick would do with this. If he was alive today. Because he I mean, he was one of the I mean, rear projection been around forever. But But I think Stanley was one of the First to really take it to a whole other level, because I still remember 2001. Yeah, it's flawless. I mean, you can't even tell that it's reprojection. Like,

Rene Amador 25:09
Exactly. And and actually, that that was our thesis statement, when we were going out and getting initial clients and getting financing and everything like that is we would show Wizard of Oz actually. And if you The Wizard of Oz tornado sequence, everybody can picture this picture, the spatial reality of that tornado, and then to sit down with an investor and tell them look, everything here is rear projection, and look how real that looks. And we can come back to this perfection in compositing. And this is a proven technique for 100 years, that this is something that that we can do in a successful way. And that's really how we got the ball rolling it because I think that was key to our company's success. We didn't come in and say, We're the new kids on the blog, and we've got the new stuff. And these are the toys. No, we did it the opposite. We said, we have such amazing reverence for the traditional cinematic methods. And between, basically between 1990 and now is an aberration where everything's green. And, and we need to get right. That's kind of the way that we were pitching it to be serious, like, between 1990 and two, and 2020. Everything was green for like, 30 years, and it was really blue, then green. Yeah, these blue and then green. And that and and we're going to look back at this moment in history and be like, what the hell were they thinking? That's what they were doing before these types of real time backdrops came on the scene. And they started shooting actual photons again, right? Not not making fake virtual photons to bounce around everywhere. So just kind of thinking about the, from a historical perspective, from a legacy perspective, what would be the next technology that comes around? And that's how really, that we thought of it. And I think that we've been acknowledged in this space as people who, you know, didn't try and come in, and you know, and muscle or weigh in with some new tech, but really have reverence and respect for traditional cinema. And I think that's, that's, that's what we're all about.

Alex Ferrari 27:17
So, the first time I really, you know, when when AR came into my viewpoint, I'd heard about it, but again, because of early, like, even in 20 1520 1617, it was still very early on, and the technology has grown so fast. I mean, it's insane how quickly, the processing power is just, you know, grown, that now you're able to do things like we're doing currently. But the first time I really kind of came into the Zeitgeist was Mandalorian. When I mean the Mandalorian is really put it on the map. And and really it would you agree, like when you saw Mandalorian? It was like, Oh, well, yes.

Rene Amador 27:54
Yeah. So I mean, definitely, we were having conversations. And, you know, technically we did the first one. If with a fliers about a year prior to Mandalorian coming out, it's when we so we were doing our work. But But absolutely, we we had such a big splash with this LED backdrop stuff that when people saw Mandalorian, and they saw what what was happening, they got so excited. I mean, we just had an insane rush of interest from everyone in the industry. Most people honestly thought that we had done it because they didn't realize that a second team was capable of doing it, which is good for us, because we get a lot of calls and everything like that. Sure. But that was massive. And it really puts this type of real time technology on the map. Because you have you know, a guy like john fabro backing this talking about and gushing about it, everything like that, and it makes the that makes the sailing process a little bit easier. And it gets us further along on most on most projects, then that then prior. So it helps a lot. It really made people see like, you know what, I don't need to do a camera test, you know, to see if it's viable anymore. I don't need to see any more footage. Like I know, it's I know it's viable. And now I just need to make sure that I'm working with the right team. So because we're one of the longest serving teams in this space during these LED backdrops, we've benefited a lot from the Mandalorians big surge in interest in the industry.

Alex Ferrari 29:22
Yeah, I mean when I saw some of the behind the scenes of also of of what was it nine flyers, I saw some stuff that you were doing the night fliers and some of the Justice just sitting there watching a camera guy, move the camera and then the background move with it. You know, your mouth drops, you're just like, what but there's also another big benefit to that is the lighting, you're getting real time lighting, which you don't get an A green screen and that is something that you just can't replicate or in post. You know, I'm being a post that it's difficult. It's not difficult. It's nearly impossible to do it. Really well, we're now you have reflections, you have lighting. Like if there's a sun out, the sun is hitting you. If there's night, literally no. Night Lights hitting you at night lights are hitting you.

Rene Amador 30:13
And here's the thing, here's what's funny, you wouldn't know exactly, you wouldn't exactly know those benefits unless you'd actually have to go through the green screen compositing process personally, and go, Oh, wait, this doesn't work, like this thing that should work doesn't isn't working, like I need to recreate this entire lighting scheme and lighting conditions, or change it, you know, and fake it or something like that. And really, until you until you run up to, you know, what I would call like, the dead end of what green screen is capable of, there's a certain point which you can't go any further, you know, without really just, you know, faking everything. It's at that point that you realize, gosh, there's got to be a better way. And you know, myself working as a visual effects compositor for quite some time. I think I think thinking, is this what I'm going to be doing when I'm 65 you know, like, Am I gonna be sitting here keying out green? And Bill suppression? Yeah, yeah. Painting out noise. And in like, is this is this when I'm going to be doing and just just having such so much respect for those artists who in you know, in my opinion, these these artists who do high level feature film and TV work and do this green screen compositing, these are the Vinci level artists that like we as a culture have basically said, like, you know, just just remove the rock from the background. Okay, just

Alex Ferrari 31:40
Right.It's like having, it's like having Leonardo da Vinci like, Look, I know that you can do the Sistine Chapel, but it just, I need that rock killed out that that the wire over there, I need you to get rid of that wire.

Rene Amador 31:52
Yeah, exactly. You're absolutely right. Absolutely. That's exactly how it feels. And, and, and like, and you'll be, you'll be hanging around with these visual effects, some positives, and you know, they'll all be like painters, you know, on their free time, and you know, these guys, they're raising amazing work and stuff. And you're going gosh, okay, is that what we're asking these people to do? and religious hack, just thinking? Something is going to come along, and it's going to be able to do this in an automated way. And what is that? What does that look like in realizing that actually has to happen on set while the camera is rolling, if we can get the company, if we can get a robotic compositor, you know, to, you know, use the wrong term, basically, but make an automated compositor that actually composites the shot, before the shutter opens and closes while you're shooting, then ultimately, that's going to be the right moment. And to in order to complete the composite before it goes into the camera's lens. So that's really how, you know backup that entire process all the way up to set all the way up to set and even actually, before the the frame is exposed. That's, that's how we came up with this. And and that's the was the original conception, it's just for like, from a really basic standpoint, thinking of it that way.

Alex Ferrari 33:12
So our so we see the technologies there. And now you know, use these these giant led by backdrops. And how I mean, what's like, do you use projectors? Do you actually use monitors to do a combination of do is there like stitching of giant 80 or 150 inch monitors? How are you doing it?

Rene Amador 33:32
Sure. So it's a technology that was that most people will be familiar with, for concerts. So you imagine, you know, the big Beyonce concert, she's got those amazing LED screens behind her that a coordinated in motion, you know, motion design, motion graphics, with this with the tracks and songs and her performance and everything. So it's literally those same companies that are deploying the screens. You know, there's a lot of great led rental companies out there that we work with. And the difference is that the the density, the pixel density of the screens is much tighter when you're working for film and TV is because you want to avoid pixelation and Moray, and those types of issues that go along with it. So let's say you know, other concert, you might have a pitch that's like 5.6 millimeter, which is describes the distance between the LED diodes, but on film and TV, you might be increasing that by eight times. So eight times more pixels in the same like square inch, that type of thing. So what you end up with is basically kind of like the difference between SD and HD way back in the day, where you'll be looking from the same distance, but you'll just see it being much smoother. Really, the illusion of curves and everything is maintained. And so like what we've basically been looking at right now is about 1.5 millimeter pitch for these ladies, they are built up like Legos. So you know, you build them one, one row, and then you build this next row, and then you build the next row until it's up to the size that you need. So we genuinely The most common size that we're working at is about 24 by 10 feet, or 24 by 12 feet for a screen. And then the largest that we've done for a commercial production is about 45 feet by 16 feet. And now, buyers, see, that's the whole side the that's the whole side of a soundstage, like an entire side of a soundstage is filled with a virtual world. And then that way you have the flexibility to put the sets and put the actors kind of anywhere in the stage and know that you're going to have that amazing backdrop

Alex Ferrari 35:50
Do you have this do you did you do a ceiling as well, because I remember in Mandalorian, they actually have that that's like a dome almost.

Rene Amador 35:59
So we didn't, we didn't do a ceiling. with LED panels. However, there was a full production lighting grid up there, where they were able to coordinate with the action on the screen, to make sure that the lighting lighting is coordinated. And that was done by hands. I think now, because that was way back in was that 2017 something like that

Alex Ferrari 36:23
Way back who way back? trust me, I wish I was back in 2017. We're in 2020 currently.

Rene Amador 36:34
Oh my gosh. Um, so I think if we were to do it now, it would be there will be some automation, there'll be some DMX controlled lighting, that would coordinate with the with the system. And we might be doing some interesting stuff with that very soon. And, and so that's um, that's definitely the screen sizes that we're working at. We have worked with real projection as well. Barco and Christy make some amazing projectors that I think would be suitable, perfectly suitable for film and TV. So just requires, you know, to be frank, like a better dp, you have to just be a dp that knows how to use reprojection. But you can get some really amazing looks. And one of the benefits is it's, it doesn't have the Moray and pixelation the way that you perceive on LED screens. So it can be really good for some scenarios.

Alex Ferrari 37:23
So so in that would be and then you could actually get a much larger screen with a projector as opposed to LEDs easier, or no,

Rene Amador 37:32
Yeah,so for people that want to get into these types of virtual backdrops in virtual production using led or reprojection reprojection can be a good first step, you can play around on reprojection without too much cost. And but I also recommend just playing around on the TV. Because that can be you can get some really large TVs and get some shots that look really good. And just start learning about the technology. So we actually sell we do sell a product specifically for that is called AR FX home studio. It's made for creators that were stuck at home. So basically for myself. And actually, we originally conceived the product because I would have to do the demos here on my, on my TV. And a lot of filmmakers were like, you know, it's great to have a big led setup. Can I get that the exact thing that you are showing me right now on your TV, that would be amazing just to learn. So we did come out with a with a product specifically for that, if people are interested

Alex Ferrari 38:31
And the cost of that is I mean, you're saying right now the price is around 10 grand if I saw your website correctly, right?

Rene Amador 38:36
Yeah. 9500 is what we're asking for FX comm studio that comes with the workstation itself, as well as all the tracking, you additionally get technical support knowledgebase video tutorials, and you know, get to our expertise to support your projects. It also comes with a launch scene pack of about 100 backdrops. That's really everything that somebody would need to get started in this space. And that's going to connect perfectly to your TV and your existing camera.

Alex Ferrari 39:04
So let's talk about the backdrops because that's the one thing that this all sounds fantastic. But unless you're a guy or a gal who knows how to render out real time, like how is the backdrop I was the creation of the backdrops work, how can you create customs? Can you go out and shoot footage and put it on there? Does that work? How is how explain that process? What like the actual creation of the backdrop?

Rene Amador 39:26
Sure, it's definitely the part of the process that still needs work like is this is not a perfect method, the way that it's been done right now. And basically the way that that method is is you build up the actual geometry of the scene either in Maya or 3d Studio, Max blender, whatever the case may be, then you bring it into Unreal Engine. And at that point, you need to apply real time materials and shaders and that type of stuff, lighting, specific types of lighting materials and shaders to the elements and then at that point You're ready to shoot. And you can use the backdrop. So it's, it's, it's taken visual effects folks a little bit to figure out, Okay, this is how I moved from my traditional postman methodology to pushing everything into pre into a real time engine, which is unreal engine is what we're currently working on, which is one of the top real time graphics engines in existence. It's the definitely the leaders in this space.

Alex Ferrari 40:28
And then this was, this is also kind of pioneered in the video game space.

Rene Amador 40:32
Absolutely. And that's, that's, I think, I think when filmmakers start to look at this real time space, and realize they're kind of dipping their toes in the same waters as video game people, they, they can sometimes get intimidated, because it's a different world, it's a different culture, and everything like that. But I think once they realize this key point, it starts to become a lot easier for them. In in the video game world, this is built off of a world of you know, indie makers, and people who are coming out of the culture of technology and independent technology. So these people believe in sharing quite a bit. So whenever if, for example, whenever a video game company finishes a major project, and it you know, it has success, or it doesn't, or whatever, and they're basically done with those assets, they tend to then take every single one of the assets that they made, and liquidate it onto a marketplace for you. So you can go and buy every single thing from the video game. Or you can buy the Select, you know, most in demand things from that video game. So as a filmmaker, when you come to Unreal Engine, and you go to the Unreal Asset Store, and you go to turbosquid and all these other places where you can begin to get these assets, what you realize is, I'm you know, you're sitting on a legacy of 20 plus years of asset creation, where video game creators have just been making making making put it on the marketplace make make make put on the marketplace, and that's been happening 1000s of artists for decades. So you'll you'll be able to go and get you know, your you know, your Lamborghini, your you know, your forests. That's

Alex Ferrari 42:17
your T Rex. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Rene Amador 42:19
So so a lot of the time what we're doing with a client, when we're when we're, when we're, you know, doing a location scout, which is like a virtual location scout, will actually go through the Unreal Asset Store, and do like, What do you want? And they'll be like, okay, I want an alley. Okay, alley, we type it in, we get, you know, 15 different alleys. And then we're doing basically going through the screenshots going, does this feel right? Does that feel right? And that's actually how we're doing it in the moment. And then when we ask, is that crazy. And then when we actually need to, like lock this specific shot, like on, you know, this is shot, eight is shot, be that type of thing, what we'll end up doing is literally on a zoom chat like this, I'll be going flying through the location. And they'll say, you know what, that looks pretty good. Like, I like that tree right there. That's everything. Okay, so then I'll bookmark it into our system. And then when they show up on set, that's exactly what they saw on that zoom call. And that's genuinely how we're doing these locations, guys. Now, in the middle there, of course, we have amazing technical artists, who were you know, making everything look for the real as much as possible, getting the animation done getting the scripted events, done, effects and that type of stuff. So

Alex Ferrari 43:29
Are you are you bringing in the locations? Are you bringing in these files? Are you just bringing elements in and you're putting it all together? Are you building? Like, are you getting a full blown alley with the garbage cans with the lighting schemes? Like what do you what are you getting? Exactly?

Rene Amador 43:43
You're getting everything. Like, either we're either we're building off of one specific existing SOC asset, which is royalty free, by the way, if they're these are all royalty free, you can use them, you know, you could go and you can make a Disney film with them. And technically, the artists couldn't say anything. It's kind of a weird reality that we live in. So the they come with everything genuinely inside them. Or you can populate them with all sorts of whatever props you want. So there's full flexibility here to create the world that you want to be creative.

Alex Ferrari 44:15
Yeah, I mean, I was I was doing a show for legendary a TV show and I, we were doing so many insane visual effects, like we did 150 visual effects a week for a full blown show was insane. And the only way we could do it is we went to turbosquid. And I'm like, okay, we need a dune worm. Okay, great. Let's go. And then we just and we'd go and find them. And they were all pre built. And then my VFX artists can go because if they would have to create those elements, we never make it. And they're cheap. They're not they're not super, I mean, I'm sure an alley or something a little bit more detailed as expensive, but relatively speaking a lot cheaper than having to create it yourself. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Rene Amador 45:02
Yeah, I mean, if you're just getting like a table and chair or something, you're probably spending like, what less than 30 bucks maybe, right like that, for like a really, really nice one. Yeah, so it's a, it's a really interesting world, once you get into, into fully digital environments, and I think it's the same kind of thing that happens when people jumped from physical sets to green screen, what's happening now is that process of, you're ending up with more finalized assets now, whereas before, you know, you'd have to, you'd have to fit it into the world of your film. Now you can go, you can find pretty much anything of any style, you know, change it up a little bit, change the color or something like that, and you have an asset ready to go for your project. So it's, it's really, it's a really odd time. In media right now, because labor and creativity and artistry have been massive, are getting massively undervalued, because you know, all this stuff is out there for free. But at the same time, as a creator, as a filmmaker, it's almost like, never been a better time. Because you've got all this royalty free assets, you've got the actual capability to utilize those assets in your project with this with our technology and similar technology. So you'd like it's, it's it's really interesting time. And what we're seeing from from filmmakers, is actually we're getting this sentence a lot. Wow, I've always had this concept that I would never have been able to do. And now I'm going to do it. And so we're working on a couple projects right now, are these are projects where the artist, the director, you know, they wanted to do this five years ago, but it was not a it's not a budgetary reality. And now we're able to lower that budgetary threshold for them, so that that vision that they have is actually achievable. And as a filmmaker, you know, when I'm moving the needle on, like, it's, it's great, you know, it's great to make some money. And that's awesome. Right. But when I'm moving the needle on, what can what is actually getting greenlit. That's, that's amazing, and to the creative vision that it's actually getting executed upon that Project Greenlight. I mean, to be able to affect that in a meaningful way. It's very satisfying. And it's I mean, that's what that's what I'm working for.

Alex Ferrari 47:20
So that was another thing I want to talk about the the budgetary benefits of this is massive, because a show like Mandalorian could not be made without this technology, it just be too expensive. It'd be like making a half of a Star Wars film, every episode, which

Rene Amador 47:37
You got him it's like,

Alex Ferrari 47:39
it's impossible

Rene Amador 47:40
wouldn't wouldn't have happened like Mandalorian, plain plain plainly wouldn't have happened. And a lot of people might not realize that there was an actual live action Star Wars film, Star Wars series that was attempted not not to, like maybe

Alex Ferrari 47:54
They had like 70 dead 70 episodes written Mmm, remember, like, Luke Lucas, Lucas had like 70 episodes written that he was he was gonna do it. But he's just he couldn't figure it out

Rene Amador 48:05
They couldn't figure out because at that point, they were using green screen. And so that just the compositing and tracking and getting everything working to bomb with a beautiful animation that they you know, were interested in getting just wouldn't happen. Or, you know, frankly, it didn't happen. And I think that they've been putting the live action Star Wars series concept until they saw this technology was accessible. And I like to say that we were part of actually pushing them over that edge. You know, we did a showcase at Disney for about two days where we showed everyone the viability of this technology, and really push it over the edge. And and, you know, we've been definitely causing some trouble, like when we come out here. And just to be clear, not everyone is a fan of what we're doing. You can imagine whose lunch we're eating, when we're coming out and saying you never have to hire a composite or again, you never have to hire a rotor guy again, you know, that type of thing. So. So yeah, I mean, we got all sorts of pushback from the visual effects folks that, you know, many different studios, but I think when you actually see Wait a second, that we're we're not actually taking money out of someone's pocket, what we're doing is we're greenlighting a project, that would have never happened, writing, getting the beginning the cost of those shots that are appropriate for our technology, way, way down. And you know, for those shots, we're visual effects is still a perfect fit, post visual effects is still a perfect fit, you know, they can continue to have those those those shots, and there's many shots in which our technology will never be suitable, you know, flying an X wing down the trench. And again, having those beautiful exterior shots of the x wing and that type of stuff, you know, there's no way that we're gonna we're going to be relevant to that because there's no, you know, the live action component of that is so minor. So like, there's always going to be a place for visual effects. And the fact is, they should be working on those amazing trends from sequences, they should not be working as separating, you know, actresses blonde hair from green.

Alex Ferrari 50:05
And your absolute. They should be more for the like if you try to do this with Avengers endgame, the final, the final battle, I was trying to think about when I saw this technology I'm like, Okay, how could have this been played out? Because I saw the behind the scenes of the Avengers endgame. And it's just massive green. It's just massive, massive, massive amounts of green. But I'm like, how could this worked in that environment? And maybe you would have they could have probably dropped millions of dollars off of it if they would have structured certain shots within some sort of AR dome of some sort. And but but but this those giant, massive shots, when you've got 50 people running? Maybe you could maybe you couldn't there's still going to be some CG comping in there. But there might be a lot of a lot of time and money saved.

Rene Amador 50:57
Yeah, absolutely. So we actually did a case study on my flyers, we went and got comparison pricing for what if the shots had been achieved through Jasmine green screen visual effects. And what we found was pretty startling, we were looking at anywhere from a 62 to 73% reduction budget for those shots. So meaning meaning while so we were cutting somewhere around 400 grand off of an episode budgets, just by being there and accomplishing these effects in small onset versus them having to capture a green, then send it out to a house to work on for two months. Yeah, come back just to give them the flaring and the beautiful play of light that they're getting free out of the box with our technology. This is physical photons coming out of the screen hitting the actor's face hitting the set the you know, the end eventually bouncing into the lens, as opposed to having to replicate that artificially. I mean, it's just for those filmmakers, those DPS and directors that are looking for that, look, it's just a much, much better choice for them. So that's what we've been seeing, seeing be successful. But it's also to be clear, this is a budgetary concern as well, producers are liking this technology, because it's saving them company moves, it's saving them post production time, there, you know, potentially simplifying their post production down. So if your post supervisor, you know, maybe you're working two months instead of four months, if that's the reality that we're bringing to the table with its technology, you know, it's great to, it's great to talk about, you know, bringing dreams, you know, to fruition and that type of stuff. But if the dollars and cents, don't make sense that don't make sense that it's never going to happen. So at every moment of our of our company, we've always been, you know, mindful of the fact that we're independent filmmakers, and we're budget conscious. I know filmmakers like yourself who are working filmmakers, your budget conscious as well. And it goes all the way up and down the ladder. Nobody Nobody is looking to, to spend more than they have to. So if we can create that narrative that, you know, this is an opportunity for you, instead of having to go chase that tax incentive, which is basically what producers are doing. Like they're just okay, we're going to, you know, save money for 10 G's that tax incentive, go to Bulgaria, you know, or wherever we can, we have to go, instead of doing that, you know, cut 70% of your effects budget using this technology. And it's going to be suitable for you know, 90% plus of the shots that you need. And that's basically the narrative that we've been pitching with that case study that's actually available on our website, if people are interested in going and taking a look, just look for nightflyers case study on the homepage. And then hopefully, you'll see there, like just how disruptive this technology is going to be. And and here's the thing is so disruptive that I think without the pandemic occurring, we still would be having we still would be struggling to get adoption. Now that the pandemic occurred, I you know, I've I've done demos for over 400 filmmakers and executives in the past, you know, six months, virtual demos like me and me in my living room in front of my TV. And just beginning to see those those that interest trickle in for quarter one of 2021. Yeah, it's gonna be an exciting time for virtual production in general.

Alex Ferrari 54:29
And I do believe because of, you know, this is a larger conversation, but I think you guys are definitely an ingredient in it. Because Because the theatrical experience and the theatrical component of the distribution pipeline is pretty much gone. Right now, as we're currently recording this. I'm sure it will come back in one way, shape or form in the future. But I just read an article yesterday that Disney is completely doing a reorganization, and they're completely focusing on streaming. So that means that Marvel movie These and all these big tentpole movies are going to start going straight to streaming. Because they just like this is the future. theatrical is not where it's at. I'm sure it's still gonna have a component of it, of course. But it's not what it was. And it's not it's not I don't think it's going to go back to pre COVID levels, anytime in the near future studios are going to that studios are not going to be able to spend 300 to $500 million on temples anymore, because the return on the investment isn't as as much there because the theatrical international theatrical components aren't nearly as big as before you an Avengers will make 2 billion, you know where? I don't know. Could it make that streaming? I don't I don't I don't know. You know what I pay 30 bucks opening day to see endgame probably. And I believe there's probably at least 40 or 50 million people in the world, they probably would. And that's a pretty good that's $1.5 billion.

Rene Amador 55:59
Yeah, I think it's it's it's such a weird time, because actually what's happening is now the the the established streamers, Amazon Netflix, these guys are actually having conversations with the theater owners to see like, could we could we fill this gap that the major studios are no longer filling? Is it just not generating the and releasing the content? They just, you know, basically, the metrics don't make sense, right? They made these projects for a pre COVID world, and they have to release it in a post COVID world. And it's just that those, those metrics are just never going to line up. So what and what's happening with the streamers is they were kind of thinking more of the of those metrics, making sense for them, their business model that they have just fit a little bit better. And they have the flexibility to go out and do a quote unquote, a minor theatrical release, just to drum up some, some publicity for the project. So I think the way that it's trickling down to effects vendors and technology vendors working in entertainment, like us, is no one, the number of people that are looking for a budget conscious solution has spiked, like we're getting Paramount, you know, looking for a budget concert solution, Disney looking for budget conscious solution. And that's just not where you were before. In fact, it was the opposite. If you went above a certain level in quote, unquote, you know, industry, notoriety, industry status, you basically don't play with anyone below a certain level of practice, because you're trying to keep that, you know, the quality high, you're trying to keep the entire, you know, social stratum, high,

Alex Ferrari 57:44

Rene Amador 57:44
like, so it's it's definitely changed. And the other thing that's changed is, you have a lot of people who are smart, who have been poised and waiting for a moment like this, now attacking and they're now you know, they see the established players all, you know, tripping and falling and stumbling, and they're going Wait a second, this is my opportunity to have a conversation with that studio executive, to have a conversation with that filmmaker, to have a conversation with that talent agent that I wouldn't have been able to have prior. And a lot of the people who are being successful now are people who have experience in effects in virtual production, and then also in working at smaller budgets. So they're willing to have the conversation with us, you know, on behalf of these major studios, in a way that we wouldn't necessarily have had before. And that's been super interesting. Because, you know, these are major filmmakers who want to have these conversations, we're looking to become the virtual production guy at the studio. And that's an exciting thing to be hearing from filmmakers.

Alex Ferrari 58:52
So with your with your AR FX home studio product, can independent filmmakers use this technology in their projects, if you have a 200 or $300,000 movie budget, and you know, it's not a sci fi extravaganza, it doesn't have to be. But if you have an action film, or if you you know, just want to create a little bit more scope in the back in the backdrop of shots, to give more production value to your to your as opposed to flying to Montana for the for that sunset. You can have the Montana endless sunset for 12 hours. Like you've got it. Yeah, so it can be you can they do it and what does it take to get that to work for them?

Rene Amador 59:37
Yeah, so the way that we're pitching errific some studio is that this is the method to learn about this new virtual production technique. However, you know, creators being creators and filmmakers being filmmakers, immediately people are saying, You know what, I could hook this up to a rear projection system I could hook this up to an LED system and actually be able to shoot stuff and get some shots out of the box, like completely compositing and ready to go looking great, just with this air effects home studio box, you know, some lighting and my camera and everything like that. I think that's that's obviously the what we want people to think because at the end of the day, there is nothing special about you know, going out to a TV that's 4k resolution. And going out to a reprojection system that's 4k resolution. From the perspective of the actual system, there is no difference, it's just pushing out resolution, right, just pushing out pixels. And doing that, you know, at a high frame rate that's going to be suitable for the for the scammer their production. So, from the perspective of the system, there is no difference. What we're saying basically is for Airfix home studio, it's the It comes with backdrops, which are preset for your preset backdrops stock environments. So that if you want that for if that temple, that apartment, that office, whatever, that's going to go ahead and come in those same packs for you. But if you want custom content, or you want to have deeper technical tech rehearsal tools, then our air effects professional system, this first system that we came out with, which is what we license out to major studios and that type of stuff, that's still going to be the better choice before for for those professionals,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:25
and what is the cost of those.

Rene Amador 1:01:28
If you're interested in knowing about the cost of Airfix, professionally, you can reach out to us it's actually we have different pricing depending on different types of you know, it's a sliding scale, depending on the project and everything like that. The other reason I mentioned that is because we do actually have bundled packages, with stages located here in LA. So we have partnered with stages here in LA that have the LED screens or have suitable setups. And you can actually get entire bundle packages by coming to us and those and using those stages. So that's what we've been working on during the pandemic's just taking the opportunity to go like, you know, what the stages are having issues getting people in, one way that we can attract those people is having a more COVID safe, you know, social distancing safe solution. So that's what that's what we've done. And we're very hopeful that people are going to find those valuable and attractive

Alex Ferrari 1:02:24
Now. And finally, are we just getting closer and closer to the Star Trek's holodeck. I mean, essentially, is this is this is essentially where we're going.

Rene Amador 1:02:33
It's funny, it's funny, you say that, because one of the first things that happened when we got big studio heads coming in, is the studio head would say, you know, it's great that you can track the camera, that's awesome. When is it going to track me? When is it going to track my head, you know, me as an individual. And I can actually get these illusions for you know, walking around a room. So we actually developed that we built that. And we released it at CES just earlier this year, beginning of the year prior to the pandemic. And we won Best AR experience for that product is called AR wall interactive, very creative name as you can, as you can see. And basically what it is, is it uses depth cameras to establish a track of your head position. So it's tracking this point, right in the bridge of your nose between your eyes. And then it's delivering the same window illusion that we're delivering to our camera, delivering it to you as an individual. So you walk into a room with, you know, three walls of this experience, which is some of the conversations that we're having right now. And you'll you know, you'll be in another world. And as you move this way, that way, is the perspective is going to shift perfectly to your vantage point. And we're actually getting that down to the point where it's no longer perceivable, that delay is no longer perceivable by the human eye. So we're talking about something that feels stuck to your head and you move around, and it feel stuck to your head every every little centimeter that you move. The other interesting thing about that is, since we can track your head, we can actually track your entire body, your hands, your eyes, everything. So we can create situations where based on your body position, your pose, or the actions that you take, the system can respond to you. So what am I talking about? characters that look directly into your eyes, because remember, we know the position of your head, we look directly into your eyes, we talk to you, we respond to your voice. And then we actually respond to your gestures. So if you point and you know, say it's over there, and point over there, the CG character can look at where you're pointing and react realistically using either a chatbot system or AI or something like that. So that's the type of really crazy stuff that we're working in. And I'll be frank, I would love to say that, you know, we're definitely one of the companies that down the line. The patents that we filed, the work that we've been doing with brands and with venues, hopefully will someday lead to a holodeck type. device, not necessarily saying that we're going to be the company to do it, I still do think it's a little bit down the line, maybe by the end of my life, we may have something like 50 years, something, maybe something like that. But I do definitely think that between now and then we're going to have these very interesting experiences, like from the perspective of somebody who, you know, wasn't born with these types of technology being around, it is going to seem and feel like a holiday type of experience. And, and just to be clear, those are conversations we're having right now about, like, let's deploy that first quarter of 2021. Let's make that happen. And I and I think that pandemic also helps push that conversation along, because people can't get out, and they can't have these experiences. And particularly when you think about training and education, these are situations where, you know, you can't stop training people just because it's cumbersome and difficult, right. But people still need to be trained up. So that's, that's what we're seeing kind of the first interest coming from that from that space. So I know it's it's, it's, it's something that may seem distant in science fiction, but that those conversations are happening now creating those immersive rooms, or that's how those conversations are happening.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:13
The funny thing is that as you're saying this, I'm like in 50 years, this will look like SD this will look like a silent movie technology comparatively to what the holodeck is, but it's not that far, like, you know, we're not that far, it's a stone's throw. It's a it's a big stone throw away, but it is still something that's not completely astronomical to in my lifetime, to see a holodeck where, where you're interacting with photo real computer generated images that look literally as part as crystal clear as a human being standing right next to you. Can you imagine the kind of filmmaking that will be? Can you imagine where like kids will be in their in their garages with holodecks shooting the next? Avengers endgame will look like an indie film.

Rene Amador 1:07:06
Exactly. And like, you can imagine a world where you put up the holodeck, like wallpaper, right? You put up the street, the screen like wallpaper, you just like gaining it on? Yeah, rolling it on and that type of thing. And then it all self coordinates, you know, those? Okay, this is, you know, what position I am in the world and everything like that. Like, it's not that difficult to imagine it like I think the technology exists right now. What doesn't exist right now is the will and the actual use case that would demand that investment to get there. Right. That's, that's what we're working on. And we're trying to find those partners, and its folks in location based entertainment. It's folks in training and education. It's also folks in the defense industry, we're having some conversation,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:50
I can imagine.

Rene Amador 1:07:52
So So there's all sorts of use cases for that. But you know, until we find that perfect one, it's it's it's not going to happen. So that that's that's what our job is as a company and as a business right, to talk to have conversations with these decision makers and go, what is actually going to get the money to flow and what is what are the requirements that we can hit that we can hit Now to begin to get that money to flow and actually make investment happen. So that's, that's really my work as a CEO is helping folks see that I've been successful in doing that in filmmaking. Now with this technology, with erawan Interactive, going out with filmmaking out of media out into the rest of the world, and having very interesting conversations, where they're, you know, they're aware of Mandalorian. They're aware of the work that's been happening, because this is something that broke out, even just of the entertainment community. So we're having conversations where that amazing work that has been done in film and TV is actually moving the ball in other industries, because they're like, you know, what john fabro did, maybe have a word for our thing, too. It's a it's a really weird time.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:01
And I think the pandemic has supercharged all of this. I mean, this is all something that would have happened eventually, like we would have all eventually gone to more streaming than theatrical, the writing was on the wall. All this technology would still be moving forward. I think it just sped it up probably a few years in timeframe where it would have been so it is it is what it is in regards to what we're dealing with with the pandemic, but there is some benefits. Because people are like, zoom. Like Now, everybody. I don't know if you've been driving around la traffic's fantastic. Like this is this is like it's the this is a wonderful place to live now. Like all of a sudden, like I drove to Santa Monica last weekend. It took me 35 minutes. Oh, yeah. I live in the valley. That's an hour and a half normally. Exactly.

Rene Amador 1:09:49
Exactly. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:50
Everyone's working at home.

Rene Amador 1:09:52
Exactly. We're almost back to the clueless days where, you know, I think the famous life and clueless is everywhere in LA is 20 minutes away. Yeah, we're almost there. We're getting under 40. Yeah. 40 minutes. We're gonna get there some time. Yeah, I agree with you.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:08
So I'm really appreciate you being on the show. Man, I want to ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today? Besides obviously buying an AR wall? FX studio, home studio?

Rene Amador 1:10:20
Air effects home studio? No, I think I mean, I think my real answer probably tracks with that pretty well, which is, you know, I think I think anybody can see that the media and entertainment industry is undergoing a transition right now. And you don't want to be on the wrong side of that transition, you don't want to be have the mentality of you know, I'm going to need making half billion dollar movies, and we're going to be putting out in theaters. And everybody, you know, we're going to put money in our ears. And, you know, man, you know, that's that. And that's what filmmaking is going to be. I think it's shifted. And I think that a successful filmmaker now is somebody who understands their audience, understands who's coming to their films, listens to those people, and doesn't listen to anybody else. Because that's, that's the reality, right now, in order to be a successful creator, you've got to be selective about who you're listening to. I think that's the big one, right now. You know, a project that is that is successful is going to work on Hulu isn't necessarily going to be successful and work on this new class. And that's just a weird reality that we live in, right now that these are siloed audiences happening. So I think the idea of mainstream filmmaking as a whole has fundamentally collapsed and changed. I don't think that when we think of a mainstream film, we're probably thinking of that, you know, Avengers, endgame or that type of thing. And I think moving forward, it's going to be a different type of film that we're probably thinking about. And to be frank, it's probably not even going to be a film, it's probably going to be a TV show, or a TV series or limited series, or something like that. raised by wolves, I think is a really good example. I don't know if you've been watching that,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:05
I haven't seen it, but it's on my list. Yeah, with Ridley Scott,

Rene Amador 1:12:08
That's a really good example. Because it's, it's, it's a post Ridley Scott film, you know, it's, it's pitched as a Ridley Scott universe, but in reality, you know, it's a TV show, and really, Scott's projects are films, traditionally. So it's a, in my opinion, it's somebody who looked at the model that really Scott head has mastered and has really, you know, gone out of his way to nail and then taking that and transplanting that into this, you know, post transition world that we live in. And that's, I think, a good project for people to think about moving forward, how it takes a traditional, familiar symbology story structure, and just does it in a different way. And I think that's what successful filmmaking is going to be like, in the future. And so technology is a big component of that, you know, virtual production, I don't think it's going to go away anytime soon. So in this in the same way that you know, you and I were, you know, I think saw success in moving into digital video, as a as a as a creative tool for us as a crucial creative tool for us. And nonlinear editing as well. I think that same virtual production is going to be that same tool of empowerment for filmmakers who are coming up right now. Like if you're if you graduate, if you just graduated from film school, and you want to get a job in Hollywood, go and make a project on Unreal Engine, go make a little one minute thing on Unreal Engine, comm then email me, I will freakin hire you. Because there's so few people that have both filmmaking experience and Unreal Engine experience. It's just not something that people are looking at right now. And I think that those for those who do, it's going to be very successful.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:57
And what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Rene Amador 1:14:08
This is this is something this is something definitely something that took me a long time to learn. I was born and raised in Silicon Valley. And we, you know, we're a bunch of tech heads in Silicon Valley, where, you know, we all think that we're smarter than everyone else, basically, is what is, you know, the nice way to say it, and, and I think, coming out of that culture, coming to LA and and really dealing with people in a wide span of industries, you see just how empowering technology is to people, but also how intimidating it can be to people. So I think the one I would I would the thing that took me the longest to learn is you have to be patient and you have to be forgiving for people's familiarity and knowledge with technology. And you if you can be that person that takes a difficult technological process and task, and makes that easy for someone to understand or use or analyze or whatever, that's a friend and a partner and a collaborator that you're going to have for a long time. But if you're the type of person that goes, they don't get the tech, screw him, you know, they're dumb, they're stupid, they're adult, they're, you know, old fashioned, they don't get it, then all of a sudden, you become part of the problem because that person sees you as an obstacle or something. So that that's the thing that took me the longest to learn. being good at technology and being a master at your tools is a way for you to bring people up. It's a way for you to bring people it's not a division between you and the other person is that it's not, we're over here, we know tech, and we know everything and you guys don't, because at the end of the day, no, the reason that that person hasn't learned the tech is because they've been busting their ass, mastering some other part of the creative process, some other part of the of the business process. And they're masters at that, and your master at this and their master at that. And together, you can make some magic and you can make something happen that never would have been possible before. That's how I created this company, ar wall. This is a multidisciplinary, multifaceted company. Not everyone in the company is a full tech head, some people are more creative. Some people are artists, some people are their business people. And being able to get all these people in the room, talking to each other respectfully, and coming up with solutions that are going to be helpful to the entire industry is so amazing. It's such an amazing experience to have, I wish I would have done it at every prior company that I found that I founded three companies prior to this, and I definitely didn't think that way. I you know, I wanted it to be, you know, birds of a feather altogether. Sure. And and it just doesn't work that way. You need people who think differently from Yeah, and I think that's the thing that took me the longest to learn.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:02
And finally, what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Rene Amador 1:17:06
Okay, three favorite films. So vertigo and shining, the shining are usually at the top. vertigo for me is just that it's the quintessential film, just the the analysis of subjectivity. And so just the delusion of trying to recreate a moment from the past. That's exactly what cinema is all about. And in the shining, it's just a terrifying film. It's it's one of those. It's one of those films that really got me because I, I first saw it, I was about the same age as Danny. So it's just like, like I said, My dad was really at the cinema and he was watching stuff I probably shouldn't have been watching at a young age. They the shiny for sure. And then I guess for the third one, I got to put Dune in there, just because it did it did was the catalyst for for me going into film and just just surged my imagination as a kid, just thinking about that universe and what was possible in filmmaking. So I'm like, obviously really looking forward to coming out

Alex Ferrari 1:18:10
in 2025. Now apparently, they're pushing it back.

Rene Amador 1:18:13
I did have a mini heart attack when that got delayed a full year. But yeah, I'm really looking forward. I'm really, really looking forward to that project.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:21
And that and that's a perfect example. You said something so interesting earlier you said like this was a movie made pre COVID trying to release in post COVID and the numbers don't make sense. That's why james bond is having such a difficult time. That's why the Wonder Woman and and Black Widow and all these movies that were made prior, they just don't this this business model doesn't make sense. And the studio's have no idea what to do. So I get it, I get they're gonna hold it like, Look, we'll just put it on the shelf for a year and see what happens. I get it. It sucks. I'm like, I want to see all these movies. It sucks. I want to fit now. Want to know, don't you know somebody who could get a quick screen or somewhere? Don't you know people?

Rene Amador 1:19:01
Yeah, I mean, they they probably got that because of that under guard. You know? Oh, you're the vault. No, no way. anyone's gonna get their hands on that. If they did. Could you imagine? I mean, just just like, just like, crumbling.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:16
Remember when Wolverine The Wolverine got released early, like a week early? Oh, God. brutal. It was brutal. And where can people find you and the good work you're doing over at AR AR wall?

Rene Amador 1:19:28
Yeah, so if you're interested in reaching out to us, you can email us at [email protected] or you can go to our website that's arwall.co and on our website you can find more information about the products that we sell as well as air effects from Studio our newest product, which was released during the pandemic for creators out

Alex Ferrari 1:19:51
Rene man. Thank you so much. This has been an epic conversation. I just wanted to keep asking you questions and questions because I'm fascinated by this new technology and I do think it is going to be The future is a very big component of the future of filmmaking, especially post COVID. So I truly appreciate you for coming on the show and continue doing the good work you're doing over at a AR wall man. Thank you so much.

Rene Amador 1:20:12
Thank you so much for having me, Alex. I really appreciate it.

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BPS 361: How to Squeeze Money Out of Your Indie Film with Patrick Solomon

Today on the show we have filmmaker and Filmtrepreneur Patrick Solomon. Patrick is the mastermind behind the celebrated film Finding Joe.

Finding Joe is an exploration of famed Mythologist Joseph Campbell’s studies and their continuing impact on our culture. Through interviews with visionaries from a variety of fields interwoven with enactments of classic tales by a sweet and motley group of kids, the film navigates the stages of what Campbell dubbed The Hero’s Journey: the challenges, the fears, the dragons, the battles, and the return home as a changed person.


Rooted in deeply personal accounts and timeless stories, Finding Joe shows how Campbell’s work is relevant and essential in today’s world and how it provides a narrative for how to live a fully realized life-or as Campbell would simply state, how to “follow your bliss”.

I saw Finding Joe years ago and it just blew me away. This is why I was so excited to include the film in the IFHTV Streaming Service. Patrick and I sit down and discuss his film, his distribution journey, and how he used the Filmtrepreneur method to squeeze every drop of revenue out of the film.

Enjoy my conversation with Patrick Solomon.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:30
I'd like to welcome the show Patrick Solomon, man. Hey, Patrick, how you doing, brother?

Patrick Solomon 4:29
What's happening? Thank you for having me.

Alex Ferrari 4:31
Oh, thank you for coming on the show. Man. I am a big fan of your film finding Joe. And I saw it years ago when it first came out. And I've actually gone back to it a bunch of times because it's just, it's like a warm cup of like coffee or like, you know, something like a piece of apple pie. Just very comforting. It's a very comforting film. For sure. It's comfort food because it's very hopeful. It's a very hopeful film. And it's just very well executed and it was unlike anything I'd seen before that time, or honestly since talking about the work and life of Joseph Campbell, but like more of his theories and stuff, but we're gonna get into we're gonna get into finding job but first and foremost, how did you get into the film business?

Patrick Solomon 5:17
Let's see I got into film business at a really young age. I was just into it right right out of high school. I started shooting on on Super eight film just to date myself. And I started shooting stuff that I was into like skateboarding and snowboarding and, and right when snowboarding was first becoming snowboarding, right, you couldn't really go anywhere except for like three places, once again, dating myself. I said, Okay, let's make a snowboard film. And then some sponsors at the time came out and said, Okay, well, we'll find that. And I started shooting snowboard films. And that was it, man. I was like, I'm, I'm off to the races. This is what I'm gonna do for the rest of my life.

Alex Ferrari 5:59
Very cool. And you and you worked on the commercials.

Patrick Solomon 6:01
That's why right? So in the summertime, when we come back to LA, and I've worked as a production assistant in commercials, so my context grew in commercials. And so somebody was like, hey, you're doing these stillborn films? Would you be interested in shooting any commercials? And I said, Yeah, I'd do that. And so I started shooting commercials. And I was like, This is great. I'm gonna do this for the rest of my life. And so and so I had a you know, as off to a commercial career as commercial director.

Alex Ferrari 6:28
And that was a different time because you and I are similar vintages? It's so I remember when there was just money flowing into commercials and Oh, hey, you would have half a minute like rain, half a million here million plus their campaigns. It was it was insane. And I was in. I was in South Florida during that time. And so I was I was working with some of the big commercial houses down there. And I just saw it was just it was the 90s. Like,

Patrick Solomon 7:00
It was I wasn't I got into it it like late 90s. Like, 96-97 I got my start there. And then. And then yeah, I just I worked all the way through to when I when I started making finding job, which was 2010, 2009?

Alex Ferrari 7:17
Yeah, that's Yeah. And that's it commercial work. If anyone listening right now, it's not nearly as easy to get into the commercial world. And it used to be,

Patrick Solomon 7:27
It's i i would i would back that up. It isn't it isn't right. Because if you're young, and you're just starting out and you can afford to, you know, if you're if you're in your 20s especially, you know, you don't have a relationship, you don't have a kid you don't have a lot of commitments like a mortgage, you can just go out and shoot whatever you want. It might be to get paid is a lot harder, but to get a client and just shoot some cool stuff for free and build a real job easier.

Alex Ferrari 7:53
Oh, yeah. free free services that are always easy to sell. That's not in any decade. It's a very simple, easy process, generally speaking. But yeah, I'm just like to get back up to like the, the David Fincher style budgets in the Michael based budgets back in the 80s and 90s. never coming back. Oh, my God, those days, man. I just remember those are coming back the propaganda days. Remember the propaganda day? Yeah, yeah, I worked for them that you worked for. Yeah. I mean, I was at my one of my best friends worked in the vault at propaganda. So he would send me he would send me VHS is a Fincher Bay Gondry, Jones Fuqua, he sent me their reels. And before the internet really saw would see all their demos and short films and aos frickin awesome, dude, it was a different world, different worlds. So then you got out of the commercial world for a minute and got into the highly, highly profitable documentary space.

Patrick Solomon 8:56
Nobody told me that at the time, though. So I was thinking, in my mind, I was like, Okay, I'm gonna make this film. And I was kind of, I was really, commercially I was like, okay, what's next? I'm, I know, I've kind of done this and, and I was getting a little soured on doing commercials. So I thought, Okay, I'm gonna do this film. And that'll launch me into this whole career doing documentaries and all, I didn't really think about the money to just add to your to your book filter burner. I really wasn't thinking that way at all. You know, I still consider myself an artist. And all I got to do is make something good. And the money will follow. Sure it really and I and I didn't even think that that was that was even an actual thought there was probably like a feeling I had. And so. So on that end of it, obviously, it didn't work out. Because, as you know, and as you write about, you really have to be intentional about your distribution and your marketing and how you're going to make money on this thing.

Alex Ferrari 9:50
Yeah, but the good thing about finding juggle First of all, we're talking about like everybody knows what it is. tell everybody what finding Joe is and how it came to be.

Patrick Solomon 9:58
Right? So finding Joe is a My dad, it was released in 2012. And it's a film about Joseph Campbell's work, right. And so if you don't know, Joseph, Joseph Campbell is that really quick, he was a mythologist. And he, he discovered this common thread in all stories of the world, hollywood uses. Joseph Campbell's work quite a bit. And he called it hero's journey, right? A hero in every single story goes on almost the exact same journey when you break it down. And so Joseph Campbell coined the phrase, the hero's journey, and he also coined the phrase follow your bliss. And what was different about him was he made this correlation? And he said, Well, the reason why every hero in every story in every time period is taking the same journey is because humans are taking the same journey. So he correlated, the story that you see on the screen to the story of your life. And so the film is about that part of it. The film is really about the story of your life, more so than Joseph Campbell.

Alex Ferrari 11:00
Yeah. And, and what I loved about it is you had a lot of guests come in, and in the people you were interviewing, so like celebrities, and, and, you know, just authors and other people who really just hadn't had such a love for Joseph's work. And anyone who's ever seen Star Wars, because it was just me, it was a May the fourth be with you, yesterday, if anyone who who has ever seen Star Wars, it was basically the blueprint of the hero's journey, the original Star Wars.

Patrick Solomon 11:30
Exactly. And so and so that was really what made Campbell's work famous was that George Lucas was, was a disciple of Campbell's right. And so he went so far as to flood flute Campbell, to his estate in Marin County. And they shot this series of interviews with Bill Moyers. And that made made him quite famous at that time.

Alex Ferrari 11:51
He has the power of myth, which is I think, available on Netflix. Now, Netflix

Patrick Solomon 11:55
It's available on Netflix available on YouTube, if you haven't seen Campbell's work and you're aspiring filmmaker, or you're a filmmaker, go watch it.

Alex Ferrari 12:02
So you so you start putting this movie together. And it I mean, as far as the film entrepreneur style, or mentality, I know you weren't thinking about it. But let's let's kind of let's do a post mortem on finding Joe. embarrass me now. No, I have not actually it actually, it has a lot of key elements that make sense. So you have a niche audience. It's broad, but it's still a niche audience was people who are interested in Joseph Campbell. That's why I saw it. I was like, I'm a filmmaker. I know who Joseph Campbell is. And this is a documentary that's going to kind of really, spoon feed me, you know, without having to read 1000s of volumes of or watch or watch mythos one and two, which is his lecture series, which I watched years ago. And it's, it's pretty academic stuff, but if you're not, it can turn you off. Exactly. So I was really excited about it. And I would feel that there would be a large audience for this film, right? Because Because of that, and the celebrities you had involved in it, as well. And so there was there were niche audiences and there were, you know, there's little pockets of people that you can bring in. So how did it actually play out for you?

Patrick Solomon 13:12
Okay, so yeah, just just to preface this, too, so I'm about to embarrass myself greatly with my ignorance at the time, right? And every and we all we all, as you were saying those things. I'm feeling like this little pinch, like you're stabbing me like, Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh,

Alex Ferrari 13:29
I actually, from looking at it from the outside. When I saw this, I was like, this is a really great package. Like it's, it makes sense to me. And it's, I'm assuming it wasn't super expensive to make because it didn't look like it was super expensive to make.

Patrick Solomon 13:44
The grand scheme of thing it was all in like distribution marketing, all in the entire budget was half a million.

Alex Ferrari 13:52
Right, which, which in the grand scheme of independent films is pretty it's an affordable price, but also right, which is also back in 2010. Allah probably even less to make now. Oh, yeah, you could probably make that movie much more affordably now. But, um, but it's still it seems. It seems smart. Even at that even at that price point. There's enough. There's enough people out there who know who Joseph Campbell is. who are fans of Star Wars. Yeah, you know, that would want to watch this film. So how did it play out?

Patrick Solomon 14:23
Okay, so so let's get into the postmortem and me embarrassing myself. Okay, so so first of all filmmaking, mistake 101 self distribution, right. I said to myself, This film is gonna have a theatrical release because I'm a filmmaker and and that's what films do. And that's how you that's just the way it is. I'm gonna have a theatrical release because I'm,

Alex Ferrari 14:46
I'm a real filmmaker. I'm a real filmmaker. Baker is still if Spielberg gets a theatrical

Patrick Solomon 14:52
I really I really like lay down the law there. I got Gods This is what I'm doing. Mistake number one. And the reason why is because A theatrical release cost so much money to do correctly, right? So you need, you'd need millions of dollars to do that correctly, right? We tried to get butts in the seats, as they say, cost a lot of money. So if you're doing at a small scale, like I was doing it, you're not getting the ROI, you just are not going to make, you're not, you're not going to get a bunch of people in the seats with with the money that you're going to have to spend. And so that was Mistake number one. So I, we initially started off with just some of these teaser screenings. So I would go to New Mexico, we would just advertise that we tried to get a big theater. And we said to ourselves, yeah, we got a niche here, let's let's capitalize on our niche. We get like a 700 seat theater and sell it out in one night. Right? It was awesome. But then we went to the we only did that six or seven times. And they were so successful and wonderful. They made me feel so good about myself. And then we got to the theatrical release the actual theatrical release. And that just suck man. We we released it in how do we do this? We rolled it out in New York, and then kind of rolled it across the country a little bit. And, and it was horrible, man, it was just it was you know, there was hardly anyone in the theaters. I think overall, we had good numbers. But I would go out to the to the beginning of each city, right each city so like on a Friday, and sit down and do a q&a. And it was like sometimes it was like three people in the audience is brutal.

Alex Ferrari 16:28
But But also, to be fair to you, I'm gonna defend you a little bit for yourself is that you were doing a theatrical release in a traditional standpoint, not in an in a kind of guerrilla standpoint, because now,

Patrick Solomon 16:40
It wasn't it wasn't right. So we knew we had this niche audience. We just did a really bad job marketing and understanding who our niche was knowing where to spend the money. You're right. We didn't run a real well, we weren't doing TV ads, right. I mean, we were doing, you know, we're doing a lot of Internet Marketing. But, you know, we neither me or my team had the experience to know where to put the dollars.

Alex Ferrari 17:03
Right. And so Facebook was around, but it wasn't the powerhouse that it was today.

Patrick Solomon 17:08
It wasn't the powerhouse today. And we didn't explain it to the to the degree we should have.

Alex Ferrari 17:13
Exactly. And there wasn't the the kind of pinpoint marketing that's available for the past five or six years was not available, then. You know, it's just in its infancy yet. So you really, you really couldn't go into New York City and just target within a five block radius of the theater. Like that. That's not something that was available back then. And then so you were for walling it I'm assuming you were paying.

Patrick Solomon 17:35
We were were we for walling it we were for walling it yes we were we were again it's been so long, I'm like, I don't know. Yeah, so we we exactly we were for wiling it meaning we rented, we paid for this for the screen time, and you know, what we just it just was looking back on it, it was like mistake after mistake and rookie ones to like, you know, don't do a theatrical release, you're not gonna make any money doing that?

Alex Ferrari 18:01
Well, I mean, then again, theatrical there is well now in today's world, there's no theatrical right now as we as we speak, because of the quarantine. But generally speaking there, there can be very successful theatrical runs, depending on how you do it. And again, to be fair to you, it was a different time, and there wasn't as much information on it. There just wasn't as much information. there hadn't been a lot of people who have done that successfully yet. Now, I mean, on my show alone, I've had a handful of people who've had extremely good, you know, documentaries who have done very well and the N narratives have done very well, theatrically, but they do profit sharing. They don't for a wall. They they use internet marketing exclusively. There are ways to make that work. But you write the whole thing again, I would be Yeah, so Alright, so now you did this theatrical run. You've you're not happy with this. So now where do you go from there?

Patrick Solomon 18:58
Right. And so now I stroke now. So now I'm behind the now on behind the curve, right? So there's a lot of catching up to do like, Christmas is coming. Somebody says, Hey, man, you should have a DVD and you know, we should get this online. And because then you could still buy DVDs. It was just shifting over at that point, but and so it was a scramble. Oh, all right. Let's get that done. So so we got that done, but we didn't really get the marketing place for it. So it just was okay. And then oh, there's these new platforms, you check out Gaia TV, all these other platforms, you should. Food matters was just coming out. So. So there was a lot of these platforms, but none of them were intentional. Like we didn't sit down and say okay, here's our roadmap. We were reacting to stuff coming up. Right? It was more like something would pop up and we go Oh, that's cool. Yeah, cheese, our tail a little bit in that process.

Alex Ferrari 19:46
Shiny lights syndrome Shiny light syndrome.

Patrick Solomon 19:48
Exactly. So So now going forward, right and I can't wait to finish the film that I'm on now because I'm not going to make one single mistake. But I'm gonna Learn from all those mistakes I made and really, you know, get ahead of the game on the distribution marketing release. What it what exactly is it that we are selling to the public?

Alex Ferrari 20:11
So okay, so Alright, so what happened with the Did you? Did you sell out? Did you do DVDs? How did you do it all yourself? By the way? Did you ever? Did you ever get a conversation with the distributor? No one approached you about this?

Patrick Solomon 20:23
I did. I had, I had a few different conversation with a distributor, but I didn't like their deals. shocker. Like I just said no to everybody. And then of course, I jumped in bed with distributor. And you know, we know how that ended.

Alex Ferrari 20:34
Oh, gee. So you were you were caught up in the distributor, but debacle as well. Oh, yeah. Yeah. But that was later but you must have been somebody

Patrick Solomon 20:43
That was way later. Yeah. So. So it took, like I said, I think it took about two years to get into the black. Right. And looking back on it, it should have just taken way less time. Right? Like, like, had I not done that theatrical release, that would have taken us less than a year, right? Just because because because the money we spent. But we did the DVDs, right? I felt like the DVDs had a good sale, I made it, I made a distribution deal with a DVD distributor. And with a couple markets that were exclusive to him, and then I and then I made some deals with people around the world, which I also discovered was a great, a great source of income was to make deals with different markets worldwide.

Alex Ferrari 21:23
You did that directly without a sales rep. Without a sales rep. Yeah. How did you how did you get access? Or do they find you?

Patrick Solomon 21:30
A little bit of both? Some people found me, but then I would do research? What God there was a few other films that were out at the time. And I just looked at their distribution list online. Like, who distributes What the Bleep in Germany or whatever, right? And then I just said to them, Hey, I got to film a bow.

Alex Ferrari 21:49
Okay, so then that and then so you start the you making any money with the DVDs.

Patrick Solomon 21:54
Um, we made an okay amount of money. I can't remember what the numbers were. But I remember going, Okay, this isn't too bad. Like, I wasn't overwhelmed, but I wasn't bummed about that either. Like, I wasn't bummed about the income on the DVDs the way I was on the theatrical.

Alex Ferrari 22:09
So when you went into the streaming deals, what was that? Was it a positive or a negative situation?

Patrick Solomon 22:16
It was positive. Like I liked the deals that we made. We weren't making a ton of money streaming like hardly at all. But I just liked the idea that the film was out there streaming that our best deal was with distributor, we were making pretty decent money with those guys for a while. And it was just Apple TV. That's it. No one else.

Alex Ferrari 22:35
It was in because people were renting.

Patrick Solomon 22:37
Yeah. Because we're renting it and downloading it there. Exactly. And and it was such a big platform that people get to it easy.

Alex Ferrari 22:43
And it's also different. What like What year is that? We're talking about? 2013

Patrick Solomon 22:47
Exactly. 2013 2014 2015. So VOD was a thing.

Alex Ferrari 22:51
TiVo, yeah. T VOD was still a thing back then people are still renting a lot. And still buying movies on on Apple and stuff like that. Now, now would be a very different, a different world. But overall, so at the end of this dis journey with this film, and you're still generating revenue with it, you own it still, I'm assuming. Right? Yeah. Right. So you're still generating revenue with it. It's still you know, overall, it's been a very positive experience. Overall, man,

Patrick Solomon 23:17
it has been such a positive and amazing experience, to even like, just the production of the film, like making the film was such an amazing, like, I would call it one of the high points of my life, like just just producing that film and the people that I met, and the experiences that I had making it were just priceless.

Alex Ferrari 23:34
Yeah, I mean, I love what you did with the children as reenactments. I thought that was such a clever way to shoot those stories. Like you're trying to tell stories, like the hero's journey, but you're doing it through children just up in it, like they're playing imaginary heroes or something like that, I think worked out. I'm

Patrick Solomon 23:53
glad that worked out. I was like, This is crazy. No one's gonna like this. And then we got a couple tests back and I was like, This is awesome. This is gonna be the way we're gonna do the whole movie.

Alex Ferrari 24:01
Yeah, it was it was great. It was just a very well produced piece. You could tell that whoever, you know, the director was, who knew what they were doing. It was it was very polished. But that's and that's one of the reasons why I reached out to you for for indie film, hustle TV because I wanted it I wanted it so badly. Because I was like, Oh, please, I'd love

Patrick Solomon 24:18
to have it on this platform is when I got your email. I was like, Oh my God, this guy knows who I am. I love it.

Alex Ferrari 24:24
I appreciate that, man. I appreciate that. So um, so let's let's talk a little bit about Joseph's work. Because I know him Joseph, Joe. Joe, talk a little bit about what they can break down the hero's journey for people who might not know what the hero's journey is in a very basic way. Sure. So

Patrick Solomon 24:44
the so the hero's journey breaks down like this, right? So a hero. There's there's basically three parts right separation, initiation and returning. And so you can think about it like this circle, right? So heroes starts off in their village or their place of comfort and Somehow they are called on some on an adventure. Sometimes you get kicked out of the village, sometimes you follow a butterfly into the forest. You know sometimes your village gets attacked by neighboring army and your burns down and you got to go. Or you know, and you know, Star Wars The classic example right sometimes you're an uncle or murdered by the stormtroopers, and you gotta go. So now the hero goes on an adventure where you learn things gain things, and you acquire the treasure right? That's the The goal of the journey is to get the gold or destroy the Deathstar. But you get some thing, and then that's not the end of it, you return with that thing, knowledge scepter to the village where you started, right? So separation, separation, initiation return.

Alex Ferrari 25:52
And that's basically the hero's journey in a nutshell. So if you break it down, if you just watch Star Wars, it is literally as perfect of a blueprint, the original Star Wars to the hero's journey as anything I've ever seen. Right? And you and you start and you start analyzing the hero's journey. And if you know the hero's journey is in almost every story, it's not an every story, but it is me if you start especially every Hollywood store every every major Hollywood blockbuster, even independent films. Yeah, all of them have a version of this and find a film that doesn't. Yeah, the only ones I've ever found is kind of like, like, you know, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, like, you know, Sherlock Holmes stories, detective stories, those those don't have that as much because it's a different kind of storytelling. But generally, everything else has the hero's journey in it. And it's in for people listening. If you you know, a lot of times I know, there's these moments in your life where, where things happen, like, you lose your job, you break up with your girlfriend, you're stuck in a house from quarantine, there are events that happen that are catalysts for you to start a new adventure and their opportunities. I always look like I've been fired. twice, I had two full time jobs, only two full time jobs ever had in my career. And I was fired from both very proud of my firings. And and both of them started me off on completely new paths. And and we break up with someone start you in a new journey, and you have to learn things. And that's what our life is. You're right, like that's exactly what Joseph was saying is that you start as a child and you go off on journeys, and you could let sometimes it's literally like, literally you get on a boat somewhere and go on a journey and then come back. But other times it's a little bit more metaphorical. But you do go off and learn things. I mean, I'm sure you learned a lot on that film.

Patrick Solomon 27:48
I did. I mean, I feel like I feel like so just in the making of the film itself was a classic hero's journey. You know, I went out in this adventure to make a film about the hero's journey, right? And then I made this film about the hero's journey, and I returned to the village that is the world and I shared that journey.

Alex Ferrari 28:06
Yeah, but basically and and is there any like what is your the the books that really draw you from from Joseph work, I'm assuming hero's has 1000 faces is,

Patrick Solomon 28:19
especially if you're if you're checking this out, then then the hero with 1000 faces is like really, really the classic work and that's the one that that Lucas really gravitated towards. However, it's kind of dense material. Right? I would start with the power of myth, which is the just was the Moyers series. It's a book right? The power of myth is they turn that into a book. Get that one first because it really breaks down in very easy to understand ways all these different ideas.

Alex Ferrari 28:47
And then yeah, they're there cuz I was such a Joseph Campbell fan. I actually went out and got mythos on VHS. mythos. And this those two, yeah. And man, dense,

Patrick Solomon 29:00
dense. I mean, and that's that's the thing is you can really get sucked into them if you're in the right mindset, or if you're just you know, if you're Joseph Campbell fan, but if you're not, man, I really recommend power of myth four, there's another one called reflections on the arts of living. That's easy. That's an easy way in and really in from video, you'll get a lot of great information out of that.

Alex Ferrari 29:22
What was it about the Joseph's work that drew you to him? Like what made you want to make this documentary?

Patrick Solomon 29:27
life? Right? So Oh, also, when I was a kid, when I was just starting my, my filmmaking career is when those Moyers interviews came out. And man, I was just hooked on those things. And I started reading everything that he ever wrote. And I really geeked out on Campbell for for years and years. And then when I would have a crisis in my life, I would go back to Campbell's work, right, which is essentially the myths of the world and you really is information about humans and you know, why we do the things we do and how to it provides a great map. When you look at A map, you can say, oh, man, I'm having this crisis here. But further down the road, I can see it's gonna be better. So it provides a good roadmap of life.

Alex Ferrari 30:09
And is there any of Joseph's philosophy that can help you on a daily basis? That's just a human being?

Patrick Solomon 30:17
I would say no, here's the classic Joseph Campbell line, which is follow your bliss, right? follow your bliss, and doors will open where there were only walls, right? That's the line. And so the, to me, the idea of trying to follow your bliss on a daily basis, is it's really a practice. And it's just, it's just been magical for myself. And I know for many people to wake up in the morning and go, what am I here to do? How can I do that serve people while doing that? If you can do that you've won Really?

Alex Ferrari 30:49
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. What is when you just said cert be of service? Is that something that's very important to you and your work is of being of service to your audience?

Patrick Solomon 31:07
I think so. And I think that the way I look at the hero's journey different now is that going back to Star Wars, for example. You know, everyone who is on a journey is their own hero, right? You're on you're on your own journey. You're a hero, I'm on my journey. I'm ahead of you. We bump into people, right? They're on their own journeys. But we can also be the yodas to people that are on their journey. Right. And that actually is, to me feels a lot better now. Like I love helping young filmmakers out I love I just love helping people in other ways, and sort of be of service and be a guide and be the the Yoda or the Merlin to somebody just coming up. That to me just feels better. It has a I love doing that.

Alex Ferrari 31:52
It's addictive, isn't it? Yes. Yeah. I started this. I started my journey five years ago, almost five years ago with indie film, hustle, and I can't turn back now this is just like

Patrick Solomon 32:04
you and Ryan, you're providing that service for many people, myself included, right? You're offering this guidance to people who really need it. And it's got to be amazing.

Alex Ferrari 32:13
It's it's a really great feeling to do it. And that's why I always tell people you know, when you are of service, if you want to follow if you want your dream to come to help somebody else follow theirs. Yes, I help somebody else achieve. There's my favorite quote of Campbell's is the the treasure that you seek is in the cave they are afraid to walk into. Yeah. Which is, which is a great. So true, though. It says so, so true. Now, what is the biggest lesson you learned? making that film? Like what's the if you had the one takeaway?

Patrick Solomon 32:46
God, there's so there's so many takeaways? I think from from a, from a filmmakers point of view, just there. So I there's some creative things that I learned about about how to get through creatively, right, because there's a lot of creative challenges in that film. And entry. Creativity isn't always sexy, right? Creativity doesn't always happen in these moments where you get this lightning bolt, right? A lot of times creativity comes from just getting dirty, sweaty, and, and suffering for weeks.

Alex Ferrari 33:18
Very true. Very, very true. Now, what is the what's the next movie you're working on? And how is it going to be different? Then, as far as how you're going to make money within sell it to get it to the audience?

Patrick Solomon 33:29
That's a that's a good point. So I'm making this film. And the title of the film right now is called what is money? Right? And the film is, is about the subject of money. I know it's a broad subject, but it's when I started, I didn't really have a central theme or a question that I was asking money just intrigued me. People at the q&a said finding Joe would stand up and say, Hey, man, I'd like to just quit my job and follow my bliss. But I need money. And that kind of hit me like, wait a minute, you do need money. What is money? That's weird. So the idea of money just stuck with me and I and I knew that I just I needed to make a film about it. So it's turning into kind of a not a definition of money. But But why? why what money is right? Why we stuck with it. And how we can understand money in a way that makes you go Oh, right. I get it. I understand money a lot better now. And maybe there's not so much stress and anxiety about it.

Alex Ferrari 34:24
Yeah, I've been studying the topic of money now for probably for a couple years now. I've read probably 40 50 60 books.

Patrick Solomon 34:32
We read the same books. Oh, yeah. I mean, I just read I'm constantly reading stuff about every every aspect of money hit me with your favorite bits because it's interesting with different people take about a takeaways about money. But man, it's a fascinating topic, very triggering, and I'm stoked to come out with it. And then and then on the back end of this. I'm doing things that I never did with the first film, which is immediately day one I started thinking about what's my distribution What's my marketing strategy? Who's my audience? So I just have pages and pages and pages about who my potential audience is about marketing? What the marketing strategy is going to be, what platforms are we going to run on just all these things that that you should think about? You should think about them just as equally as the as your production of the film.

Alex Ferrari 35:20
Oh, I think if not more so in many ways. Exactly. if not more, so. Yeah. Because there's so many filmmakers who just like, like you were saying, I'm the artist at the one post is done. I'm done. When post is done. I'm done.

Patrick Solomon 35:32
I don't I feel I thought that way for so long, man. It's like that's the killer is going to the kiss of death right there.

Alex Ferrari 35:37
Let me know what where's the red carpet? I just let me know where the red carpet I'll pick up the awards. Like I don't understand. Can I get my picture taken with? Yeah, let's do this. Now just and you can send the cheque to this address. And that's basically what you're doing that again. Yeah, it is such an it's such a myth that I've been trying to bust now for five years, basically, since I started doing this. And so as far as the what you're asking earlier about what like my favorite tidbits on money is the biggest one I the biggest one I took away and hopefully this could help some people out. Obviously, Robert Kiyosaki, and and yeah, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which the four quadrants of Rich Dad, Poor Dad are super was very impactful to me. And I'd read it years ago, but I guess at this age, I started listening to it a little bit differently, which is the employee, the self employed, the business owner and the investor. And the concept that when you're an employee, you're basically a serf, you're a slave to that job. And the second that job shuts down, you're done. And that were in that could be a high paying job. It could be a lawyer, it could be a doctor, it could be, you know, a big movie star, depending on you know, if you're making 234 million dollars a year, that sounds like a lot of money, but if you cost you four or $5 million a year to live your lifestyle, right, you're in the same boat as the guy making $20,000 make trying to make ends meet, obviously, at a different level, but you're still stuck there. So when that money stops, you stop. And, and the concept of passive income, about creating assets that generate revenue, that has been the biggest lesson. And when you have an online business like I do, that kind of is built into the business model is creating, creating passive income. Right? And it's never, it's, I can't tell you, I'm sure you know, this, when when you wake up in the morning, and there's just magic money that showed up, right from something that got sold somewhere. And that happens with stock footage, people and that happens with residuals for actors, and it's like mailbox money. But that passive income is addictive as well. And it gives you so much freedom and so much power.

Patrick Solomon 37:53
And that's really what it's about is that, um, the reason you're trying to create this stuff, real passive income and did multiple streams of revenue is is not just to get rich, right? It's a lifestyle you're trying to lead, right? The idea is that you have now you can live the short time you have on this planet, doing the things you want to do, instead of being a slave for, you know, the time that you have here and then retiring at 60. And then you only have a couple years left.

Alex Ferrari 38:19
Yeah, and I've been I've been basically self employed most of my professional career, like I said, I only had two full time jobs. And all the other time I was always self employed, but still employed. So there was a little bit more, a little bit more control, but not but I was still it was still dollars for hours,

Patrick Solomon 38:36
Dollars for hours, right? Like make it make a day work a day make $1

Alex Ferrari 38:40
Yeah, and in the people who are lack of a better term rich, it's they don't do that they understand how to leverage other people's money, they understand me when I mean other people's money, meaning banks, and you know, and other things like that, and they have money work for them, and they have assets that are generating revenue for them all the time. So they build Money Machines like that every revenue stream is a money machine. So that's kind of like what I kind of try to explain that in futurpreneur Rise of the entrepreneur where you're creating assets for your film, and those assets are generating revenue for you, even when you're not physically working, physically selling. It's constantly doing that. And the more of those you can have, the better you know, and so

Patrick Solomon 39:25
Exactly one of those you can have the better. That's exactly that's, that's the hope you get a few of those going. And pretty soon you can choose to do what you want in life.

Alex Ferrari 39:33
Right. And that's why people who work in real estate are so successful because they are able to leverage other people's money to purchase to purchase a house or an apartment building that's cashflow positive, then they're their their people, the people who are renting are paying for their asset. And maybe with appreciation, they can actually get another loan, pay back the bank and then all of a sudden that asset they own 100% and it's just generating revenue for them. So Basically a free cash machine,

Patrick Solomon 40:02
Right! Where films can be the same way to

Alex Ferrari 40:04
Correct! absolutely,!

Patrick Solomon 40:05
If you create a film, right? Or you you're not, you know, you have multiple films out there creating multiple streams of revenue. And then on the back of the film, like for this film, for instance, because of the subject matter, it really lends itself well to multiple products, right? So we can do a course based on this film, we can do the book based on this film, we can sell the all the raw interviews, you know, we can there's, there's a lot of different ways to slice this thing. And you know, for the first time ever, I'm like, Oh, my God, we can actually make a living, making a film,

Alex Ferrari 40:38
Stop it, stop the insanity. Are you kidding?

Patrick Solomon 40:40
You can do that, right, you can really make an actual living and pay your mortgage and everything.

Alex Ferrari 40:45
But the thing is that and for people listening, you have to understand that you can't think the way you were trained to think that old model of I've done a post, or I'll give it a movie to somebody else for that one revenue stream, which is a distributor. That's it. If you think that way. This doesn't work. It's it's not impossible, because obviously, some people do it. But in today's world, it's getting so much more difficult. There's so much more competition. You know, I'm much more about creating those multiple revenue streams that can kind of always constantly build making like and there's, and there's, there's guys, like I talked about in the book who've built empires, like food matters. You know, what's it called? Fat Sick and Nearly Dead? Those guys, I mean, they've literally built multimillion dollar empires off of, you know,

Patrick Solomon 41:34
Exactly. You're right. It's definitely doable. But but it really takes, you got to think that way, right? You have to change your thinking from, from Exactly. I'm an artist. As soon as I'm done with this product, I'm either moving on to the next one, or, or the money's just gonna come in magically, because I'm going to make such a great piece that people are just going to give me money.

Alex Ferrari 41:57
Now, I want to I want to I want to do a little experiment with you. Let's let's go back and do let's go back to finding Joe for a minute. So let's say we're making finding Joe today. Oh, man. Okay, so let's say today, no one's ever made finding Joe, no one's ever made a documentary about so this doesn't exist yet. So it's not in the Zeitgeist at all. And you say, I'm going to make a documentary about Joseph Campbell's work, and you shoot it same way with the kids and, and the interviews and everything. How would you position that film? Today?

Patrick Solomon 42:26
This so great, so So number one, I would I would know, I would let the audience know and start building my email list from day one. I wouldn't say day one of production, I would have a website that said, I'm world listen world. I'm making this film by Joseph Campbell. Here's like some here's like a little teaser, please give me your email address, I would start targeting that audience. Facebook, same thing, I would start a Facebook group. target that audience, I want every camel but there are Joseph Campbell fans out there. Oh, this a who don't know what finding Joe is they just don't know. And so I would not, I would not let that happen. I would target this small audience. Number two, the biggest other biggest mistake, I did not leverage the talent in that film. I like Deepak was ready to go, he was like, Hey, man, you want me to hit my millions of millions of you didn't do that. embarrass myself. So I didn't leverage the people that were in the film, right. And so this time, like, I would leverage the hell out and I'll be bugging the hell out of them. They're like, on this date, I want you guys to send this tweet out this Instagram post out, like really leverage that and that's all free. Like you don't have to pay any money for that. That's, that's all free except for building a website, right. And I would really get into the analytics of the whole thing and start doing a B testing on different ads about you know that different trailers right and start cutting different tailors and start testing which one's working more which one's getting more views, you know how and try to really get scientific about how to bring that audience in. Because you know, with it with a very small budget, you can really target an audience develop some ads and just your ads now go out to just the people who may buy this has never happened before in history. So you can really make each dollar count when it comes to selling a film or product online.

Alex Ferrari 44:17
Alright, so So now you're leveraging you're leveraging your ridiculous cast because it was amazing cast of people that you had an interview It was really amazing cast and very high profile people and multiple, like not just spiritual people. You had athletes. Yeah, Tony Hawk and and a bunch of other guys in there. So you could have easily leverage that you did. He did? I didn't know that. You did. And so now I'm gonna poke you because I asked him. Did you shoot? You should have me Come on. Come on, like if you were that you already know that. You read my mind. I'm an artist. I don't I don't do that. Those things. Hey, look, we've all been there. Trust me. I've been there. I was there too long. But Alright. So now you have you have you have the leverage of your Have your interviews? How would you package this differently? What ancillary product lines would you create? For?

Patrick Solomon 45:07
I would. And the other thing is that okay, so for so for finding Joe, there would definitely be some kind of some printed material like a workbook or a book or something that goes along with that film that you can follow along. And it's a life lesson, man, there's like, what is the hero? What is the journey of your life? Like, how can you map out your own life? How would attach that to the film, I still really was still really like to do that. And then there's there's other ancillary products that people have already created. Right? Some some people in the film already have Hero's Journey workshops, which I would attach to that film for sure. I would, I would release all the interviews, just raw interviews, like as a package the PDFs of those interviews, like I would bundle all that up, and then you could buy that for 999 or whatever.

Alex Ferrari 45:49
And then would you create possibly an online course, as well?

Patrick Solomon 45:54
I would, I would create an online course if I were doing it again. Yeah, right. Now, I would create an online course. I think. I think the ship has sailed on that one.

Alex Ferrari 46:00
Yeah, no, of course, of course. So you create an online course for that. Now, would you also what other answer, would there be any possibilities for t shirts for hat? Because people this is that's a subject matter that people would buy, like, follow your bliss? I think you could get away with that. Like, you could just get it Yeah,

Patrick Solomon 46:17
Exactly. You get the I actually didn't think about that at the time, like all these great logos and slogans and even the Joseph Campbell foundation who just gave me carte blanche on all his stuff. Yeah, didn't didn't really think about that until much later. But yes, I would create some hats and I don't know if that'd be a big moneymaker. But just getting that out there in the world and and even though those things might not make a lot of money, it's just a little bit here a little bit there. And, and getting the name the word out there is really more important than the money you'll make on those little things.

Alex Ferrari 46:48
Could you create an ecosystem? Could you build a business around this kind of like what food matters did right? Food matters as a very big

Patrick Solomon 46:57
Around around finding job but this next film around? Oh, yeah, all day, it's like a no brainer. Not a no brainer. But it's like it is it really lends itself well, to an ongoing businesses a lot of different things that are already coming up out of it, a lot of interviewees that, that I just didn't have time to do that. We'd like to be in the film, we could just keep, we could just keep going on this one for a long time.

Alex Ferrari 47:18
Great. So so those are the lessons, these lessons that you've learned, I've never done that before, like going back to an original film like So look, if we would take it today, what would you do differently? That's actually really good. Because I think the answer is everything so and so you would have probably been able to make it for a lot less, you would not have spent if you wouldn't have spent all the money on the theatrical How much did it movie actually cost you?

Patrick Solomon 47:39
The production budget was 250, a little more than 250 to produce, edit and finish the film.

Alex Ferrari 47:45
So so for quarterman they said today, you could probably make that for less, you can make that for less. So you would be lower lower to get it wouldn't take you that long to get into the black. And, man, I think it would have been in today's world, you would have done very well. I think I think I think it would have done very, very, very well. Yeah, I totally agree. Yeah. I mean, listen, listen, if you read my book, you know, I had a whole chapter on how I spent 50 grand on on that short film and released it on an app because I was so cool. You know, and I made $700 on that release. So we've been we've all been there. Do we all done that? But that's been a very, it's very interesting, a very, very interesting and how, how you would do it differently? Well, I'm glad that the book has helped you. In any way, it's helped you at all the film intrapreneur book, because it sounds like you really are taking a lot of those lessons that I put in the book and are applying it now to you.

Patrick Solomon 48:43
Really, really 100% there. I feel like that was a and that book, actually, I'd been having those thoughts already. Because the people I've been interviewing around the subject of money have all been saying very similar things. But when I pick your book up, it was specific to film. And it really solidified my belief that oh my god, I just need to change my thinking on this. Like, I gotta I gotta view myself differently. And, and I did and it was amazing.

Alex Ferrari 49:11
It is a it is a mindset shift. It really is a mind shift mindset. And I can't tell you how important and everyone listening, I want you to be very Park up here for a second. And I think it please let me know how you feel about this as well. Changing your mindset, it is the thing to do in any aspect of your life in any part of your journey. If you want to change, it only will happen once you change your perspective. It only happens when you change that mindset when you get out of that comfort zone or that little box that we have. If you change the mindset of what you think is possible. Because like like Henry Ford says if you believe you can do it or you don't you can't do it. You're right. And I've seen that happen even recently in my life where I'm like, Oh, I can't do that. Oh, that's that's the top there. I like I'm only going to I'm only going to get to displace, and guess what, that's the only place I could got it was that place, but the second you shifted the mindset a bit, then all of a sudden, it opened up more, and you're like, Well wait, wait a minute, is that it? is all I have to do? And I've known that on an intellectual standpoint for quite some time. But changing the mindset is so so important. What do you think?

Patrick Solomon 50:21
Yeah, it's one of those things that is simple, but not easy. Right? The idea of change, your mindset is simple. But if you've been in the habit of thinking a certain way, you it really takes a lot of work and discipline on your part, you got to keep catching yourself. You got to keep going. All right. That's my whole mindset. I got to do something about that. That's why that's why it's hard to quit smoking. That's why it's hard to quit drinking. Really, the simple answer is just Hey, quit, stop, just quit smoking. But it's not that easy.

Alex Ferrari 50:48
Right? Right. It's if you if you don't believe that it's capable of being done that it will never happen. You know, it's, it's, it's, yeah,

Patrick Solomon 51:00
I guess, right. If you, you just need to, you need to get a little a certain, a certain level of awareness that, hey, this thing is possible, I can actually make films and make a living doing them. It just gonna take, you know, these steps, and you just have to embrace that. Once. Once you once your mindset shifts in that way, you know, you're off to the races, you're done.

Alex Ferrari 51:20
And that's the thing people always say, like, when I when I lay out sometimes I've had people, you know, he challenged me on the film shoprunner method. And they're like, Well, you know, I you know, this seems like a lot of work. I'm like, yeah, it is, is gonna take you some time to build an audience. It's gonna take you some that the blueprint is, like, if I showed you blueprints to build a skyscraper, it's there on paper. Right? It's like, it's like the construction guy going. This seems like a lot of work. Yeah, it is. But it's a complete, it's a completely mind shift. When everyone's ever was told, you know, all you got to do is the hardest part is making the movie, which is not and

Patrick Solomon 52:00
Honestly, it's kind of fun. Like, yeah, yeah, it's hard work. Like right now, it's a lot of hard work. And it's fun, do you with marketing, but it's kind of fun. Like I'm learning new things and learn, you know, discovering new platforms and meeting new people. And the process is fun.

Alex Ferrari 52:13
No, there's no knock. I've I've always loved the business side. I've always loved the marketing and design side of filmmaking. It's always been a it's a holistic ecosystem. For me. It's a, you know, when I made when I made ego and desire, I was thinking about the whole, the whole plan. When I was doing it, I was like, that's more. That's fun. That's more fun for me. Right? Without question. Now, I'm gonna ask a few questions, ask all my guests or what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Patrick Solomon 52:44
Just right now if you're especially if you're young filmmaker, and you're trying to break into the business, there's two right? One is, I guess it depends on which part of the business you're after. But but you can, you can make films wherever you are. Right now, it's very easy to make films, just just make films man, make as many films as you can learn the craft of filmmaking. That's number one. Number two is which what I did is that you can also go to work, making money doing you know, in films, you can work as an assistant, you can work as a, as a lower member in a crew, you will learn so much, man, there's things you will never learn in film school, you will learn on a set. That's just a really, it's a really great way to get a free education or get a paid education.

Alex Ferrari 53:30
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Patrick Solomon 53:37
Those are ego lessons, right? Like the ego lesson, especially as a commercial director, right? You're always just right, and your vision was always right. It's great to collaborate, but but being able to let go of your ego in a lot of situations and go Wait a minute, I might not have the answer here. Let's let some other information in.

Alex Ferrari 53:58
And what is the biggest fear you had to overcome to make to make the firt your first film?

Patrick Solomon 54:05
God? That's a good question. I think it was that you know, just failing, right? Like, my fear would be, man, what happens if I if I make a piece of crap and nobody likes it?

Alex Ferrari 54:21
Yeah, that the feel of failure is the biggest one. It's always it's always the biggest one. And three of your favorite films of all time.

Patrick Solomon 54:30
Oh, man, there's just so many. I'll tell you what, there's this one that I that I always go back to that I love and it is Stephen Chow is kung fu hustle. I love kung fu hustle. Yeah, so well crafted and so well done and so quirky and weird. And just, I think that's just an awesome just an amazing film. What else What am I go to that I always like go back to so many men up, I always go back to close encounters to close encounter. was so well written and executed like that, like the writing on that film. I think it's I think it's underappreciated. It's really just an I think it's just an amazing amazingly crafted film on every level. Yeah. And I don't know what would be number 3 The Incredibles Incredibles for sure.

Alex Ferrari 55:26
I love Incredibles. I liked the second one. I didn't mind the second one at all. But the second one,

Patrick Solomon 55:30
I didn't mind the second one. But the first one I thought was just that was another one that when it came out, I was like, oh, man, this is so well written, directed, executed, like everything. All the it's a seamless, wonderfully, perfectly crafted piece of art.

Alex Ferrari 55:42
Yes. Without question. Now where can people find you and in the work you're doing?

Patrick Solomon 55:47
Let's see. So I am on on Facebook. Pat's, Patrick Solomon Facebook. I'm on YouTube, Patrick Solomon. And what is money is on Facebook, the new film what is money is a group on Facebook.

Alex Ferrari 56:01
And when is that coming up?

Patrick Solomon 56:03
I have no idea. So I'm a year into production. My my, my deadline to be done with production was going to be this fall, we're going to try to release that earlier in the year. I don't know if that's gonna happen now. Like I was just about to shoot all my B roll. When, when the COVID hit. So I said I still have a ton of B roll. And she does. Basically almost all my interviews are shot. Not all of them, but most of them are shot. So just still trying to figure it out. If anyone has any suggestions about shooting in the time of COVID. Maybe you can do a show on that I tune in. How do we shoot? How are we going to move forward? How are we going to get a crew together?

Alex Ferrari 56:43
Got it. Got it. Patrick, man, thank you so much for being on the show. It's been an absolute pleasure. Your film touched me when it came out. And I'm so proud to have it on ifH. tv. So thank you for sharing Joseph Campbell's work to the world.

Patrick Solomon 56:58
I'm super stoked.

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BPS 360: Making and Selling a Niche Indie Film with Rob Smat

Today on the show we have writer/director Rob Smat. His niche film is THE LAST WHISTLE. It is a Football Drama with a budget 125K, the crew was almost entirely film students, shot in 13 days in Texas, distributed worldwide by Vertical Ent. for 10 theater release this past June and originated as a pitch for Rebel Without a Crew TV show and was turned down so I made it myself

Rob formed a cast from high-level B-list stars, fostered relationships with distributors before shooting, and focused on production value without losing sight of the story.  Trying to recoup budget rather than use the festival circuit to find an audience he did not submit the film to any major festivals, we discuss the pros and cons of that strategy.

He was 22 when I started developing the project and wanted THE LAST WHISTLE to lead him to a place where he could build a filmmaking business model that could sustain his filmmaking goals.

Enjoy my conversation with Rob Smat.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:01
I'd like to welcome the show Rob Smat. Man, how you doing brother?

Rob Smat 3:24
I am super happy to be here. I'm so excited to talk about this movie. And I mean, I'm a huge time longtime fan and you know, just thrilled to be here.

Alex Ferrari 3:33
I appreciate that. Man, I appreciate that you were telling me earlier off air that that indie film hustle had a little bit to do with helping you make the movie

Rob Smat 3:40
A little bit. I mean, it's got everything to do. It's got everything to do with this movie, I started listening to any film hustle a year or two ago, at least if not longer. And and every episode, it's just like, there's something else that I hadn't heard before. There's something else I didn't learn in the film, school track. And just just so specific to the kind of thing that I wanted to do. And this I mean, just everything on this podcast was super, super helpful. So you know, the stuff that I want to, you know, hopefully help everybody with today, I hope it's going to be very specific. This is going to be indie film, hustle, you know, veteran, you know? How do you make your movie, it's like, let me tell you about the deal structure of x, y, and z. So I'll you know, we'll have fun.

Alex Ferrari 4:21
I appreciate that, brother. Sorry. So first question, how did you get into the film business?

Rob Smat 4:26
Good question. I was, you know, I've always been making movies. It's always been something that I've done. And in high school, I got to that point where I was like, Alright, am I gonna go into science go into physics, or am I gonna chase the arts? And I said, Well, let's see where I get into let's see how colleges sort out and I got into USC film program is, as they call it, the Harvard of film schools at Harvard film schools. It's not but you know, it's fun.

Alex Ferrari 4:55
You know, you know, I've been there.

Rob Smat 4:57
Yes, you have you have but You know, at that point, it was sort of that idea where it's like, Okay, if if, if they let me in, then I guess I'm on par, at least, you know, I guess I'm close. And so at that point, I just said, You know what, this is something that I love, and I want to I want to take a shot at it. And so that was that was kind of how I, you know, started. And after four years of film school, and, you know, then spend a few months after and then start on this movie right after that. And it's been about two years since then.

Alex Ferrari 5:26
What was the biggest thing you learned in film school? And was it worth it?

Rob Smat 5:31
But that's two separate questions, two separate questions. What I learned was, it wasn't worth it. So I thought I think I'll answer wasn't worth at first, because I think the most interesting and worthwhile part of of the film school wasn't so much, you know, the classes or the facilities, the things that they kind of like to advertise, it was the most valuable part for me was I grew up in Texas, I, you know, spent 18 years of my life in Texas, I, you know, 15 I, you know, I started there, I grew up there. And especially, you know, 10 years ago, Texas didn't really have a film industry besides Austin. And, you know, I was up in Fort Worth and the Dallas Fort Worth area. So there wasn't a huge film education thing happening there, the internet, you know, I couldn't really stream YouTube in my house. So, you know, it wasn't happening. And so, to be able to go to LA, and just do a total immersion in Hollywood, and the whole shebang was was hugely beneficial for me. And the school did a good job of sort of, you know, conveying that and, you know, not giving it to me all at once and, you know, blowing my head up or whatever. So I think that was the biggest value to film school, at least was that and then the friends I made there, the connections, you know, that half the people on the last whistle, or USC people, and they're all you know, early 20s, you know, that they're not far out of school. They were the people I came up with. And I think I think the biggest thing that I learned at the school was it doesn't matter. When it comes to moviemaking. It doesn't matter how smart you are, doesn't matter how good of a writer you are, what your stats are, it's all about how hard you try. And I think that that's something that indie film hustle is all about. But honestly, you can be in the Harvard of film schools, and the valedictorian is no better than then number 150 out of 150. But it's all who tries is who actually, you know, I've been happy to work with for sure you mean who hustles hustles go back and just edit hustle and everything. Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 7:36
Now, tell me about your film last, the last whistle.

Rob Smat 7:40
Okay, so the last whistle is a sports drama, it's very much in the vein of Friday Night Lights, we are doing day in day out release. It's, you know, of course, it's about 90 minutes. It's you know, very, very simple movie, but really tried to make it exciting and really make it up the production value as much as I could. It's basically what happens to a coach after one of his players collapses during practice. And so it's a lot of the stuff that I feel like you hear about in the news from time to time, or a football player or a soccer player or a cross country runner collapses, I mean, and then they don't know why it happened. And everyone's kind of hurt, you know, shattered by this. And it's super tragic. And so just the, you know, I played four years, five years of football, I played on a championship team in Texas. And going through that and seeing that happen at so many schools, there's so many different sports around the area, it was something that affected me. And so when it came to this first movie, I started to think Alright, you know, what, what's something that's scary? what's what's a good hook? And that was what jumped out at me that's like, this used to scare my pants off and still does, you know, so do it all the great filmmakers do and make a movie about it.

Alex Ferrari 8:51
Yeah, it is a pretty scary topic. in general. And I've seen you know, I remember when I was in high school, I had to do with that, you know, they work you and I was in Florida, so they worked you and that the heat and everything. And they think and they think that you know, because they're 18 they're, you know, they could just keep going and going and going but they are human.

Rob Smat 9:08
Yeah, yeah. And there's there's a there's all sorts of different aspects to it. And and that, you know, I won't put the cart before the horse here. But we we did one of our big marketing things that you know, was totally self generated was, let's get in with the Heart Association. Let's let's work with some nonprofits that deal with the smart thing. And so we've really tried to sort of, you know, cross collaborate on those sides of things to you know, raise awareness about it and actually kind of add a social commentary to the to the film.

Alex Ferrari 9:38
Yeah. So what I find fascinating about your movie and the way you made it, we're going to talk a little bit we're gonna get more into detail about it is that you're you were thinking about this as an entrepreneur, you were thinking about this as a holistic project in many different avenues, as opposed to just, Hey, I'm going to make some art. We're going to go do some stuff, and we'll see if we can make some money at the end of it. You were actually you really thought about This, and you actually do a lot of the stuff that I talk about on the podcast, which is like, hey, connect with some people, like, you know, organizations get into a niche, you know, who are the audiences that you can reach out to, you know, what, who is the demographic for this film, you know, this is obviously it can range into faith base, but people who like Friday Night Lights, who people like high school football movies, you know, and then just dramas and things like that. But you really have thought about this. And that's a great, great example.

Rob Smat 10:27
I'm telling you, brother, this is indie film, hustle, the movie, I mean, every piece of it. I mean, it was it's partly that it's a lot of it has to do to with Jason brew Baker, who you've interviewed three times at this point, who runs distributor. And while we didn't end up going distribution through distributor, Jason's a guy that I admire, and I've met it a couple different things that did AFM for the first time and saw him there. And, you know, all the places that Jason pops up, I've made sure to go and find him. And it there's, it's the calculator thing that he talks about, where it's like, figure out how much you're going to make per sale, figure out how many people need to buy the movie, and go find those people, you know, your if you get 50 people to buy based on a news article, go, you know, get 100 news articles, wherever they are, you know, you have to you got to make these numbers up, because you're only going to get so much from the storefront, you know, and that sort of thing. And so, you know, that's kind of what drove it alongside it was just, you know, I got I want to get people to the door, I want to get a lot of people to see this movie. And then I'd seen a lot of, you know, I think one of the most common film school movies, and it's not a bad thing, but I think one of the most common first features for for a filmmaker, it starts off with three words coming of age. And and whenever I hear those three words, I just think Alright, first feature, you know, that's, that sounds like it to me. And so, and again, there's nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that that it's common that it happens a lot. And so you know, I nothing with making good or bad coming of age movie. But the marketplace for coming of age movies can only handle so many movies. And so I almost look at it as like I'm walking into a casino I'm walking up to the roulette table. And you know what, I rather bet on a color or am I gonna bet on a number? And you know, for anyone who knows roulette, a number is a one in 36 chance a color 5050. And so that's kind of the whole idea with this movie was how do I bet on the colors instead of the numbers? How do I increase our margin for success?

Alex Ferrari 12:30
Yeah, it's kind of like the are you familiar with the blue ocean red ocean strategies? No, I'm not. Alright, so the blue ocean red ocean strategy is based on a book called Blue Ocean red ocean. And it's basically when you went like so perfect example independent film will go a horror movie. So let's say well, it's really affordable. Everyone makes a horror movie, right? Well, that when we consider the horror movie, a red ocean, that means that there's blood in the water and there's a lot of competition. You want to go into a blue ocean where there's less competition or preferably nobody's there. So when you make a faith based or you know, you know, football movie, at a high production value, the competition for that kind of movie is going to be a lot less hence you can raise your rates, you can raise your money, you make another horror movie. There's a million of those out there so they now if you're going to do a horror movie, you got to go niche. So like hatchet, I always love to hatch it because hatch, it was like, oh, we're the American slasher movie. So like, and then there's sub genre, like there's torture porn. It's vegan chef is what it is. It's the biggest. I've never had someone call me back out to that. I appreciate that

Rob Smat 13:39
The second I heard that. I was like, why don't you know why is there not a required reading for every kid in film school about the vegan chef,

Alex Ferrari 13:47
The vegan chef movie, it's I have to make the Vf spoken about.

Rob Smat 13:55
And I think part of it too, is I mean, again, I'm kind of jumping ahead here. But a lot of the last whistle was, oh, what's the word for a teleological teleology, I think is the word for it. And it's all about the study of ends. And so if you're a teleology test, you study the apocalypse you study you know, the end of it, you study the end of the world, you say these things and so on a smaller scale. The Last of Us was totally reverse engineer it was I want a movie that distributors will at least be interested in, you know, it doesn't have to go traditional distribution, but I want something that they would be interested in something that's marketable something like you said that, that feels new, but it's got something old to it, you know, kind of Scott derrickson is 2575 or 5050 is what he what he calls it, and you know, and so, it was really that idea of where do I want to be not so much you know, what do I have you it was a little bit about what to wear, do I want to be in what do I have at my disposal? And so that was the whole thing was it was like you know, the to teleology of of you know, I want to end up With you know, something that really changes what people are expecting

Alex Ferrari 15:04
You built you built the movie you You came at it like a blueprint almost as opposed to just like hey, I'm just going to get a whole bunch of wood and some nails and and let's see what happens you actually constructed like no I'm not only gonna figure out how to build this thing but I'm gonna have a buyer for this day before I get done

Rob Smat 15:23
Right well i'll tell you what what what kicked me into that and I'm sure you know everyone in the in the tribe will know and experience like this it's it was a bad experience and a bad experience it was what showed me Oh a blueprints a really good idea. And you know I can talk about it, you know with with a light heart because it wasn't my project. It was just something I was helping out on. And and it was a project that we really, you know, I if there was a blueprint, I was the one trying to be like, hey, wait, here's we should we should do it

Alex Ferrari 15:51
And what happened to that one?

Rob Smat 15:53
Not much. You know,

Alex Ferrari 15:57
A lot of time and money was wasted e

Rob Smat 15:58
Whatever you think happened is what happened.

Alex Ferrari 16:00
Mistakes. mistakes are made mistakes are made.

Rob Smat 16:02
Yeah, I mean, it's just it was at the end of the day it was it was a half built house and a lot of nails and boards that weren't ever going to fit in that house. And and you can't sell a house to half built house.

Alex Ferrari 16:15
No, not in this market. Right. 20 years ago, South Korea videotape backyard, they could have maybe, but not this market. Alright, so how did you raise the money? The budget for this was about how much? 100,000? About 100,000? Right. So that's not a that's not a mic. It is a micro budget in the grand scheme of things. But for a normal guy like you try pulling 100 extra grand out of our pockets is it's a bit much. So how did you raise the money?

Rob Smat 16:42
A lot of different places. I mean, just really had to start a lot of different places. So I think that's that that's such an important question. It's such a crux of what people ask. And I and I think, before I kind of go into it, I think sort of the mindset and the the helpful part that that you've already kind of hit on was, we had the blueprint, whenever we were going out for financing. And so we had this blueprint of Alright, here's what the independent film landscape looks like, you know, here's where our film is a micro budget film. And then here's where we can lose money if we do it wrong. You know, we were very forthcoming with the investors saying, here's what we're worried about, and here's how we're going to try to mitigate that. So I think the blueprint was, was the biggest piece that the blueprint was, you know, 100,000 is not a little, but it's not so much that we can, you know, get caught off balance, you know, over commit, you know, spend too much. I had researched a couple other films I've been following like Thunder Road is a film I've been following very closely, not in the sense that we're the same as them in any way. I mean, they really did a good job with the festival circuit and knew their audience, and we have very different audiences. But I followed them. And I followed them in terms of Okay, how much money had they been able to get what the resources they had, you know, how did their storefront deliver? And then I just started calling up other directors and I say, hey, how much money have you made? You know, I mean, and, and they, you know, it never in a way where it was like, give me an exact number, but it was always, how did iTunes go for you? How did Amazon go for? You did? Did you get a streaming deal? How much was that worth, and, you know, of course, listening to your guests on the show. And so it's very hard, it's very hard to get those numbers, the creative Institute at Sundance is trying to make that a little more transparent. And they're awesome in that way. I mean, I'm so excited to see all the stuff that they continue to put out. But I kind of was able to go into to investors with those numbers and say, Hey, here's what the numbers look like, here are your odds of success, here's how we're going to try to increase those. We went to production companies, you know, we went to some some B level groups, and a lot of them said that you know, it's you guys don't have any prior work you know, you're you're all just out of film school and even though it's USC, it's it's not enough for us to feel confident in and and that's just the way it goes. And we were expecting that so we went we went to I think we're between eight different private investors very spread out, you know, none of them feeling to like it's you know, No One No One cashed in all of grandma's retirement savings or anything like that which was which was good. And and we each one of them had a different ask and one or two of them just were wanting to be a part of it. And the whole goal was what what can I do for you, you know, this is this is a movie you don't normally invest in movies, but you know, if this excites you, we want to work with you on it. And and that was that was kind of how we we built the financing.

Alex Ferrari 19:47
Now what you were talking earlier, a little bit about the budget levels, like you know, a $10,000 movie a $50,000 movie $100,000 movie, what is the difference in your eyes on the difference, obviously besides financial,

Rob Smat 19:57
I think that there and making sure You know this, but I think there's a huge difference in the 100,000. And under range that indie filmmakers don't realize. And I see a lot of indie filmmakers who spend $100,000 on a movie that should have cost 10. And that's a lot of indie filmmakers spend 10 on a movie that really needed 100. And then in the end, you've got 50. And then in the middle, you've got 50. And those filmmakers can go both ways. And both, you know, budgets can go towards those filmmakers. And I think that, you know, whatever your budget is, you should really No, I mean, where you're going to spend money where you're not going to spend money, you know, that that's that that can get pretty complicated. But I think that one of the biggest things that I see, and I'm sure you've seen, too, is, at these lower budget levels, filmmakers feel like they have to do everything in one location. They feel like it has to be a bottle episode, it has to take place in one location. And I think you're, I think that you can really shoot yourself in the foot when you do that. That was something I was really excited about with the last whistle was we we have, you know, 15 locations minimum in the film, I mean, it this movie travels, you don't feel like you're in one place the whole time. And the fear always is, well, we've only got this amount of money. So we can't afford a company move. We can't afford the time it takes to go from one place to another. But I think I think you increase the production value of your movies so much if you can add some other locations in there.

Alex Ferrari 21:35
Yeah, without question.

Rob Smat 21:37
Yeah. And I think 10,000 is the only budget level where you can say, you know, what, let's keep it in one place. You know, or, or maybe if you're if you're in the 100,000 50,000 range, but it's an action movie, and you're dealing with stunts, or controlled, you know, explosives or something like that, like, okay, I can see needing to stay in one location or something like that. But the single location movie is, as has been done so frequently, that you can risk losing hundreds of 1000s of dollars, if you feel like that's the way you have to do it. And so that's that's sort of the thing that I've seen is, you know, if you're gonna spend six digits on a movie, try not, you know, don't do it in one place. unless you absolutely it's mandated by the script, I

Alex Ferrari 22:18
think the way that I would put that, yeah, I mean, then with my film, my last film on the corner of victim desire, we did that for about 3000. But it was, it was done at the Sundance Film Festival. But the thing was that there was tremendous amount of production value in every five minutes, we're moving, or somewhere else or moving here. So they actually had probably, like, 20 locations when it was all said and done. Yeah. So it added a tremendous amount of production value to do that.

Rob Smat 22:42
That's how we use so we shot you know, the kind of next question, we know how did you do it? How did you know get keep the productivity low? We shot at my high school, we, you know, I called them up, I said, Hey, listen, I know there's a week where the students aren't in class and it's not a holiday or anything like that. Can we do you mind if we shoot there as long as we got our you know, location insurance, paid security guards, overtime, that sort of thing. And they were super awesome. They were super awesome, inviting, and it was it kind of played into, okay, I know how many families are at this high school who would watch this movie. So here's another audience that we can use. And this this high school was awesome, because it gave us everything from offices to the football field to the locker room. And it kind of turned into this mini, you know, not the soundstage. But it turned like like a studio lot in a way. And so we would have what you know, a quote unquote company move, but we were moving from building a to building be sure, but you still feel like it's a whole new place, as long as you you know, hide it with production design, essentially.

Alex Ferrari 23:39
Yeah, that's the same thing happened with us, we're just constantly moving to different locations throughout the whole piece. And it was literally a block away, or literally, next door, but it seems like boom, it's like this entire new world. And that's the key. I think I've done that with a bunch of my movies where I've, I've been in one location, but I can probably get 20 looks 20 scenes that are completely distinctive, and makes it feel much larger than it is but it really was just like, let's just walk down the hall. And it's like a completely new world. So yeah, that's, that's great. And anytime you can get a location like a high school, once you have complete control over, you can create a ton of production value, because there is a ton of production value there.

Rob Smat 24:20
Well, it's all about you know, just just make the I think the hardest part is you know, don't do it in LA I think that's locations they will you know, they'll ask for your checkbook minute one when you're in LA. But But if you're outside of LA and you've got a personal connection somehow and and you You not only say you're not going to damage anything, but you actually do it. You know, I think that that's another thing too, where it's like you need to really you know, you need to know everyone on your crew and you need to make sure that while Yes, you as the director or producer writer will respect the space that you're getting Respect the space, something with the C stand. And you know, and that was that was, you know, I was the last one on set every day cleaning up, you know, water bottles. And everyone was like, well, we're coming back first thing in the morning and they're not going to be here overnight. So who cares? And I was like I care God forbid the person that you know, let us use this room comes comes to find all these water bottles everywhere like I want them to, I want them to like us when we lease So

Alex Ferrari 25:25
in other words, you weren't wearing your Ascot and your monocle with a blow horn as a director. What? Well, I put the monocle in my front pocket and I clean up the water. And then I put it then you put it back out and then they asked got to there all the time. Generally just because it's Yeah, it won't mean you can clean sweat with it. It's it's the Ascot is it mostly? It was very well with the Hawaiian shirt too. Yes. We never see. I've never seen an ascot with a Hawaiian shirt that I have not seen. Now, how did you get your talents? You have you have a fairly, you know, great, great cast?

Rob Smat 26:00
Sure. So the hardest part with the talent, I thought was going to be the money. I thought the hardest thing was going to be you know, we've got this movie, we're attaching talent we had, you know, I thought the hardest thing to say was going to be we're not done with the investment yet, you know, we're not done getting the money yet. We started casting with probably 40 to 50% of our investment in the bank. And so I thought that was gonna be the hurdle. But no one asks to see your bank account, no one demands, you know, you you put a cashier's check into them, for the most part, I mean, unless you're getting too high for who you should be going after. And what I really realized was the hardest thing was, you know, as long as they liked the script, which is huge, as you know, that if you have what you would call a bulletproof bulletproof screenplay, you have been hustling on that screenplay. They will read it and they'll say this is this is a great thing for me. I love this role, you know, and if they genuinely love the role, they will play ball with you. There are actors who will say I love the role. It's so well written. But you know, they're not they're just saying that you know, you meet No,

Alex Ferrari 27:22
in LA No, stop it. Stop it. You mean they're telling you truth? Tampa? Anywhere, Texas anywhere.

Rob Smat 27:33
So so you have to have that To start off with, if you don't have that, then, you know, that's why you're not getting calls back, I think when it comes to attaching talent. But the second thing is, they want to know your prior work just like the production companies did. And again with this movie, you know, I didn't you know, I didn't have a football movie that I had made before this you know, this this this was going to be the football movie. You know, I I didn't have some award winning short film because you know, to make a really good short film these days, it money helps. And I didn't want to go and spend 10 to 20k on something that I knew couldn't earn its money back. Now there's nothing wrong with doing that especially if you're aware that going into it. But I that's just not my style. You know, I'm not a i'm not i'm not i don't think I'm good at shorts. Honestly, I think features are really where I'm comfortable. So the hard thing was not having prior work to show the talent, the agents, the managers, the gatekeepers. What we did have was so real. I had gone to my brothers little brothers homecoming football game, I filmed some stuff in slow motion through some Friday Night Lights soundtracks over it, and there was our you know, last little sizzle reel.

Alex Ferrari 28:46
And that's awesome.

Rob Smat 28:48
It was enough. It was enough. It wasn't perfect. No one was like, Oh, you guys know how to make movies. But it was I feel something. This makes me feel something. And and so I'm interested It was not shot beautifully. There was this production design was terrible, but they felt something and that was just like a trailer that what you have to do when you want to convert someone on your side. So

Alex Ferrari 29:13
I was gonna ask you to touch on the sizzle reel stuff though. That's something that a lot of filmmakers don't understand about a sizzle reel, just like in creating a sizzle reel. And, and it's, it's it's an inexpensive way to really give a feeling a look a vibe to your project and it really makes people who are generally not very visual, especially financier's. They can't think visually so if you show them something, even if it's a cut up, you use other movies and cut up a fake trailer for your movie with Brad Pitt in it. I mean, you're not saying that Brad Pitt's gonna be in it, but I've seen it done and I've caught it. It's kind of like a feel a vibe like this is just a vibe. We don't have to pay you have you cut sizzle reels for client times, man back in the day back in the day used to cut deals. It was VHS, but back in the day, I would Cut together you know I remember doing scenes from seven and some you know a bunch of you know kind of serial killer dark dingy Fight Club kind of vibes you put together for a project that had that kind of energy to it and they wanted it just it's you know 30 seconds 60 seconds 90 seconds tops so that's one way of doing it then shooting something like what you did, which was kind of like a sizzle reel you actually shot footage but you put in copy written music as a as a demo

Rob Smat 30:28
is almost as good as Brad Pitt. I mean you the fact that you Production Music Library and pull anything. I mean, everyone loves the score to find consumption. I mean, that's on every

Alex Ferrari 30:40
Shawshank Shawshank Redemption as well. That's how shank redemption redemption works soundtrack is on. You can literally insert Shawshank Redemption music on almost any movie, and it will just just take it up to that next level. It's I've used it so many times on so many different reels, and things just like Dan and that's just a good score.

Rob Smat 31:01
Yeah. And so I think all of this is circumventing the the obvious answer which is you should get a casting director to do all this for you, you know you Where's your casting director? And and I have the budget going into this project? I yeah, I didn't realize how expensive a really good casting girl was brutal. And and they earned every penny of it. I mean, because because they do amazing work and they can they can they can they deal with the agents and the managers, they can get the talent to feel comfortable with you. So it was in the absence of that, that we were and we did end up having a casting director who was awesome and and brought in Brad Leland at the end and brought in Dan Levine at the end. But they were they they worked more locally and then they helped us go for our for our lead, which we still didn't have at that point. So So and I'm talking more about when we started by attaching Jim O'Hare who we all know is Jerry from Parks and Rec. And and I had been keeping up with Jim and his career since Parks and Rec because like him like Aubrey Plaza, like a lot of the actors in the office too. You know, I'd watched those ensemble shows for so long and had really been able to figure out which members of the ensemble had this amazing like star studded talent. And I'm almost bummed that Aubrey Plaza is blown up in the way that she has because I knew she was there. But luckily, you know, Jim wasn't you know, his schedule wasn't full like hers was and so we still we started with Jim and we we sort of packaged it like you would at an agency we started with I started with my friends who I knew were kind of on the cusp of, you know, TV stardom, then they talk to their friends, we brought in some of our executive producers, Eric in St. Louis are fantastic. And they have hit that TV stardom, and then movie stardom in there. So they had friends that they were able to go to and so it was those personal connections and then showing who we had cast already laid a really nice groundwork when it came to casting folks without a casting director and without prior work.

Alex Ferrari 32:49
You know, it's funny, just to go back in the sizzle reel. Do you know what Robert Rodriguez did for mariachi? No. Alright, so when right when he was when he was pimping out a mariachi around town he had his short film bedhead on a VHS. Then he had cut a trailer for mariachi. But what he did was he took the soundtrack of another trailer because at that in those days, it didn't. It wasn't they didn't do a lot of dialogue. It was just all music. And Roger Ebert gives it 542 thumbs up that kind of stuff. action packed all the way says throw, you know, Peter Travers from Rolling Stone over get the zooms you have zoom the face, right? Yeah. So he just took that soundtrack and edited his movie off the soundtrack. So when someone saw it, they were like, well, this looks like a real movie. It was it was pretty, it was pretty genius is things that I used to do back in the day when I was doing my demo reels, but he took it to another place as a feature. But yet sizzle reels are very powerful.

Rob Smat 33:44
The funny the funny thing that you mentioned double are Robert Rodriguez did the Rebel Without a crew competition on El Rey.

Alex Ferrari 33:53
Yes. Yes. Had you had to I've had I've had one. Alejandro and then I met with Josh. I was on his podcast and now I'm gonna have him on my podcast in the next few months. So I love that show. I watched every episode I did to see the best one the best one all of those shows.

Rob Smat 34:11
It's it uh Yeah, it definitely gets because greenlight is just you know that green lights got its own. Amen. I

Alex Ferrari 34:16
wasn't I was in season two. I was in season two Project Greenlight. Five seconds opening credits.

Rob Smat 34:23
Very nice. I so when it came to So anyway, Rebel Without a crew the TV show was you know, most people say their first feature was a genocide was genocide by Dubrovnik. But, you know, the rebels had accrued the TV show was what made me go and write the last whistle. And so I initially wrote this as a $7,000 feature about do this

Alex Ferrari 34:44
for seven grand that must have been

Rob Smat 34:46
impossible. I would go and shoot during the hunk I would make the sizzle reel all the football that was in the movie, and then I would shoot the coach at his home getting phone calls from people and getting visited by people.

Alex Ferrari 34:57
It'd be a different movie a bit different.

Rob Smat 34:59
Yeah, it's it's It's it's similar but it cuts out all the other characters essentially. It's it's total art house instead of, you know, sports with like a twinge of art house, which is I think what lots was crappy. But anyway that was the genesis of this project and that's kind of what they told me was how would you do this for $7,000? And I was like, You don't know me like just give me a shot just give me a shot. And they picked you they did and I thought Alexandra specially killed it on today's show. He did it was I found it so funny how on this third or fourth episode, he was telling the other filmmakers what gear to go grab from the cart. You know, they had like the card or whatever. He's like, No, no, you don't need to see Stan like, like get get the light stand get the light, you know. And so I thought that was hilarious.

Alex Ferrari 35:39
Yeah. And his new movie coming out Millennium bugs is coming out soon. It's I saw his trailer dude, it looks awesome, dude. And he made it for like underground 100. And it looks great. Looks really really great.

Rob Smat 35:50
Anyway, that was the genesis of the last whistle. And they turned it down. And when they did, I said, Let's go make it ourselves.

Alex Ferrari 35:56
Fantastic, man. Now you also reached out to distributors before shooting?

Rob Smat 36:01
I did. Wow. Amazing. That was another one of your episodes. I don't know which one was but but I'm sure it was. I don't remember who that was. But uh, yeah, you know where I got that idea. So

Alex Ferrari 36:12
you went out to a distributor, you talk to them? And like, Look, I'm making a football movie. What do you need in here? Well, how did you how did that process go?

Rob Smat 36:19
I'm just just like casting more difficult than than I expected. It was kind of crazy. how few distributors would email me back? And who how few of them would actually reply to someone who's essentially a future customer, you know, someone who's going to go and do all the legwork for them. You know, I mean, I was I was kind of shocked that these very middle level distribution companies were not paying me the time of day to just pick up the phone for 10. Shots shocking. shy. Yeah, shocking. Shocking. So here, right? Yeah, here. My lofty ideals for humanity. And maybe

Alex Ferrari 36:59
you're in the wrong business for that, my friend. I hate to tell you guys.

Rob Smat 37:04
But you got a few to call you back. Eventually. Yeah. So So eventually, Josh Spector, at gravitas at the time, said, I'll give you 10 minutes, you know, as long as you're not trying to sell me the movie, you know, I go through the usual channels for that. And I was like, No, no, it's not like we don't, we don't need pre sales. You don't need this stuff. Just you know, 10 minutes is perfect. And Josh was nice enough to pick up the phone and tell me you know, what, just you're doing football, make sure it's got a ton of football, especially in the first five minutes. Make sure that your key art and your onset photography is excellent. We need a lot of options when it comes to art. He said you know, make sure that you've got very high production value enough to where you can cut a really good trailer with and and he just talked about, you know, the the make sure that if you have a lot of football, the footballs for front if you end up getting a big actor that they are front and center. But I think the main question I went into Josh with was I said, here's our budget, and we and we're not sure if we're going to get a big actor, can we make it work, and he said, if it's football, you can make it work. If it's not, it won't, you know, a drama that's made 400k I don't think we'll make its money back. And I'm paraphrasing that those aren't his, you know, his opinions or beliefs or anything that has to do with where he is now, which is vertical entertainment. But that was that was the gist of kind of what he told me and it's publicly available knowledge. And and eventually he phoned me back, he emailed me back about five or six months later and said, Hey, did you guys finish the movie, you know, I'd we vertical would love to take a look at it. And at that point, that's where the ball started rolling. And he ended up being our acquisitions. He acquired us.

Alex Ferrari 38:48
So Isn't it funny? So you need to tell me, I just I had to lay this out for everybody listening. So you mean to tell me that you call up a distributor, and go, Hey, I just want 10 minutes of your time. I'm thinking about making sure we're gonna go make this movie, I would love to hear your thoughts on what we need to make this movie sellable and marketable for you and with your wealth of experience and years of experience. And then use he stated he was impressed enough with you that he called you back or emailed you back five or six months later and said, Hey, whatever happened to that football movie? I'm over at this new place. And why don't you come over here? And then that turns into a distribution deal? Yeah, pretty. Pretty much it shocking. Shocking. shock. It's amazing what happens when you actually just do this kind of stuff. And like, it's one thing. I preach about this stuff every day all the time, but it's it's very few people want to do the legwork. And because if not, this is what would have happened you would have made your movie and what you would have then tried to make a movie then you would start calling everybody and then you would have gotten all sorts of horrible deals, if anyone will call you back and it's and you would just like you would be rolling the dice you'd be betting on the number not on the color. Basically, you're trying to stack the odds against a for you as much as you can. against the house. And I think there's an interesting thing when it comes to film festivals. I think this is a good point. That was my next question.

Rob Smat 40:07
The so my thesis going into this movie, you know, I did have some, some theses going into this movie. I said, I think, you know, I think this will work. I think this will work. I think this will work. Here's the evidence, and then let's test it out. Let's do the scientific, you know, the scientific process with it. And so my thesis going into this was, film festivals have way too much. bearing on on the scalability of a film, people put way too much weight on a festival, because of because of the 90s. Because of the 90s because of the 90s that's when they did they actually did have power. You know, Sunday you won Sundance, you

Alex Ferrari 40:44
got a you got that check from Harvey. We I know he's not a cool name to say right now. But you got that name, you got my Air Max to show up and

Rob Smat 40:51
If you don't want i would i would cash that check. If you if you get a check from Harvey now I would make sure that that's about

Alex Ferrari 40:58
Exactly but back then it was a probably around a six or seven year period that that's that festivals were powerful. You know, and some still are, of course, if you went to Toronto, you When can you when you know, maybe Tribeca or you went south by that does bring in certain amounts, but that's such a small, small amount.

Rob Smat 41:17
Well, and so my thing was okay, we're a Texas film Should we try it should we wait as well? To go south by right and, and in the end we didn't apply to south by we didn't apply to Sundance, I wanted to keep it grassroots I wanted to go where I knew the numbers were where I knew that we had the 5050 odds instead of the one and 36 and so we debuted at the Lone Star Film Festival in Fort Worth, where we filmed it. And we had huge opening night crowd lots of local press. And and what we did there was we started our audience, I mean, you know, we started building our audience there and and we got to do that in November instead of March. Whereas if we had if we had gotten into South by and done March, we would have had to wait until football season 2021 to get the movie out there because you can release this movie and you know, the winter time it's it's got to be football season. Sure. And so that was that was again that teleological thinking about the end you know, really trying to land the plane 100 miles away and set a you know, just slam it down on the runway essentially. And so that was my thesis going into it now, I think an interesting thing that I will be the first to admit is what I was wrong about was the same thesis that I had about have a name for a movie. You know, my thesis when it comes to names is a name does not guarantee you a good movie in any way. And on top of that, and name does not guarantee you money as we as we saw with not Manchester by the Sea, but was it by the sea, the Brad Pitt, Joe Joe Lee.

Alex Ferrari 42:44
Yeah, though, of course. Yeah. The one that Angelina, I think she wrote and directed that one. Yeah, she did. Yeah. And and the movie did not do well. And I mean, had Brad Pitt and had the the brad pitt and angelina jolie

Rob Smat 42:54
and Julian Julian. And and so I think, you know, seeing movies like that it's like names. But what I realized is that names and festivals are very similar in the way that it that is how distributors know best how to sell a film. And so if you come to a distributor with, hey, we don't have a name or or festival laurels, but we've got these other marketable things. While they might agree with you that those things are marketable. It doesn't fit their system of here's where we put, you know, here's where we insert the name into our trailer, here's where we put the name on our poster, you know, they have to put a lot more legwork into, okay, how do we put these marketable aspects into our framework of how we distribute films? And so I think that was my that was the one difficulty when it came to festivals was, people were surprised when they watch the movie. And I can't tell you how many times I've heard this, I'm getting hurt 100 times again, but people go Oh, that was a lot better than I thought it would be. and and you know, whether they're giving it a six out of 10, or an eight out of 10, or a nine out of 10. They came into it expecting three or three or four out of 10 because it didn't have a laurel on it. And and I kind of have to be like, Oh, no, no, we didn't we didn't want to forefront, the laurels because that's not our audience and that boggle people's minds. They were like, What do you mean, you didn't do foot? What do you mean, you didn't do the festival circuit you know, yada yada, yada. And, and it's just it's just a new way of thinking and it's a much more difficult one to pull off. But you know, where does anybody

Alex Ferrari 44:22
No, no? unnecessary agreed and festivals aren't necessary and they're nice and if you've never done the experience is a great experience. You meet a lot of cool people you meet a lot of filmmakers, you know, you might get a little press you might get an award or to your ego might get stroke you might get a red carpet, some pictures, but that's essentially it even if you get into one of these big ones. It's no guarantee. I know many filmmakers who won Sundance and did nothing for their careers. You know, it all depends on the current project.

Rob Smat 44:48
When I saw like Jim Cummings and had vanishing angle and Thunder Road I saw Thunder Road you know, get grand jury at South by and and play at Sundance and all these things. Then not take the deal with a 24 or with any of these you know distributors that came calling and decide to self distribute that's when I was kind of like wait a second if if you know grand jury itself by and huge grassroots in the audience doesn't get you the deal you want you know i i there's no way that they're going to come calling for a for a football faith film you know like that that's just not on the radar whatsoever.

Alex Ferrari 45:27
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. But it's also like there's there's a lot of people who drink drank this Kool Aid a lot of filmmakers drink this kool aid of this kind of myth of expectations of what winning a festival does or how things should be. And I do believe and correct me if I'm wrong, but I do believe that a lot of these preconceived notions are myths of of a long gone air, which are those 90s indie movies that we know that's kind of the beginning of the independent film movement, really the independent film movie that we know today kind of started in the 90s you know started with if you want to go way back Hollywood shuffle 1987 Robert Townsend and then you go and then you and then sex lies and videotape with Steven Soderbergh. And then that launched Sundance and and so on and so forth, and people still think that that's the way things are made it is not it is not that world anymore, and the world has changed so dramatically and I'd love to have you on the show for this specific reason to that you are a different model and a new model of what's happening and you know what this model might not work in a year or two and we might have to switch again you know, it could be another thing so it but people got to get that out of their head man we're not living in 2019 I'm gonna inflate your ego here oh no please dangerous thing to do. back alley in Hollywood might have back alley

Rob Smat 47:01
the that's what I that's what I really liked about any film hustle and the other podcasts that are in the spaces it's it's it is to the day current when it comes to what does our industry look like? How is the best way to succeed today versus what worked five years ago because I mean it maybe in terms of the styles of movies five years ago can maybe similar to now but in the styles that distribution is just changing so fast that if you're not staying like you know if you're not listening to any film hustle every week you you've lost track of what is happening in distribution and indie film hustle and creative Institute and all these other sources I mean it's so that that's what because like you know books take time and you know books used to teach you how to distribute a movie because the information stayed the same for longer than then 12 months right and that was the same way with our camera gear too we we shot on the the Canon c 300 mark two we had the option to shoot red it was the same price just about and and and I caught in the DP Brian Tang and I went into it I said you know what Brian, like we're making a football movie. Our audience does not know the difference between read or Canon they don't know the difference between anamorphic 's and and spherical. I want to shoot this on the camera that is going to run for the longest amount of time without charging that's going to take up you know a super low card space and that isn't going to heat up if we take it outside and the Texas heat in May and and die on us and that's not going to kill my MacBook Pro when I go and you know do the first director's assembly and then hand it off to our editor who's on it. And this is and as I say this I realize you said this on an earlier episode of the podcast you were talking about shooting on something that doesn't crash your computer.

Alex Ferrari 48:45
It warms my heart it really does where my heart man I said having deja vu right now of course because it's basically everything I've ever preached I'm like guys, like who cares? No one cared like I shot my movie on a on a Blackmagic Pocket camera 10 ADP, you know and it looks fantastic. projected you know, it's like, God, Jesus. You mean I don't know this. It's too much I can't take this. I can't take it it's too much. It's too much running. It's happening. It's exploding literally exploding because I'm like I it bring it warms the cockles of my heart to hear to hear this from a filmmaker that I'm like Oh good. Someone's listening out there to me. And it's not all about ego and it's not all about I need to shoot this on a red or an Alexa I'm like nah man what my audience can't tell the difference they're both really damn good and what's going to what's going to run the longest what's not going to crash my laptop when I'm working on it? What's going to give me best bang for your buck man it's not always like I Toby was like Could I have shot? ego and desire on an Alexa? Sure. Did I have access to them? Yeah, I could have probably gotten one if I wanted to. And I could have probably gotten away with shooting it all there if I if I truly wanted to. is the Blackmagic Pocket camera the best camera in the world? No. But does it work and it doesn't do exactly what I needed. To do for that specific project apps frequently.

Rob Smat 50:03
And that's, that's something that I that I, you know, really, I, I've even got an image for it. And it's sort of the audience's threshold of quality. And it's Don't think about what your cinephile friends know about film that they're, they're gonna see the lens flare, they're gonna see the the piece of action designs messed up, think about mom and pop, think about Uncle Joe, what are what will they notice and not notice and I'll tell you what they notice is bad directing bad writing sound, and, and bad sound. That's and so and and so I think the you know, the the, the hard thing to accept here is, if if you as a filmmaker are focusing too much on red versus Alexa. And this is something I see on that Facebook group movies, that means all the time, if you're focusing so much on red versus Alexa, maybe it's because you don't know enough about what you should be focusing on to to focus on that instead. And so it's go take a class get be be a better director be a better writer to the point where you don't feel like because I had this I had this face, I mean, so so strongly for such a long time it was I don't know how to make this any better. So maybe I can make it look better. And yes, the director, that's not what you're there to do. You were there to make what's on screen better your cinematographer will make it look amazing.

Alex Ferrari 51:22
If you hire a good one. That's why I did Brian. King. No, it looks great. It looks great. I have to say it looks great. Now what was the distribution deal structure that you set up here, because I'm really curious to see what kind of deal you got. And you said you would be more than willing to share this with the tribe.

Rob Smat 51:37
So So yeah, I'll share all the publicly available, you know, info just so I'm not, you know, stepping on a toes, we're doing, we've done a day and date release. So we blast it in 10 theaters, at cost us some money up front or the distributor, at least put some money up front for that. And what it allowed us to do was to debut in the in theaters now folder to debut it at a slightly higher premium price than elsewhere. It helps us with airlines, and with later windowing and international sales and things like that, to show that, you know, the distributor had enough confidence in the film to invest early in it. And that's kind of in you know, it's kind of in a similar way where it's like, Oh, you didn't have a star, but they put it in theater. So so it must be worth something, you know, they money on it. So it must be worth it something. So the date release is kind of the way that the distribution was structured. We're working on a very standard distribution deal. There's there's a there's a distribution cut up front. And then there's a there's a recoupment of expenses. And then there's the our take after that

Alex Ferrari 52:44
the expenses have been kept.

Rob Smat 52:47
Yes, thank you. Yes, you're welcome. And that actually came from a friend who had who had gone through a very sad, very unfortunate distribution scenario, I'm sure you've never heard of bad hand having

Alex Ferrari 53:01
never a shocking,

Rob Smat 53:02
shocking shot. And, and they and as he kind of told me, he's like, you know, when it comes to deals that sometimes, and usually the cap will be what, what they're going to spend, you know, and and source. And and so I kind of went into it, knowing that and and and, you know, we're still waiting for and I mean, I I do I've been very pleased with how they've distributed and I think they've done a great job. And so I'm actually not in the school where I'm like, oh, they're totally going to screw us over. And I'm and I and I'm thrilled to be there. I'm thrilled that we though I think we found a good one, you know, I think we we did, we definitely didn't find a bad one. And when I get all the numbers, I'll be sure to come back to or, you know, go to the creative Institute and share as much as the distributor is comfortable with me sharing because I think enrolled with so many bad distributors, it's worth, you know, really praising the good ones and praising the ones that do do good work. Because Because you want them to be in high demand. And and and I definitely want that for ours, if that's the way that it turns out.

Alex Ferrari 54:00
But awesome. And then and then also you've gotten a streaming service deal as well, you got one of the big streaming service deals got got picked up by one of them as well.

Rob Smat 54:11
Yeah, and so I you know, can't obviously can't talk much about who it is or what it is one of the big boys. What is it what what we what we noticed was or what I want another one of the blueprint aspects that I that I looked at with this movie is I was on an airplane, as many of us are from time to time. And I started to look at what was in their content library. And they had the film festival winners, they had the you know, the big Hollywood movies, they had this and that and then I go blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink all the way down to the bottom and they've got sports, and there's one sports movie and it's the only category it's it's the blue ocean. And it's like oh my god, they have you know, like Name a sports movie that came out this year. Free solo, you know, it's kind of like that's pretty much it. I

Alex Ferrari 55:04
mean, I don't there's not. Yeah,

Rob Smat 55:06
that's all it's on iTunes right now, you know, and well rip rip iTunes. But, uh, yeah. And so and so I just I saw that blue ocean. And I said, and so then I went to the streaming sites after that I started to look up, okay, who's been selling to these streaming sites? who's buying What? And then the most important thing for me was, is there a big, you know, sports property that's recently left or taken a better deal with a different streaming site? Because what they like to do is if they can't have James Bond, they'll put The Man from UNCLE front and center that way, if you if they have a customer that says, I love spy movies, I want to go I want to go see James Bond, they can be like, No, no, wait, stay with us watch Man from UNCLE you know, and and I'm not even sure if that's on a streaming site. But if I was running one, that that would be what I would put up to get to keep people to stay

Alex Ferrari 55:57
on Netflix. That's what Netflix does. When you like search, a specific like Marvel movie, they'll put all the other Marvel movies that they might have access to, but it might not be the one that you're looking for.

Rob Smat 56:05
Right? And so yeah, whether it's Netflix, whether it's Hulu, whether it's crackle, whether it's any of them, it's it's, they, they they yearn it's sort of that that industry that used to exist of the mock busters of you know, the ones where it was it was the

Alex Ferrari 56:20
apples and I was I just saw I just saw now like, the adventures of the Aladdin mysteries or something like that, like it literally just came out like a week ago. I'm like, Oh, yeah, there's that company. I forgot what they do but they just all they do is just whatever the big Hollywood movie it's a pop it up. It used to be very easy because you go

Rob Smat 56:39
to blockbuster, and maybe blockbuster didn't have the sleeve for Avengers and they didn't have a sleeve for Avengers of Aladdin. You send Uncle Joe to blockbuster he brings home events to the Latin and you don't watch it but they've already made their money and and so that used to be that's where it started. And then of course now it's in full effect because you can design a poster it looks exactly like I mean, to be fair, the there's that meme the Aladdin poster looks just like the Force Awakens poster I mean, you know the blue and the red it

Alex Ferrari 57:07
was I thought for like when Avengers like Thor Ragnarok came out they just came out with a Thor movie and it says Thor adventures or something like that. And it's Yeah, because Thor you can say, Thor's Thor it's Yes. You know, trademark on Thor.

Rob Smat 57:20
There's there's no trademark Yeah, they didn't trademark there. So so I think that was what I was looking for. I was trying to look for a blue ocean in a in a streaming site so smart. And and, and I think they i think that that was definitely the major one of the major reasons behind why the one that picked us did. And, and, you know, I'll take this time to say to please go find the last whistle on iTunes, please go find us on, you know, Amazon or Xbox or, you know, wherever you are now. Because because we really need the tribe, we desperately need the tribe, because we got to get those numbers up. It's, it's all about the algorithm. It's all about, you know, getting the word out about the movie and that that helps us so we you know, I don't know when that the whole streaming thing is going to come to fruition. So please don't don't hold out for that, please go check the movie out, just rent it for you know, whether it's three bucks or five bucks or whatever it is, you know, rent it, I will, I will send you $1 $2 whatever, you need to feel better about your purchase. But, but we but we really need the tribe to help us out right now. It's that's that's huge. You know, how

Alex Ferrari 58:23
did you get the word out on the film? Oh, how are you getting the word out on the film?

Rob Smat 58:28
sort of going back to that blueprint. The Blueprint has a bunch of different things that that allow, sort of give us an in so we started with Fort Worth where we filmed it, we were working with all the people that helped us film there, we're sending them posters and trying to say hey, you know, get people to like this. You know, it's very much a Facebook based campaign because our audience demographic is older. Not you know, Snapchat, but but they're not as young as Snapchat or Instagram. Which is better for us because I think while Facebook pages has its drawback it's made a very nice platform for the generation that we're trying to reach. And because they are very active on and I know they're active because I Facebook is my favorite You know, I'm an old soul at heart You know, I don't the newfangled things are not a new fangled things, saying they're just saying, Yeah, the new fangled

Alex Ferrari 59:28
things listen to you. You're talking like you're my age. What are you what are you 29? Yeah, God bless you. God bless you, sir. God bless you.

Rob Smat 59:37
And then boom, the head explodes

Alex Ferrari 59:39
Then the head explodes. Yeah. God bless you think I'm 29 Oh, my God. You know what? I know how old you are. Oh my god. Can you imagine the damage I could do if I was in my 20s Oh, my God with my mind today. Oh, my God, the damage. The mob would be the movie for you. Yes, exactly. The mob would shoot a movie for me. Corbett now another thing I wanted to ask you real quickly is the business model you're trying to build here you're trying to build, this is not a one off. You're trying to do multiple films like this. And you're actually through your production company through what you're trying to do. You're trying to build a business model that you can replicate on film after film after film. So you could actually got it for sake make a living in this business. You mean you're going to survive and thrive in this business? Please explain to people what are you trying to do?

Rob Smat 1:00:27
Yeah, I mean, that's I make a living. That's real interesting. That's very interesting. That's, that's, that's a great that's a great idea. Isn't it? very admirable idea. Yeah, that, that that's the I mean, the whole goal with this movie is, it's not about this movie. It's about the next one. Because while making that first movies hard, once you do it, the hardest thing becomes the next one. And that's what I've heard from everyone that's, that's gone and done their first feature, you know, I like I said, I'd like I told you, I called up all the directors who had just done their first feature, who, you know, were super helpful and and one of them was Morgan Dameron, who you recognize that name because it's Poe Dameron, his last name from Star Wars and she was assistant to JJ Abrams for a number of years and and she left Bad Robot and when did our first teacher and she was hugely helpful to us and making that last whistle because she she caught she was she stay on the phone for hour, hour and a half just given me all the things she was like, Listen, you're gonna have to do a dialogue continuity and spotting list and it's hell but but it but it's gonna be worth it. And and she was very happy with Jason and disturber. And they went and disturber and they self distributed and their movies called different flowers. So they're, they're awesome. That's one definitely worth checking out. And she was one of those people who's very transparent with me gave me a lot of info. And as we ended the call, this was this is about, you know, a year, year and a half ago, she was she was I was like, what's what's going on now? And she's like, well, the hardest thing is that second feature, and so that almost planted a seed for me back then where it's like, oh, that's, that's crazy that, you know, it's it's, they did such a good job with this movie. And it's still so hard to get that second feature. And, and I know that she will and I at this point, she's doing TV and commercials and she's she's doing fine. She's doing great. But but that that's been my mindset this whole time is okay, how do you get that second feature? And, and so that's that's the whole idea is let's, let's figure out a business model where we're not overextending anybody, where we're not going to burn any bridges, where we're never going to lose everyone's money. And where we really give the opportunity to really blow up. And if it's not the last whistle that blows up, say the last whistle goes and does our medium range expectations, then, you know, we're still kind of ahead of the pack there, we're still kind of like, oh, wait a second, we, we can take this to someone that wants to make a 5% return on investment or wants to lose 10% of an investment and, and be an executive producer on a movie and say, Hey, here are the numbers, here's what we can and can't do. And so, so, this movie is almost there. So I can just have numbers, so I can just, you know, take number concept. So perfect. Yeah. Yeah, very much so and so. So you know, as, as we go into our next movie, I think I'm gonna, I think I'm gonna go, I wasn't sure if I was going to do this. I don't know if it's where I'll be, you know, three months from now. But I think for the next film, I want to do what we deal with the last whistle in the faith room. I think that last whistle is very much a football movie with a very heavy art house structure to it. Even though you wouldn't really know that, you know, you wouldn't think about that going into it, basically. But it's a really tried to bring some very classic filmmaking style into this movie. And and I think it's totally all under the surface. I don't think anyone really notices that. But I think that just like Kubrick did with 2001, A Space Odyssey, where he brought sci fi from this sort of like B movie realm into Oh, adults can watch science fiction. I think I'd like to add, I think it's been done before a few times, but I think I'd like to bring that to the faith film perspective, because it's, it's a realm where I feel comfortable telling an investor, we've got a an audience here, a worldwide audience that is worth this amount of money every year. And if we carve out this niche, then I think we can spend this much on the movie, you know, and just totally reverse engineer it that way. And just work my way up in terms of budget level sizes, until you know, I've either had one do a great job or I've worked my way up enough to where you know, maybe I don't have to produce my own stuff anymore. And I can kind of you know, go be a director somewhere go be a writer somewhere and you know, produce whatever I want to do. That's that's kind of the game plan. The dream, the dream, dream, the dream.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:44
Now, you wrote a book, as well.

Rob Smat 1:04:48
I did I you know, I knew I had gotten so many questions that were so similar so many times while making the movie. And and, you know, one of the most common of course, which is how do you He raised the money and that sort of thing. And I got to the point where I had, like, forgot I started to say different answers every time. And then I would I would say like the worst possible answer when I had definitely said the best possible answer in the past. And so at that point, I was like, You know what, I'm just gonna write down all my answers. I want to have this in like a place where I can go up, like literally flip to it and figure out Wait, what is my answer to this? What is the best answer I've ever answered for this? Because I didn't want to answer the bad answer anymore. And so I did a book it is I got it right here rebel with a crew. I call it rebel with a crew instead of Rebel Without a crew. Because the thesis of the book is that the Robert Rodriguez movie, the El Mariachi doesn't really exist anymore. In a way that builds a career.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:56
His model, his model was very specific to him.

Rob Smat 1:05:59
Very much so. And and it's, it's what you talked about where it's like, yeah, they're the primary you know, Kevin Smith, and for every rubber Rodriguez, there's, you know, X number of people that did the same thing and you know, didn't have that person show up at their screening and yada yada yada. But but the thesis with rebel with a crew is that if you've got a group of people around you, a bunch of you know, if 10 rubber Rodriguez is getting a room that they can do, they can achieve that, you know, whether it's 10 whether it's five whether it's to my thesis is is the idea that the quality of films has gotten so good that you need help if you want to compete at the at the minimal level. And and whether that's you know, it actors or or sound person or whatever it is. That's that's the idea of having that crew. And that was the whole idea with just upping the production value with last whistle. You know, Alaska wouldn't have been possible if we didn't have amazing cinematography, amazing sound, amazing acting, location. vocations, my brother's helping me wrangle extras, a whole city of people coming out for one night to be a crowded at a football game, you know, killer scheduling, killer composition, and I'm forgetting and 15 other people there, but it's all about the book is all about that crew. And it's all about just going through every step of the process from writing to directing to casting to, you know, all the the state the pieces that that you that you normally would ask about. And then I've got chapters on distribution and marketing too. But there those aren't done yet. Because Because I don't I don't have the numbers yet. And so it's it's out on Amazon, it's called rebel with the crew. And check it out. It's it's like half a book right now. And so I'm selling it for like a half a book price, because it is definitely not finished yet. But it's got enough information to at least you know, do everything we've talked about about going to the distributor beforehand, and budgeting and keeping your friends.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:03
Oh, that's awesome. That's awesome. Did. Now I am going to ask you the questions I asked all of my guests. So you know what? You got someone that's prepared for it? Maybe there's one maybe a new one in there. There might be a new one in there? I don't know. We'll see. We'll see. We'll see. All right. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanted to break into the business today?

Rob Smat 1:08:20
I had to think about this. This is the hardest one for me to answer. I did have to think about this one long and hard. And I actually forgot that you that you asked about this one until recently. And then when I heard you ask it I was like, Oh, wait, I don't know the answer to that one. I think my advice would be very bird's eye bird's eye view. Hollywood cannot ignore someone who's making a profit.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:41
Yes, very true. Very, very true.

Rob Smat 1:08:44
So if you know not, if you have an idea, or something that can that can make money. You are 100% getting into Hollywood, if you're making money

Alex Ferrari 1:08:57
Again and again and again, even more so

Rob Smat 1:08:59
Yes, agents will line out the door to take 10% of that money. You know, it's it's it's it is the you know, it's totally the most foolproof way now. You know, obviously the idea to do that is hard and it might be you know, you might not have that answer yet. But But if you can find that answer, it's gonna it could save you a lot of failure.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:20
Now can you tell me the book that had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Rob Smat 1:09:24
So it kind of the the brother to red ocean blue ocean, Malcolm Gladwell, outliers. Yeah, great book. I love that book. Great. And and I just I love the way that that book talks about successes failure, you know, which is which is very easy. You know, it's that's very common idea. But you don't you know, you don't see it like he talks about it in very, you know, concrete ways. He talks about really just, you know, the, the people that walked backwards while everybody else was walking forwards and How to really you know, apply those those mantras that you hear on, you know, inspirational quotes where it's like, don't do what everybody else does. Whereas, you know, I really like the way that you know, mg takes it and he's like, No, no, here's where someone didn't do what everybody else did and here's why it doesn't matter. You know, here's why it doesn't sound like it does on those inspirational things. So also David and Goliath David and Goliath is Is that okay?

Alex Ferrari 1:10:24
That's another great book. Now what lesson took you the longest to learn whether the film business or in life?

Rob Smat 1:10:30
Okay, so this one for me is that a larger number of people than I expected are not good at their jobs. And it's not because they lacked a skill it's because they lacked the hustle and I and whether it's your job or whether it's you know, someone at the quote unquote Harvard of film schools that's you know, just cruising their way through I think I'm always surprised by anyone in any profession who is just there because they have to be and I think that that the lesson that took me the hardest that took me the longest to learn that was just that that there are lots of there are lots of people that feel that way. And so Okay, good answer my tribe the tribe is motivated.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:18
What is the biggest fear you had to overcome with making this film?

Rob Smat 1:11:23
There's the new one. Okay, all right. I'm gonna have to get Yeah, got a second total financial loss. Okay, that's a good that's a very reasonable fear. You know, what? That and that you know, in the beginning, it took the form of Oh, we only shot half the footage and route money, you know, now it takes the form of Alright, what are the numbers gonna look like or you know, is the cap going to work you know, and think you know, that sort of thing. But my biggest fear was having to go back to the investors and say, we lost all the money because I want to go back and tell them that we made their money back on Tom that we made up made we made them all a penny you know that that would be success. So it was a goose egg

Alex Ferrari 1:12:19
Three of your favorite films of all time sir?

Rob Smat 1:12:23
Star Wars A New Hope as I you know, came up knowing it and A new hope wasn't my favorite Star War. But it became that when I saw the the making of Star Wars documentary, and I saw just what what a trial It was a bird or Gary and for all those people you know, going through that the desert all that so Star Wars became my favorite movie, because it was just such a challenge for them to to make. So I guess number two would be Indiana Jones and Last Crusade.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:55
I see a theme crying Go ahead. Yes. And then the third one would be Back to the Future Part Three. Tip if it's all it's all speed, we're all still work touchy. It's as part three you like the best? Yeah, and I got flack for that in film school. Really is part three interesting because I actually Part Three is part of my second my first that I love number one, I love number three, and then I love number two, the last and number two is just congenital tissue that you need to get to three and it has its own fun parts about it but three is actually really fun. I love I love three

Rob Smat 1:13:27
So I think three so I love westerns. Yeah, I think but as a kid you know growing up and I was the oldest child and so they tried to shelter me the most you know, I got three little brothers they're maniacs shout out to them big help on the movie, but they're three little brothers they're maniacs but I was the shelter one I was the one where they were like you know we need to make sure he's not getting no violence no drugs no you know and to be fair I haven't given into the drugs like I'm you know, I'm drug free right now but but the you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:13:58
But the night but the night is young sir The night is young.

Rob Smat 1:14:03
Mom tune out right now. But the so I think that I've just got this part of me that just loves the Old West. And when it comes to showing, you know, an eight year old a Western, you can't do that. But dad will always want to show an eight year old Back to the Future. Oh, and I think that feature Part Three was my first Western and that's why it's my favorite is because, you know this pastiche of of years of spaghetti westerns was actually my first one. And by the time I saw Clint Eastwood film, you know, in my teens, I was like, Oh, the iron on his chest. I got it. Okay. This is he's making a reference.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:42
Exactly what you are against reverse engineered the western for yourself. The name of the game. And now where can people find you and your work?

Rob Smat 1:14:53
Sure, sure. I'm my handle for all my social media is mad smatter. That was a nickname that some came up for me in high school. So, but if you just Google Rob Smat there's only one of me. I'm not smart. That's that's the tag. There it is. No, no, you'll never forget that. There's only one of me. And then the last whistle is available on all digital platforms. You know, whatever is easiest for you go check it out. Please give us a click. Even if it's just a little rent it a little rental means the world to us and, and, and just yeah, check me out. I'm everywhere. And hopefully I'll keep going after this.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:33
You are a unique snowflake, sir, as all of us are.

Rob Smat 1:15:39
As a millennial,

Alex Ferrari 1:15:40
as a disenfranchised millennial. You are.

Rob Smat 1:15:43
I know.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:47
Rob, man, it's been an absolute pleasure having you your show, man. Thank you for dropping some serious knowledge bombs on the tribe today, man. Thanks so much.

Rob Smat 1:15:53
You got it.

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BPS 359: When Hip-Hop, Skateboarding and Filmmaking Collide with Jeremy Elkin

In today’s episode, we take you back to the late 90s and early 80s hip-hop and skateboarding culture in New York City with director Jeremy Elkin’s new documentary, ‘All The Streets Are Silent: The Convergence of Hip Hop and Skateboarding.

In the late 80s and early 90s, the streets of downtown Manhattan were the site of a collision between two vibrant subcultures: skateboarding and hip hop. All the Streets Are Silent brings to life the magic of that time and the convergence that created a style and visual language that would have an outsized and enduring cultural effect. From the DJ booths and dance floors of the Mars nightclub to the founding of brands like Supreme, this convergence would lay the foundation for modern street style. Paris Is Burning meets Larry Clark’s KIDS, All the Streets Are Silent is a love letter to New York—examining race, society, fashion, and street culture.

Jeremy is the founder of Elkin Editions—an independent video production studio under which he’s done production, writing, cinematography, and directing. 

He’s most notable for his 2015 hot topic directorial debut, Call Me Caitlyn, and a second unit director on recording artist, Demi Lovato’s 2017 documentary, Simply Complicated (trailer). The documentary gives a personal and intimate look into Demi Lovato’s life as not only a regular 25-year-old but also one of the biggest pop stars in the world.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching All The Streets Are Silent. It gives one all the good nostalgic feels while also provoking current socio-cultural consciousness.

Enjoy my chat with Jeremy Elkin.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show Jeremy Elkin man. How you doing Jeremy?

Jeremy Elkin 0:07

Alex Ferrari 0:08
How you doing? Right? So I wanted to bring you on the show, man. I saw your film, all the streets are silent. And it really hit a chord with me, man, because I was like I was telling you before I, I was raised in New York as a kid. So for most of the most of the 70s, and up until about 85, I was in New York and my dad, my stepdad was a cab driver. So I would ride with him throughout Manhattan, and I saw hip hop coming up, and breakdance and then skateboarding and all that Washington Square. I was all in that stuff. I was a young kid at the time, but I saw it happening. So when I saw this, I was like, Man, I'm back home. So how did the project get together? Man? How did you put the whole thing together?

Jeremy Elkin 0:54
It's a big question. Which part of the?

Alex Ferrari 0:59
Well, just in general, like I mean, so what was the genesis of the project? Like how did you like At what point did you go I gotta put this thing together. I got to tell this story.

Jeremy Elkin 1:07
Yeah, so you know, I made skate videos for a long time. And I made documentaries for a while and I had always known that he like Eisenhower had this like magical archive based on his footage that was mzr mixtape. And I knew that he was at destruction Bob radio show a lot. I knew he was a club promoter. But I didn't really know the full extent until we started to dive in. So yeah, to be perfectly honest, I didn't I didn't know there was a story until probably like a year and a half and to making it didn't really know if it was anything more than just a behind the scenes on how mixtape was made. And it really wasn't until we discovered Yuki Watanabe, who was the founder of the nightclub Mars, until we discovered his archive from the nightclub. That's where the story opened up.

Alex Ferrari 2:03
Now, how can you explain to people the importance of Mars because I had Moby on the show a little while ago, and and Moby talked about Mars like it was, you know, the second coming? So can you take the importance of those years? Because it wasn't around for a long time. It was around what four or five years? I'm like that two years? Oh, two, it was only around two years. Jesus?

Jeremy Elkin 2:22
Yeah. midnight of the new year's eve of 89. And a close spring of 92. Oh, Jesus. So it was only January 1992. Like, you know, April or May of 92.

Alex Ferrari 2:36
So a couple years, but it was such an impactful club. Can you explain to people what that was about?

Jeremy Elkin 2:42
Yeah, so it was actually not a hip hop club. It was a club that had many different genres of music. And every floors of genre that's that's how you ki and Rudolph set it up. And you he was a DJ, and he was super interested in the youth. And so he set up this little radio station and called radio Mars where he would record mixes in his little office, and he would audition DJs for the for, you know, for the next week or whatever, right? And people will drop off demo tapes. They would come You know, do a session for him and he would figure out who, who could pair with Who and What floor they would go on and whatever. But it wasn't about hip hop. Until there was one evening, famously when Beasley has a character in the film, found a microphone with Eli, the narrator. And this is in the basement. They have like this house party in the basement, they plugged in the mic. And word got around that there was a mic where you could rap because in the basement of the house, but they were like playing hip hop, like you weren't supposed to buy hip hop because it brought like bad insurance, whatever. You didn't want it because it meant like gang violence but they started playing like de la Sol and tribe and black sheep. And a non black sheep. Those later dread Dale's own tribe and you know, jungle brothers, those guys all the cons. And they had a mic and Run DMC showed up. And you know, and and we're like, you know, this is how you Ryan kind of thing. I think just word got out in the in the community that there was an open there was the ability to go to a club with a DJ and you could get a mic. So that sort of that was like the birth of I think the club blowing up and that was within the first like, you know, let's say six months of it opening

Alex Ferrari 4:28
and then I saw the vid in the film that Do you have some footage of Jay Z? A young unknown Jay Z just rapping on the mic? Yeah, that was the

Jeremy Elkin 4:39
Yuki his wife actually filmed that. That was a that was a crazy one. That tape was like that's a whole other story of discovering the tape. But yeah, Jay Z was you know, completely unknown under jazz O's when coming up. Jazz Oh sort of gave him the chain that night to wear and I think he just let off and he had never seen that footage we showed it to him many years ago and he was he couldn't believe he you know he didn't even know anyone record

Alex Ferrari 5:07
he didn't even know that Jay Z ever played that that clip because he always he didn't know who's Jay Z was so he's just was another another rapper right Ryan's name like Jay Z didn't even know that was recorded. Oh, Jay Z didn't even know it was

Jeremy Elkin 5:17
your dad and he didn't know. But no, Yuki Yeah, he didn't know. You know, he, these are all unknown rappers. It's like if you know, it's like if we go to a club next week. And there's a bunch of people rhyming, like we never

Alex Ferrari 5:30
met. And then m&m shows up.

Jeremy Elkin 5:32
We're certainly not gonna tape it. And I think yukia is why Bolton Eli as well. But you know, you I was like younger back then. But they had the foresight to record, you know, every once a week, once or twice a week and record performances of the club. And that was just happened to be one of those nights. Yeah. And I think they only recorded that because the junk if you watch the film, The Jungle brothers, he's kind of doing a dance. Yeah. And there's like an interview there's an interview where they're from, I think MTV or VHS or something like that. And they're interviewing him and so they were filming the jungle brothers being interviewed on broadcast TV like the camera man was in there. So I wonder I don't know they were in there to record the jungle brothers is as an interview in the club. Right? This is according to like what I've seen in the tape. I mean, you he doesn't remember they don't remember but I don't think the cameraman would have had the you know, I don't think they're recording all the all the musical performances that night. I mean, it was a lot of people going on. I doubt they got it in that quality. But you know, Yuki, his wife was able mammy Watanabe was able to record it. And she labeled the tape wrap streetstyle New York group or something?

Alex Ferrari 6:39
So would have never been able to like How the hell do you find that in the probably 1000s and 1000s of times?

Jeremy Elkin 6:45
Yeah, so he he was only giving me the tapes that were properly labeled. And then there was like another 234 1000 tapes that were unlabeled, who were mainly house and disco and not really the nights. It was again, it was this night. It wasn't really like there wasn't like a hip hop night collection. It was the hip hop was sort of embedded in archives. So you know, they would make these highlight reels of each evening. So for instance, you know, one evening it was, I think the one that tape where the Jay Z appear that saw a glimpse of avant was it was a mash up of a variety of evenings. And it was a glimpse of like two to three seconds of most mute of Jay Z on the mic, and I called up right away. I was like, Where's the Jay Z tape? What's that? He's like, he never played in Mars.

Alex Ferrari 7:36
Now he wasn't there.

Jeremy Elkin 7:37
I would have known him, you know? And I was like, No, no, I'm pretty sure it's Jay Z. I sent him a picture. He's like, Yeah, it looks like like, No, no, it's for sure. It's JC. And he's like water. No, like, it must be an unlabeled tape. You know, if we have it, because those highlight reels, you know, may me and him were like doing the tape to tape editing or whatever it was called where you would make like a highlight reel of a variety of tapes on the one tape. But you couldn't have like the audio wouldn't transfer with it. So you just put you choose a song and then you would layer in footage, you know. And that's that was it? Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 8:11
So you mentioned the zoo, your mixtape? Can you tell people what Zoo York was and the importance of New York in this whole movement?

Jeremy Elkin 8:21
So yes, New York was a skate company founded by Rodney Smith, Adam Schatz, and he like as our 93. Adam shots, Eli had come over from doing fat farm. And Rodney was the founder of shot skateboards, which is the first New York skate company, the early 80s. And so they sort of combined forces after Eli that success of Mars and fat farm developing platform under Russell. He, you know, they got together started New York, and it was kind of like the first it was really like the first successful East Coast skate company, I guess you could say. Because Sean had some success, but it was definitely underground and more like transition pool skaters, Zoo York was really Street and it had like, the hip hop roots graffiti aspect with the tags. And yeah, it just was a it was a really like Ross street brand that existed for about, you know, seven, eight years before it got bought by Marc Ecko and and became something else but during those first years, 93 to 2000 ish. It was it was you know, as good as it gets for skated for street skate on the east coast.

Alex Ferrari 9:33
And then so um, because at that point, basically West Coast owned the the skating world I mean, with Tony Hawk and the the one of those guys called Dogtown z boys, z boys and Dogtown and they kind of I'm not sure who were they they were the first to skateboard right with it. West Coast was there or is there or is there a conversation?

Jeremy Elkin 9:57
There's a lot more cruise like it was the end Were in San Francisco. There were a lot of amazing skaters in LA that were doing street skating. Just like the New York guys. It's just the only mainstream press was hitting you know, only the mainstream press is picking up Tony authz boys, etc. But there were there were I mean, there were millions gay companies were awesome in the on the west coast. It was it wasn't it wasn't like if anything does Tony out busy boys were seen as corny. And you know, men s and some of the like, Girl chocolate skateboard guys, Spike Jones, his crew, those guys were like, those guys were like, you know, the skaters that everyone like looked up to, at least from you know, the type of skating that I grew up, you know, enjoying,

Alex Ferrari 10:39
right. And then the whole skate scene in New York was a lot more I mean, again, when I was raised there, so it's a lot grittier. There's no palm trees, there's no beaches. You don't want to go to the beaches. Most of the time, things like that. So the energy was just so different. Now. At what point did the street culture combined with hip hop was that the mixtape?

Jeremy Elkin 11:04
I mean, there's I mean, there's a lot of examples of it. You know, I think even going way way back to like breakdancing circles and the projects in the 80s. You know, I'm sure like for kids with skateboards, there was a DJ in the park. And there was a couple of these breakdancing and doing graffiti. I'm sure it was all it was always. It was always like part of one thing, you know, I think it wasn't so like black and white. But I think the mixtape just like showed, as as Josh kailis puts it in the film, he says they show how close they were in relation, I think, you know, as opposed to like, you know, some like abstract, archival photo from the mid 80s. I think just seeing a 40 minute version of that was way more impactful. And just the fact that like, clearly the guy Eli was at the radio station and the guy from escaping, also Eli, an RV family, you could tell they were using the same cameras, it might have been been been from the same tape. So I think that's what really like hit home the people It wasn't like, they just scraped the internet for x footage, and then paired it with the footage they were filming, it was all part of the same body of work. That's probably why it hit harder, you know.

Alex Ferrari 12:15
Now, two of the main people in the movie that are in all this archival footage is Harold and Justin. Who are I mean, gone too soon was luck, of course, but their characters I mean, Harold, I mean, he's a legend. I mean, there's people wearing his name his face on T shirts still. And he passed years ago. I knew him from I was introduced to him by four kids. I mean, I saw kids in the theater when I saw kids. You know, I was just completely blown, right? Rosario Dawson, who's in your movie? I was I think that was her first movie, right? That was her first movie was kids, right? Yeah. Can you explain a dude Can you explain first of all what kids was and then what that impact is kid blew up in a kind of an underground world. It wasn't like a massive worldwide hit or anything. But it was a big thing, especially for basically a bunch of street kids. You know, just running around skateboarding. How what was kids? And then how did that affect Harold and Justin? As far as what how do they affect their lives?

Jeremy Elkin 13:20
Yeah, so harmony was in town. He moved to New York from the south, I think, from to attend school to Zen college. I began this wrong but I think like the new school asked me i think i think it was a new school. And one of his I think it was his thesis project was the script for what became kids and Larry Clark who was a season filmmaker photographer at that time he I think he saw something in harmony and he needed a writer in harmony was like one basically, you know, I can't I can't I don't want to get this wrong but something like that where they you know, they joined forces decided to make this movie based on the kids of Washington Square Park. That's the the gist of it right. And yeah, they decided to cast you know, kids from Alphabet City and Laurie side and Washington Square and Tompkins he's village and and kind of create a film that was like, so real that it could have just been a documentary. That's the that was I think the goal but it's just about you know, what kids get into their their everyday lives downtown New York.

Alex Ferrari 14:34
And how did that how did that fame and exposure affect Terrell and Justin psychologically? Could you talk a little bit about that the doc

Jeremy Elkin 14:44
Yeah, I think, you know, it must have been It must have been pretty nuts. I mean, you know, I don't I don't think how was getting paid by Supreme. I think whatever board royalties and wheels and shirts, whatever he's getting from New York was probably maybe 1000 bucks, whatever you Getting a month you know, they're not exactly like rolling in the dough or, or or forgot about profitable. They weren't really like recognizable outside of the bubble of like the 100 skaters who skated in New York, you know, like, it was tiny. And then all of a sudden, he was like, at the Loews cinema on the big screen and selling out movie theaters. I think it's a it's a huge change. Right? I think, like, it must have really messed with him and Justin, I think, with their, psychologically with their, probably their, like hopes and their their aspirations or what they wanted to do. As kids, the downtown said, for sure. By changing them, you know, they were also getting older and having I don't remember what year or not remember how old Howard was when kids came out, but he must have not been more than 20 or 21 years old, and maybe even maybe they TNR was he was young for sure. Yeah, so yeah, huge effect.

Alex Ferrari 15:59
Now, um, you know, when you approach this, this project, you know, I've, like I said, I've been editing for years, man, How the hell did you go? How did you approach this? I mean, you're talking about 1000s of hours of footage on what was it? High eight, height tape, mix of

Jeremy Elkin 16:17
high eight and mini DV area? And there were like, you know, obviously photographs, 16 mil reels, eight millimeter, etc.

Alex Ferrari 16:24
How the hell did you? I mean, I'm assuming you had help, because I can't believe you did it all yourself, as far as just category category, cataloging all this stuff?

Jeremy Elkin 16:33
Yeah, the cataloging was done by a few people who came in at the very start, it was it was definitely like, you know, three people, one or two of them a week for the first like, you know, three, four months then after that, it was really just me. And my assistant Khyber who, who stayed on and, and helped develop it, you know, we developed it together, I think in terms of like, figuring out, you know, ABC grade footage, you know,

Alex Ferrari 16:57
now as far as the story goes, I'm always fascinated when I talk to documentary filmmakers about, you know, you discover the story as you go along. And, and that's something that a lot of filmmakers listening, don't understand. On the documentary side, like, yeah, you can maybe have a script, maybe you have an outline, maybe you have your thing that you want to kind of go after. But when you start, like, you know, you you meet that one interview, you're like, Oh, my God, that just took me off to a completely new direction. How did you approach the storytelling of this? I mean, did you like you said before, it could have just been a behind the scenes of the mixtape. But once you've got that one interview, how did you kind of like structure it all? Like, how did you put it together? outlining it and stuff?

Jeremy Elkin 17:38
Yeah. So I think it's a three part answer. One, my boss when I was at Vanity Fair, was the producer on the film. And he was a vanity fair for 25 years. He's an amazing journalists, amazing editor writer. So working with him, the way that we work was just the same as what we had a vanity fair. So we worked really well together. And I think that's part of the success of the story is, is the two of us. I think, if he had just been getting, he's not a filmmaker, but if he had just been doing on his own with someone else, maybe it wouldn't have looked the same. I think I would have gone a little nuts, had I not had him. I think he really like, you know, help, sort of like, I think he just, you know, he saw the bigger picture. But he also, let me tell that it was an interesting relationship. You know, like, I think that that's, you know, a, I think, you know, the bottom line here is that it's Eli stories narrator Eli gessner. It's his archival footage, for the most part, you know, largely it's 60 70% of the film is his archive, meaning that we I was trying to just tell it as he was, you know, as what he was recording. So he didn't record Janet Jackson and Midtown, there's no data, you know, that certain things aren't in the story that might pertain to like her dating cutup, or this some weird other connection. Those are left out if we didn't have the footage. We weren't just like taking things off the internet. And then and then figuring out how they were aligned. It was really like, what is the basis of Eli's collection? And how is how is there a story in there? You know, that was first and foremost. And yeah, it's like, you know, it's totally Eli's it's what happened to Eli and and also what Eli recorded that's the result of the film. Like that's the that's like the core of the movie.

Alex Ferrari 19:29
What got you into filmmaking? What What did you make? What made you want to be a filmmaker?

Jeremy Elkin 19:35
Um, yeah, I don't know. It's just it felt like I never was like, I want to be a filmmaker. It wasn't. It wasn't like that. It

Alex Ferrari 19:44
was like I have pictures of Scorsese on the wall and shit.

Jeremy Elkin 19:46
No. Honestly, I haven't probably seen like, 1% of the movies that most filmmakers like I don't like watch a ton of movies. I make things all the time and I just the medium is film but I don't know. Like a student of film, you know, like, I'm

not, I'm not I, you know, I probably watch a movie a month or something like, I don't watch movies. I want to, it's just, it's just the it's just the medium that I'm that I'm using, you know,

it's, it's, you know, it's only it's the thing that I guess I'm good at or is easy and easy for me. And that's that's sort of it. So it's not like I wouldn't have like some big master plan to be like a director. It was never that I never wanted to be a director. I always want to be a designer. And so just sort of like fell into this.

Alex Ferrari 20:34
Yeah. How did you fall into it? What like, what was the Was it a job because of

Jeremy Elkin 20:37
Vanity Fair start films. Yeah, I started filming skateboarding in Montreal. Growing up in MTL, it was like, there weren't many people who have video cameras. And I looked up to this guy, Eric lebeau. Downtown Charles Eric's awesome, great, great, dude. He had the Vx 1000 Sony that I was I was like, 12 years old. So I couldn't afford that. But he was, you know, it's inspiring to see him out there every day. And I just was like, I want to do that, like whatever that is. But also, like, my friends were way better than me at skating. And they were doing tricks that were arguably better than what I was seeing in the video. So I was like, someone's got to film this. And so you know, picked up a camera and then made one skate video and another another another, and then wound up doing things outside of skateboarding. And then, sort of now we're here,

Alex Ferrari 21:24
just kind of like how spike started. Spike Jones?

Jeremy Elkin 21:27
Yeah, a lot. I mean, not just by like, like Ty Evans. I mean, there's a lot of amazing filmmakers that come from just,

Alex Ferrari 21:34
you know, the skate world. Now, I always ask this question of my guests, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn, whether in the film business or in life?

Jeremy Elkin 21:48
Um, I think just like the things take time, like don't rush anything. I think that's the like, that's like the number one. You know, I'm interested in how people can act and how things develop and how scenes sort of intertwine. And that's always been interesting to me. So, you know, the film is a natural progression. But yeah, I think that's just, you know, I would I would say, just do something that do something that you love, and you're passionate about.

Alex Ferrari 22:17
And do you have any advice for filmmakers trying to like, kind of make it in today's world? I don't know. That's, that's my laptop. Just give me a second. Sure. Sure. Okay, we're good. Yeah. So yes. Do you have any advice for filmmakers who are trying to break into the business today?

Jeremy Elkin 22:41
Yeah, I mean, just meet everyone you can and be good to people. And, you know, try and try and make, I mean, the biggest advice, the biggest advice that I would that I would say is like, if you're gonna make a story about a place, or if, if the story that you're trying to tell is in a certain place, like live in that place, don't make a film about Tokyo living in Australia. You know what I mean? Like, it's, it's just not going to have the same texture or the same sound or the same feeling. As someone who understands their environment, I think.

Alex Ferrari 23:18
Yeah, you're absolutely right. So many filmmakers make You're right, the Australian who makes a movie about Tokyo or New York had never been there. And they just what they grab is they grab it from the internet, or books or movies and things like that. There's nothing like actually living it breathing it being there, especially a documentarian. I mean, you've got to as a documentarian,

Jeremy Elkin 23:36
yeah. I mean, the, the walking out your door, whether it's in New York or anywhere else, like, you kind of want the environment to inspire you, you want it to be like a constant source of inspiration. And, you know, just make things in the same environment as your work, you know, I don't know that's, that's, you know, like take in the typography and the architecture and the smell and the pollution and the whatever element is out there and your city put that in the picture and and sound it's gonna make a huge difference than if you're like, that if it wasn't in there. If you're just researching

Alex Ferrari 24:10
what is what, what inspires you as an artist, man, what, like, what kind of makes your juices flow?

Jeremy Elkin 24:17
Just honestly, like opening the front door, that's like the best thing. Just going I can just just walking in one direction for a lot for like, eight hours or an hour, whatever it is you just going around the block. You just at least I live downtown in the city in New York. And and it's like, that's the inspiration for me, you know? I don't know. I like seeing just how different every second of every day is here.

Alex Ferrari 24:45
And where can people watch a movie? So the film is out. When does is there I think right before it comes out. So

Jeremy Elkin 24:54
okay, so the film comes out July 30, nationwide. It's limited, really In New York and until then, and then September 7, it'll be out on digital platforms on Apple and on, I believe on Amazon as well.

Alex Ferrari 25:09
And we're in what are you doing next? What are you working on now? working on a few projects that I can't unfortunately can't. Exciting, super exciting stuff. Jeremy, thank you so much for being on the show, bro. I appreciate your time. And thanks for putting this together. Man. This tells a story that hasn't been told before. So I appreciate you man.

Jeremy Elkin 25:29
Thanks so much, man. I really appreciate it.

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