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BPS 372: How NOT to Lose Money Producing Indie Films with Anne Marie Gillen

The film industry had to adjust a lot since the hit of COVID. Thanks to streaming services, the hit wasn’t as volatile as could be. Now that society seems to be reaching the end of the pandemic, the future of the filmmaking and film experience post-COVID has become part of the conversation. To help us explore the subject, I have on the show today, seasoned filmtrepreneur and award-winning producer, Anne Marie Gillen.

Anne Marie is the CEO of Gillen Group— an entertainment consulting firm in Los Angeles. Production-wise, she’s credited for producing commercially and critically successful films and television shows. Coupled with an international network of studios, distributors, and talent, one may call her, The Plug.

During the stages and succession of my career, she’s ranked C-suite executive positions at big entertainment companies like Development & Production at Entertainment Business Group, Electric Shadow Productions, and Revelations Entertainment.

Her comedy-drama film, Fried Green Tomatoes produced in 1991, is an all-time classic and stands to have been a Box office success. It grossed $119.4 million on an $11 million budget and was nominated for two Academy Awards. The film tells the story of a housewife, Evelyn Couch, unhappy with her marriage, befriends an elderly lady in a nursing home, and is enthralled by the tales she tells of people she used to know. Through Idgie’s inspiring life, Evelyn learns to be more assertive and builds a lasting friendship of her own with Ninny.

Anne Marie compiled her business expertise in the industry and her production experience to write The Producer’s Business Handbook (2010, 3rd edition). The book was followed by her next film, Parallel Man: Infinite Pursuit, in 2014. 

Chased by commandos, Agent Nick Morgan is on the run in the multiverse! To escape, he jumps between parallel Earths including a polluted industrial hellscape, a planet where dinosaurs evolved into humanoids, and a fungi world with giant mushrooms.

Your corporate minds will definitely enjoy this interview.

I’ve linked Anne Marie’s book, The Business of Show Business for Creatives, in the show notes for you to check out. 

Enjoy my conversation with Anne Marie Gillen.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:08
I'd like to welcome to the show Anne Marie Gillen. How you doing, Anne?

Anne Marie Gillen 0:14
I'm doing great. Thank you so much, Alex. I just have both of my vaccinations and a two week incubation period. So I'm almost normal

Alex Ferrari 0:25
Almost I'm my wife and I are just almost there. We're in the go f yourself category right now. But we're almost We're almost to the edge we're like, and it's so sad for us because we're just right on the border of like now, not yet. Not yet. But as of this recording in about a week or so we should be able to, to, to jump on beautiful. So it's been a crazy. It's been great. It's been a crazy year and change. It is affected not only the world, but it's just thrown our business upside down. And the way we do business as the as the way we consume content is the way we release content. I think the the ripple effects of what has happened in our industry will be felt for years to come from the theatrical experience to streaming. I'd love to hear just really quickly what you think of where we are right now. And how how you think this is all going to kind of shake out because we're in the ripple still. We're not out of the ripples we are in? We're still in the ripples. Yeah, absolutely.

Anne Marie Gillen 1:28
But I think more than anything is, especially with how we consume, I think was because of COVID was just launched very quickly. 510 years ahead of the game plan, but it's where we were always had it. So that didn't surprise me too much. It certainly affected the theatrical way more than we would have if we hadn't have had COVID. But I do believe that we'll come back to a certain level but yeah, that's Yeah, Africa. Well, I don't think you know, I think when it comes to this, the Indies and documentaries, and things like that, I think it will be pretty much staying with the streaming. But the big event movies and visual effects kind of immersive movies, I think will come back very strongly when we can all go back to the theater because we all desperately miss it.

Alex Ferrari 2:22
Oh, I miss I miss going to the theater. But I don't know when I'll feel comfortable in the theater again, it's going to be a really that I call it the hangover, the COVID hangover, of just like being in a room with someone else without a mask on a handshake. You know, I was a hugger. Back in the day, I was a hugger. Like, you know, you like how you say goodbye. You say Hello, I'm Latino. So this is the way it is. So, you know, you know, just like, you give them a hug. And you know, and you say goodbye. So it is a it's gonna be interesting. I think we're gonna still be feeling this for the next few years. I don't think the movie I don't think the theatrical experience will ever come back to its hype prior. And it's been going down steadily. I mean, if it wasn't for if it wasn't for Marvel, take Marvel out of the equation for the last decade.

Anne Marie Gillen 3:08
Take Disney Marvel out. But what we're why the numbers have stayed up is because the cost of the ticket has gone up, right? missions have been slowly kind of steadily just ever so slightly

Alex Ferrari 3:21
going down. So it's going to I think, I don't think you'll ever come back up. I think it'll eventually eventually turn into a Broadway scenario where it's event films only like, right, like, I'm not going to I'm not going to the theater to see a comedy right now. Like it's not really necessary, but I will go see an event movie or big action extravaganza or, or something that's cinematic like Joker, even though Joker wasn't like a huge blockbuster like action packed. It was essentially taxi driver. But it was, but it was cinematic. And right. I wanted to go see it there. So I

Anne Marie Gillen 3:59
right there, sir. I think you're absolutely right. But I don't think those numbers go back up to where they were. Yeah. And that's okay. I don't think we have to bemoan that so much. You know, there's still, you know, the good news is there's so many more outlets for us producers to go to now that weren't there before. And the competition is fierce. And the whole, you know, I got to have a theatrical release mentality, I think is falling by the wayside pretty strongly. Very strong. It's,

Alex Ferrari 4:28
it's not as sexy. I mean, don't get me wrong. Look, it's still a filmmakers of a certain generation will always have a reverence for the theatrical experience. In my generation, maybe the generation behind this but like my kids, or the kids, or like the generation, that teenagers right now, it's not as big of a deal as it is to my generation, your generation generation behind me. It was just like, oh, you're not a real filmmaker unless you're up on the screen.

Anne Marie Gillen 4:57
And I think film festivals will fill that Space even more. So the idea that your film is premiered at a festival in a theater to have that kind of experience will help replace that. And I think film festivals will grow even more so because of that. You remember when when people filmmakers was like, well, you're not a real filmmaker unless you shoot film. Yeah, that's gone now. Right? Right. Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 5:21
Exactly. Now, it's like, I didn't get a theatrical but I premiered on Netflix. And now, you know, 100 million people just watched my movie, sadly, far more than they ever would going to the theater. Oh, absolutely. I had I had a filmmaker on the other day, who directed the amazing documentary called the last blockbuster. And he Taylor, he got a Netflix deal, which is ironic and brutal in so many ways that Netflix is premiering. And it's a huge hit. And he's like, it's outnet. So many people are gonna watch that film, that would have never seen it. I've never seen it before,

Anne Marie Gillen 5:56
especially when it comes to a documentary or I'm real big into social impact entertainment right now. And it's really, if you really believe in those things, it's it's about eyeballs, not about opening in the theater or opening, screaming or opening Film Festival, whatever. You've got to get the eyeballs in order to change the attitude to get the dialogue going to get them from apathy to empathy and into action about whatever the topic is. So absolutely. So we went on a tangent. So let's start actually, how did you hit it?

Alex Ferrari 6:31
How did you get in the business?

Anne Marie Gillen 6:34
Well, I hail from Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I always was a performer. In high school, I did every play, and I majored I was an acting major in college and came back to the Twin Cities and did the whole theater seeing the Guthrie in children's theater. I then focused on my dance side of things. And I was in a dance company and a choreographer. So that was my whole life. And one winner. I just felt like I was hitting the glass ceiling here. And it was about as good as it was going to get. And I really wanted the next and the new challenge. And it was the middle of middle of very cruel, cold winter. And so it was like, okay, it's either probably New York or LA, you know, Chicago felt more like a lateral move. And I thought, well, the middle of winter, I know nothing about LA, let's go check it out. So I got in my car, $500 in my pocket, clothes in the backseat, and I drove up to LA, I didn't have a job, I didn't have a place to live. I didn't know anybody. My mom called her cousin, they let me stay there. And that's kind of started the whole thing. And when I first landed in LA, I, you know, got my agent and tried to do the whole acting thing. But I began to realize very early on, that being a producer was where it's at, because then you have more control over your life. Yeah, at least you can be working on things and making things rather than as an actor. You're always waiting for somebody to hire you give you permission. Yeah, yeah, giving prisoners permission to do my work. And actors in. in Minneapolis, we're very still our unit revered, you know, you have a craft and a talent. And you know, in LA, it's like, you say you're an actor, you know, where do you waitress, etc. So it was, I just didn't like the feel of it. So I thought, Okay, I got to teach myself how to be a producer. How do I do that? So I started producing a workshop on how to produce film. And it was a couple hours a week, and it ran for 10 weeks. And I would start with development, and then go into financing, and then the production side of things, and then the marketing and the distribution. And of course, I didn't teach it, I just produced the event. And so I had to hire, or as asked guest speakers to come in each work who were experts in those area. So I started combing the trades and finding people that were that and I would ask them to come and speak. So I built my Rolodex. I made a little money because I produced it. And I of course, took every course and I did it for like two years, every 10 weeks, do it again, do it again. Do it again. So that basically was my BA in filmmaking. And then it was time to get into the real world. And I wanted to since I was mainly a creative I wanted to work with an assistant to a producer or writer or director and I couldn't get hired. And finally, I was offered a job as the executive assistant to the president of a distribution company. And I didn't know anything about it, but he just needed somebody very organized and talented like me, so I took the job he offered it to me. And it was with a company that no longer exists but they should have been the next another mirror Miramax or new line it was called Emmerdale.

Alex Ferrari 9:58
I remember him Dell, of course. Remember him Dell and the 80s, late 80s Oh my god, they were released, they released a punch of Greek, I worked in a video store in the 80s in the 90s. So I remember the logo very much. And you had, and you had, you didn't have sleeves, you had the plastic boxes on the VHS, I remember, the White Day I remember.

Anne Marie Gillen 10:21
So the three years that I was there, we went, I don't know 12 Academy Awards platoon. So there I am this little piano, you know, with my ears glued to the phones and to the meetings. And I just sucked it in and just taught me as a producer, that 50% is making your movie and 50% is marketing and distribution. And you've got to focus on the marketing and distribution and who your audience is when you're in development or even before you've been optioned anything and put your time and money into it. And another thing that it really taught me began to teach me was film financing, they pioneered or were one of the pioneers of the model where you would put up your own PNA into a rental system. And back then, like you were just saying, You worked in the video store, if you could guarantee a certain level of theatrical release with the PNA commitment, you pretty much got 50 to 75% advance for your home video, because they were desperate for any Oh, anything video stores. So the majority of their money went into the print and advertising and renting a studio system to release their movies. And then if there was a shortfall, they would put some money into the production side of things. So when I left there, and started my first company, that was my business plan, I just pretty much replicated that business plan. And at the time, the money was coming out of Asia. And I found a Japanese investor, very wealthy Japanese investor, he was kind of the bill gates of Japan. And he bought into this concept, which was smart and what was happening there. And, you know, he was my financial business partner. And that's how I made my first movie executive produced my first movie, which was fried green tomatoes. And it was one of those projects that you know, when I read it, you know, you laugh, you cry, you

Alex Ferrari 12:20
remember, it was it was wonderful.

Anne Marie Gillen 12:24
But, you know, it was like a well, it's a female driven project, it really doesn't have major stars. Oh, you've got the race story. It's a period piece. And yes, it's beautifully written, but no, so they weren't able to get it made. So I came on board and I said, I'm gonna roll my company on this. And because we could get weird and then we went to Universal for the theatrical release during the rental system with us me putting up the PMA. And eventually when they started seeing the dailies and everything, they went back and renegotiated bought us out of the PNA position, the rest pretty much as movie history from there.

Alex Ferrari 13:00
Yeah, that was that was released by Universal if I remember universal, yeah, so that was that was a big I remember that was a big release, it did very well on our on our video store. It did very well on our video store, or mom and pop video stores still doing very well. It's it's Yeah, it's amazing that this day, yes, to this day still probably gave you guys residual checks. Again. So that's, that's remarkable. Um, now you also know, you also you wrote a book called The producers handbook. Right?

Anne Marie Gillen 13:30
It's called the producers business handbook. Okay. And I think it's an it's, it's fourth or third edition. I forget. But yeah, so it's basically through all this, there, you know, by by putting that course together by being at Hemdale when I was, and by having to do this business plan and all this financing, I had to learn about, nobody taught me that it's really hard to learn that even in school to this day, the financing side of it very much. Oh, throughout the years, I just had to, you know, educate myself to this. And I remember when I was at Hemdale their in house attorney left. And so I said, Well, I'll sit in all the meetings and take the notes. So in all the legal meetings, I was there, and I would just quietly take notes and then I call my dad who was an attorney and I go Damn, pro rata Perry, pursue, how do I spell it? What's it mean? And, you know, just began to learn the lingo language of film financing. And so once I became more of an expert in this arena, I thought, you know, I don't want it, it shouldn't be that hard to get this information. So, you know, put this book together with john Lee. He had written the first edition, and we did the second and third and it's it's, you know, with what's gone on in the last three to five years, we still need to do another additional thing, keep it up to date. But a lot of the stuff still has stayed the same, you know, there's still pre sales and estimates and completion. And

Alex Ferrari 15:15
so yeah, so I get I guess it there is certain things that have stayed in place. But in today's marketplace, you know, from my experience in the business, the sales in the distribution side of things, sales have just really dried up in a in a way that when I say dried up, I mean, it's like, like in the 80s. People were printing money in the 90s. In the early 2000s. You all just like sniper seven, yes, just yeah, put out sniper seven, it's already pre sold, and you got 3 million on DVD. Like it, those days are so gone, and the marketplace is shifting so much. Now, that unless you have really, really bankable like extremely bankable stars, and genres, it's almost impossible to really recoup money. So as a producer, from from what I've seen in the distribution space, there are certain genres, there are certain talent, you know, excluding the anomaly, excluding the Sundance whatever, or the film festival, darling, that really doesn't even happen as much as it used to back in the 90s. So how do you as a producer in today's world, kind of parenting because even pre sales, again, without the proper star, and genre, because you could put Nicolas Cage in a certain kind of genre doesn't sell nearly as much as if you put them in an action, or, or something like that, or Stallone in a drama doesn't really move the needle as much. So I just would love to hear your take on that. Well, you're right. And that's the end of the podcast and seen we're done. And that's the end of it. All right.

Anne Marie Gillen 16:55
You know, it's always something, I've been doing this for 25 plus years, it's always something. So you just got to pivot, you just got to learn the new way, and pivot. And so right now, I would say, you're absolutely right, you need a certain level talent, and that talent has to be right for the genre, you gave a perfect example, you have to have the right budget level, for the reasons you've talking about, you know, you're going to be able to get any pre sales in it, what budget level is that? You know, so all those things come into play. So certainly, as somebody that's more about quality than like, just straight horror or something,

Alex Ferrari 17:36
or your quality versus product. And there's a balance between

Anne Marie Gillen 17:42
the two, right to balance on occurs, balanced producer, okay, so you've got, it's a three legged stool, you got to give equal to the creative and the distribution and the money. And anytime one outweighs the other, it's somehow lopsided. So, you know, how do you creatively answer those problems? So for as an example, when I go for casting, you know, there's, there's me and my directors, wishlist, you know, there's the casting people that come up with interesting ideas. And I kind of combine the two and then I go to my international sales agent, they go and they give me their and they're totally different. And so you got to figure out what's the right balance for that movie, and that marketability,

Alex Ferrari 18:22
and then there's also like a bit of delusion, I found, because I do a lot of consulting and coaching and distribution and there's filmmakers who come out with the like, Look, I've got I want to get an avenue to just use Nick as a as an example. I want to I want to get into cage involve them like, okay, and I I know producers and directors who have have gotten Nick on a $5 million movie $6 million movie, in certain genres, it kind of like a horror ish action genre. And that works at that budget level, but a lot of times they'll like, come up with an idea and they want Nick involved and like it's gonna cost you 40 million. And like, know, that, that star at that budget range, there has to be more than just Nick attached for that to make sense financially, there has to be other casts, the director needs to have some sort of presence, you know, like a Joe Carnahan can can bring out a movie at $40 million, with, you know, a Frank Grillo, and, you know, a in the cage, like that, that that monitor makes sense, because of the pre sales that those guys come up together, and then Joe and his whole thing, that's the that's up and that packages that packages sold before they even start shooting. Like,

Anne Marie Gillen 19:35
yeah, and you saw that with the recent Berlin, you know, there's certain announcements that I had every territory sold out. And whether you know what the movie is about or not, you just see the package. So when somebody says, What is your package? You know, that's what they're asking for, you know, and it's so important that you understand what the finance plan needs to be what the budget level needs to be what level casts It is, you know, where the genre fits in the marketplace. And they all have to meld together in the right. Perfect. Magical combination. And you I and I've been doing this 25 years, I don't even know, I don't rely on my opinion. You know, I get a casting directors opinion, I get the international sales agents opinion I get, you know, I work with them, and what are the estimates? And, you know, cast? And how does that and diversity now is another huge thing, you know, which is wonderful. I mean, one of the most recent conversations I had was with the sales agent, as we're going to have to replace one of our people, and it's all give me diversity, give me diversity. And it doesn't need to be a big name, but it needs to be diversity. And, you know, it's interesting. So I've got Native Americans, I've got, you know, Asian, you know, and it's really wonderful to be able to give, you know, to really pass that way with those opportunities.

Alex Ferrari 21:01
But I think I think before, like, again, in the 80s, and 90s, you could be a sloppy producer, meaning that you could just kind of like you had such a cushion, that money was almost guaranteed if you had just this or that, and you didn't really need to be that good, honestly, because I remember the movies that I saw in the video store in the 80s and 90s. Were garbage. And they were and they were making bank and when DVD showed up, I mean, my God, the money was just flying, right since the print. I mean, it was just literally like I always use sniper seven as an example, because they made so much money with the sniper, the sniper franchise, and they were bad movies. But you know, they brought they brought Todd out, not Tom, Tom Berenger out every, you know, few years. And they're like, yeah, here's, here's a mil, let's go do this. And that's one thing. And another thing is to what makes sense today. So let's say right now, a certain actor is hot. Well, when you started that movie, he might have been hot, but something might have happened in the next 12 months. And a perfect example is I had I had producers, I won't use the actor's name. But a lot of people I've spoken about this actor before, nothing against the actor is an actor who works a lot. And he's not a huge star, but he's a name and a face. And he's bankable to a certain budget. But he made that year 17 movies. So when his movie came out, in the marketplace, he'd go to distributors like I already got three of him, I'm good this year, like I already got it. So he's diluted his value. And the producer was there holding, holding the bag. So there's that that whole thing, because if tomorrow morning, Nick comes out and makes 30 movies next year, which by the way, Nick Cage could possibly do 30 movies, his value in the marketplace might I'm not saying he does, he doesn't have that many

Anne Marie Gillen 22:51
app and all the time, you know, where people just do too much. But there are still sloppy producers, but they are not making the money back for the investors and they're just taken, you know, a lot of innocent investors, you know, and taking their money and running, and knowing they're not going to be able to, you know, get their money back. But you know, it just drives me crazy. It's why investors think this is such a high risk, horrible business to be in, because so many sloppy producers, or not just you know, just kind of pie in the sky, just, I gotta make my movie, and they're not the balanced producer. And then that understanding what the audiences and what the market will allow and trying to keep it all in check. Oh,

Alex Ferrari 23:36
the delusions that are out there with filmmakers and producers. Sometimes it's like, Look, if you want to make an art film, make an art film, you know, and yeah, you know, I made my first film for five grand, I sold it to Hulu. And I sold it to Hulu and licensed it to Hulu sold and sold some foreign territories with it. It was fantastic. It was an art film. It was an experimental film. I didn't really know what it was like, how is it going to turn out? But at that budget level, who cares? But if I would have made that to 300,000 he would I you can't it's there's just a balance of again, there's that word again, balance of what you if you want to make art understand that there's a value attached to that art

Anne Marie Gillen 24:15
right. And there's nothing wrong with that nothing lucky and and may go through the roof and that's great. But you know, you need I mean, another big term for me is risk mitigation. Yes. If you want to talk to investors or finance yours or funders, that's a good term to use. You know, how are you going to mitigate my risk, you know, and

Alex Ferrari 24:37
pre sales tax incentives. There's there's a list of things that you can

Anne Marie Gillen 24:41
mention account. A lot of people don't know about collection accounts and it's just like one of the best things that you can offer an investor to

Alex Ferrari 24:48
hear. Can you explain the collections account for the audience real quick?

Anne Marie Gillen 24:51
Sure. It's, it's it's basically a third party escrow account, where all mainly it's international revenue, but can be revenue for whatever your project is, is then assigned to go into this escrow account. So it's protected. So all the stakeholders, whether they be net profit people, investors, mezzanine, bank, loan funders, whatever, they know that whatever revenue comes, it is protected in this third party escrow account. And everybody signs off on the terms called waterfall who gets paid and what order, what percentage and all of that. So there are two main companies out there that do that vintage house,

Alex Ferrari 25:36
I, I've had them on the show, they're one okay.

Anne Marie Gillen 25:39
And free way entertainment. And free ways probably would do more lower budget movies than vintage my take on so if you're in a lower budget range, I start with them. And they'll take sometimes if it's a really low low budget movie, they might take a fee off, you don't pay them upfront, but the first revenues that come in, they might take a fee, and then it's 1% ish area, or they just start at the 1%. And they The first thing that they put aside is is residuals, the potential residual effect Yes. To pay for? Yeah, yeah. So when you go to become a signatory for sag, if you have a collection account set up, that can help you with putting up those very large residual bonds, etc, because they know that it will be paid because they're holding that money for you. Plus, it protects all the stakeholders. So it's just a win win all the way around to have a collection account.

Alex Ferrari 26:38
It's wonderful here,

Anne Marie Gillen 26:39
word cam collection account manager, you know, etc. It's it's one in the same.

Alex Ferrari 26:45
Yeah, it's, I have to ask you now, like, how do you have I want to ask you first, how do you raise development money? Because that's the hardest money to because there's no guarantee that there's anything even going to get made. So you're just basically rolling the dice as an investor going, Hey, I like this book that you have, we're going to develop it into a screenplay. I'm going to help you develop it into a screenplay, I'm going to get a piece of the action once this movie gets made. But how do you raise that kind of money? Well,

Anne Marie Gillen 27:19
again, it's about being very balanced in your approach, you know, you use the very common term, it's the highest risk of all the money. And I don't know if I would agree with you there, it's the lowest amount of money, it is risk, manage it properly. It's not the highest risk, what you just talked about is making this movie for, you know, 20 million. That's a lot of money. And I think that might even be a higher risk. But to answer your questions, specifically, producers nowadays are totally expected to come with a package, which means you need a powerful screenplay and need to be able to hire legal hire casting director, do budgets and schedules higher up in line producer, if you don't do that, yourself, you know, all these, you know, beautiful look, books, and sometimes sizzle reel or rip, thematics. And, you know, and it all takes money, pay the writer and totally on the producers not whereas before you could go, oh, I've got this great IP this book, and, you know, companies would jump not so much anymore. So you've got a couple of different options. One is to go to a company that already has development money, or a first look, deal with a network or a streamer, or whatever. So for instance, if it's a great book that you're going after an really powerful lead interesting role for an actress of a certain age, I go through variety insight and find out who's got deals at all these different streamers or networks. And in the actress, that would be actors, that would be right for it, I do my research, make sure that they have a real production company, many just have a name, where you want to be sure there are people there that they have a partner, they have creative executive, and you know, then I tried to pitch the creating of the executive, and then they would bring it to their first step. So that's one model. And you can do that with directors, writers, showrunners, actors, etc. Then, and the toughest model is you do it yourself. And

Alex Ferrari 29:29
you bootstrap, bootstrap

Anne Marie Gillen 29:29
it. And I'm sure we've all done that on some level. And then there's the put the proper business plan together and get a development fund together. And you really have to, you know, again, risk mitigate the approach. So the way that it's really spelled out pretty a whole chapter of it is in the book about development financing, and you want to do it in steps. Okay. So you put together a finance plan. Costs of what you think you're going to need. So there's legal there's the writing of the screenplays, there's casting director, there's the UPM, there's visual materials, there's all that line item stuff, I don't like to put too often money for myself, because that's my skin in the game. And so, uh, you know, if I wouldn't approach that, Oh, great, I'll be able to live off this money. While I know I'm a real producer as I develop. That's a little difficult, but you can put something in there for that. And then you make sure that each step of the way your test marketing, it's so the first thing that I do is I run comparables from the last five to seven years, to see what else out there in this genre in this level, but that I'm thinking of director that I'm thinking of level, the type of casting that what has worked, what hasn't worked? More importantly, and why hasn't it worked. And I want to be sure that the way I'm planning all of this, you know, is fitting into the specificity of what the marketplace might allow for. Once I've done that, that I call that greenlight, okay, and I run the numbers,

Alex Ferrari 31:13
you know, for the internal, that's the concept, the internal green light,

Anne Marie Gillen 31:16
the internal green light. That's right. So I track, you know, what, what the budget level was for that movie, how wide a screen it opened on what was the widest screen and finally open AI because that tells you the the spread of the PMA, so did it open on five screens, and then it went to 300. That's a whole different level than if it opens on 3200. And then that's the most I've ever opened up, because you're spending 25 35 million right out of the gate just to opening weekend. So I track that what the genre is, what the level of talent is director and lead cast, and I got to go to the year that it was released, not who they are now. So I've got to go back five, seven years to to contemplate who they are now, what the rating was. Because, you know, if I'm thinking I'm going to deliver a PG movie, and all the comps I have are our it throws everything off. So I and I look for the trailers that they use, I look for the visuals, the posters and all of that, the tag lines. So I have this massive spreadsheet where I'm tracking like 30 comps, with all this information, really educating myself to what this material where this material might fall. And if I come up with numbers that look like I think I'm onto something really strong here, then I don't just rely on me, I go and vet it with a distributor with an international sales agents etc. and said, This is what I think I'm going to do.

Alex Ferrari 32:45
This is the level cast and they go Yeah, that that I can sell, you know, if you can deliver on this that I can sell then I start spending money. But if I get nose in any one of those places, I stop and I find a different property that's going to get me yeses. And Kim, can you just tell everybody really quickly with these plans in these packages? A lot of times they use comparables to other films. So I've seen this way too many times and please tell people to stop doing this and disagree with me if you'd like if you're making a horror movie. If you're making a horror movie, and you are putting together a package do not use Blair Witch Project and paranormal activity as this is what horror movies do to investors. Any smart money will just look at you and go get out of my office dumb money or dumb money

Anne Marie Gillen 33:33
down money might not but it just shows me You're a peon. You don't know the business. And yeah, if I would never use it as a comparable in my narrative part of my business plan. I might mention something like that if it's perfect, perfect. But I would never never use it in my financial comparables because it's just it's wrong anomalies. It's right it is it's like winning the lottery. So and the same with movies that win Academy Awards. It's like oh, yeah, but my movie will win the Best Picture Academy Award. So I'm going to do the same as this movie.

Alex Ferrari 34:10
Oh, yeah. Like moonlight. Like my movie was shot in Miami and their movie was shot in Miami. So it's moonlight and they won the Oscar and I can't wait the Oscars. Well, yeah, that or or Napoleon Dynamite? Oh my god. Yeah.

Anne Marie Gillen 34:24
Awards and things like that as well. And so I I tried to get it down to the most realistic 10 to 15 that really fall there.

Alex Ferrari 34:33
Yeah, exactly. Now, one of the biggest problems producers and filmmakers have is that chicken and egg thing which is attaching name talent to a project something that's going to give you the money, but then the name talent doesn't want to come on board until you have the money. So there's that chicken and egg thing. How do you approach How do you attach potential name talent to your project?

Anne Marie Gillen 34:59
Well Sometimes named talent won't regardless, that's just a fact. No, or they're their agents won't let them. Especially hot up and comers, sometimes they take a little too much advice maybe from or let the handlers handle them a little too much. So that that there are, there's nothing you can do about that. But what you can some things you can do, it helps to have a casting director. You know, it helps to have a very good attorney, a recognizable firm, you know,

Alex Ferrari 35:37
recognizable and recognizable casting director helps to,

Anne Marie Gillen 35:40
yeah, that's what I'm saying. Yes. And, and the material is, first and foremost, it's about the material. You've got to have a great piece of material, great screenplay for a role that they want, not a role, they've done it over and over and over again. I mean, they they wanted real actors want to, you know, express themselves take on something that they haven't done before. So a lot of times I really, if if I'm going to have to go out for actors at a very early stage and use them. I want to think outside the box a little bit more. So if they're known for comedy, but you know, they've got the chops off, or like Robin Williams, you know, yep, Jim Carrey, you know, give them the opportunity in a role that's very dramatic, when you know, they can do it, they just haven't been given that opportunity. So they would come on board and for a much lower, much lower. Absolutely, because you can't pay him for you know,

Alex Ferrari 36:44
can't pay him, you can't pay Jim Carrey 20 million in the height of Dumb and Dumber To do that. But if you want to do men on the moon, you could probably get them sometimes for scale, if they really, really wanted. It happens.

Anne Marie Gillen 36:57
And and if the actor has a production company, it's a little easier because you're not necessarily going through the agent, you're going to the creative executive there. And you know, and they're going to come on board as a producer, and they'll have much more creative input and hands on. If I'm going that route. Well, I do this regardless. But, you know, I really, you know, are they on any boards? Do they support any bass adores anything? What nonprofits do they cook again, I like to focus on a lot of social impact projects, so that you can do what's called a double bottom line, that only is a role really great, but it's an issue that's important to them. So those are some of the key things that I tried to do. What do you have?

Alex Ferrari 37:48
Right. And then there's also the, you know, the the harsh realities of like, well, who's the director, who's the producer, you know, just because you might have the next Pulp Fiction. But if you have a producer who's never done a thing in their life, and a director who's done one short film and won an award at the Moose Jaw Film Festival, which I don't even know if that's a real festival or not, but I want to go, I want to go to the Moose Jaw International Film Festival. But then there's that whole uphill battle, and I've been there as well. And I've seen that as well, where you got good material, but the team, there's no confidence that the team will ever can execute this. So there's that too.

Anne Marie Gillen 38:27
Yeah, so you got to take, you know, I'm working with a couple of first time directors. And I believe in them 250%. And they're great in a room in a pitch, they can speak their passion and vision. And you just, you're on board, you know, you really, and they've spent the time to put together the right materials to visually showcase what they can do. So if you're going to take on something with the first time director, as a producer, you know, you they need to be of that caliber because it is it you do have a bit of an uphill battle. And you've got to be sure that once they get in the room, or the zoom or whatever, with potential talent that they're they're able to close them and and they're they're going to say I'm going to feel confident and you're at you know what you're doing right now,

Alex Ferrari 39:25
and a lot of times they are Writer Director, so you know, the material they can speak to the material better than anybody. And that's also if you can be a writer director, that's honestly the only real control you have as a director, especially if your first time you know, unless you own the property all out. They can, they can throw you under the bus so quickly. And I've seen it happen where the writer gets on to the producer and the producer is like, I got Nick Cage, but Nick can't work with with Bob is Bob Bob's never directed anything but Nick's got a director who is worked with a bunch of times, and he wants to do the project. This is the reality of the business.

Anne Marie Gillen 40:04
So it's really important that as a producer, you have those tough conversations, before you go out technically legally get into business with this writer, director, director or writer, it's, you know, you've got to understand I mean, where do you stand? Is this your rocky that if you're offered a million, you're not going to walk away? And I need to know, you know, because?

Alex Ferrari 40:30
Because I want to take that million?

Anne Marie Gillen 40:33
Or is this something that if you were bumped to a producer, and you've got credit, and you've got your piece produced, but you couldn't direct it? Would you accept that? And sometimes they're yeses, and sometimes there's no, and I will move in either case, you know, depending on how I feel about that situation, or that particular person. But you need to know that going in, you don't want to be surprised later or get stuck later at the mercy of Yeah, no. choice and you knew that going in.

Alex Ferrari 41:05
And that's only something you learn as a producer with time, because when you first starting out, you you fall into all the traps, we just you just laid out right there. Every little scenario, I've already hit that those walls a ton of times, I'm sure you hit them when you were starting out. And only with time, do you understand, you know what, I really need to have this conversation. This is it's the come to Jesus conversation. Like it's, it's like, Look, this is the reality of what is happening. And my whole world of indie film, also, my whole universe is all about giving you the hard facts and truth. Because I rather you hear it from me than when you're sitting in a room and someone just pulled the wool right under right from underneath your feet, the rug underneath your feet, I'm would you would you say I always say this, I'd love to hear if you agree, I believe that my philosophy of this business is that every single person, no matter if you're Steven Spielberg, Scoob, Rick Hitchcock, or the lowest film student, all of us are going to get punched in the face, period. And we're going to get punched in the face multiple times in our careers. And they're going to come fast, they're going to come hard. Sometimes you won't see them coming. And it's only with time and hopefully some knowledge that it's not the question of if you'll get hit, it's a question when you'll get hit and how you'll get hit. And you have to start learning how to take the hit especially early on and keep going forward. And then as you get older, you might get a little bit wildly and you can start getting it to slip off you. And then occasionally, you can get them to miss altogether or not even get into that conversation as you go down the road. But even even pros who've been in this 2030 years, they still get surprised. And my job and my my calling is to try to let everybody know, you're going to get punched. Here's how to take the punch. Is that fair?

Anne Marie Gillen 42:52
Oh, absolutely. You know, everybody thinks that Oh, once I get my first movie made, you know, it's all golden from that. I forget the statistic I have in one of my notes when it when I teach my finance class, but I think 98% of first time. filmmakers never make a second movie.

Alex Ferrari 43:11
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah,

Anne Marie Gillen 43:12
something something horrific. Like I was like, whoa. And for all those reasons you just stated, it's just like, you know, you're gonna be punched. And the question is, how quickly can you come back from it? Don't let it it's gonna knock you down. And you got to bounce right back up, and come back at it. And later when you look in your words, but okay, what just happened? How can I avoid that next time?

Alex Ferrari 43:37
Exactly, in the most. But so many filmmakers have the stars in their eyes that they just don't even know that the punch is coming. And when they get hit, once they're out, there are pulled and they're out of the game. I mean, when I was talking to Oliver Stone, on the on the show a while ago, I was I wasn't shocked. But he's like, I'm still hustling my Monday, I'm still trying to get my movie made. I'm gonna say that you're Oliver Stone. He's like, I'm Oliver Stone, but I'm still trying to matter doesn't matter,

Anne Marie Gillen 44:05
movie and he killed you to get it together, you did your 17th and it kills you. When you're in there, which is kind of falls in your lap and things happen. And those are golden. But it's a constant, constant battle, to put it together. And, and five years from now, the whole finance plan is going to be different. And five years from there, it's going to change and there's gonna be something else and and you've got to constantly pivot and constantly re learn. And you've got, I mean, I remember initially just having to tweak because I was a creative. I didn't I didn't go I didn't know, economics and legal and all that. But you read my book and you think I was, you know,

Alex Ferrari 44:41
PhD, a PhD of some sort.

Anne Marie Gillen 44:43
I have no, you know, and I hated it when I was in it, trying to figure it out and learn. I just hated it. And then I just, I just kind of went, No, it's creative. Putting a finance plan of doing this is creative, and just with that little shift and over time, it gets better. rubber. So all day, every day, I am still being creative because every time I get on the phone with somebody I use my acting is like, Who is that person? What is their tone? Like? Okay, I got to match their rhythm. And it could be okay, what's going on? What do you need? Then I got to talk like this. Okay, this would or like with Alex, when we first started so how are you doing and what's going on and you get oh and, or whatever it is and or they throw something at you, even though your agenda and your plan and your bullet points are right in front of you and they throw something after you got to, okay, improv. It's all those years of improv class, you know, you never know what's going to come back. So. So to me, that's all just wonderfully creative. And when you used to go to meetings, it's like, how do I need to dress for that meeting? If it's a banker, financier, I gotta look like I don't need the money. If it's a creative, I gotta wear my creative clothes. You know, and so

Alex Ferrari 45:51
you can't walk it. You can't walk into creative with this with a suit and you can't walk into a bank, with your your khakis on and flip flops, right? It's not gonna, it's not gonna work. Now. So you've been in the business for many years, I'm assuming that there was never been a negative experience with a distributor in your entire career, that everything is going smoothly, all the money is coming. 110% everyone's been completely open with the reporting. And you've never had any issues whatsoever. Is this a fair statement? Or am I completely off base? You're completely off? I think I knew I would

Anne Marie Gillen 46:33
a point where the whole team just finally gave up. It's, it's, you know, it's a lot David and Goliath is just like, you know, if they just throw another legal thing at you, and you run out of money, your investors safe enough already. I'm not spending any more legal money to try to track this down or get this just enough how but I gotta ask you,

Alex Ferrari 46:54
it's what it look in my my audience is very well aware of my feelings on distribution. And what I've, what I've been able to do for them, and getting the information out about distribution and predatory distributors, and things like that. But I have to ask you, like, the whole concept of the Hollywood accounting, which is what it mean, which is basically started in the days of Chaplin. I mean, this started early, I mean, United Artists was created by Pickford, Chaplin and fair banks, because they were getting screwed by the studios. So this whole Hollywood accounting thing and how distributors do not, and I'm guessing all, but a lot of distributors, unscrupulous distributors, will do things in their numbers to make sure that you the producer, do the filmmaker, never see a dime? How is this a functioning business? Like, is it just purely because there's fresh meat that constantly is coming in to replenish the old meat that's just exhausted of just getting ripped off? Or investors? Is that how the system works? Because in any other business, you know, if you were in the cookie business, and I, you know, you all of a sudden, I sell 5000 cookies, and I'm like, sorry, I really didn't sell 5000 cookies, because the chocolate chips, you know, they got more expensive and, and all these, like, that doesn't happen in other businesses. And not, I mean, sure that does, but not at that level, so blatant, that there's a name for it. And there's, and really quickly, you know, the whole thing with the me to movement, which was basically which was dinner, the casting couch, it was a punchline, it was a joke, it was part of this, this fabric of the industry, like, you know, if you want to get it, you got to go on the casting couch. That whole thing was business as usual, for way too long. I feel that what's going on with distributors, is the financial version of that kind of abuse, because you're just being abused financially. You just said, we just gave up. So I'm sorry, through 1000 things that you would use? I went on a rant, I apologize.

Anne Marie Gillen 48:52
No, that's fine. That's fine. And it's I mean, that's as old as the hills. And, you know, there's, if you need a really good attorney, yeah. And the net profit definitions of the net profit definitions of studios distributors sometimes can be 30 pages long, it just gets ridiculous, you know, for that reason. So that's where a really really smart attorney can at least be helpful. It's why a lot of people pay so much money up front or try to get as much money upfront as possible

Alex Ferrari 49:27
because you'll never get anything else. Hi,

Anne Marie Gillen 49:29
they asked for gross position. It's why they asked for box office bonuses. You know, so you know, they can see what what you know, which is a little difficult now, because it's there's a crash and burn. It's why you see the streamers paying these big hefty amounts, because that's all that ever to be fair, because there is no other window or back end or whatever. It's just the way it has been.

Alex Ferrari 49:58
But but we're due for Change, we're due for something something has to change. I don't know what that technology will be, what that system will be, but something has to come kratt this system is already stressed like the distribution system COVID has put it was already look when I went to AFM in 2019 I was like what I was walking around, I was like, she it's just a bunch of dinosaurs. Like, I mean, I'm walking over corpses. I mean, it was it was really, it was really bad. And it just kept getting going down, down, down. So nothing against AFM, but just the marketplace has changed so much in that space. So I feel like there's so much stress on the the apparatus of distribution. And now COVID just put it more it will pop I feel something's gonna come crashing down. I think the next economic downturn something Yeah, you gotta watch the word distribution is such a large all encompassing entity. Correct? I think you're more talking like theatrical. And then it leads into something else. No, I'm talking about I'm talking about the whole like the apparatus. But if you go to a Netflix getting killed with a Netflix or Hulu or Amazon, they sold it for whatever it's different. You're done in non studio, non studio I'm talking about non studio distributor is what i'm talking Yeah,

Anne Marie Gillen 51:13
I just wanted to be clear, because very encompassing word. And, and that's another reason that I like having a collection account. And it doesn't help so much on the domestic side. But certainly on all the international because your sales agent in your agreement with your sales agent, it says that any monies you know that are collected will not go to them. But they'll all the distribution agreements with all the different distributors in France and Germany and UK. When they do the agreements with them. It says that all monies do minimum guarantees overages will go into this account, so never goes to the sales agent. It goes right there. And we talk that through in the waterfall and how it's all protected. So that's another reason that how you can risk mitigate some of those issues. But then if the distributor in Germany doesn't want, Hey, what are you gonna do?

Alex Ferrari 52:03
You're gonna go super,

Anne Marie Gillen 52:04
you know, yeah, then that's pretty tough. But again, the collection account people, they know, all those distributors, you know, they can help track that and deal with that for you,

Alex Ferrari 52:17
etc. So it's there's ways around it, but it is a very slippery, shark infested situation where you really need to understand the navigation of it. I remember I was I was talking to a filmmaker at AFM, they came up to me and they're like, Hey, I got a deal. I'm like, great, like, we just got a $30,000 mg. I'm like, well, that's fantastic. What was your budget? Like? 150? I'm like, Okay, what was that? For? He goes, it was all rights for five years. I'm like, so you're happy about that? Yeah, we got 30,000. I'm like, in what business? Ever? Yeah, that you spent 150,000 you're happy, happy about 30. Like, that's, there's something systemically wrong with that well,

Anne Marie Gillen 52:56
right. And, again, where we started with being that balance producer, it probably was not his money. Probably. He got to make the movie he wanted to make.

Alex Ferrari 53:08
And it's going out into the world

Anne Marie Gillen 53:10
ending, you know, got a little bit back and can at least give a check back, you know, so I'm happy. You know, but that's not a sustainable business. And it's not a sustainable career.

Alex Ferrari 53:19
And I honestly, it's not a moral. There's moral issues. Well, that's a whole other conversation. So what projects are you working on now?

Anne Marie Gillen 53:29
I'm, I'm working on a project. And this is the first time feature film director, although he's done music videos and shorts, sure fallen,

Alex Ferrari 53:38
accomplished filmmaker, but not feature filmmaker. Right.

Anne Marie Gillen 53:40
Right. Exactly. And it's a it's a sci fi trilogy. In the PR, Stephanie, and we're doing we have an international sales agent, we have really creative, wonderful deals with the visual effects house and the virtual virtuals. I do. I hope you have somebody coming on board to talk about virtual and what's going on there like already. I already did, yeah. Okay. Cuz that's, that's the way to go. That's the future filmmaking. And that, again, will get those budgets done will keep us safe, because we don't have to go to all these locations. And just a myriad of

Alex Ferrari 54:21
what I mean. Yeah, you just watched the Mandalorian and you just go wow, yeah. In God's green earth. Yeah, it's so fascinating. It's so one and it's cheap to and honestly, it's not that expensive. I mean, Mandalorians it's expensive but if you if you're doing it at a much into your level, you can get the company that I had on call on I think it was unreal. I think there are I forgot their name, but the real engine, I'm not sure if it was unreal engine but it was it was another company that was using that engine. But bottom line is that the smaller the smaller, the smaller version of it for a wall. Just a what like a full wall. Yeah. Then 1000 bucks for the actual engine and then whatever the screens cost. So under 20, Grand 30 grand, you've got a whole virtual set that you can use and build sets in front of and move. And it's it was fascinating. It's fast. Yeah,

Anne Marie Gillen 55:14
yeah. For it all in camera, and you can say on the soundstage and oh, it's great. It's great. Yeah, well, that sounds exciting. G is being shot that way.

Alex Ferrari 55:23
That's amazing. That's gonna be that's gonna be a

Anne Marie Gillen 55:25
lot of very excited about that. And to use that, that technology.

Alex Ferrari 55:28
Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today? Um, mmm, material, material material. Um,

Anne Marie Gillen 55:46
if you spend any of your own money makes you? Well, even the most important thing is to have a good attorney. Yes. So when you have anybody developing money, your money, whatever, have a good attorney, and make sure that whatever agreements you're doing are locked, solid chain of title, option agreements, whatever, you know, work for hire writer agreements, you know, make sure you have an attorney dealing with that so many times I see people, oh, they get a template from a friend. And they just kind of change a few things and get in trouble getting a lot of trouble later down the road. And you can't give up. I mean, what we were talking about you just, it's just keep moving. And bring partners in to like you said, first time produce I've never done that we'll find a partner who has that believes in the material like you and that you legally moral compass wiser on the same page and can go down that road together? You know, I've done that a lot in my career.

Alex Ferrari 56:46
Sounds good.

Anne Marie Gillen 56:48
Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 56:48
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life? It's not about me. Wow, that was a quick answer. Hey, get over yourself. It's not about me.

Anne Marie Gillen 57:01
You know, what? Anger is when they're upset is a few you're never gonna work in this. It's, it's, it's not about me. It's that. That's a tough one. That's a tough one.

Alex Ferrari 57:12
You know, what, and have you had that statement said, You'll never work in this town again. Have someone said that to you? You know, I've had that I've had that said to me like you when someone says that to you. They are in a place of such massive ego. It's It's so they're so far gone in so much pain, if someone said, and of course, the more infamous, you do know who I am. If someone ever says Do you know who I am? Just walk away. Just walk away. I've had that experience. I'm like, wow, wow. And do you know who I am? You'll never work in this town again. I By the way, anytime I'm on set, I yell out you'll never work in this town again, at least 20 times a day. And everyone pitches themselves. I do it constantly. Anytime a grip doesn't. Anytime a grip says something wrong. I'll just walk by I'm like, dude, you'll never work in this town again. And then they just are so I make it a joke because it's so ridiculous. And then I think someone called me out once and I said something on set. They're like, my phone rang. My phone rang. I said, my phone rang. I'm like, whose phone? Is that? Like? It's your sir. You'll never work. When I'm on set in my next book, yes. Never work in this town again. And three of your favorite films of all time. Fried Green Tomatoes, obviously. Um, oh,

Anne Marie Gillen 58:44
I'm such a singing in the rain person. Because because I wasn't used directed musicals. And you know, and actually, that was my first goal coming out here was to do musicals. And I haven't done one yet.

Alex Ferrari 58:58
Well, the market the markets, it's a little rougher, the musicals not as much as it used to be in the 40s in the 30s, and 40s. Yeah,

Anne Marie Gillen 59:08
and, and in something I just saw this year that I watched it like three times, just because I was so enthralled with it. And it was the trial of the Chicago seven.

Alex Ferrari 59:18
No, look at what I was hearing

Anne Marie Gillen 59:19
sarkin and the writing and the acting and the history and how it spoke on so many levels, and it was just able to do something like that and leave that kind of legacy and help the dialogue. Right now for for the whole United States. I thought was just

Alex Ferrari 59:38
timing was brilliant time it was and he said that he goes, you know, five years ago, this wouldn't have worked. But you know, in today's environment, I got greenlit. Yes. Right. And where can people and where can people reach out to you if they if they find you online?

Anne Marie Gillen 59:56
Well, they can go to my website Gillan group llc.com And there's a form to fill out. I think it probably even has my email, etc. I'm pretty easy to find. Open that anywhere.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:09
You know what?

Anne Marie Gillen 1:00:11
I'm really nice about talking to a lot of people or helping people. Yeah, I really take that pretty easy. I mean, I can't do it all day every day, obviously. But, you know, people that know me know that they can always pick up the phone and pick my brain and sit in on a call with them that is difficult for them and translated for them later, what it meant and all of that. So I tried it, because it was such a hard, hard journey for me and nobody should have to struggle that hard to learn it and get it.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:40
Amen, sister. Amen. Amen. And it's been a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.

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BPS 371: Selling Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark with Cody Meirick

Today on the show we have filmmaker Cody Meirick. Cody is the director of the documentary Scary Stories, based on the wildly popular book series Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark. We discuss how he leveraged an underserved niche audience, how he piggy-backed off the major studio release of the narrative version and how he was able to get access to the key players in this niche.

This past summer Academy Award®-winner Guillermo del Toro and acclaimed director André Øvredal created the hit movie based on the iconic book series.

It’s 1968 in America. Change is blowing in the wind…but seemingly far removed from the unrest in the cities in the small town of Mill Valley where for generations, the shadow of the Bellows family has loomed large. It is in their mansion on the edge of town that Sarah, a young girl with horrible secrets, turned her tortured life into a series of scary stories, written in a book that has transcended time—stories that have a way of becoming all too real for a group of teenagers who discover Sarah’s terrifying home.

Enjoy my “scary” conversation with Cody Meirick.

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Alex Ferrari 0:10
I'd like to welcome the show, Cody Meirick, man, thank you so much for being on the show, brother.

Cody Meirick 3:07
Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Alex Ferrari 3:09
So we're going to talk about your documentary, scary stories today. But first and foremost man, how did you get started in the film business?

Cody Meirick 3:19
Sure. So I started. So I, I was always the creative type. And for a long time, I wanted to be a writer, I kind of I guess, I've thought back and realized back in my 20s, I spent my 20s, I spent wanting to be a writer, a novelist, right. And because I always had this creative side, and then around the time I turned 30, right before I moved to Chicago, got a job with an education nonprofit, where I work to this day, running a website. And nowadays, a lot of times running a website often involves creating content. And in this case, creating media creating videos, web content, instructional videos, that sort of thing. Right? And so, so I kind of learned a lot over the course of time working there becoming a halfway decent editor, you know, telling the story in three minute chunks in some respects. And so, so I got a certain amount of experience there. And at a certain point, about five years ago, I decided, you know, what, I have a lot of the tools and the know how and that sort of thing to do a film a low budget film, and and it's going back to this kind of creative side. And so, so I needed in a documentary really made sense. You know, essentially what I do is, you know, make three minute documentaries and web form, you know, putting on on a website and so, to a full length documentary made a lot of sense. I wanted it to be marketable, I wanted it to make sense. I also wanted to make sense for me to do it. You know, having a, from an education nonprofit talking about and also with degrees and literature and that sort of thing. You know, children's literature made a lot of sense it also, first and foremost, I always would recommend, if you're going to spend the years to get off the ground your project, then have it be something you're interested in to have that be something you're passionate about that sort of thing. And so, um, so this idea to do a documentary on this particular title, made a whole lot of sense for me. And so, yeah, I mean, at some point, you just, you commit, and you say, you're done this, it's Yeah, exactly. Like you've done all these plans, and so on and so forth. And you you bet at some point, you're just like, put it out there, guess what my name is Cody Merrick and I'm making this documentary. And, and it you know, it has fits and starts over over years. And documentaries definitely can because you can kind of piece together interviews and other things over time. And so and so that's what I did. So as I've been saying, five years, most of it happened over the course of three ish years. But then you can add on, you take into to some festivals, finally getting distribution, so on and so forth. So the whole process from get go to, you know, beginning was basically five years,

Alex Ferrari 6:21
Five years. So that's a long time to be on a project. So I'm assuming you're not doing this 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I'm assuming you have your this is a side hustle. It's just

Cody Meirick 6:28
No, no, I mean, the job I said, I got about 10 years ago here in Chicago, still there. It's developed the the website has really grown and I've helped it to grow and and we've gone it taken in different directions. But I'm still doing that, to this day. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 6:45
Very cool. Now, you made a documentary based on the very, very popular scary stories franchise, which is almost as like a goosebumps, I think, behind there only behind goosebumps as far as sales are concerned, correct?

Cody Meirick 7:01
Yes. Yes. And, and the interesting thing, you know, I did our interview, RL Stein, the author of goosebumps, and and he, he's kind of my celebrity, I definitely have some other fairly well known people, but RL Stein's the one where it's like, he's the Stephen King of the children's, you know, children's literature, everyone's heard pretty much heard of him, you know, and so he's a celebrity, right? And so, but anyways, but these are a little bit different than his because RL Stein has been interviewed about a million times. And it's a different interview, when you're interviewing someone who's been interviewed a million times. And these books, the author passed away a long time ago, and the illustrator is, is, at this point, famously known for not doing interviews. And so there was kind of a hole there that like, okay, you know, a documentary that kind of gets under under the hood and learns a bit about these books and how they came to be and how, how they're, it's kind of a fandom, you know, and that's what's great for a documentary is that, you know, there's people that are very passionate about this title, whatever it may be. And then also, you have the censorship piece, it's the, arguably arguably the most banned or challenged children's book of the last 40 years. I say, children's book book, the first year, in first decade that the American Library Association made a list, decade long list was in the 1990s, it was number one on the list, the most challenge book of the 1990s was scary stories to tell in the dark, and it was still in the top 10. The last one wasn't published since 1991. And so, you know, in between 2000 2009, it was still in the top 10. So it was still a very much Challenge book, even though they're, you know, they're always in print. But you know, you didn't, they weren't, you know, they had become more of a having a cult following, and that sort of thing. And so this is very different than, for instance, that goosebumps documentary, because there's there's a number other components that kind of go down and channel your documentary. And

Alex Ferrari 9:06
Now, when you went out when you decided to go down this long and windy road of making this documentary, you had obviously in your mind, you know, you chose a subject matter that is something that you can leverage. So you're leveraging the scary stories brand. You're also you're also leveraging the audience for scary stories was just over 7 million books, if I'm not mistaken, have been sold. And on top of that, how many more I've been read. So you're talking about million. This is a very large niche audience, but an audience that you could arguably target if you wanted to go after them through Facebook through other ways of cultivating that audience. What were some of the ways that you did cultivate an audience or plan to target this audience with your with your film?

Cody Meirick 9:55
Sure. It It takes time. I'm with with I also run this social media for my, the nonprofit I work for. So I've got a lot of experience with, with, you know, growing an audience on social media and that sort of thing and targeting a audience, right? A, you got to stay active. You just got to and you know, each one is different. I remember I have a friend who had his you know, doing a podcast, totally not filmmaking podcast, just a podcast anyways. And he, you know, I talked to him a bit about it and, and, you know, you're, you're still no matter what you're probably you're, you're attaching yourself to a niche audience. And, and so you're, you're you want to have a Avenue and all your, the different platforms you're on to be constantly pumping out fresh stuff that people can like, people can share, so on and so forth. People are gonna notice you because you you're pumping out new information. How do you do that? Well, each one is different, but I can guarantee you any, any, any documentary that has a topic, I can tell you what the niche is, right? You know, you what's the one usually use vegan chefs? Yes, the biggest chef, yes, vegan chefs. Well, there you go. I mean, that's, you wouldn't want a documentary topic. That's just food. It's way too broad. You're competing with, you know, websites and social media that you know, it's in shows and networks. networks, exactly. Now, start to niche down, okay, vegan chef, Okay, you know what you I, you can wrap your head around that there's people sharing things around, you know, being a vegan. There are people who've written books about, you know, being vegan, and I bet they would like to be promoted. So you promote them. And then when your film comes out, they're going about, oh, yeah, this is the person who shared my thing, so on and so forth.

Alex Ferrari 11:55
Did you do that with this? Did you do that with this, this movie,

Cody Meirick 11:59
if someone's been following me on social media for a while, they know I'm just incredibly active. With this particular one. You know, the art, the illustrations from the book are have become incredibly well known. And beloved by many people, people get tattoos of the art, people do adaptations of the art, but then in a different style, or their makes claymation things or I don't know that there's a million things where people are kind of paying homage to the art, I guarantee you in the past five years, if you made something I probably shares, made something related to scary stories to tell. And Doc, I probably shared it. Also, it's all based in folklore and urban legends. So there's a lot of kind of fun, interesting avenues you can go down, you know, just to pick one story, pick one single story from it. And I probably shared some kind of tidbit about that story at some point, so on and so forth on different social, I mean, it's just being really active, constantly pumping out stuff related to your topic, and people will like it, they'll share it, they'll comment on it, so on and so forth. You know, it's it's a hustle, you know, yeah. But I, you know, just leading up to my first crowdfunding campaign, I spent nine months building it, and I've been building ever since. But I told myself, I need nine months to even build a little bit of an audience for that first one, which I did.

Alex Ferrari 13:22
And how did how did the crowdfunding campaign go?

Cody Meirick 13:25
It went, Okay. I mean, I, I have, I definitely have a love hate relationship with crowdfunding at this point, which is to say, you know, I know, it's, it's, it's perfectly valid way to go. And I won't say I won't do it again, for sure. I definitely can't say that, because maybe I just need to that said, you know, so the first time I raised over 7000, and then I, and then the two subsequent times, I raised around 2000 each, so I raised somewhere in the 12,000 range, over the span of three campaigns, it happened, you know, different points of the production, so I could, okay, the first time I didn't, I just had a mostly video pitch, I didn't have a trailer. The second time I had a trailer. Third time, so on so forth, I mean, you know, you try to, you know, give them something new each time you're doing it. That said, each subsequent, Okay, number one, the first one was the most successful because no one had ever thought about doing a documentary about scary stories to tell in the dark. It was the coolest idea ever, and people loved it. I didn't have a very good pitch. The pitch video was actually on the back and I like it, but you know, but I didn't have enough for a trailer or a proper trailer, and, and so on, so forth. But just the very idea. Got me some press I got mentioned on some very major websites, just with the very concept of doing a documentary about these books. And so Then then subsequent ones, it dropped off, you know, a because I was hitting a lot of the same a certain amount on the same audience I was before through social media, you know, I'd been building it, but still, it's, it's hard. And then also, it's not a new idea anymore. So you know, people are still discovering it, so you can get some traction there. But it's, it's definitely hard to get new press if you know, F. Okay, I've heard of that. I don't know if it'll ever get done. So it's hard to it's hard to, you know, to see. That was my experience. That's not to say everyone has that same experience, but that was mine. And so it's, it's, it's tough. That said, could I have done this without crowdfunding? No, probably not. And I mean, it's, this is the end budget, I estimate being around $35,000, you know, and that was paid for, in various ways. And that 12,000 was a was a big chunk. Sure. So, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 15:57
All right. Now, a lot of people think that you'd need permission, or you need the rights to do a documentary on a known subject. I know the answer to be no, for the most part, depending on what you do with it. So can you talk I'm sure. This has come up. Were you contacted by the CBS film people who are the producers of the new Guillermo del Toro produced narrative feature film version of this?

Cody Meirick 16:31
So? Okay, so early on here, here's a, here's my advice right into that, if you can do you absolutely want to do and that is getting access. Now getting access, in a lot of ways is part of what's going to sell the documentary in the long run. But then also getting that access allows you to get out of various legal ramifications, if you're getting that access by access. I mean, okay. You know, for instance, in my case, the family of the author of the books reached out to me after that crowdfunding, first cap crowdfunding campaign, they love the idea of the censorship thing. I mean, I'm sure they'd like the idea of celebrating these books in a documentary form, and that sort of thing. But, but also, you know, the, the fact that I was really putting the censorship component upfront and a big part of what the documentary was going to be about. They liked that they loved it. And so they, they supported it. So so that right, there was a big thing, right? There was like a stamp of approval. Yes. And they were a little bit of a liaison to some degree with the CBS film folks. Yes, they heard about it along the way. Of course, this all happened over years. But they heard about it, you know, main thing, and they didn't have to tell me this, but I was told indirectly was just make sure you're not adapting any of the stories? Well, of course not. You know, I know that. I know, I can't do that. And it's a documentary. So I, you know, now, the illustrations, that's a different thing altogether. Yes. So, um, so again, the illustrator is, has been known for many years, it does not engage, whether it's interviews or anything else now, and I can see all over the internet that people are, you know, not only replicating his art, and they're putting on shirts and selling them, they're making money on his illustrations. And I've, after tons of research in numerous years, I knew he doesn't seem to be lawyering up and that sort of thing. So. So there was that. That said, That said, the tricky part, definitely, with the documentary is okay, you know, let's hope no one even tries to get a lawyer, right? And definitely, because it's so you want to keep every everyone happy you want. And if you're doing a relatively positive spin on it, then then you're you're relatively safe, which is to say, You're safer than not, you know, it's not like I'm attacking these books or attacking an IP, you know, that for some reason, then, then you're going to get into all kinds of, you know, possible ramifications and legal ones, all that stuff. That said, I mean, there's definitely a nuts and bolts part of it as far as, okay, you know, I don't have permission to use these illustrations, but I use them throughout the documentary, but people are talking about the illustration. It's illustrating a point that someone has seen with you so on and so forth. I mean, this is a nuts and bolts way of editing it so you're pretty safe. That said, you're still going to end up giving it to a lawyer at the end and saying, Here, watch the whole thing. How, how much risk Am I taking on right I you know, and you Yeah, I mean, one thing I would recommend is if you can, especially with a documentary, it's a bit easier. Get a fiscal sponsor. And that really helped because I don't know if I how much I could afford the legal fees that I needed sporadically. And I was able to get them for free, because I got a fiscal sponsor and went through channels to get that. And so that was very helpful.

Alex Ferrari 20:30
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Cody Meirick 20:41
You're always taking on a certain amount of risk. I mean, I don't know every film is risk, right? I mean, you do the consent process as best you can. documentary you're going to, you're definitely lessening your risk all along the way, by doing proper consents, and, you know, so on and so forth, and jumping through hurdles, and getting fit certain things signed from certain people and stuff like that. That said, I was told by another documentary film America or some time ago, I mean, you, legally speaking, you can get away with a certain amount of seconds, and you're probably not going to get any traction. anyone trying to say, you can't show that. I mean, if it's brief enough, and again, you wrap it in, like the fact that people it's it, people are talking about it, and you're showing something, you know, that's illustrating their point and that sort of thing.

Alex Ferrari 21:33
Yeah, there is, there's something called fair use. And there's a certain amount of of that, but there's a film that I always, always come up with, I always bring up is room 237, that documentary about Stanley Kubrick, yes, like you watch that movie. And they're like just shooting, they're just showing full scenes from the shining. Like completely in their action, I was showing full scenes of the shining, the shooting, showing full scenes of Eyes Wide Shut, and they're using it to demonstrate something else. But you know, and that movie didn't get to it. And I know it wasn't in a positive light. I mean, it made it made Stanley into this kind of reckless, crazy conspiracy theorist kind of thing. So it wasn't a positive spin on the film on Stanley on anything. So as you can see, the very first thing to say, this is not sponsored, or, or approved by anybody at Warner Brothers, anybody this or that. But it got made and got released in a large way. But the one thing that they do do in that movie is they never show a clip of a movie without someone talking underneath it. It's never like they just show a scene from the shining. Like they didn't do that they basically always had someone talking under it. So it's all about how much you want to kind of go after it, you know?

Cody Meirick 22:49
And that's, and that's what you learn about fair use, there isn't you? If you're looking for some kind of rule hard and fast, there isn't gonna find it doesn't exist. hard and fast rule is give a lawyer and talk to them along the way along the way. You're definitely you know, when it's finished, and you have your you have an account of it. That's the hard and fast rule is honestly, and I guarantee you they had they talked to a lawyer and they laid out risks, and then probably I get I'm sure they're still what were risks. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 23:18
It's massive. Yeah,

Cody Meirick 23:20
There's still plenty of risks there. I mean, to some degree, you're you're going down the road of what you can do, from the very beginning is choose a topic where, you know, you don't think anyone is going to have a problem with it, right? I mean,

Alex Ferrari 23:36
It all depends, like I mean, if you go, you know, like I did, I went to the Sundance Film Festival and shot a whole film at the Sundance Film Festival without their permission shooting while the festival is going on. And to, you know, a lot of people are like, Are you afraid of Sundance? I'm like, No, I really hope they lawyer up. Because Can you imagine the press on Sundance trying to crack down on an independent filmmaker to make a film about basically was a love letter to Sundance and Park City. On top of wasn't even negative, though I do poke a little fun. It's a it's a, it's a parody almost of what it's like to be a filmmaker, though. I think it's more of a documentary. Because it's ridiculous. But people were like, you know, but that's not even a documentary. But it is parody. And parody is another world that you can get away with. So it's all it's a real gray area, and it's all about the filmmaker and how confident they are that, you know, honestly how ballsy they are, because there's a lot of documentaries about subjects, that the subject matter in the documentary doesn't want the documentary to come out. There's, I mean, that's some of the best documentaries ever, are about, you know, are they you know, it's so it's, it's very interesting. So I was curious about that. And I wanted to get that out there because a lot of people don't, because this is a fairly known brand. It's a fairly known property. And you know, it's I Just kind of like I don't want to make the Harry Potter documentary. I'm sure there is.

Cody Meirick 25:05
What I've talked about a little bit is this idea of early on having a plan for taking your documentary out of the realm of being a fan film. Okay. And and, you know, Harry Potter is a good example, I can turn around and make a Harry Potter movie tomorrow. But how is that different? How did I add value? How did I make it any different than anyone posting anything on YouTube and just throwing up there of people random people talking about Harry Potter? Okay. And I really, you know, I, there's a, there's a, there's a glut of movies in general. But there's a glut of documentaries that nowadays everyone, and their brother has a documentary about every topic out there, right? virtually everyone. And, and that's kind of the running joke is now they're doing a documentary about this, you know, or that and so on and so forth. So you need to find ways to rise above that and say, Okay, this is more than a fan film, this is more I'm adding value. You know, I mean, a celebrities, that's the go to, if you can get some celebrities, great. interview them. That's, that's value because people like to hear celebrities talk about, you know, whatever it is be access, like I was saying earlier, you know, if you have access to the story, documentary there was making the festivals around the same time I was going around is a documentary about Monster Squad. Yeah. Great. Oh, favorite right of the 80s. And, you know, but there's a lot of cult favorites. What set that apart. It was one of the kids in the movie, doing the documentary. So he immediately had access to the quote unquote, official story of that movie. So that that, you know, I'm not going to turn around and make a movie about Texas Chainsaw Massacre tomorrow, because I have no access. And how, you know, how do I?

Alex Ferrari 27:05
It wasn't like that other movie The worst movie ever made? Or it was about troll two. Yeah, exactly. which one it was one of the the people that were in it, you know. So that, by the way, was not seen with that documentary. It's so much better than the movie. I can't even tell. Yeah, yes. Yeah. I actually felt when I saw troll two. After I because I saw the documentary. I'm like, Well, I gotta go see, watch. Then I watched role too. I felt a little bit of myself die inside. That bad of a movie. Like I love the room. I can watch the room all day. Yeah, and especially with a group of other filmmakers. It's even better. But yeah. Okay, so what was the the distribution plan for the film? And what kind of Windows strategy Did you have with it?

Cody Meirick 27:54
So I had, I definitely I did what you probably preach not doing what is to some degree, you know, you know, hope for the best sort of thing, go take it every step of the way. Take it to a few festivals. I didn't go to a ton of festivals because I do think, you know, unless you're getting in the top five or six, then you can definitely spend way too much money touring around trying to go to festivals, but I did a few and and and then that resulted in several distributors being interested right around the same time. Three in all, and they're all smaller distributors. I mean, there's a lot of them. Right. And so that was very interesting. And also very helpful because I you know, not that I'm going to go into detail here but I did get to see kind of the quote unquote, deal for several different of the smaller distributors. And that was an experience in and of itself, just so I can kind of see, you know, as much as you read here and there about it, it's still hard. Because even what you read sometimes are, you know, examples of, Oh, I made a small movie, it was a million dollars. Well, it's that that's not that's a different level, right? I want I want to read about the people who've made their you know, film for, you know, in the 4050 100 grand Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And and so you're, you didn't make it for 5000. So you do need to make money and you're actually you have a little bit of debt or you maybe you're paying people on the back end a little bit here and there and so on so so you need to make a certain amount of money. That said, you don't need to make a million dollars or $500,000 or anything like that. So So anyways, so that was a useful experience, for sure. Kind of seeing these different distributors interested in and seen a few deals and I went with one of them for for various reasons and Yeah, as far as and if I kind of knew what it would mean, inevitably, distributor reach contacts you, okay, let's look at their library. Let's do some research to figure out okay, here are the other titles is how different and similar are mine compared to others? You know, this was a, you know, a distributor that was known for horror movies lower budget horror movies that not a big surprise, it's a documentary I wanted I was mostly asking Okay, you know, they have done some documentaries previously but you know, the bread and butter is is more on the lower budget horror movies and so okay, you know, with documentaries, a big thing is is, you know, education distributors and that sort of thing. So I asked him a lot of questions regarding that. And but as far as the release and windowing, you know, I was surprised what we did, which is, you know, t VOD over the summer, and for about four months, and then and DVD as well in the middle of that. And then. And then amazon prime, which it's on amazon prime video.

Alex Ferrari 31:11
But you wind it out with the release of the the narrative film by by CBS Films. Yes, yes. Left to leverage that a bit.

Cody Meirick 31:18
Yeah, sure. Yep. I mean, wouldn't you? Yeah, why wouldn't we? And and, you know, how much that does? I don't know, it's all, it's really hard to parse things. Because, because I also hustled the heck out of it the entire time, in all kinds of other ways. And I've been building all kinds of things, so on so forth, and, you know, and they hired a PR company, how much, you know, they're, you know, a little bit late, you know, how a smaller distributor works, you know, they're going to put some, if you're lucky, they put some money into, you know, pushing it for a period of time, and they definitely did. So, it's, it's a little bit of, Okay, how, whatever success comes, it's, it can be difficult to parse, you know, how much is it? Was it me hustling? How much is it was a distributor actually putting some effort? And how much of it was just okay, you know, it was good timing. And so it was gonna happen no matter what.

Alex Ferrari 32:20
Yeah, I mean, I'm not sure how good I'm not sure what kind of response to you would have had five years ago? If this film would have come out?

Cody Meirick 32:27
Sure. Sure. I mean, but from the get go as far as the adaptation goes, you know, so I had the idea for this documentary five years ago. And I started to make a few spreadsheets, a couple lists and that sort of thing. And then boom, announced CBS Films, purchase the adaptation rights.

Alex Ferrari 32:44
Which means nothing, which means nothing

Cody Meirick 32:46
Which means nothing. Absolutely, absolutely. So five years ago, they put a couple writers that are long since gone. It's been in development for many years. And then so it could have never happened, which, you know, my my thing even back then was like, if it never happens, then my documentary all anyone has about this, about this. And so so even if it never happens, then there's there's a benefit there. Because it was obvious that people were excited, you could see you know, it was making news and people on social media and so on so forth, we're talking about who wouldn't have great be great to have a scary stories to tell him dark movie. So those same people in theory will, you know, get something out of a documentary that does something very different. And then, you know, look at the censorship piece, which really sets it apart from any kind of adaptation,

Alex Ferrari 33:38
Right. But I think also moving forward in the future people who anybody who searches for scary stories, you are the second, the or the second result for the year until eternity, or as long as those, those those films are up on those platforms. So that's not a bad place to do. Like if you do a back to the future, or a big trouble Little China as a call out to the two posters behind you. documentaries. Anytime someone searches for those movies, the documentary pops up right next to it, that's a good thing. That's a really good thing and easy marketing. It is. Anytime you could attach yourself to a a popular brand, and or franchise in one way shape, or form. documentary being the easiest way to do it without getting sued. Is, is a really good way of going about it. Now, you also talked a little bit.

Cody Meirick 34:27
I was just gonna say I mean, one thing I'd also recommend, I mean, if you can, and not all documentaries do this, but if you can attach some kind of cause behind it, you know, I have, you know, these are the most banned books of the last four years that sort of anytime, like if there's a f it's a movie, okay? You know, was it a black filmmaker? Was it a woman filmmaker wasn't what back when? There were many of those or was it this? I mean, I don't know this each one of

Alex Ferrari 35:01
1000 things. Yeah,

Cody Meirick 35:02
Yeah, it could be 1000 things. But if you can, if you can add some kind of emotion to it in some way, some kind of cause in some way, shape or form, I think that package is it's so much better and says, okay, there's a reason for this documentary to exist. Because I think from the get go, you have to make that argument, you have to say, Why make a doc this documentary. And so you have to, you know, it's, you know, punch people in the face with the fact that there's a very important reason for this documentary to exist. And so attaching that cause is,

Alex Ferrari 35:37
is how it's very helpful. And it also expands your audience, social people listening, you have a niche audience of people who like scare stories, but then all of a sudden, you've got a whole brand new spill off audience, which is just people who are interested in the concept of banning books, or the subject of banning of banned books and censorship and all that. That's a whole other group that you can target, which is arguably fairly niche, and arguably something that you could focus on whether they're going to want to watch a movie about scary stories, who knows. But there is a potential a potential audience there that just by tweaking the documentary a bit, it opens yourself up to it. So why wouldn't it make sense documentary more interesting?

Cody Meirick 36:18
Yes. And there's, there's Banned Books month is banned books week, which is September, which leads into October and Halloween time. So it's like September, October is like Bye, bye. You know, hopefully, people will watch it anytime of the year, but I feel like that time, time of year, people are talking about banned books, and then they're, then they're talking about scary movies and books and that sort of thing. So it's but you, but yeah, any cause you have, yeah, you're and you're totally right. You're kind of, you know, adding an audience and but you and you can focus in focus your efforts towards Okay, do they have a day or a week or something, an event that is all about that the invention is something you can read? Yeah, convention, whatever it is. and American Library Association is here in Chicago, and, you know, I've made been, you know, made friends with them and interviewed people with them, and that sort of thing. So there's various, you know, institutions around that cause that you can really, you know, you know, leverage. And in your, you're totally right, you're hitting a slightly different audience than you were before.

Alex Ferrari 37:25
Now, I always propose, you know, being a film entrepreneur, you always think about other product lines, other ancillary products that you can sell other things you can do, or services you can do, you're fairly limited in this scenario, because you don't have the rights. So you can't get you can't make a T shirt, you can't make a hat. You can't make a you know, a mug or, you know, anything that has the term scary stories on because you don't own that brand. But and I'm not sure if you've have done this, but this is my unsolicited advice to you. Since you have built up this audience that likes scary stories. Why wouldn't you create an affiliate program with Amazon, and sell scary story books, there's very merchandise, scary. So all that stuff. And you could easily put that up on your social media platforms, on your website, put a store together. So anyone who happens to find you, or finds out more about scary stories of documentary, if they go there, chances are that they might want to buy the book or buy a T shirt or but and that's something that you could just be an affiliate for. Does that make sense?

Cody Meirick 38:27
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I it's, it's opening those doors. But I think that's an app. Hey, you got no argument here? I don't know. I'll have to look into it. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 38:37
It's fairly easy to open up an Amazon affiliate account. And it's just an easy passive revenue stream that is 100%. Yours, you don't have to sell it, you know, if this is, you know, there's no deal with a distributor about it, nothing else. And when you have a brand as popular as this, you can create an online store, being an affiliate that sells not only scary story stuff, but then you start thinking like, well, if I'm RL Stein books, goosebumps stuff, you can start creating all these product lines, and little categories of things that that audience might buy. And if they click on I don't know if you know how affiliate programs work, but I'll tell the audience is if they click on your link for the stereo stories book, and like, I really don't want that scary stories book right now. But I do need that inflatable mattress. They click and they buy the inflatable mattress within 24 hours. If you click on that link, and you get I think it's 5% whatever the percentage is of that sale, depending on the product, and they could spend 1000 I you know, I make a ton every month specifically like they just click into like, I'd really want to buy that book. But while I'm here, I'll buy my groceries, I'll buy that shirt that I wanted, I'll buy that camera package I've been looking for or that lens and you get a piece of that action. So it's a really great way to make a passive revenue stream off this documentary. Moving forward. Yeah. Absolutely, I will absolutely. Look, look into that. That's good advice. Okay, so I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests, sir. What advice? Would you give a filmtrepreneur starting a project today?

Cody Meirick 40:18
I'll go back to the message of my documentary, which is read, read a lot. Yeah, I mean, you know, I never went to film school, but I've read a whole lot of books about how to put together a movie, how did you know, modern distribution, so on and so forth. So I yeah, I would say a lot of research and a lot of reading, I mean, just just make it a priority to, you know, I went through a period. And I'm not doing it now. But I went through a period where I was, oh, I was watching at least one film making documentary, a month, and reading at least one book, A filmmaking book a month, for a long period of time. And I mean, I'm, I'm, I know a lot more, and I'm a lot better at what I do. Because Because I made it a point to say, I'm going to consume as much information as now you get to ingest it, and then decide on your own, okay, how much of that am I going to take and how much, you know, doesn't apply to me, so on and so forth. But just just reading a ton. makes a difference.

Alex Ferrari 41:29
Educate yourself as much as humanly possible, put those tools in that toolbox. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Cody Meirick 41:39
Um, I would say that, that is a hustle. And it's an ongoing hustle. And so I've gotten a certain mentality sometimes, and I think we're all guilty of it, of planning, like crazy and getting everything prepared. It's like, you know, building the plane, because you're about to go off a cliff and you think, Okay, I'm gonna go off that cliff, it's just gonna fly and sail and the job is done. And voila, you know, I mean, I, I feel a little bit like I did that my first crowdfunding campaign where it's like, I put so much into that, and I just, I read, so many people say, it's just, you know, it's, it's like a second job for an entire six weeks or a month or whatever you do it, you are going to hustle, you know, incredibly hard for that period. But if you do, you will hit your goal. Well, I didn't hit my goal, I but I, I accomplished a certain amount and that sort of thing. But anyways, you know, you put all this information, all this planning into something, and you think it's just going to coast along after that. And that's not how that's not how life works. And that's not how filmmaking works. It's, it's a constant hustle, you know, the film's never done. But the nice thing, I think, so it took, I definitely took some time to learn that, but also, on top of that, the positive thing, the nice thing about being an independent filmmaker is that, at least for me, if you're in the producing, directing, writing type situation, your movie can define you more than then, you know, all the other things that you might you put energy towards, like, you know, you will always be attached to that piece of art, whatever it is. And so, I mean, I really liked that I like, you know, at one point, I wanted to be a novelist and but it was a similar thing where it's like, you put it out there in the world. And that's, that's part of what defines you. And if you you know, hopefully you really liked it, then then it's always out there, you know, and I, but like I said, it's never done. And you're always looking towards the next project where and you're also always looking at the last project to see okay, you know, got it. How is it doing, you know,

Alex Ferrari 44:05
And now three of your favorite films of all time?

Cody Meirick 44:09
I'm one of them. I probably have to choose a Charlie Kaufman movie. Eternal Sunshine.

Alex Ferrari 44:18
Oh, cool. I love adaptation. adaptation is one of my favorite.

Cody Meirick 44:21
That's my number two. If you caught me a different day, I might say adaptation but today I'll say Eternal Sunshine. I'm probably go with it's a little cliche, but I'll say Shawshank Redemption.

Alex Ferrari 44:35
I mean, if you've listened to the show you you know, that's obviously the greatest movie of all time. Was cliche because, I mean, if you don't, if you don't love that movie, you're dead inside and I can't speak to you. I mean, it's obviously obviously, yes, yes. So and then the third I will go with what dreams may come. I love The pressing is all hacked. But nowadays nowadays even more so? Yes, it's. Yeah, that's, yeah. For people who haven't seen that one. That's the one with Robin Williams about suicide and death. And it's it's rough. It's a rough. In hindsight, it's a rough movie to watch now, but yeah, it is beautiful dawning, it won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. It was it was basically like a Renaissance painting. The whole thing was like a Renaissance painting. It was just gorgeous, beautiful. If he'd done good choices are good choices. Now, where can people find you and find the documentary and find out more about everything.

Cody Meirick 45:43
So you can definitely find me website. And social media is mostly scary stories, Doc. And so you can definitely find me there. Giant thumb studios, you can find the website, that separate website. And as far as the documentary, it's on Amazon Prime right now. And it's on all the major VOD. It's on DVD. So you can definitely Google scary stories to tell him dark documentary, it's all over, you'll find reviews, you'll find all kinds of stuff. So it'll be the first thing you find

Alex Ferrari 46:14
Little competition when there's no other one. So that's a good thing, too. You are in as what I like to call it the blue ocean where there is not a lot of blood in the water. So very good, my friend. Thank you so much for coming on the show, brother. I really appreciate it.

Cody Meirick 46:27
Thanks for having me. It's fun.

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BPS 370: Changing the World with Your Documentary with Susan Kucera

In the stillness of a serene morning, the light of inspiration dawns upon us as we venture into the depths of human creativity and perseverance. On today’s episode, we welcome the visionary documentarian Susan Kucera, whose lens captures the intricate dance of life and the profound undercurrents of our existence.

Susan Kucera, a remarkable filmmaker, began her journey at a tender age, filming alongside her geologist father. From her early experiments with a Bolex camera on the Athabaskan glacier to her latest cinematic endeavors, Susan’s path has been one of relentless curiosity and artistic passion. In our conversation, she reveals the essence of her craft, the challenges she faced, and the evolution of her storytelling.

Susan’s latest documentary, “Living in the Future’s Past,” starring the legendary Jeff Bridges, is a masterful exploration of humanity’s journey through the lens of ecology, energy, and evolution. As Susan describes, “We wanted to look at the whole human meta-story where we’ve been, where we are, where we’re going.” This film transcends traditional narratives, weaving together science, philosophy, and poetry to offer a holistic view of our place in the world.

In the making of this film, Susan collaborated closely with Jeff Bridges, who not only narrated but also appeared on screen, adding depth and authenticity to the narrative. Their partnership was serendipitous, sparked by a mutual interest in exploring the deeper questions of existence. “Jeff watched another film that I had done called ‘Breath of Life,’ and he liked it,” Susan recalls. This connection set the stage for a fruitful collaboration that would culminate in a thought-provoking documentary.

Susan’s approach to filmmaking is deeply organic, a testament to her years of experience and intuitive understanding of her subjects. She often works alone, capturing spontaneous moments that a large crew might miss. This method allows her to infuse her films with a sense of immediacy and authenticity. “It’s like capturing things that only exist in a split second and aren’t there again,” she says, reflecting on the fleeting beauty of her subjects.

One of the most compelling aspects of Susan’s work is her ability to intertwine art and science. Her films are not just documentaries; they are cinematic poems that challenge viewers to see the world through a different lens. As she puts it, “It’s not so much what we’re thinking about the world we live in; it’s how we’re thinking about the world we live in.” This shift in perspective is at the heart of her storytelling, encouraging audiences to question, reflect, and ultimately, understand their own roles in the grand tapestry of life.

In our discussion, Susan also delves into the practical aspects of documentary filmmaking, from the technical challenges of shooting with a RED Epic W camera to the intricate process of editing. Her insights are invaluable for aspiring filmmakers, offering a glimpse into the meticulous and often arduous journey of bringing a documentary to life. She emphasizes the importance of being hands-on, of knowing one’s material intimately, and of being open to the unexpected twists and turns of the creative process.

Enjoy my conversation with Susan Kucera.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 3:02
Today's guest is Susan Kucera and she is a documentarian and the director of living in the futures pass starring the legendary Jeff Bridges. And I wanted to have Susan come on to talk about what the movie is about, but also her process. The importance of documentarians today, how she shoots and edits everything herself, and the kind of work that she's doing as a documentarian and kind of get inside the process of a world class documentary filmmaker. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Susan Kucera. I'd like to welcome the show Susan Kucera. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Susan Kucera 3:47
Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 3:49
So can you first off tell us how you got into the business?

Susan Kucera 3:53
Oh, my goodness. Um, well, it's kind of a long story. I mean, I i've been filming since I was nine. I started on a bolex. You know, by my side of my father's side on Athabaskan glacier, he was a geologist and we did a lot of filming for botanika films. And then fast forward a long, long time I was getting a divorce. And I was thinking okay, what am I going to do now? And the only thing I really knew how to do really well with film and the red one camera had just come out. Actually, it hadn't even come out. I got on the list to get one

Alex Ferrari 4:34
Right! with that box that they showed at.

Susan Kucera 4:37
Okay, I thought I could handle this this takes good old fashioned filmmaking you can actually use cinematic lenses you it's it was a lot like an actual film camera, not a point and shoot camera. And so I got it. I made a documentary called dumb trading on thin air and I thought oh, you know, just see if I can do this. And, and it got picked up by Netflix. And so I thought, Okay, I think I think I can probably do this. And so this film that I just did with Jeff, it's my fifth documentary. One of the ones I did though, was nonprofit. So that that didn't circulate in a lot of places. But it's been it's been a wonderful experience to last, what, 10 1012 years now.

Alex Ferrari 5:27
Now, what made you get interested more into documentary filmmaking as opposed to narrative filmmaking?

Susan Kucera 5:34
Well, I, that's a good question. I have written screenplays and I know how difficult it is to get films made. And when you're making Oh, yeah. I know.

Alex Ferrari 5:49
You have a screenplay, what?!

Susan Kucera 5:54
It's so funny, all these little points that take you in these different areas. So that's why I ended up with an agent because that screenplay had gotten some interest and, and I was still a full time mom then but as I said, divorce kind of forces you to get with the program. And I, she was able to find a home for my first documentary, my my agent, and that I just took off from there, and I really enjoy it. It's, I have one camera, I can move around with one camera and much more easily than, than a giant crew. And I film all the time. I just love I love the act of filming. And it's like kind of thing, right? You you're capturing things that are only exist in a split second, and aren't there again. So like the Grizzlies in the film. You can't cue a grizzly right. So I happen to be in the right place at the right time.

Alex Ferrari 6:58
You could try to work real well for you.

Susan Kucera 7:01
That's right. That's right. And and it's just it's an interesting process. All all of us documentary filmmakers just add to the cultural narrative, the best we can. And so it's very gratifying that way.

Alex Ferrari 7:16
And now what are you shooting? So what are you shooting with? Now you shoot with a red epic, or

Susan Kucera 7:20
It's a Epic W

Alex Ferrari 7:22
I can't keep track of them. There's too many.

Susan Kucera 7:24
I know, I know. Isn't that crazy? All the

Alex Ferrari 7:27
Dragon and monstro? Whatever?

Susan Kucera 7:30
I know, I guess on the upside, we get to recycle our hard drives. So there's no physical film in that sense, correct? Correct. It is. It is difficult. You you end up on a on this sort of treadmill? Absolutely. I'm done. I think I have the camera that I'll just keep for the rest of my life. So

Alex Ferrari 7:53
You say that now?

Susan Kucera 7:55
I'm definitely done.

Alex Ferrari 7:59
As long as it keeps working, you'll be fired.

Susan Kucera 8:01
Yes, exactly. That's right.

Alex Ferrari 8:03
Now, do you also edit your own work?

Susan Kucera 8:05
I do.

Alex Ferrari 8:06
What do you what do you caught on? And how do you feel that helps you as a documentarian because I know a lot of documentarians that don't have that skill, as far as document, shooting or editing. How is it working in the kind of work that you're doing?

Susan Kucera 8:20
Well, my process is very organic. And so I, if I edit myself, which I do, and I'm still on Final Cut 10 Okay. I'm not I'm not in the forward realm of whatever they're using now all the fancy stuff.

Alex Ferrari 8:39
But I'm assuming Final Cut. Will you the latest version of Final Cut? 10? Yeah, the latest version of final? It's a very powerful piece of software. Don't Don't knock it, it's

Susan Kucera 8:48
Ohh no, I'm not knocking it. I'm just laughing because a lot of people's Oh, you know, why are you still using that, and I it works.

Alex Ferrari 8:55
They just don't know, they just don't understand.

Susan Kucera 8:59
And so I become Obviously, I'm very familiar with the imagery that I have that already I have quite a I've been filming for 10 years. So I have a lot of imagery that I that I can get to know at my fingertips. So if I'd handed all of that to somebody else, I think that would be very difficult for them to try to navigate. And the the interviews, I used to transcribe all the interviews and I found that to be a little bit difficult because what people say when you read it, it's different than when it's in person and and how they say it, etc, etc. And so, I kind of gave up doing that and I just become very, very familiar with what all of my subjects are saying. And I do my best trying to weave weave a story together and i and i have i mean living in the futures past it's it is more on the poetic side. Although it certainly has a An impact on people when they see it.

Alex Ferrari 10:02
Now let's talk about that your latest film in the in the living in the future and futures past? How did it come about? And what is it all about? For people who don't know?

Susan Kucera 10:12
Well, it's a film, as Jeff likes to say it's a film that takes a good look under the hood of humanity. And we, we, we had a great executive producer, his name is Jim Swift, and I'd worked with him before. And actually, he's sort of had the thought of, well, you know, why do we do what we do in the face of large environmental issues that we are, you know, have in front of us? And so, we wanted to work with Jeff, and

Alex Ferrari 10:43
And who's this Jeff, you speak of?

Susan Kucera 10:45
Oh, Jeff Bridges.

Alex Ferrari 10:47
Is he a new actor, I haven't heard of him before.

Susan Kucera 10:51
He's one of these fly by night. He is such an amazing human being what a What a great gift. He came on board. And we started from scratch. And we created this beautiful piece of work. And we we did actually watch a lot of other documentaries, Jeff was very involved, we, we didn't want to just contribute another kind of Doomsday or scary thing that gives you a lot of information, but doesn't sort of, you know, you don't know, you just want to crawl into your bed after you hear that. So we start, we decided to look at the whole human meta story where we've been, where we are, where we're going. And we in, we have emergence in there, and entropy, and ecology and evolution, all the ease right energy, we looked at the flows of energy, how that actually works in our society. So it's just a really different and usual film, that you keep you keep thinking about it days later.

Alex Ferrari 12:02
Now, how, how did you get Jeff Bridges? legend like Jeff Bridges to be involved in your movie?

Susan Kucera 12:09
Well, as I said, we wanted to work with someone who had a name. And so my agent, actually was Jim, Jim thought of Jeff actually first, which is kind of cool. And agent did reach out to Jeff and Jeff watched another film that I had done called breath of life. And he liked it. And so I got a call, I was walking up the road, and I got a call. And it said, Oh, hey, just hang tight. I've got jeff bridges on the other line, and I set out totally out of the blue. And we just kind of hit it off on the phone. And we just, we just created this thing. And we we collaborated through FaceTime, we took our time because Jeff was working on a number of films. And so he would kind of disappear for a while and I would do stuff and then he would come back and I would show him stuff. And, and we we just went back and forth like this. And then as the film narrowed down towards the end, he he lends himself to the film too. So he's in it, he's in it as well.

Alex Ferrari 13:24
Yeah, that always helps. It definitely helps. So he's just not a narrator. He's actually on screen kind of taking you through a little bit of the journey.

Susan Kucera 13:33
Right. And I should have given my crew credit, because he actually carried the tripod when I felt

Alex Ferrari 13:41
Jeff's been just been doing this for how many years? I mean, since he was a kid, I mean, he's been around doing this stuff. So I'm sure he didn't mind picking up.

Susan Kucera 13:52
No, no, he really gave his all and it shows and the film I think we're both very proud of

Alex Ferrari 14:01
What do you hope? What are you hoping for with the film? What is your end goal with, with people who watched the film?

Susan Kucera 14:08
Well, we decided to shake things up a bit. As I said, we approach this in a different way. And when you go to see this film, you'll actually learn a lot about yourself, and not in a blaming way or your Why are you a human kind of way, but actually how your brain thinks how interesting things like talking about capitalism in terms of optimal foraging theory, which people often don't think about. Like if you're, if you're a wolf, right, you and you're spending energy, you don't want to spend the same amount of energy getting a mouse if you could spend the same amount of energy getting a deer and so and we look at that in terms of the stock market and just kind of how our whole society functions. Not not whether it's good or bad, just, you know, this is it. And so so, you know, interesting concepts like that we are, we're always looking at ourselves, comparing ourselves to how animals operate. And so you just you just get it interesting idea of humanity this way. And it also allows people who are feeling vulnerable. These are we meet people where they're feeling vulnerable. And we kind of look at why things are the way they are. And as I, as I said, for me, the whole energy aspect of it really opened my eyes. And so now I'm thinking about my decisions differently. I'm, I'm looking at the world differently, a politics everything. So it's just, it's just it's kind of eye opening is, as I mentioned,

Alex Ferrari 15:51
And well, first of all, how important are documentarians in today's world? I mean, there's so much stuff going on. We live in a crazy time. And I think sometimes the news is so busy covering the show, that it's difficult for them to actually do a lot of the journalistic things that they used to do back in the day, which, which aren't as flashy. And I think documentarians have picked up a little bit, if not a lot of that slack. Would you agree?

Susan Kucera 16:26
Oh, I definitely agree. If you can spend an hour and a half, unpacking a thought, right? or different aspects of something, you're certainly obviously gonna learn a lot more. And if you just got 10 or 15 minutes to listen to a soundbite, here or there. And so yeah, I guess documentaries do I mean, it's whatever turns our brain on, right. And people are, unfortunately, we're also busy. Sometimes it's hard to get the bigger picture. But if one can spend the time, put in the time, new ideas emerge. And I think that's the role of documentarians to an art also, I mean, this is an artistic film to art can sometimes shake us up and and make us jolt us out of our sort of typical way of thinking. And so that's another thing that we tried to do.

Alex Ferrari 17:21
Now you you you did um, do you read the cinematographer? On the film as well? Yes, yes, images are gorgeous in this film. They really, really stunning. I mean, how did you learn who taught you? or How did you teach yourself to make these amazing images, which are for most of them for the most part with natural light? I know I well. Money. Money Did you did you pay this on? How did it?

Susan Kucera 17:47
I would have loved to have had a crew, right? Oh, lights, everything. You made everything perfect. But if you're making a documentary, and you're on a budget, you have to get really creative. And so the film, I didn't go to China, and I didn't go to Dubai, there's some shots, a little shots, here and there. And there's obviously a lot of archival footage in there, too. And some stuff from NASA. But the rest is just when, as I said when I see things and they're unusual, and I have my camera with me. And so I've been able to capture things that you would have a hard time putting together with a crew. Right? Because you quickly Yeah, I utilize my daughter. You know, there's I utilize two dancers so we could kind of whenever I was trying to just show humanity and different aspects. I don't know you just get creative and you ended it came out well. But I think just because I've been filming since I was nine, I just I guess I just have an I

Alex Ferrari 18:51
Got it. Got it. Now there's a lot of archival footage in the film. Can you talk a little bit about the process of getting archival footage if like for documentary, a documentary is listening to finding archival footage dealing with the legalities of it buying it the whole the whole process? Because I think it's a little mysterious for a lot of people.

Susan Kucera 19:10
Yeah, it's it's not so bad. If you get to the level where you're actually releasing a film like we did in the theater, it's out in theaters today. Then you have to pay a little extra, and that's for the license license. But a lot of that archival stuff. Oh, I hope they don't mind me plugging them. They're called critical paths. And a lot of their footage is from the US government. It's in the public domain. And you pay them they've done all the work finding all of this stuff and making sure that it's broadcast safe, because a lot of it's obviously very old. And so that's a very good resource.

Alex Ferrari 19:53
And what's the name of it critical past critical past okay.com Yes, I will definitely put that in the show. notes because it's, it's rough. It's rough looking for footage, especially archival stuff for document for documentarians. Did you ever see the movie atomic cafe?

Susan Kucera 20:10
No, I didn't. Have you ever heard of it? I have heard of it.

Alex Ferrari 20:13
It's it's I saw it in my videos or when I was working there. It is a movie completely made of. Billy Oh, my entire movie is made. They told a narrative story with archival footage of the bomb dropping. And it's kind of like a satire.

Susan Kucera 20:31
Oh, interesting. I'll have to check that out. Yeah, I know, I would go on their website. And sometimes I've just get lost watching stuff. Wow, this is fascinating.

Alex Ferrari 20:41
How long by the way? How long? Did it take you to shoot this? I put it all together?

Susan Kucera 20:45
Um, well, let's see from the beginning of working with Jeff. That was about two and a half years ago, maybe a little longer. I mean, the film came out in festivals in February. And it's been in festivals since February. It traveled all over the world. Not me. But the felt.

Alex Ferrari 21:06
I know, it would be nice. If they would, they would let you go.

Susan Kucera 21:09
And the so I get a little fuzzy on the time. So yeah, I would say about two and a half years, it probably took a year to edit. And in doing so as in during the process of editing, obviously, I didn't have all the footage that I needed. So I thought, Okay, I'm gonna have to get other stuff I need, I need something, you know, just just something just right. So I would I would do that. But, but again, I'm just lucky I since I've had this camera, or, you know, this type of game. For some time, just being able to dig into my own library was extremely helpful.

Alex Ferrari 21:49
Right. And, and what I find so fascinating about your story is, you know, to find someone like Jeff, who's obviously a legend, and an Oscar winner, and all this kind of stuff, to be a part of a movie like this. You literally just had your agent call them and call his agent go, Hey, this is a project. And you people never think of just calling up and saying, hey, I've got a project. Maybe they'll be interested.

Susan Kucera 22:13
Right? I yeah, I don't know. We'd have to ask her. I don't know what her secret. But she was great. Yeah. And then he, he again, he watched something that I had done. But he he was really turned on by this subject, obviously. And and the subject that we were interested in telling, which was a little more in depth than just here's all the bad news. You know, what or what crawl into your bed now.

Alex Ferrari 22:38
We've had we have, we've had plenty of those documentaries. I've watched many of them. I'm like Jesus.

Susan Kucera 22:44
No, I yeah, it doesn't feel very well. Of course, information is helpful that we need that. But also, I think there's a quote in the film, it isn't so much what we're thinking about the world we live in, it's how we're thinking about the world we live in. And there's all sorts of interesting philosophy through this film, about how to just see things slightly differently. But then it's that but there's also a hard core here. Here's the reality. And we're obviously stuck with myth. resources the way they are energy. It is. And so it's it's sobering, but it's also exciting.

Alex Ferrari 23:26
Very cool. Now, I want to ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Susan Kucera 23:36
Make a film. When I did, I invested in myself, I, I just decided I would. trading on thin air was my first film. And I didn't know if people would like it, but I gave it a try. And it was definitely low budget, but it worked out. Okay. So that's one option. Obviously, hooking up with interning with people who are are working in this field is really helpful. But getting out and doing it.

Alex Ferrari 24:08
Very good. Now, can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Susan Kucera 24:14
Oh my gosh. Like I aside from the books that I've been reading lately, who are that are mostly from the people who are in the movie. Right? I don't know if I can even think back that far. Oh, my gosh,

Alex Ferrari 24:32
Any book that comes to mind that really had an impact.

Susan Kucera 24:34
I okay, so there's a there's a book by Timothy Morton that I actually read as I was sculpting this film. Man, I'd have to look up what it was. It's his latest book is called being ecological but there was before this one shoot, I don't have it handy in my mind. But he The reason it was so powerful his prose in there It really made you reach your you really had to think. And it was a challenge to get through and but when you come out the other end you have all these aha moments. So I yeah, I guess I just have to plug Timothy Morton's work. Okay. Very interesting. Yeah, philosophy.

Alex Ferrari 25:21
Now what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Susan Kucera 25:27
Oh, well, the moment I had my daughter, I realized that I really didn't know diddly squat.

Alex Ferrari 25:34
Kids have that effect on you.

Susan Kucera 25:38
And so, yeah, what she's 24 now she's working on her PhD. And I would say the process of watching another human being develop gives you some pause as to you? Well, gosh, it puts you in a vulnerable situation where you're having to reevaluate everything that you've learned everything in your life. And so I would say that that had a big impact on me.

Alex Ferrari 26:04
Where can people find out about the movie and more about your work?

Susan Kucera 26:08
Well, the movie is in theaters today. The next few days we had Trafalgar released it in at theaters. And then we are still in festivals after that. And then I believe it's out VOD, and everywhere you'll be where you see movies, typically in a month and a half or so from now.

Alex Ferrari 26:28
Okay, very cool. And anywhere people can find your work.

Susan Kucera 26:32
Yeah, breath of life is available. I think it's on Amazon and Hulu. I'm not sure all the places that it is, but it's easy to find. And trading on thin air was on Netflix came out in 2008. It was on Netflix for six years. And then I was asked if I wanted to report it out. And I didn't because it was my first work. And I thought the sound was okay, I don't really want people to but it was actually a good, fun, fun. good movie.

Alex Ferrari 27:04
Very good. Susan, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk. And thank you for making such a wonderful film. It's a very important film that needs to be done nowadays without question. But thank you for so much for sharing your your process with us.

Susan Kucera 27:16
Oh, no problem. Sorry for my my lack of memory in the moment here. But a wild ride with this theatrical. We're all just kind of fried.

Alex Ferrari 27:26
Not a problem at all. Thanks again.

Susan Kucera 27:28
All right, thanks.

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BPS 369: Music Licensing for Film Demystified with Chris Small

We have all wanted to have a killer song we love in one of our films or projects, that perfect song that makes the scene pop off the screen. When you begin to investigate how to get permission for the song you soon discover the maze of red tape and crap you need to deal with in order to have the song in your film.

From getting film festival rights to broadcast rights to VOD rights, Music Licensing is a headache and a half. Today on the show with have Chris Small, a music licensing professional here to demystified the ridiculous and antiquated process of licensing music for film. Chris breaks down the way to properly license music without falling into legal pitfalls.

Chris also works for Soundstripe, a music licensing company that is disrupting the way filmmakers get music for their films and projects. Take a look at how they are doing it below.

As part of the #IFHTribe, you get an exclusive DISCOUNT CODE: IFH (10% OFF MEMBERSHIP)Click here to check Soundstripe out.

I love this service and am using Soundstripe music in all of my videos, podcasts and IFHTV Original Productions. Music licensing is a nightmare but it doesn’t have to be.

Enjoy my conversation with Chris Small from Soundstripe.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:06
I'd like to welcome the show Chris Small man, how are you doing, brother?

Chris Small 3:38
Hey, I'm doing great, Alex. Thanks so much for for having me. I've been looking forward to this for for a while.

Alex Ferrari 3:43
Absolutely.

Chris Small 3:43
How's things on the on the west coast?

Alex Ferrari 3:46
The cold but not cold. Like you're cold. The cold like aour cold. So like we're like,

Chris Small 3:51
What's that like?

Alex Ferrari 3:52
Like a 40 with Sun is like, Oh, you know, it's Yeah, it's rough. Yeah. 40s and 50s. It's not it's actually been a really cold winter for us. But again, everybody and then in the north are going to shut up Alex just shut

Chris Small 4:08
Right. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 4:10
So we're gonna talk today a bunch about the wonderful world of music licensing and how interesting of a process that is. But before we get into it, you you come to us from more of the music side as opposed to the film side. So how did you even start going down the road of being in the music side of the business?

Chris Small 4:32
Yeah, yes. So I actually I've been a musician pretty much my entire life. I started playing guitar when I was eight years old and grew up playing in bands, you know, doing the, the the rock thing and and I you know, I think probably was around 10th grade really started thinking Alright, somehow I have to turn this in this passion into Like a career, so I kind of knew that that was the direction I wanted to head down. So I ended up going to school here in Nashville, there was a, there's a school called Belmont University and I studied music business there. And as as are probably like, 99% of the hopeful artists that go to school at Belmont to get involved in the music industry, you know, you come in pretty naive and have no idea what you're doing. But I was fortunate enough after school to get a job at a record label. And it was one of the one of the record labels in town is actually a Christian subsidiary of Warner Music Group called Word entertainment. And I kind of cut my teeth there for the three years doing really not sexy things in business, like making sales, phone calls, and work in spreadsheets, and doing really not fun things. But I learned a lot and, and that was kind of my first, you know, my first foray into the business of music. And, you know, one thing led to another through my own personal music pursuits, and through connections that I had got involved in the music licensing space, and, and eventually, through my own music actually wound up at sound stripe. So that was an that was in 2016. And, and I was originally a composer on the site. And and that eventually led to an opportunity for me to exercise the the other part of my brain and and work on the business at soundstripe. So that's what I've been doing since 2016.

Alex Ferrari 6:41
Yeah, a lot of a lot of even artists in general, they always look at the the sexy part of the business and they never really look at, there's a lot more unsexy stuff in the film business in the music industry in whatever artistic endeavor you have. There's always a business side to it. There's always grunt work, there's always stuff that is just not what they show on TV.

Chris Small 7:03
Oh, 100%. Man, that's exactly right. That's exactly right.

Alex Ferrari 7:07
Get that artists on the stage singing. There's an army of people doing unsexy stuff.

Chris Small 7:13
Oh, yeah. And months of work and failures upon failures upon failures that just add up to the that moment, you know, yeah, for sure.

Alex Ferrari 7:21
No question. So yeah, so let's talk about the sexy world of music licensing.

Chris Small 7:27
All right.

Alex Ferrari 7:28
Can you discuss how a filmmaker normally has to license music for film or video because I know, me being a filmmaker. I've tried to license film, music for films. And, you know, even if I go after an obscure song, where it's, it was like, it was a hit back in the 50s. And nobody really knows about it. And my last name is in Tarantino. So it's a it's just a convoluted process. So please explain to the audience what that process is.

Chris Small 8:01
Oh, man, that is a that's an art. So this is a very complex answer. Or it's a really difficult thing. And I think that's why they're, there's so much like, disruption happening in that space right now. But usually, they're traditionally there are a few different ways that a filmmaker would go about licensing a song. And, you know, you may do it by connecting directly with a composer. And this is still I think, like a really viable solid way, especially for those kind of like a narrative base. People that are creating films that are, you know, maybe more dramatic or documentary or you know, anything like that, we are working directly with a composer to kind of score your piece. And that that usually, I think, would be everybody's choice, right? Like, they have an awesome friend who's an amazing musician, who understands the story and is super talented, all self contained, sits down next to them and just writes for the piece. But very few people know that friend, or have that connection, or have the budget to hire a composer or a team to sit down and do it. So that would be that would be step one. But outside of that, you know, you if you're trying to license a song that's like a top 40 track, like a Katy Perry tune or something. The challenge is that not only is that like, just super expensive, but it's very come complicated to acquire the license for that you got to contact a publisher, negotiate a deal, half the time that publisher does not care who you are. And if you're, you know, if you're an independent, or somebody that's like, just now working on your craft, like, forget it, that's gonna be that's gonna be a tough game. So what most filmmakers do that have any type of budget is they hire a music supervisor. And this is somebody who kind of already has those connections. This is somebody who can tap into their network of publishers or their Network of Libraries and actually negotiate those fees, negotiate the licenses It's a very arduous, and frankly not sexy job. And these music supervisors are really difficult to find. And, and, and kind of expensive. So there's that that's the, that's the way it's operated traditionally, and I think, up until recently, maybe 2010 2012, we started seeing really high quality music, being licensed online for the first time. And, you know, stock music or music libraries kind of have this, this reputation of just being terrible quality music,

Alex Ferrari 10:36
Music,

Chris Small 10:37
It's just so and, and rightly so, because most of them were, and most of them still are, unfortunately, because it's very difficult to kind of curate a library of music that is that actually has heart. It's actually real, that's made by artists who are like, passionate about what they're doing, and not just trying to make money. So there were a couple of companies that kind of that kind of jumped into that, you know, you can you can music online, and the highly curated for intentional, you know, quality control, but also it's accessible to filmmakers. And, you know, I think what happened in that time period was the model, what that looked like, and how relationship between the company and the artist and the company and the filmmaker was still getting ironed out and soundstripe enter the picture in 2016, and really said, you know, with, with a lot of this content that's being produced, people need access to high quality music, and they need access to it in volume. And so that's really kind of where I think things are headed now is the paradigm shifted to be able to provide fordable quality music for film?

Alex Ferrari 11:53
Yeah, it's, I've noticed that myself just trying to get songs and I have that I have that relationship with a composer who I do call and every time I call him, he's just like, Oh, god, it's Alex. Again, he's gonna want me to do something for like, next to nothing. But he is a friend that I do call. And, and I do have occasionally been able to license a song by calling the artists directly. Like for my latest film, I called an artist directly because it was a very, very specific kind of song. But it's, you know, it's still a process. And it took me weeks to hunt people down and get it, it is a complex process. Can you also talk a little bit about the different rights that filmmakers need? Because a lot of filmmakers just think, oh, I'll just get the rights, you know, just license something, and I'm good forever. And whatever I want to do with it. Like, no, it doesn't technically work that way. Correct?

Chris Small 12:43
This is it? Yeah. So it's a complex scenario. But you know, when you need a piece of music, what you actually what you need is a synchronization license, and that allows you to take that piece of music and associate it with film with video. And that license, you know, grants you the right to, to marry that piece of music, that, that composition to picture and, and that's that's really, you know,the the most important license that you need, and it's, it's required for every piece of music that you want to put in your film. That's not in public domain.

Alex Ferrari 13:21
And then the public domain is a whole other bag of tricks that we don't want to get into at the moment. That's a whole other world of crap. Don't want to jump into but yeah, but the synchronized license for a film, it works, I completely understand what you're saying. But there's also different styles, like different levels of licenses. So like, you can get the film festival rights. You can get theatrical rights, you can get VOD rights, you can get trailer rights to use it for the trailer. And and then how long are those rights associated with it? Sometimes, you know, I'm actually talking, I'm actually trying to license something for ifH. tv. And it's an old show. And the guys were like, Look, when we did this back in the 90s, we didn't think about VOD, so we technically don't have the music rights for that. I'm like, we'll pull the damn music off, man. But yeah, so it is a complex thing. But that's something that a filmmaker shouldn't need to really look after. Like, don't just get the film festival rights, I think, do you agree? Like that's kind of foolish, if you're going to get up get them for the whole thing, at least. Yeah.

Chris Small 14:28
And this is where it's so complicated. Because you know, as a filmmaker, sometimes you don't even know what the end user is going to be. So basing the rights of that, of that license on on its end use is becoming more and more complicated as distribution channels continue to scale. So you have Facebook and you may create something that you you know, you think, Okay, this is going to be just distributed online to some friends, but then later on down the road, you know, you want to go to a film festival or you want to do broadcast and having to get different licenses. But rights for each one of those end users is extremely complicated it.

Alex Ferrari 15:05
Without without question. And then sometimes, you know, filmmakers are like you said, we'll just put something up on Facebook or on YouTube. And all of a sudden, it's got 20 billion downloads. And all of a sudden, you're like, I can't monetize this, because now the right holders of the music is coming after me. And oh, if you would have just license it, you would have had, you know, I'm saying amount of money. Yeah, so true. Now, what are some other pitfalls that you can think of the filmmakers fall into when licensing music? You know, I think we talked a little bit about not just getting one license for one kind of like Film Festival rights with theatrical rights, but trying to get as broad of a license as possible for the music. But what are some other things you should look out for?

Chris Small 15:48
Well, I, you mentioned one, that's, that's still I think, a huge, it's still getting worked out. But YouTube content ID is another thing that's like, incredibly complex, and it's honestly broken. YouTube's Content ID situation, you know, we've been in constant communication with YouTube, talking to them, trying to give them ideas, and also, you know, trying to work out deals for our members and you know, in our, our artists muted and then it's just a really just, it's based on an algorithm, sometimes a piece of music that's 100%, cleared, 100% legally licensed, will get flagged based on a sample that somebody used, and that sample was registered with some other, you know, third party content ID code was just a just an absolute mess right now. And so that's something to keep in mind. You know, sometimes pert, like I said, if you you could do everything, right, and then you go to YouTube, and it just, it's just terrible.

Alex Ferrari 16:46
Oh, no, don't trust me. I deal with it on a daily basis. I put movie trailers up are all you know, I'll put up a all the best is the the commentary, like videos that have a clip of a music or a clip of a movie in it? Yeah. And if the clip is five seconds, in an hour long piece, and I get flagged, and I'm like you sunset it, this is fair use rules. Let's talk about fair use for a second. Yeah, um, what is fair use? And is it a myth.

Chris Small 17:21
Um, I don't think it's a myth. But I do think that people misuse it. So that technically any type of music that's put into a piece of film, that's not for educational purposes, is, is is, you know, is requires a license. And fair use, you know, one thing to just keep in mind about fair uses, it's really kind of a defense, you know, I would be, I'll put it this way, I would be worried or nervous, or, I would make sure to really, really do before putting a piece of music, film that's going to be distributed and not having a license, because you're putting yourself in a position of liability. And if you're having to exercise a fair use argument in a situation where you're getting a takedown notice, or you are getting confronted by a rights holder, I mean, like, obviously, you don't want something like that to get in the way of you pursuing your your art and releasing your product. So So, you know, fair use, in my opinion, is really not a good, not a good argument to, to just use even just a couple seconds of a piece of music in your film, you know, without actually securing those those rights in that license.

Alex Ferrari 18:45
Now, there's something that's always been very interesting, I've always found very interesting in the music business, because, believe it or not, I actually dabbled in the music business. Early, early, early in my career. We will discuss my singing career. But no, absolutely not. I am a horrible,

Chris Small 19:08
We were just singing we were saying puddle of mud before you jumped on here. For some reason that song blurry just came into our brain.

Alex Ferrari 19:14
And we just started. But I actually played around in the music business and hung out and recorded and all that stuff when I was younger. And the concept of publishing versus performance of a song is a mystery. And people don't understand how important publishing is, first of all, because, you know, like the Beatles didn't own their publishing rights. You know, that's right. And Michael Jackson bought it out from Paul McCartney when it went up for people, but that's the Beatles music like how can they not own it? Please explain that a little bit. Oh, man.

Chris Small 19:58
Okay, so I'm gonna try and simplify I think it often actually is confusing. And actually even even trying to delineate or differentiate like, you know, a performance royalty, because technically a performance royalty falls under, right the publishing realm. So in publishing, there are a few different types of royalties that can be collected. And kind of like managed by the publishing side of, of the deal.

Alex Ferrari 20:30
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Chris Small 20:40
And whenever a piece of music is, is, is written and recorded, there are really two different types of intellectual property that are created. It's the, it's the composition, right, like the actual notes that make up the the song. And then it's the recording of that song. And so because you have the composition, and then the recording, there are all these different royalties and organizations and, you know, publishers and record labels and people that kind of like, manage royalty collection, and distribution back to rights holders for each of these type of these type of things. So when it comes to performance, it's really interesting, because there are a few organizations that, that actually monitor the venues and monitor, you know, even like, theaters and bars and restaurants and in track every single time a song is played in a public arena. And a royalty is generated than paid out to the rights holders publisher at that at that game. And so, yeah, then, of course, like, like we mentioned, synchronization licensing that's kind of handled on a publishing print is another thing, too, that's handled under publishing. And that's really like the traditional publishing, if you think about what publishing was in the day was print. So. So that exists as well. And then there's the mechanical royalties that are generated from that, which actually has to do with the amount of times a song is downloaded or streamed online or anything like that. There's a there's a royalty of mechanical royalty that's generated. In that case,

Alex Ferrari 22:16
If I remember hearing the story of I think it was Bruce Springsteen, who like early on, did not own his own publishing. Yeah, like, and he finally said, he talked to his manager. He's like, Well, why don't I just open up a publishing company of my own, and I'll just publish my own stuff. And now he owns and now he owns it all?

Chris Small 22:35
Yeah, you're right. And it's such a weird game in the music industry. And most, most artists actually do that they create their own publishing companies, so that they can actually collect that piece of the pie as well,

Alex Ferrari 22:47
Because it's a fairly big piece if you go like if you're licensing? Well, like a perfect example, was that Beatle song revolution, which Nike licensed when I think Michael Jackson owned and Paul McCartney and the Beatles were Oh, yeah, they were pissed. But man, Mike, Mike pulled in a few few mil off that at least, just because you own the rights to it. It's always fascinating, but I wanted to, I want filmmakers to kind of understand a little bit of the back drop of how film musicians get paid and what the world is. And can you also tell me the average cost in your, in your experience of what like a film festival writes for a song is, because a lot of times filmmakers won't get the whole, you know, thing, and they're like, Look, we just want the film festival rights for it, just to get it into Sundance. Let us just let us watch it there. You know, what's the average cost? I mean, cuz I know, I have a number in my head, I want to hear what you thought.

Chris Small 23:48
So I feel like every single answer that I'm giving here is so ambiguous, I want to try and be clear. But I will say I will say, I am not an expert when it comes to when it comes to this. Like, there are and I think one of the things that that soundstripe kind of aim to do is take all of these what we would consider to be very non universal, or even take it as far as sometimes arbitrary fees on some of these licenses based on end use, and make it as simple as possible. So the simple answer to your is, it's a wide spectrum. So depending on the amount of people that attend the film festival, the amount I mean, like there's several different factors that kind of play into these fees. And, and there's not really a one solid, you know, answer to the question, unfortunately.

Alex Ferrari 24:46
Yeah. For my, for my experience, and from what I've seen, you know, again, it's so varies and by the way, everything we're talking about is not a Katy Perry song. It is not a very popular song. The songs are from independence are just songs that are not as well known. But it ranges from 500 to 1000 bucks, I've seen it all go all the way up to 10,000. Right. But it all depends on the kind of song and who you're who you're talking to. And it also is true, though, and please confirm this or not, it doesn't matter if you use five seconds, or the full song, it's still the same amount of money. Is that correct?

Chris Small 25:22
Yeah, absolutely don't and don't, you know, put, and I will say on on broadcast, there are certain, you know, if you're talking about a broadcast situation, there are actually different fees that will be negotiated based on the length of the amount or if it's a feature film, I know that that's definitely always a good point. So there's all these all these arbitrary little like, you know, things that have been placed on to kind of really, really control I guess, the amount that publishers and, and companies are able to, to charge for a particular use. And that I think was a really solid way to kind of do it for a while. But now we have so much content being produced and the distribution channels have changed to where broadcast is no longer really King. You know, and so, so it doesn't really make sense now. So now you try to put that on the distribution system now. And you have situations where, okay, if your YouTube channel has 1000 subscribers, it's this amount. But if you have 10,000 subscribers, it's this amount. And it just doesn't make sense, in my opinion.

Alex Ferrari 26:32
And no, it doesn't make sense in the least. So I mean, we've just talked for a little while about the horrors of music licensing and and how complicated and ridiculous it is to even get. So basically, now I'm telling everybody listening, just don't use music, just don't use music at all in any of your projects. It is just just shoot yourself. Just shoot yourself. Now. I'm joking. But so we've mentioned we've mentioned sound stripe a little bit, and I want to talk a little bit about sound stripe. Because when I first discovered sound stripe, I was I was like, oh, finally, finally, something that makes sense. Can you explain what soundstripe is? And how your model differs from everything we've just been talking about?

Chris Small 27:17
Yeah, well, I appreciate the compliment. And, you know, thankfully, soundstripe, so we're advocates of the creatives, like our mission is to keep creatives creating, and, you know, what we, as musicians, you know, most of like I said, the leadership team, and the founders all come from the music world. And so we have a heart for musicians, and keeping them creating and providing a consistent stable income for music producers. And then on the flip side of that, we noticed this, what we've been talking about for the past, I don't even know how long 30 minutes or so the complexities in the content and licensing space. And so soundstripe you know, what we what we decided to do was it started honestly, with a with a group of probably 15 or so of our friends here in Music City in Nashville, who were all producers and composers and writers and, and just kind of doing the traditional licensing game pitching songs to brands like Coke, and Kellogg, and you know, landing maybe 1% of those pitches. And we decided to take all of these songs that were just collecting dust on hard drives and heart Blood, Soul sweat, tears went into these things, and provide a no frills, simple, easy solution for content creators to use the songs in their films. And what we didn't realize at the time is that was something that people really wanted. Yes. So so all of a sudden, I mean, within a year, it was very clear, okay, this is this is, you know, not just a side project thing, like we need to really figure this out and create a resource that actually, you know, is valuable, and helps carry out this mission both for filmmakers and for, for musicians. And, and so sound stripe offers unlimited music for video for any use for $15 a month or 135 a year,

Alex Ferrari 29:22
Stop it just stop it.

Chris Small 29:25
Yeah, and we just introduced sound effects to so a lot of our independent filmmaking community is very happy with that. So in fact, I could probably tell you at the time of this video releasing we're adding 10,000 additional sound effects and now our total library would be about 20,000 sound effects as a part of our premium plan to that's 245 a year,

Alex Ferrari 29:45
But that's nothing though. I mean for 220 like less than 20 bucks a month or something like that. Whatever the math is. The amount of stuff that you get is pretty, pretty insane. I actually have experience With filmmakers who found sound stripe and decided to score their film based on the music, because you arguably could score your film, with the music that you find on the service, I mean, you got to work around it, it's not scored for the actual image. But if the images match the music, you could find a composer on there and grab certain themes and literally score your music not only with just music, but actual songs with lyrics. And people singing, you know, for that funny scene, that romantic comedy scene or that, that that love scene, or that action sequence, it is pretty remarkable what you guys were able to do. And that is one of the reasons why I wanted to partner with you guys. So and I'm so proud to be a partner with soundstripe. And to, to spread to know it's serious, because I look at indie film hustle is all about providing value to my tribe, and to any filmmaker, or screenwriter or any content creator that happens to come across my little world, in the on the internet, or on a podcast or wherever they decide to find or wherever they find us. So that's my my mission that is my mission in in what I'm doing with any film, hustle, and you go right into that, because it's a value. I mean, look for 135 bucks a year, you can score whatever, you can use Music for Youtube videos, movies, music, you know, you know, promos, commercials, whatever you want. So if you have a small production company, in wherever, in the middle of Kansas somewhere, you can now provide high end quality music for your projects to your clients. And now you look like your daddy warbucks that's a really rough reference, an old reference, but hopefully some people understand what I mean. You'd like Bill Gates, or Jeff Bezos, in the sense that you they feel like you have Oh, wow, look at this guy. They look at the kind of production it is. And I and I can never tell Never underestimate the power of good music matched with good visuals. It adds so much value and so much production value. They're so good.

Chris Small 32:17
No, I was gonna say Alex like I, I super appreciate you saying that. And one thing I just I would I just feel compelled to kind of address and this is something that often comes up when you juxtapose sound stripes model against what we've been talking about earlier. And that is, well what what about the musician, what about the the money that's coming, that they're used to getting so and I just want to reiterate that sound stripes mission, our purpose is to keep them creating too. So, you know, we just, we feel that, in order to do that, what we have to do is actually placed the value of what we're doing on on the serving our members well and answering a really significant market need. And then finding really talented artists and really talented musicians who actually want to be a part of sound stripes culture and creating a community for them and paying them salaries consistent w two on payroll salary, but in order to write music for sound stripe, so that's that's the model and kind of the the mode that we've taken in order to kind of really put our money where our mouth is, so to speak, and invest in the artist in the musician community, allow them to go get mortgages and pay their bills, and not have to worry about when they're going to land the next coat commercial. So that's that's kind of the way that we've decided we're going to do it and I know that that's controversial sometimes but but it's the it's honestly, the fruit of that and what we've been able to kind of see happen out of the artists community that have kind of surrounded you know, sound stripe and its mission has been amazing.

Alex Ferrari 34:02
You know, it is it is fascinating to think about, you know, artists actually making a living isn't that that it's just like a wonderful idea of artists getting paid to do what they love to do. And I do love the model. I love what you guys are doing in regards to how you're taking care of your your musicians and also taking care of your members. And it's a win win for everybody. You know, it really is a win win for everybody. And again, I'm very proud to be a partner with you guys. And you know, everybody listening, there's going to be a lot more content on ifH TV about music and sound effects and all other kind of stuff that we're going to be doing together with sound stripe, and all sorts of cool stuff. And things that we're going to be bringing to the tribe as well. So I'm very happy to be a part of be in partnership with you guys. I really am and likewise and I really hope that like you know my next like all the videos I create Oh The content I create will be using your music. Any films or anything else that I do from this point on will have some music I do have my composer friend. But other than that, he will probably will he'll probably just say do tissue soundstripe and stuff calling me. But, but, but again, thanks for thanks for shining a light a little bit on the ridiculousness of music licensing and how complex it is. And and hopefully we could do some good out there with with sound stripe and what we're doing at indie film hustle. Now I'm going to ask you for a few questions to ask all of my guests. Okay, and I'm going to change it a little bit because you're not a filmmaker. But what advice would you give an artist trying to break in whatever business they're trying to get in? Whether that'd be a musician, whether it be a writer would be a filmmaker?

Chris Small 35:50
Yeah, this is a good one. So I would say, it's really about I think, like, there's this really amazing thing happening with, with telling compelling stories. And I think in the artists community, it's, it's predominantly through content. And so I have lots of friends who are doing the hustle. Let's see your hat. By the way, hustle, hustle, I see lots of lots of friends that are doing that thing, trying to make ends meet as an artist. And really, you know, the best piece of advice I can give them is to keep building your tribe by producing content doesn't have to be super high production value, even if you just went live on Facebook every once a while and showed them your writing process, something like that. Just keep them engaged. And don't let months go by before you say, Oh, I'm here and I have a I have a song a single I'd like done out like done, you're done. You're done. You can't do that. You got to build that community.

Alex Ferrari 36:45
Isn't? Isn't that true? Like with filmmakers, and with musicians and with writers? They're Quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet. Hey, guys, I just made this movie that cost me $250,000. Can you buy it as opposed to like putting out content just non stop? Yeah, and getting people's faces and people understanding like, hey, oh, Alex is doing something or Chris is all Chris's writing, you know? Wouldn't it be cool for musicians with that just to like, be like, just get a video camera and show the process of, Hey, I'm making this new song, here's a little behind the scenes, boom, and just keep, keep pounding it like that. And all of a sudden, people want to hear about, about what you're doing. It's kind of like almost a little reality show, in a sense using social media instead? Absolutely. It's hard work, but it's well worth it. Absolutely. Now, can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Chris Small 37:35
Oh, man. So there's several but the one I've read most recently that that I can't stop thinking about is there's a there's a author, her name is Kim Scott. And she is a business author. She worked at Google and also Facebook now Facebook apple and and she wrote a book called radical candor. And it's been kind of floating around in the in the the software as a service and like a tech entrepreneur space, but it's really relevant I feel for life in general, it's a relationship advice book, honestly,

Alex Ferrari 38:13
The relationship with your customer or relationship with like a significant other?

Chris Small 38:17
These would be things like people that you interface with on a daily basis, that you want to establish meaningful connection to. So it could be an employee, it could be an employer, it could be a peer, it could be somebody you're working with on set, it could be a spouse, it could be a brother or sister anybody that you have a meaningful relationship or want a meaningful relationship with a teaches you how to be honest with them, and how to how to have a have a framework of communication and trust and transparency that that builds relational value.

Alex Ferrari 38:51
I am putting it on my audible list as we speak. It's called radical radical candor.

Chris Small 38:57
Radical candor by Kim Scott.

Alex Ferrari 38:59
Radical Candor. Okay, sorry, guys. I just you know, when I hear a good book, I have to, I have to write it down. Next, what is the lesson that took the longest to learn whether in the film business or in the music business or in life?

Chris Small 39:15
Oh, man.

Alex Ferrari 39:18
That's like my Oprah question. Like, what if you were a tree? What kind of tree would you be?

Chris Small 39:24
Well, I don't know if this is necessarily a lesson or revelation. But you know, I think I think what what's been beautiful about soundstripe and its culture is that we really kind of have that we have one of our core values is keep it light. And, and it took us It took me anyway a while to understand what the hell that meant. But, but I think like, what it what it actually means is just being real, being authentic. And so there was a couple of and we actually practice that in our culture tremendously with one another but also to our culture. Like, we don't take ourselves too super seriously. But, but you know, there's a, this is probably like a really specific answer. Okay, but I took a personality test called the enneagram test show, I don't know if you're familiar

Alex Ferrari 40:15
Never heard of it

Chris Small 40:17
Okay. Well, it's just based on certain personality types. And that, that test actually, like when I took it, and my wife took it, and we, and then you can read kind of the relationship dynamic, and what things to look out for and things to, you know, you know, you know, celebrate about each other. It was one of the most life changing, and kind of one of the most revealing things about myself, that I had ever experienced. And I think we so we take it collectively, we took it collectively as a company. And, and that was something that I think from a self awareness side was super, super empowering. And, and really, really interesting.

Alex Ferrari 40:58
Very cool. Very, very specific. Very good answer, sir. Now three of your favorite films of all time?

Chris Small 41:08
Well, definitely, I'm a huge I love No Country for Old Men.

Alex Ferrari 41:12
It's made the list a few times on the show,

Chris Small 41:14
Which by the way, is has like very little music like and that is one of the creepiest things about the film is that this is like hardly any score. This thing is just like,

Alex Ferrari 41:26
It's barely it's all sound design and him just walking around. Hey, friend do

Chris Small 41:33
Yes, exactly. This one may be controversial, but I love Lord of the Rings.

Alex Ferrari 41:40
The whole the whole first trilogy.

Chris Small 41:41
Honestly, I love the first film the best. I think most people would say that. Well, I don't know if most

Alex Ferrari 41:45
I like the third. I like the third film the best I like

Chris Small 41:47
Okay, all right. Yeah. And I mean, I think people either love or hate that.

Alex Ferrari 41:52
Oh, no. Yeah, yeah. There's no gray in the Lord. Yes, you either love it or hate it. And what's the third one.

Chris Small 41:59
Probably Jurassic Park.

Alex Ferrari 42:01
Yeah. Another one that makes the list quite often. Of course,

Chris Small 42:05
That one does. The score and just the whole thing is just classic

Alex Ferrari 42:09
With Jurassic Park's like what it's like when you first saw Indiana Jones when you first saw it when you first saw jaws? Mind you all those films are directed by the same man. So there's something to be said about that, Mr. Spielberg. Thank you. But no, it's one of those movies as yours just like holy cow. Like how is that a dinosaur? People forget now they take it for granted. But back in 93 I think you're right. Yeah. 93 seeing a T rex runner. Man, that was just so killer. And you went on an insight on the insight if you notice in Jurassic Park, there's never aerials of any dinosaurs ever staying You know why? Because ILM did not have the technology to do so. Wow, they couldn't there with the camera couldn't go up and they couldn't do it. So that's why everything's always from ground level looking up or looking over, but you never see it from the air. So stylistically, it panned out, I guess. I mean, it worked out awesome. It did okay in the box office. And then where can people find you if they want to connect with you? And of course in soundstripe.

Chris Small 43:21
Oh, man. Yeah. So I will I'll give sound stripes I am terrible at keeping up with like Twitter and Instagram. Although you can find me I think Small Chris's my handle. Small like the pizza.

Alex Ferrari 43:34
Yeah, that you use that quite often. Don't you? Sir.

Chris Small 43:37
You know, I have to I have to give my wife credit because she's the one who always uses it. And now I just have to use it because it's so funny. And she's also like really short to

Alex Ferrari 43:45
You know,how many people call me like hey, Alex, Portia. How are you doing? I'm like, Dude, seriously, just come up with something original.

Chris Small 43:54
Yeah, you can find soundstripe our, our Instagram is soundstripe music and our Twitter's soundstripe app. And you can find us on soundstripe.com and browse our library totally free.

Alex Ferrari 44:06
Awesome. And we will have I'll put links to that in the show notes as well. Thank you Chris. Again, for dropping some music licensing knowledge bombs on the on the tribe today, my friend I really appreciate you taking the time.

Chris Small 44:20
Alex, you're too kind. Thanks for having me, man. This is a blast.

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Visit Bulletproofscreenwriting.tv/SponsorsBPS 368: To Film and Die in L.A – Micro-Budget Misadventures with Adam William Ward

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

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

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

Enjoy my entertaining conversation with Adam William Ward.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 5:03
Of course, of course

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 11:15
Shocking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 19:33
And also support crew.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 37:09
That's Yeah,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 44:45
to do with her life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 47:17
so much the Sundance movie,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 51:47
I know, Larry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right-click here to download the MP3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 7:35
Yeah, I know.

Alex Ferrari 7:36
She was so wonderful

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

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

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

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

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 8:11
Well,

Alex Ferrari 8:12
How does that work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 21:46
Comic Con, Comic Con,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 25:18
so smart,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 28:45
from the, from everything

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 40:28
Yes, MLK Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 46:26
Design,

Naomi Mcdougall Jones 46:28
Design.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 1:20:29
The matrix

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 1:21:34
Of course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy my conversation with Jon Fitzgerald.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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

Jon Fitzgerald 3:19
Absolutely happy to be here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon Fitzgerald 43:11
Thank you, you too.

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

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

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

His film is Death of a Fool. 

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

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

Enjoy my conversation with Ismael Gomez

Right-click here to download the MP3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 7:09
The recipes.

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 11:06
What was the budget?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 19:35
Business markets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 26:09
TVOD mostly right. Yeah,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 28:53
and no rental.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 1:00:03
Yeah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy my conversation with Tanner Beard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 4:52
It's very true

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tanner Beard 13:05
Going places

Alex Ferrari 13:06
Terry Terry Malick is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 17:43
Natalie Portman, Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 35:14
Yes. The,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 1:02:35
Its perfection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BPS 363: Editing for Directors with Gael Chandler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please enjoy my conversation with Gael Chandler.

Right-click here to download the MP3

LINKS

  • 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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