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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BPS 358: Inside the Multi-Window Distribution Model with Simon Swart

Today on the show we have Simon Swart. Swart has diverse experience in all areas of film production and distribution by virtue of his 30+ years as a leading studio executive at Warner Brothers, The Walt Disney Studios, and most recently 20th Century Fox.  Swart left Fox to focus on producing with his film credits including 6 Below and the most profitable Indie release of 2018 I Can Only Imagine ($83 million box-offices) among others.  He brings with him a variety of global strategic partnerships in multi-window distribution.

In addition to launching worldwide franchises, he championed and created new distribution markets as the market shifted to new formats (DVD, digital) and seized the opportunity to create a service organization offering distribution services to competitive smaller studios. This third-party distribution model started with Artisan/Lionsgate and grew to include MGM, Relativity, DreamWorks, and Miramax, generating substantial fees and greater efficiency.

Enjoy my conversation with Simon Swart.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:16
I'd like to welcome the show Simon Swart, man, thank you so much for being on the show.

Simon Swart 3:39
It's great to be here.

Alex Ferrari 3:40
I appreciate it. Man. You are you've been around the block a few times. Yeah, I know that you have some shrapnel in the from the business without question

Simon Swart 3:49
And experience.

Alex Ferrari 3:52
Some battle scars, some shrapnel? Absolutely. So before we get into it, how did you get into the business?

Simon Swart 3:58
Wow, I've got to tell you. I got into the business by sending my resume to every record company and music company on the west coast and being completely rejected. And I ended up meeting a guy at a party and turns out they were hiring somebody they were looking for someone at Warner Brothers and that was it.

Alex Ferrari 4:16
Isn't that the way it works?

Simon Swart 4:18
Younger generation out there. You've got to send your resumes out there and do that stuff. But ultimately, it's probably all relationships and your contacts are going to get you a job. And by the way, you don't get your dream job out the gate. You take whatever job is going and you do it to the best of your abilities.

Alex Ferrari 4:32
Wait a minute, see you. So you mean to tell me that at a film school, Kevin Fay he is not going to call you to direct the next $200 million Marvel movie, like right out of film school as a 10 year old, a 15 year old 20 year old? Probably not. I think it's a long shot. The golden tickets do exist. They're just rare. But then and I've spoken about this golden lottery ticket mentality of filmmakers are so along because that's the one story that you hear. I mean, we're still talking about El Mariachi. I mean, it's, I mean, it's like that these mythical stories. And these filmmakers think that that's the way it's gonna work. And that's not the way this business runs.

Simon Swart 5:12
You, you've got to put in your 10,000 hours plus, and you might be getting coffee, you might be driving people to and fro, but you do what you got to do. And you learn along the way,

Alex Ferrari 5:24
Without question. Now, what did you do when you got over to Warner Brothers?

Simon Swart 5:28
Well, so here's the funny thing. By the way, I studied accounting and auditing, I was actually a chartered accountant by trade, so Okay, you know, how did that all work out? Well, I was an art student who realized that I could, I could probably emigrate better with a business degree than with an art degree. So I did that basic math, and I forced myself to learn business and things like that. And when I started at Warner Brothers, I was a manager of international finance. It was a glorious position.

Alex Ferrari 5:54
It sounds very creative.

Simon Swart 5:59
As much as you would think. But But I would say my I worked through Warner Brothers, I then worked for a small independent, I worked at Disney. And then I spent the last 20 years at Fox and doing different roles in different functions, but but gradually getting into more and more creative roles, where I eventually became the head of sales, the head of sales and marketing. And then I ran the distribution division for the home entertainment side of box for the last decade or so.

Alex Ferrari 6:26
So since you were at Fox, there was a few movies that they had, they had ownership of that, of course, now Disney because they Disney owns everything. But at the time, you were responsible soon, yes, soon, I think I should be getting my check from the mouse at any day now just to buy me out at this point. But, but while you were there, you got to work on a very prestigious, you know, franchise, which is called the Star Wars. So how was that? What was the stories behind marketing Star Wars? And you were there when the rerelease was happening, which was the 97 rerelease was was basically our first look, there was a whole generation we never even seen Star Wars in the theater before.

Simon Swart 7:08
Yes, it's pretty remarkable. I mean, actually, what I loved about the gueguen Fox on that side of the business was, you were the curator of the studio's history, you and the great filmmakers all understand that, that their movies will be remembered not necessarily on the big screen, there are launches on the big screen, and we're all making movies for the big screen. Because it is such a remarkable experience as a consumer as a fan, when the lights go out, and you've got your popcorn and this, the imagery, the journey you go on is so remarkable. But the legacy is going to be on the home screen, whether it's digital, and whatever format, you're going to get it. That's the legacy issue. And you're the curator of all this film history. And yeah, 97 we had a whole generation of Star Wars fans that, you know, your access to the movies was so limited. Now you get to rerelease it and you're you're, you're creating a whole new group of fans, you know, whether it's Star Wars, or it's fair to remember or Sound of Music. You know, it's it was I loved that part of the job was working on the older movies and working on these classic franchises and keeping them alive. And it's a privilege to get to reintroduce them to new audiences, frankly.

Alex Ferrari 8:24
Now, how can you talk a little bit about the marketing mindset about around relaunching Star Wars in the theaters because that was a I remember in that time that it was considered a risk. I still remember it was considered a risk they were talking about like why would they do this? It's available on VHS you know what it kill obviously admitted, obscene amount of money.

Simon Swart 8:46
Sure. You know, honestly, Luke Lucas Film was integral in everything that we did. And you know, thing and one thing about George Lucas and the guys at Lucasfilm, as they were so protective of their fans, right, they wanted they, they respect their fans, they everything was about protecting the fans and giving them giving them what they wanted. And, you know, listening, I mean, that they're one of those brands that always had a dialogue with their fans, and they've had those fans for a reason. So everything we did was about servicing the fans. And yeah, releasing the movie of the I want to say if I remember correctly, we did something like a million over a million units of it of a trilogy, people like there's no way you're going to sell a million units of a trilogy that's from a movie that was released sort of, you know, 30 years ago, you know, everyone's moved on, it's like, not so much, you know, like we were sitting and and we love proving people wrong.

Alex Ferrari 9:47
Here like we were saying, like I was saying before, when we were off air is like I've purchased the Star Wars movies on pretty much every format ever released.

Simon Swart 9:56
Yeah, and honestly, the Marketing Challenge in that process. was always making sure you were giving the fans a reason to buy it again, not buying just the same product again. Right? So where that when there are technological advances like we were able to digitize and remaster like when we moved to DVD and blu ray and rerelease them on those formats, you know, we were able to go back and actually, you know, Lucasfilm went back and fixed some of the scenes because the VFX weren't, weren't translating properly and technology and advanced so much. And that was pretty controversial as well. So, I mean, one of the marketing decisions we had to make is, I think, when we did the DVD, we released it in the original format and the original resolution, and in the enhanced version, where it had been digitized, and some of the digital effects have been cleaned up, and so on. So that, you know, the fans were very clear. They wanted both, they wanted the original the way I saw it in theaters way back when, but I also would like to see the new updated version, too. So that was kind of rare we did, we did some some really some pretty creative things back then, you know, releasing the releasing, releasing both movies and the same package, you know, you can have both versions.

Alex Ferrari 11:06
Now you you were in charge of a lot of marketing of a lot of big franchises during your tenure at Fox and at Disney. Can you talk a little bit about what it's like working with the studios and what a typical marketing plan is for a blockbuster film? Because, you know, the rollouts, the understand, because we on the show, we've talked a lot about independent film marketing, and your niche audiences and grassroots and all this stuff. But I would love to hear from the inside. What is the plan, like, okay, we're going to spend X dollars on billboards, and this kind of ads and these kind of ads. And of course, technology has changed a bit since probably a lot of those earlier releases, but just curious.

Simon Swart 11:45
So I think one of the biggest things is, you know, back back in the 90s, you had a slightly more homogenous plans, right, you would have your billboards, you'd have your radio, you have your print, you have your trailering, right, and you had television, so you knew you knew who the audience was that you needed to open the movie, obviously, there's a lot of testing done in those days, even pre digital, we'd test the movie against the audience's so we knew what the rating was. And every marketing plan was different, depending on the genre, the size and the scope of the movie, okay, so you know, the worst thing you can do, and sometimes you can see studios getting a little lazy about it is there's the cookie cutter approach, right? This is the way we've done it. And that kind of strategy went out the window quite a long time ago, especially now with the challenges of mass market marketing. So if you're buying media on TV, you now have to supplement it with social media and online media. And that becomes a much bigger piece of the budget. So the marketing of these movies has always been dynamic, and it's always been risky, right? That hasn't changed. It's just a matter of where you're spending the money and where you're taking the risk. And it also depends on who your target market target audiences. If you go back 20 years ago, the sweet spot of opening blockbusters was males 18, to 34. But like, if you could get the fanboys in to go see a movie you were made, you knew you'd make a number, you get the butts and seats. And now you know, 2019, you know, that's just not the case anymore. Because those fanboys Are you know, they're they're, they're add, basically, on the media world, you don't have wet they're everywhere. And I think one of the coolest thing that's actually occurred in the marketing space is, you know, the old school marketing, demographics don't work. They don't work anymore. We we don't identify the audiences don't identify based on ethnicity, social class, gender, as much as we'd like them to. Audiences identify based on interests, behaviors, passions, so and it's not, it's very hard to do mass marketing anymore. You know, the, the, it's diminishing returns on what you're getting out of TV, you've got to advertise on certain cable channels, and you've got to be in certain events. I mean, Superbowl ads are probably one of the rare exceptions where everybody's got to see your ad. And then you've got to supplement it with online and social media. But you online and social media can't just be a replication of what you're doing on radio and what TV they've got to be unique to that format. And I think that's one of the one of the cool things that's going on in the marketing space right now.

Alex Ferrari 14:20
But is it I've noticed this just from just being a watcher of the industry, I've noticed that from the days of when I was coming up in the 90s. To today, the studios are having a more difficult time, even them with their massive resources to actually get to the audience to get because there's so much more competition. I mean, those those fanboys a lot of them are just sitting in front of a video game for 15 hours a day. They're not interested in going to the movie theater anymore. So it's much it's even difficult and challenging. With hundreds of millions of dollars.

Simon Swart 14:53
How do you how do you break through even with the $80 million spend, and by that, by the way, you've got to recoup that too. So you know Spend $300 million making the movie. Now you got to spend maybe another 100 and $50 million marketing it and most people don't understand that whatever the box office is, you got to cut it in half right off the bat, because exhibition takes half. And then you've got to recoup your marketing costs, and then you've got all these other expenditures in there. So it gets pretty crazy. Because when you start having to spend again, social media and stuff, is that an incremental spend, or you taking $1 away from your mass market TV? Yeah, and the reality is, you can't take away the dollar, because you still need that mass market TV. And by the way, you still need those cable spots, because that might be where your target audience is, is as well, right? And you've also got to spend money on PR and publicity to break through. So really kind of your your your marketing campaign is almost it's a military campaign of sorts, but it's all geared towards opening weekend.

Alex Ferrari 15:55
Right, right. But But I've noticed that opening weekend, I mean, depends, of course, on the on the on the franchise, or on the blockbuster that's coming up, but opening weekends aren't what they used to be. Sometimes they will explode. And we'll have the $200 million $150 million and $90 million, like the Joker did recently. You know, you know, those are that was a surprise. But But those those numbers aren't as much as they used to be in box out, like, look at that will smith movie, the Gemini man that just tanked you know, yeah. Which is a whole conversation about movie stars to even matter anymore.

Simon Swart 16:27
I think movie stars definitely matter. I think that the model is changing where you have those, you know, the classic star driven vehicles, the content still needs to be really good, right? You can't just do those vanity projects. I think what's happened is there's this massive you know, the days of the studio chief being the thought leader or the or the tastemaker for the whole country? Yeah, I'm going to do, I'm going to I'm going to create a relationship with a movie star, and I'm going to give them 30 to 40% of the budget or something crazy like that, because it's there in it, it's automatically going to open, you know, those days are long gone. Right? The content needs to deliver it needs to be good. Right. And I think that's that's one of the many changing things that's going on in the film space. I mean, you know, in the industry, we laugh about the the backhand participation, right, because it's invisible. The whole point, kind of backhand participation was that to allow your talent to share in the upside of a movie. So you keep them engaged. The reality is, with the studio accounting being what it is, that back end, never materializes. Okay, so, so stars have to figure out a different way to get paid. So what they would do is they take a disproportionate share of the budget, all that does is shift all the risk back to the studio, in essence. So I think these economic models are all changing as the reality has changed. And the technology is changing that as well. And the reality is, everybody doesn't fully understand or not say nobody fully understands what the future of media consumption is going to be. It's not going to be one thing, it's not going to be just the Africa, it's not going to be just streaming, it's going to be a balance of all of these technologies.

Alex Ferrari 18:06
And now where does the the humble, independent filmmaker fall into all of this, this this conversation in general?

Simon Swart 18:13
Well, it's fascinating. I think the challenge for the independent filmmaker has been that as studios have moved away from the mid level star driven movies and the smaller movies, they're focusing more on the big franchises, right? The reality is two in my mind, that's a Disney game. Disney wins that game every time because there are a licensing franchise machine. That's what they do, right? Even Bob Iger says, I love I love the movies we're making, but also love great indie films and those arthouse films, which is ironic, but he goes, but he's clear that those are not the movies that Disney is going to be making. Right? Okay. And, and that's, that's obviously very, very revealing, but it's insightful. He knows what their core strength is. And he plays to it. And he's brilliant at that. But for the other studios, that leaves a lot of in between, right? If you don't have the theme parks, and you don't have that big licensing machine for all that all the toys and the T shirts and all the other stuff that goes with it, you know, where does that leave you with the independent films and those mid level movies because there is still a market for them. But but the risk is the risk is what has always been the reality is the studios aren't going to put out that money. So as an independent producer, you have to go raise the money to make the movie, you can then partner up with a studio for a distribution deal or a service deal. And that's the way to go. Then the challenge is when you have to raise as an independent filmmaker, you got to be thinking about how am I going to raise the money to actually make the movie, but at the same time, how am I going to raise the money to actually market the movie because if you don't think about that until you've finished the movie, you're at risk. Because that guy who comes in and puts up the PMA will then take control of the project that is the model right now. And I think the innovation is going to come with your releasing strategy. So the challenge for the independent filmmaker is, I'm not making a movie for Netflix, per se, I'm not going to make a movie for Amazon per se. But I've got to structure my financing in such a way that I know how I'm going to get to market. And the higher your budget goes over $10 million, the only way out as the theatrical release, or you've got to have, you've got to have covered your most of your negative with your foreign pre sales, right. So you structure your financing creatively. But most people don't think that way. Right. That's, that's not always there's a few people that get that. But for most Indies, like you've got to figure out what your strategy is, to me, Netflix is a great strategy. But just remember, with Netflix, there's not a lot of upside, there's a great business model and they're okay, paying the premium, if they own the IP, if they own your IP, that's, that's the way they're working right now. But they're but they're predominantly focused on big, big names to know if you can get that golden ticket, you know, Martin Scorsese with the Irishman, you know, that's a good deal, you, they pay you a big chunk of money for the movie and the rights and you make it for less than that, you know, the margin is what you get to keep type of thing. So the independent film model is actually a pretty exciting place to be right now. But you've got to really understand the distribution opportunities that are ahead of you, at the point that you're creating your budget. And you've got to know who your audience is

Alex Ferrari 21:22
That Yeah, that was about to say, and because I mean, I speak to independent filmmakers on a daily basis. And I'm gonna say 95% of them are the creative producer, the creative director, and they're not the business person, they, they're creating a product and have no idea where to sell it. And I'm yelling at the top of my lungs from the top of the mountain I can and going, look, if you're a real estate developer, and you make condos, you know who you're going to sell those condos to you don't just make a condo, you know, a 20, you know, 20 unit condo and go. Now let's see what we're gonna do. You don't do that.

Simon Swart 21:58
Yeah, what what? What's your business plan? Who's your audience? Who are you making this for? What are you hoping to accomplish by making this movie? Right? Because if you can answer those questions, and yeah, the first question I'll ask any independent producer, or non independent producer, director is, what is this movie most like? What What do you believe your end product is going to be most like, Can you name five movies for me that you think this movie is like? And part of that is understanding expectations? Right? It's also understanding tone. But oftentimes, if you've got an indie filmmaker coming and saying, I've got an $8 million budget movie, or a $4 million budget movie, and it's most like Star Wars, and or it's most like,

Alex Ferrari 22:40

Simon Swart 22:42
Okay, that had like a $300 million budget, and you're going to do it for eight, and James Cameron. It's probably Yeah, and James Cameron, and, and, you know, and john Landau and studio behind you, and so on. It's like, you've got to level set expectations, right. Whereas if you're making a movie, that's a $10 million budget and want a good conscience, Juno, and one of them's Napoleon Dynamite, perhaps now you go, Okay, I'm listening. Right now I'm listening could you know, if you're gonna spend $10 million making a movie and you've, you've laid off half of it with foreign your net exposure is $5 million. And maybe you've got a one one and a half million dollar tax credit, take advantage of all that your exposure for you and your investors is three and a half million dollars. At that point, a great streaming deal, gets you into a pretty good place and gets everyone to see your movie. It's kind of like understanding how you're going to go to market what's your perfect end goal, right? And here's the thing is for us and for for where my company's at right now, for MTB pictures and tiba is, we really want to make movies for the big screen. And I know that's counter intuitive with what people are talking about in the industry and so on. But we're going to make them for the big screen wanting to be big and cinematic, we're not going to do the big budget, you know, that our biggest budgets, probably 10 to $15 million. Because at 10 to $15 million, you can get a great cast, you can get a great director, you can make something that's beautiful and deserves to be on the big screen. And by the way, if you fumble and the movie doesn't end up as good as you wanted it to be at that budget range, you can make money still without a theatrical release with a certain cast, obviously, with a certain cast. And if you patch on if you know who your audience is, you know, again, again, the challenges you need probably a minimum. And there are a lot of people that'll say you need $25 million minimum to open a movie in the US. I disagree with that. I think if you know who your audiences and you build your audience early, and you're creative on the social side, you can open for much less than that, you know, probably around eight to 10 for a relatively wide release. You but you've got to figure out where you're going to get that money from and how you're actually going to get that get that into the model. Good place, right?

Alex Ferrari 25:01
Yeah. And you could also I mean, there's there's so many different ways of doing it. I mean, I've had multiple, I've had multiple guests on, and I've done case studies of films that heart are low budget, they're a Miller $2 million, but they knew their audience so well. And they targeted them so well. And they worked on them for a year, year and a half cultivating that audience. By the time that movie came out, they killed it. They were pulling three for theatrical, and a lot of it was self theatrical where they were doing, you know, neither for walling, or on demand screenings, and they were just killing it. It was it, but there's a lot of work. And you really need to understand so many elements for that to happen. And most of those films by the way, were not star powered. They were not genre powered, or story power. Yeah,

Simon Swart 25:49
I think for for an indie you build the audience while you're shooting, or before you're shooting. You know, don't don't give up the movie, don't don't trip anything that would turn off a potential future distributor, but start building an audience as soon as possible.

Alex Ferrari 26:03
Now, can you tell me I mean, you've had great success going after niche audiences, specifically, your film, I can only imagine which was a runaway blockbuster in the realm of what you do, which is faith based films. And can you tell everybody a little bit about that film? And then how much it grossed? And because it was it was a fairly impressive movie? And what was the budget of that film? If you don't mind me telling you asking?

Simon Swart 26:27
God I think a lot of the all the credit on that movie should go to to the Irwin brothers, Cindy bond, I mean, they made something amazing. And you know, the obon brothers I'd worked with when I was at Fox and we set up a whole third party distribution model at Fox and the the twins were young filmmakers who I came across there and they had a little movie called October baby. And it was very much a faith based movie, but it was really beautiful and well shot and that was where our relationship with them started. And they've just come along so much as filmmakers you know, they've got to to a cinema scores going in in the faith based space to general market a cinema school so great filmmakers. And I think I can only imagine what worked with I can only imagine is we had a built an audience it was based on number one contemporary Christian song of all time. So it was a massive audience. Most people didn't know the story behind the song.

Alex Ferrari 27:24
Generally, most people don't care about this is the story behind the song for this song. But this song did I even know the song. And it's not that's not the music, I listened to use it. But I heard that song 1000 times.

Simon Swart 27:34
It broke, it broke out of the out of Christian music, because people just love the song was inspirational and just for, for for for giving people hope and music. I mean, it is the power of the medium. So we so we knew we had a built in audience on that one. And, you know, the Owen brothers did magic. You know, they, they they grew up shooting, you know, doing sports and music anyway. And and they were the right guys to do this project. And this in this movie is a universal story it is about so you got a built in audience, that's a major plus factor. Our budget was less than $10 million. They started building the audience a year, over a year out with limited screenings, and so on. And you know, the movies kind of a bit of a love letter to Nashville as well. But it deals with these fundamental issues of forgiveness. It doesn't become overly preachy, but it's really a father son story. But there's a love story in there also. And I think when you look at that movie, it delivers on all the beats that it set up. So no matter what you believe, it doesn't force you to enter a certain belief paradigm. You do believe in forgiveness, you do believe in love, you do believe in redemption, right? We all love those kind of underdog stories. And that's what this is, you know, it was basically a story about a kid who gets beaten by his father, who's a heavy drinking, you know, abusive dad, and eventually he he has to come to a point where he's, he can reconcile with his father, and he does this beautiful reconciliation is based on a true story. And I think, you know, that's the power of a true story, too, is that you go Yeah, that actually happened. That guy got through it. He did that this is what he accomplished. If he can do that, I can do that. You know, and that's that's something that's kind of cool about the story driven pictures.

Alex Ferrari 29:26
Yeah. And that movie, if I'm not mistaken, made about 84 million domestic and in the theatrical which is for a few days

Simon Swart 29:34
Automatic and, and again, it was a very limited marketing spend the team at Lionsgate Roadside did a great job releasing that and, you know, we had a lot to the producers had a lot to do with the releasing of that movie.

Alex Ferrari 29:49
And you understood. But the producers also understood their niche so well, that they understood that I'm I'm I'm assuming that any marketing spend wasn't just billboards and TV ad buys. They were going to churches, they were going after where that niche audience lived.

Simon Swart 30:08
Yeah, we some of the best sort of agencies in the in the business were hired on that and help guide that with, with roadside and Lionsgate. And yeah, that was an example of everything going really well. And yeah, I think I think the omens have another movie coming out, I forget the name. I still believe I think, which is coming out in March. And every every indication is, it's going to be another hit. It looks amazing. The anticipations there, if you look it up on social media, you can see the kind of following it's got already. And again, that's just an example of building your audience early on. And it's a story that people know about in the community. And you know, it's going to be a well made story, because you know, what this these filmmakers brand is?

Alex Ferrari 30:51
And, and yeah, exactly, and they are building a brand around there themselves as the Irwin brothers, just like Spielberg is a brand and Scorsese is a brand. Yeah. And they're also doing it for a smart number, too. It's like, it's not like they're making this $400 million.

Simon Swart 31:06
Right? Right. budgets, the budgets very rational. If you've got a very targeted audience, you know, I again, I think as an indie filmmaker, you've always got to rationalize your budget, that's part of knowing who your audience is, and how you're going to go to market. So maybe making a movie for $20 million, when you can get the same result for eight or nine. You know, that's just asking for trouble. I mean, you know, one of the most famous indies of recent memories get out. I mean, look at how, look at Jordan peels brand, look at how he's exploded, you know, but he didn't just show up. He paid his dues. You know, he took some creative risks, but, you know, I want to say get out was made for what less than $5 million? You know, and that did I think they did over 100

Alex Ferrari 31:50
Oh, no, It didn't it I think it did, like 200 something.

Simon Swart 31:54
Some it was some crazy number and what a brilliant movie it was, it was just so fresh. Right?

Alex Ferrari 31:59
Right in But with that, that's one of those, you know, he was with the Blum house, guys. So then that's a whole other conversation with Blum house has been able to do and they've been so smart.

Simon Swart 32:11
So that's one of my other points as an indie filmmaker, don't compare yourself to a lightning strike.

Alex Ferrari 32:17
Okay. Oh, that's great. I like that. Yeah, like, Oh, yeah, movies, just like paranormal activity. Movies, just like Blair Witch Project.

Simon Swart 32:26
Yeah, we're all aware of the outliers, right? It's like, you know, what, actually, when I was working at Disney, the first movie I got to work on was Lion King. Okay. And this is something I learned. Every other movie animated movie that came out after Lion King was the next Lion King. And the problem is, they are all very successful. But they didn't do what Lion King did. So they were deemed failures. And so it's kind of like dog bent, your mark yourself. For an outlier. I think the key thing in independent film is that you've got to set yourself up where singles and doubles are a good thing. But if you hit a home run, you're great, right? But you're playing for the singles and doubles, like get on base, just get on base, you know, that that sets you up for your next project, your next thing, and if you hit a home run, you're you're ready to go. And it's kind of like, every project I look at now. It's like, how do I get back to break even? Right? failure should be breakeven. And I want to know that I've got a plan for break even. And then how do I set myself up? Well, this is this movie capable of a disproportionate return. Right? And the disproportionate return is that big, you know, the Juno type number, the Napoleon Dynamite type number, the guitar type number. So but you're not banking on the breakout? You're banking on a single or double?

Alex Ferrari 33:45
Have I? Have you been listening to my podcast, sir, because you literally said the exact thing I've said so many times with my baseball analogy. I go, everybody wants to go up to bat and hit a homerun. But most people when they make their first movie, haven't even been in a baseball stadium or picked up a bat before. And they're expecting to hit a home run at the beginning where there's that other guy or girl who's been in the batting cage, just hitting away hitting away hitting away and just practicing until they finally get their shot up at Pat. You know, it's it's fascinating the the egotistic mind of the filmmaker which there is a few egos in our business, just a few now many. But we we have these delusions of grandeur, as filmmakers I definitely had for many years. You know, I was going to be the next this or my film was going to do this thing. I'm sure you've run into this many times.

Simon Swart 34:39
So in fairness, indie hustle, I want to reveal my sources. Okay,

Alex Ferrari 34:43
I appreciate that.

Simon Swart 34:44
Yeah. run into it all the time. It's a process right? And you're gonna pay your dues you've got to learn, right? And by the way, there's a ton of people out there that will help you. As an indie filmmaker, you've got to build up your network, find the people that can help you and advise you. There's a lot of people that will give you advice for relatively free, don't pay for the advice yet, you know, verified so I see a lot of people getting suckered by paying people to to market their movies when they haven't fully vetted them and they make bad deals and so on. There's a lot of people out there that will advise you as an indie filmmaker, there's a lot of resources out there available, too. But remember, it's a slog. And yeah, I mean, my hat's off to anyone actually makes a movie because a movie even if it's shot on your iPhone, and it's edited and put together, it's a it's a pretty significant creative accomplishment, no matter you know, just to actually pull it all together, right people to perform and so on. I mean, when when you've been on sets of on Indies, you know, I enjoy indies because there's, there's a lot less, less a lot less room for waste. So everybody's very mission focused. And usually that crew is tight, man, it's like they will do they're in battle man, and they're going to get the shots, they're going to get the coverage. And you know, that the your indie director is, is the ultimate team leader, because he doesn't have money to throw around the way a big studio director might have, right? Like, you got to do this for the passion, you've got to enroll your entire cast and crew in your vision for what you're doing. And, and that isn't easy. That takes a lot of practice. That's why it's like working on other people's movies is really one of the best ways to learn because you you're in this together, you problem solve together,

Alex Ferrari 36:27
Without without questions, a preach, preach. Now we want to talk a little bit about distribution and distribution options for independent filmmakers. You know, I've talked a lot about distribution on my show. And on my other show film shoprunner, where is about how to get your film out there. And it's the landscape is changing so rapidly, every other month, there's something new what was true, last year is no longer true today, in every it's streaming and theatrical and on demand, and DVD, all of it. You know, these legacy models, I call it the legacy distribution models, which were basically designed by the studios, and the larger distribution companies to keep more money in their own pockets, because their businesses, I get it. And we've all heard those kind of predatory stories of the filmmaker signing the bet their movie away for 15 years and never seen a dime. We've all heard those stories. What are the distribution options that we have his district as independent filmmakers moving forward from your point of view?

Simon Swart 37:28
Oh, look, the number one predictor of downstream revenue, you know, ironically, right, everyone's talking about all the disruption, all the stuff that's going on the chaos of streaming with Amazon, Hulu, Netflix coming on board, how the studio's are struggling, and so on. But still, the number one predictor of downstream revenues for a movie is the US domestic box office. And it's like that, that brings a lot of clarity to all the discussions that are happening around the world and in the space, right, that is the number one predictor of overall profitability. And what I mean by that is, it still sets most of the downstream revenue streams. So if you have a guaranteed domestic release with a reputable domestic distributor on say, 1000 screens, your foreign value goes up by four or 5x, maybe even more, depending on the package, right. So that is still the number one way to go. But the problem is, it's really hard to get there. Which is why you want to have the option of bringing your own PMA if you can, because that gives you the option to release yourself and manage it yourself. However, if your budgets right, you can still get enough money out of foreign and if you structure a draft, taking advantage of tax credits and things like that. Yeah, you can, you can then release also directly to an HBO or a Netflix or Hulu or an Amazon right. Now you can also get audit, you can also get your product ordered and paid for ahead of time, in some cases, by those guys, if you if you're hitting something that they know that they have a need for or niche. But if you're an unknown, that's pretty hard. You know, so so at the end of the day, you can you can self released digitally, you can put it on a digital platform yourself. The problem is you still need someone to find your movie. You know, the the marketing, you can't release a movie without marketing, you have to have a marketing plan. You might have the best movie in the world you might have be, you know, you might have the next Napoleon Dynamite, for example. But if people can't find it and don't know about it, you're never going to build up that word of mouth. So you've got to have some kind of strategy for releasing when you're making the movie. Right? So you've got a couple of marketing and with it, I mean, the distribution landscape is really complex right now you've got windows collapsing. So it's kind of you know, it used to be that you would make a fair amount of your money on the theatrical release if you could recover most of your marketing money and that theatrical release, that was a good thing, because then you could try and recover your negative in the downstream, right? You know, the streaming services used to pay a percentage of the domestic box office, this TV syndication would pay a percentage of the domestic box office. And then your your, your digital and DVD and blu ray, you know, digital being transactional, if you pay to watch it again, like pay per view, or you you buy digitally on iTunes, that used to be most of the profit of a movie. Right. But that's collapsing with the advent of streaming. That's, that's, that's where that's where the industry is in a scramble, because all that secondary transactional revenue is shrinking. And what I call transactional revenue, as again, if a consumer pays to watch it again, either by renting it on on video on demand, or buying it on iTunes or buying a DVD or buying a blu ray. And by the way, you know, people are still buying DVDs and blu rays. If you have a, if you have a big screen TV, and you've got the biggest high Ultra High Definition screen, the best way to watch your best sci fi movie, these Marvel movies, I would argue is still on a blu ray. It's the best way to replicate what what you saw in theater, because of transfer rates, buffer rates, and all of that stuff is changing. But you know, each of these individual segments, so I still think I still think physical media of some form or digital media is that's the legacy platform. That's where as a filmmaker, you get to explain your journey you get, that's where people will discover your movie. And I think that's something we do have to solve for. And I know previously that a lot of talk going on about blockchain and how that can apply to how consumers can transfer rights and how they can renew right?

Alex Ferrari 41:45
Explain. Explain that to people. Because I know a lot of people don't understand blockchain.

Simon Swart 41:49
So I don't understand it fully. So I'm going to qualify, but what I understand is that it's basically it's this amazing certification where if you have a share certificate, or it's like having $1. And as I'm not talking Bitcoin, but if you buy the right to a movie, so let's say you buy the right to, I can only imagine you pay $12 or $15, right? Through blockchain technology, it'll identify that I'm the legal owner of that digital copy of that file. That means copy parts that can't be taken away from me. But that blockchain also identifies that the obon brothers own the copyright to that, that that file as well, right. So it's kind of like this perfect aligning of rights, where it's encrypted and protected. So I have the right to that movie, I can now sell that to you. If I want to, I can sell it to you for $7 or $8. But I own that right. And I can certify that I have that right. So

Alex Ferrari 42:43
Like DVDs, blu rays, or VHS, any physical media, you could do that with as well.

Simon Swart 42:47
Yeah, except with blockchain, you won't be able to rip it. And I won't be able to share it. So so for the studios and for the people that are making movies. I mean, let's face it, piracy has been a Bane on the business since since since smart cams and VHS right? And piracy is not is a major issue. Because the creators, we have so many challenges actually making money on our movie anyway, getting it through the traditional system, people are taking it for free and actually making money off of what you've created. So you know, piracy is not one of those victimless crimes, I really don't. I don't believe it's a victimless crime. People are selling it and making money without actually putting the investment and the time and and people that have worked on the movie are therefore not getting paid. I mean, that is a fundamental problem. And I think that is one of those things that the blockchain technology can actually help address and fix. I don't think it's there yet. But I think that's the promise of it. That's that's the way studios are looking at it. That's the way content creators are looking at and distributors are going. Okay, how do I make sure this happens? I mean, the irony is, you know, you broke the story about the digital platform, the aggregator

Alex Ferrari 43:57
Yeah, the distribute platform, yes,

Simon Swart 43:59
That kind of went sideways, or went under and people lost a lot of money. The funny thing is, is that when you're selling blu rays and DVDs, there's an audit trail that goes with that, like, I know that I shipped these discs to that retailer, and that retailer, then sold them and I got paid and I can trace the money all the way coming back, right? with digital technology. Ironically, even with the downloading and the you know, the the digital downloading on iTunes and Amazon, it's almost impossible to audit. Even though there should be one relationship, there should be a trail that says my credit card was charged $14 for the movie, therefore the studio should be able to know that, you know, they can follow that revenue all the way through the system. It's not it's not that's how it should be. But it doesn't work that way.

Alex Ferrari 44:46
Yeah, I was always wondering that myself because I'm like, who like, you know, how do I really know how much money is coming? There's no way to actually check it. There's no way to audit it. I'm trusting Amazon, I'm trusting iTunes, I'm trusting all of them. That could easily be siphoning off. I'm not saying they are, but easily by either by error or whatever. But we can't really prove that we got all the money that we get. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Simon Swart 45:20
Right? There's, there's quite a few opportunities to leakage in the current system. Yeah, there was an opposition. Well, there was there was leakage when you're shipping DVDs, because people could make copies of DVDs. And they could rip them and then they put them they put them on the internet, and then sharing them through bit torrents and all that kind of stuff. And you know that that's a constant process. And you know, that's where I think, again, just coming back to my limited knowledge of blockchain, that's where blockchain is the promise to actually shut that down. But it also will, I think, it also has the potential to create a whole secondary and tertiary market for the content that we've all bought, right? So the days of us having our big physical libraries, you know, of us owning all our favorite movies and having them on DVD and blu ray, I think what's going to happen is, we're going to have a digital library, I think our absolute favorite movies we're going to want on whatever the the hottest format is, that's going to give us the best experience at home. So there's a handful of movies that we're going to want to own physically and we'll rebuy all our star wars, right, going back to your first question, right? When Star Wars comes out again, and it's ultra high definition. And there's all these interactive features, and you've now got a, you know,

Alex Ferrari 46:32
A hologram holographic George Lucas, who will talk through the entire movie for you.

Simon Swart 46:38
Exactly, and your TV's the size of the wall in your house. And it's a high definition. So you're gonna want to buy it on that format for that movie. But the vast majority of other movies, you're probably going to be okay just to streaming, write things out, or to wait until it comes on syndicated TV, you'll pay TV, that type of thing.

Alex Ferrari 46:56
If there's even TV then who knows?

Simon Swart 47:00
It's all going to be a series of channel absence, everything's going to be over the top.

Alex Ferrari 47:05
Without without question. I mean, things are changing so rapidly. I mean, I mean, I again, I talked to independent filmmakers so often, and I'm always getting these questions like how do I make money? What do I do this or that? And I've really tried to stay on the cutting edge and I love this, this blockchain idea of yours, you know, or the or the or the promise of it? Because it's basically Well, you know, for people who don't understand blockchain blockchain it is the basis of cryptocurrency. So it so that that then you have to, you know, whoever wants to learn about cryptocurrency, please go do so that's a that's a deep well, that we will not cover in this episode. But that, but that technology does have so much promise that I always got pissed about that, too. Because I come from the video store days, when I worked in a video store where I could buy my VHS or buy a DVD, I'd hold it. And then what I didn't want anymore, I would sell it on Amazon or eBay, digitally, that does not exist anymore. It's you can't sell a digital copy unless they bootleg it. And even if you bootleg it, you can't really sell it in a digital way. You can. There's other ways as other business models,

Simon Swart 48:12
Inherently as a consumer, I should have the right to sell that right. I could sell it to you. And you know, and that's that's the stuff that I think blockchain actually enables. And I think it's it's high time because the reality is when you do buy a digital file, now you're not actually buying it. You're kind of renting it. Oh, yeah. I don't have it all to put on your hard drive. But it's not like something else you buy that you can sell to someone else. That's basically Yeah, I'm renting it. By the way, if I change my cable company or something like that, God forbid, I'm probably going to lose it. I just that's it. That's the reality.

Alex Ferrari 48:45
Yeah, without question. Now, do you? Do you think and I believe it is. But do you believe that niche based films are the future of independent filmmaking? Because I always tell people all the time, that film independent filmmakers can't do a giant like a romantic comedy, a broad spectrum film, you know, a $10 million romantic comedy unless there's some major star power in it. And that story has to be really, you're now you're really trying to hit that target. So perfectly. You risk a lot. Whereas if you I always use the vegan chef movie, you make vegan chef movie that's romantic. And you could target that demographic a little bit, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Simon Swart 49:25
Yeah, I think you have to have a clear idea about who your core audiences. But you know, the exception to that is, you know, you take a movie like the big sick last year, right, even Napoleon Dynamite it's just one of my favorites because it's illustrated. It's a small movie, you know who your core demographic is, but it has the ability to break out because deals with the human experience, right? And that for me, so it depends on your on your genre and what you're doing right. So I tend to focus on content that unites and inspires people. And I gravitate towards stories which have a broad appeal, even though I will know exactly who my core audience is. Right. So if you're going to do a sci fi movie, that's a high tech, and that's going to appeal to that subset. Yeah, you always got to know who your core audience is, and you got to know where they are and how to get to them. And you've got to know that at the script stage, frankly, but you're always hoping that you're doing like, again, for me, I'm looking for movies that have that breakout potential, and they only break out if they connect beyond that niche. Now, not faith based movies are interesting, because in a way, they're their ultimate niche. So much like horror movies are kind of a niche, they're a bigger, more commercial niche, right. But if you're going to do a faith based movie for a niche, then you must do it for a budget.

Alex Ferrari 50:47
A smart number a smart,

Simon Swart 50:48
You got to do it for a rational number, because that's your core. And you know, that, you know, that's going to be narrow and deep. Right. Saqqara, you know that if you get the core and it'd be narrow and deep, but it has the ability to run? Right?

Alex Ferrari 51:01
It's like get out, like get out?

Simon Swart 51:03
Yeah, exactly. I mean, that's just, I wouldn't even consider that exactly hard. But you're right, it was that blumhouse model, and it's like, this is they know what to do, you know? So So yes, I think I think independent, I don't think independent film is just as just niche, but I think you you've got to have a hook that you can hold on to, right? Like when I read a script, I'm I read scripts backwards from most creatives. I'm thinking if I'm thinking of it from a distribution standpoint, and how am I going to market it? Where are the scenes that are going to be my trailer? You know,

Alex Ferrari 51:37
what am I thinking that way?

Simon Swart 51:38
That's, that's what I'm looking through. That's what I'm looking through a script looking for. Does that help?

Alex Ferrari 51:45
Yeah, it helps. I mean, I think that I agree with what you're saying. And that potential to break out is that home run. So we, you know, as well, as I do, we get one, maybe two of those a year, you know it, and then there's multiple levels of that breakout. So it could be you know, if I, if I could only imagine a 25 or $30 million, you would have been, you know, they would have been ecstatic, like, Oh, my God, you know, because it was a super hit up, but then you occasionally get the Grand Slam, which is, you know, tenfold of what the budget is or something along those lines. But I do, I do truly believe that gatekeeping that, but when you're when your budget goes higher, you've got to have something to, to, to hedge your bets. So it's either cast, it's either it's either cats story, niche genre, something that's going to hedge those bets, the higher that budget goes, Oh, sure, then, and I'm always telling people to drop the budget as low as you possibly can, while still being able to create an MVP, a minimum viable product, to get to realize your dream and realize your vision, but get a product to the marketplace and not just look at this as an art form. It is an art form. But it is a business. And it is a very expensive art form to work with.

Simon Swart 53:02
Do you agree? Absolutely. I mean, there's so many independent creatives that I've come across that know exactly how to make a movie for a budget. And that's, that's a massive skill by itself. But these days, you have to know how you're going to get that money back to, you can't just know that you have to know the other party as well. So it's kind of like, like you're saying, if I'm going to do a niche movie, you know, I'll use an example. If you're going to do an inner city basketball movie, okay, it's probably not going to travel very well. You're going to have to make your money in the US now. The markets are changing. Don't get me wrong, it's changing. Maybe you can sell it in China, if they stopped tweeting about it. You know, the NBA and they said lead hash but but you know what I'm saying it's like if you do a very local movie, you've got to know that it's probably not going to travel well, therefore, you make it that way. And your distribution plan fits that accordingly. Right. So you know that you're going to make all your money in that local market. And then anything you make overseas is going to be gravy. It'll be incidental, but that's not core to my business plan, right? It's like a baseball movie. Do a baseball movie. There's only a few countries in the world that is really going to work. If you do a movie about NFL football, you know blindsides. Probably like an exception that traveled really well because it wasn't really about football.

Alex Ferrari 54:23
No, Sandra Bullock to and Santa Bocas international star.

Simon Swart 54:26
Yeah, so that's not the example. But it's like there are certain genres that you know that you know, a pretty nippy, and they're probably not going to break out. And you've got it, you've got to, you've got to have that plan and that understand, you're going to be honest, in the development stage of your movie.

Alex Ferrari 54:41
It's kind of like if I use another analogy, if you're in a, let's say, you're in Colombia, and you are a baker, and you make this certain Colombian pastry that is very well known in that segment of the country, not even the whole country, just that segment of the country. It's a niche product. But then you say I'm gonna throw 30 million on this pastry because I think the rest of the world is gonna we've seen how many products like that we've seen that are culturally great. But the second they tried to break into the American market or another market, they just like I would never eat pig, like, yeah, it's trying to sell like a Big Mac in India didn't go well.

Simon Swart 55:19
Yeah, well, well see now that gets into the heart of the DNA of the creative, right? Again, coming back to what our company strategy is, our game plan is to make movies that will work in the US marketplace. That is one of the lenses that we use. It's not everyone's lens, that's just our lens, there are going to be filmmakers that are going to go I only want a movie that's going to appeal to the African audience, or it's only going to work for the Indian audience. And by the way, I've got a business plan, that's going to work just fine. Right? There's nothing wrong with that. That's, that's totally those are all viable options and plans, but you calibrate and scale your production appropriately. Okay. But again, for us, we're creating content that we believe will and we're going to cast it, and we're going to package it, we want it to work in the US marketplace. Because generally, if you can break it in the US marketplace, that is a pretty good indicator that it will travel elsewhere.

Alex Ferrari 56:14
Yeah. And it's, it's just fascinating. I've just seen, I mean, I know filmmakers, like Isaac namaha, who is a filmmaker in Uganda. And he makes films locally, and he created a whole industry in Uganda. And he makes his films for $200 $200. us. I think that's really exciting for us. Yeah, exactly. And now Africa is turning into a whole thing. I mean, there's a lot of Nollywood and all these kind of wonderful.

Simon Swart 56:45
There's so much media growth potential right now. And it's a it's a great thing.

Alex Ferrari 56:51
But the funny thing is that with with Isaac's example, he made these little $200 movies that were actually really just fun and action and the visual effects are horrendous, and you know, according to our standards, but his audiences loved it. And then he had a cult following worldwide. So now he travels the world with these little movies. But he had breakout potential, but I I promise you this I interviewed him. He had no indication of ever getting out of his little town.

Simon Swart 57:20
But he but he's gonna break out he Yeah, he did already. He already asked people like, where did this guy come from? Well, he's been doing this for a long time he got here it is.

Alex Ferrari 57:29
Right 40 features under his belt.

Simon Swart 57:32
Tyler Perry's a brilliant example that, yeah, just brilliant, right? just unbelievable. He saw a niche that was completely underserved, which is the African American woman. Right? Nobody was catering to them at all. And he saw that opportunity. And he saw the opportunity for positive messaging. And he filled that gap. And it like, kudos and credit to him as he saw that niche, and you recognize what it was worth, and he committed himself to it. And it's just one of those amazing success stories. But it wasn't an overnight success. It was it was it was a lot of blood, sweat and tears and just a lot of courage. Frankly,

Alex Ferrari 58:12
No, I remember seeing diary of the black of a mad black woman when it first came out, which was a big, huge deal when it came out. It was like how can they make this movie? There was a lot of controversy and all this stuff. I remember that was like in the 90s if I remember. Yeah, it was in the 90s when that came out, and he was just getting started. And now fast forward. 2019. He's got a studio in Atlanta that's bigger than Disney Warner's at Paramount I'll put together.

Simon Swart 58:36
Yeah, Isn't it cool? It's like saying, stories that get me really excited. I mean, you know, frankly, I mean, there's a lot of that stuff going on. So like ntb, our company to talk about my company a little bit. Sure. Our headquarters is in South Africa, because there's exciting stuff going on South Africa, but most people don't know is that all the major studios, Netflix and Amazon included, are shooting down there. Because it doubles for just about anywhere in the world. The exchange rate is fantastic. There's an incredibly strong local crew down there. And there's a great exit incentive. Yeah, the problem is it's a long way away. But it's like, there's something exciting to me about building these industries in places in these more remote places where technology is possible, it makes it possible, right. And you get these great crews and the quality of the production happening down there is remarkable. So we're not exclusively producing movies down there. We just have a very strong proclivity to want to do more down there. Because all the studios are doing it down there. They see what we see. But what happens is all the IP and all that the upside goes comes back to the stage. So it goes back to Europe, etc. And it's like, we can do this. We can cast it this way we can create movies that are made for the American market, because it's already happening in South Africa now. And yeah, South Africa has just been a country that has consistently hit above its weight class, shall we say. And we This message of diversity, it truly is a remarkable place right now, given its history. And I actually think South Africa, being a former South African, has a message for the world right now in terms of diversity in terms of unity in terms of, you know, kind of a message of humanity and bringing people together. And I think it's what we all need right now. And, again, you can tell that's the kind of content that really draws me that draws me out is stuff that brings people together where we share our common humanity and challenges us

Alex Ferrari 1:00:31
And and there's there needs to be more producers like you out there. So doing doing the good work that you're doing. So I thank you, I thank you very much. I wanted to ask you, can you tell me about your new project, I am all girls.

Simon Swart 1:00:44
Yeah, this one's a very cool little project we did. It's a it's a great indie, had a very talented director, Donovan Marsh, who did hunter killer with Gerard Butler that released last year. And coming off that big movie, he wanted to do something that was kind of small and personal, but had an impact. And in South Africa, I don't know, a story of broken a couple of years ago about this human trafficking that was going on, in South Africa. And it became very clear that human trafficking is a global plot. It's a massive problem that people don't want to talk about. And it's happening in the US, it's not a South African problem. It's not an Asian problem, or a Middle Eastern problem. It's truly a global problem. And, you know, slavery has been a problem since the beginning of time. So we wanted to create a movie that was commercial, it was entertaining, but we wanted to explore the world of the people that actually go into the human trafficking world to try and stop it. And, and ascertain what, what the impact is on those people. So this is kind of a crime thriller, it starts off as kind of a vigilante movie. And you realize it starts off as a serial killer movie, but then you realize it's a vigilante movie, and as a conflict between the investigating police officer who realizes that this killer might actually be doing her work for her, where she is constrained by the rules and the regulations, this, this vigilante is going to the place that she can't go and you know, she's she's torn by by duty, and she wants to do it the right way. Now, she's like, Okay, do I bring this person in, and then she discovers the identity of the killer. So it's kind of a very commercial thriller, we have two, two female leads to great South African actresses. And it basically is based on relevance. It's based on stuff that actually occurred in South Africa in the 90s. But when you look at the me to movement, you look at what's going on, we wanted to create a movie, that one that would wake people up and want to get them more involved in anti trafficking, and just being aware of what's going on in their own communities. And that's one of the reasons we created this movie, but we recognize it's entertainment as well. So we're going to entertain people, it said, the cinematography is stunning. We tested it in front of a US audience, we tested just above the norms, and above and well above the norms against the female targeted audience. But, you know, it was really gratifying to us as more than 85% of the recruited audience in the US said they wanted to get more involved in anti trafficking activities. That's, and ultimately, for us as independent filmmakers. That's the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for us. And actually, we've got a song from Pearl Jam on the soundtrack. That hit daughter, and, and Nancy Wilson from heart soul, one of the rough cuts of the movie, and she was so moved, she actually did a cover of it, that will just blow you away. And she is, she is so talented. But the song just captures the energy and the defiance and the brokenness and the strength, but just, it really epitomized what we created in the movie. And you know, and then happens, it's really magical. That's amazing.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:55
I look forward to seeing that movie. So you're doing good work out there. And I'm so I'm so glad that you were able to come on the show and talk, drop some knowledge bombs on the show, and I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. Sure. So what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Simon Swart 1:04:12
Get into the business, do something and find people to learn from build, build a network, start building your network right now, where you are, whoever you went to film school with? Those are probably the guys you're going to work with again in the future, and make sure your networks all supporting each other?

Alex Ferrari 1:04:28
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Simon Swart 1:04:34
Sure, if it's not coming together correctly, you know, be patient. And sometimes it's not. Sometimes if it's not coming together, there's a reason why. And you've got to be open to the possibility that maybe it's not meant to be and then you move on to the next slide, cut your losses. There's kind of a balance between cutting your losses and being the stoic champion of the movie, right? If you're hearing the same answer again and again, for many people, it's Probably about right. But you know, but but don't don't let that crush your creative instinct. And I know that Allen's but yes and and you don't have to win every battle.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:11
Yes, yes. Especially in this in this business it's very difficult to win every battle,

Simon Swart 1:05:17
Figure out which ones you must win and be okay to lose a few.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:20
It's okay. Now what was the biggest fear you had to overcome when making your very first feature film?

Simon Swart 1:05:28
The biggest fear I had to overcome in making it was actually it was it was based on a true story. And for me, my biggest fear was that we would accurately portray the life of this person whose movie we didn't have as a movie called six below. Okay, and we wanted to accurate you know, because because to me when you're doing a true story of someone's life, it's a sacred trust. And and I really wanted to make sure that we delivered on that and and of course made it on time,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:57
Ofcourse, and I'm on time and on budget, sir.

Simon Swart 1:05:58
And I've been on budget. Yes, sir.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:01
Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Simon Swart 1:06:05
Oh, that's a rough question. I've got to say Apocalypse Now is up their passions up there. There's definitely a couple of thing going there. Apocalypse Now mainly because one of my favorite books growing up I was a peculiar kid was Heart of Darkness. You're very popular kid. That translation of it, it was just stunning. And and yeah, that's that's probably not and I've got this is this is not good, but probably Dumb and Dumber. Hey, good thing about Mary. I mean, I love the foreign labor. Early work. Yeah. And the fact the fact that Peter Farley is Ed just did the Green Book too, is stunning to me. And as a filmmaker I love I love his work. And he always has something more in his movies, even his his crazy comedies, this there's something just there's just such a great heart in there.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:01
The wouldn't have been interesting, though, to see Apocalypse Now by George Lucas, who was originally slated to direct that movie. Yeah, that would have been interesting film.

Simon Swart 1:07:12
Well, you know, one of my anecdotes with Francis Ford Coppola. So we're working on the DVD set, this might be the segment you want to cut. But it's like now, what I'd say to young filmmakers, just remember that the thing that you're doing, that gets you fired might be the thing you're remembered for. And the reason why I say that is that my we did this whole thing with Francis Ford Coppola around the making of pattern. And, you know, we did a special edition and so on. And he talked about that opening scene and pattern and that opening monologue. And he was actually fired. He was about to be fired off of godfather. Apparently, the sob story goes, he was fired off of patent. And he was about to be fired off of godfather when he won the Academy Award for patents. Okay. And that. So it's kind of funny how that works, right? This industry is not as predictable as you would seem. It's not a straight line. And, and you look at what the great filmmaker like that and the creative risks that he took, and conventional wisdom at the time was that this scene sucks. Why are you doing this? This is terrible. You got an Academy Award for it. And he got to finish the Godfather as a result of that. And that's that's true story stuff. And imagine, imagine the Godfather without Francis Ford Coppola.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:29
You can't there is no godfather without Francis Ford Coppola,

Simon Swart 1:08:32
You know, so so. So I guess to the young filmmakers out there, it's not a straight line. It's it can be a pretty bumpy road, and stay the course men.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:42
Without the question. I promise you everyone listening right now, whatever you think is going to happen in your career, it is not going to happen. Not like that.

Simon Swart 1:08:50
It's got to be different. Exactly. And if it does happen like that, God bless you. Be thankful. But if it doesn't just remember, it's a it's a marathon, not a sprint.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:59
Exactly. Without question, Simon, where can people find you and more about your work that you're doing?

Simon Swart 1:09:05
Um, well, I'm pretty much on LinkedIn. And we have a company website in teba pictures. So it's a bit of a mouthful, and

Alex Ferrari 1:09:12
I'll put it on the up, put it in the show notes or

Simon Swart 1:09:14
Show ntb pictures. You can see more about us and the stuff that we're working on. So yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:20
Simon, thank you so much for being on the show. And I do appreciate you taking the time out, man.

Simon Swart 1:09:24
Cheers thanks, Alex. It's been a lot of fun.

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BPS 357: Using Blockchain to Make Money With Your Film with Kim Jackson and Jake Craven

Learning about new and improved ways to navigate archaic structures in our line of business is always very interesting. So, this week, I wanted to take you on a deep dive into blockchain entertainment financing — refined by entrepreneurs and producers Kim Jackson and Jake Craven of Breaker.io.

Kim is a member of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, co-owner of SingularDTV, and CEO of its umbrella company, Breaker Studios, where Jake serves as Vice President of Content Partnerships.

Breaker, founded in 2017, is a leading blockchain development and services company in the Media & Entertainment industry. It provides an innovative, intuitive, and user-friendly end-to-end royalty management platform for independent creators and distributors. Simply put, it uses blockchain and cloud-based technology to enable creators to maximize their revenue by automating revenue collection, backend accounting, and royalty payments while ensuring transparent reporting. 

I discovered Breaker when I stumbled upon Alex Winter’s award-winning feature documentary, Trust Machine: The Story Of Blockchain produced by Kim. Trust Machine trailerThe film explains how Blockchain technology is already being used to change the world, fighting income inequality, the refugee crisis, and world hunger. 

If you are new to Blockchain or have felt overwhelmed by all the information Google threw at you in an attempt to learn the rudimentary theory of Blockchain and cryptocurrency, check out Vinay Gupta‘s ‘A Brief History of Blockchain, Kim referenced during our chat.

Breaker’s concept is definitely the future of entertainment finance and, dare I say, global financial transacting. Being ahead of its time, Breaker is introducing products that allow for media revenue and royalty to be tracked via blockchain technology, which allows for an open-source network of data.

Basically, Breaker provides a better model for instantaneous recording and eliminating mistrust, especially for independent companies that want to sustain a business and revenue model for themselves.

I wish we had more time to continue the conversation because it was packed with filmtrepreneurial and blockchain knowledge bombs, and we could all do with the extra crash course. But I made sure to ask many important questions for you guys from today’s experts.

So, enjoy my conversation with Kim Jackson and Jake Craven.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:01
I'd like to welcome to the show Kim Jackson and Jake Craven. How you guys doing?

Kim Jackson 0:19

Jake Carven 0:20
Doing great.

Alex Ferrari 0:21
Thank you. Thanks for coming on. You guys are doing some really interesting stuff with your company breaker. And I saw them film by Alex winter about blockchain because I've now obsessed about blockchain pretty heavily and about NFT's and all that kind of good stuff. And, and then you guys reached out to me, and I was like, Oh, interesting. I like to see what you guys are doing. So for the audience who is not familiar with this new magical world, that is blockchain and crypto and tokenization. All this stuff. What is blockchain?

Kim Jackson 0:59
Wow, that's a ginormous question. So in relationship to media and technology and film, we'll I think we'll put it in that context.

Jake Carven 1:11

Kim Jackson 1:12

Jake Carven 1:12

Kim Jackson 1:12
Well, seeing that avenue.

Jake Carven 1:14

Kim Jackson 1:15
But essentially, blockchain is the technology that what we're all familiar with, as Bitcoin runs on, right. So Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency. And it operates on blockchain technology. So it's a at its simplest form, it's a protocol that runs programs. And so at a basic level, the programs Oh, that's why they're different than centralized systems is because this network is called decentralized. And that means where there's network, there's data and where there's data, there's network, unlike centralized systems that we currently work with. So when you apply that to basic concept to certain, maybe challenges and problems that different industries, like media, and film and television have, we have been building and are launching products that allow for media to be, you know, rights, revenue and royalty of media to be tracked via blockchain technology, which allows for a decentralized network of data. So I'm going to stop there, because Jay can go a little more specific into what breaker is, is building from that more general description.

Jake Carven 2:43
Yeah, thanks for a good intro into the big picture of blockchain. How I like to refer to someone's asking what is blockchain? What is a blockchain? It's really just a record of information. Right. And what makes it different from other records that we use, if you think Google sheets or Excel, or just databases, right, is that when when you enter in a new row of data, that information is encoded, so that nobody can go in and change the information later. So it's locked in place and set in stone. In addition, instead of the data being stored on one person's hard drive, or one company's servers, it's held and hosted, maintained by hundreds of people all around the world. So when we say decentralized, it's what we mean, it's there's people all over the world that are hosting and maintaining this network. And this is a record of information. So no one party is in control of that information. And it's all open source so that anyone at any point can go and view this record, they can pull up a website, and you know, put into information and actually see, you know, proof that information was logged and entered into this record. Now, it's all done using, you know, cryptography and long numerical chains that the average person can't decipher, or any person can say can decipher really. But what it does is it creates this opportunity where when you have data that's coming in from one source, instead of that data, just living on someone's computer, and then some human is like entering data and changing the information and sending it via an email. That information is automatically recorded and set on this public record the blockchain that people can go back to.

Alex Ferrari 4:56
So to simplify it is basically a database That has pages in a ledger, those pages are blocks inside of that chain. And they're hosted cop, there's 1000s of copies of that exact thing around the world. So even if you hack into my computer, and, and you know, try to do something, you can't, because there's multiple copies all around around the world, that could be verified by 1000s. And 10s of 1000s of people around the world as this continues to grow and grow is essentially and you can't adjust. And then like any chain, if you block it in the next chain, if you affect this chain, it will affect the rest of the entire chain. So that means it's literally locked in stone, digital stone and cannot be adjusted. So that's the security aspect of it. Is that a fair explanation?

Jake Carven 5:47
Yeah, absolutely. And I think I think most people, most people, you don't need to be tech savvy to, to, you know, reap the benefits of this or to appreciate how all this technology sort of works. You know, I think a lot of times, especially with the blockchain world, we kind of get a little too, we start talking about all the tech and code and all that stuff, when you know, really think of the internet and email, don't need know how email works in order to like, reap the benefits of email. So, you know, there's always this sort of element of the blockchain world where things get too technical too quickly. But we try and just break it down into kind of very clear concepts. And I think that's, that's an important element of just understanding that normally, when you send an email to someone, the record of that email is being held by the company who owns your email address, right? The email server like Google, if Google were to cease existing tomorrow, you would lose all of that information that's on your email, because it's stored by this private entity. So what blockchain does is takes that data and puts it up in a way where it's not subject to like one private entity who can take and use that information however they want or just disappeared, delete it.

Alex Ferrari 7:06
Fair, fair enough. Now, there are obviously the the origination of blockchain was with Bitcoin, and Bitcoin coming on. And that's when the whole concept of blockchain came to came to be, I think, in 2008 and December of 2008, if I'm not mistaken, and there are multiple blockchains out there because a lot of people think there's just this the one blockchain there's multiple blockchains out there, Bitcoin has its own blockchain, which is based around its cryptocurrency. But then another blockchain came out, which is arguably the silver to bitcoins gold, which is aetherium. And aetherium, was created as a blockchain not as much for money, though it has a component of that, but as a platform to kind of piggyback on is that, is that correct?

Kim Jackson 7:54
Correct. Yeah, it's its intention is to have more functionality and more dimension than just operating currency, which is Ethereum is the is the operating protocol that we're building our applications on top of

Alex Ferrari 8:12
now with, with Go ahead,

Jake Carven 8:16
I was gonna say, to go back to your analogy, instead of saying the theorem is silver to bitcoins gold, I think a better way to think of it is a theorem is the oil to bitcoins gold, because well, Bitcoin is a, you know, an asset that can be used as currency. Fair enough theory is, is a system for running applications and to be built upon.

Alex Ferrari 8:39
Now with that, with Ethereum, you because there isn't a monetary aspect of theory, there is an aetherium coin, which runs everything. So with, with the theorem did some of the issues that I've been hearing and seeing myself in the NFT world, is that it takes a long time for these things to get all these all these processes to get registered, because it takes time to physically get it on there. Also gas fees and things like that. Can you talk about that? Because that kind of goes into a larger conversation about what you guys are doing? And how are you going to kind of, because we're at the beginning, where I've been telling people there's like, we're basically in the internet 1994 right now, there, people are still trying to figure out how to build a website, people are still trying to figure out JPEG, because it's that, you know, I remember downloading an image that took four days to download one picture because no one understood JPEG yet. Things like that. Were in that world right now. So there are these kinds of issues that and that we're all figuring out and will be figured out in the next five years, if not faster, because there's so many people going in there. But what do you think? How do you approach and I can you explain gas fees and the speed and things like that with aetherium? Because there's just so many people jamming into it.

Kim Jackson 9:57

Jake Carven 9:58
Yeah. In order to understand, you know, if you're someone that that, listen to this and you're not familiar with sort of how blockchain actually works, when we say we're recording a new piece of information or data on the blockchain, what we're doing is you're submitting, let's say, transaction with this data. And then there are all these people that are maintaining this network in order to get people and this is what makes blockchain innovative, is, in order to get people to actually maintain that network of information. And to update it, you have to incentivize them, right, they're not just going to do it out of altruism. And because they like the idea of a decentralized network of information. So they have to get paid to maintain all this, right. And so they're just using computing power and their computers. But what happens is, they get paid a fee to update the blockchain to record your data, right, like you pay a fee for a notary public, if you will. And so those, that fee is what's called a gas fee. So when you go to transact blockchain, or you're going to use an application that is interacting with the blockchain in some way, you have to pay a gas fee in the form of cryptocurrency that goes to the individual who's actually like logging that transaction. So that's what keeps the system going. And moving forward, as you know, people are being incentivized because they're getting paid to do it. And, and that's, that's what we refer to gas fees. Now, there's a lot of development that's taking place and a lot of different approaches to blockchain technology and updates, the original mechanism of it was built in serve one purpose, but it had limitations. Were at a phase now where there's a lot of updates being made and switching to some different systems that are more efficient and cost less and are faster. And those are going to be implemented. And some of them are already implemented. Some we're going to be going in the next year, a couple of years. So the whole landscape is changing pretty dramatically right now in terms of just like the nuts and bolts and how of how it works. But for us, the key thing is looking at just that underlying the value proposition of just a blockchain and then this core concept that of what we like to call tokenization. What is tokenization?

Kim Jackson 12:35
Well, Alex, I want to say one thing. You have it, right? It's early days, it's like 1996 in blockchain right now. So it's like the dial up date. Oh, settings, take

Alex Ferrari 12:47
money for 100 bucks. 2400 baud? Yeah.

Kim Jackson 12:49
Yeah, exactly. So it's very, it's a very early, it's still early days. It really, really is. And so, you know, the, the architects of Ethereum are well aware. And they are, you know, they're there. You know, I listen to conversations on clubhouse that, you know, they pop in and out of, and, you know, they're, they're very much aware and their solutions that they're working on, and they're very confident in the future of the etherium protocol, being able to handle the number of transactions that would would be necessary for it to work properly for the general public. Just like the internet, you know, had to figure that out, too. So, yes, so you know, it's, it's, it's definitely a good horse to bet on.

Alex Ferrari 13:39
No, exactly. It's like, if you would have told me like, you know, this internet things really gonna take off. You know, I mean, I still remember dialing, you know, logging in with my AOL free disk that I got, yes, I got my free connection to the Internet.

Kim Jackson 13:54
Made the sound on sound effects. Oh, fantastic. It was, you know, you couldn't wait and we just sat there and we waited and a little chat rooms would come up in the windows, you'd be talking to people in like Vietnam and it was just like amazing Thai was was exceptionally good, incredible. Time. And then you had I put in my name and didn't work and you know, getting your email address. For the first time in a while. I tried like a zillion things. And then I ended up putting some really random thing in there. Just like, okay, I give up. And then of course, it took it so then that was my AOL. I Oh, well, address was something weird and random for a very long time. Yes, it's sort of like that. And, um, I recommend this really great about 25 minute video that Vinay Gupta recorded some years ago that essentially talks about the history of computer science leading to blockchain. And it is super, super important, especially those who maybe came a little bit later in the game and don't maybe have holes in their knowledge of computer science. Leading up to today it was extremely it's like one of those things that we have a required viewing for people who work with us. Because it's very important to understand this moment in time of computer science, which is where we are, which is extremely exciting.

Alex Ferrari 15:16
No, exactly. Please send me a link to that. I would love to put that in the show notes for everyone to watch as well. But I feel I feel that blockchain is as important if not more important than the internet. And it's just such a that's such a that and that is such a massive statement to say, I'm not alone in that, by the way, I'm sure there's many I think both of you agree with it. It's, it's seeing the vision of work and go it's not there right now. But seeing the vision of where that can go. They mean cryptocurrency and we could talk about cryptocurrency, and that is a long game. It's a long in 100 years, we're all going to be dealing with some form of cryptocurrency. I mean, the dollar paper money and all of that, is it. I don't I don't think that's going to happen. I mean, it keeps going for the next 100 years. I think that's very archaic way of doing things. This is and I think that the D five movement and the decentralization and all that stuff is great. But Jake, remind me Did you? Did you answer the question on tokenisation? No, okay. Okay. Okay. I was, I was like, I don't remember him answering it. So took a decision, because I don't know, that's a big part of what you guys are doing with breaker.

Jake Carven 16:22
Yeah, so you to bring it all back around to film and entertainment and how blockchain can be used in the entertainment industry. You have to think of this concept. And this is what when people hear of NF T's or they hear of, you know, different companies and tokens, what we're what we're really talking about is taking a piece of intellectual property and creating a digital identifier with it, which is what we call a token. So it is a unique code that is an address that is recorded on the blockchain that is then associated back to that asset. So what we're doing is taking, let's say, a film, and creating a digital token that represents that film, and the ownership shares of that film, same time. So instead of having just like a contract, then each person has their copy of the contract. And, you know, you kind of have to rely on attorneys to confirm all that. And then some, some accountant will look at it and determine, okay, this person gets this amount, what you're actually doing is you have this digital identity identifier that's recorded on the blockchain. But with that is in associated smart contract, which is another key concept in the blockchain world, which is you're taking the terms of, let's say, a film finance agreement, and you're turning it into a logical formula saying, if X amount of dollars, then it goes to this person, then any money after that goes to these people. And so now, when something happens, let's say there's a transaction or someone sends money to, or records it on the blockchain via a platform, that token, so the asset, right, the money flows back to that address, it's associated with it tied to that address, and then the code based on the smart contract knows how to then to split up the money and who to send it to automatically, because of the terms that you put in place. So what we're doing is looking at how we can tokenize an asset, right, take intellectual property, create a digital token that represents it, and the shares and the back end, and then also apply a smart contract where we can then automate the flow of revenue and the management of rights for that underlying asset

Alex Ferrari 18:48
in a complete transparent way where anybody can go in and look at it, as opposed to the shady world of distribution today.

Jake Carven 18:58
So instead of relying on, you know, an entity where it really comes down to some, you know, accounting associate, manually putting numbers in a spreadsheet, and even if everyone is acting with the best of attention intentions, they're still going to put you know, run the formula incorrectly or miss human error type number, you know, all this stuff, and it just so much error and so much money is lost, and, you know, all because of the sort of human and, and really archaic methodology and practices for entertainment, accounting and rights management, which is really hasn't changed since this all started in the turn of the century. Alright, so this, you know, a way of bringing this new technology to create more efficiency, automation, transparency, for what is otherwise a very inefficient process.

And that is your so some key elements that you Using our tokenization and then smart contracts, can you go? You mentioned smart contracts? Can you explain the smart contracts are to the audience?

Well, yeah, smart contracts are really, it's a set of code that is embedded on in the token. But really what that code is, you're taking the terms of an actual paper contract that you sign, and then taking the logic of like the flow of funds and who receives what and when, and then applying that into actual, like, logic, like math of. And that's what smart that's really all a smart contract is it's that logical formula, that is reflecting agreements between parties that are done outside

Alex Ferrari 20:45
like the waterfall, it's normal waterfall funds, yeah, on the back end, correct. First in like first in financers, get first monies in all that kind of stuff. But it's broken up through using basically smart contracts and blockchain. So when a happens, then B happens, and then once B is done, then it goes out to C, D, E and F. And then you can just lay out however you want the smart contracts to play out, essentially

Kim Jackson 21:09
correct so that when revenue flows in to that token, from the external sources, it automatically will get split into those buckets that you know, you know, this this shareholder that shareholder that member this, you know, that you have your writer and your director or your let's say, you know, you have guilds that need you know, all of it, you can do all all of the anyone who's sharing revenue, in a particular piece of content, or intellectual property. It will automatically when revenue comes in the revenue be pushed into all of those

Alex Ferrari 21:46
different entities. Because right now, there are a handful of companies around the world that do this but in a manual way, not an A and I have had those those companies on the show have spoken about that sounds great. Like they make sure all the you know the the unions get taken care of and, and all entities are very comfortable with that, because there's a centralized kind of almost escrow account that handles the money that has not been handled by anybody else. And they know that they're going to get paid because this entity is going to do it. But the way you're proposing it would be essentially humorless, in the sense of it's going to be set up in a completely transparent way where you can literally log on, check the check your site and go Okay, this is how it's coming in. But the question I have for you is, this is all of course, based on blockchain and cryptocurrency because that's how these these payments have to be moved through has to be moved through aetherium. cryptocurrency, correct. I mean, you're not writing checks, essentially, are not doing wire transfers, or are you

Kim Jackson 22:43
know, no, there is a mechanism that it can be turned into Fiat. It can be turned into, you know, USD. And so we're using a stable coin in this case, so that that deals with the fluctuation that will happen right with cryptocurrencies. So, you know, when revenues come in and something gets, you know, pushed into the token, it will be pushed into the stable coin. And then those stable coins can be held on to or transferred into, you know, exchanges,

Alex Ferrari 23:16
however you however you choose, so that, when you say stable coin, is that an actual name of a coin? Or is that just a generalized name of a coin that you are creating, to make sure that that if $10 comes in $10 comes out, as opposed to $10 comes in Ethereum bombs, or explodes? And then they got $100. Or

Kim Jackson 23:35
no, we didn't invent that. Okay. It's it's a mechanism that, you know, others it's an issue, right? That's a problem, right? You to pay people in crypto, just playing crypto, I mean, it's gonna rise and fall in a millisecond. So So how do you deal with that? So, you know, it's been figured out and, you know, Jake, you can shed some a little bit more light on that one, because I know you're, you know, we're working on our SaaS product right now. And, and that's one of the mechanisms that we use, but no, we can't take credit for.

Alex Ferrari 24:04
Because I've seen that, but there was a point that's a USD coin that's just basically tracks. So that's the point you're using, essentially.

Jake Carven 24:12
Yeah, so we use usdc. There are a number of other stable coins, but the core idea is, you know, it's getting the benefits of, you know, sending funds via the blockchain and but without the volatility or the risk of interacting with cryptocurrency, so it's tied to the value of the US dollar. And, you know, what we really look at is, and this is something that we encounter, you know, there's a lot of companies that have been in this space that came around, we've been doing this for a lot for a while now, men have really learned what are the pain points and some of the limitations to really for broad adoption of this technology. And so we build tools, taking those learnings and applying that. So you know, when you're a filmmaker You need to be able to exploit your film, anywhere where there's a revenue opportunity, right. And there's only if the number of avenues that you release a film is just growing, right? Because audiences are more spread out, there are more new platforms every day. And it's important to be able to, you know, reach those audiences wherever they are to find those opportunities to have your film stand out. So we've built a tool that we call it an on ramp, right, like fiatter, crypto on ramp, so you're able to collect payment in dollars, right? Usually, it's processed via bank account transfer, so a ch. And then our technology automatically converts that to a stable coin. And by doing that, once the funds are in a stable coin, then they can be sent to the film's token. And the smart contract can then do its job, send the funds to all the different participants, and they can then claim their share of the royalties and the revenue immediately. Right then in there. So we look at this sort of full chain of funds, and and how do we make it as smooth and easy as possible, while still still actually getting the benefits of the technology? At the same time?

Alex Ferrari 26:20
So and then. So let's say you have a Netflix deal, you've got some transactional on iTunes, and you sold Germany for a few 1000 bucks, let's say you did all those three things, you would basically have them send checks or wires, essentially into a an account that then automatically turns them into a stable coin.

Jake Carven 26:42
Well, yeah, so what it is, is you will in one way to think of the to kind of step back, when we talk about tokenizing a film, think of it in the way that we would go about and create like a ppm, right? If you're trying to raise private equity for a film, you need a private placement memorandum, which breaks down what is the equity structure, what is the person who's investing in the film, getting all that sort of stuff, and tokenizing, the film is taking that waterfall, putting it into the smart contract and deploying that. So it's recorded on the blockchain. So now you have this token that has been deployed, it's in place, and then begins time to like, Alright, let's start collecting revenue. So for Netflix, and if you're releasing from on iTunes, you're like going through an aggregator or distributor, those payments, most likely are going to come the NAC h transfer, right? A direct bank transfer. And so we are you, a filmmaker can then share the link to our payment portal, if you will, and that that distributor or license or can then submit, you know, remit payment, VA ch directly on that, and that those funds will then be automatically associated with the filmmaker with that film. Right. And so all of the like, you know, the manual, all the like, the counting stuff is all happening behind the scenes automatically, that international, probably, you know, there's a good chance that that might come the wire payment, but also, you know, bank transfer. So we're looking at, you know, how are the ways that filmmakers actually get paid today? And how can we evolve this technology to be able to

Alex Ferrari 28:26
address those different use cases, and you as breaker don't hold any of the money coming in. Because that's been one of the big issues with aggregators and things like that, that they hold the money and might miss spending money, money comes in automatically, with instantly once the money hits that account, turns into a kit at the stable coin, then goes down the waterfall into the thing, you guys never touch anything regarding. I mean, obviously, regarding whatever the payment is for your service might be taken off the top or there's a pain. I don't know how that works. How do you make money with this all?

Jake Carven 29:02
So I mean, we're providing this service, right, it's a software as a service. So you know, there's a mechanism of people, you know, paying for via, like, you would pay for any technology that you use. Got it. And so, but the goal, the the core goal for what we're doing, and this is something that goes back to something that you brought up, collection account management services, and one of the big, the big cards with them is that they are expensive, very often prohibitive, especially for independent film. So, you, us using this technology allows us to provide this service to creators at a much more affordable rate. Right then the legacy systems that are in place today. Very, very cool.

Kim Jackson 29:48
And then, you know, another goal that's worth mentioning here, is that, you know, is to have everyone in this ecosystem participate With blockchain technology utilizing this, so not just the content creator, but also the media companies who are distributing the work, because we talked with a lot of them, and we are approaching, you know, a lot of them at the moment in very exciting conversations because they're backroom accounting is extremely inefficient, cost them millions and millions of dollars, and they lose millions and millions of dollars all the time based on just either error or error, you know, error in accounting, or just the inability to really track stuff, especially when you start getting complicated with multiple, you know, territories that you can imagine a piece of content will go to especially like, you know, Netflix now and all across the world. So the long term goal is to, you know, really have everyone participate in, you know, with this software and building a bridge between the, between the two, because it can benefit both sides. It's baby steps, and it's it's new. So, you know, everyone has to start to get comfortable with the concept of telling the truth.

Alex Ferrari 31:16
Anyone who's anyone who listens to my podcast understands my feelings in regards to traditional Yeah.

Kim Jackson 31:24
Right with you all, it's one of the reasons that this is happening is is I got tired of being shortchanged, I get tired of not having revenue reports, not being able to report to my, my investors, and good, bad or indifferent, you know what I mean? Like you, okay, sometimes a picture doesn't, you know, do well, but at least you'd have numbers to be able to, you know, justify that and show why we don't even get that information. And so, when we learned about the potential of blockchain, on media and content, it's really what inspired myself and my co founders to, to do what we're doing right now. And realizing that it is a long game and realizing that we would be disrupting and interrupting, you know, quite quite a system. But just like the internet happened, it was undeniable, and people are not going to use that I'm not going to do that. It's one of those things where you're all we're all gonna be using it, whether we realize it or not. Someday soon. And so, it by introducing the power of this and the efficiency, I think that organically, I'm hoping this is my pie in the sky, you know, but, but I'm hoping that organically, everyone just adopts this. And then we don't even have to have a conversation about the truth anymore. It's just it just happens. Because it's just more efficient.

Alex Ferrari 32:45
Right? And that's what this whole. That's the whole beauty and genius of blockchain is that two strangers can do business without knowing or trusting each other. And that's been the issue from the beginning of the humanity high, since beginning of time, it was like, I want to give you my goat. And you're gonna give me a cow. But how am I sure you're not going to kill like, there's, there's no, there's no way of doing and that's why fiat money and gold and all these kind of things of getting, we've tried to figure it out over the years. But in this digital platform with blockchain, it completely erases everything.

Kim Jackson 33:24
And it's completely transparent. You don't have to have a like a moral or philosophical or ethical position, it's just gonna be in is it just gonna happen? Because it makes more sense. It's logical, you know, and this is, like, Jake said, it's math, it's man get down to the core of all of it. And it's math. And it's just with with the acceleration of technology and media in particular. It's going to make sense, just from a logical perspective, because how do you account for all this content? And this content sharing? I mean, it's like, it's insane how much is out there. I mean, just from the perspective of the viewer, I get we're over, we're overwhelmed with choices. And if you think about it, from a content creators perspective, the competition out there is insane. And the lifespan of your of your content now, is much, much longer and much greater, much grander than it ever was before. And it's going to just keep accelerating.

Alex Ferrari 34:17
Right, exactly. And I, you know, I'm in the weeds with this all the time. And when you're saying all these films are out there, most of them aren't getting paid. And it's not, it's either, you know, I did just not they're just not most most most of them are not getting paid, because of these kind of weird distribution agreements or shady practices or error, human error, as well, or Amazon's which is from 10 cents a minute, an hour to one penny, of streaming and things like that

Kim Jackson 34:49
get acquired and somebody else buys them and then they have a new department and then they have to transfer all that centralized data and I've got a new person and I'm looking at this first time and I don't know what I'm looking at. I Since it's insanity, it's really insanity. And when we talk to a lot of the, you know, CFOs and accounting types who put these media companies, you know, a lot of times the one departments are talking to the other. So the the department is doing distribution for television is not talking to the department is doing distribution for for traditional film and they have data that's separate and those that data should be connected, and it's not being connected, and it's in the same company within the same company. So the inefficiencies are getting the gap is getting wider and wider. And so they know that something's got to give because they're losing money. And so, you know, the blockchain is an incredible solution. And, you know, we're very, very excited and very motivated by the promise of blockchain. And, and, you know, it's very exciting that you guys and the listeners, and everyone, you know, get this and, you know, it's like talking, it's kind of boring on some level to talk about it a blockchain, because it's like talking about JavaScript, it's like, Who cares? It's like, what's going on underneath of the hood. But you know, what you really care about is, you know, what's, what's the bottom line for, for you, and what the bottom line is, is understanding the core that you're using is actually going to level the playing field, you know, take away, you know, the mistrust, and be able to give you instantaneous recording, these are very important and powerful things, especially for independent companies that want to sustain a business and revenue model for themselves. Because it's, it's almost impossible, you know, you'll get a bunch of funding, you'll make, you know, half a dozen movies, and then you're closing your doors four or five years later. This happens all the time. And so there's got to be a better model. And we're hoping with with this technology, we hope to be able to provide that to these, these filmmakers and these companies.

Alex Ferrari 36:52
Now, there's another thing I saw on your website in regards to financing a film, how do you use this technology in the financing game on how to get your independent project financed? Because there's some very, very interesting benefits that could possibly come from it?

Kim Jackson 37:10
Sure, it's a bit complex, right at the moment, it's not black and white, as you know. You know, I think if you're in a perfect world, and in the future, I can see that you can tokenize your movie, do a token raise just almost like crowdsourcing in a way. But the differences is that instead of getting a T shirt, you're actually getting revenue participation in that movie. And in real time, just like we're talking about through the same mechanisms we were just discussing. And that's in a perfect world. And that's what we we envision for tokat. In the future, it's not possible for various reasons, right? Right now, really, from that perspective of, you know, we can't be it, we can't hold money and be a bank for people like that there has to sort of be that separation. And so it's not as easy. And also, on some level it's crowdsourcing. So you're kind of faced with that same kind of situation with, you know, the Kickstarters of the world, right, in terms of like, getting people's attention, to be able to, you know, raise the amount of funds that you need for that your, your picture. And so, there is a mechanism that I could see in the future that would kind of combine those two efforts where people, especially if you're a well known filmmaker, and you have a track record, and people know, you, you're already going to have a fan base. And so imagine, imagine if there was the Star Wars token, like a mad magic. And but but all those token holders who were fans got to participate in the success almost like the NFT type of model. Right, right. But but from from more of an intellectual property and a revenue sharing model. So, Jake, yeah, I'm sure you got.

Alex Ferrari 38:52
It's like, it's like equity crowdfunding, essentially, almost. But using blockchain and tokens, it's called,

Kim Jackson 38:59
it's complicated because of ky seeing. And because of all of these, these these sec rules and regulations that are from like, 1948, or something that don't really apply to technology today. And so it makes things a bit challenging, but how about this for this specific moment,

Alex Ferrari 39:17
but what about IPOs? So wouldn't this be similar to an IPO? Well,

Jake Carven 39:23
it would be but we forget, I mean, we don't forget it. It's a very small pool of people who actually get to participate in IPOs. Right? It's not IPOs are not something that every person gets to participate in. We might be able to buy a stock after a bank purchases X number and then they sell it again.

Alex Ferrari 39:44
initial point an Ico excuse me, an Ico not an IPO but Ico when they like Dogecoin for God's sakes, or something like that when they put out a coin codepoint initial coin offering could that be kind of like a movie initial movie offer

Jake Carven 39:58
so well. That's the thing, I mean, that we're at, we're at the stage to go back to the knowledge of where we are in the evolution of the technology. Right? There's, we're at the stage where Yeah, it's, you know, 1996 internet, but the SEC has caught up enough learned enough about the internet, right, that they're on, on c span, calling it a series of tubes. But, you know, applying their existing framework to this, and causing a bit more, you know, you know, it's still an evolving process. So, you know, we've gotten to a threshold where, you know, 2017 2018, is where you had the sort of Ico boom. And that's where the technology was very new to a lot of the regulators in, in, you know, countries around the world. But now 2021, it's much more familiar, it's on the radar. So they've limited stuff to a point that you really not seeing those happening as much right now. The coins that are released very often it's, it's not something where people are raising funds through a release of the coins, where people are purchasing them, it's usually more, the new currencies or tokens are being utilized, where they have some utility to them. And they're being distributed to a community of people who can then you know, use them for different purposes, but it's not being used as something to you know, crowdfund in the same way that it was in 2017 2018. So you know, where we look at in terms of if you're a filmmaker, and you're going to raise money. And one of the big aspects is, where's the money coming from, and you can still go out and raise equity and get investors. But what happens more often than not is you're a filmmaker, you get an investor to help you with your first film, you make that film, but from the investor standpoint, the experience of being an investor in independent film is is so bad, because there isn't a lot of information, right? There's, you know, they don't, it's not even that they didn't make their money back. It's just like, there's the black hole, right? There's no data, there's no, it's very hard to get a sense of like, what's going on, you know, what is the act? How is money actually being used? Where's How is the film doing? What was the value of my investment in this. And so it becomes incredibly difficult to get people to investor invest in a second film. And you what we really see is this technology being a tool that creators can use when they go out to investors saying, look, using this, and the technology ensures that you're going to have this access to information. And, you know, we're addressing these sort of pain points that a lot of film investors encounter. And that makes the you as a creator. more intriguing, you know, option for someone to invest in, because there's this level of like, I don't have to trust that you're going to write me a check and pay me back. It's, it's we're utilizing technology that's going to automate all of that. So you're going to get everything as soon as we do. And that our aim is for that to be something that helps these conversations when filmmakers are talking to investors. And that's how it right now without getting into regulations, and sec stuff is a way today that it can be used as a tool to help with financing.

Alex Ferrari 43:20
Well, where can people find out more about what you guys are doing?

Jake Carven 43:26
Well, you can find out on I mean, on our website. So breaker.io is a website. For our technology side, we have a website called tools.breaker.io. We also have our studio side where we produce and finance our own slate of films. And that's breaker studios. And actually, I'll add that those films are our own testcases. So we're using this technology to manage the revenue in the rights for the films that we're producing ourselves. So we're not just asking people to use it, you know, and we're also not just technology people that are trying to build something for the film industry, because we think the film industry is cool and sexy. People that happened to be technology people at the same time, I'm an entertainment attorney. And I spent my career as a distributor working with new distribution mechanisms and new tools and platforms, and Kim's a producer in producing films her whole career. So we're also you We come from the entertainment side and have that background and knowledge that has informed how we guide this technology.

Alex Ferrari 44:34
And the old joke is how do you how do you make millions in the film industry? You start with billions. Yeah. You did. Actually. You don't? I mean, it's Yeah, I mean, and you say that you know you when you define the film industry, Alex Well, the film industry is very there's so many aspects There's the independent film industry. There's the people who, like Marvel. There's Disney, there's, you know, then there's the back back alley, you know, predatory distributors. There's so many aspects of the film industry on the just performance side, then there's the production side, then there's the this, there's, there's so many different aspects of it. But yeah, so you can't make money in the film industry. There are definitely places you can make money in the film industry. But

Kim Jackson 45:30
yeah, if you're a pirate, and you know, I've met them on all beside you're talking about I've met them in production, of course, we'll go We'll go What's your budget, okay. And then they do their own creative accounting on the production budget, so they can filter, you know, filter money over to some other entity, whatever happened. And you're like, you know what, I'm a line producer. I know how to count. I don't think you kidding me? And they look at you with a straight face. Like what do you mean,

Alex Ferrari 45:59
crafts? craft services cost? $20,000. a day on $100,000? movie? I don't understand. You know, $100 bagel?

Kim Jackson 46:12
Yeah, you have? Yeah, there's, there's four extras and you have, you know, $100,000. And for extras, like, you know, like, what? No, extra. So, you know, like these types of things. But yes, you have to be a pirate you do, you have to be a pirate. And, you know, I've definitely made a movies with my fair share of them. And I had to say it was a lot of fun. However, I want to make money, I want to make money, I want enough a business revenue source, you know, that's reliable, that allows me to sustain a business model for myself. And you know, one of the other interesting things that I always bring up to is a lot of colleagues who've been in the business a long time who have survived longtime survivors of you know, independent films specifically, you know, they are coming up against Where are the rights to these films that we sold 15 years ago, where are these are who owns the rights to these films, because they're expiring now and right, and technically, they should be able to, you know, repackage and redistribute these films, especially the sweetheart films that have, you know, an ability to be repackaged in a really, you know, classics or whatever, how or whatever you want to package it. And they're finding that they have no idea where the rights live anymore, because a lot of times the companies that they first sold to were bought, the libraries were bought and sold maybe multiple times, and the the resources that would take them to do the research is just not they're not it's not available to them. So they just kind of have to let things you know, go. And it's a it's a missed opportunity. It's a missed business opportunity, especially if you're a longtime, you know, producer, it's our director, you know, a creator it's, it's, it's a lost opportunity.

Alex Ferrari 47:56
And if you have smart contracts, that kind of voids that situation. if everyone's on a smart contract, like 15 years, it automatically goes to this person's account again, and blah, blah, blah, or whatever it is. All right. I mean, if everything in a magical world, eventually we'll get there. I think we're still years away. from everybody jumping on board, it could because it's, it's like the internet. And how long did it take? I still remember going on line and going Paramount calm? Nope. disney.com? Nope. Like there was I remember those times that there's How long did it take before everybody jumped online before anyone had a website? So this is the same thing I think it's gonna take it's gonna be faster than it did with the internet, though. And Bitcoin is kind of like, done a lot of the heavy lifting over the last decades. It's It's, it's, it's it's come out. It's like, they've kind of refined the idea. And now it's starting, I think he's starting to pick up a little bit of steam. Would you guys agree with all just blockchain and everything is that people are starting to become much more aware of it. Sure.

Jake Carven 48:56
Well, technologies evolved to a point that it's, you know, there are, there are certain hurdles that we encountered and chosen a team that limited our ability to do certain things that were are no longer hurdles, because technology is evolved. So it's growing and improving really, really fast. And that's a great thing. Because, you know, we see the potential use cases and the potential is becoming the actual very quickly.

Alex Ferrari 49:22
Yeah, I mean, if you remember 1996, and then you remember 2006. I mean, YouTube was a year Oh, you're you're too old. And the compression of video was horrible. And it took them another five or eight years before. Oh, look, 720 p. It takes time for this to go. But I think that's I think it's a very exciting time. And I think what you guys are doing is really exciting. And there's there's a lot there's a big learning curve coming. There's a lot of hurdles we have to get over. for everybody involved including the old school dinosaurs and the new young kids coming up who understand is much better than your flitz.

Kim Jackson 50:04
But, you know, don't Don't sell yourself short. I mean, you know, we were there in the beginning. So we have more knowledge, you know, because we were at the sort of the, the beginning of the internet craze. And sure, I think that being around for that and witnessing that and sort of being turned on by it, you know, kids today they just automatically come into it. They don't know they don't understand. They don't this they did not get, you know, like I had a bag phone. I had a phone in my car that was in a bag. Like That was my I was talking about this past weekend with somebody like cell phones was like this giant if anybody

Alex Ferrari 50:39
wants it in a bag, if anybody wants a reference to that watch lethal weapon. And at the end towards the end of lethal weapon, Danny Glover is outside on a bridge talking to rigs on one of those phones.

Kim Jackson 50:51
One of those phones and it was like the $900 a minute like it was really it was seriously like you get you only it was an emergency situation, you know. But you know, the internet was it's very interesting, you know that the whole thing? I mean, I I was in college and I was dating a guy who was a computer science major at BC any I always joke he bought me my own URL for like Valentine's Day and I was like, What is? Where were the flowers? What is the nerdiest the nerdiest,

Alex Ferrari 51:22
dirtiest romantic gesture in the history of?

Kim Jackson 51:25
I have my name calm? Because of him? Yeah. Yeah. And like, there's a million Kim Jackson's on the planet. I mean, I've ran into him. I've had people email me saying, Can I buy my Oh, you're out? Because I I'm like, No, I kidding. Like, that's amazing. But I have my own URL. But I mean, you know, back in the day, if I would not have thought of that, I would not have even thought it. I was like, what's the URL? What do you mean,

Alex Ferrari 51:50
I was lucky enough. I bought Alex Ferrari calm and like late 90s. So I was I was I was, I had a website, business I had, I had an online business in the 90s. I used to make, I've sold this a couple of I used to make like, five, six grand a month. The problem was my server bills were five or six grand a month. Because of bandwidth, bandwidth.

Kim Jackson 52:14
Yes. So that's where we're at now. Yes, this is where we're at right now. And, you know, it's super cool to be talking to you. You're so knowledgeable about it, Alex, and it's really awesome. Because you know, more than you let on that you did. So.

Alex Ferrari 52:32
Like I said, I've been doing a lot of research about this, because I'm really fascinated by the whole concept. I do think it's, it's the future of it's gonna it's gonna affect so many different industries, ours, our small little corner of the world, which is we think it's really big, but the film industry is so small comparatively to medical records and, and just yet, and just just infrastructure on like tracking food and, and manufacturing and finding parts and everything will be on the blockchain eventually, eventually GE medical records everything, everything.

Kim Jackson 53:03
I mean, imagine like, that's one of the examples, I use a lot of medical records, because we will say I don't I don't quite understand. And I say well think about like, you go to the doctor, and then your insurance changes you and you got to go to another network. And that network didn't talk to that network, and you got to fax your faxing, where it's to 2021 were faxing medical records right over to another thing and they didn't get it, you get there and like, we never got the fax and you're like getting it to fax. And I mean, you know, it's like insane the inefficiency and data sharing in the health industry. I mean, it should just be a decentralized network, you can just go Okay, which is a little scary, because then, you know, give the Think about that for one second. I mean, there's some security, and some, you know, privacy things that would have to be it for me to be comfortable to. And by the way, there are blockchain companies who are working on the security and the privacy issues around, you know, the fact that it is decentralized, and you know, anyone could find the hash tag that would be this long that you would have to understand that there's, you know, Jake's hash tag for that particular thing. Unless he told me I wouldn't know that but people don't quite understand that but but and when people's names and more private information is gonna start being shared. I think, you know, it's good to know that there are blockchain companies that are working on the on the privacy and security protocols around that because it will be necessary.

Alex Ferrari 54:34
Now, just really quickly, those What do you think of the NF t situation because I mean, I've done I've done three episodes, I did a series of episodes on NF T's because I was fascinated with them. And once I understood what an NF T was, which is basically a digital baseball card. Like Okay, got it. It's a baseball card. It's a comic book. It's what it is. So I put up some NF T's just for fun and sold out. I was like, wait a minute. How does this work and In my NF T's that I sold, where I have the distinct honor of having the very first filmmaking tutorials ever uploaded to YouTube. Cool, I have a series of six of them. And they were all up there. And I showed the link and everything and they I sold the first three and then I uploaded the other three. And I've had, I had interviews with the the guys that a lot of wanna, who NFT their, their, their feature, and they're not selling their distribution rights, but there's, you're able to buy basically shares in their movie. And then whatever money comes in, gets out there. And then Kevin Smith is selling his entire distribution for his latest film on that, whatever he's doing there. What do you guys think of NF T's and how it affects the film industry? Just out of curiosity? I know, that's not what your company does. But this is just a curious question, Jake.

Jake Carven 55:48
Well, you know, and it's funny, I wouldn't say that we don't do anything with NF T's because NF T's are tokens. And we operate in tokens, right. And so while we see greater application of fungible tokens to a film, where you're creating the, you know, Jake's movie token, and you're creating 100 of those, and each one represents 1%, of the total share of Jake's movie token, it's still a token. And I think that the core concepts that you need to understand to buy and interact with NF T's are the core concepts you need to understand to use any blockchain application. And so to that regard, it's uh, you know, rising tide raises all ships, because the more people that learn about this and become comfortable with the fundamentals of the technology, the better I think, at the end of the day, you know, there are things that come up with NF T's where people like NF T's can do this, they can do that. tokens can do that. It doesn't have to be an NF t to do it, it's tokens. And so we focus and NF T's are flashy, because of the, you know, the dollar amount that comes up with some of the sales. And, you know, I think there's a very particular audience that's very excited about that. And, you know, it's a specific pool of people that are actually transacting and purchasing NF T's it's not, you know, it's a very, it's actually a very small number of people in the whole, you know, of the total population that are actually purchasing. But they're collectibles, right, it comes down to collectible item, merchandise, things like that. And that's great. It's really interesting how it's evolving in the gaming space, you know, and how these tokens can be used to unlock different things. And that's exciting to see that evolve. And I think that's going to be in the next couple of years, where it's going to continue to get exciting is in, in gaming, right? Because video games, the whole world of you know, I bought this game for 150 bucks, I'm playing it and now I have to purchase, you know, in app purchases, I need to play it yet. But then you don't own those things. Right. It's stuck. It's limited to just that game. These are not transferable. That's, that's a, you know, problem in itself. But we just keep going back to you know, the more people become comfortable with tokens, the better for our standpoint, because that is what grows the technology. We, at this point, you know, you mentioned, you know, that that's a lot of the boring stuff, you know, or the boring aspects of blockchain or applications, like with healthcare, we focus on the boring stuff in the film industry. And I'm fine with that. Because, you know, we're nerds and, you know, I said, I'm the attorney and I like the boring stuff. I find it fascinating. And, you know, so what we do is necessarily sexy, you know, you know, videos and flashy stuff that selling for, you know, millions of dollars, but we think it's a tool that can can really help this industry and help independent creators across the board. Whether or not you're tech savvy.

Alex Ferrari 58:55
Yeah. And look what the NBA has been doing with NBA hot shots and, and Major League Baseball's coming out with their like digital packs. And those digital packs are like flying off the shelves and things like that. When do you think when do you think we're gonna see, you know, Marvel's NF T's? Like, you know, when are we going to start because it's coming? It's coming in? There's no question tomorrow it

Jake Carven 59:19
yeah, it might be tomorrow. I think fox is announced they're making a big investment. And, you know, it's, it's, it's an inevitability. But when you look at in that regard, it's it's just an extension of their merchandise division, and it's just more merchandise and with no cost.

Alex Ferrari 59:35
It's very little cost of manufacture.

Jake Carven 59:37
Yeah, exactly. So you know, I think it I think it's a good thing in the long run,

Kim Jackson 59:44
because, you know, what, it's, everything's digital now. Right? So, you're, we're going, we're going been going into the digital world for decades now. And so, one, I think challenge especially for art, you know, is how do you rare Buy and make digital art meaningful and worth something. And so I think that NF T's are, you know, valuable in that way, because then you can, you know, create value in a new in a new way, especially for digital art. And I think that, you know, studios, they've got all the that, you know, they're the, they're the, you know, 1000 pound gorilla sitting in the room, and they just sort of wait till everybody else figures it out, and then they just go, Okay, we'll do that. And here's the money make it happen. Let's do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:28
It also took it also took them 12 years to a major studio to come up with a streaming service. So there's that they aren't, they're not fast, they're not fast. They're not path

Kim Jackson 1:00:36
because it's bureaucratic. And there's operasi, inside of the studio, if you've ever worked at one I had the pleasure of doing when I first came out of the gate, you know, with my career and realize that that didn't think I could remain employable in that atmosphere. So I, you know, just thought the indie road would be would be better, but I feel that what we're the road we're on with building applications on blockchain technology is going to aid in the evolution of our industry. And that's really what we're what we're dedicated to. And and in you know, that that that slow and steady wins the race?

Alex Ferrari 1:01:23
Right? On, there's no question and to bring it back to where we started with the 1996 analogy. Remember, when when the internet first popped out? How many people were scared to put in their credit card? Oh, yeah. And that's the same thing with like, how many people are afraid of buying an NF T or, or buying a token or putting their you know, that's where we're at right now? And yeah, I think it will, it will change probably faster than any of us think it's starting to already grow in self. I mean, even in the small time that I've been aware of this avenue about Bitcoin, obviously, like everybody else has probably, but understanding this, I've only been really got into this deeply, probably the last six months to a year. And just in that time, things have changed so dramatically, and will continue to change as things go forward. So it's exciting. I'm excited about what you guys are doing. Thank you for fighting the good fight and try and help creators and filmmakers out there so I appreciate you guys again, where if everybody wants to check you guys out where they go.

Kim Jackson 1:02:23
breaker.io and watch trust machine the story of blockchain

Alex Ferrari 1:02:28
Yes. With with is it. tetanus tetanus bill, bill from Bill s Preston Esquire. Let's do it correctly.

Kim Jackson 1:02:37
Indeed. He's the director extraordinare.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:39
Yes. Thank you so much.

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BPS 356: From James Cameron to Steven Spielberg, the Life of Lance Henriksen

Today on the show we have legendary actor Lance Henriksen. I had the pleasure of work with Lance on my film Red Princess Blues: Genesis and if was a surreal experience.

Lance has been in over 300 films through-out his remarkable career.

He’s mentored Tarzan, Evel Knievel and the Antichrist, and fought Terminators, Aliens, Predators, Pumpkinhead, Pinhead, Bigfoot, Superman, the Autobots, Mr. T, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal.

He’s worked with directors James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Kathryn Bigelow, Sidney Lumet, Francois Truffaut, John Huston, Walter Hill, David Fincher, John Woo, Jim Jarmusch and Sam Raimi, but this is just skimming the surface.

An intense, versatile actor as adept at playing clean-cut FBI agents as he is psychotic motorcycle-gang leaders, who can go from portraying soulless, murderous vampires to burned-out, world-weary homicide detectives, Lance Henriksen has starred in a variety of films that have allowed him to stretch his talents just about as far as an actor could possibly hope.

He played Awful Knoffel in the TNT original movie EVIL KNIEVEL, directed by John Badham and executive produced by Mel Gibson. Henriksen portrayed Awful Knoffel in this project based on the life of the famed daredevil, played by George Eads. Henriksen starred for three seasons (1996-1999) on Millennium, Fox-TV’s critically acclaimed series created by Chris Carter (The X-Files).

His performance as Frank Black, a retired FBI agent who has the ability to get inside the minds of killers, landed him three consecutive Golden Globe nominations for “Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Drama Series” and a People’s Choice Award nomination for “Favorite New TV Male Star.”

Henriksen was born in New York City. His mother, Margueritte, was a waitress, dance instructor, and model. His father, James Marin Henriksen, who was from Tønsberg, Norway, was a boxer and merchant sailor.

Henriksen studied at the Actors Studio and began his career off-Broadway in Eugene O’Neill’s Three Plays of the Sea. One of his first film appearances was as an FBI agent in Sidney Lumet’s DOG DAY AFTERNOON, followed by parts in Lumet’s NETWORK and PRINCE OF THE CITY.

He then appeared in Steven Spielberg’s CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND with Richard Dreyfuss and François Truffaut, DAMIEN: OMEN II and in Philip Kaufman’s THE RIGHT STUFF, in which he played Mercury astronaut Capt. Wally Schirra.

James Cameron cast Henriksen in his first directorial effort, PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING, then used him again in THE TERMINATOR and as the android Bishop in the sci-fi classic ALIENS. Sam Raimi cast Henriksen as an outrageously garbed gunfighter in his quirky western THE QUICK AND THE DEAD.

Henriksen has also appeared in what has developed into a cult classic: Kathryn Bigelow’s NEAR DARK, in which he plays the head of a clan of murderous redneck vampires. He was nominated for a Golden Satellite Award for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in the TNT original film THE DAY LINCOLN WAS SHOT.

In addition to his abilities as an actor, Henriksen is an accomplished painter and potter. His talent as a ceramist has enabled him to create some of the most unusual ceramic artworks available on the art market today.

His new film is called Alpha Rift.

Nolan Parthmore was just a regular guy, hanging with friends, working his game store, flirting with his co-worker, then one day, destiny came calling. A courier delivers a mysterious antique helmet with no note or description. When Nolan puts it on, his whole world changes. The helmet comes to life and calls out to an evil demon, Lord Dragsmere, who was imprisoned by Nolan’s deceased father.

Nolan soon discovers he is next in the bloodline, heir to The Nobleman, destined to become a hero whether he wants to be or not. Since the Dark Ages, the Noblemen have been guardians against the 13 Devil’s Apostles: dark forces escaped from hell and let loose upon on earth. Generations later, it’s the heirs of these original knights that possess the power to open the Alpha Rift:the only defense against these supernatural foes.

Enjoy my conversation with Lance Henriksen.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show, Lance Henriksen Lance, how are you my friend?

Lance Henriksen 0:16
I'm good, Alex. Very good. I remember your name we've worked before.

Alex Ferrari 0:22
Yes, we have we have worked before we worked years ago on my on my short film Red Princess Blues Genesis, I reached out to your people and you were kind enough to bless our project with your voice, your remarkable voice. And I never forgot it. I was still just Fresh Off the Boat maybe a couple years in LA. And it was such a thrill to to work with with you and and

Lance Henriksen 0:47
Wilcox Hotel.

Alex Ferrari 0:49
I'm sorry.

Lance Henriksen 0:50
When you first got to LA where you're staying at the Wilcox hotel.

Alex Ferrari 0:54
I was lucky enough to get an apartment in North Hollywood,

Lance Henriksen 0:57
Split side hotel. You leave your brands on the ceiling.

Alex Ferrari 1:04
What's those? What are those apartments by Warner Brothers that everybody used to go live live at when you first got there?

Lance Henriksen 1:10
Yeah, I don't remember

Alex Ferrari 1:11
I don't remember the name of it. But there's that. Yeah. So

Lance Henriksen 1:16
First tell I couldn't afford.

Alex Ferrari 1:19
So so. So tell me, how did you get started in this business man? You've been around for a few years.

Lance Henriksen 1:28
New York. Okay. Yeah, I already had done theater in New York and stuff. And I did one movie, you know, and I liked it. So I thought I'm gonna get into and duke it out, you know, see what happens.

Alex Ferrari 1:43
And then and then you arrive in LA and LA back at those years were a little different than LA nowadays. Not as not as much competition.

Lance Henriksen 1:53
Well, there's a weird thing. I got a job as a desk clerk in a retirement home called, I forget the name of it, but was all real people, you know, like, like this kind of old people. And they were always coming up to the desk saying, Did I get any cards or pictures or anything from my kids? And it was pathetic. It really was. So I started writing them cards and putting boxes. You know, like, hi, you know, cuz I get there. I get the name of their kids. Who never called them nobody. Yeah, so that was a good setting of beginning for what it feels like to be in the business.

Alex Ferrari 2:43
No one calls you no one calls you that's for sure.

Lance Henriksen 2:45
My phone was as useless as you get.

Alex Ferrari 2:50
So when you so when you first started out, you know, one of your first projects was a little film called Dog Day Afternoon. With a little with a little director. Yeah, with a little direct Mr. Mr. Sidney Lumet what was it like? Being on that set that energy on that set seem to be

Lance Henriksen 3:07
I knew those people. I knew them all. Yeah, just studio people from New York. Sidney Lumet said I don't know what you're doing. But keep doing it. That's the only direction I got from him.

Alex Ferrari 3:23
Really? That was it. Just like just keep doing what you're doing. Now is the energy on that set was it seems so like, kinetic was it like that behind the scenes as well?

Lance Henriksen 3:36
Oh, yeah. Uh, we were real. You know, everybody was real. You know, John Casals was one of the great guys in the world. And yeah, and, and I remember I had to shoot him. And we said, John said to me, Look, let's, let's rehearse it because you don't know what's going to happen. So I turned to him, and I say, Sal, keep the gun pointed out, because you might hit a bump, you know, something will go off and, and we started laughing. We were in hysterics laughing. And I thought, Oh, it's a good thing. We did this, because when we get to the airport, you know, we're gonna be screwed if we do this, right. Laugh. I mean, we laugh for an hour while they were setting the commerce up on the hood and all over the view. And it was because I really liked them. And it's so absurd that I'm going to shoot them. I mean, it was like, and he got the same feeling. So it was like, we were go for I mean, really laughing for an hour.

Alex Ferrari 4:51
Wow. Because it seems like almost a documentary. It literally almost looked like a documentary.

Lance Henriksen 4:59
Yeah, it was And oddly enough, a lot of the guys that were actually involved in that they they were there on the street, you know, with all the extras. So weird for them.

Alex Ferrari 5:14
Oh god reliving that from a different perspective. Yeah, totally. So then, so then you've made a few other films and you you run across. Another, you have the list of directors you work with is ridiculous. But the next one on the list is Mr. Steven Spielberg, and you're working on Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Is that the biggest budget at that point in your career that you worked on?

Lance Henriksen 5:38
I never saw anything like it. We flew all the way to, you know, India, to run up that mountain and have 1000. I think there were 5,000 extras there that day, where we're saying, Where did it come from? What did you see? And they all went, they all pointed up, you know? And suddenly a rabbit ran across the field with all these experts. And they chased it. So you got 10,000 extras chasing a rabbit was the funniest site in the world, man.

Alex Ferrari 6:26
And when you're working in so when you're working with Spielberg, I mean, that's, uh, he's, he's, he's fresh off of jaws. So he's the biggest director on the planet at that moment in time because he created the blockbuster. What was it like working with Steven at that time in his career?

Lance Henriksen 6:42
Well, he was a kid. Yeah. He was a kid. I went up to him and I said, Look, I want to get one of these little monsters, you know, aliens. And I want to throw my coat over and go into the porta potty and just hold him so we got proof. That was one of the ship takes off. They're gone. And he's any look at me like, I don't know, like, I just fell into his birthday cake. And he looked at me anyway. That's, that's a different movie. Okay, I got it. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 7:20
I'm good. Steven. Thank you. Thank you very much. Was there anything that oh, you also you also got to work with Truffaut on that he wasn't he an actor in that correct.

Lance Henriksen 7:31
François Truffaut?

Alex Ferrari 7:32
Yeah, François, right. Yeah. Did you work with him? Did you interact with Truffaut ?

Lance Henriksen 7:36
Oh, he was with him every day.

Alex Ferrari 7:38
What was it? I mean, I got I've never spoken to anyone who actually knew Mr. Truffaut. What was it like what was he like as a as a because he was acting and then not directing?

Lance Henriksen 7:48
I mean, the guy look, I was on that movie for six months. So yeah, getting paid scale. You know, it was okay. Yeah, sure. The truck while I was there, I learned to fly. Because we were on an airport. You know, it was a big airport hangar, right. And I'd get up in the morning at four in the morning, and I'd go do my flying lessons. And then I would land at eight and walk into the set. So I felt like, look at me, I just landed. But anyway, they stopped me when I wanted to skydive. They sent him one of the ladies out there said you can't do it. So

Alex Ferrari 8:37
Please, yeah, now I'll put it after production. Do it all you like, after production you could do it all you like, but not while we're doing it production.

Lance Henriksen 8:45
François Truffaut this is his story. He did a movie called 400 blows. Sure. So did yours in Germany did Fahrenheit 451 All of this stuff. And I never mentioned 400 blows only because it was two. When I saw it. I was a kid. You know, younger kid. And I didn't want to talk about that. I talked about Jules and Jim I talked about Fahrenheit 451 and all of that. And he at the end of the movie. Well, he got pissed at me, first of all, for always going on standing on the set. He said no, you got to read a book. You got to do something else. You can't be in a hangar watching a movie being made. And I said yeah, but I never saw anything like this. So anyway, he gave me a book by Joshua Logan. And he said I'm going to quiz you on it. That's the kind of guy as you know. And I said okay, and I only read the Marlon Brando chapter from tea house. Niaga small. And it said Josh Logan said This is like walking through a maze with me but I'm filling you in on all the little truths. But anyway said the first two Tech's he did with random one, Brando gave it everything in that tech. And the second take that Brando did with him. He did nothing. And you said the biggest mistake I ever made was choosing second date. That is the truth. Whoa, I got that piece of information.

Alex Ferrari 10:39
That's amazing. It's amazing. So I think

Lance Henriksen 10:45
Kindest guy in the world. Yeah. And if you were a restaurant, all the women in the restaurant would like zero and on him. He had that energy. I don't know, French dress good.

Alex Ferrari 11:01
There was that vibe, that vibe. There's a thing that's it's you can't really, when you've got it, you got it. And you know,

Lance Henriksen 11:07
When you got it, you don't have to push. You had a lot of girlfriends along the way. I got to learn from you tell me how to do that.

Alex Ferrari 11:19
So there's so one of the films that I see. I saw you and I, you know, I remember you vividly and it was a terminator. And there has been so many mythical stories. It's almost folklore on how that movie was made. And you know it Jim did this, Jim do that. How did what was it like from your sight from your perspective working on that film? And what are the truths behind?

Lance Henriksen 11:48
He said to me go in to Emmerdale. You know, do the Terminator

Alex Ferrari 11:54
Because you were originally going to be the Terminator.

Lance Henriksen 11:58
I blew it though. Because Jim said go in 15 minutes before me. And I said, okay, and then I'll leave. You know, I'll just give a shout out, shake him up. And so I kept the door open am Dells office. And, and the Secretary was sitting there, grabbed her typewriter and pulled it off into her lap. She got shook, because I had cuts and silver teeth. And then I went into handhelds office. And I soon just stared at him for like, five minutes. And then Jim arrived and I left. You know, I didn't even I didn't even think I was going to do Terminator. I mean, I would have played him more like, like a spider, a real dangerous spider. Right, which they're fun. He was like a bulldozer. So that was fine. Yeah, I mean, Winfield and I, Paul Winfield. We had a great relationship. We made each other fucking crack up all the time. So it was what was great about it. It was Gail Bell. Her was producing it, I think. And it was like, Jim was coming out of the chute, you could tell he just just had a rhythm about him. And he always does. He knows. He's like an isolated animal of some kind. That is just so focused, you know, after we did aliens, and it was one of the most dynamic directors I've ever worked with ever.

Alex Ferrari 13:43
But you also, but you also worked with him on Pirana to the spawning, as well. Right? Is that where you met him?

Lance Henriksen 13:49
We don't talk about that. No, no, we don't it's just like awful.

Alex Ferrari 14:00
What Jim but Jim says it is the best flying Pirana movie ever made.

Lance Henriksen 14:09
Yeah, it was so excited because I had to buy my wardrobe. Off the waiter. Okay, because I had no wardrobe. Right? So I gave the guy 75 bucks for his pants and a shirt. Because I'm playing a harbor cop. It had a blue stripe. But I got over that really quick.

Alex Ferrari 14:38
So when you do you imagine you've met Jim on that show, right?

Lance Henriksen 14:42

Alex Ferrari 14:45
I'm sorry. That's the best thing about the movies.

Lance Henriksen 14:49
But even I saw what he could do, you know? Yeah, it's up and I was buying my suit off a waiter. He was up in his room making rubber fish cuz they didn't have enough of them you know all kinds of stuff. I mean it was I put the harbor boat up on the pier because they wouldn't even be down there let me learn how to drive it. Alright so by x i come weapon and he said come with and then okay I whipped in and put it right up on the pier

Alex Ferrari 15:24
Ohh different times different times. So when you're when you're working on the Terminator because that was a fairly low budget film I think it was if I if that if I know the budget was I think anywhere between five to 7 million or something

Lance Henriksen 15:39
You couldn't prove it by me that it was love budget it was but right. I don't know what the budget was. Right. But it was all his friends all the talented people involved in it. You know, is really, once once the train leaves the station, it doesn't stop. Right. And that's no matter what the budget,

Alex Ferrari 16:03
Right! Because if you're going you're going into whoever

Lance Henriksen 16:07
They would go, Yeah, you're in.

Alex Ferrari 16:10
So when you saw Arnold show up as the Terminator for the first time and you saw him What did you what was your first reaction?

Lance Henriksen 16:18
He was he was sitting on the on the steps of his honey wagon. Okay. Trailer, he got a Honeywell Sure will. Because the budget didn't allow, you know, a Tiffany anyway. But anyway, he was sitting there smoking a cigar and a and he was really happy. He was amazingly happy. Just like greeting everybody and making jokes and he was happy. And I was grateful for that

Alex Ferrari 16:58
He is. And and at that time of his life. He was really big. I mean, he was he was still

Lance Henriksen 17:04
He got that all going, you know.

Alex Ferrari 17:07
Yeah. And he was did you see? Did you see the same thing in Jim that you did sign Arnold when you saw him? You're like, Oh, this guy's gonna be a star. Did you see that? When you were on the set?

Lance Henriksen 17:17
I know how I saw how Jim was treating Jim was treating him. Like I don't know. He was telling him everything that he needed. Jim would tell him. I need you to be quiet and just look up. Walked out way. You know, I mean, he knew what he wanted from Arnold. It's good. It wasn't you know, wasn't the later. Be careful.

Alex Ferrari 17:51
Right. Yeah, he barely had any dialogue on the first one. Then he opened up in the second one a bit.

Lance Henriksen 17:58
Yeah, yeah. Those lines Get Cover!.

Alex Ferrari 18:05
Get down! Now one of your best known characters, his Bishop in Aliens, which you brought such humanity to that Android. It is remarkable.

Lance Henriksen 18:28
It was really on purpose. I hadn't I had made a decision that before I even got to England, you know, that there was what what is Android is he say, a protecting devices, a tech take care of humans to devices is also as vulnerable as during Apartheid a black child, you know, who wouldn't even dream of making any motions or noise? Because they're afraid of getting snuffed out? You know, I mean, anyway, a lot of elements like that work. I wouldn't dream of hurting anybody or anything. You know, I mean, it was there was the, the innocence of that, you know, so. And I got the role, but Jim said, in England, if you if you've got a if there's somebody in England, it's better. Jim told me, he said I would have given him the part but what you brought to the table was just exactly was good, you know, so grateful for that. Now, you learn shit to do with the knives and stuff because he told me, he called me before I went to London said Remember when we used to do the knife thing? And I said, Yeah, I can get good at it. When I got to England, I had all 29 Because I know it, he might pick a different, and I had to work with all of them. Sure. So I got there. I was good at it all. But anyway, they almost wouldn't let me in the country. Because the guy, they saw it on the scanner that I had knives and said, step away from your bags. Not let me in. Yeah. All right. Pretty active around that time.

Alex Ferrari 20:33
Sure, sure. And that was 86' 85'. So that's not even post 911 For God's sakes. Can you imagine? It must have been on edge.

Lance Henriksen 20:42

Alex Ferrari 20:45
Now is there's so many, you know, stories of the English crew and Jim and Gail having such a hard time making that movie because they were basically fighting the crew and they didn't really believe in Jim and no one had seen Terminator yet.

Lance Henriksen 21:03
Yet. They were given them. They were dragging their feet, they were taking tea breaks every five minutes, they go to the bar that was at Pinewood and they had lunch near come back and slowed down again. You know, I mean, it was, those guys were all under contract. So they didn't have anybody, but they, despite all of that personality stuff going on. They called him Grizzly Adams, Jim, because you have grown a little beard. And who the hell was he to come in after Ridley Scott. You know, who is a British are better, you know, was their whole thing. And and it was like, for us. It banded us together even more. The only time it wasn't Bishop was one of one of the ad's British Hadees pushed me on the chest. You know, say hey said stop. Push me. I said you do that again. I'm gonna kick your ass. I meant Sure so who? I'll never forget his face when I did that. He got shut up man, you don't fucking push me.

Alex Ferrari 22:22
New York In New York maybe?

Lance Henriksen 22:28
Oh, good.

Alex Ferrari 22:29
And I'm assuming and I'm assuming having a

Lance Henriksen 22:33
Days, weeks and months of working together all of us. We all know each other and believed in each other. You know, that's, that's a different feeling. than just going we're gonna leave a bunch of garbage in pull our trailer out of here and we're gonna go home. We didn't do that we were there to do it. Really do. And those guys by the way. The guys on contract mind would. There was some of the best makers of props and things and sets. They were unbelievably good. If they just welcomed us, we would have been fine. But so we went through about a month a bullshit. And then I guess I don't know the real story behind it. But Gail was saying we'll just get out we'll leave here and go do it somewhere else. You know, you're not gonna screw up his movie. I mean, and they turned around turned around completely.

Alex Ferrari 23:38
Really? Yeah. Yeah, because I can imagine that having you know, in 1986 A female producer on top of it all was it was a shock because you generally didn't have female promoters.

Lance Henriksen 23:52
She's 5'5" you know she's but tough. Oh, yeah. She's smart. I love her.

Alex Ferrari 24:02
And she and and honestly, many people say this and I say it as well as aliens is essentially a masterpiece in in the genre there really it really holds up.

Lance Henriksen 24:13
It is it holds up.

Alex Ferrari 24:14
You can watch that today. You can still watch that today. And it's not you don't you don't see the date. There's no date.

Lance Henriksen 24:21
Oh, we get a lot more attention than I am. Now.

Alex Ferrari 24:24
Oh, okay. Now you also, right, exactly. Now that you also worked on another classic film called near dark with with Miss Kathryn Bigelow. I remember I was working in a video store in the 80s late 80s Oh yeah, I work I worked in a video store for five years. All I saw everything from 86 movies from 86 to like 93 I pretty much watched everything Because anything that came out, I watched it because it was I was in a video store, I was a kid in high school didn't have much social life. So that's all I did was just watch three, four movies a day, constantly. So I remember watching your dark, I was just like, Oh, my God, this is remarkable. And I have to say, Kathryn Bigelow is easily one of the best action directors of her generation, and she doesn't get the credit that she deserves, in my opinion. I mean, she won the Oscar obviously, for for, for her lock on everything. But as an action director, Mike got sheet. She holds her own with anybody.

Lance Henriksen 25:32
Anybody believe me

Alex Ferrari 25:37
What was it like working on that?

Lance Henriksen 25:39
You know, she would do things incredible. Like, we had to, we had to deal with sunlight. So we're, we improvised a whole rehearsal of how do you enter a room that's brightly lit with Windows and stuff? So we would improvise all the things and we actually use them in the movie. I mean, we, our instincts were already there. Because we rehearsed. You know, spraying the windows, put tin foils on the windows, like Elvis used to do in Vegas. And then, um, we would improvise even dialogue where we had we had these characters down so well, no matter what you threw out those. We would, we would, Billy Paxton was brilliant. At work he did, and all of us felt we were those people. The day we finished shooting, we're standing on a road in Arizona. And we suddenly said, we should start the prequel right now. Because we were ready. We liked these characters.

Alex Ferrari 26:56
And there was never seek and there was never sequel or prequel. And it's such a sad,

Lance Henriksen 27:01
Went belly up. So our first ad was as big as this. You know? And so it just lost. It was lost boys doing rock and roll vampires. It was like, come on, but they had full page ads.

Alex Ferrari 27:21
So yeah, you were the cult, the cult film.

Lance Henriksen 27:26
Poor step kid.

Alex Ferrari 27:28
But I mean, anyone listening, if you have not seen near dark is arguably one of the best vampire films ever made it no question.

Lance Henriksen 27:35
Much fun, man. We pick your own wardrobes, right? They, you know, they had some we had a great wardrobe guy. And I said, we had to write our own bios, like, how did we get turned? Where did we come from? We had to ride a mile. And mine was that that I was sailing on an iron clad for the south during the Civil War. And we got slaughtered by it by you know, cannons from the shore and stuff. But we kept drifting into the marshes at night. And we started to get fed on the lot of vampires feeding on the dying man. And I got I got a turn because my chest was blown open and, and I was steaming into the night air. And it stood over man, and instead of killing me and feeding on me and turn me so I mean, I have my own figured out. That's why I had a rebel flag inside my code and my hair had a pigtail on a dipped in tar, like Stiller's did back in those days. You know, we just created our own our own ambience and we picked each other up along the way. That's what if we had done a what he call it, you know, a prequel, he would see all those people got together. They're different. The 20s 1800s You know,

Alex Ferrari 29:22
That wouldn't have been that would have been amazing. You could have done you could have done an anreise thing where you go through all history kind of figure

Lance Henriksen 29:32
Have dinner with her. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 29:34
What does she love the film? Does she like the film?

Lance Henriksen 29:39
Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 29:44
Now, you

Lance Henriksen 29:47
You know after I did the movie.

Alex Ferrari 29:50
Now you you've you've worked with so many directors is there. I'm not going to ask you if you have a favorite director but is there a way that that you like to be directed and and then did you connect with a certain director in a way from like, as a collaborator in a way that just stepped stands out throughout your career?

Lance Henriksen 30:11
Yeah. I met with so many good ones, you know, I mean, it's there, there is an automatic kind of understanding a member, a member, certainly, Sydney Limmat. Love New York actors, he would hire you and say, Look, this, this part only lasts a week, but I'm going to give you a run on the show, because you wanted to, say, get an apartment, you didn't know. It was like, he is the kindest man. And it was great to be around him because he was so knowledgeable. You know, standing on the set with the best actors in New York. All around you, and you're watching these guys work. And I was young. You know, I was 30. So it was like, yeah, it was my, my experience. I could never single out one. There are parts of all of them that I'll never forget. You know, and they influence me about freedom and about, you know, how to how to make something that it's even beyond your wildest dream by just getting on board and going with it. Get off these guys. They they they're not Intimidators they're nice. They're nice people. You know, most that especially in that era, the 80s and the 90s.

Alex Ferrari 31:46
Did you is your Is there a way that you'd like to be directed as an actor? Because I know every actor has a different way. Some people want more attention.

Lance Henriksen 31:56
Yeah, everything happens in rehearsal. You know, when you're when you're approaching when you're no part, I did a movie with Viggo Mortensen, who was he was probably one of the kindest, smartest people I've ever worked with, is he wrote it, directed it Zenna he produced it. I mean, did the music for it, and edited cheeses and never complain the minute we just was so busy trying to form those that relationship and those relationships. It was the greatest experience I've ever had. I mean, it's like, but that's for a very different reasons. So we're the only mechanical thing in it. I mean, the rest is, was shot beautifully and all of that. But by the time we started, we knew what we were going to do.

Alex Ferrari 33:00
What advice would you give a young filmmaker or film directors in general, on directing actors, because I find that they focus so much on the lenses and the gear and the how, look how many K's we have, but they don't focus on.

Lance Henriksen 33:16
Everybody's at them to get information. Right. Right. That's part of the deal. You know, the camera guys, they it's all about he is the core focus of it is getting less. So there are more producers, businessman with they know the answers to everything. Right? Like politicians talk out of both sides of their mouth and out there. And everything. Where the director is responsible. I mean, he's responsible for the approach that there's so many levels. But it's also they've got a bunch of ravens trying to pick their eyeballs out, you know, which are the producers?

Alex Ferrari 34:06
Right? Or the studio execs or something along those lines. Yeah. But is there a way that you would recommend directors working or approaching actors and how they work?

Lance Henriksen 34:17
Well, yeah, I mean, just, I think the only answer is just to be heard. And I think it's up to the actors not to prove, you know, not to do it at an inappropriate time. We've got a guy jump in and jump off the hook onto an airbag and you're talking about what do you think I jump in my car and try to save him? What do I do? You know, I mean, why don't you just shut up and go watch, you know, right now.

Alex Ferrari 34:48
Is it. Is it true? And I want out because I always tell people there's my experience as a director, that actors sometimes if they don't feel safe on set, they will test The director to see if they feel if there's if this is a safe space. And if it's not, they might go rogue, they might protect themselves and they might shut down and they're like, look, I'm here. I got to do what I got to do. But this is obviously I'm not getting the support I need. Do you find that actors do test director sometimes just to see where they're at? in general?

Lance Henriksen 35:20
I don't know what neurosis an actor might bring with him. Sure. I don't have any, any way. I know what I do. Okay. I mean, I, I've done now it looks like somebody said the other day that I've done 300 movies. Well, that's a shocker. Because that's, that's a lot of days, weeks, months and years on a set. Yeah. One thing. I guess one of my favorite. Jim Jarmusch is probably one of the kindest, illuminated humans that I've ever worked with. I remember getting a part in for I forget the name of the movie. And I walked in, and I said, Jim, look, I know, I might not get the part because of what I'm going to say. But, but I don't think anything you wrote for this character that I'm going to play has anything to do with, with acting or whatever it is, you know, I mean, I can improvise everything through this whole movie. And make it work as a Western, you know, with Johnny Depp. And you know, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 36:41
Dead man it was called dead man.

Lance Henriksen 36:45
Yeah, I'm talking so much that I'm forgetting. No, but when I'm talking, I don't think And fair enough. So But anyway, that's what I did in that movie. I improvised the whole role. Wow. Yeah, I remember walking, I had to kill this kid who? This black kid who's, he's got knives. And he's a nasty kind of guide. And he insults me. And I remember walking into a Native American post, and looking at all the stuff, you know, the beautiful jewelry and all that. But there was a brick. And and I said to the guy and there was a car painted on the brick. I said, what is that? And he goes, it's Navajo mentor. And as a wife, okay. When I got on the set, and I shot that kid, he said, he said, he's only my partner said he's only a kid. He's just a kid. And I said, Well, isn't Melbourne on mud toy now? How? Wow. It's like I go through a period of gathering. Unconscious gathering was something that intrigues me. I, I know I'm going to do this move beyond seeing it through the eyes of the character. So so that was a great experience because he just let me fly. That must have been I was an actor anymore. You were being just being

Alex Ferrari 38:34
Yeah, that's amazing. And you also worked on one of my favorite Westerns of all time, the quick and the dead. Quick in the dead. I love clicking a dead.

Lance Henriksen 38:46
Yeah, no, that was a trip. The crew made a they made a thing where they said you cannot kill ace. Mm hmm.

Alex Ferrari 39:01
You were like you were one of the look in that cast was ridiculous. I mean, from Russell Crowe as like a supporting actor. Sharon Stone and Leonardo DiCaprio in you and Sam Raimi is directing and you're just like, a you stood at Jesus. And you stood out like your character was so wonderfully constructed. You played so beautifully. And you're right, like when you when spoiler alert. When you have to end your your scene. I was pissed. I'm like, no,

Lance Henriksen 39:43
No, no. Greet him like that. Right before I went on, I got that little thing with the moustache one thing I didn't know if I was going to use it. But then as Jean was talking me I was going Yeah, Yeah, I shot one guy one, right.

Alex Ferrari 40:05
And how was Sam? How was Sam to work with because I've heard so many wonderful stories about Sam Raimi and as a director working with actors.

Lance Henriksen 40:13
Oh, he was, he was very young, you know, and he was he was so excited about having any camera he wanted anything you wanted. You know, he was he was like, I remember I said, look, look at this wardrobe. I got embroidery all over it. And I said, I, I look like a showman. You know, and so, I went with a buddy of mine, who's Rex Rossi, who was one of the great ropers you know, one of those guys and he, in fact, he was I've wanted him to be my daughter's godfather. And he did, he said, but anyway, I've said, Rex, the guy's a showman, I got to have some way of shooting the card out of this girl's hand and making it a showman, you know? So we started working on and we came up with that flip off the horse, where I just want to turn sideways, flipped off and shot her into the belly. And I showed that to Sam before we did it. And he went, oh, oh, that's in the movie. He was like, yes, that's in the movie. We did it.

Alex Ferrari 41:32
That's that's the thing. Like, I guess that was I think that was probably the first time he was given a real budget and it was a big but I mean, it was a studio project. And he and he had like I could only imagine like having every toy at your disposal with this insane cast

Lance Henriksen 41:49
They set everything up. That was that was one of the great sets.

Alex Ferrari 41:54
Oh, was. It was it was absolutely beautiful. And you also got to work with another director and legendary director, Mr. John Woo. On

Lance Henriksen 42:07
Favorite John was scared because he thought I was going off the deep end, right? Characters so fucking crazy, man. I know. They'll with John. I'm still friends with him. He sent me champagne. I send him pottery, you know? But he's, he's so kind, kind hearted man. He just and he does the most violent films. He's probably getting back at his goats, you know, whatever they are.

Alex Ferrari 42:42
Yeah. And so for everyone listening the movie that that Lance and John worked on was hard target, which was a John Claude Van Damme vehicle back in the 90s. And as Lance's head is twisting left and right as I said this name. But

Lance Henriksen 43:02
Emma's, actually, he's a good guy, and he's very talented. Physically. Sure. Know what I mean? Oh, yeah. You know, he identified seeing when we kicked me in the face. He did a spinning hit. And it just barely touched me. He's so control. Yeah. Made me relax a lot more.

Alex Ferrari 43:25
Yeah, cuz I mean, and this was the first was that what was that the first John Woo American film was a broken arrow. I don't remember if it was that one or broken arrow. I think it might have been the first time he came over from Hong Kong. Yeah, cuz it was I mean, you look at some of these editing. Yeah.

Lance Henriksen 43:45
He was a universal. Yeah, it was universally. One of the producers from the tower would come down and go. How's it going, John? Oh, that scene? What if you cut it that way? And then he'd leave. He would leave. And then another one would come down. He said all I want to do is get out of here. They're not leaving me alone. Keep coming. juggles.

Alex Ferrari 44:19
Now oh, by the way, I have to tell you one of my favorite films I've seen of yours. Which is not one of your better, like best known films, but it impacted me because I saw it on a date. I took my date to see this film in the theater. Yes. And we both loved it. Stone Cold. Oh, Brian Bosworth Brian. Both were stars and you are the main villain as a biker gang. I never forgot that movie. I must have watched that movie a dozen times when I was at video store. I was just he played that part so beautifully. Thank you.

I was a bit fun.

Lance Henriksen 44:56
Changes car. You know what I, again, I do better work when I improvise. Because we had a script the guy, the guy. What happened on that movie was chains was always talking biblical talk literally right out of the Bible, or in the movie, but but in the script, and he got fired. His first dailies came in, I wasn't in any of those scenes, but they saw them and fired him and brought a guy who was really good. Craig Baxley. And Higley, Craig had done stunts and stunts, you know, all kinds of movies and, and Craig came in, and I met him when it came in from the airport. And I met him and I was sitting in the lobby waiting for him. When he came in, and I said, Greg, can we have a beer together or something? Let's talk about this. Because your script, you read it? It's, it's, it's really abusive shit. I mean, it was bad. You know, I don't know how he got the job. The other director, I don't even know. But But anyway. So he said, Well, what are we going to do? Because I said, the dialogue is shit, all of it. So he said, What do you want to do? And I said, Well, we'll get there. If our call time is six. I'll get there at five with, with. Let's just face football. prions was, yeah, but yeah. So and We'll improvise. We'll just improvise the whole scene. We know what it has to actually was, you know, improvise. So that's what we did.

Alex Ferrari 46:57
It worked out, really. So every every every piece of dialogue almost was completely just. Yeah. That's brilliant. That makes that that's a nice little tidbit about that. I mean, over over the course of your career, Lance. I mean, you've been on set like you just said, you've done close at 300 over 300 projects. You've been on set so many times. What was the project or the day that was that stands out in your history in your mind? As like, Man, this is really, how are we going to get out of this? Like, you feel like everything's coming crashing down around you? What was that day? And how did you get through it? How did you make it through that day?

Lance Henriksen 47:42
I try to get those. There's a whole group of movies that I've done. They're called alimony films.

Alex Ferrari 47:52
You said that to me. You said that to me when we work together.

Lance Henriksen 47:56
It's good to know that that's that's real. Yeah. A lot of actors take movies that the only one that's there, they need money, you know, blah, blah, blah. And I've done some of those that were like, oh my god, I thought you know, you. You don't want to be seen on the street when that comes out. You don't want to do, right. I only see my movies once. And then I don't look at them ever again. You know, the only one that I might have watched more than once was powder. Yeah, sugar powder.

Alex Ferrari 48:34
I love powder.

Lance Henriksen 48:35
I thought that that was a really good movie. But, you know, some other political shit happened. I didn't go to release but but you know what? You got to take the good with the bad. You really do? I mean, try to do something. I have a will that says don't give up, man. You know, just be there. Be there even for a bad situation. You know, don't don't don't run away. Because that then you turn into a runaway

Alex Ferrari 49:13
Now is there.

Lance Henriksen 49:15
You have to go with it. I would. I would like to mention some of those big only because they tried everybody tried. Sure. Yeah. And they were stricken by a lot of different things. Like look oh can happen on a sir. When you when you see this wonderful woman. She was when I met her. She was a Steadicam operator, very strong woman and wonderful and beautiful. And you know, and she gets shot on a set. That's that's the ultimate total thing. I mean, it's over. Once that happens. I mean, it's over. Right? You fix in you know It's gonna be an ugly thing for a long time. But anyway, that's how bad it can get. I've never been hurt on the side. In my 300 movies never been hurt. And I've done physical shit wherever anybody, I don't care. You know, I'm still doing it. It's like I'm not. I'll probably just drop dead quickly one day, you know? Okay, well, it's a rap.

Alex Ferrari 50:30
It's a rap. And where's Lance Lance is he's got he's got a new cast, they call he's got a new cast, they call. Now, out of all of your movies, and all the people you work with, which is the craziest story that you can share publicly?

Lance Henriksen 50:53
I did a movie called The visitor. Yeah, I was young. Yeah. It's like the the hot young guy in that movie. They just there was Glenn Ford, Shelley Winters, all these actors that we all know from the 40s. You. They were in John Hughes cheeses. All these guys and I got to talk to John. Finally, one day after we made a joke. And he said, Okay, look, I don't want to come back last. So let's do it now. He's like my hero. And I said, Okay, let's let's do it. And I'm staring at him. And he goes, you have the first lines last, so I'm sorry, John. I got my first direction from John Houston. So

Alex Ferrari 51:55
Not a bad Not bad. Not bad.

Lance Henriksen 52:00
Not a bad moment.

Alex Ferrari 52:03
Can we talk a little bit about your new film? Okay.

Lance Henriksen 52:09
The visitor? Yeah. Yeah, I did in Rome. Okay. We go to Rome. The movie turns to shit. I don't know why.

Alex Ferrari 52:20
Because Pirana wasn't Parana shot.

Lance Henriksen 52:24
No, yeah. That was an Italian producer. Yes. Yes. I've never worked in Rome again.

Alex Ferrari 52:32
But your visit, but your visit. Now, tell me about your new film Alpha drift. How did you enjoy working on that?

Lance Henriksen 52:43
I gotta tell you, I was impressed with him and took that movie. Because he started is almost like with a grain of sand. You know, he made key chains with the alphabet symbol on it. And every day, he was battling budget every day. And that's why that was done years ago. And now it's coming out. You know, I think almost three years, two or three years. But he was tenacious. He's a guy that we'll talk about. I won't give up. And then he would, he would do what good movie makers do they wangle what they want. I want a McLaren. And one of his people pull some strings. And they got a McLaren. That is the most expensive car in the world. There's some have sold for $13 million at least a million to drive it. And the owner was standing by the fucking camera shaking. Because it's so fast. If you just touched that gas, you're gonna fly down, you know, Moon, you're gone. And again, that's an example of making do as good as you can. With limited, you know, with limited choices, and you did very well with it. His location choices were were good choices because he was containing it. You know, I mean, I wanted to do it. I just felt I didn't. I didn't really understand it. When I first started the hell I was, you know, you know, it's, it's a very it's a very, almost like looking back into time. In a way. They're dragging the past into the present. And saying to a young man, you're genetically right. You are the next whatever. Why I had to respect it and do the best I could, you know, I mean, with what we had. And and it was, and it looks like he pulled it off because he got distribution. I'm really, I'm super happy for him. I really am.

Alex Ferrari 55:18
Yeah. And we'll put and we'll put links on where you guys can watch Alpha drift afterwards. It does look fantastic. It's a good fit. It's a family film. So it looks like a lot of fun.

Lance Henriksen 55:26
There isn't a real rough moment in it. Well, listen, killings, but sure, your demons so it's not. You Have you noticed how violent all the movies are like on YouTube and all these cable things?

Alex Ferrari 55:47
It makes it it makes the 80s look tame.

Lance Henriksen 55:51
Oh, yeah, it's more murders than you can imagine. Right and peak ruimin You know, where you're seeing a little bit? Not a lot, you know, there. But it's just the whole porridge. They're like remakes of movies that are still out. You can

Alex Ferrari 56:09
Look I look. When they remade point break. I was like, stop it. Is that that is a masterpiece of its time. You can't really?

Lance Henriksen 56:21
Yeah, what you can't you can't remake that. They're just going over to I think screenwriters Guild and saying, Can I read a bunch of these scripts? And they do. And then they write out a clone of that script.

Alex Ferrari 56:35
It's, it's, it's because everyone because if you know, you know this better than most that the whole town is run by fear. So you know, because it's run by fear. They're like, well, this is has an established audience that they think is going to come out but like, perfect example. Any executives listening out there? You bring a movie like point break out there who's a generation who's gonna watch Point Break my generation, the one that grew up with Point Break? Really? What are we going to run out to see Point Break? The remake? No. And then the new kids are going to be like, what's that? Oh, skydiving? Oh, that's not a big deal. But in 1990, whatever it was when it came out. No one had really seen before.

Lance Henriksen 57:17
No, you're right. Right. So it's different. Reaction, a lot of stories. Even Korean movie companies are doing their we our movies, their movies, or doesn't matter.

Alex Ferrari 57:35
But the funny thing is that the that the era that they're mining, was allowed to be creative. Where you could make a Gremlins of Goonies a Terminator, and aliens, you know, can you imagine trying to launch an aliens franchise now without the IP of aliens? But can you imagine just alien in it just wouldn't wouldn't be not not in the studio system you'd have to do in in the independent world.

Lance Henriksen 58:03
I think I think that's a great description what's going on now? Which made me feel like I never want to be a director. I have no interest at all. I'm a better supporter of a director. Alright, then, you know, of wanting to be one who 100 people a day, hitting you up for answers? Who the hell wants to live like that?

Alex Ferrari 58:31
I love it. Some people are built like that.

Lance Henriksen 58:36
But see, you maybe will break out into your dream so totally, that it will be what you want it to do. But I have no desire. I'm in a job that I shouldn't be doing.

Alex Ferrari 58:50
Right. And I have like, I've had to act a couple times in my life in front of the camera and it. No, no, thank you. It's not what I like to do. It is terrifying. I have such respect. Oh my god, it's an it even when I was playing myself on camera for a movie. It still was terrifying for me. I was like, oh my god, this is horrible. I don't want to be in front of camera ever again.

Lance Henriksen 59:17
You feel a lot better. Yeah. That's it. Okay. Looks from a different mother. But

Alex Ferrari 59:26
Now I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. Lance. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Lance Henriksen 59:35
God, that's hard. I just did a movie. And it's called the artifice girl. And a guy named Franklin rich directed it wrote it. He's even in it. It's a three act movie. I feel I feel like it's one of the most interesting roles I've ever done. Yeah, and he wrote it, he did it. And the relationship during the shooting was this was in Florida. This is gonna come out and peep is so original and so good. I mean, I'm proud of it. I'm proud of I really am. I mean, I've done like three movies over the last year or so. And they're all different. They're all different. Sure. And I've been lucky. I mean, there's no word to touch you. But anyway, it's, I've been blessed with a career.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:40
Absolutely. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Lance Henriksen 1:00:48
Wait, say that again?

Alex Ferrari 1:00:49
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Lance Henriksen 1:00:57
I think there's a pocket in all brands where we have a fantasy world apart. And it's like a, it's probably a different organ and I was born with it. I didn't know I had it. But really what it's about, I think, is learning how to be a human, you know, a humanity. That I think when I see people be kind to somebody else. I am. I just get a lift. I get a jolt, right. We're slipping through some nasty shit right now. Excuse my friends. Sure. That we really need to see the best in people and not not fucking punish them because they made a mistake. And even in dialogue, everybody wants to punish somebody. I blame I blame politicians for all

Alex Ferrari 1:01:57
Yeah, I

Lance Henriksen 1:01:59
I think that whole system sucks.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:03
Well, I think they've been saying that says politics were created. Yeah. Now and last question, if you can answer this three of your favorite films of all time.

Lance Henriksen 1:02:18
Oh, yeah. Well, they are the 80s films. I mean, it's certainly aliens. Your dark the ones you mentioned there. And Jim Jarmusch his movie dead man. Yeah, I love that card is total killer. But even killers have a soul?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:43
Well, that's the thing. You have played a lot of bad guys in your day. And you always bring humanity to all of those bad guys. And I think that's what makes a good bad guy is that there's something it's not if you're just twisting your your mustache literally and going Haha, I'm just bad to be bad. It's boring. You know, we're not in. It's yeah, it's not 1910 anymore. We're not on a train track anymore. Bad guys need to have depth. And you brought that to every bad guy ever seen you play

Lance Henriksen 1:03:10
Some of these action movies that are on you know, like Netflix. Really well done. Especially the Chinese ones. South Korean ones. They're in terms of action movies, these guys. And they're way ahead of us now. I mean, it's like an occasionally there's one of those movies with American. Right. Mariah good.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:44
Yeah. All right, kill him and make it a lot. Kill him a lot.

Lance Henriksen 1:03:50
A lot, a lot. And then he comes back and a lot more than that.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:55
Oh, no, I didn't it. Um, Frank Grillo, the actor Frank Grillo. He's like one of the biggest movie stars in the Chinese market because he just plays the American bad guy.

Lance Henriksen 1:04:06
You want to hear something? Yeah. Yeah. The Chinese is smart. i The Macao International Film Festival was on when falling was shown there. The one I did with Vigo they gave me best actor. Wow. shockers. Here's the shocker. I mean, I was done that I got this wonderful actress, you know, gave it to me and all this stuff. But what blew me away was China. Love this American story. They love the movie. I mean, it was and this is our story. This is a guy slipping into dementia and a son. And it's it's just I was like gave the the award away I gave it said the guy that worked with me when I was preparing for that movie. You know, he worked with me for a month and when I got the award I I look up and I got a bunch of awards. My daughter when she was five used to polish them, that's about what they're worth, you know, I mean, but I knew that if I gave it to this young young kid who was really smart and he studied acting in Ireland and stuff he's really bright. And I knew I needed to stir the pot I really need to find a way to make it real and Vigo would come over and we we'd rehearse a little bit you know and stuff. But he deserved it. I wanted him to be happy that he had that experience because the movie speaks for itself. The movies is what it is is wonderful movie less skilled our release. And Corona just shot.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:13
Lance it has been an absolute honor and pleasure talking to you my friend it I mean I can keep talking to you for at least five or six more days. Just to try to go over your career. But is

Lance Henriksen 1:06:26
Dan Lance by the way, let's let's leave it with him. Here's a guy who inevitably will make movies with the budget he needs. And you'll have this but he did this all by himself. This is like him and his friends. It's not a it's not a low budget looking film at all.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:50
No, you're talking about Alpha drift. Alpha drift

Lance Henriksen 1:06:54
Yes, kids will like it.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:57
I iIThank you for your time my friend and also thank you for your for the work that you've done as an artist throughout your career. It is it is is definitely affected my life over the years and it was again an honor working with you on my little short film all those years ago. So thank you again, my friend and continued health and success team, my friend.

Lance Henriksen 1:07:19
I'll see you down the road. There's more to come!

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BPS 355: How to Build a Production Company with Michael D. Ratner

Today on the show we have entrepreneur and filmmaker Michael D. Ratner.

Michael founded OBB Pictures in 2016 and under his leadership the company has grown into OBB Media, an award winning production company and studio with divisions in film, TV, digital, podcasts, branded content, and social good.

In addition to running OBB and expanding the business, Ratner continues to act as a multi-hyphenate leading creative on OBB’s marquee projects. Ratner recently directed and executive produced the Amazon Studios Justin Bieber: Our World film.

Justin Bieber: Our World takes viewers backstage, onstage and into the private world of the global superstar as he prepares for a record-breaking New Year’s Eve 2020 concert. After a three-year hiatus from a full concert, Bieber delivers an electrifying performance on the rooftop of the Beverly Hilton Hotel for 240 invited guests —and millions of fans across the globe watching via livestream. Produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Michael D. Ratner, the94minute documentary follows Bieber and his team for the month leading up to the show as they rehearse and construct a monumental stage set. The film also captures personal self-shot moments between Bieber and his wife Hailey through the artist’s own lens.

Earlier that year, he directed and executive produced the critically acclaimed SXSW 2021 opening night headlining film Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil.

Demi Lovato holds nothing back in this powerful four part documentary series exploring every aspect that led to their nearly fatal overdose in 2018, and her awakenings in the aftermath. Director Michael D. Ratner is granted unprecedented access to the superstar’s personal and musical journey during the most trying time of their life as they unearth prior traumas and discovers the importance of physical, emotional, and mental health. Far deeper than an inside look beyond the celebrity surface, this is an intimate portrait of addiction, and the process of healing and empowerment.

Prior to that, the Justin Bieber: Seasons docuseries, which broke the record for YouTube Originals as the most-viewed premiere ever globally. These projects focus on helping to normalize and foster dialogue around mental health, conversations around self worth, and supporting causes for social good.

Ratner is also the creator, showrunner, director and executive producer of Cold as Balls, the comedy series starring Kevin Hart, which has garnered over 1.8 billion viewers to date and just wrapped its fifth season, and is available on Peacock. Ratner executive produced and directed on &Music for Quibi, and executive produced The Harder Way for ESPN+.

He directed and produced Justin Bieber’s music video Intentions, which featured Bieber and Quavo highlighting the stories of 3 Los Angeles women’s struggles, and launched the Intentions Fund. Ratner also co-directed the music video for Dancing With The Devil, alongside Demi Lovato, which was the lead single from their last studio album. Both music videos were nominated for VMAs.

Prior to that, Ratner served as executive producer and director on OBB’s Historical Roasts for Netflix. Ratner has also produced and/or directed a number of films that have premiered at Sundance, Tribeca, and SXSW, including Gonzo @ the Derby for ESPN’s acclaimed 30 for 30 series, which followed Hunter S. Thompson’s trip to the Kentucky Derby and is narrated by Sean Penn.

Ratner has been recognized by Variety Hollywood’s Creative New Leaders list as well as Forbes 30 Under 30 Hollywood & Entertainment. Prior to that, Ratner graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in film directing, writing, and producing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Enjoy my inspiring conversation with Michael D. Ratner.

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show Michael D. Ratner. How're you doing, Michael?

Michael D. Ratner 0:14
How are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:15
I'm good, man. I'm good. How's How's life treating you in this weird, wacky world we live in?

Michael D. Ratner 0:21
Making it through weird and wacky.

Alex Ferrari 0:23
Weird, weird and wacky ohh god. And you're doing productions left and right. And I'm assuming you never know what's gonna happen if someone gets positive or not. But it's just such a weird world, man we're living in.

Michael D. Ratner 0:36
Yeah, it's I don't remember shooting prior to this. Yeah, I gotta say, though, it's been it's been great. We have managed to stay shooting the entire time. We pivoted early. We did a we do the show a Kevin Hart called cold as balls. And that was the first virtual shoot. We did like the second week into COVID in 2020. And then we went right into dancing with the devil. And we've been nonstop testing is now like, in the DNA of what you do in a day for a film shoot. So it's too well,

Alex Ferrari 1:07
And masks everywhere. Like before, you know, Michael Jackson looked like a weirdo. But now not so much.

Michael D. Ratner 1:13
No, no, it's it's that that is not something it's an accessory. That's totally it's like a watch.

Alex Ferrari 1:20
I mean, is there gonna be a time we're not gonna wear it? Like, I can't even I can't even walk out the door now without wearing one. It just freaks me out. If I don't have one on. It's crazy. Yeah. So let's, so how did you get started in this insane business that we call the film industry?

Michael D. Ratner 1:34
So i Good question. You know, and sort of one of those answers that I feel like what other people said, I roll my eyes, but it's the truth. I don't remember a time when I didn't want to do this. You know, I remember being super young. And my, my father had, actually I keep it here. I could turn the camera and show you. Yeah, it's, it's in my stack of stuff. I have a VHS camera. That was my father's. And I taught myself how to use it. And, you know, I would run around the house, and I would shoot everything. And I remember my mom would be like, in a robe in the morning. She's like, Why are you shooting me, you know, and I just would like, run around. And, and I would I like I like, you know, my brother and I like the WWE at the time and matches and, you know, I would come in and create storylines, and, and then I taught myself how to edit. And I you know, it was it was really interesting. And it was a time when you could teach yourself how to do things. And, you know, when I went to high school, I remember teachers, you know, the one specific one, I remember it was Catcher in the Rye, and we're supposed to do a essay on it. And I asked the teacher Her name was, I think it was Mrs. Yeah, it was, it was Mrs. Clapper. She, she she? I said, you know, I'd like to make a film about this rather than a paper which said, you just want to mess around with your friends and shoot something. And I said, No. I said, Actually, I think I could do something that speaks even more powerfully than an essay. And she said, No. And I said, Well, what if I do that? Plus, I write the essay, will you show it in class? And she said yes to that, because it was even more work. And I remember the feeling I had when people watch that. And it worked. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

Alex Ferrari 3:27
Yeah, I had a similar experience with a I had high a camera that my grandpa gave me. And I used to run around I used to and I did the same thing. A teacher business law, teachers, like, Hey, can I shoot a, you know, this this promo? And she's like, Sure. And the whole climate, it was standing room only because it was I was in the 90s, like, early 90s. So it's still someone shooting something was like, what? Now it's like everybody shoots. But

Michael D. Ratner 3:54
Yeah, I think it wasn't, I don't remember other kids running around doing it the way like high school at least. And you know, I was in Rauzan Hebrew school shooting stuff, and I would have my friends come over and I you know, we'd been put them in costumes and stuff, and I just loved it. I love that feeling when I knew I had something that was gonna make people laugh, and I was waiting and in the, you know, auditorium or in the classroom, and it was such a high and it was entertaining people and having something to say and getting your personality out there. And I just thought, I guess back then I didn't really realize like, oh, I want to make it a business and I want to make money doing it. It was more so just I loved it. And then, you know, you start to learn about life and realize that you can really, really make this work and you start getting inspired by people and next thing you know, here you are.

Alex Ferrari 4:45
Now is was there a film that kind of lit the fire? Was there like that one you're like oh my god, I have to do this?

Michael D. Ratner 4:53
You know, my answer is the, the answer is I I remember seeing early Adam Sandler movies. I remember seeing

Alex Ferrari 5:03
Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison.

Michael D. Ratner 5:06
Yep, I remember seeing those movies and being like, wow, like, This is so fucking cool. Can you curse?

Alex Ferrari 5:15
In the occasional F bomb is fine.

Michael D. Ratner 5:17
There'll be, that'll be the only one but it that's how I felt at the time, right. And I was like, This is amazing. And I wasn't so deep that I knew whether I wanted to be a producer, director, writer, actor, comedian, like it was just this is magic, this makes this is so cool. And then I remember the first one that really is an interesting one to note because I was a bit older at this point. But I remember the one that actually spoke to me a bit because it was this coming of age story. And I thought that such heart was super bad. I remember seeing Yeah, yeah. And I remember going man like, this is such this is I know high school like this. And I know these stories. So those are a couple films that I remember seeing. And there's some other Judd Apatow films and stuff. But yeah, those are those are sort of when I was like, Man, this is this is so incredible. You can make people laugh, and you could tell stories that have heart in a relatable. And I do I remember, I remember those moments,

Alex Ferrari 6:14
Was your first directing gigs in music videos?

Michael D. Ratner 6:18
So my first A directing like, I mean, I can tell you the countless things that I directed that were just horrible. And nobody's ever seen because there's, there's 1000s, right. And I would like and I for so long. I was ashamed of just how bad they were. I don't know what I was doing. But the first thing I directed that I felt was was solid was in films, I went to UPenn undergrad. And I majored in film and English, but I really was just learning about cinema cinema studies, you weren't learning how to be a filmmaker per se. Then I went to NYU grad film school. And that's where I really learned how to be a filmmaker. And I think that program is so phenomenal. And I made a film there called the 30 year old bris, which was about an interfaith couple. And it takes the night before the guys get circumcised. And that film got into Tribeca. It was you know, I think, a 1012 minute short film. And that was the first thing I directed that started getting a little buzz. And, you know, then I got into some music videos and stuff from there. But it was really that film at Tisch, that was the first one that I was like, Oh, I think this is, you know, this is working.

Alex Ferrari 7:26
Now, you know, we I've been directing for 20 odd years as well. And there's always that day, when you're on set, that you feel like the entire world is gonna come crashing down around you, you're losing the sun, the camera broke card isn't working, someone deleted the last 33 hours you shot, you know, something happens was, is there something that sticks out in your mind that happened on a day or in a project? And how did you overcome it as a director?

Michael D. Ratner 7:55
Wow, it's like, take your pick, right?

Alex Ferrari 7:57
It's a daily basis, right?

Michael D. Ratner 7:58
Yeah, I've had every thing that you just said, Because I mean, I started off as a scrappy filmmaker, like I remember, you know, you become, you don't take anything for granted. You know, I started OPB and I have this company now where every role is fulfilled, and I show up and I'm the director and I'm able to just like do my thing and leave. But there is a certain you don't soon forget the roles of everybody on your on your set, if you really did them all. And I'm so grateful for those brutal times that I tried to, you know, really be the best location sound person that I could be and the times that I did hold the boom, because you know, I'm you can't see my full body and physique here. I'm not exactly cut out for for that and that's brutal job. Oh, it's brutal. And, and understanding why you need to get room tone and understanding that somebody, if your call time is that 6am needs to go get the truck to get the lights and that's at 3am and you do all of that. And you know you have you you I remember peeing in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, you know, before I went to film school and I was in charge of going and driving this like broken down van from Pittsburgh to to Johnstown, I thought I was gonna like die because the wheels were gonna fall off. And those those experiences really make you a much, much better leader and director. And I'm very grateful that I had those experiences while in the moment you don't see it. So yeah, there's countless examples of not really knowing that you should be backing up your drives, and it's like a whole day's work gets knocked down. That's like, you know, what's the night? So I have had all of that. But you make it work and you keep going. And, you know, nothing's ever what it was supposed to be. Nothing's ever what was scripted. Nothing's ever what you have Your head but ends up being something special. So there's, there's so many different examples that John's done when I haven't talked about that in probably 10 years. That was, that was crazy because I was the PA, I was so excited to shadow the director, I thought I was gonna be able to do that. They're like, hey, there's a van four hours away, you need to go get it and then combat you know, that was the whole day. And I really I remember it broke down. And you know, I was like, I'm gonna get fired from this first eyelet ever, because I'm not going to get this band here. And you know, it all works out.

Alex Ferrari 10:29
Oh, dude, I was I was interning at a at a show for Fox at Universal Studios and the producers like, hey, the producer wants to talk to you. I'm like, oh, shoot, like the showrunner wants to talk to me. And I go into his office, like, I like what you've been doing here, kid, and I have a special project for you. I'm like, what, what is it he's like, I need you to help me move.

Michael D. Ratner 10:48
It that gives you a lot of time to then go and find your moment to make an impression.

Alex Ferrari 10:59
Exactly, exactly!

Michael D. Ratner 11:00
You know what I pay so much attention to that, who's who's who looks like they're just there to help and be a positive influence and voice. And you know, that that doesn't go unnoticed if you pick the pocket and you play those situations, right. And I think that, again, all the all of those experiences and doing all these different roles and for you, you know, you will be in charge and you will be making those choices. And if you really know what you're talking about versus if you don't, it becomes really clear and people want to work for people that they feel like you've done it before.

Alex Ferrari 11:34
Right! No, no quies Yeah, it man as a season a season crew can smell can smell it a five minutes in if the directors with knows what they're doing or not like, and they will roll you over, depending on where you are in the world. La crew, New York crew, they even Atlanta crew, they're gonna all season guys and gals, they will run over you because they just don't have the patience for it. I've had the pleasure of talking to a lot of you know, really amazing guests on my show. And one thing I've always wondered, I always ask is about this thing that I can't believe some of these Oscar winners and Emmy winners and imposter syndrome. And it's a thing that, you know, I feel it. I mean, but writers feel it everything. I was wondering if you've ever had to deal with that on your own meaning like, sometimes I've talked to some guys who you know, literally win Oscars. I'm like, do you haven't yet sometimes on my last movie that it was $100 million. I felt like any moment now security was gonna come in and go, This guy doesn't know what he's doing. Come on, get him out of here. Is it just an artist thing? Or do you do? Do you ever feel that I mean, like an a normal artist would? And how do you deal with it? If you do feel it?

Michael D. Ratner 12:47
I try to spin that positively. I try to and the answer is of course. Because it like another word for that is insecurity. Right? Sure. Right. And I try to think to myself in those moments, you know, hard work pays off. And, you know, nobody knows what they're doing. But we're gonna figure it out. And also just first, I'm so happy. I didn't have like early, early, early success, amen. And then the reason for that is, it's always with you. And it's not like it took me forever. I feel very lucky that I, that I'm that I am where I am right now at my age, and it's not lost on me. But it didn't happen right away for me at all. And you get told no. So frequently. It's almost like you just you need to be Teflon, because every day you have an idea. You're like, oh, yeah, cool, like call me back in a couple of weeks or like no, just know, right? And sudden, Yeah, that sucks. That's where you Was that a joke? Exactly. And and you get deflated. And then you get back up. And I think that people are making this business are like wildly resilient. Right? And I think that you, you basically go and get to a point where you remember those noes and people start all the sudden saying yes, and then eventually you're actually gonna have to turn stuff down, which is such a foreign concept when you're when you're starting your career. And I think in those moments of frustration, or you're not sure if you're, if you belong and whatnot, I try to just think back to all I must be doing something right, I'm here, right? And those noes turned into yeses, and I try my best not to get riddled with anxiety and frustration. I'd say try because I fail at this sometimes. Right? And I try to just think you dreamed of this. So let's just figure it out. Just go for it and not go and cave or fold. You know, I gotta say one of the I mentioned before that Kevin Hart show that we do is about to enter season six. Kevin and I actually had a conversation. Very early on we started working together. And I asked him I said it shouldn't you be on a beach, like just sipping like a Mai Tai, like, what are we doing here? Because he just like he this guy has worked harder than anybody. He's the consummate Pro. And he did. He said to me, he said, I remember all those nose. He said, I'm still catching it. You think I'd say yes to a lot. I'm catching up for all the nose because he didn't make it right. Oh, no took him in. And I related to it so much. So I don't know, I try to think more about that, you know, it doesn't exactly answer your question. But in those moments, like, you know, do I belong? Or am I like, here, like, have this? I just tried to go like, yes, we are. And like, we're gonna figure it out. And we don't know everything, because nobody does. And let's just, let's grind. You know, one funny story that really answers your question is I was once I really liked this film, and thought I could make a difference. In a later stage, you know, I didn't know that you could come into a film that's already in the can and edit and help and make an impact like this early on in my career. And I was on this call that I never should have been on because I was super young, and like, trying to like show that I had great ideas. So you know, but I didn't know what I was doing. I've never done it before. And I remember they asked me a simple question. And I said, I think our connections bad Hold on, and I Googled it. I didn't know how to and I didn't even know what they were talking about. Google, I was like, ah, yeah, you know, and that's just the hustle. The Hustle. You know, you There you go. Your hat says that right. And that doesn't mean be a BS artist, far from it. But like, hustle, ask questions, ask for help and just roll with it. We're all on the same situation.

Alex Ferrari 16:37
No, no question now. Yeah, I was gonna ask you about Kevin Kevin Hart's cold balls, which is I've seen by the way, I've seen many episodes, I friggin I'm a huge Kevin Hart fan, like, Who is it? I mean, who is it? What is it like working with? A I've heard the same thing from people that worked with him. Nothing but a professional, wonderful to work with. Just there on time, does his job makes people laugh? And it's just working hard. What is it like working with them? And is there something you've taken away from? You know, just working with a star of that caliber, um, he's he's a worldwide, huge star,

Michael D. Ratner 17:17
Mega bankable movie star in multi hyphenate CEO, business owner, Kevin and I had many converse. I mean, obviously, you know, I own and run OB, which is one hat I direct. That's another hat I produce. And he's a guy with a lot of dashes, if you were to put try to introduce him, right. And what I'll say is, he has it, and I might say, but just, there is something about he's special. I mean, the way his brain works, the way he reads a script, and just knows it immediately, like he inside out something about his brain is different. And he is gifted. What makes Kevin Hart Kevin Hart is there's that plus this crazy work ethic. Plus this, like, you know, charm and everything else. He's hilarious. But he has this intangible gift that I mean, it's so much study his brain, he's got this crazy mind and memory and gift. And then you pair that with all the other checkboxes of things he has. And you get Kevin Hart. But yeah, I mean, you work with a guy like that. And you're just in the presence of, you know, someone who's really, really great.

Alex Ferrari 18:26
Yeah. And, you know, I've had the pleasure of working with with those kinds of stars, and you just know it when they walk in the room. There's just that thing that's intangible. It's there. It's like, oh, yeah, that's why they're huge movie star. I get it. Now. They don't have to say a word. You just go.

Michael D. Ratner 18:40
Yeah, it goes beyond confidence, or the way they carry themselves. It's, it's something it's like this special aura. And, you know, I, I work with a lot of really talented people. And I think I have a real knack for getting great performances from people in scripted and unscripted in movies and TV and in what have you, right. And I think that that skill set, I can navigate the medium, whether it's, by the way, an audio, we have an audio division, like, I think I know how to go and communicate and get those things done. So I have a certain way of going about it. And you know, with Kevin specifically, anytime that I go to do my normal course, he just requires so much less and or none at all, you know, and it's just like, and I'm always like, man, I'll see how this goes. And he nails it nails it every time. So the prep work just and that's not to say that he's some guy that shows up and doesn't do prep, whatever he's doing is working. And it's just like, go for it and and never disappoints. He never seems like he doesn't know what he's talking about. And I'll always be ready to go with a note and he'll just do it on his own. It's amazing. It's amazing.

Alex Ferrari 19:53
Now you've obviously you've direct a lot of music videos. Is there anything that you brought from your music video experience into documentary, because you have made a handful of documentaries pretty high profile ones at that.

Michael D. Ratner 20:06
Yeah, um, I think that I like mixing the worlds like, I think that music videos are so stylistic, you know, you can stylize them so much. And in a very competitive world where there's so many dogs right now, making stylistic choices to make yours rise up and feel special and different is a great move. Like, you know, we were the opening night headliner, film at South by Southwest this year with dance with the devil and with Demi, and the opening sequence of it's a four part piece. And the opening sequence basically plays like this, like XR, music video. And it's got all these little like riddled pieces of the story that are symbolic. And if you were to play that piece straight through, it actually tells a story. It's more music video than it is Doc. But it's an opening sequence, right? I think I took that from sort of my music video brain. And I think that when making doc, specifically music docs, I like to take parts of the creative and what makes those musicians so, so special, and put that into the DNA of the filmmaking in some capacity. And sometimes then that sort of gets meld with more music, video type motifs. And it's fun to sort of weave in and add up.

Alex Ferrari 21:32
Now, you know, I've seen some of your Doc's and you you're able to get your subjects to open up to you, and be very, very vulnerable. What tips do you have for filmmakers listening to be able to do that? I mean, then you're doing it with some of the biggest, you know, stars in the world, which I'm assuming is a whole other level of comfortable that you have to get in order to do that. But what what suggestions do you have for filmmakers out there?

Michael D. Ratner 22:00
Forget about the cameras worrying about. And I what I mean by that is not forget that they're there, that's a very obvious thing. But what I mean is, whatever day you plan to shoot, you better be working on your relationship with that person, in a very, non transactional way, way earlier on, and that means, forget that you're directing them, forget that you're one day sitting down from a very genuine place, you need to care about that person, and you need to care about the story you're telling. And the vulnerability that you're referring to is earned. It's not just happenstance. And that's a comfort level of many, many off the record conversations. And, you know, you ultimately get to a point where you understand what's your Northstar? You got to be on the same page with people to What are you trying to accomplish? And, you know, why should they trust you, and you need to go and have those hard and difficult conversations, depending on what the subject matter is. But I think whether it's light, or whether it's super heavy, you need to have that relationship, and that takes time and energy and that stuff. There's no instant gratification with that, you know, you're nobody's gonna applaud you and be like, you're such a great director, this film was so great. And you're not even going to know yourself, you talk about being in security, not going to yourself, if you're if you're going to achieve what you're looking to collectively with that person, but just put in the time and, and then, you know, ask those questions in a way that are more conversational, I think, you know, I've said this before, publicly, but like, there is this moment when I can tell that the interview is turned into a conversation. And the second that's happened, that's when you really start to speak in a way that's just so special. And and it all comes down to trust in your relationship. And, you know, that just means you got to put the time in, like, with all things.

Alex Ferrari 24:00
Yeah, it's funny, I've had I've had that experience with my guests sometimes where I, I'm talking to them, and they forget that we're recording and they start asking, like, personal questions and like, hey, where do you live? And I, you know, maybe we could have like, dude, who recording stuff. And then oh, yeah, I forgot. I forgot. Did you fall into that? And that's the magic place that's really is a magic place.

Michael D. Ratner 24:19
Yeah. And, you know, there's also, you know, so one could argue, well, if you're too close, you know exactly what they want. Are you going to be too subjective in what you're saying? You know, the answer is no, you know, you can tell an objective story while understanding someone's heart and what they're after and why they're doing something. You know, one of the most interesting things with some of the really, you know, large tentpole movies and projects that I've made as of late with big stars, in the dark space, specifically is, you know, it's really unique for that vulnerability and that window into these people's lives. Sometimes the good, the bad and the ugly for people to do that while they're in there. Prime. I think that's really unique to my work, right? It's easy to see many people later on in life, I got nothing to lose, here's what happened back in the day, you know? Cool, that's really cool that is, but there's something really special about somebody who has everything to lose who's in the middle of it doesn't need to be doing that, talking about those things, because they want to connect with their fans and relate and you know, specifically to call out, you know, Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber, who both did that in our respective projects, you know, seasons dancing with the devil, I think are two prime examples of I am struggling, and I am dealing with mental health issues, and I'm dealing with Trump. And that's because I'm a human being has nothing to do with that I'm a celebrity. That is so bold, and that has nothing to do with me, those are choices that they each made, and I was there to help facilitate their vision, which was really special.

Alex Ferrari 25:53
You know, it's so funny, because I think in the era that I grew up, you know, I mean, I'm, I'm a bit older than you. But I mean, I remember when Michael Jackson and Madonna and you know, all those big stars of the 80s and 90s. They they're put on these pedestals and they don't, they're not shown as human. Yeah, they're, they're just, they're just the things almost. And they never showed vulnerability, ever, because that wasn't expected of them. But in today's generation, and today's artists, it's almost expect like the Billy Eilish is of the world and they are expected to be vulnerable, and to be authentic and not packaged. Because fans want authenticity. People want authenticity, they are not going to just Oh, you're pretty great. There's 1000 Other pretty people behind you. What makes you special. Oh, you can send great, there's 1000 other people who can see really great to what makes you special. And and your dogs really kind of opened up those doors to two of the largest stars in the world right now.

Michael D. Ratner 26:54
Yeah, totally. Yeah, I think that that is the different different, you know, differentiator, like I think that, you know, the ability to go and sure Instagram, you get like 15 second clips into people's lives. But I always say people have like their Instagram personality. It's not live course. Yeah, way on there. And it's quick, and it's that, but like, that is access, right? We didn't used to get that access with Michael Jackson, or some of the artists you named, that didn't really, you know, obviously exist, but I still think these Doc's are that makes it even harder, right? Because it's like, oh, well, you're getting a window. And so what makes the dock special, you know, we've already seen them inside their house. So we've already gotten the unfiltered version, it's like, kind of that's still a bit of not polished, it's polished, or it's raw for a specific reason. Like it's, you know, it's it's raw, but like the what we've tried to do is really tell a story, and I don't believe that you need you need an hour and a half or two hours tell a story. I don't believe that you need half an hour, I believe that story and duration and what's happening in content right now with all of the different options on district distributor and, you know, varying agnostic lengths of things is phenomenal. So think that you know just quick hitters on on social is not the way to really get deep and learn about stuff. So I think that these these music, Doc's are a way to connect. And you know what, even more so in a time when touring stops, right, the world back, we start talking about like, you could not connect with fans. So what are you doing? What are you up to? And how can you go and speak to speak to those people that normally would get to go and get maybe see you on the road or see performances or, or shows that you're on, everybody had to like, take a deep breath and settle down and stay in one place.

Alex Ferrari 28:44
When you were doing dancing with the devil of Demi Lovato that, you know, I you know, just at the beginning of the first episode, you know, it's like, six months before the overdose. So you started that process, and the overdose happened in the middle of it, right.

Michael D. Ratner 28:59
So actually, interestingly enough, they were working on a doc, it was a follow up to simply complicated that I was not involved in. And then when the overdose, unfortunately happened, they stopped entirely, of course, and when they decided that they were ready to talk about that I had recently, you know, months before put out seasons. And that's what ultimately I think, made me feel like, Ooh, you know, we could potentially tell this together, because that tone, and that level of authenticity and rawness was what I think they were looking to do, because I think that film would have been a different tone and style, obviously. So it just called for a fresh restart. And I came in then, but I was able to inherit some of that footage obviously from before. And that was one of the filmmaking challenges, how to go and take some of the older stuff and ultimately shoot new stuff and And that's how we started.

Alex Ferrari 30:01
Yeah. And it's, it's you're working with your subject as opposed to a documentarian who's recording a subject but is disconnected meaning that they go off they edit the subject has no say on how it looks, where now you're can only imagine how difficult that is, you're also now, hey, we're going to show the deepest, darkest parts that you want to show, we're going to expose all of it. And that's what this movie needs for in order to do it, and they're involved with you. So that takes another level of, of bravery on the artist standpoint.

Michael D. Ratner 30:33
And, and it is, it's, it's unique, and it's nuanced. And it's political, and you got to ultimately navigate that, and it causes some awkward viewing sessions, right where you know it. On the one hand, I've poured my soul into the edit and getting the story out there and trying to achieve this. But you know, I'm sitting in a room watching some really dark moments of somebody's life with them. That's, that's a very, you know, unique, you know, you imagine, you know, we all go through shit, every one of us, but have you watched it on film? You know, you're you, right? You're talking about it? And then oh, can you send me archival footage from home videos? And can you connect me to your mother to send me videos of you as a kid, I mean, imagine sitting there watching, that's the experience they go through. And you need to really be prepared for the reactions that will yield and understanding again, that it's for a specific purpose, and you do it and you work with the person, you know, I've never put out on the projects we're discussing here, like those get seen and discussed before they come out with the artist. And that does not mean that they're going well, you know, here's a list of things you can't say, you know, that I haven't had that experience, because there's always a conversation at the beginning of, let's make sure that I'm the right person for this. And if I'm the right person, we need to tell a real story. We can't make a propaganda puff piece like I just did not who that's not the type of storyteller I am. And I don't think that's the, what your, you know, fans deserve are ultimately what you want to do. And we've always had those difficult or just, I should even say those conversations, and let's just very straightforward conversations. And as such, I think it's resulted in these really special projects.

Alex Ferrari 32:23
Now, I mean, you've again, worked with Damien, and Justin and two of the biggest stars in the world at the moment, you know, being being in the orbit, of those kinds of stars, especially close to those orbits. I've had small moments of those as well, when you're just in the orbit, and just like, their satellites around, there's planets running around, and they are the center of the universe. What is it like, day in day out, being with some of the biggest stars in the world and seeing what they go through? Because you're, you're not just a satellite you're like next to, and you're capturing it. So that must be a very different experience, you must have a sympathy for them that most might not, because you see what they go through and things are on camera and off. So what is it like just as a as a human being next to another human going through that experience?

Michael D. Ratner 33:18
Great question. And the the answer, I've tried so hard to, in my work, explain what that experience is like. And, you know, being hard on myself, I've never effectively done that, because nothing can do it justice. Besides seeing it firsthand that I've tried, I've tried to do the chaotic cuts of paparazzi and things happening. And it's like, no, to really see the forethought that goes into just moving, just getting up and going to do something because of how famous they are. Right? It's that that is like a second to second reality. Now, I've also been very careful to be mindful of nobody wants to hear the Woe is me. I'm a celebrity in my life. You know, I can't move like, there's a lot of perks. Right. So it's tough, but that doesn't change the reality that like, it's it's hard. There are parts that are really hard. And human nature is not designed for famous celebrity. Right, we're not designed to be told how great we are 24/7 We're not designed to not be able to go outside of shop. Question question question, uncomfortable question or uncomfortable question. So yeah, it does make you sympathetic, or I should just say, really understanding of all sides of it, nothing simple. And it makes you just sort of get it all also, it made me really understand that just just because you read something does not mean it's true at all. Like you know and you know it there's there's there's People can say anything about anybody. And when you're really famous people just say stuff. And then you know, but that that words matter words have power news, you know, outlets, you would think that oh, well, you know, it's there. They're a news outlet. It's got to be real. No, it doesn't. I've just seen a lot of stuff where I've been with people, and you know that there's an article saying they were somewhere else. I'm like, wait a sec. Well, you know, and that you start like realizing just that's, that's a daily occurrence. And I think that wall stars who have been in the limelight for a long time, probably get a bit immune to it, it's still annoying, it's still frustrating. And it can cause you to act out of character at times. And it's a really interesting peek behind the curtain as to what those people go through. And, you know, many of whom really do a pretty damn good job. And sure they slip here and there. But for the most part, I've been really impressed. And I have no idea how I would handle that level of celebrity,

Alex Ferrari 35:59
That that's why it's so interesting. That's why I asked you the question, because you get the kind of roleplay that almost, you know, like cars play that if you will, because you're right next to them. It's not you doing it, you could walk away at any second, no one's really gonna stop you on the street for the most part. Maybe in LA. But, but generally speaking, it is it is. It's It's fascinating to me, and so many people want to be rich and famous. But they don't understand that there is a cost, man, there is a cost. And look like you said no, Woe is me. They looked for it. Yeah, I mean, funny, funny story. I was on the set. I was doing music videos in LA 1515 years ago, something like that. And I was invited to an usher music video. And there was like this, this young kid who's going to be in it. And I'm like, Who's this young kid? He's like, some kid named Justin Bieber. And I had no, he was nobody. Justin was nobody. He was 50. And he's tripping over cables. He's just trying to dance. And I'm just like, Oh, cool. I get to see Usher. Six months later, baby baby hits was just like, What the hell. And so I have a distinct I saw Justin, when he was a kid. Like he was literally just 15. He was just, but he was so even at that moment, when I saw him, and I was on set with him. You could just see it. You were like, there's something there. I don't know what it is. And this is not the song. Music they're like, No, this is not the one. But it was it was really interesting. And people do ask for this. But they have to be really careful what they get.

Michael D. Ratner 37:35
Yeah, I think the question is, you don't know what you're asking for. So you get right, it sounds like this is it. So yeah, I think again, it's just it's fascinating. Yeah, and, like with all things again, there's pros and cons.

Alex Ferrari 37:51
Yeah, exactly. Like you know, you know, bad day. Who knows? Who knows who it is, it is a pros and cons. Now tell me about your new film with Justin our world.

Michael D. Ratner 38:02
Yeah, came out in October. Really exciting. It was fun. It was, you know, you do a heavy dock series like seasons. And then you pivot and you make a really fun film. That's, you know, obviously COVID is like looming over this thing. And people are going through really a rough time. And unfortunately, of course, people were dying from COVID. And everybody was in a weird spot with work and figuring out how to provide and that's a character in this piece. But once we get to the stage, it's a celebration of like his music, and it's a nostalgic walk, you know, down memory lane from baby to now and there's it's really very de and gritty. I think it was really cool how Justin was like a DP and shot himself in it and Haley and you know, that was really because of safety protocols. I couldn't be there all the time. Sure. Big style. And then obviously, we juxtaposing that with 32 cameras set up with drones and all the flashiness, the night of the show on the top of the Beverly Hilton was pretty unique. And I think it captured the spirit of that moment in time. And it was really it was really awesome. I enjoyed making a concert Doc, you know, and that's really what it was. It was a concert heavy doc. And it's it was, it was a blast, and I think people really enjoyed it.

Alex Ferrari 39:27
And I mean, how was it shooting during the COVID protocol, man, like, I mean, it's on such a big is a pretty big production. I mean, 32 cameras? It's no joke. No, I'm like my my budget puckered when you said 32 cameras. I'm like, oh, geez, how I mean, I'm assuming at some point you just like hopefully I'll get some footage off of those. Those sets of cameras cuz you're not seeing everything at all times right?

Michael D. Ratner 39:50
Well, it was just we were shooting the hell out of it. Right. I mean, we had drones in the sky. We had cameras on balconies. We had long lines. from certain areas, you know, we were doubling the live stream cameras. And then we had the ability to convert it to 4k, which is obviously what ended up on the Amazon film. And we then had a bunch of, you know, running gun shooters getting cool, you know, dynamic shots in the pit and whatnot. But it was really crazy shooting in COVID, because we had our bubble, and there was daily testing. And if somebody went down, the whole show is at risk, obviously. She had to just be super, super careful. And everything was incredibly thought through and we, you know, luckily pulled it off. But that what made the gloom of COVID and everything going on and pulling off the show. Very interesting storyline also, like we had to live that making it it was not just manufacture drama. Alright, everybody's negative. Okay, good. Good, you know, and Nick demora, goes down with COVID as his creative director, and then Justin had to fully step up and lead the team, which, you know, was a good story point, because part of this was about Justin really coming into his own and really leading every part of his life for the first time. Really, I mean, he's, he's a grown man, you know, and we all think, you know, we remember you hear Justin, you're like a baby in. He's, grown up.

Alex Ferrari 41:17
He's a grown ass man with a family.

Michael D. Ratner 41:19
He's grown is a grown man with a wife and and, you know, leading many of the same people has been with these incredibly loyal, which is really cool. You know, you go. And one of the storylines that I thought was important to hit home. And he thought, as well as like, you know, he's been with the same people for all those years. It's very rare to see in any field, but in music, especially. So it's, it's a fun one. It's a really fun watch. And, you know, it's, it's just enjoyable to go and watch some good music. And, you know, you'll realize how many Justin Bieber if you're a fan, of course, you know, but even if not, you'll be like, Man, he's one talented person.

Alex Ferrari 41:55
There's a lot of songs that you don't even sometimes I don't even realize it's Justin, you're like, Oh, that is Justin Bieber song. Oh, yeah. Like it, he's, or he gets started on this or get, you know, you know, gets popped on that. And it's just, he's, it's hard to believe he's been around for 15 odd years at this point in the game. And still, it's still going and still being relative, you know, relative because relevant, excuse me, because a lot of those boy bands, as we all know, from the 90s, in the early 2000s, there, they're not relevant.

Michael D. Ratner 42:28
He just put out a number one album, he's about to go on, like a sold out arena tour. So pretty impressive.

Alex Ferrari 42:36
He's doing he's doing all right. He's doing okay. He's okay. He's okay. Now, what's next?

Michael D. Ratner 42:42
Working on another big documentary right now that I have not announced yet. But we are into it. And seven months into it. Hopefully, we'll come out end of this year, beginning of next, I'm producing another big doc that have not announced yet. That sorry, this just went off that we are in pre Prolon, which is really exciting. And then we have animated music show. That's really exciting. That's what the network that we haven't announced yet. So there's, there's there's a bunch of stuff. There's a there's there's some scripted TV shows, then there's a couple of these doc films, we're working on a whole bunch of stuff. And then really exciting for us. We're building out our first studio here in LA. So we, yeah, a big production facility where we're building out stuff. So we'll be able to bring a lot of our productions in house. But it's been great. I mean, we are going to be 48 people here it will be by the end of year, which is just this huge. Yeah, it's been it's been exciting time. But you know, we have this audio business that does podcasts and audio projects. You know, we have our film group, we have TV, there's a lot of stuff going on. And at the heart of it all is his stories. And we're very lucky that we're in a time when there are there's such a need everybody needs content right now and we're making stuff and it's a it's a fun time to play it because dollars are not just coming from financiers or distributors, it's coming from brands coming from all over all over the place. So we're working on in a number of different areas with a number of different partners and having a blast.

Alex Ferrari 44:20
Yeah, Kevin Kevin Hart's cold balls. Is is by Old Spice.

Michael D. Ratner 44:24
That's That's exactly right. And yeah, we're we've seen there's another one we got season six of that coming up that we'll be shooting, which is just i No matter what size project or what I'm doing or what's going on, I find out how to carve out time to direct that showcase to so fun. Like do these wonky schedules for like, you know, whatever big thing I'm working on because I'm like, I want to it that's such an example of the new TV modern when you know, it's a 12 to 15 minute like internet show that just blew up and gets millions of viewers with a brand sponsor. And then works right with a Moute with a plus bankable movie star. It's, that's an example of just how our landscape has changed, right? And being, you know, they shouldn't call it film school anymore. It's content school, you know, and people should want to be content makers, not filmmakers like, and again, nothing wrong. I'm a film. I love film. But I always think, you know, if, if some of these iconic filmmakers from the past are starting today, they be using all of these different technologies and distribute

Alex Ferrari 45:27
Spielberg, yeah, Spielberg always

Michael D. Ratner 45:30
Tell stories that different lenghts, tell the best one minute story tell the best five minute story. And that's what we're doing. We're doing stuff on all these different mediums and just having a lot of fun.

Alex Ferrari 45:40
Now, 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?

Michael D. Ratner 45:46
Make it actually make it, don't talk about it, make it go outside and shoot it. And if it's not great, make it a little bit better next time. But don't just develop forever. Don't just put it on paper, go and make it you can actually make stuff now. Do it yourself!

Alex Ferrari 46:01
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Michael D. Ratner 46:06
90% Perfect is good enough. You know? Don't don't like because otherwise you'll be just paralyzed and you'll never put stuff out, you know, delegation, right? You know, like don't You don't need you can't do everything if you're really going to go and have influence and make a lot of stuff at once. You got to build a great team but you know, I think it's it's it's letting go and putting stuff out to the world and and not caving into that fear that start it's not there yet. It's not there yet. You know, you gotta you gotta release it eventually.

Alex Ferrari 46:39
And last question, three of your favorite films of all time.

Michael D. Ratner 46:42
I think I gave you three already, which are Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison Super bad. I can. I love we yeah, we covered that we started it. I mean, I love Charlie Chaplin movies. Chaplin films, Gold Rush. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Even films. Yeah. Even films like limelight. I know that gets like, I like I really love Chaplin. i And you know, he made short films and silent films and did talkies. So I'll add a Chaplin into them.

Alex Ferrari 47:12
Oh, can you imagine if chaplain was around today, like what he would be doing? Ohh God!

Michael D. Ratner 47:18
Having a lot of having a lot of fun.

Alex Ferrari 47:20
I always like imagine Kubrick with today's technology. I talk about Shoot, shoot, shoot forever. Before you had the limitations of film. Can you imagine he'd just shooting shoot. Michael man, it's been a pleasure talking to you, brother. Thank you again so much for being on the show man and continued success.

Michael D. Ratner 47:36
Thank you for having it's fun.

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BPS 354: Making Money in Niche Filmmaking with Adam Schomer

Adam Schomer is a conscious filmmaker, president of i2i Productions and is known for going to extreme lengths to follow stories that empower us. Feature documentaries include THE HIGHEST PASS (2012), THE POLYGON (2014), ONE LITTLE PILL (2015). WOMEN OF THE WHITE BUFFALO (2022) and the #1 iTunes Best-Seller and NETFLIX hit, HEAL (2017).

His recent docuseries is a heart pounding and spirit driven quest to find freedom on motorcycles in the Himalayas, THE ROAD TO DHARMA (2020) and its companion online course for Living a Life of Freedom. In addition to making films, he has been a documentary distribution consultant for select films including CHASING THE PRESENT and produced their online summit as well as the online summits for FANTASTIC FUNGI and HEAL.

Adam is also a certified Master Sattva Yoga and Meditation Teacher, and really Adam has this history of using pilgrimage and life’s adventures to reveal deeper truths. His company i2i Productions mission is to Unite Through Wisdom and Entertainment.

Please enjoy my conversation with Adam Schomer.

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Alex Ferrari 0:45
I'd like to welcome to the show, Adam Schomer. How you doing Adam?

Adam Schomer 4:00
Great nice to be here Alex.

Alex Ferrari 4:05
Thank you so much for coming on the show brother. I truly appreciate it like I was telling you earlier. I feel like I know you because you have been one of the stars in two of your projects that I've watched and I feel like I already know you just been watching hours and hours and hours of you.

Adam Schomer 4:56
Loving it. I love that you've watched it. Awesome. And and you have a little insight into a really powerful, crazy journey, a couple that I've been on. So that's cool that you know, I've got to share that with you without, you know being there in person.

Alex Ferrari 5:10
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So I So first and foremost, why did you want to get into this insanity that is the film industry?

Adam Schomer 5:20
Great never did, you know didn't have the aspirations as a kid never, never maybe like, you know Billy shoots or my neighbor used to make videos with his guinea pigs like stop motion weird like guinea pigs saving the day,

Alex Ferrari 5:32
I want to I want to see those movies by the way, I want to see those.

Adam Schomer 5:37
Do too. I remember like he would make a theater and like show these things. So back then I think I wanted to do that. But no, no real aspirations and then kind of fell into it in my late 20s, where I was bored at a corporate job and decided to do stand up comedy. Just an hour, it was the craziest kind of most nerve wracking thing. And then that pivoted into improv comedy, which I found to be the yoga of comedy. And that's that I stuck with that. I said, this was really cool. Because not only is the fun of meeting people, but it's got those yogic principles, right release be with a moment. Yes. And that like athletics, and I had been a semi pro soccer player. So it's kind of my next athletic venture. And that led me into writing and all that kind of stuff. So I was writing more and writing comedy. And eventually, that, you know, I won't go long. But eventually that brought me to LA and I just kept wanting to push it, you know, just go to the next level. Okay, write screenplays, be in a film, get my sag card, you know, improv. And I was always producing my own stuff when it came to improv as well. Because, you know, no one just gonna hand you stage time. Even in Detroit, where I, where I grew up was a cool community, everyone was very nice, and it was a good community, but you still had to kind of create your own opportunities to be on stage. So I think that producer Ness started there. And then once to LA, it pivoted. I think when I won't talk too much, but once I went to India, then I came back and, and decided, you know, what, I'm gonna focus on the writing and producing because as you know, acting is a pretty tough world, you know, even tougher than I would say, even like producing, writing, directing. I mean, acting is really, acting.

Alex Ferrari 7:15
Acting is, in my opinion, acting is probably the, the hardest part of our business with writers right next door, and then directors come in after that. But actors is like 3030 rejections a day. Yeah. Writers is, uh, you know, maybe 20 rejections a month. Yeah.

Adam Schomer 7:40
Directors, powerlessness of nitewhite really being able to create your own stuff. Correct. I was like, okay, that's not gonna work for me. And I was already producing my own like, you know, little webisodes in a kid's show. And, and then, uh, not you know, who you've seen anon and had on your other show. When I was in India, my third time there said, Hey, do you want to do this motorcycle riding into the Himalayas over the highest road in the world, and I'm like, This guy is gonna kill me. You know that in my neck.

Alex Ferrari 8:08
By the way, I can't see your face in the dock. You just like I just You were terrified. So So let's give everyone a little bit of context. So your this was your first movie, right? It's just your first dock. Yeah, first rockin first feature. Yeah. So it's called the highest pass. And it's about tell everybody what it's about.

Adam Schomer 8:24
Yeah, I mean, in essence, it's about it's facing death, right, facing death and finding freedom. So facing our fears and finding love. Not that we have to get over fear per se, but just be able to move through it. And then the context is a journey over the highest road in the world. 18,000 feet on motorcycles. My teacher or my guru has a prophecy he'll die in his late 20s. He's that age. It says he'll die in an accident and his Vedic chart, and he asks one of his students me if I want to go and I've never ridden a motorcycle, and I say yes, of course. It's my guru and the Himalayas and you just do it. So I willed myself to say yes, at that moment, I remember like, making my lips move while in the background. My head is thinking he's trying to kill me to take on his prophecy. I'm the sacrificial lamb is your brain drain is a horrible thing to have. Oh, it's armed. Right, you know, every bad story and I'm like, wow, I could write a lot of movies about this because it's so evil. So then, then I went, we went out and I was like, Yeah, let's make this invite other people and let's make a documentary. And and to be honest, I only wanted to do it if we could do it. Well, not not. Not that a handycam or shooting an iPhone is not well but this the Himalayas and India and I really wanted great cinematography and so we you know, like okay, we're gonna do it if we raise money, we're gonna raise money for it and so I went out and raised money and found a great DP that had experience with motorcycles and back then I was like, the Canon five D. was like the thing and And it served us really well on that trip, I mean, to have like a DP sometimes one time, like riding a bike with one hand and, and filming with the other at one point, we can get into that later, but I was.

Alex Ferrari 10:11
So I was able to I saw that movie and I saw the series that you did afterwards about it, which we'll talk about in a minute. But what I found fascinating about the movie is, you know, I've, you know, many people on the show know that I have another show called next level soul, which is all about spirituality and asking the big questions about life, personal growth, health, and all that kind of stuff. And I've had the pleasure of talking to a non, your guru on that. And it was just released, this thing was this week, or last week, I forgot it was this week, I think I released it just came out. It just came out this week. And it is fascinating to talk to someone who you know, in many ways, is a spiritual master, and having a conversation with him and talking to him about life and about your spiritual journey. And about just everything was really beautiful and eye opening. And I'll put a link to that in the show notes for that for that episode. But then I reached out to you, I'm like, Well, I gotta have Adam on the show. Because you know, he's a filmmaker, and he's been, you're not only just like, I shot a little documentary, you've been doing it consistently over for over a decade now. And doing it at a high level, you're doing really great work, and you're doing award winning work and, and movies that many of us have seen and heard of and been on Netflix, and so on and so forth. So going back to the highest pass. Yeah. The insanity of the environment as a producer, because you didn't direct that once you produce that one.

Adam Schomer 11:31
Yeah, I mean, co directed, co directed although credit wise it's not listed. It's a that's a whole story, wrote it wrote it co directed, CO produced.

Alex Ferrari 11:43
I figured I figured there was a story behind that, because like, he's directed everything since what, what happened here.

Adam Schomer 11:51
But it's got strong arm and postproduction, you know?

Alex Ferrari 11:58
Of course you did, because we're what we're making a movie about spirituality and the quest for enlightenment. And yet my ego says, I must have full credit. So

Adam Schomer 12:09
Correct. I got kicked out of the office for three weeks once you know, like, planning.

Alex Ferrari 12:13
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So that's, that's a great holocaust. Great Hollywood story for filmmakers. And there's to understand that that look, it happens. It happened to me when we first started, it happens to it's amazing. The Eagles that are in this business, it's fascinating.

Adam Schomer 12:28
And I'm remembering I was consulting with a non timber, like, how do I deal with this? This is a spiritual movie, I'm in post and like, This is crazy. He's like, Look, you have to look at the good parts of someone. They they had the intent, they saw that, you know, we should produce this thing. This is a great, you know, they had that enough there, but not everybody's perfect. So on some level, you're dealing with a five year old, you really are and like that, you have to approach it that way. And would you try to explain yourself to a five year old? No, you just kind of maneuver in some ways around the five year old. And then you know, that's it. It basically it just keep it simple. And I give him the film, he's like, just keep it simple. You're dealing with a five year old and move on and do what you can and make the movie.

Alex Ferrari 13:10
Yeah, that's a fascinating way to approach it. Because I believe I've I've dealt with many five year olds in this business. Many, many, many of them over the years. So how did you so how did you shoot in that intense environment and like it's it's insane.

Adam Schomer 13:27
It's insane. And for a first first to be we were 21 people total meaning the seven riders plus and on and crew. Three, three cars, seven bikes. No scouting, I had never shot in India. We're going over crazy roads. It's so how did I do? I mean, first part of the environment to deal with is the fact that you might die every day being you know, so that's really when comparing producing and death it was death was the main focus, you know, like Oh, I'm in the film, right? I'm writing first and foremost is like how about I survive and let's hope everybody else survives. So that that was the most challenging thing for me was writing and then producing To be honest, like I was calling on great people right and directing it was like okay, I leaned on my DP a lot you know, when it came to the shot I might have know what I like but I'm like show me what you think would be good here. Awesome. I like it too. Let's move forward you know keep it very simple lien on your people that know what they're doing I came from a story background so I knew what I wanted story wise and but God and in packing up and moving no scouting just shooting you know huge credit to the DP huge credit to the whole crew of just like winging it like a documentary is okay, let's go ahead of the let's go ahead of the bikers by half hours in one car ahead. They find a spot they think is great, and we all get a shot as we go by, you know, that kind of stuff now and then we would say Hey, can we Turn around and do that entrance again and have everybody right into this, you know, lunch place.

Alex Ferrari 15:06
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Adam Schomer 15:15
But for the most, most part, you get what you get. And I mean, it was 21 days. It was scary as hell and and you know, sleep was at a total minimum, I remember the first, because in the first few days, you're in the flat and you're in the hills. And then you come to where you see the Himalayas. And this is what can pass the first pass, right? And it's called pile of dead bodies is what rotating is translated as. So again, the story. The writer's mind is like, what? And so, you know, you doing research on the internet is not helpful, because pilot dead bodies and you're thinking I'm going right off the cliff. And that's that. And, but, and before that, I remember like, Oh, my God, like what fight with my co producer, we leave at 5am. So I slept probably two hours before we're about to go into the Himalayas. And it's again, it's just like, okay, so be it. Alright, grab some chai, Alex and some coffee and put on your masks and your gloves because freezing and and off we go. And as you see in the movie, that that whole moment was tough, because we made a decision where the roads really weren't quite open yet before rain started into the Himalayas at that point. So it was it was scary.

Alex Ferrari 16:27
You guys were going on basically, basically, at the seat of your pants, literally and figuratively. Because you're just shooting. So I was watching as I was watching this, I'm like, This is insane. This is an insane kind of doc to be the same same movie. And I see what they're going through. I've been at 12,000 feet, I think at one point in somewhere in Colorado, in Colorado. And it was in summer, so it wasn't freezing was still probably like 60 when it was nice, like 100 down at the bottom. But I had been to to Park City a whole bunch. And so I understand that the oxygen declaration but I can't even comprehend. Traveling at up to 18,000 feet.

Adam Schomer 17:14
And one of our crew went down like way to send them home. You know?

Alex Ferrari 17:17
Yeah, it'll hurt. He'll kill you.

Adam Schomer 17:19
Yeah, that was one of the, you know, my audio engineer. He helped to get it produced good friend from Michigan. And he, it was great, because he was telling me what audio equipment he needed, you know, and stuff. So I'm trying to source it in India, and I could not find an eight channel mixer anywhere except Mumbai. And then maybe my second DP would bring it from and I call him I'm like, do you really need a challenge? Like, Oh, no. He's like, I just, he had never actually been in the field. He told me later, he was just going by the seat of his pants, because he was more sound mix in the back, you know, in the studio. So here I am searching for equipment that he was kind of like, yeah, that's industry standard. And I couldn't find it anywhere in India. So we compromised, of course, but he ended up coming a little a few days late. So I had a second audio engineer from India. And that can beg to come on the trip with us after seeing like the prep. He's like, can I just help in any way? Like, let me be with a non let me be with you guys. This is a trip of a lifetime. So we brought him it's a good thing we did because Andy, my audio engineer, when we were up at the 16,000 foot pass, and we did this part of the film where we went up and check the paths out talk to the generals and the general said, No, it's close for two weeks right there. This passes closer snow. And if you watch the film, you'll see we ended up by carrying bikes over snow and it's crazy. But during that little pre pre meeting Andy art, my sound engineer went down hard with altitude sickness, and we had to send them home the next day. And so thankfully, we had the second audio engineer backup guy. Yeah, backup guy and did his best. And that's kind of the craziness of filming. Like we got lucky, you know, and Andy got lucky that he wasn't hurt, per se but you never know who's gonna have audio. It doesn't out to sickness, it can be in great shape. And

Alex Ferrari 19:07
Ohh, yeah, it doesn't matter what shape you're in it. They'll they'll bring anybody to their knees. It's it's just a weird.

Adam Schomer 19:13
We all had it at some we all had it at some point. And then when you get down to like 11,000 feet, you're like, oh my god, this is amazing. I can brain you know and take a moment compared to sleeping at 15 when you're climatized it's hard. It's really difficult. It just if you haven't acclimatized

Alex Ferrari 19:31
Wow, that's insane. So that so with that film, you released it. You went theatrical with that as well, right?

Adam Schomer 19:37
We did. Yeah, we were lucky enough to win some awards at festivals and distribution company. said let's take it theatrical. We took a theatrical here in LA and went on to Netflix right after that awesome back when Netflix was a little different.

Alex Ferrari 19:49
It was a little it was little starting a little startup. Back then. Now did you did you get any? That was your first experience with distribution

Adam Schomer 20:00
Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, the distributor and see what happens,

Alex Ferrari 20:03
And what and what happened?

Adam Schomer 20:06
I mean, you know, thankfully, the theatrical was good meaning we had a run here in Santa Monica and in in LA and people saw it. And we got to write up in the LA Times like a full page, right? Which hasn't happened since on any film I've done. Like, we found a reporter that somehow was into it. Suzanne carpenter and got what would be like a $40,000 ad, kind of wow. You know, in essence, because it's just like a full page, huge photo and great article. So people came out and saw it. And a lot of people actually from that, then go went on the road of dharma. They saw the film sauce and a q&a and said, If you do this again, tell us and so we did. And when that's when we filmed the road to dharma series, and a lot of those people from seeing that film then came into the next series, and we can talk about that later. But it did it did well in the theater, and it got on Netflix and all that, you know, I mean, financially for the investors. No, not so much. But in the, you know, the distributors did their thing where they come up with expenses and all that.

Alex Ferrari 21:03
No, stop it.

Adam Schomer 21:05
So I learned a little bit.

Alex Ferrari 21:09
I just I always like asking, I always like to ask him these questions, because I can never stop reiterating. This fact is that this Hollywood accounting is always Hollywood. It's just the way they do business. It's just the way the industry has done business. And it's, in many ways. I don't even think people who who do it these distributors who do it think they're bad guys, I think they just, it's just inherent in the system, the way the system is built. They're just like, yeah, we're going to give you an MG maybe back then you might have gotten an NG. So you got to know we did not even mg right. So yeah, but then the Oh, you made 10,000 This month, but 11,000 It's inexpensive. What are those expenses? I can't. So those kinds of things. I was curious about if that was your case, as well.

Adam Schomer 21:57
Now, this was they weren't you know, stimuli were they weren't like horrible by any means. But okay, you know, they were still cool. And they you know, they even believe it again, it's like, the good part where they believed in it, and they took a theatrical ego came and as the first film like, you celebrate your wins, and then you take the take the learning on the shoulder and go, Okay, that's fine.

Alex Ferrari 22:14
And so then the second the series wrote the Dharma, which just got released, and when 2020 2020 2020 that released, but you shot it in.

Adam Schomer 22:27
When we did shoot, we shot it in 2012, to be honest, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 22:30
So you shout it out. So it took eight years for that to come out. And that was because it couldn't find financing or couldn't get the thing, you know, funding financing.

Adam Schomer 22:40
Yeah. I don't usually tell anyone your podcast as the scoop on we have the scoop.

Alex Ferrari 22:46
I appreciate that. I don't think it's gonna hurt. I don't think anyone cares. Outside of people like you and me. No one. No one watching it. Like, oh, this has been shot eight years ago. I can't watch this.

Adam Schomer 22:55
You can't tell it. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 22:57
You're in the Himalayas, with bikes that look like they're from the 50s. Anyway. So everyone's jacked up with all sorts of motorcycle gear, no one can tell. And you're going into towns that don't have any technology anyway. So you have no idea if it's 2012 or 2020

Adam Schomer 23:14
That's for sure. And it's shot well enough where you're you're you're in there and you have a feeling of like you're part of that journey. That's a good thing. There's that authentic ness of like you're in it with us It's good like that.

Alex Ferrari 23:24
Exactly. So you shot the the series I wanted to ask you because you since you released it recently, and I think it might have been for the best honestly. I think if you would have released it in 2012 2013 2014. There wasn't as big of a market for doc series as there is now so I wanted to hear your experience as a documentarian Do you see more doc series being more valuable in the marketplace or a doc by itself?

Adam Schomer 23:51
That's a great I mean we all see more doc series in general more ducks in general. And I think the other part of the market that is like like your pocket spirituality has grown right oh huge there is there's more of a market for people that might be on the edge you know, the average guy that maybe comes across and sit or the wife says hey watch this and because you know women tend to be 80% of the yogi community so to speak and so they sometimes bring guys into and like

Alex Ferrari 24:18
I don't know about you I look fantastic a yoga pants but that's just I should say I should I have I have little lemons on right now so

Adam Schomer 24:28

Alex Ferrari 24:30
Just just the socks

Adam Schomer 24:33
This bank is just this bank so suspects you know, it's on video to what we're doing. So where were we what were what were the doc series doc series? Yeah, that's here. Yeah, I think more valuable I know me personally. I find more value in wanting to tell more of the story more of people's stories more of the wisdom of what goes on there we go into more depth and you know, there's a certain pacing with a feature doc feature length doc that you have to keep up. And that's great and all watching out for my cat walk in my butt. Yeah, I can't say let's say, you know, for the filmmakers out there making an independent series, if there's more value, meaning like it's easier to sell that or make money on, I think that it's incredibly hard what what I've done and your last guest was talking about it too, that she did a independent series, not a doc series, but a narrative series. And I think it's a strange way to go. Not many people do it and then to sell afterwards. But I think inherently on a meaningful level, it's incredibly valuable. I'm still waiting for some of the big boys to kind of come along and say, Hey, this is great on me back to do a season two and a season three before one of the big boys says, okay, everyone's ready for this now. All right. So I hope that kind of answers your question.

Alex Ferrari 25:50
Yeah. It is hard to say because I've seen I've seen people be very successful with duck series. I mean, docks docks right now, are extremely valuable. And they have been probably for the last decade, and they've been growing in popularity. And I've talked about them heavily in my book about finding niche audiences. And if you make a knock about a niche audience, whether that is plant based diets, spirituality, surfing, skateboarding, whatever it is, there's a built in audience that you can target much easier than a broad spectrum narrative. And Doc's have been getting more and more, but I've been noticing, there's been more doc series on Netflix, and on Hulu, and on these other places where they will do a series because inherently there's just more value, there's more content for them to read. So that's when I wrote the Dharma Miko that makes all the sense in the world, because that's a story you can easily tell in a series, you have more than enough content story to fill. That's why when I saw that, and I was lucky, I saw rotor Dharma first. Then I went back and saw the highest pass. And I was like, okay, so they went, they shot that. And then they obviously went, you know, 10 years later, I said, Why did they wait so long? At least the series, but I enjoyed the series much more because you get if you're taking the motorcycle trip up to the Himalayas, with a yogi, I mean, that's more than 90 minutes, man.

Adam Schomer 27:16
I mean, there's there's just so there's so much, there's so much to see so much done to the history, you know, we don't go too much into the history. But the teachings Yeah, all these characters, right?

Alex Ferrari 27:27
Yeah, everyone's fighting their own demons and trying to find their egos. And they're all they're all trying to tell themselves stories of why they shouldn't do this. And I thought there'd be more yoga on this retreat, and all this kind of all this.

Adam Schomer 27:37
All this guy like yoga, stretching or not like Yoga is not stretching, you know, if you want stretching and a massage, go to a spa. You know, he's like, right out of here, you come here to transcend. And that's what you've come for. It's like sweet, you know, that's a good It's to remind people Yoga is not the studio thing.

Alex Ferrari 27:54
No, it's not. It's the it's one of the benefits of yoga is the physical, but it's yoga was never built, as, you know, yogi's, weren't running around in that Lululemon, you know, back in the day, you know, they were, they were, it was a form of transcending spiritually. And I just love him. He's like, I'm here to challenge you at every step of the way. I was like, This is great. So you've got a built in conflict. You've got built in conflict, which is so wonderful. We were able to build out this whole story and then how did that go? How did how did selling that? The series go?

Adam Schomer 28:25
Yeah, I mean, it is a long journey, right? Since we built filmed in 2012, and raised enough money to go shoot it on a on a shoestring, so to speak, and was hoping that when I came back, I'd be able to put a sizzle together and go out to somebody's network and say, hey, look, I have the footage I already have it's here you don't even have to buy into the idea I already shot it. So this was my my thinking was no problem. Right? I'll go shoot it come back and they'll have no choice but to be like, Oh, of course we'll give you the money to finish it. That didn't work. So that couldn't get anyone to to bite on that. And then you have to year goes and I start I was making heal I got brought into produce heal. And while I was producing heal, we had like a couple week break on something decided, yes, you know what, I'm going to go brush up and learn, Premiere full on and did so on my vacation and then started editing. The first two episodes, episode one and two of the road of dharma. Wow. I think that yeah, the whole end of post and distribution, which is a crazy time for a documentary film. I was also editing two episodes, I was really pushing myself to make sure what the demo was ready when he was done. So that you know that's a lesson that people sometimes you got to work your ass off on the side right to be ready. And so when and I think to be honest, I mean, I'm really glad that I had some time as a filmmaker to grow in between and be able to like, show my vision a bit better. And, and to make those first few episodes to be able to show us Don't worry, this is what I'm talking about.

Alex Ferrari 30:02
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Adam Schomer 30:12
You know, this is the style, I want to be able to mix it being entertaining, and character driven, but also have that spirit there. And I'm not putting a man on a pedestal as his guru, I'm trying to make them approachable. And if you resonate with what he says, great, but this isn't a movie of a series about a guru and how to follow him. No, it's about people seeking freedom in our demons, like you said, so I really wanted to get that across. And maybe that was holding back, you know, holding us back with some of the networks is like, you know, we can't go that spiritual yet. But, you know, it's still like a real reality and authentic reality show, in many ways. Like, so. There's danger. So then, yeah, and invest. I showed an investor a couple episodes. And actually, it was more like a friend that I didn't know had the ability to invest. Any and he pulled me aside, he's like, I want to talk to you about the road to dharma, I want to invest. Like, when does that happen? All the time.

Alex Ferrari 31:02
It happens all the time. Oh, all the time, money is easy to get in the business. Don't you know?

Adam Schomer 31:09
It create No, I happen on the highest pass at 1.2. Because we were all the way through posts. And we know we needed a second cut. And I was at an event. And it was a Cornell like event. I went to Cornell University and one of them, one of my buddies says, Hey, I'm looking to invest in film.

Alex Ferrari 31:26
Which, in normal scenarios you would have done you don't want to do that.

Adam Schomer 31:31
No, no. And he's like, I just want to learn, I just want to learn a little bit, you know, I'll perfect and I'm at a great place less risk, because it's already kind of done in and you can see, and so he threw in some money, you know, I know there was the universe, given a little nudges. So it's, it's helped out on the way in its own timing, to use some woowoo language, but it's a way that we got an investor there and then I got another investment we rolled up you know, finished the series on our own and, and take it out on our own digitally and still be able to keep pitching it to networks, we still do to this day, keep keep pitching it internationally to different places. Like we're signing with a network in Germany, signing within sign with a network in Brazil, talking to a network in France, we're on Gaia as well. And then I had to get a little creative and I even caught it create a course around the

Alex Ferrari 32:19
Yeah, I saw that I saw the course on Anons website. So that was really interesting. Is he it's like you read my book. It's exactly what I say is like he create the product and then create other ancillary products that generate more revenue than the movie next exhibition of the movie is it because the future of the future of our business is not 2299 rentals, it's courses it's workshops, it's other businesses as other services wrapped around. Yeah, things that can serve that audience that that niche audiences so for you it'd be the spiritual audience.

Adam Schomer 32:52
And also I knew from I knew from here but things like like an online summit or an online course you can you can access other people's audiences for those things more than you can film so I could say to here like I'd say to Gregg Braden people I knew well and say you can be an affiliate of this course you can make 50% revenue if you promote it to your your people. And you know, there's something free they get to watch the free free episodes and it's something you believe in, you know, and we know each other, so then okay, now you're getting someone personally blasting. And now you're reaching 500,000 people or a million people personally with a course and even if they don't bite the course they might try the free episodes or they might then go find the series and you got some advertising and every it's a win win, they make money. Your list grows too and anyway, so that's another thing you can't do as easily with just a film.

Alex Ferrari 33:44
Yeah, and so that brings me into the next movie heal which i i saw heal before I saw Raja Dharma or the highest pass so I had watched him just purely because I was interested in the concept of the movie The doc and it was down in my wheelhouse. I was like, Oh, let me watch it. So I watched a really enjoyed the film. I knew a lot of the people inside inside the film like you know the people that that are you interview and stuff in the show, but yeah, all those guys. Um, yeah. I just known all of them. And I've read their books and things like that. But he'll was I remember he'll being I met one of the other producers at a summit once I forgot the name of the producer, but one of the other producers I met and he was just at the brink of the Netflix deal. And I just remember that was like this is actually doing it's doing. It's getting a lot of attention. The doc got a lot of attention. So tell me the story of keel and what the movie is about generally, but then how you read it because it kind of almost hit. It almost kind of was the fork over knives of that of that movement. If you're anyone who doesn't know what Forks Over Knives is is what it was basically the I think the first documentary that really talked about plant based diets and in exploded and built multimillion dollar businesses around it to make a magazine even, oh, magazine, food products, it's built, they've done fantastic off of that dock. And heal, I feel is that for its niche in the space? So can you talk a little bit about what it is?

Adam Schomer 35:17
Yeah. And thank you for watching it. And thank you for speaking so highly of it. So where do we want to start? I mean, he'll in general, what it is, is a film about really that, that we have the power within to heal, and that through our emotions, through stress through our thoughts, that we have a bigger part to play in our healing, than just giving our power away necessarily to medicine or to a doctor, or to any healer, to be honest. So it ends up being a, we hope, a very integrative film, not super woowoo saying it's only emotional, we're just saying that's part of the puzzle, and that it shouldn't be talked about. And that's what I like about the film is saying, let's open our, our perception a bit in terms of healing and realize that thoughts do play a part emotions do play support plays a part, your life purpose might play a part. And you might need to move or change something in your relationships to help your body get out of a stress mode, so he can do its thing and help heal your disease. And you also might need to change your diet, you might need to do chemo, you might need to do some other things, right. But it's part of it. And we wanted to just dive into that. And we use a lot of experts, we use a couple stories. One of the stories isn't isn't a happy ending. I liked that about the film. It's, it's it's chronic illness, and it's a damn tough space. And she doesn't know what's wrong. And she's not really willing to make the changes. And the system, as we talked about the film system not necessarily set up, right, or distributors just do their thing. Our health system isn't set up exactly correctly to support the mind body healing. You know, it's, it's not there to help you pay for that stuff. So resources is an issue. You say, Oh, why don't y'all just change this? And you're like, Well, I'm just trying to survive. And so that stuff we continually look at and then heal. We realized after the film, there was more we could offer the audience. So the film did amazing. We, you know, if you want to talk strategy, in terms of what we did distribution, I can Yeah, please, please. Because it's helpful. And I've used it with some films afterwards, when they've come to me, and I usually don't consult, it's not like my job. But when something falls into a niche that I've done, and I feel I can help them and they're primed for it. And I liked the film's like, okay, you know, let's do it. So we realized, of course, we needed an audience, like you've talked about before we release, you can't wait until you release. So as soon as we started filming, we started building a fan base and with a website and getting emails out there and attracting people to the film. So by the time we launched, I think we have 50,000 person email list, which isn't huge. But

Alex Ferrari 37:49
You know what? It's not it's not a joke, either. That's a huge email list for a movie that had nothing at the beginning. That's enough. That's a that's a fairly massive email list. And that's how big this audience is. That tells you volumes of how big this audience is.

Adam Schomer 38:03
Right! Right. Healing in general. You know, people are,

Alex Ferrari 38:07
I don't know about you, something hurts on me right now. Is a little bit hip. I, you know, my ankles is hurting because it's about to rain. So there you go. There's always someone we're all hurt as you get older, something hurts. So hey, who's the audience? Everyone who's in pain from people who are, you know, on the brink of death, because of a chronic illness to my hip hurts.

Adam Schomer 38:30
And it's not like it goes away, you know, like meaning meaning it takes a lot of audience every year, no meaning like,

Alex Ferrari 38:37
The audience. The audience doesn't shrink.

Adam Schomer 38:39
They don't shrink. It's only growing in awareness. And like, we've been out five years, I think, and you know, 12 million minutes a month, we're on prime, you know, like, people were still in the charts in the UK in Germany when it comes to digital sales.

Alex Ferrari 38:57
People are looking for people.

Adam Schomer 38:59
Yeah, one of my good buddies I play soccer was like, Hey, I watched I finally watched a movie here. I'm like, Thanks for the support, you know, five years later, but he's like, it's great. So people, on their own time come to these things. Anyway. So distribution wise, back to that 50,000. We built the audience, we knew we needed to do that.

Alex Ferrari 39:16
Did you self distribute? Or did you go through a distributor,

Adam Schomer 39:18
We did a hybrid type thing. And this is something again, by the time I was working with heal, Kelly Kelly Gore's film Kelly Kelly came up with it. She's a director, she brought me into produce and I'm very thankful that she did because now we're like, co producing partners and great relationship. And so she knew she had done like a horror flick kind of before and you know, so she knew the problems and distribution and what a distributor dusty, we both knew that so that was cool. And so we're gonna do anything in our power to not be in their power. So I knew from the beginning, let's build an audience beforehand so that we could go out you know, independently and have some money to support us. We There was an organic audience of email. So we knew it people that wanted they personally said, I want you to have my email Keep me posted, okay, they'll probably by, you know, the the probably jump in in terms of all that growing and you know, we went to a festival that we knew was our audience and we were the opening night there and there are 700 people and so our investors also get to see that and then see oh, wow, there's, there's an audience here. And it's palpable, and that helped them put a little bit more money for independent distribution. So in terms of strategy, what we did, we decided to do like theatrical on our own and, and screenings on our own. So we brought in a screening guy to handle the small screenings and get people talking about it out there and do you know that's what he got organic press for us? Because some church in Iowa that's going to do a screening is going to tell their people about it, okay. 100 people show up but you know, 1000 people got heard about it and heard about here and maybe it's on their radar next time they see it or hear about or someone you know how it is right, you have to talk about it. Talk about it talk when finally you watch. So we did a lot of those screenings, probably 100 We did a bunch in Australia. Definitely made a little money there. But you know, sometimes it's just break even with the screenings and all that that's great. Definitely made a little money in the screenings, broke even on theatrical, and we came out in I think, eight, eight to 10 cities, you know, hired a consultant to help us do that. So I was like, the point man brought in the screening guy brought him this theatrical guy. And then for digital, we signed with what's called 1091, you know, distribution company. They back then they were the orchard. Oh, yeah, another 1091. And they've had a lot of success digitally come out with some spiritual films, some Alien film, niche films by King films. So they, they knew and we had we, we structured a good deal with them to be honest. And they support us and gave us a little bit of money for even a trailer and all this other stuff that we didn't want to dump a lot into. And so we also then planned it like Kelly and I, neither of us wanted to do this long, protracted distribution cycle of like, Let's do screenings for a year. You know, like the film awake with Yogananda didn't work. We don't want to do that.

Alex Ferrari 42:11
They were super successful theater in Apollo.

Adam Schomer 42:13
Yeah. Yeah, I met them because of the highest pass way back, right.

Alex Ferrari 42:19
Yeah. Well, I would imagine you guys this paths crossed. They've been on the show and been on my show, like three times already. I love them. I love what they did with that film. It's amazing. They actually are a case study in my book, as well.

Adam Schomer 42:32
So Peter came we were they wanted to see Michael Molera, who's the composer of the highest best they wanted to hear his work. So when I showed him a cut of the film, and there again, I'm this is so cool, like, and then I ended up bringing Peter into help edit like the second cut. So we became buddies. And, and I love his story mine and they're great. And then I gave them some footage for a week from the highest pass to us in the film, which was just like, an anon does in a week. I don't know if you know that.

Alex Ferrari 42:55
I think he might. I think I might have seen them in a week. You're absolutely right. That's a week. Yeah.

Adam Schomer 43:00
So becomes a kind of like a small little, you know, a nice little family. And I mean, just an honor to have some of the footage from one of my films with Yogananda in that film. Anyway. So back to the heel distribution thing, we decided, let's not do the long thing like awake, let's do condense. So we pushed the utricle screenings and digital as close together as possible. So we came out in October in theaters. And then by December 5, we're out on digital and of course, we had to do all that you know, independently when it comes to theatrical and all that so that we could have control of all of our dates.

Alex Ferrari 43:36
And and I just want to just stop you for there for a second. So when people listening, the reason why awake, which is a documentary about the spiritual master Yogananda did their long, their long theatrical and screenings was because they had direct CO production or relationship with Yogananda, his organization which basically had access to every Yogananda disciple around the world. So it would be foolish not to stretch that out as much as you could because it was just such a such a built in audience that it may did very well if you stopped millions and they did really, really, really well. So but for you hard, hard to replicate, yeah, hard, very difficult to replicate. I think. Hare Krishna, Hari Krishna, they tried to do something similar, but didn't have the same great film. So I love that film, but didn't have the same access to that because it literally just like touch a button and they can talk to everybody. So with heal, from my perspective, look, listen to what you're saying. It's an audience but it is not a dedikate it's not like people who are just like, you know, religiously about this. It's a much broader, diluted audience. So what your tech your your strategy makes much, much more sense. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. Sir. And now back to the show.

Adam Schomer 45:06
Yeah, we built that audience build the email list and got everyone excited for okay. If you can't see in theaters not your you're not in one of the main cities don't worry, or you didn't get a small screening in your area. It's coming December 5 on digital and DVD even to DVD. And

Alex Ferrari 45:22
Did you do on DVD by the way?

Adam Schomer 45:23
We made like 150 grand on DVD.

Alex Ferrari 45:25
Of course you did. Because What year was this? 2017 17?

Adam Schomer 45:30
The end of 17. So call it 18 2018.

Alex Ferrari 45:33
Right! Still, like CD DVD still sell? People don't listen, people still buy DVDs. If you're at a screening, and you love the movie, and you had a DVD with some bonus stuff in it. Somebody would buy it.

Adam Schomer 45:48
We could I mean, I guess we could believe it. But we couldn't. But you know, a little older audience is a little more has the illness and they're still with DVD at that point. And it's so correct. And that was cool to see that. And we did really well on digital when we came out and our goal was to be honest 1091 But the orchard had already pissed pitch Netflix and Netflix had said no. To the to the Okay, they did this was in the fall before we came out theatrically and all that then we come out theatrically and do this big push. And we hit number one on iTunes. And versus the charts. And stayed there for a few weeks a documentary

Alex Ferrari 46:26
Or an doc in document in that document. Yeah,

Adam Schomer 46:29
I mean, gone, you know, competing with everyone else, almost impossible. But

Alex Ferrari 46:32
Yeah, but still, number number one Doc is no easy thing to do.

Adam Schomer 46:37
But then to stay there. Because usually, we stay for a few weeks. And then in the in the top three for about three months. So we had like the staying power. And then we went back to Netflix and said, you know, the distributors like look people like this thing. It's making money. It's, you know, you should really reconsider it. And then and then they did come up with a two year deal. And it was It wasn't anything great either, to be honest. But it was, it was for us to it was more about exposure. Of course, of course, most of our money was made on just digital sales.

Alex Ferrari 47:08
Really. So most of the money was done still until on transactional. But But this movie, because I always tell people transactional is dead, generally speaking, but but the difference is that your topic, someone will rent it for 399. Some will buy it for 999 to give extra bonuses or extra interviews on it. Because it's such a there's something like I want to heal myself. I'm going to spend 399 It's a horror movie. Oh, wait till I find it somewhere else. There's 1000 other horror movies, but there is no other healing documentary. So you have this really special place. And that's why that makes sense for transactional. And I'm glad that you actually waited. Yeah, I'm glad you actually waited for Netflix as if you would have gotten that Netflix that first deal. You weren't have made as much money.

Adam Schomer 47:56
Yeah, I mean, they said no, to be honest, you know, right. And so my strategy for some other people is like, well, if if you can't turn the dial, show them that you can by trying to get get yourself to number one, I have to in some way, which is hard in itself or just show them there's an audience by selling and who knows, you might not even want to be on Netflix but or go on prime or even know Prime has gotten a little crazy with what they lead on there with docks. Right away prime dropped recently. So after Netflix, we went on to prime which then is just by minute and they're paying you by minute. And that ended up being very lucrative. Also, you know, people,

Alex Ferrari 48:33
You would probably be at the you'd probably be at the higher end of that minute per minute, because there's a range of a penny to 12 cents or something like that. Yeah, yeah, probably higher. Seven, maybe

Adam Schomer 48:44
Sounds we were making per minute. And that's great. At one point, you know, I don't mind sharing this that I one point we were making, there was like 12 million minutes a month, basically is what recently, then prime minutes big, you know, like shove off of dogs. Right? We they dropped us in the UK dropped us in Canada dropped us in France. And we're like, geez, you know, like, what's up, I, you know, what's up, and then suddenly, during COVID, they dropped us in the US. And so we had our distributor, ask them He's like, he's like, they don't even tell me why. I've never had them, overturn it. With all the docs that have they've taken off of ours. And with he'll, for some reason, like a week, two weeks later, they put it back on. So something clicked in their head, like why why do we randomly take this off, you know, oh, it's alternative health and we're in COVID. And that's dangerous, too. Who knows why they turned it off. You know, there's nothing about COVID in there. Obviously, there's pre COVID. And even so, I think people should be able to talk you know, it's a little strange out there. That's a whole nother topic. But distribution wise, you know, Netflix a little you know, a little chunk but the awareness with Netflix went crazy. And then we pivoted to prime after and that's helped a ton and still transactionally you know, people still buy a transaction you But he'll is a you know, kind of an anomaly like we're talking about people are always sick and they're looking for resources and they're motivated. And, and we think it's a very balanced film. It's not too woowoo. So so it has a broad audience, which is what we wanted.

Alex Ferrari 50:12
That's awesome. And then you also, like started building out other product lines and services around heal, which I found fascinating as well. So you had I think a book came out. Yeah, Kelly, so she has a book based on it. So now you're leveraging the audience of the people who've seen the movie to like, oh, the heal, the book is out. I'll buy it. Like I bought the I bought a wake the book. Exactly. I saw the awake book, it was just like the movie companion to the book. I'm like, I'm such a fan of that movie. I was like, I bought it. And then Peter was like, seeing him in the background of my, of my shows. Like, that's, that's amazing. I'm like, yeah, so it's great. So you have the book, but then you also did something, which was really interesting to Summit. So can you go? Can you go into the summit a little bit? What is the how you were able to partner with a very big self help publishing company? And if you don't mind talking about the financials of that, not details, but just general?

Adam Schomer 51:07
Yeah, yeah. Because it is fascinating. And it's, it's something that jumped out to me, as we're making it, where we're like, we have these interviews that are an hour, an hour and a half with these top experts, Chopra, Dispenza. Braid and, and Anthony William Medical Medium was very huge now and was just kind of growing at the time. What are we going to deal with these interviews, we should do something. And so I was, we were super busy, of course of the film, but I was whispering to Kelly, like, we should put these together and sell them in some way or put them for people that want the deep information. So we were considering doing it on our own. And then, and I, you know, we just start all my rallies, people, our Hay House authors, you know, a lot of these, you know, who, let's approach Hay House and see if they want to do something together, because they would have an audience too. And that could be helpful. So we just call them up and had a meeting sat there, you know, with the CEO down in San Diego, and he's super nice. Like, that sounds great. Let's do it. You know, it's like this. Yeah, it's a win, win. 5050 Cool, let's put them out there. And they had their strategies of like affiliate partners and all that. We had all the footage, they had the marketing team to be able to make it happen and get it out there. They had that system. And that's, you know, we just had a really delivering support and make sure it was in our brand that they didn't, you know, make it to Hay House, that it still had the heel ethos to it. And that's something we wanted to keep. And it's a great partnership. I mean, we love Hay House. And we ended up doing a summit two and a summit three, I mean, the summit, finances did fantastic.

Alex Ferrari 52:43
So those are those based on old interviews that you shot for the movie? Or did you have new stuff come in?

Adam Schomer 52:48
For the for the first summit, we took all the interviews from the film, and I don't think we added anything new because we had a team that we filmed. Maybe we did. And so that for somebody that amazing and the you know, the great byproduct that came out last summer of 2018, after the film was out, but then we walked away with an email list that was about 300,000 people.

Alex Ferrari 53:12
Right, and so you're talking dirt, you're talking dirty to me now, sir.

Adam Schomer 53:17
I mean, they were blown away, we were the best we did the summits that year, they were blown away, we were blown away. Financially, I won't go into the details very, very well. The summits alone that we've done, have more than covered the budget of the film. And that makes you kind of think and you go oh my god, you know, like, you put all this effort into editing a film. And you could have shot 18 interviews, and not edited anything and put a summit, but you needed the film to create the buzz. And the film really is the entry point. And here we are, though in 2022. And there's a lot more summits and it's a little more saturated now. So like doesn't that yeah,

Alex Ferrari 53:56
It is it is it is a little bit more saturated. But still, if you've got an audience, and you've got a topic, people, it'll cut through all of that. And it's literally exactly what I was writing about, in my book Rise of the entrepreneur, it's like, the movie becomes a giant trailer, a giant, a giant marketing piece, as and I said in the book, even give the movie away for free, right? Because it's all about driving people to I don't care about 399 for a rental or 999 for you to buy the movie, I care you to buy the summit, that's gonna be $100 or it'll be a couple 100 bucks, or you or my services or my consulting or my books or my other things that have bigger, bigger, you know, interest in, you know, financial interest in as opposed to the movie that I might have a distribution deal that I don't, as we talked about might not get all the money because of expenses and all that stuff. But they don't take money away from summits. They don't take money away from books, they don't take money away from services or other things that you can provide. It's fascinating and that you leveraged the people inside of them. Movies audiences by making them partners with an affiliate program. Yes is the future. It's, I mean, why wouldn't you? Why wouldn't they, if they liked the product, don't push it out for them. It's not that hard. And they just make they make money and they help their audience. So it is a win win. It's a wonderful ecosystem. It truly is a wonderful ecosystem. And there's a

Adam Schomer 55:23
Yeah. And there's, there's a podcast now we did 38 episodes of the pocket. We did three summits and you know, and internationally, like, we push that summit out in Germany and France, and it's still going, you still go and we have great partners over there we work with and, and yeah, in a podcasts, what else did we do? Podcasts, we've we've, we have 38 episodes, we're going to start up again, probably in July, we've taken a little pause, and now we're developing series and going to end to go out with a series hopefully,

Alex Ferrari 55:55
Like a like a, like a, like a 10 episode series, or it's

Adam Schomer 55:59
Like a premium doc series. That's that's always been kind of in the back of our mind. It's just been again, like timing. And we think like now is is a good time.

Alex Ferrari 56:07
I'm just saying, Guys, this is I mean, it's everything I've been saying. For years, it's so really, I wouldn't be writing the book right now you'd be a case study. And maybe in the second edition, I'll put you guys in as a case study, because it's just, it's so brilliantly done. But this is the future for independent filmmakers. And in you've I mean, you've been down the road so much already. You've done I've done a ton of work, you know how hard it is to sell a movie? And how to make it to make money with a movie. Yeah. And the future is I keep saying is you have to be that entrepreneurial filmmaker that takes control, creates other products, creates other services creates other revenue streams off of the film you're doing, and you can't do it with a narrative. I've seen it I have many examples of it. But Doc seems to be so much easier. Because the audience is right. Like they just want it it's a different audience,

Adam Schomer 56:57
Then then that makes sense if the audience the niche and also usually the passion behind the doc, somebody that's doing it has some expertise in that topic or passion. And I mean, you gotta have that right. If you're gonna stick with something and make it big and brand like you have to be in to cycling. If you're going to do a cycling movie or right we're the road to dharma, like motorcycling in the Himalayas, I'm into yogic thought, I'm into freedom. Freedom is important to me. And wisdom is important. I can't write a course on freedom to go along with that. If I'm not into you know,

Alex Ferrari 57:28
You're like this Yo, he's out of his mind. He's trying to kill me like if you wouldn't have been in the vibe with the story. You can't so you have to be something that's true to you as a filmmaker or that interest you as a filmmaker because you're gonna be with this for a while

Adam Schomer 57:45
For a while you know, we can't Americanize everything be like, Hey, let's market the Hell, if you don't have any passion for it, you absolutely won't happen or won't work. Like, I'm looking at some other films and like, like the polygon that we did, like, there's not much we could have. I mean, that's about nuclear testing in Kazakhstan, and

Alex Ferrari 58:02
Very small niche.

Adam Schomer 58:06
It's still a film, you need to get women another way, Buffalo we just released Tuesday, which is about Native American women and the history of Native Americans and, and really the wisdom of the matriarch that's coming through. Now. Could there be some other ancillary products or maybe a summit? Yeah, maybe the main pushes, like, let's just get some awareness of this thing going. But Deborah, who directed it, she's been working her butt off for years. And her ancillary thing to be honest, is photographs. Because she's a photographer, she has some amazing photographs of this. She sells for, you know, big pieces and big money. So, you know, that's her passion. That's what she's good at. That's what she's going to do along with the film.

Alex Ferrari 58:46
Yeah. And, and I imagine that with that, if I was gonna ask you about that film, because I know it just came out this week. Women are the white buffalo. That is, you know, talking on a market research, audience base, there is an audience for this film. In Native Native Americans, many Native American Americans around the country would be very interested in probably some in in overseas, you know, people who are interested in in some, but this is your, this is your market. So, could you do a summit with interviewing? Join the full interviews? Absolutely. You know, is it as big of an audience as he'll probably not know, but it's still an audience. And it's bigger than nuclear testing. Like that's, that's a passion project. That's I want to get this get this out there. And that's fine too. But when you make a movie like he'll or other projects, they give you the freedom to do whatever you want. So if you want to make a small little movie that's really just about getting it out there for people and doing the bet that's fine, too. Is every everyone always filmmakers? I always find the thing that like you got to make $100 million to be a success. No No, not at all. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. It's most, most movies, most filmmakers 99.9% of filmmakers don't make $100 million. You know, I always tell people if you made a movie for $50,000 And you made $100,000 Man, you are success. You know, if you happen to make a quarter million dollars, fantastic. Now you can go finance another movie, live for a little while while you keep going. Doing it

Adam Schomer 1:00:36
And redefine success a little. Now we all have to as you interviewed a non nones in both worlds, right. He studied economics at university and he's a guru, right? I studied with Masters in the Himalayas boasts, we have to be able to survive, you can't deny the fact that we need money and we need we're in this society and we need to play in this society. It's not time to go in the caves. But but at the same time, we want to do something that's meaningful. You know, we're gonna do something like if we can redefine success, meaning okay, yes, we have to be sports I was but how about a teacher that had a few students like learn and grow out of their shell that year? And like, What a success, they had a few kids really get something from that teacher and go on, and it really inspired their lives. Okay, do people watch women in the white buffalo or watch Rhoda Dharma, a lot of people watch rode the Dharma or do the course. And they're like, I'm going to India man. It's like, cool. Now is it reached 3 million people? No, but like, 1500 people have taken the course and, you know, have 100 or 200 of those said, I'm going to India now sweet, like, I'm going to change somebody's life. And that's successful. Like, I got to share my story and push somebody else to do the same. But to me, it's like, a success.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:47
Exactly. So you and you have to define success for yourself. And I know for a long time I define success. As you know, I have to be the biggest director in the world to find success. And I was very angry for such a long time about that, and very depressed. And I think a lot of filmmakers and screenwriters and actors, all of them go through the same process, because they all like we all got to be Spielberg or Nolan, or Fincher or James Cameron and like, two, there's only there's only one of those. And there are anomalies. They are masters, they are.

Adam Schomer 1:02:16
Yeah, it's not gonna be for psychosis. It's a recipe for sadness and pain.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:20
Exactly. So I when I started this show, seven years ago, I started to redefine what success was to me, I'm like, Oh, I get to do what I do. Every day, I get to talk to people like yourself and share this information and help other people and be of service to my community. And I'm like, that makes that makes me happy. And like, and then I can go off and make my little movies when I want to go make them with that really caring if they make a tremendous amount of money, though they all have been very profitable. And they all done well. That's not my concern, per se. You know, it's not like I need to make money on this film in order to eat. Now I've built another inference infrastructure that allows me to go off and do whatever I want.

Adam Schomer 1:02:58
That's all for your identity. Like your identity is not so wrapped in

Alex Ferrari 1:03:01
It's not anymore. Absolutely not. Yeah. It's so that's what I try to teach here at the show on the show, and try to really have people understand what success is for them and really define it for themselves. Because if not, you will, you will go mad. And you will absolutely go man, and this business is tough enough. It's just his brutal enough without without you having to do like, Oh, God, I'm 23 I didn't make Citizen Kane yet, like Orson Welles. Oh, I'm 27 I haven't made Jaws yet. Like Spielberg, I'm like, Are you out of your mind?

Adam Schomer 1:03:37
Yeah, I stopped, I stopped watching reading a lot of the trades or, you know, like, I don't read them, but and watching a lot of award shows, because it's like, it can't be the focus. It can't be like I have to, you know, it has to be like, No, how do we define ourselves as success? And how do we have this internal dialogue of gratitude and what we're doing in our life, and, you know, America tries to really throw other ideas down your throat. I mean, that's part I think, why why we're both here, Alex is because changing that culture, in some ways of saying, let's give meaning in a different way to our lives and to media, and maybe not keep throwing the same stories of success down people's throat, like once you get this and the girl on that, then you're happy. No, you know, it sounds cliche now, but it's really still out there. You know, and it's really still a story motif all the time.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:28
I mean, because like I tell people all the time, Hollywood is fantastic about selling the sizzle, but they suck at selling the steak. And that's what that's all about. And I always and I've said this a ton of times in the show, so everyone please forgive me, but I'll say it again. Adam hasn't heard this. The greatest analogy for Hollywood is going down to Hollywood Boulevard. And I don't know if you've been down to Hollywood Boulevard. I'm sure you have. It is a cesspool. But on Oscar night, it looks like oh my god. It's Hollywood glitz and glamour and look at the staircase and look at this Look at the stars. But the second, the award shows over, they take up the red carpet, and the drug needles are still down in the alley. So it's just, but that is the perfect analogy of well, Hollywood is because they show something. But what's really going on behind the scenes is probably not what they're showing. And that's what they built that they've done since they started the industry. So but people get caught up in that in that mentality of sizzle, sizzle sizzle, and I need this, this, this and this, and I'll be happy when this happens. You can't be happy when this happen, because life is not a destination. It is a journey. And I've talked to Oscar winners. And I've talked to Emmy winners, I've talked to very successful people who've reached the top of that quote, unquote, mountaintop, and then they go now what? And a lot of them get depressed because they've been working all their life to disaster and they get the ask them to like, I don't know what to do now. Like, where do I go from here? Because they haven't enjoyed the journey up to the top highest pass the highest pass and then just like, I don't write, I don't understand what I do it.

Adam Schomer 1:06:02
That's why I did that movie first. Oh, I see it's the journey. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:08
It's all part of the plan. It was all part of the plan the entire time, I'm sure.

Adam Schomer 1:06:13
Gonna do that. I'm gonna do the hardest question, you know, hardest job I could possibly do first that would teach me everything so that I can then have a sane career making,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:23
Because I'm assuming he'll not so difficult, comparatively?

Adam Schomer 1:06:27
No, comparatively, no, you know, no, no, no life threatening moments.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:33
You know, you just we go to a house we go to myself, we should staff.

Adam Schomer 1:06:37
But I'll tell you, you know, the adventure is like, oh, what's the adventure of the people that are going through the healing art? Yeah. You know, I could not be as a filmmaker but all we're watching them and like it is everything when you're sick. It's every Oh, so does you know as much as I love adventure, it has a little bit out in the film. But no, for me as a filmmaker, not as not as crazy wrote a Dharma. Yeah, I'm still at risk again, even though I know how to ride a motorcycle.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:02
And this is the insanity of filmmakers. You're still thinking about trying to do a second third season one day of growth? Because you're insane. We all are. Because normal human beings wouldn't do that twice. Film it twice. And then go, you know, I think I could do this two or three more times.

Adam Schomer 1:07:22
I was just in India with a non right. And I was like, Well, are you open to? Because it always starts from Are you open to letting us walk film? Because he's gonna do this no matter what with people. It's authentic. It's not for the show. Can I come along and film the next one? And he said, Yes. So where do you know we're talking? When in 2023? We can do it again. And then I have the filmmaker crazy madness. Like, like I said earlier, you know, once we've done season two and three, then Netflix will wake up and go, Okay, we'll take off. That's still a little psychosis illusion.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:51
This is the delusion, filmmakers were actually delusional. Because it's so funny that you're like, you're not a newbie at this dude. This is like I hear that kind of talk from like, someone who just like, you know, I'm just gonna do this and this and then Hollywood will notice me or Netflix will notice. You still have that mentality, even after over a decade. And just like, you know, I think if I do three more, four more seasons, I think Netflix will finally take notice.

Adam Schomer 1:08:16
And I do believe it. I absolutely in my heart believe it because like, oh, no, this spiritual audience is growing. And it'll have and if not, you know, so I got me to go keep doing it. Absolutely. And, you know, I just love I, it's my baby, you wrote it down was

Alex Ferrari 1:08:31
Like, Oh, it's wonderful. It's wonderful. I tell everybody. Yeah, no, and, of course,

Adam Schomer 1:08:37
Somebody else will pay the bills. You know, somebody else would be and I'll just keep doing that because

Alex Ferrari 1:08:40
We're carnies. We're carnism we're all we are is carnies. And we just are insane. We're, we're so we're circus folk. We're so we're circus folk. That's basically what we are. I've said that so many times. It's so true. We are so Casper, we put up a tent, we put on a show, and then we leave the town and we go on to the next town. It's the same thing if a film sets the exact same thing, and the people on the crew, very entertaining people. Very, very entertaining very unique people that you meet along along your journey. But it is a I call it the beautiful sickness. That's what it is being a filmmaker being a creative it is a beautiful sickness, because it's a sickness you can't get rid of he can't so fun.

Adam Schomer 1:09:23
Quantity, you know, it's the want to teach you share and maybe, yeah, for you as a documentary. As a documentary, there's no I noticed a little bit me that's that, like my own subconscious that wants to be heard. You know, that maybe it wasn't heard enough as a kid. Okay, I see that part and let's not operate from that part. And then the other part is like the natural teacher, I've taught soccer forever. And you know, the natural teacher that has found a format to do that is called film and entertainment adventure. And I get to hopefully share in that way too, and I don't stop teaching like I teach yoga on the beach to my friends. stuff. So like, that's not

Alex Ferrari 1:10:01
That stretch. It's all about stretching that really.

Adam Schomer 1:10:05
And like, you know, I often remind myself in terms of life skills, like if I had the Oscar and a million dollars, would I still be here at the beach doing yoga with my friend? Absolutely. Would I still be eating here? Absolutely. Will I still be, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:10:19
Would you go back on the road to dharma,

Adam Schomer 1:10:23
I would, I would still be doing everything I'm doing. So like, I better not wait to be happy because it's going to be the same. Actually, there's just going to be in maybe a couple more projects going or more money or blah, blah, in so you just you have to kind of wipe away the Bs in the mind. You have to?

Alex Ferrari 1:10:39
Absolutely. Listen, I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked on the guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Adam Schomer 1:10:48
You know, I'm, I don't. Because I don't see it is a breaking into the business.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:56
Largely. It's larceny. It's larceny. Sir. It's larceny. This business is larceny, we have to break our way in, or make it or make it.

Adam Schomer 1:11:06
I just, here's what I did when I first got to LA and this might work for people and might not I, I went to things and did things that I like to do so that I made friends with people that I liked, so that I didn't network for the sake of networking, so that the people I'm close with, I'm actually close with. And there had a core and still do now have a core group of people that I actually trust. And maybe it's a little different, because it's the dark world consciousness world. But the consciousness world can be as crazy as Hollywood, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:36
I mean, it's your first movie, I need any full credit as a director.

Adam Schomer 1:11:42
Right! Exactly, exactly. The gun and there's plenty of stuff. So maybe that's my advice is to be yourself in the in the lifestyle way. And then that way, you you have a core group of people support system as you're going through hard things that you actually call friends. And that way, you're not pushing so hard to network, you know, and if you're going to something like an event, it's something you might actually connect with someone with you. So that's my only bit of advice, because the way I did is so strange and absurd. I'm not going to go to India, find a guru and make a move, like best I can to work. It's been done.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:22
It's been done already. It's been done. Now it's totally. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Adam Schomer 1:12:31
Yeah, let's let's talk about recent Ben, what happened going on my, in my head is, is that, you know, these, this propensity for us to look back at a conversation, I want to redo it right down, we'll call that doubt, to change the way what I said what I did, or this the thoughts that projecting the future, I'm going to do this and that still, even my last time in India was just looking at where that's all coming from. And I decided just to re engineer all that. So that lesson was, if I'm engineering the future, or engineering, what I should have said in the past, what needs to be re engineered is right now. So let's flip the engineering on now and say, Okay, what is it? I'm feeling that's making me have those thoughts? Oh, I'm feeling some lack or something. So let's use that engineering mind of redoing future paths, and look at an engineer that feeling and say, what's going on in there? And can I shift my perspective to, to break it open now, rather than this false story making the past and future and, of course, I've known that through awareness and meditation for years, but to really use the wording of engineering and just say, I'm going to engineer the moment and look deeply at the feeling when those thoughts come up. It's just really hitting hard right now. And I think that's super super helpful to not get lost in our minds.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:56
And three of your favorite songs of all time.

Adam Schomer 1:13:59
Yeah, I saw your ask this and I have to at least that I logged in life was beautiful because I just because of that ability to help someone else right. And that to bring us out of our own suffering in some ways really, it can speak to us all when you heal other people or help other people does lift you up. The Princess Bride because it got me through college, you know, just memorizing

Alex Ferrari 1:14:25
My name is Andrea Montoya my father prepare to die.

Adam Schomer 1:14:31
And then my third eye hadn't figured it out. So let's just see what comes into my consciousness right now. What? Yeah, okay, well, I guess Star Wars would have to be in there because it pushed me to want a Yoda in my life. And as you know, I'm not my guru. I think we all growing up want it? I think I even say that in the highest pass like,

Alex Ferrari 1:14:55
we I think we all look guilty. I mean, I just I have lifesize Yoda right there he was on my show. I have lifesize Yoda right there. I have a little Yoda right here. So I have a baby Yoda right here. The bobble head. If people are just have a bobble head, a bobble head, baby Yoda over there in a full size, maybe you're above me. So I am a Yoda fan. But you're right, we all want someone wise to guide us through this insanity that we call life. Because it is we're all trying to figure it out from the moment we come out and we're slapped in the butt and we start crying. You know, we're just like trying to figure this out and having someone who can answer questions for you, someone who's maybe been understands things that you don't understand, or maybe a much deeper level that you don't understand, is something I think we all long for, in one way, shape or form, whether that be your parents, whether that be a guru, whether that'd be a you know, a friend, whoever, we're all looking for that in one way, shape, or form. And some of us have the ability to do it ourselves to be our own internal gurus, and learn just by life and life is the guru that teaches you, unfortunately, for better and worse. But right. But listen Annabelle, it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you, man, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to my audience. Man, I, I truly appreciate it. And I recommend everybody watch all of your films, even polygon.

Adam Schomer 1:16:28
It's not as depressing as it sounds, but it needs to be seen. No, thank Thank you, man. Thanks for this podcast for having a Nanda and sharing the soul that you're sharing on the next level. So just sharing your heart on this podcast. Thanks for having me on. Appreciate it. It's such a cool journey. And the next one I'm working on. I can't talk about this doc, but it has a built in audience. And of course, I'm giving it a consciousness and a meaning to it. So like, you know what we're starting to find how to do this, how to sneak in the good messages into something that's commercially viable. And I'm excited to talk about that once it comes out. But again, thank you so much. This is awesome.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:06
Thank you, my friend.

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