BPS 287: Screenwriting for Netflix’s Algorithm with Stephen Follows

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Alex Ferrari 2:18
I like to welcome back to the show returning champion Steven Follows. How are you doing Steven?

Stephen Follows 4:25
I'm doing very well. You say that every time and I'm starting to believe you.

Alex Ferrari 4:28
Well, that's what I'm trying to do. Little by little I'm building I'm building you up, sir. I'm building you up.

Stephen Follows 4:34
I'm delighted to be back and your audience are always awesome as well. Every time I'm on the podcast, people reach out to me and say, Hey, I heard you. I'm part of the tribe. I heard your analysis podcast. Hey, I've got every single one so far has been like really polite, but also with a really interesting question or perspective. And yeah, you've got a great tribe. So I'm always happy to come back.

Alex Ferrari 4:53
Thank you, man. I appreciate that. And last time, we were on the show. We we Did that diehard episode, which was fairly controversial, sir?

Stephen Follows 5:04
Oh, was it? Did you get pushback?

Alex Ferrari 5:08
No. Well, a couple people couple people I got a couple of tribe members like really Alex an entire episode about diehard and I'm like, Yes, it is. But you know funny enough is that when I am when I talk to people now about diehard because now I'm you know i'm i'm an evangelist I go you know, you know Diehard's a Christmas movie and they'll push back up but no, no, no, no, no, I have data. I have proof that Diehard it so I appreciate you doing the hard work on that. And so now at parties, or at least zoom meetings nowadays. I get to, I get to say no, no, I have to get data. Here's the link and I send them to our interview and people just like amazing and I just

Stephen Follows 6:00
that's always the thing you want to hear at a party when you're having a conversation with someone when they go No, no, I have the data.

Alex Ferrari 6:05
Exactly. It's just your life of the party. You are the life of the party without without question, and then I just released a list of the Top 12 screenplays of unconventional Christmas movies and of course Diehards on the top of that list but I had to leave them weapon on there. What else did we have on there? Lethal weapon? Gremlins, Gremlins two

Stephen Follows 6:29
good night.

Alex Ferrari 6:30
Which one?

Stephen Follows 6:31
Is it? What's the one with 497 with

Alex Ferrari 6:34
oh oh no luck is good night. Yes long kiss goodnight. Long kiss goodnight is on there as well. A bunch of a bunch of Shane Black a bunch of Shane a bunch of Shane Black episode whatchu ma call it screenplays because he's he just loves absolutely loves writing. I mean I could argue Iron Man three but I prefer not.

Stephen Follows 6:57
You know Disney do to do list that and on Disney plus under Christmas movies?

Alex Ferrari 7:01
Oh, yeah.

Stephen Follows 7:03
I genuinely don't know if they're doing it to try and stir up controversy or they genuinely believe it.

Alex Ferrari 7:09
And before we start on our current interview, I have to I'm gonna list off the list of Christmas. Christmas. unconventional Christmas movies. Diehard, Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Gremlins Gremlins to Batman Returns.

Stephen Follows 7:25
Oh yeah,

Alex Ferrari 7:26
Eyes Wide Shut.

Stephen Follows 7:30
You really went there?

Alex Ferrari 7:31
I went there. So yes. Edward Scissorhands.

Stephen Follows 7:34

Alex Ferrari 7:35
Long kiss Good night. Bad Santa. Black Christmas. And Krampus. Yes, yes.

Stephen Follows 7:44
That is quite a list.

Alex Ferrari 7:45
That is that that was it took me a minute to put it together. But I had to. I had to I had to. I had to, I had to give them love. So Stephen, man, I mean, I'm always so impressed with everything you do. I love you just an insane, insane human being in the way and the same way you call me insane for what I do. I it's a mutual admiration because I can never do what you did. In 20 lifetimes. I don't think I'll be able to ever do what you do. But I was. I was I don't know where I saw it. Because you kept you kept it to yourself. I have to I have to keep this after I have to give you props for this. You told me that you were working on something big. And I'm like, What is it? He's like, I can't man I gotta keep it. I gotta keep it quiet. I'm like, Alright, fine. I do the same thing. That's fine. And then I think I saw a pop up somewhere, like a few weeks later. And this thing called VOD clickstream showed up on like, what and I clicked on on like, what is this? And I? And I didn't, honestly, I didn't connect that it was yours for a second to like, because I literally had no idea what this was. And then I went to the about the team. And I'm like, oh, some of this is this is Stevenson. I emailed you right away. I'm like, What is this? What's going on? So can you tell you TF but yeah, so I did actually, I think it's like What the f? So can you tell the audience what VOD clickstream is?

Stephen Follows 9:16
Yeah. Definitely, I'll give you the simple pitch. And then I'll make it more complicated and nuanced, because it's got some weird sort of qualities to it. But the simple pitch is that I've got access to a huge data set, which reveals what people have been watching on Netflix, over a three and a half year period. So this is Yeah, I know. It's something I've been chasing for a while and we can talk, you know, in a minute about the history of the whole thing, but it's been something I've been chasing for a while. And it's it feels it's like almost more of a mission for me than than just a stats project. Because I don't like that. We don't know what's going on on this.

Alex Ferrari 9:54
And I think it matters,

Unknown Speaker 9:55
I think and I think it matters, you know for your audience and my audience was very similar, like studios must have a better idea than the average filmmaker. And we don't have the kind of openness and transparency that we have from theatrical or in other areas. And crucially, everyone's experience of s5 is so different. My wife and I share a Netflix account, but we have our own profiles. But there's so different. And we accidentally log on with hers. And we go, omg it's all pink, white, Sandra Bullock and everything. Like, why is everything so sad and exploding. And what that means is that even to people who, like live together, still can't get a sense from their own experience. Whereas when you go to the theater, and you see if it's full, you see lions, you know, you hear about it, and we have the same shared experience. So because of that, because of the essar is so highly personalized. You can't get any clues how things are doing. And they started to release a little bit more data in the last few, like months and stuff. But compared to what we're used to getting on the box, isn't even that's not enough, like how filmmakers supposed to know what to do what people want to watch, like, what is this new realm that is dominating, so much of the value chain is only going to dominate more of it? And obviously, COVID? And I just don't know how else we're supposed to know do this. So this is an answer to that. I guess it's not perfect, but it's, it's pretty unusual. And I think really powerful. And we've only just begun really, this isn't a project where I've launched a finished thing. Here's a report, go read it. It's like, okay, the work begins there.

Alex Ferrari 11:25
So this is essentially the Holy Grail. This is this, this is Eldorado for you, as far as data is, as far as data is concerned. No. Neither is the holy grail Eldorado. Neither is the holy grail or El Dorado for that matter.

Stephen Follows 11:41
I get the Wi Fi is terrible.

Alex Ferrari 11:43
It's horrible. It really is. I've been there. It's not it's not pleasant.

Stephen Follows 11:46
Is that why you left?

Alex Ferrari 11:48
Yeah I just left. I mean, I grabbed a couple things along the way.

Stephen Follows 11:50
But. But yeah, so it's like, it's been really exciting. And the volume of data and the complexity of the data is, it's an order of magnitude, much bigger than I'm used to dealing with. So it's not just me, I've had some help from some amazing data scientists, and most of them, I mean, two of them have PhDs in theoretical physics, you know, they, they deal with things like dark matter, and, and whether the standard model of the universe as we understand it is correct or not. And then I start talking to them about like, what we know about Netflix, and wow, we know more about dark matter. We know more about the origins of the universe that we know about what a film performed on Netflix. And I was like, aha, do you want to like, join the team? Let's figure something out.

Alex Ferrari 12:38
You're Indian. You're Indiana Jones, and you put it together a team?

Stephen Follows 12:44
Almost all physicists like we're the team is more I think it has more theoretical physicists than people who are not a theoretical physicists. And by the way, I'm one of them not. And so it's been kind of bonkers, because not only are they very talented data scientists, but also they're used to dealing with abstract ideas and abstract numbers. And actually, you need to deal with that. I mean, we'll talk about this later on, I'm sure some of the ideas in how you analyze this get quite abstracted quite quickly. Because it's not as simple as like, you know, box office, you say, How much money did it make? Even that's a bit flat, because you don't know if it was lots of kids or a few adults or peak time or off the web. But generally, it's comparative, you account for inflation, you can sort of sort out with this data, it's so much more complicated than that to try and get straightforward, simple answers. And so that's why they were so they just had all the right training for it. And it was just a joy to work with those just incredibly smart, talented people. And sort of see what we can do something interesting for the film, community.

Alex Ferrari 13:44
I have a I have a theory, see, but I feel that the reason why people take you seriously, it's not only because of your work ethic and your talent, but I truly believe it's your it's your it's your accent, because everything you say, I mean, you I mean, it's, it sounds so legit. Like if you if you would like Listen, my friend, I have some land to sell you some swamp land to sell you in Florida, I'd be continue.

Stephen Follows 14:09
But you know, you have a voice for excitement. Let me tell you something exciting. I'll be like.

Alex Ferrari 14:15
So if we joined forces, Steven, we could roll the war

Stephen Follows 14:18
Or we could ruin each other.

Alex Ferrari 14:20
This is very true. Very true, sir. Very, very true. Okay, so how, okay, so you're essentially going inside? The algorithm of Netflix is exactly like that.

Stephen Follows 14:33
Not quite that. So this, it doesn't come from Netflix themselves. There's no data breach. We haven't scraped there. We haven't taken it from them in any sense. What's happened is it utilizes this sort of type of data called clickstream data. And what clickstream data is, is that people have volunteered they've signed up have opted in to install plugins and services and things like that in their browser and other things like that. The the these, let's say plugins are really useful, you know, they've maybe they're a really good translator tool or they just do a certain thing really well. And they're free for users. And the deal is that in return for that, they the users agree that their anonymized history, they clickstream, all the clicks they made essentially, can be sent to a server and put into a big bucket. And that sort of firehose of millions and millions of people are there. anonymized history allows us to see what the journey they made around the web. And so the actual raw clickstream, which I don't have, which is the full, like epic amounts of data, you can imagine millions of people clicking constantly around the world, that is so valuable to so many people in so many different ways, you know, you could get a sense of how popular something is, before the the quarterly reports come out, you could see how people are buying things on Amazon, all that, what I wanted with a tiny slice of it, and I just wanted, I actually wanted all the streamers. But Netflix was, for various reasons, the best one to go for. And I've been chasing these guys for a while. And I was like, because I've known about this for a few years, and I've said, Look, just give me access to the Netflix slice netflix.com because it can be really instructive and very useful for filmmakers. And because of the nature of the clickstream industry, it's a small industry that makes highly expensive content data. And so they were quoting massive figures, like five figures a month, a massive high end, and it was just impossible. And then so I've been talking to them every six months or so I catch up and go, hey, you've you've suddenly sort of decided that your data is worth far less than it was. And they'd like no. And, and then around the summer 2019, there was a sort of big shift in the clickstream data world where there was a there was a sort of a perfect storm of a few different things. Like some of the browser browser, the big browsers changed some of their rules about what their plugins and extensions could do and what data they could share. Generally, people were getting tighter and privacy and so things that they were happy to share in the past, they were less happy to share now. And just all these sort of things came together. And so the clickstream industry transformed and sort of what a lot of their business models, they had imploded and some of the companies are still around doing other things. But basically, it kind of that version of it kind of ended in the summer of 2019. And so towards the end of last year and the beginning of this year. So beginning of 2020, I went back to them and said, Look, you've got this now static data set, and I can't offer you money. I can't there's no, I don't know if the values in that. And I can't do much with it. But I I know that it's fascinating and for filmmakers, and could be very instructive. Please, can you basically give me the the Netflix data, so I worked out a deal with them, which didn't, which was possible to do. And then, so then they gave me about two thirds of a billion data points. So first of all, it was it's just the volume is like, it's just and you know, they get a give me a sample, you can only have a million rows in Excel, before it crashes. And before it didn't work load any more rows. And they gave me a sample of the data. And it was like day one, hour one. And Excel was like it wasn't ours day one. And but an Excel went can't look at anymore. And so that volume is amazing, because it's really granular. And so what I ended up with was, these are anonymize users. So each user has a randomly generated ID, which resets over a certain period. And I know what country they're in. And I know what URL they clicked on exactly the time and the day. And that's pretty much it, there's a bit of metadata. And that's pretty much it. And so, in of itself, a click isn't doesn't mean anything. But when you add them together, you can infer meaning. So you could say, this person clicked on the Netflix link, that is the watch page for a bit of content and the content 22 minutes long, they waited 20 minutes, and then they clicked on the next one, well, that you can reasonably assume that they viewed it right. And you also can see what people have searched for and things like that. So so we have all this data, it has sort of three big limitations. The first is historical. So our data starts in the beginning of 2016 and ends in the summer of 2019. So it's like three and a half years. It's a shame, it's not live, but everyone asks me, can it be live? And the answer is always, sadly not. But if it were live, I wouldn't be able to get access to it. So it's kind of it's this or nothing. And secondly, it's only desktop and laptop users, which netflix they are about 25% of their audience. And so we didn't know if that would have a skew or not like whether people watch fundamentally different content on their desktop and laptop than they do on other TV or tablets, whatever. So the first thing we did was that we went about recreating the stats that Netflix had announced during that period. So when they said birdbox got X number of views or was the number one film within the first Two weeks or whatever, whatever it was, like any data point that they said in a press release, we would go back to our data and try and recreate it. You know, we've performed the same analysis and time and time again, we were getting the same answers they were getting. So because of that analysis, I'm, I'm very, very confident that the big picture we have is a very, very good model of what they have. They've always been cases where it's slightly different or whatever. But fundamentally, considering we started with nothing, I think we were very happy with that.

Alex Ferrari 20:30
So then you don't know how many people actually watch Cobra Kai or Tiger case? No, exactly.

Stephen Follows 20:35
That's what's so interesting is, so what we have is we do have a number for how many people within these panel abusers watched it. But we don't know exactly how that scales up. So what we've had to do is, if we had every single click on netflix.com, then you'd have your viewing figures, right, you'd have a wrong number. But because we we have a fluctuating panel. And and we've had to account for like different factors, like First of all, over the course of these three and a half years, the size of Netflix's subscriber base has changed. It's basically grown and sponsored in different countries, that the number of people using these plugins and services has changed, gone up and down, and maybe they break into a new country or a tool gets taken off. And so that's changed. And, and then also how you compare a piece of content that, let's say, was only available for one year in 2016. How do you compare the performance of that film with another film that was out in 2019? or something? Or 2018? or whatever? How do you compare them because they weren't available at the same time. And so what we have to do is basically, normalize all of these views per day, per country per type. What that basically means is for every single country, we've said, on this particular day, he was the most watched film, and then comparing all the other films to that film. So like film number two, the second most popular film got 70% of the views, the first one did and the third one got 60% or whatever. And then that then gives us comparable things, because you can say within all the films that are available, how did each of them perform. And then that allows us to then create scores overall, over these three and a half year period. So this is where the scientists were really useful because they, you know, compare this content across time and space and different panel sizes the d

Alex Ferrari 22:18
And the dark matter and the ends of the universe. And so I got I got I got it. Okay, so alright, so

Stephen Follows 22:25
last lesson, the last limitation is that we don't have demographic information. We don't have IP addresses. We don't know age, gender, like we know what country they're in. But that's it. So okay, invitation.

Alex Ferrari 22:34
All right. So all right, so let's, um, let's, let's ask some some tough questions and see what you can do to help us because the reason why filmmakers are listening is like, we find this very fascinating how you're getting this data. But how does this help me? So, does Netflix have a longtail? Is that something that that you were able to come up against?

Stephen Follows 22:55
Yeah. That's exactly something we're able to have a look at. So, the longtail idea was was made sort of most famous by an article in wired in 2004. And it was this prediction based on the idea of growing digital platforms like Amazon, selling books and DVDs at the time. But the idea being that, previously, when you have a physical shop, you make most of your money from the top titles, top 10, top 100, whatever the ones you can have in the front of the store, right. And that's where you make your money. The concept of the long tail is that the way that Amazon, the future will make their money is actually through all of the other inventory, the other 100,000 titles, some of which they only sell one or two, every, every every year or whatever, but there's enough of them on total. And so it becomes about the misses, not the hits. And so this was an idea that was put out there and some people supported some people don't. and how it relates to us is that we already know that the box office doesn't really have a long tail, we know that three quarters of all of the money made in the box office goes to the top 50 Films each year. Like it's heavily heavily skewed towards these top movies. So the other however many, you know, seven 800 movies released that year are competing for the final quarter. And that is not great. Because it makes it very hard for us to to to compete because we if you're not big, you're nothing, right. So one of the first things we wanted to test was okay, well, we know that the movie industry is already top heavy already. Massive disproportionately supports the big films. But if we took on this long tail idea, maybe Netflix would be a place where lots of smaller movies would do well, everyone which is something different, but it doesn't matter overall because Netflix are happy. And maybe that's our Savior, you know, maybe it's a fairer space for us all to compete in and loads of tiny movies can equally survive. So that was a big thing for me to look at. And I gotta say it's disappointing, but not surprising news. So basically, net though the viewing patterns on Netflix are slightly more skewed towards big films than the box office. Which means that most people on Netflix are watching a small amount of massive bits of content, which was mostly in the US. It was mostly Disney films, like Disney, they had to deal with net.

Alex Ferrari 22:55

Stephen Follows 22:57
Just now finished. But that accounted for a huge proportion of Netflix's views. And it really was a problem for Netflix when Disney ended that deal. I don't know the ins and outs of the the deals. But what I can tell you is that they lost their best performing content in a number of different grounds.

Alex Ferrari 25:43
Yeah in the office in the office as well got lost because it went over to isn't it on HBO, Max or somewhere else that it got?

Stephen Follows 25:50
So, yeah. Well, presumably, peacock? Because it's right. Right. Right. Yeah. And And so yeah, the office is, the office is a great example. Because the office allows us, we've got all the stats on the episodes of The Office. And because the off all episodes of The Office were available across our entire time period, it's actually really easy for us to compare the performance of different episodes, we actually don't have to worry about accounting for time and availability and stuff. And so we've actually used that as a good example to look at how might the nature of S-VOD viewing change the way we think about filmed content. What I mean is, right, so in TV, we're used to having seasons, you know, because of the way that they're funded and broadcast and just the way that it's evolved, we are used to having a piece of content. So having having a series that is got a beginning, middle and end, maybe it's got an arc across the season, and the beginning of the end of the season is significant. And then we wait and whatever. But that doesn't, there isn't time is less of a factor with things like Netflix, like, it's not irrelevant, but it's far less of it doesn't matter whether it's summer or winter, you just watch them, Benjamin. So when we looked at all the viewing figures of all the episodes of the office, we noticed a couple of really fascinating things. Which is, first of all, the most popular season was season four, not seasons One, two, which is kind of interesting. And I think it's about that was where it really hits stride and where people start watching it or maybe where they rewatch it as well. But we couldn't see, if you have a look at the chart of viewing figures across, you know, you're on the left hand side, you've got season one, episode one on the right hand one, you've got the last one in season eight or nine, whatever the last one was, and you have all the viewing figures as a line, sort of a line going up and down across across those two points. You can't see where the seasons begin and end. You know, they may make them as seasons, but people don't watch them as seasons. So it's much more like a podcast than a radio series. Right? So you might think a radio series has got a season and certainly in the UK, the BBC have, like, Okay, this will be six or maybe 10 episodes of a radio series, then there'll be a hiatus and then they'll come back. Whereas podcasts you just think are always going to continue right, you just it's a it's a long stream of content. It's like a soap opera rather than a miniseries. And that's how people watch the content. And so I don't know how long it will be. But it seems inevitable. based on the data we have, that when people start making more content for Netflix, they're going to move more and more to this sort of soap world where they're always making them like a churn. Like even the most expensive ones it from the way people watch them, it makes sense to just drop a new episode every two weeks, forever, than it does to quickly go and make 10 of them. I mean, the economics, the production costs might be different, you might want to throw more in one location, but the production costs are not a big concern, if you get a Netflix hit. So maybe we're gonna start seeing seasons of indefinite length, and maybe break breaking down like how long episodes are like, I've just been watching them. There's some brilliant comedians called Auntie Donna, Australian comedians who've got a Netflix series that's just come out, which is incredible. But they some of their episodes are like 17 minutes long. And it's great because every second is great, but they don't have to stretch it to 20 to 30 minutes, whatever it would have to be for TV. So

Alex Ferrari 29:19
you know so so with with all this information are you seeing because I've been reading a lot that Netflix, you know, is infamous for just canceling shows. Some of the people's favorite shows just get cancelled and they're like, you know what, screw you We don't care, because we're gonna get we're gonna put out 20 new shows this month. And, and they generally don't go past three, four seasons. You know, I mean, I think Frank Grace and Frankie is one of the longest running shows on on Netflix. Orange is the new black got cancelled, ended eventually and, and they don't seem to care about letting things go on and on and on and on. Because they just rather just start playing thing from scratch. And I think it's because mostly because of the talent costs and

Stephen Follows 30:04
and that's gonna say I don't, I have no inside track on to to Netflix and I the data doesn't give me all of what I'm saying here. So some of this is filling in the gaps or my opinion. Sure. But I, I would say that the cancellation for most of these things comes down to exactly what you'd expect, which is number one cost. And number two talent, which is related to cost because they are they asking for more money each season and crucially do they want to still want to do. And obviously Netflix are going to cancel shows that they don't think of performing. But they, they could do with more content, almost always. And if you think about it, what they actually really want it, they obviously want content that everybody watches, that's amazing, that'd be great. But one of the other things that's actually really important for their business model is content that's important to some people like really important. So let's say that hypothetically, you and I both have a Netflix account. And let's say that you watch loads of different TV shows every every month, you watch 30 different shows, if I watched just two shows every month, but both of us pay the same fee. Those two shows that I watch are more valuable to Netflix, because if they cancelled those two, or maybe even just one of them, maybe I would leave. But if they canceled 10 of the 30 to you watch now you probably watch the other 20 and maybe some other ones. So the model that they're having to use here is not just not just the number of people watching you, but it's how valuable they are to that particular sort of audience. Yeah, yeah, exactly. So that's what I mean, it's a whole different business model where it's on television, you're saying how many people are watching it? And what demographic are they in? Like that's, that's what's driving content on television. And what's driving content on Netflix is different.

Alex Ferrari 31:54
completely different. In so what I'm have to ask the question, what does the lowly independent filmmaker, how does their stats work? I mean, obviously, you said that they're mostly skewed towards the big movies or big stars. I mean, I saw an interview or an article discussing why Adam Sandler, is one of the biggest stars on Netflix. And that's in like people like Why does he keep making these movies? Why? Why does Netflix keep giving him money? Why I mean, like, I personally a fan of Adam, so I love his stuff. Not everything but most of his stuff. And the thing that they said was in the article was was really interesting. And it made a whole lot of sense was the reason why Adam Sandler is given this these kind of movies and these kind of deals is because when you're scanning through an S VOD platform, there's so much content that when you see something familiar, when you see an Adam Sandler movie, you know what you're going to get? Like there's there's no mystery about like, I think you just run this Halloween, they just released the holly something or other how Halloween Holly Halloween or something like that, which was a huge, huge hit. They're going to do a sequel to it, because so many people watched it. And it's the same. You know, it's the same stuff Adam Sandler has been doing since Billy Madison, and Happy Gilmore. But because of people's comfortability with, they know what they're going to get people watch and watch and watch.

Stephen Follows 33:36
We see a lot of that. I mean, there's a lot of brands that do very well in a brand, Adam Sandler being a brand here that does very well on Netflix, and I think that some of it is down to is absolutely what you're saying. I think with him, there's also not that much competition, you know, there, there aren't many substitutes. What's the Adam Sandler substitute? Well, Kevin James is in most of Adam Sanders films.

Alex Ferrari 33:57
So it says David Spade.

Stephen Follows 34:00
There isn't a lot of competition. And I think that there's something you touched on there, which is incredibly important, which is that the way that people invest in the time they're spending watching stuff on our squad is a lot more about relaxed time and not making a decision and some of that, and I think that speaks to why Adam Sandler is popular, but also why that's the same films people are watching. And they're watching the same TV shows again, and again, rather than watching new ones. And I think that actually doesn't help independent filmmakers, because we're making stuff that doesn't have famous people doesn't have existing brands. And more often than not, is trying to challenge something I'm not suggesting we're all trying to pass on a message or communicating but it's not the same. It's not the kind of Sacher and stuff you might get from Transformers or a Disney movie or Adam Sandler where you're like, Okay, I'm just gonna go with the flow. Most independent filmmakers are making something a bit spiky than that. And I think that doesn't suit most of the way people watch Netflix. And so I think when you your question about what is a story mean that Netflix is what we've learned so far from Netflix, it applies to the other platforms and continues broadly. In the future, I'd say that it's not great for selling independent content. Because first of all, what these platforms like Netflix one is the MCU, they want the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because they people will watch it, they also can do one deal and get loads of it. And that'll get most of their views. They don't do individual deals, the audience aren't watching that content, the other company or the independent content. So there's not much of a drive for that. And so I think that's not great. However, what I would say is, in the same way, right now, I wouldn't invest in any of the companies that own theaters, I would still invest in the concept of theater going, because I think people go on dates, they see their mates, it's a cheap, for it's the most the cheapest, most social form of going out with the lowest effort. And I think that what's happening right now, I mean, I just happened, I was really a few days ago that Netflix have spent 2 billion pounds in the UK alone on content this year on production. So independent filmmakers might have many more routes to being employed than they would have had previously as if their previous routes were big movies or TV shows, they've now have a whole new realm they could compete in I don't know how well I don't know how fair that system is, I don't know. But certainly, there's got to be more and more entry level people, because there's just more concurrent more content being made.

Alex Ferrari 36:26
Oh, yeah, here in Mexico here in New Mexico, they're, they're expanding, Netflix just got approval from the state to expand their studios, they they're building out a massive studio complex. In New Mexico to hire

Stephen Follows 36:39
people, it's going to create, of course, below the line. And so as filmmakers like that, and also there are some interesting things Netflix is, it's very easy to think of them as a studio. And they're actually fundamentally not, they are a technology company. And they bring a lot of different values into what they're doing. I mean, I would argue that they are one of the the most forefront of HR, in the film industry, human resources, like they actually are able, normally when you if you work on, if you're below the line crew member, and you work on six different independent productions in a year, you can expect to have six different relationships, and no concurrent, no sort of handover really beyond a mild relationship in the sense that if something bad happens, you just try your luck again on the next one. Whereas here, because there's a continuity of people being the higher end, you know, Netflix care whether there's a complaint about somebody, and this is great for things like sexual harassment or unfair treatment or discrimination. I'm not saying they're going to solve everything, but there is a continuity there. I mean, some of the studios have tried that Warner have been doing that for a bit and Disney to some degree, but no one to the extent net and Netflix are doing this. So they are doing some things very differently. And as individuals, it might be a good thing, as people buying and selling content the way we used to doing it. I just can't see it being better than it was. Because it's also an oligopoly. You know, I don't I'm not suggesting they're acting in any way, duplicitous. But when you have five or six, possible, maybe even, let's say, three or four, as you know, hold them. So Apple aren't buying existing content. So let's say that it's Amazon and Netflix, let's say that they're the only two that could you could sell your content to in any big way. That's not going to engender, you know, fair prices. And you're doing a single deal in perpetuity for the world. Maybe, maybe. And so that's, that's a simple ad sale. If you get a good price, then that's, that's amazing. But will you get a good price? And I also think there's some worrying practices. I don't think any of them are illegal, but I don't like that as well, I can say. So for example, I was talking to a lawyer recently, who, who's sort of looked over a lot of deals to one of the big streamers. I won't say which one. And this lawyer said, Look, one of the problems is that part of the terms and conditions of the deal between the distributor and the platform, is that the distributor is not allowed to tell the filmmakers how their film is performing. There has to be some sense of aggregation of the numbers and you know, yeah, so it's horrible. That not only is that horrible in a human sense, but it's also terrible for that deal. And it also it stifles long term growth, like how can you have a sustainable career unless you get feedback, and your feedback can't be we did a deal, but I can't tell you anymore. And that brings us full circle back to the VOD clickstream because that's what we're trying to get a little sliver of light in a dark room. Like it's not like we can illuminate everything. But we're trying to understand these things that filmmakers need this feedback loop that needs to happen with the audience.

Alex Ferrari 39:42
Now do you know our American audiences, streaming a lot of international shows because I personally, I've watched a bunch of international shows recently because they've been popping up on my on my, my, my feed, so I'm like, Oh, that looks interesting. Oh, that looks interesting. And sometimes they'll they'll pitch me Something I'm like, Yeah, no, no, thank you. I need, you know. And it just depends like, you know, I'll watch subtitled movies, but not normally, because I want to relax when I'm watching movies, unless I'm watching it for cinematic purposes. But I'm just chilling, I don't want to read. I just want to say you

Stephen Follows 40:20
You don't want to be challenged. Like there are some movies that I would, in a heartbeat recommend to other people that I've only ever seen once and might see again once in the future, but only to introduce it to someone else or because you know, some bizarre circumstances yet there are bad movies that I will acknowledge that a bad thing I've seen the Meg twice,

Alex Ferrari 40:39
right? It's no.

Stephen Follows 40:42
That's the wrong ratio.

Alex Ferrari 40:43
It is it is the right ratio. And you know, what the Meg I, you know, I, I watched the mag as well. And it's just a, it's a popcorn movie. It's, you know, it's there. It's there. That's the reason why just the reason why my wife and I just sat down and watched all four Lethal weapons in a row. Because we watched the first one because I hadn't seen the first one forever. And I'm like, Oh, my God, that's so brilliant. Well, we have to watch two, we have to watch three, well, let's just let's just go, let's make it the fall four. And in four days, we watched for all four of them. And we're like, what's next? Let's watch Tango and cash. You know, like, like, I haven't seen that in 20 years. So it's like I'm going but it actually says exactly what you've been saying is, I'm doing that because I know that I'm comfortable. Those are comfortable viewing habits. And I'm like, oh, let me go revisit that again. Because I haven't seen that in forever. I remember here and there, but I haven't seen it. So

Stephen Follows 41:38
that is a response to being overwhelmed with content. Because you know that there are so many movies been out there. And if you had to create a list, how would you find brilliant movies you hadn't seen? It would take you seconds? IMDb score, meta score, sure one Best Screenplay. And there's loads of movies that you'd be like, wow, that's sure heard. That's amazing. I've not seen it. But that all takes a lot more effort and commitment than most people are willing to give. And this is something that I think filmmakers really independent, because really need to either embrace or realize you're not going to embrace it and then find other routes. Both are valid, like I'm not actually saying make popcorn movies, I'm just saying you can't make challenging movies, and expect them to then survive in a mainstream environment world world, because that's not how people watch that content. Right? It's just fundamentally and I think that the growth of content, or sorry, the evolution of content, and the growth of platforms, are massively interlinked. And the best example I can give you is outside of the film world, but it's kind of makes a lot of sense, which is the rise of Kindle, the Kindle e-reader was a massive part of the success of 50 Shades of Grey, and 50 Shades of Grey was a massive part of success of the Kindle, because you could be on the train reading something, reading basically soft porn, and no one would know. And both of those two things sort of coincide with the same sort of time. And it's not that everyone reading stuff on the Kindle was porn, but it did mean that you could read private things. And the same with the rise of sort of portable devices, and podcasting, you know, these things are interlinked, right. And so what we're seeing, what we're starting to understand with this was, is that people don't watch content in a curated way, the way that they might when they go to a certain type of theater, or they go to like, you know, they could draft house or they or they watch when they buy a blu ray or the Criterion Collection, or, you know, the considered in a centerfire way. That's not what people largely doing on these big platforms. They're sitting down watching stuff that is comfortable. But it's easy to understand that one challenge that they can pause when there's someone at the door, or they want a cup of coffee or something that is out and sat through and through.

Alex Ferrari 43:45
No, there's no, there's no question. I mean, and the other thing is, like you're saying movies that challenge you, you should also you can make movies that challenge you, but you got to do it on a budget. If you you know, if you if you have any hopes of recouping that money, like you can't make a two or $3 million, you know, indie film that five people want to watch. She's just irresponsible.

Stephen Follows 44:05
So there's more, you know, the more it just makes sense, the more you spend, the more you got to recoup. But I and I totally agree with that. I think the other thing that I know you've been screaming at people for since way before Netflix, but it's even more the case now, which is you have to know your distribution route before you make it. I'm not saying do the deal, because I appreciate that it's very hard to walk into a room and say I haven't met you don't know me, you don't know my movie and I haven't made it but can I do appreciate those kind of pre sales can happen. But you can't hope that you're just going to throw it in with the straight with the with the sort of stream of content and including the streamers and it will get swept up and it will rise to the surface. It just from the data I've had I've seen here. That just doesn't happen. That's just not the case. You can't write a book and expect it to be on the front page of Amazon or in the in the front of the book shops, right we know. And yet filmmakers still think if it's good enough, it'll break through and I do worry somewhat that the way the S VOD platforms are working now through no fault of theirs, they're just chasing them, you know, subscribers. And the bottom line is that it isn't. It doesn't reward films The way that the previous system would, to some degree, you know, maybe we'll see fewer breakouts, maybe it will be that the where you really break out is on a much smaller platform like for example, film festivals, whether they're physical or online. Or maybe it's niche sites like shudder or something like that. I don't know, I don't have a site. But that is nowhere near the volume that Netflix does or Netflix competiting appears. So there is, we all know that there's huge amounts up in the air partly it was happening anyway. And then COVID accelerated things. Now, it hasn't landed yet. But we don't yet know what this model will be for independent filmmakers. I am absolutely confident independent film will exist? Because it's not it's never been supply and demand. It's always been supply. Right? Where can I find the demand. And that's been part of the joy of like, movies, they're not been made. Some of the best movies have been made, because they want to be made rather than because they I know, I know, everybody have a deal in place. But things are gonna get tougher until we figure out what they are. But if I have, it's never been easy. And you look at some, you know, the crash of cinema tickets in the 1950s, you look at the crash of DVD, and you look at the uncertainty of aswad. And all this stuff, they will find a way, but just don't know what that is yet. And it's not the one it's not the easy one. It's in front of us. You know. And so you were asking earlier on about TV, because we have we have data for movies for tv and for comedy specials. And for TV. It's it's a, it's the same pattern in a different format. So what we saw in movies is that the most watched movies by a huge degree are the big famous ones. And when it comes to television, what we tend to find is that it is the big shows, but also it's the more familiar shows. So if you go on if you're in the US and you go on Netflix, there's content from many different countries you could choose to watch. But what do people watch? They watch it from their own country, you know, and And

Alex Ferrari 47:14
Generally speaking

Stephen Follows 47:16
yeah, yeah, exactly. And, and certainly, if you look at the, like, the top shows, like the top 50 shows are almost all produced in the US. And you have to even the top 500 most watched shows, not episodes shows, on Netflix over this period, almost three quarters of them were us produced. The UK does very well. But that's largely down to the Great British baking show and things like things. I'm David Adams,

Alex Ferrari 47:42
I would have to say I've seen both. But

Stephen Follows 47:46
what I think is so interesting is that first of all, I was as proud as I create these, these Brits are surviving and competing against that as I owe notes to shows. Like, what this means it's though there's an interesting, like thought process that goes on here, if you're being rational, you would say it would make more sense. Rather than trying to make three films or trying to make one film that competes in three areas. It's quite good, it's quite scary, it's got some effects, it makes more sense based on this data alone to compress all of your resources and that includes time and money and passion and whatever into one thing you know do one thing incredibly well and because of the power law and sub nature that if you go from being the second most the third most popular to the second most popular will mean so much more for you than going from fourth to fifth from from fifth to fourth and that it would argue that it's better to make something that's extremely one thing and you see this I mean we're in we're recording this before Christmas and and in look at how many Hallmark Christmas shows there are

Alex Ferrari 48:53

Stephen Follows 48:54
good well made or enjoyable I'm gonna show one or two but what they are is feel good Christmas like they are absolutely that

Alex Ferrari 49:02
are there there's a formula and again the comfortability factor for a specific demographic of people. That's why those films generally have a Mario Lopez or, or a Deem Cane or a face that people feel comfortable with because they remember them from you know, they're just comfortable they've watched their films or watched a TV shows over the years. And the watch it because it's like, Oh, you know what, I want to feel good. I want to feel good, Christmassy. And, oh, great. This is a new movie. And there you go. And all of us like I knew that no, that Mario Lopez Christmas movie exploded on Hallmark apparently. Because people love Mario Lopez because you know, it's later but

Stephen Follows 49:46
and he's his this thing is this thought that we I haven't heard expressed very much. I'm sure it's not a brand new thought. But in the last 10 years of being an independent filmmaker and working with independent filmmakers and chatting to them. I've heard people talk about oh my god, we have to hire People actors who've got a bigger social media following or whatever people, people have often complained to, they have to weigh up talent and appropriateness for the role and the wonder, and the fame on the other. What I haven't heard many people talk about, but I would argue is perhaps the battle that we're going for in the next five years, is in familiarity, not fame, but How comfortable are people with that person? So it's like, you know, one of the reasons that George Bush got in over Al Gore was that people were happy to have a drink with George Bush. It wasn't about politics to some for some people. And I noticed because I know, some people that voted for him who actually, I think their politics was slightly strange. And they were like, Yeah, I just don't like the word. I'd have a drink with bush. And so when you think about actors, it's not so much their fame, although obviously that's not a bad thing. And it's not so much their talent, although

Alex Ferrari 50:50
Do you feel comfortable?

Stephen Follows 50:52
Do you think your audience would go Yeah, okay. Without thinking about it. You know, and that's why you look at actors like I mean, almost every one of Adam Sanders movies as a comedy to the point to which people have been watching on uncut gems and been appalled. Whereas there are other actors who you just don't know what their movie is going to be because they play such a wide spectrum of carrier

Alex Ferrari 51:15
Tom. Hey, Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks like you he'll play everything and he's definitely not Adams. Yeah, it's his brand but that's fine and but you also feel comfortable within Tom Hanks or with Meryl Streep. Meryl Streep plays everything. She's going to be in a musical this month on on Netflix. But yet, you know, she she also was on HBO, Max doing another film with Steven Soderbergh. And you know, she she does everything, but that's her brand and you feel comfortable. And

Stephen Follows 51:40
I started this a while ago, I started on my blog, like how broad the act the the roles that actors have played across genres. And I found Adam Sandler was the most siloed. He did, most of his films have been in one genre. And the the actor, I only looked at sort of a couple of 100 really big actors. But the actor I saw that had the broadest as in like, had the least siloed in one genre was Ron Perlman. Yeah. Any you take, there's no one genre that accounts for more than a third of the roles he's done. So he's done some comedy, but he hasn't done mostly comedy. He's done some kids stuff. He's done some horror, easterns fantasy. And so Ron Perlman is an example here, who I think is a terrific actor. Yeah, like a good bloke. He is a perhaps you metric slightly less attractive to hire because he doesn't have that whatever we're going to call it comfortability effect. Whereas someone like Adam Sandler, who I would I'd rather see Ron Perlman take on Ron Perlman take on some certain drama roles at random center. But Adam Sandler would be more comfortable watch for more people. So I don't know what we'll do with answers.

Alex Ferrari 52:43
It's, it's very interesting the way this whole, this whole thing is, but I'm really I'm really happy that you've doing what you've done with the with VOD clickstream. And I'm, I'm just impressed. Like I always am with everything you do, man, you're insane for what you do. And I know that you're going to be digging through that data and continuing to grow, and you just started to go through that. And that's a good it's, it's not exactly what's going on. But man, it's, it's more than we had before. And it's definitely a direction to aim at, it might not be pinpoint. But man, it's better than, you know, like, Hey, I'm gonna go throw a football into a stadium, I have no idea where it's gonna go. Now at least you'll get it on the field. And maybe you can even get it within a few yards. You know, maybe that's the goal.

Stephen Follows 53:33
And also, you know, filmmakers should use all of these data points, and all of these things they hear and then they know themselves and they talk, they hear on your podcast, interviews. All of these are things you need to weigh up yourself and weigh them against everything else. No one person or one system can tell you what to do. And I'm just glad that we have at least one set of signals about SVOD, that doesn't come from the PR department.

Alex Ferrari 53:56
Yeah. Well, and I appreciate you fighting the good fight, sir. And getting this information out to the filmmakers. Where can where can people go and get this info.

Stephen Follows 54:04
So it's VOD clickstream.com. It's entirely free you, if you want to read more than the beginning of the articles, you can just sign up, but it's free. But that's the reason we put that barrier in is that we have got forums that anyone can join. And we wanted to make sure that there was a there was some effort you had to put in and that effort is signing up and accepting your email address. And what that means is that we have forums where people can post suggestions because we're still working out what to do with all of this data. You know, some of it, we have plenty of ideas, and we're churning away at them. But then there's some deeper things that we don't know what to look at. Yeah. And might the best suggestions for the research I've done over the years have come from audiences, I guess, if I was to think of the sort of most exciting things I've studied there, almost all of them come from audience suggestions. So that's what we're looking to have is like, what have you always wanted to know by S-VOD? I can't give you an immediate answer, and I might not be able to answer it at all, but probably I'm the best shot Most people have. And I'd be delighted to follow those threads and suggestions that we've had from people.

Alex Ferrari 55:05
What man, I appreciate everything you do. Steven, thank you so much. We have to we have to come back on the show and talk about our 12 unconventional Christmas movies and do another episode next year. But I appreciate everything you do, brother thanks again for coming on and, and sharing very valuable knowledge with with the tribe. So thanks again.

Stephen Follows 55:27
Thanks for inviting me. It's always a pleasure to be here.

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BPS 282: REVEALED: Why HOLLYWOOD Is IGNORING This Billion Dollar Audience with Jon Erwin

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Alex Ferrari 0:25
I'd like to welcome to the show Jon Erwin, how're you doing Jon?

Jon Erwin 0:39
I'm good man. You've already had my brother on so set the bar low. You know, you've had the you've had the suave, friendly brother on the product. You know, like mad scientist, brother. I think he calls me anyway. So, but thanks for having me on. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 0:54
I've had Andy, I had Andy on when you guys were promoting American underdog, which I love that film. And after I watched that film, I went back and I just went through your catalog because I was so impressed with how that film was put together. story wise, I was like, wow, there's something here. And then I went, and then I'd heard of the other films I hadn't seen, you know, I still believe and I can you imagine and all those kinds of films. And my wife and I just had them binge them all, man, you guys. Really? Yeah, you guys are doing some really good. Yeah, seriously, you guys are doing some really good stuff. So when your new film, Jesus revolution came up, I was like, Oh, I gotta have I gotta have John on, you know, if I had one, I gotta have the other one on. And then yeah, I'll have both of you on and now.

Jon Erwin 1:33
We'll do it together. Right now we're dividing and conquering. You know, we do so much grass roots, marketing. But I'm glad you enjoyed the films. I mean, ultimately, it's a privilege. I mean, it's a privilege to entertain people, like it's, I just think the business of entertainment is so hard, and, you know, sometimes sucks on a certain level, because it's so hyper competitive. You know, sometimes it's easy to lose sight of just how cool it is to get to do what we do, you know, and anytime that you can have, you can sort of see something in your mind or feel it deeply in your soul, write it on a piece of paper. And then hundreds of people come around you to make that thing real. And you're you're sitting there with an audience and they're, they're moved by it, and they're watching it as if it were real. It's like magic. It's like dreaming while awake. It is a privilege to do this. And I'm grateful for the audience to supporting the work enough to let us do this for a living. And this is a job that you should like work another job like behind the desk for years and years and years, save up some money and just blow it all getting to do this. So the fact that we get paid at all for this is really, really cool.

Alex Ferrari 2:39
It's a miracle that anything gets paid. It's a miracle that any gets made. And that is fascinating that as as, as an artist, we are the artists that spends the least amount of time doing the art, which is the days on set are so few and far between. It's mostly revving up to get the damn thing made writing getting produced getting trying to raise money, do all that stuff, then you spend if you're lucky 30 to 60 days if you're lucky.

Jon Erwin 3:12
Yeah, I was. I was talking to but having said that, I'm going to talking to Mel Gibson about his movie, Hacksaw Ridge. Very good movie. And, you know, it's the directors question. Like I was like, how many days did you ever shoot it? And he was like, man, you know, they didn't quite have their money together. I had to shoot that movie in 58 days shooting. I'm like, oh, shoot two movies now. And he's like, Well, on Braveheart. We had 85 I'm like, I would shoot three movies. So yeah, I've never had more than 30 days to shoot a movie. And, and there's there's magic to that, though. I think the absence limitation is the death of creativity. Like there's magic to being in a corner backed into a corner, feeling panicked, you know, and in not being able to second guess your instincts. But But yeah, you're right, you prep for months, you shoot for just a small time, you know, and it's like summer camp, and then it's over and then you then you edit it for months, and then you market it for months. And so you're right. actual making of the theme. The theme, the overall process is very, very short.

Alex Ferrari 4:15
And if you want to really get crazy, if you remember, John Woo, on the killer, he had 170 days.

Jon Erwin 4:24
Oh, come on. What do you do? What do you show you make one shot and you're like, Okay, there's good day,

Alex Ferrari 4:30
You, you basically shoot those insane action sequences until your heart's content. Like that's how he was able to make the killer and hardboiled. They had like 140 180 Day

Jon Erwin 4:43
That's insane, man. That's that's no idea. I don't even know. I don't know. I wouldn't I wouldn't know what to do. I would have no clue how to even show up for a day's work.

Alex Ferrari 4:56
We're gonna shoot half a page today guys. We're gonna shoot it yeah.

Jon Erwin 5:02
Gonna get it 18 Always and we're done. Yeah. You know what's funny, though is is for the independent filmmakers out there, I think, for me, we used to do music videos in our career started in sports television, lied about our age to live on Mondays, we go caravan, somebody gets sick randomly. And then my dad bought us a camera started making stuff. And it's like that Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 Hour Rule. kicked in, just, you know, I really think what we do is, to your point, much more of a business than it is an art form. It's the symphony of art. And it's also much more of a craft than it is an art form. And it combines a lot of art. But a craft is something that you sort of like, just get better and better at every day. You know, it's sort of an iterative process. It's sort of like you against you. And it's a quest to just improve and slowly but surely, seek to master your craft. But you know, way back in the day, we would make all kinds of music videos, that was sort of our grind. And we would do a bunch of them, like four or five a month. And

Alex Ferrari 6:09
500 bucks, like 500 bucks 1000?

Jon Erwin 6:10
Well, that's the thing, it won't know what happened. It was after Napster. And so Andy and I came into Nashville, and the whole industry was like, there are no more $300,000 music videos, what are we going to do? Well, and we were like, someone's gonna pay us $15,000 To do a music video. Let's do all of them, you know. And so we just, we just don't, you know, and so we, but it was this process. But what I realized is, whenever we were on the random occasion that we had all the money in the world. And there were, you know, it just becomes decisions by committee, and there were 12 execs there and all that stuff. There was a magic loss, whenever, like, the way we would do it is like Andy would prep a music video, and I so I would show up to his that, and I hadn't even heard the song, and then he would show up to my set. And he had, you know, we would just sort of LeapFrog. And there was just always a magic when we never quite had enough and time or money. And there's something to the strain of having to solve problems creatively in an environment that's full of pressure that you can't second guess your instincts. It's terrible for your health and, you know, mental sanity, but it really is good for the work. And so I'm a huge fan of, of even like on the movie that you mentioned, American underdog that went from a 46 day schedule pre COVID to a 30 day schedule post COVID, we had to cut a third of the budget out to keep it greenlit. And I don't think that they're the other movie would have been better. And a lot of a lot of the things that we came up with, like using the real footage of the game, you know, which in editorial really did well, we couldn't choreograph near as much stuff. So we choreographed what we could exactly as it happened in the real game. And then that way, we could use the actual game footage, but and so a lot there was a lot of articles, a lot of people saying that was a great artistic choice. And I'm like, that wasn't an artistic choice. That was a production limitation, you know. And so I think you just find great ideas when you're constrained.

Alex Ferrari 8:09
Right! It's like, it's Jaws is the classic example of that, right? Yeah, the sharp doesn't work. Okay, I guess we're gonna show it. We're not going to show the shark as much it kind of worked out for that that that I forgot the guy's name. I don't even know that guy's name. Did he do anything else after?

Jon Erwin 8:24
Now that was that was a 50 day shootings getting jobs was they went 150 days. They went

Alex Ferrari 8:31
But what not his fault. And can you imagine that his first big like he did Sugarland Express. He did duel. We're talking about Steven Spielberg, everybody, if you don't know. And then and then you and this is his first kind of big studio based on a best selling book. And he's like, I'm never gonna work again. I'm never going to work again. He's like yeah,

Jon Erwin 8:53
He was gonna get fired every day and his credit water is horrible. Anytime you introduce in any substantive way to to our industry,

Alex Ferrari 9:05
Nature and general nature in general, but water has water specifically because you got cold water, you can't move everything just and it doesn't doesn't do what it doesn't do what you want it to do. It doesn't

Jon Erwin 9:21
Look good. Boy Does it look good. I think in this movie that we just did Jesus revolution there's a whole sequence in the rain and and there's also some underwater dive take work and for this sort of dream sequence and and I remember talking to a keystone cinematographer, and I'm like yeah, I think we do the sequence and you know, a couple hours or whatever this conversation in the rain, he was like, six hours later. I was like, You were totally right. AKIsE and, but you know, we do have this thing that we say Pain is temporary film is forever, you know, and I do believe it. Yeah, like, go for difficult. It Go for it. Go for death. because no question and, you know, because it's just better.

Alex Ferrari 10:04
So John, I mean, we just kind of ran off with this because a lot of people don't know who you, you, you and and we did.

Unknown Speaker 10:09
We went on it. We just we just went because yeah, we just we just went off. Probably so

Alex Ferrari 10:14
So tell me tell me how you and your brother got you said you got into the business by music videos. Yeah. But your your first kind of F if I'm not mistaken your first narrative was October Baby or one of your first Yeah, was that so right. And that was a completely indie film back then, how did you raise the money for that? How did you you know, get that off the ground wasn't an easy film. You know, subject matter.

Jon Erwin 10:40
Yeah. Why start there? You know, looking back. You know, basically, we were, you know, we, we started in as sports Gehrman was 15. And then we, you know, when we started, we were a service company, really found our footing doing music, videos, and commercials. And then I went to but you know, from the south, right, born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, you know, obviously, my faith has always been a huge part of our life and community and upbringing. And, and, and then, you know, just around the time that all this sort of new thing of faith based films was sort of emerging, post passionate of Christ, and Sony was doing faith based films. And so I went to direct second unit on a faith based film called courageous in Georgia, and the real Cinderella story, these, this church was making these movies and Sony was funding them. And they were doing like 30 million a box office, and they were tiny films like wanting to make movies. So it was amazing. And, and so I went down there to work on those films, they wanted to do a police drama with car chases, and action sequences, and like, churches, making movies and car chases should never be combined, you know, people will die. And so I was hired to sort of go in and with professionals and take go far away from the set and do the stunt work and do the action sequences. And which I love. And the director of that movie asked the question that doesn't really matter, I think what your your beliefs are? And it's a great question to ask, he's, like, you know, trying to understand you like, like, what's your purpose and the purpose of your work? Like, why do you do what you do? And I think a lot of us focus on what we do. Very few of us focus on why we do what we do. And, and I couldn't stop thinking about the question like I couldn't, the whole time I was working on a film. I was like, I couldn't stop thinking about it. And that led to sort of a fusion of a career and calling and the idea of, of joining the fray and jumping in on values based faith based entertainment, you know, Heartland type stuff, and I remember it, we were doing a film with Sean Astin. And he said, I see you guys frontiersmen pioneers. And I said, Thank you, Shawn, That's high praise is like, you know, most volunteers didn't die on the frontier. And I'm like, well, the name roads actress and the, the, the trail will be paved. But what I learned was, it's such an, it's such a privilege to be a part of anything that's emerging, you know, most industries are, it's like, the cement to the foundation has hardened. So to be able to make your mark on anything that's emerging right in front of you, is, first of all completely out of your control. It's a factor of timing. So that's like technology in the 70s. You know, in you know, computers or, or even that group of directors like Spielberg and Scorsese and Lucas and Coppola and department, all these guys inventing the modern blockbuster, like you just have to sort of catch lightning in a bottle. So it's cool to, to be a part of something, you know. And so that led to a completely different business to finally answer your question which is, which is going from a service company to intellectual property is coming and starting raising money for for, you know, our own films, and October Baby was first we had to raise $100,000, to get the production to that movie made. And, and then we had to raise the marketing as well. In the first quarter million, no joke was from my grandmother, who I kept getting to remind that she invested in film, and, and then the second quarter million from a surgeon named Jim who we hit film, like 150, of his orthopedic trauma cases, and, and so it's just you have to be very pragmatic, you got to get really good at solving problems. And I think the thing that we didn't realize was that, that really helped us was that, you know, you really have to think holistically about a business. And in entertainment, we don't so we think so much about the product, and then but we don't think about how to market and distribute the product. And so as a filmmaker a lot of times, it's like you're, you're climbing a mountain and you get to the top of the mountain. And, you know, you think that you've summited Everest or something, and actually the fog clears and there's a mountain ahead of you that's twice as tall and, and that's marketing and distribution. And so it was very it was it was it was it was it was good fortune at the time that we couldn't had a distributor sorted the film and had to then go raise another three and a half million, which is this category of money that we that was printed advertising was called PNA to get the movie released, and then you know, you're throwing up in a in a trash can on Thursday night because you You bet your your grandmother and everyone else believe that, you know, and, you know, you're thinking, you know, it's funny, as you know, we make the utricle movies. And so, you know, it's a, it's a rare part of our business that on on a Friday by about new, you know, if the last two years of your life were worth anything at all. It's like an election. And I've experienced all sides of it. And it's a thrill. But But luckily, the film went well, and it cracked the top 10. And everyone made money that God included, my grandmother made a film for Sony, called mom's night out. But I think one of the biggest things that I would recommend is just like, if you can combine two things, eventually, you'll win. And those two things are just, you know, maybe call it grit, or just pain tolerance or endurance versus perseverance. If you can perseverance, if you can combine that with curiosity. Yeah, eventually, you'll win. Like if you can just have a higher tolerance to pain, and just keep going like it's going to take longer than you think. But if you keep going, but you're not learning anything, then you're just going to repeat your mistakes over and over again, there's a lot of people like that. But if if you have a level of tenacity, and perseverance, and you match that with just being a student, and learning all the time, and trying to understand how things work, eventually, you'll you'll catch your moment. And for me, I became obsessed with the interrelated disciplines of our industry that a lot of people resent, like, if you're a writer, and director, he's like, Oh, the marketing people, or the finance people. But what I learned is all these things are sort of inextricably linked, you know, the high concept and scripts is essential to the marketing campaign, and the movie itself and its budget is essential to the overall p&l of the enterprise. And, and so what I think really helped me was the ability to think holistically and understand and just by, by, by, by virtue of having to being able to look sort of, like the name of your book that, so Film, film to film intrapreneur, that's such a cool terror, to try to really have the mindset of an entrepreneur, first and foremost, and then let your creativity funnel through that, I think, I think is a much better way to be successful in our industry.

Alex Ferrari 17:41
Well, I mean, that's the thing. That's the reason I wrote the book is because so many filmmakers, and I've been doing this now, eight years, and I've been doing my business I've been doing the film is almost 30. So I've seen and played in so many different sandboxes over the course of my career. But I keep seeing filmmakers make the same mistakes. They just they, they just like they're stuck in the 90s. They think they're going to make a movie, go to Sundance, and someone is going to come down from Mount Hollywood, write them a check. And then they're making a Marvel movie like that's, that's their idea of success. But you and I both know that that's not the reality of the marketplace. The marketplace isn't what it was in the 90s a movie like slacker could find, could find its footing of film, like clerks could find its footing in the 90s. Because it was the new VHS, the video is

Jon Erwin 18:27
Home Entertainment safety net, you know, you lose money at the time. Yeah, totally. And then pick it up in home entertainment. And the theatrical window was and that was enough of a billboard to justify the spin even if you lost a lot of money, because Home Entertainment was so lucrative. But that was a 2030 year bubble, you know? And, and unfortunately, it's changed. The other thing that the reason you got to stay curious is we are in an industry that is rapidly changing. And and so, you know, that's one of the I think the problems with film schools is if you're out of the industry, for four years, it's a different industry. And certainly COVID has actually accelerated that change. And so what COVID did, in my contrarian point of view is that COVID COVID is going to end up reshaping our industry very similar to how Napster reshaping music and and what it's going to do is it just it's going to pull forward about a decade of change into a more constricted window. And it's going to take a lot of time for that. Now, having said that, if you can sort of skate where the puck is going to be as Wayne Gretzky said, there's enormous opportunities opening up. But you got to sort of let go of the past and really be hyper curious about the future. And so learning to me being curious and learning and I'll give you an example of what you just said, we did our second film, our first 100 5 million or second 10 was very profitable. Then we found our voice with a phone call Woodlawn. We, we you know, they say a filmmaker finds their story and tells it over and over again and our we found inspirational true stories and that's just like our Our niche spent raised all the money for the film was about third of the PNA did the wrong deals, didn't basically make as much money as we hoped we were about 15. And box office really needed to do 20. And that was the first time I didn't get all the money back to the investors, we had like this perfect batting average up till then with the films and documentaries. And we really, I couldn't sleep at night, I just I hate to lose, it's like, my philosophy is like, either either we win, or let's just play again, let's just whatever it is ping pong, whatever, you know, go go get and so. And so what we did is we actually, to me, a huge part of success is just learning to fail correctly. And mindfully, and failure, in my opinion, is the great teacher, if you'll let it be. And so with Woodlawn, we stopped in for five months, we studied it, we asked questions. And we did something that I don't know why more people don't do we solicited a ton of criticism from people like if we're going to be in an industry that has this whole category of people called critics that and we're going to read all those things obsessively. Why not solicit criticism from people that actually care about you, and want want the best for you? So we went out to all of our friends and people in the campaign outside of the campaign, what did we do wrong? How can we do better? What what can we learn from this, and it ended up with this 170 page, you know, post mortem slash Jerry Maguire manifesto. So you know, and, and we saw inside the market, we saw new business model. And that was the playbook that led to I can only imagine, and I can only imagine was built to break even at 15 million box office. It did that in its first two days, first three days. And it did. So everything between that and the 86 million in box office that it did, and becoming number one of the year was margin. But that would have never happened if we hadn't failed number one, and we hadn't feel correctly. Number two, and really learned, we didn't make a better movie we actually spent less on the movie with Imagine we actually implemented a better business model, and a much more innovative business model. And that's what led to the success of the movie. And we also learned a lot about what people wanted. And so I would just say that you have to embrace and what I found is the titans of our industry, Steven Spielberg, you know, we were just talking about he is as good a businessman. Oh, as he is an artist and filmmaker, he's produced more films that he's directed. He is incredibly true on the business. So it was Tom Hanks. And so it was Matt Damon. So it was Ben Affleck, like, like, we think of these people as artists, but they're also really astute business people. And you have to hold both together, and you have to value both. And you have to see the interrelatedness of both. And I think what keeps a lot of filmmakers back is they have this sort of almost elitist resentment, that we're in a business and we're selling products right now. And they had to buy, you know,

Alex Ferrari 23:05
It's so annoying. It's, again, why I wrote the book, because it was so annoying that nobody's thinking outside the box. No one's thinking that this is a product. And we're like, It's art. Dude, if you want to go make art in the backyard, my friend knock yourself out. But the second you take grandma's $250,000, you better figure out a way to get grandma's money back. I mean,

Jon Erwin 23:25
It's entertainment. It's not art, it's entertainment. It's a symphony of art to create it. But there's a nobility, I think it was John Lasseter, that said, the nobility of entertainment. You know, the idea that, you know, we provide a service and by the way, and I just believe we're in a service business, like one of the things that we say there's not about us, it's about the people sitting in the seats and the experience they're having. And that's it. And you got to get out of the way of that. And, and so to me, it's about entertaining an audience about loving an audience is about getting getting to know an audience and serving that audience well. And the people that have really done well in sort of other niche sectors like Jason Blum has become a good friend. And the way he thinks and the way he talks about the audience, and entertaining the audience and the way he places you know, jail is this friend of mine, and he was one of the pilots and Top Guns he talked about every day, Tom Cruise shut up and just said, this is a privilege what we do is a privilege, how can we exceed the expectations of the audience? So I've found the really great people our industry are much more service oriented than they are sort of selfish about their, about their precious ego and their their sort of artistic expression and the greats in our industry are much more about let's entertain the audience like that's the normal thing to do is people are paying money. They're paying, they're they're paying in their time, they're buying popcorn that's more expensive than anywhere else on the earth. They're paying basically the same price. For my movie as they are for Avatar, they cost like

Alex Ferrari 25:03
100 times more 540 million.

Jon Erwin 25:07
So the attitude that I need to have is like, I'm gonna do everything I can to entertain you, and to uplift you, and to give you a great experience in the movie theater. And then if I've done that, well, maybe I can also tell you what I believe, and what I hope will enrich your life as well. But if I just the more you apply a mindset that is not common, and certainly not taught in business, in film school, but a mindset of the pregnant is in the business, and a mindset of service, entertainment, the more the more you win in this industry, that's what I found. And I think a lot of what the attitude that comes out of you know, that that's expected, from filmmakers is actually the opposite of what will actually get you to the top of the industry.

Alex Ferrari 25:54
Well, let me ask you this, because I'm really curious to hear your position on this, you know, the theatrical business model has changed dramatically since COVID. It was already on the downward slope, we were all we all saw. And like you said, a decade worth of change is been compacted in two or three years, and the theatrical business is hurting. There's no question about it. Last time, I went to a theater. And I've said, last last year, there was only two movies that I went to the theater that I actually went and paid money to go see, which was Top Gun, and Avatar. And those are the only two because those are the only two that I felt that deserved a theatrical experience, from my from my point of view for me to get out of the house and go and all that there are other deserving movies. But you know, for me to the kids, all that stuff, you know how it is. But your films are interesting, because you are servicing an audience that doesn't get serviced, often, and definitely not serviced. Well, often. So it's, again, goes back to that, that my book was, which is the future of filmmaking is niche filmmaking, finding an audience of good news. Yeah, finding an audience and serving that audience. Like you said, you want to serve them, you it's a privilege. So your audience is faith based. And and specifically, not only faith based, but the sub genre of, you know, true stories that are that's kind of like where you found your, your, your really, your, your magic, your secret sauce, if you will. But so, it was so interesting, because I just moved from LA to Austin. And it's a very difference. Great City. I love Austin, low Austin. It's amazing. But I you know, when I go to the theater, or I passed by the theater, what was one of the posters I saw Jesus revolution?

Jon Erwin 27:36
Oh, great. Yeah, we're doing that.

Alex Ferrari 27:39
But that was, but I but I saw that months ago, months ago, I saw that in the theater, I would have probably not seen that in LA. Probably not, because it's not the demographic, quote, unquote, of this film. This is a Heartland center of the country kind of film. And but that audience shows up. They show up to the theaters, they do that. So it's a lesson that I hope everyone listening is, is about is one, an audience will show up for Top Gun. Because it was an amazing experience. I would go see it in IMAX today. There's such an amazing experience. But if there's something that touches their emotional nerves, that's what will get people out of seats. But with that said, What do you feel about where the pucks going to be in three or four or five years because theaters are starting to drop more and more screens are just going away? I've seen them just close the shop. So how is your business model going to work differently as you might still, you probably have a longer life theatrically than most filmmakers. But at a certain point. Yeah, I think it's, you know, yeah,

Jon Erwin 28:47
Well, it's interesting that you it's a great question. It's one of the questions to ask is what's the future of the theatrical experience in theatrical window? I do study it obsessively. In RG has put out some really good reports on trends post COVID. I really, I the short and the long. The short answer is I think that the actual window will absolutely endure, but it's just going to be different. And I think it's going to look a lot more like Broadway. Then then then what we had before COVID And I could literally talk about for hours about until like Steve Carell and Crazy Stupid Love. You want to like roll out of a moving car, like oh my gosh, I'm done with this guy. I'm a nerd for this stuff. But But, but I'll say I'll say this. Here's the question to ask for every independent filmmaker. If you're asking the question, which I think traps us, is this a good movie? Therefore, it deserves a theatrical experience. That's the wrong question. The best thing that I wrote down that I think is way more true now than even when I wrote it in that post mortem to Woodlawn is I wrote down this is no longer a movie business. This is a brand driven event business. And that's what it is. So avatars a brand, you know, top guns a brand, and it's an event, it's a social event. And we need those things and we need to go see them. The thing is, we just need fewer of them. And we want them to be bigger, and there's just there's not everything. Post COVID, coinciding with the streaming war, we don't need a lot of categories of films outside of our home. So if you can be one of the things that works outside the home, you actually make a lot more money right now, like Avatar sitting on top of the box office number one, or was it six weeks, seven weeks? Like that's not a good indicator, most of the industry, that means that we're all just gonna go see Avatar and Avatar is going to play forever, like a show on Broadway, like Les Moonves or you know, whatever. And Tompkins the same way. And so what does that mean for all of us? And yeah, loves doing it. Megan did great. You know, and things will work, but less work. So the real question, the real question to ask yourself with evaluating a movie for theatrical opportunity is can I think my god live at Samuel Goldwyn, who is true to my first film, one of the great old Titan executives, the industry said, he always asked, you know, is it a? Is it a? Is it a good movie? Not the right question. Is it a great movie for an audience? How many of them are there? And do I know how to talk to them? And so the real question is, can I make this as an event? For an audience? If the answer to that is yes, then you have a theatrical shot. Okay, then you ask how large is that audience? And do I know how to talk to them, and then you actually reverse engineer the economics to that end. And so what I've learned is, I'm still alive in this business, number one, by the grace of God. But secondly, it's much more about mitigating risks and modeling a downside than it is betting for an upside. So like with imagine, we built it to break even in our prior film, films box office 15 million. The film that I'm doing right now Jesus revolution, I feel that it's an event for our core audience, I think people are going to show up for it, I don't know, talk to me in three weeks, or whatever. But I really do feel like I really do feel like it's an advance. And it's like a social event. And that's why we're putting in theaters and really going for it. But it still has a very achievable, breakeven. And so to me, it's really about reverse engineering outcomes and protecting a downside. And so and letting instead of saying, what does this movie cost? That's the wrong question. And say, what's the business model of this? What do we think it could achieve? And, you know, if we don't know if it's the actual, but it might be well then make it at a cost where the product is now usable. And you can probably create a marketplace around it and flip it to a streamer at a profit. But still test it for theatrical, you get over a certain budget where sort of has to go theatrical so. So I think it's just about really thinking about the audience. And I think that the actual question will become, is this an event for the audience, if you can say, with a straight face, this is an event for an audience of people that I know, release it in theaters, that's going to still work? If it's not, if it's not a social event, and typically a social event that's undergirded by a brand, then you're going to really struggle in today's environment, releasing computers.

Alex Ferrari 33:30
Well, I mean, the brand, you guys put it right in the title Jesus. That's the brand. Arguably, what a great marketing by the way, Jesus, His people. Great, great marketing over the years. Yeah, well, we'll see. Yeah, Jesus, Jesus has done well. But the point is to me,

Jon Erwin 33:47
Yeah, but

Alex Ferrari 33:49
I didn't You didn't hide it. And that's why I was so impressed about it. Because a lot of people would be scared, they would change it to something else. But the put the word Jesus, that Jesus is a trigger word, for a lot of people has nothing to do with poor Jesus. But it's a trigger word for a lot of people. And you decided to put it right out there because you know who your audience is. And that man, God bless. God bless you for that, brother. I mean, seriously, I was like,

Jon Erwin 34:12
Well, also, you know, what I want to make your movies that I don't care who you are, or what you believe, I'm going to try to make a movie that you love. But I found it's actually better. Instead of trying to make a million people love like you. Yep, just find 100 People that absolutely love you, and build a relationship with them, and super serve them and then let their let them be your voice to the masses, and just trust that those people are indicative of some level of the population, you know, and there's more of them. And so with Jesus revolution, you know, it'll be very interesting to see what happens because we don't have as much you know, advertising money as we did with American underdog but we've taken the time to go all over the country and really connect the film to the audience. It's leaders and, and you know, there's just a there's a message behind the movie and it's, I love the movie. It's a fun movie, it's you make you laugh and cry. I think the performance is really good. It's kind of like my almost famous or some like, you know, to a Cameron Crowe film, you know,

Alex Ferrari 35:15
oh, I could tell that could see that.

Jon Erwin 35:17
What is the cost of a good artists copy Great artists steal Cameron Carver, listen to this, I'm sorry. But, you know, but it sort of is in that spirit. And the cool thing I think about it is I didn't name the movie, Time Magazine named the movie. And this is a cover of Time magazine from 1971 at a very similar time, and there was this psychedelic sort of Jesus on the cover and, and with this 10 page spread that was so incredibly optimistic and hopeful. And it just said, Jesus revolution, and it was this sweeping hippie revival that was going on all over America. So the good news is, there's a historical context in Time magazine called, we're just telling the story that cover.

Alex Ferrari 36:00
And you know, what's fascinating is, after I watched the movie, it's not a it's not a preachy movie. It's actually I love the trailer, because it's not like, you know, if you don't believe in Jesus, or you don't believe in that, you could still enjoy this film, because it's just a great story, of transformation of people searching for themselves and finding, you know, the divine within themselves and divine, within groups of people opening up doors that are shut discrimination against people just because of the way they look. Yeah, there's so many themes in this film that I absolutely loved and connected with. It's not like a beat you beat you over the head with a Bible conversation. It is not by any stretch of the imagination. It really is a wonderful thing that almost anybody can enjoy.

Jon Erwin 36:42
I'm glad you said, man. So that's what we were trying for it. I'm so yeah, you say that we we basically. That's that was exactly the intent. You know, I wanted to make a movie, I just think the narrower the focus, the wider the appeal. And that's why I think Jason Blum does that really well. Oh, yeah, something specific, really well, but I took my daughter Megan, and really enjoyed it, you know, and, and so I think that, that, what we're doing is we understand who we are and the audience that we serve. And we're, we're unapologetic and unafraid of telling stories that we love that we hope other people are going to love to. And with this story, what's been interesting about it is because it is set in the world of the church, in the 70s, but people that don't believe or have any sort of religious affiliation at all, love and appreciate the movie because they see it as sort of a modern day allegory of loving the other. So basically, the story is this sort of square pasture geared by his daughter, opens his church to this group of hippies, that at the time, weren't allowed become the church like the at the time, it was like, you know, for a hippie to go to church, it was like, go home, get a job, take a bath, cut your hair, we joined society now maybe you can come to church, and he just let him in. And there was this hippie street preacher named Ronnie frisbee, and it was like a nitroglycerin moment. And that sparked this nationwide awakening. So there's a ton of natural humor in it, because these groups of people are so different. But that theme of like opening your heart in your mind. And literally your diverse to a group of people that society would see you can't hang out with that society would say is a polar opposite point of view, then you and actually learning to love each other. And joining together in something that seems to play a really strong and really rabid relevant to today's sort of just this, this situation that we're in as a country, you know, no matter no matter what people believe. And so it's cool to be able to do something really specific. But that also plays as a broader sort of motivational allegory, you know,

Alex Ferrari 38:53
And you know, what's, what's wonderful about what you and Andy your brother do with your films, is that you have this beautiful balancing act that you do with all of your films that you put just enough in to serve the core audience. But you put just enough in that someone outside of your core audience could enjoy like, I can only imagine was you man, you nailed it right down the middle for your core audience. But when you're watching it, anyone can enjoy that film. Anyone can enjoy American underdog. Like you don't have to,

Jon Erwin 39:25
I'm glad you say that's the goal. I mean, a lot of times it's like it's fun to be able to test contrary in opinions, like like opinions that maybe other people don't share. And my opinion about Christianity is it's not divisive. It's not. You know, there's this verse in the Bible. It says, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness. And then it says against these things, there is no law. And my opinion is when you portray those things correctly, like who's gonna say we don't We'd more love joy, peace and patience and kindness to each other and goodness and society like, like, we need these things today. And I think if you just let the story do the work, you know, trust the audience's, you know, abilities, and you don't have to beat them over the head. And I think that just choose stories that you feel are powerful and life changing, and tell them to the best of your ability. I think that that's just a better way to do it. And I think if you do it, right, these stories can be inviting and inspiring, no matter what belief you have, and I don't think anyone should ever feel alienated or driven away, or ostracized by Christianity, I just think that that's, that's unfortunate. And one of the things that I would hope changes, you know, over the next decade is this is this is just, this is good stuff for everybody. And those are the stories that we want to tell. And I think when you just really portray and infuse the virtues of Christianity in ways that are really entertaining and stories, you know, they're things that are universally needed, and, and things that we who doesn't love a good redemption story? You know,

Alex Ferrari 41:09
I mean, absolutely. And I mean, it's very progressive, what you're saying, you know, it, it shouldn't be, but it is, and wonderful in a wonderful way. Because your point of view on your faith is not, you know, it, this is a weird thing, because I lived in the bubble of Los Angeles for 13 years. And then when I moved to Austin, I just saw things a little bit differently. It's really interesting to see and by the way, Austin, not the, the most conservative situation. The imagination, all the crazies and all the weirdos, you know, Keep Austin weird. It's a wonderful city. But yeah, I just start seeing things a little bit differently on the way I'm like, oh, okay, this makes sense now, and it's, I love this, I love what you guys are trying to do, because you are trying to bring the two, the two sides, whatever, those two sides together together, because that's what we should be doing. Regardless, you know, you and I both grew up at a time where we both could, you know, believe different things and still have a beer, or still have a conversation. I was, like, you know, are you kidding me? My, my father and me have completely different points of view on life, you know, and uncles and, you know, all that kind of stuff in the family. But, you know, we still get together, we still love each other, we still, you know,

Jon Erwin 42:28
That's right. You know, it's, it sounds like such a cliche, but yeah, love really is the, you know, in the sense of, like, you know, when you think of like, you know, there's so much more that unifies us, and things to agree on, and then then divides us. And I think there's just this gap of sere in the middle. And, and I, for me, you know, I had the good fortune of being born and raised in like the buckle of the Bible Belt, Birmingham, Alabama, but very quickly at the age of 15, traveling outside of it, because I was working for ESPN. And then in marketing the film's you know, I live in Nashville, Tennessee, I commute to and work in Los Angeles, spent about half a week or a week of the month or whatever, there. We market these films everywhere. I've traveled the continental United States man. And you just realize that there's a lot that binds us together. And there's a lot to have a beer over and talk about and celebrate. And when you just boil things down to their themes and their values, there's a lot of values that we agree on. And so I think as a as a Christian, what I've realized is man, actually there's a hunger for this stuff beyond belief, you know, in terms of like, beyond what people believe, I think if you sit down and watch some things that are really well made. But but you know, this is where we had a decade of the antihero are very good versions of that. But if you binge Game of Thrones House of Cards Breaking Bad, you just it's hard to believe in anything, let alone yourself. And I think people are craving a sense of meaning and purpose and, and values. And so there's sort of a return. So yeah, has Christianity been weaponized and counterfeit? Absolutely. But that's just what we do as people, whether it's politics, or religion, or whatever,

Alex Ferrari 44:24
All religions, by the way, almost all of it, yes.

Jon Erwin 44:27
But I would say that, you know, it says something about the source because you only ever really weaponize something that's intrinsically powerful, and you only counterfeit something that's intrinsically valuable. So of course, the crazies are going to use this thing to their own, you know, purposes, and there's going to be televangelists, and there's going to be rogue people but, but I think the thing at its source is, is beautiful and meaningful and powerful. And whether you believe it to be absolutely true, like, like I do, and I find great meaning from that or whether you like Thomas Jefferson, who famously cut all of the references to the divinity of Christ out of a Bible. It's called the Thomas Jefferson Bible. The reason he did that is he said, he didn't really believe in the the Divinity, or questioned it, but he thought the teachings of Jesus were the greatest moral reset in the history of the world, you know, and I agree with them. And so what it's just good stuff, it's, you know, loving your neighbor, going the extra mile turning, turning the cheek, you know, being known by how you love people like these are things that if we reintroduced to society, society would be better for it. And I think that the best way to do that is through stories. And so what we want to do is we want to tell stories that, that certainly resonate with our core audience with that Heartland audience and super served them. But also are just hopefully, entertaining and applicable to whoever wanders in the theater. But what we want to do first and foremost is entertain. We're entertainers first, and I hope to there's nothing like being in an audience of people and hearing them laugh and cry, and tear at it at a movie. I've never seen a movie. Like Jesus revolution, we really screened it far and wide and early last week, let us we've shown it to a lot of people. And you know, I've not ever been a part of the movie where people are cheering during the film, at certain points. And that's a wonderful experience. And it's so it's wonderful to connect with a core audience like that.

Alex Ferrari 46:26
You know, it's in what you're saying is true, because I've noticed that as well, in some of the other work that I do, and other shows that I do, that people are starving for this kind of message, these positive messages, these positive stories, these things that are that fill you up. And look, I love Breaking Bad. I thought Breaking Bad was one of the

Jon Erwin 46:49
Most perfect last hours of television ever, ever,

Alex Ferrari 46:52
Ever made. And other than maybe two episodes of the entire series, but that fly episode drove me nuts. Other than that, the whole series was almost perfection. It really was as as, as as an art as an art piece. It was beautiful. But at the end, you don't feel really uplifted by by what Walter White has been doing. You know, it's been entertaining as hell. But then you watch something like Shawshank, which is one of my favorite films of all time.

Jon Erwin 47:20
And that's right, that's exactly the difference. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 47:23
And then you look at Shawshank and if you look at IMDb, it overtook the Godfather as the most is the best film ever made. How and why? And I've said this and I've talked to Oscar winning screenwriters about this. I've talked to every story analysts about this. I've talked to filmmakers about this and like what is it about that film that is connected with so many people from every walk of life since it's released, and it's the worst name in film history worst name in film history? On on paper, it is not a particularly great story. You know, it's like oh, it's a it's a pretty it's a it's not a it's not a particularly like innovative story on the surface. But what Frank Darabont was able to do with that movie has connected so deeply with people who you know people who think Steven Seagal is the greatest actor of all time. Love Shawshank.

Jon Erwin 48:22
Yeah, though it transcends man, and I'll tell you what it is at its essence. You know, I love I love to think about and find the essence of things. There's this great book, Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl disguises was in several, you know, survived the Holocaust, his family did and a psychologist was in several camps came out and finished the work that he beaten began before, which led to one of the Great's psychology books ever written, which is Man's Search for Meaning and, and he had this incredible optimism, even though of all he had been through, and his take was that he can was thing logotherapy is the Greek word for me, or Lagertha, I don't know how to say it is the Greek word for meaning. And his point was that actually, pleasure wasn't sort of the end all. Like Freud, you know, his point was that actually, the the quest is to find a sense of meaning and purpose to your life, that is what everyone's looking for. So if you talk about the function of the storyteller, whether that's a movie, or a play, or sitting around a campfire, the function of the storyteller in society is to try to take all this nonsense and all these things that don't connect and, you know, and fit them together to bring a sense of order and meaning and purpose. So the stories that I think transcend you know, when, when, when a wall is right, that line, every man dies, not every man really lives in the middle of a brilliant film Braveheart. But that's meaning and purpose. And I think it's actually the power of that theme that makes that movie transcend not that you Onra I think it's the theme of living from your heart and living from your soul, you know, and living from your passion and Shawshank the same way Hard movie but brilliant material in terms of meaning and purpose. And so I think when we did I can only imagine barbicide just as what is the essence of like, what do people how does this dude that looks like you know, offense? Right? This multi platinum juggernaut independent artists, not you, I'm talking about Bart, you look great anyway. And so does Bart now, but anyway, but the idea of, you know, how does how does, you know, just, he's just an everyman, you know, I'm saying like, there's anything, you know, and he was an everyman with an everyman band that was, you know, independent from Texas, how do you ride this multi platinum juggernaut? I just said, what do people feel when they hear the song and because I got to match that with the movie, whether people know it or not, they're gonna feel the same way. And he said, You know, it's a rush of hope. That's what they feel. And so we sort of, we sort of engineered the whole movie around that same experience. And I just feel like people need a rush of hope right? Now, they need a sense of like, my life matters. There's meaning to life. There's some sort of destiny, there's some sort of purpose here. And, and I and I need sort of, I need to go out of a theater feeling hopeful and feeling like, I'm matter, and life is worth living. And I think that, as great as Breaking Bad is as great as Game of Thrones is, except for the last season, please remake it, you know, you know, that you, you have the opposite. After you watch those things, you just sort of feel this sense of, it's me versus everyone else, hopelessness, you know, and it's survival at all cost. And I think that seeped into our society a little bit. And I honestly think that the aggregate entertainment is one of the reasons why we're at each other's throats, you know? Because if you watch Game of Thrones, and house guards, Breaking Bad and other things, it's like, Okay, there's one law, I gotta live and you gotta die. And that's it. You know, it's me versus everybody. And I think that's gotten into society a little bit. And I actually think, you know, what we say is the world needs a little more Catherine. Sense of Frank Capra, you know, It's a Wonderful Life and things like that a little a little optimism, a little hope. And, and I think that there's room in the marketplace.

Alex Ferrari 52:22
Do you think that because I think there's going to come up, I do think there's going to come a point in the next decade that there's going to be a runaway hit like a juggernaut hit, and it's not going to be one there's going to be a series of them that are and you guys are probably going to be behind one or two of them at least. But there that's going to connect with the majority of people looking for that rush of hope. And they're gonna go oh, wait a minute. Maybe we shouldn't remake another Star Wars or another Marvel show. And maybe we should start putting some money into this. Do you think that will ever happen within the studio's because they always go with the money goes, even after passion.

Jon Erwin 53:02
Everything is cyclical. I think everything is cyclical, and everything is counterprogramming. And I think one of the reasons I can only imagine worked was there was an article before it came out that deadline wrote that said like the music biopic is dead like these films don't work anymore. The point is, we sort of were at the front end of the reemergence of a dormant genre. Now you think like Elvis and stars born and, you know, Bohemian Rhapsody, and all these music, like one right after the other, this is now a reestablish genres, it's actually a little more risky. One of the real hard things about filmmaking is an independent filmmaking especially, is that the way to win with independent film is our minds are differential engines, meaning there's a great marketing book, Seth Godin book Purple Cow. Yeah, his whole thesis is that if you see a cow, you don't take a photo of a cow, you don't tweet a cow. You've seen a cow. They're all cows, they'll say, but my gosh, if that cow was purple, you know, oh, my gosh, there's a Purple Cow. You know, so I'm going to tweet that, you know. So my point is, that you really have to have the courage and conviction that if something is entertaining and meaningful to you, it'll be entertaining and meaningful to other people. Like there's more of you. And I remember what I can only imagine we had done all this research and we had seen a gap in the market. And then we had seen the need for a brand and I knew that I love that song. And everybody I knew love that song. And so in the core community, but every studio told us now one executive is Studio said, you know, you know, I think there's 18,000 people that would watch this movie and that's, that's it. That's the total audience. This will never work. But we just went forward with a conviction, but because we record with the conviction, we owned it because nobody would. Nobody would take a risk on And we benefited from that. And so I think you have to be willing to be different, you know. And you have to be willing to take it take bets on things that you feel deeply. And, you know, I think when you listen to the stories of like Star Wars or jaws were one of the great one of the great blocks of our industry. And that three our entire dreams documentary is the chairman of 20th century fox came to Alan Ladd Jr, who was the who was the chairman most vision group and said it was in post production said shut down the Star Wars, The Star Wars thing. It's an embarrassment to the studio. And Alan Ladd Jr, not having seen a frame of the film said, I've seen it, it's the greatest movie ever made. It's one of the greatest flops in the history of our industry. But the point is, that's how weird Star Wars was to, to everyone that that was looking at it, you know, and they were the studio was sending notes, like the Wookie should have pants, why does the pinata and they're like, really, the point is that the studio business is a rear view business. And they only the thing is like, hey, we want something totally original, that's just like something else that made a billion dollars last year, like that's just the way they think. And so it takes a level of conviction. And, and it takes a level of as an independent filmmaker, extraordinary belief. And, and I actually think a lot of filmmakers have like, they want to stay above that, like, Oh, I'm working on this thing. And you know, it's gonna be good, you actually have to have an attitude of like, I love this. I know, there's people that love this, I'm trying to make it the best I can. But I'm telling you, there's an audience for this. And you have to have a level of conviction in yourself, and in the thing that you're creating that is uncommon, to will it through the system, and to get money for it, and then to will it into existence. And that and that's, I think missing a lot within independence all you know,

Alex Ferrari 56:57
And I think the one thing that we can kind of summarize from this conversation is as independent filmmakers, you need to not just make a movie that tickles your own fancy, it has to do with a little bit of that. But you have to find out if there's an audience for it. And don't say horror movies, a lot of people like a horror movie, that's that that's too big, which is again, going back to my book, it's about niching, down and niching down to the point where like, what is an audience that will enjoy this movie? And I can talk to, which is what your what would that executive said? Can you reach that audience with the money and the resources and the abilities that you have? And if you can kick them by combine those two, then you have a potential, not a guarantee of potential for success. But the biggest thing is, I'm gonna make an action movie because people like action movies, you've done, you're done.

Jon Erwin 57:48
Well, you know, what's interesting about that is, I think one of the, one of the real secrets to that if you want to know like a key that sort of unlocked it. It's summarized in the word distain. And what I mean by that, that's what I really bonded with Jason Blum over was the any audience that feels the same, right? He felt like 20 years ago, the horror audience felt mistake, like studios were like, they don't care, like just murder a bunch of people, it doesn't have to be good. And the audience felt that and, you know, I've learned in therapy, and shouldn't do it a little more, you know, the primary needs of people are to not to be agreed with, you have to agree with them. People just want to feel seen, and heard and understood. And, and, you know, identifying, oh, people like horror movies is like, well, now it's like, well, no, yeah, they like horror movies. And guess who saw that before no one else did Jason Blum. And now he's dominated and monopolize the market. So you have like, a one in 1000 chance of competing with him. What you really have to see and have the courage to, to embrace is an underserved audience. That, that, that is being sustained by the industry. And you have to be willing to understand that instead of trying to be cool at cocktail parties in LA, you know, what makes you cool at cocktail parties in LA winning, so go in with an audience, and then, you know, in focus on just loving an audience, and so for me, the faith audience is one of those groups that, you know, they're being called things like, again, it's not a political affiliation, but it's seen that way in LA and so they're being called things like deplorable. And so and there's also this stigma of poor quality, and I'm talking to an investor whose daughter was there and I said, you want to know the you want to know the opportunity and the problem in faith, it's the same things the chart, turned his daughter and said, Let's Play rapid word association game. I'm just gonna say something just responded. She said, Okay, I said, Christian movies, and she just do and I'm like, in one syllable, she just described the problem in the opportunity, like if you fix that, so for a lot of people, they don't wanna be associated with it. I would rather go right at it like Jason Blum went right at it. with work and say, Okay, we hear you, we hear that there's a quality problem. And it's also a lack of authenticity and you're underserved, and you're disdained by whatever you're getting, we're gonna, we're gonna fix that on your behalf. That's the business opportunity. So you really know whether that's Crunchyroll. Think about it. Vic's plus is just having huge growth right now. Or, or or Blum. Doing something's

Alex Ferrari 1:00:26
Or Mr. Beast, Mr. Beast on YouTube

Jon Erwin 1:00:29
Yeah, is getting to know developing a relationship nurturing relationship with an audience that's underserved, that no one else sees value in yet, then, or no one has the courage to really give them what they want. Or an audience that you understand and are representing in a unique way, like a movie like Crazy Rich Asians or whatever, having the courage to do that, instead of like, have the courage to be unique. Conformity is not the way forward in our industry, everyone in LA looks the same, has the same spec script in their back pocket, you know, wants to talk about themselves, you know, and so, how it's homogenized and so to me, the courage to be different is is the way forward and the people like Tyler Perry, or Jason or people that, you know, interacted with, they have way more success by differentiating. And the narrower the focus is, the wider the appeal. And so it's just have the courage and conviction to do something that you really believe in, that you want in need. And that you're connected to an audience that wants wants and needs and be willing to be unpopular while you do it, because you'll be popular when it works. And and, and that's just a different a different way to think in a different way forward. But if you if you identify if you're just in the rearview mirror, and like, you know, oh, the audience was actually filmed his work. Yeah. And everyone knows that. And that's why it's it's saturation. That's impossible. You have to be the one that says, hey, this will work. And everyone says you're crazy and weird. For years.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:05
Not all of them,

Jon Erwin 1:02:06
Cameron, that's how you know, right? That's

Alex Ferrari 1:02:10
Horrible idea. Avatar, horrible idea. Right?

Jon Erwin 1:02:14
If you listen to Peter Chernin Titanic, most expensive movie, at the time, on top of the most expensive movie, it was $100 million at the time, and he went 110 million over budget. Yeah. So you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:27
That we knew the first story that we ending of.

Jon Erwin 1:02:31
So so to me, just, I think, look, if I can leave you with anything, is do things that you really believe in, and just match perseverance with curiosity. And then also a level of courage and your decisions, you know, I would rather fail courageously than fail, because I made a safe choice, you know, and do something that you really believe and have the courage to be different and have the courage to put a different voice out there. Because I think that that's what people want is, is unique voices that represent unique audiences. That's one of the joys of the film world is you get to sort see thing through through someone else's eyes. And so and so that's what I'll what I'll leave otherwise, the biggest thing is just keep learning constantly, and never ever, ever quit. Success might be just around the corner, you never know.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:19
So Jon asked you a few questions asked all my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Jon Erwin 1:03:25
Oh, my gosh, I'm horrible at answering questions. You know, I would I would actually say the value of failure, I think, yeah, I think that's what people don't under failure is incredibly valuable. And it's really the only path to success. And I think it's something that we all run from. But if we actually ran towards it, and learn to sort of fail, small and iterate, you know, I mean, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Yes, some things do kill you, though. You want to avoid those things. But if you can sort of fail and learn, it's like Thomas Edison said, have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways not to make the light bulb. If you embrace failure as a part of your process, I think that that's the way to win. And it takes took me a long time to, to it. It's a very vulnerable thing to be willing to fail so that you can learn how to win and and I think that took me the longest to learn,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:18
And the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time.

Jon Erwin 1:04:22
Three, my favorite films of all time, I have this list of sort of films that I just think No, first of all, there's no perfect film. I think George Lucas said the best films are never completed. They're only abandoned. But but there are films that I think for the moment in time in which they were created are untouchable, like don't change a frame. So I think I'm trying to think it's one of those and then there's also just great films that that that I've seen, you know, recently but to me Braveheart is still just like, super my soul. I just think that that's such a The well made film that I just it just gets me man, it just gets me. Good. You know, I still think Saving Private Ryan is, is one of those things when he says earn this at the end I'm just that's a summary of an entire generation and, and and just incredible you know I think I think the King's speech is amazing. I think, Gosh I'm beyond three Slumdog Millionaire Fellowship of the Ring was just one of the transcendent experiences I had in the theater like oh my gosh and then I think some of the old ones I think it's a wonderful life and you know, Casablanca you know, I think it's a perfect movie. I've exceeded my

Alex Ferrari 1:05:55
Well, I mean, I

Jon Erwin 1:05:57
What's your answer to that question?

Alex Ferrari 1:05:58
I mean, well, Shawshank is a perfect movie in my opinion. I mean, Shawshank is, it's perfect. I think back to the future is perfect. It's one of the greatest scripts ever made. It kind of is, isn't it is it's the it is as perfect of a screenplay and perfect and an execution

Jon Erwin 1:06:12
Produced by Steven Spielberg. There's no better there's no better producing the director.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:18
And everyone said he was everyone said they were crazy. And it was only the Steven that was able to push it through and then they stopped at two weeks after shooting with the wrong guy like yeah, we're gonna redo these laughs Can you imagine? And Jocelyn Jaws is another perfect film. I mean, that that movie doesn't, it just is perfect.

Jon Erwin 1:06:37
Jaws is Jaws is one of those things where the limitations, the limits personal limitations are what made it perfect. For sure. I think. Look, I would put Top Gun Maverick up there as one as experiences I've had in the theater. Oh, long time, man. I can really really good

Alex Ferrari 1:06:56
Man it is such a good, good movie. It's yeah, there's nostalgia with that film. Without question for guys like you and me. But it is just damn near perfect in what it was aimed to do. Without question and I mean, and also put up the matrix as almost as a perfect movie as well.

Jon Erwin 1:07:16
The matrix is a tote is one of the again, it's it's as perfect as a movie gets by far. I think probably the filmmaker that I most trust now. And I can't wait for Indiana Jones is James mango. I think that dude just fires he nails nails every time. Like I thought Ford versus Ferrari. Unbelievable. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:37
Logan, I mean, Logan Logan sent it transcended the genre.

Jon Erwin 1:07:40
And again, Logan is one of those where it transcends, you know, it's hyper violent, it's gritty. But that quest for meaning and purpose and transcendence is all right there and then television I just think I'm one of those I know everyone's on it. But I think the last and this is great. I just think it's

Alex Ferrari 1:08:01
I hear I hear that's good. But for me Yellowstone right now is anything that tailors

Jon Erwin 1:08:05
I haven't taken the Yellowstone trip like I haven't moved yet. It's on my list

Alex Ferrari 1:08:11
Best writing I've ever seen on television. It's so good.

Jon Erwin 1:08:15
And then I think anything that's I think anyone's Gilligan does is just like he's such a student of our industry. And that just comes out Tarantino in that way. He just comes out his love and obsession of the of the craft comes out so

Alex Ferrari 1:08:29
Jon, man, when can when and where can we see Jesus revolution?

Jon Erwin 1:08:33
Jesus revolution comes out nationwide, February 24. It's in theaters everywhere. And thank you, Cameron Crowe for all the things that I still and I hope you enjoy the very same way and and I think I think no matter what you believe you really enjoy it's an enjoyable film and, and go check it out theaters.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:49
Jon, I could talk to you for hours, brother, I appreciate you coming on man. My man like you and your brother have to eat. When you come down to Austin. We gotta go grab a beer man. Without question.

Jon Erwin 1:08:58
I love it. I'm there. I'm there pretty frequently. So let's do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:01
I appreciate you!

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BPS 281: How to Turn Your Movie Script into a Money-Making Machine with Mark Toia

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Alex Ferrari 0:23
I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Mark Toia. How you doing Mark? How you doing my friend?

Mark Toia 0:44
Yeah, good good.

Alex Ferrari 0:46
Thank you so much. Thanks so much for coming back on the show, man, your episode, Episode 407 has been a while we're over 600 now. So it's been a it's been a it's been a few years since we spoken on. You've been on the show. We've been talking on and off all that time. But you you came on and? And? Well, let's just start from the beginning. Can you just recap everybody and let everybody know how you got into the business really quickly what you do for a living day to day.

Mark Toia 1:16
One where I got into the business hobby, complete hobby that went crazy. There was a I was a boilermaker a young Boiler Maker and people didn't know what a boiler maker is we're pretty much people that make anything out of steel. You know, whether it's skyscrapers or a steel box for someone's back or someone's car, you know, who knows it also anything made of steel. So that's what I used to do as a trade. But I was a child artist when I was young, I could paint real life oils when I was like 13 years old. So I had did have a bit of a gifted hand when I was a young fellow and and I could draw anything and I could do my own storyboards if I want all that sort of stuff so but I mean the anyway, the hobby went crazy. Picked up a car stills camera. This is cool, had a bit of fun with that. And sent a photograph off to a magazine company, not thinking they were paid you I had no idea that they paid you. But they sent me a check for $50 and my mind exploded I literally stared at that check for like a day all day going holy fuck they pay you or sorry, the minister. And then I thought should I'm gonna do more of this. And I said some more photographs offer more magazines and a bit. I think two or $200 turned up the next month and I went oh goodness. It's almost paid my week's wages. It just kept having fun. Doing so cool. And then I went completely psycho photographer didn't know what I was doing. And went into the magazine world learned all the hassles tripped over my face a few times. went nuts and all sudden I had a career in photography that was so fast. It was funny because back in those days shooting film, in a maybe it was a bit harder. Running around like an idiot with big lenses was harder, I don't know or easier. I have no idea. But anyway, it took off. And I turned to magazines chase me. And then I used to work for a company called Reuters. We're not work but more is what they call a stringer. And that was good during the former ones and the background praise and world gymnastics, indexing us doing news events and all that. Anyway, I started get bored of that. And I got into advertising, photography, which was a complete loss of income because because I had no idea what the hell I was doing in the advertising world. No one wanted to hire me because I was a complete nobody. It was a very, very hard industry to get into. And you know, a couple of people gave me a couple of jobs that are a bit more action focused, which was pretty good at at the time doing a lot of sport, you know, for the for the newspapers and the magazines. And then someone else noticed and someone else noticed. And after a lot of persistence and a lot of walk around town knocking on doors. I managed to get my advertising career going. I said I'd built this big, obnoxious studio, like massive you can pack trucks in it. And then that everyone said I wasn't crazy, and I was gonna lose all my money. And anyway, it was the other way it took off. And I was the busiest photographer in town. During that I had one of my clients say, coming in whinging about a TV commercial he had made and he showed me that was a pretty basic and he had paid $300,000 for it. This is I'm talking probably 25 years ago. Oh, yeah. And you know, 300 grand back then is a little money, right? And anyway, he was not happy. And I said, I'd love to do a TV ad one day, and he looked at me and he says, Have you ever done one? And I said, Well, I did this video for a friend of mine. But it was very, it wasn't like a helicopter one. He loved it. It says, Well, I've got, you know, like, I think was 25 grand left over. I said, deal. No, go for this. Have fun with it, see if you can do better than this thing. And anyway, we did, and put it together in the most naive way possible, completely. completely naive. I mean, I couldn't believe how naive I wasn't how knowledgeable I was in making TV commercials. Anyway, we did it. We went through a company good, you know, like a post house could focus, I think it was cutting edge or something. And then it was back in the early days. And they helped me edit it together and put together anyway, I won. I went I entered it in the local industry awards that I won Best Director and Best cinematographer. And

Alex Ferrari 6:03
As best as they say, is history. You've done okay for yourself as a commercial director you've made if you just went to your site, right before this conversation, I just let me check about what like Oh, is that Kobe? Yeah, that's Kobe. So he's, you've done okay for yourself as a commercial director, and, and then you had this insane idea that, like I was gonna make a movie. And you made this little mini game, many, many years later, or for fast forwarding a lot. But many years later, you decided to make a little independent film called monsters of man. And and if I'm not mistaken, the budget was a million dollars or so. And you decided to finance that yourself? Is that correct?

Mark Toia 6:40
Yeah, well, it might have been a touch less with the current fluctuation of the US to Australian dollar, but

Alex Ferrari 6:45
Give or take something like that. So So then, and that movie came on, when you reached out to me, the movie had already I think was already done. And you were trying to figure out this whole? How do I make money with this thing? concept? And how did you come across my book, Rise of the Filmtrepreneur?

Mark Toia 7:05
Well, with what I remember, I just literally broken three ribs speaking and I was and I decided I was off. Because I was going to we've shot the movie. And I was editing it under pain.

Alex Ferrari 7:22
As filmmakers do by the way, we all ended under pain.

Mark Toia 7:26
I was sitting there and other back and I'm not doing anything. Now I've got three broken ribs. So I just sat there just started editing the movie. And I wasn't going to I was actually going to give it to an editor friend of mine. But this was a little bit of therapy, while just it was stuck up in the up in the snowy mountains. Doing nothing. I couldn't see us as looking out the window crying every day. So start editing the movie. And I got into it so fast. I mean, I love editing anyway, it's just a thing. I've been doing it for 20 years. I just didn't feel like editing a movie. And I never done one before. And yeah, that's right. I was sitting there and I was scouring the internet. Our side knows so sorry. It's a couple of years ago, Alex, I've got to get my gotta get No, it wasn't listen. All right now we were we were in in the middle of the hole. Selling the movie thing. That's right. Right. Right. It was no actually it was just before that. Anyway, it was in that time. It was in that time. And yes, I stumbled over your podcasts and your then your videos and I started watching this thing. This guy seems pretty much a disrupter of the world and a bit of a troublemaker Alan Howard is a type of guy. Wonder who this Alex Ferrari is. So anyway, that's why I reached out to you. Yes. And I sent you the trailer of a movie that was sort of being finished at the time.

Alex Ferrari 9:00
Right and when you send me the trailer and by the way, I get sent trailers daily by filmmakers from around the world wanting me to come on the show or talk to me or get a consult the god consultation. And when your trailer came in, I was like, Oh, when I saw the review, like the description of like, a bunch of robots get thrown in a jungle. This is gonna be horrendous, like who's gonna? What a horrible because you just think you like the graphics are going to be horrible, the V effects are not going to be good. And I turned this trailer on and this trailer turns on and I'm like, my mouth is on the floor. The visual effects are as good if not better than Marvel films. And the action is really dumb. Like who the hell is Mark Toya like, Who the hell are it's like I like reached right back out dude. Like, yeah, let's get on a call. Man. I want to talk to you like how the hell did this get done? And that's when the conversation started. And I'm not sure did you read the book at that point prior or after that conversation? But no one.

Mark Toia 9:55
I didn't know that the book existed until you until we spoke you said you were Do this book and other I'm reading it right. So you pick it up right away. I ebook that. Sorry, because I don't like reading. But I read scripts, that's about all I read, but I audio books. And yeah, I've got a little coffee shop that the writer literally just, it just was in my ear, and it was fantastic. I mean, it was so fantastic. And, you know, you and you were bang into like, you know, you're making sure no one forgot the message, right? I get fucking ripped off. Don't do this. Don't do that. Don't do that, you know, three chapters later, yeah, like at fucking remember, do the beat the drum heart? Yeah, that's fine. I'm in the drum beating. You know, I talked to my kids. And then I saw had all this poison in my brain that you poisoned me with some real world shit, you know. And then I'm at the moment and at that time, we were suffering our film through a traditional sales pipeline. You know, it was going through CIA, and other people, whatever ad in there wasn't working. And the contracts that were coming through were, were questionable. And.

Alex Ferrari 11:24
But you're serious offers, though you have a million dollar offer.

Mark Toia 11:29
It was 5 million there. And a million over there that, you know, it was all it was all happening. But I just thought, I thought it wasn't so much a bit the sound of the movie, because my wife and I thought if we throw them the million dollars in the bin, whatever it's going to be, we'll use it as a calling card, which and that's another story of off the back of this, which we'll be talking about later. But we'll just use it as a bit of a marketing tool for for me, there's like a show reel, to sell myself with the Hollywood. If we if we don't make any money on it, we're not going to lose sleep over it, right? Because I've been working very hard last 20 years in this game. My wife's a very avid property girl, a woman and she's, and between her and I are we do? Okay. You don't I mean, we did quite a lot. So I'm not going to say it was the ultimate experiment, really.

Alex Ferrari 12:25
By the way, that's a show you might I have to talk about myself, that conversation. So then you know, we're going back and forth over over Skype at the time. So we're going back and forth. And, and then you said, I think I'm just gonna, I'm gonna read your book, man, it's great, I love it. You gave me all sorts of ideas. I think I'm just going to release this myself. And I'm going to use a lot of the things in the book to help me do it. And I'm like, you're going to release a million dollar, you're going to self distribute. And now anybody else, anybody else that would have told me that I would have, I would advise the guests because to self distribute a million dollar product is you got to know. So you got to hit that target, not once, not twice, but like 40 or 50 times, Bullseye to break even. That's from my experience, because it depends on the kind of product but then I saw it but you've got a different kind of movie, you have an anomaly of a movie because there's movie your movie monsters, a man doesn't come along. I've seen it once in my life, a film like that, at that level of quality. And then your marketing savvy your understanding of the year this whole situation is so lottery ticket esque is an example of this. It's just an it's an anomaly without question. But then I'm like, if you're willing to do it, well, you want to come on the show and talk about it. You're like, Sure, come on. So you came on the show we talked about I'm like, You're gonna do a million dollar experiment. And when you're done in a couple years, come back on and tell us how it goes. He goes out and you said and you said I'll come on if I make money or if I don't make money, I want everybody to know what happened. So

Mark Toia 14:01
That was fair. That was fair. And I wanted to I wanted people to either learn by my members, my mistakes, and I made some mistakes during the process. Whether it was gonna be the traditional method or the or the maverick fucking crazy man direction, there's mistakes in both. Right and, and that's what we're here today. Well, let's let's talk about that stuff and just say why it worked, how it could have worked even better. And how what you know, now that the future is yeah, that two years have elapsed since we released it. What could I have done better? And now this is the valuable lessons that only doing what I did has taught me if I just dumped it on the in the district in with a distributor and let them go I would learn nothing. Right.

Alex Ferrari 14:56
And you would have probably made nothing.

Mark Toia 14:58
Now look, I would have got Thank you You know that people were still dumping money on me, I was still made money, but I wouldn't have made as probably as much, right. But I've been doing a lot of work as well. So the thing is distributors that sell your movie do a lot of work, they should get paid. So it's not like the supplying of factors or ripoff service that not that doing what your lazy ass ain't gonna do.

Alex Ferrari 15:24
And by the way, in the book in the book, I say that, like what I'm talking about in this book is work. Like, I never want to get it and

Mark Toia 15:33
I did a lot of it, Alex, right. Crazy. It's fun, it's fun. I said, this is really fucking good fun. I'm really enjoying it. And I'm doing, you know, all our casting on our trailers, marketing profiles, all of our online media, advertising. And mind you, I'm from an advertising agency, I'm not an agency. I don't own an agency. Sorry. But I work with 1000s of ad agencies around the world. I've worked with the best of the best of the best of the best, right? And so that without realizing it taught me so much about advertising, right, you know, you've been doing right down to the little tiny social media type shit. I mean, right.

Alex Ferrari 16:13
You pick up things. I mean, I edited. I mean, I don't hundreds of commercials and promos over the course of my career. And I picked up a couple things along the way working with you just, you just start picking up a couple things here and there. All right. So but the one thing I did get offered, you got all multimillion dollar offers from real studios, not Mickey Mouse studios, real studios. And yet, you decided to just walk away from them, because you're just like, you know, these deals, it's gonna take me forever to get paid. It's shady, there's a lot of outs and ends and it looks like I'm not able to.

Mark Toia 16:48
Yeah, look, the deals are an open book. The one deal was just a million bucks. You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 16:57
But, but not, but not, like, right now, they're not gonna just write you a check right now for it right,

Mark Toia 17:02
No you would have been jumping hurdles, and fucking, you know, some guy in their office would go, there's a guy that's 150 feet down the street, we need his release form, or we're not going to pay you, you know, this or that. Or, you know, there'll be some, everyone I know, that have gone through a lot of these deals with these big distributors at jumping hoops for 12 months. And then and I still talked to them. Now, one guy's been still waiting two years. The movies been out since a movie is out. And they got I know, we still need all this paperwork done. Because it's in the contract. We still need all this, this little thing done here. And it's so minimal. No one gives a shit. Yeah, it's just a way for them to hold on that they're using it as a loophole to not pay him. And they probably will pay him but that's just the machine.

Alex Ferrari 17:50
It'd be five years, it could be five years down the line. It's yeah, I've seen I've heard these stories. It's ridiculous.

Mark Toia 17:56
You know, when you do those sales, you are literally handing your baby over, you will never see it again. You'll see it in 10 or 15 years time when the contracts done relative to the rate of everything that it is.

Alex Ferrari 18:12
Alright, so what was the first so from my remember, from my recollection, the first thing you did is started to do your own theater, like you're on theatrical in Australia.

Mark Toia 18:23
That's cool. Well, we we released during COVID. And everyone said, Mark, you're mad. You're crazy. Don't do it. You know, don't ever make

Alex Ferrari 18:31
But you had it. But you had a screening. You had a screen. I remember you had a big screening.

Mark Toia 18:34
You know, I thought, you know, I've got a lot of friends here in town and and we just send everyone an email, they want to come and check out the movie and Everyone's curious. So 500 people turned up, but the ones that did it in IMAX because I do everything, as you know, and RED cameras. So we've got a Fourcade movie. So let's go to the IMAX theater, let's do it properly. And the theater was massive. It was like

Alex Ferrari 19:00
So this is the thing that I love about what you did. You did a it was a free screening, by the way, right? Yeah, it was a free screening for France. Right? Okay. Yep. So the brilliance of what you did is that you filmed everyone's reactions coming out. So it made the film look like it would had a theatrical release. You are in a real theater with like posters in the background. And you filmed all this and then that's what you used in your ads. And it was so powerful in your marketing. So even though you might have not made money on that screening, you got so much free marketing materials to be able to sell your movie on T VOD, SVOD and Avon. Is that Is that a fair statement?

Mark Toia 19:39
Yeah, well, we weren't even going to do it. There was a young young guy said hey, you got to do like a behind this. You know, like a you got to film the movie. And I just want everyone to enjoy it. Anyways, and I'll get me and my friends will cover more shoot it and go nuts. You don't I mean, so anyway, signal the stuff and I went actually I could probably use this for bid a PR. And yeah, it was some PR. And it honestly was the last thing on my mind. To be honest, I

Alex Ferrari 20:08
It was serendipitous. It was serendipitous. It was a look. So I can't You're not taking credit for it I'm trying to give you credit for you're not taking credit for it. But it is what it is. It is because you were able to get it. So sometimes, you know, sometimes the Muse sometimes the universe just gives you a little bit of a helping hand. And that was that was one of them. Because I remember that when I saw

Mark Toia 20:29
Good advertising.

Alex Ferrari 20:30
And I remember when I was seeing your ads, I'm like, Man, those ads are powerful as hell, man. Because anytime you've got testimonials, like the ones you had many, they're very, very, very bad, especially if coming from a movie without any major giant mat, you know, massive bankable stars in it. You know, McKenna is wonderful, but he's not Tom Cruise. So you don't have that and coming from a first time filmmaker, quote, unquote, they really added a lot of value to it. Alright, so what was the release? So how did you release this the first time? You want to VOD first right? Transaction?

Mark Toia 21:00
Um, yeah. Yeah, we just went full TVOD. And yeah, we dropped it on Apple, Amazon all the normal dudes and but actually, I think let's, let's get a little bit more detailed for your, for your listeners, viewers. The movie is done. Right? We've made the movie. And I'm getting a lot of people ringing me up gown ads too fucking long. And it's too that you know that the LT long thing? And you know what, fuck it I'm leaving. It's only two hours, right? It's not.

Alex Ferrari 21:34
It's, it's not a three. It's not.

Mark Toia 21:38
And the other thing too is people will sit there and binge watch a fucking 10 hours of sit on Netflix and completely padded out show without dropping of dropping a single whinge about it. But they don't know. I'm not. And you know what, I did a 90 minute cut? I did. And it was it was it was not. You know, it was over to quick, me when I showed that go, oh, well, it's sort of like, you know, the Romans start attacking them. And then they're at the river and morale, you don't remember, they're escaped it, because you had to get rid of a lot of stuff. 30 minutes is a lot of very exciting material. So that's why I went Screw it. I don't care about 90 minutes. I'm not really that worried about making money on that. It's nice to get your money back, which is great. But I had bigger agenda with the film. And the bigger agenda wasn't so much making money for movie, it was just getting my name out there. So just remember that going in. The part of the experiment was exactly what it's doing now. So I'm gonna get all my, I'm gonna get even more money back by doing all these other big movies that these people are telling me I'm gonna get another story again, so we'll get to that later. Anyway, so then I decided after the, after I've turned down these offers, you know, from the traditional domains. And literally, that's when everyone thought, this guy that ends this movie is a fucking complete loony didn't mean, all these sales guys were just

Alex Ferrari 23:25
I thought that you were crazy Mark.

Mark Toia 23:30
Everyone thought I was crazy. And they don't want it because it's part of the experiment. The experiment was knowledge. And I just wanted to know how the distribution process worked. I wanted to know how you get your movies into transactional Video on Demand sites. I wanted to know how s VOD worked. I wanted to know how a VOD worked I want to know how the theatrical machine work that you know the the business of making money in these four different areas and they are four completely different areas. Yeah trickle especially, you know you might have other movies made $10 million but really what comes back to the filmmaker this guy he is sitting here right by the time the cinema takes half my time the agents take half the delivery guys, the the sales guys everything, you know, you might end up with that much. You know, man, it's just that there's a lot of work, and then hang on. And then there's the advertising that might be attached to your movie that's going to have to be reimbursed and there's all this shit that is that goes with it. Here's for an example. A friend of mine has made a movie over here in Australia. It did really well around the world. I think about he said it grossed over $25 million. He's still yet to see a single cent four years later. Wow. It's gonna come to him. Something's gonna come to you He rings me up. And he he's in tears. You know, you guys should listen to him. And I said, No, No, you shouldn't have listened to me. I'm doing something very fucking stupid. You did it the way, it just happened to work differently for me. But, but I but bigger understanding what better stuff I've put in place to make sure that works. So anyway, we were going through the whole tape or the thing through an aggregator. Because the thing that sucks about the Amazons of the world and all these sort of guys, it's very hard for you, as an individual to get a movie up on these sites, Amazon, you could probably do it with a lot of dancing ants dicking around, but they all of them now are very, pretty much critiquing movies, you can just throw your movie up on all those T boards, you know, you could they will just go nuts Polish sticker Polish ship, now you're out. You know, so you've just made a movie, but then you realize I can't unload it anyway, because Amazon Amazon doesn't like it Apple doesn't like it. You know, Microsoft doesn't like it. IBM has like a Fandango don't like it all these were whoever these there's fucking list of mile long as you know, you still got to get it through all these people to get them to like your movie enough to put it on their platforms. And that's got to unfortunately, go through an aggregator which is another fucking annoying word, word for distributor, right? So there's always there's gonna be someone in your way, which is fine. And I don't know why Apple dot Apple should be, you know, the best movie upload site in the world is Vimeo on demand, but no one fucking watches it. No one uses it. No one uses it. But it is the best of the best of the best that the reason is, you could upload your movie in 4k 8k, glorious, beautiful viewing. It looks stunning on whatever you put it on. You can upload your movie or your subtitles, you can decide what countries you want to sell and everything and probably under five minutes. No one in your way. And they take 10% Thank you, Mark. It's so fucking simple. So when everyone wants to see my movie Now go make just go go to Vimeo it's gonna be easier. And I'll actually make 90%. Right instead of the other way, which is, you know, like, everyone else takes half and then other people and then there's the aggregator fee and there's blah, blah, blah. So anyway, I'm just gonna, I think Vimeo have actually got a great thing there. But I have no fucking idea because Vimeo just useless with the marketing and the way they've done things. That company is still doing what it's doing. It's obviously living off business, you know, sharing out of having an idea, but from a movie perspective, they if they invested in that properly, before indie filmmakers, they will just own that whole space.

Alex Ferrari 28:07
They bought a few HX back in the day VHS was that the all that software, all that technology was VHS. They bought it rebranded it under Vimeo Pro, or Vimeo movies or whatever it is, but they didn't do anything with it. And they never really market it. And there's, you're asking anytime you're asking someone to put a credit card in. It's a layer of resistance for them to product. But if you're on Amazon,

Mark Toia 28:35
Right, Bill, if I set up a PayPal Apple Pay or whatever through Amazon, it would be just click, click, click Run.

Alex Ferrari 28:41
But if it's Amazon, you collect if it's Apple TV, you click because you already have your information there.

Mark Toia 28:47
Yeah, but you know, Vimeo can set up those pay systems through there if they really if they really wanted to. Anyway, the fee about them on not doing an edge with Vimeo does exactly that's, that's the best platform to put up a tee, but your video but every other one is a bit of a pain in the ass. So anyway, we get accepted, you know, Apple, say, yeah, we'll put it on Amazon. But you know that, that still takes two to three months for that process to happen. And then you got there's a date that you want to do a release and you're trying to sync up everyone all at the same time to release on the special December 8. And everyone's telling me oh no, you're mad markets too close to Christmas. You know, the amount of times everyone told me I was mad right? Anyways. Okay, now go back a bit. This is where your book comes in. You got to sell it. No one knows that movie is going to be sitting on Apple TV or sitting on Amazon if you don't tell the world that. Now this is my big fundamental mistake I made. I was where I screwed up was I didn't spend enough in advertising. I should have spent a lot more and the movie would have got right out there because, you know, when you sell a movie on TV or P VOD, whatever you want to call it, there's a spike. It's a new movie, it's out, you know, so you got to create as much hype as you're doing. The studio's do it. Well, they might make a movie for $300 million, or $200 million, or whatever, they're going to spend the same amount again flogging it. I spent a million dollars on my movie, I should have spent a million dollars on advertising. Wow, it would have been a hell of a risk, sir. No, no, it wouldn't have been because I you could see all the stats and all the logistics, everything that comes to you and you had an analyst Analytics on your sales. This is a lot of stuff that distributors don't show you because they just give you the little email saying, Hey, you made $12 today, but the reality is you get a lot of information. Right? About who buys it, whereby is the time they buy it, the you know, the who's buying it, as well as when you do a lot of your digital marketing. With your Analytics, you can dig so deep into those analytics using, you know, female 14 RED CAR lives in Minnesota, whatever, you know, you can really nail down on your target market. So that means you're not wasting your money. Selling, you know, like on your phone monitors man's not turning up and as on some 64 year old grandmother's phone. Right? You are literally once you start getting all this stuff this information, and we did some test trailers that we threw out there. So we can see those test results. And then we were just we we did a little Indiegogo campaign. Not so much to make money from it. But more so sell our movie through that porthole. This was already remember. So what I did, I thought, well, let's do an Indiegogo campaign and say, Look, if everyone helps us with the advertising of our movie, everyone gets the movie free and odds and ends and all the extras and the behind the scenes and bla bla bla bla. And yeah, and I think about 25 $30,000 turned up, which I thought, Wow, that's great. Now, we already had like a quarter million dollars allocated for advertising. I just used that $25,000 From Indiegogo. We've done all our marketing, pre the movie, and we can see all our trailer data spiking so much that people were watching it all the way through, which is super uncommon. Now I'm in because I'm in the advertising game. I hear and I see all the data from a lot of my advertisers, you know, and because they share it with me, they want me to know, so that can help them make better commercials. And I'm looking at these and how long people are staying on my ads and and who is not staying on it. So I can see that there's this type of this group of people that drive black cars and live over here and this and others age, they're only watching it for seven seconds. Right? And these people are watching it for 30 seconds of these people watch it, you know, so I can really start getting my targeting right down. So we spent 25 grand on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, all that sort of stuff and just pumped it out there. And we worked out in that month later on. So that two weeks leading towards the release of our film, we had over 50 million people had seen our trailer. Wow for 25,000 but 25 grand 25 grand. So our advertising work. And mind you I edited 40 trailers different trailers, which we did only testing four weeks beforehand, right. So we we did a real study in what's going to work what's not going to work. You know what I mean? So the trailer that got put out, was it the trailer I liked, but it was the trailer the masses, like you know what I mean? So you got to start you don't make trailers for you. You make trailers for everyone else. You know, and the one we did the testimonials really worked hard. The one with Neal McDonough jumping up, you know, saying you know, what's your movie, you know, there's a few key key little shorter, a couple shorter spots that really resonated with the, with our research. So anyway, so I thought 50 million people faculty in our trailer, all I need is $1 for one of them one. I just need $1 from like 10% of these

Alex Ferrari 34:19
10 cents 10 cents would have been good.

Mark Toia 34:24
I'm not going to spend my spare quarter million dollars I've got put aside for advertising. We've done it we've we've hit advertising gold, and this is where I started to smell my own farts and they're all good smelling

Alex Ferrari 34:38
The roses

Mark Toia 34:44
And anyway, off it went it released. And it did great. It did great. But I knew a year later, if I spent that quarter million dollars over I spent a million dollars advertising. I've got it out well LiDAR, because it's amazing how many people don't even know my movie exists. 25 grand 50 million views is nothing. I realized that our, our base of interest needs to be upwards of 500 million people to make a decent dent on sales. Right. So that's a lot of advertising.

Alex Ferrari 35:25
So let me ask you a question. What was your ROI on the advertising money made? So like, for every dollar you spent in marketing, how much money did you make back? Give or take?

Mark Toia 35:35
25 or 25? Yeah, let's say on the 20. Okay, 25 grand, I know we made a million dollars. It worked, right?

Alex Ferrari 35:42
So it's not a bad. Right? All right. I just want I just want to kind of stuff

Mark Toia 35:51
That's in the first three months, too. So right. Now, the movie is still making money. Now. It's, it's still ticking away nicely. It's like a, it's an apartment building in the corner just ticking away rent.

Alex Ferrari 36:03
So the reason why I'm gonna stop here for a second. So I want to just kind of highlight a couple of things, you said that you're throwing out a lot of gold nuggets here, you offer off a 25 grand you were able to generate your budget back comfortably out of within three months. That's unheard of in marketing and market let's on heard of. But if you would have put in just a quarter of a million you might have been able to make 3456 $7 million possibly offer off of those three months it would that would have worked? Or do you think not?

Mark Toia 36:39
The more people that know about your movie, and the more hype you can build on about it? What do you think Marvel do it this way? Right? What do you do? What do you think all the big movies as spending so much money on advertising? awareness, awareness, awareness, awareness, right? Into the day with my 50 million people is really only one city in China. It's like, not much right? In the grand scheme of things. And it's, and it's saying that million dollars in three months, you know, that million dollars slowly comes in over 12 months, but that you can see that the you see the money being made, including all our international sales, which we'll talk about today. So we walk you through advertising, advertising advertising, I can't preach harder about that, actually. And that's where I think I made that that big mistake I go, Well, you know, we're in a very, very noisy world, right? It's a massively noisy world. There's so much shit on your phones. Now. It's hard to get cut through. Right? I wish I could still spend a million dollars. And you might see my ad, may you might, if you're lucky. I mean, you're in the film industry, you know me, you'll probably get it, you'll probably get hit by it. But your neighbor, who is probably in the Sci Fi films, how the fuck do you target him to your enemy. So you're trusting that the Facebook machine, the instant machine, the Tick Tock machine, the YouTube, the YouTube machine are going to maybe get near that individual for your million dollars. So you need to really think about your advertising your PR, you know, your little news, shit that goes out, everything's got to be very well thought out. Now, that's a lot of work. Again, if you're going to get a distributor to do this for you, who are going to say you're mad, right?

Alex Ferrari 38:40
But by the way, they would never work as hard. They would never work disarm unless they unless they're making tons of cash.

Mark Toia 38:47
You know, that would have and that they're not going to say to you, Hey, Mark, will sell your film and we're going to put a minute we're gonna invest a million dollars on advertising. Right? Because a lot of the guys a lot of the distributors, they know, right? They've been around the traps, they've sold their they've probably got 400 movies on their shelves, you know, rats and mice. That's how they make their money. They get the little percentage of each one of them little movies, and that's how they pay you know, silicones to college, right? But a huge advertising campaign like that off the back of one of these little indie films, that they would fucking shut you down and say you're crazy. But you do need the right product for it too. So if it's if it's just a couple of people running around, fucking Detroit shooting each other and raping their girlfriends and bragging you know, and shooting police and you know, just an action, drama or whatever. With No Name actors, you'd never spend a million dollars because it's you they already know that it's never got to do any better than probably pick up a few 100 grand in the in the trenches. You know what I mean? If they're lucky, with the little $6,000 advertising Um, budgets attached to it, that fully allocated to it. But my movie was that okay, let's go back a bit, a friend of mine from a company that has a big red lager, right? He gave me some data about what their AI robot says is hot right now. And in it, it said, explosions, you know, make sure this many people died, blah, blah, blah. But you know, it was literally a formula movie of just information that was coming into their business that would say they could understand research, they can understand who's watching and who's demanding what to watch. So I saw these 10 key points, action movie sci fi, this, that it literally had all this detail about what should be in a movie hit when what people are watching now. I went, well, that's probably an interesting, let's go make a robot movie. Right? And have some explosions. And we'll do this, we'll do that. So so the movie wasn't like a brainchild movie of mine, which I've been sitting on that script for fucking 10 years. And then I've and I'm 50 drafts in. It's it's one or two draft film, which I was going to polish as we were going with the actors, because I know actors bring a lot to the table. And with all the special effects and all that sort of stuff, I mean, we're going to talk about that later to a bit of what how we did that. But the knowing that the my movie was going to take a lot of boxes when it came to sales. I had an a sort of a name actor in there with Neil, right? He's enough for to give the movie street cred. Everyone loves it.

Alex Ferrari 41:56
Everyone knows his face. Everybody.

Mark Toia 41:58
Everyone knows him everyone loves him. He's a tough guy. He's great for putting in your film, right? But he's not going to make you any money. He's just going to get better. He's going to help you sell the movie. But when you go didn't do all your sales internationally, and all that sort of stuff. They go, Oh, I know that guy. What's his name? All right. So and next thing, it helps you get it over the line. So it's not like nails, nails, not not a list of by any stretch, but he gives them in restricted. I wish I'd put a couple of millennials in there as well. Right, just a few more, and I think we're doing a movie shortly. Just another fun movie like this.

Alex Ferrari 42:36
Jesus Christ I've

Mark Toia 42:37
I've been I want to have a massive ensemble cast and they have liked it. And we just had fun with it, you know? And that, you know, that's another thing. So, so then we were just jumping off track here.

Actually, you know, we were branching off a little we're branching off a lot of things, but not what you said. Is

Pull me back in line Alex.

Alex Ferrari 42:56
I'll bring you back. I'll bring you back in sir. So you're TVODing. You're sending things out your marketing like crazy. How many months do you go through transactional before you decide to go to SVOD or prime?

Mark Toia 43:10
Okay, mistake number two. Mistake number two. Fuck as far as what to go in ate shit all day every day.

Alex Ferrari 43:22
By the way you did get an offer from from that big. That big streamer that hasn't been as well. It's all but you decided not to go with him?

Mark Toia 43:33
Here? I don't I don't streaming is a very it's true streaming is the cancer of indie film, as you know.

Alex Ferrari 43:41
Right industry agreed agreed.

Mark Toia 43:44
I decided it's my movies doing so well on TV. It's sort of fit the curve is bumping down. Right. But so did my advertising too. I probably could have kept it propped up longer. got convinced to get put it on Prime put on prime is screaming for this. You know they want it they want to prime Amazon. We want it we want it. It goes under Prime. I am top five in America for four weeks. On prime. It's getting smashed. Millions of people have watched my movie now. In America. I see one or two or three cents per per view. I might as well just fucking given it to them. Right? It is a total waste of time. There is no economic sense to put your movie on prom. no economic sense at all. Don't put it on Prime don't put it near any streaming network. You see pennies, pennies.

Alex Ferrari 44:49
But you're saying

Mark Toia 44:50
I might have made 100 or 200 grand millions of people watch my movie and I made a couple undergrad done nothing.

Alex Ferrari 44:57
Now you're saying now you're saying that and I want I want to kind of put things into perspective here. You're also making a good amount of money and transactional, where most independent filmmakers are. They don't even they can't make money and transactional because they don't know how to drive traffic. So the only thing that they have is the potential of A prime and A VOD, which we're gonna get to in a minute. But hopefully with this conversation, people will try to give transactional again, again, it has to be the right product, you add the right product. I mean, it's, it's an easy sell. It's killer robots that look as good as anything the studio put out with great action, explosions and things like that people are going to watch that. But you're absolutely right. It's s VOD, and Amazon Prime and those kinds of places. It is and that, by the way, is not a VOD, and we're gonna get to advertising. This is subscription based stuff. It is not that. It's horrible. It's horrible. I wanted to know those numbers. Because I know you had it on there. You're like, yeah, I made a couple 100 grand off of top five on Amazon, like top five period, beating studios.

Mark Toia 46:04
It was sitting there forever. My friends are ringing me for America go fuck. It's still there.

Alex Ferrari 46:09
And you're like, you must be making tons No, you are making

Mark Toia 46:12
I thought I thought fact this is it new by by flying to the jet fuel the jet, you know, if TJ it was underway, anyway.

Alex Ferrari 46:27
Okay, so that's not that's strange.

Mark Toia 46:30
As far as I'm concerned, subscription based. Movies is what have devalued the world's movies. Because now if for seven bucks a month, you can go and watch 100 movies a week, you know, to make you good, right? mess yourself with it. And yeah, subscription company make a fortune because they will they need us subscribers, paying $7 each. Millions of those boom, they make money. But the actual people that own those movies and make those movies. Make nothing. Make nothing. So is avoid, as you know, and you might get the random, you might get Netflix or someone ringing up and saying hey, we'll, we'll buy it off you for a turn. But the amount they offer you is nothing. They're quite happy to go and spend copious amounts of money making that film for themselves if they owned it, but now that it's made, it's not it's worthless. It's they feel that like what's already made, you've already made the film, his first strapping stranger grant, because look, make it they would, they would have blown $10 million and making the damn thing you don't

Alex Ferrari 47:41
They want to meet, they would have spent 10 million bucks to make monsters of man easily. And they would have easily been spent 10 If not more to make a movie like that. But when you want something like that drops in their plate, they should be like, You know what, let's give you about a couple mil for this because this is this is

Mark Toia 47:56
What he would do with a couple of bills that those days are long gone. You You're so fucking three years ago.

Alex Ferrari 48:04
Exactly. I agree. No, I agree. I agree with you. I understand. doesn't pay any I mean, Amazon, Netflix or Amazon? Nobody pays anything anymore. Those days are those days are gone. All right. So you went to SVOD. But you still have transactional running. So people are still you know,

Mark Toia 48:19
I'm leaving it there forever. And I after you know, a couple of months. As far as I saw the numbers like I've got the I can jump you know the aggregator on it with is allowed me passwords to see inside Amazon. So I can see every great idea. By the way, every everyone out there. If you're distributors, you want to be super transparent. And then no one's gonna try and race back. You know, they're not going to try and kill you in the street. Just see the real data and you'll be and you'll have some good trust there. Right? So anyway, I see all that information firsthand. I go through it every week still. And I can see if I'm if I made 22 cents or $20,000 whatever. It's just all the data. I saw the prime data. I was like, Holy shit, this is like pillaging and raping my movie. You know what I mean? It's like, now all those potential T VOD. People have now watched it for three cents for nothing. You don't I mean, a big marketplace just got destroyed by amazon prime. So, you know, that's the system they ran. That's fine. That's their life. I mean, I made the mistake of jumping on it. So you know,

Alex Ferrari 49:33
Pull it out and you pull it out or you left it there. Oh, yeah.

Mark Toia 49:38
Get the fuck out of there. You don't have it? I mean, the IMD TVs that all that sort of on our note, we're going up to a five now Okay,

Alex Ferrari 49:46
That's a bad. So I see the paper transaction was still going and you're still making money on transactional even during that time.

Mark Toia 49:52
Okay. So, anyway, but my advertising has stopped. I'm a bit To remember back on relaunching the movie again, which is another thing.

Alex Ferrari 50:05
Which Yeah, because Because, look, the thing is, it's not like the olden days where a movie comes out big, big hoopla everybody knows about it. And everybody knows is really most people in this world do not know that your movie was ever released. So it's brand new to that. So you can read remarket It read, put it out there, and see what happens. Alright, so now you're still making money off a transaction on may

Mark Toia 50:29
Have bested that already, by the way. And that's gonna work.

Alex Ferrari 50:33
Exactly, exactly. So then you go into the AVOD world, which is arguably the only place that independent filmmakers are truly making money in today's world. Unless you are you unless you know how to drive traffic to a transactional and have an audience that's willing to pay for your product. A VOD is honestly the only place that people are making money from my understanding what's your experience?

Mark Toia 50:55
And not for long? Is the bad news?

Alex Ferrari 50:59
Okay, tell me tell me tell me.

Mark Toia 51:02
Yeah, I bought we dropped out on Shooby and yeah, it exploded it was bad went off. It's good, great. Daddy goods and Bad's of Avon. The good thing with with Tubi is it's small and growing fast. It's full of low weight indie films. And even though my my movie pokes its head at the top of the poo, right? It's still it's still in, it's still making money. What's happening now is the studios with their massive banks of movies over the last 40 years, damping under tubing. So all of a sudden, all your indie films are going to be lost. Right? You're going to be forced down the bottom of the pile again. It's still there. People can still watch it you can still drive people to to be to search it. Or there's this monster the man there. It's you know, getting buried right now. Right now it's getting buried tube Shooby can't put these these Hollywood movies on with Hollywood stars. They can't put that shit on quick enough right now.

Alex Ferrari 52:17
Right! Because you've, you've got like a 10 year old Brad Pitt movie, and actually be like, kill me softly or something like that. And yeah, people like autumn forgot about that movie. Let me watch that. That's going to be watched every day over an independent film. And it's so funny you say that? Because in T VOD indies, where That's where money was made first, then S VOD Indies. That's where the money was made for. Netflix was bought. Nope. Netflix was buying.

Mark Toia 52:43
If it were bought,

Alex Ferrari 52:46
No, no, they were buying independent projects, independent films. And they were spending money on Amazon was at Sundance and everybody. So same thing happened in the studio is like no, no, shoot, and then diluted that then a VOD. Oh, god, oh, God, Oh, God. And then now the studios are dumping that in. The next one is YouTube. And the studios have yet to do that. And you in the YouTube world there. They do clips and they're monetizing the clips off of their movies. But they're not putting their full movies up for free yet. But that's the next place.

Mark Toia 53:16
I will because I'm in talks with them now. So yeah, it's happening. But here's what's happening, right? Here's what's happening with a VOD space. Like things evolved so quickly. As you know, it's just nuts. You think if you only a little, you think you found a little Goldmine, right? You think you found that you're there? And you're like, This is it and then it gets everyone else finds the same goldmine. Everyone piles into the same goldmine. So, you know, for instance, Netflix, I bet you know, not a word of a lie. I have no idea where

Alex Ferrari 53:54
They're going AVOD. Oh, there you go. Oh, no, they're gonna absolutely there's no question in my mind that Netflix in the next two years will have an AVOD option, like Hulu does.

Mark Toia 54:05
All of her will be everyone will be AVOD. And then to be will be the little lonely kid in the corner that started the whole fucking shit show. They will be there back with all their indies again.

Alex Ferrari 54:20
And nobody's gonna want to go over there again. But But yeah, because now because now to be is going to have to fight paramount, Disney, all of them will eventually have a AVOD option. If you want to spend your money. You wanna spend 15 bucks a month or 10 bucks a month, you could do an ad free. So they'll still have both revenues. And they're going to be happy because imagine right now if HBO goes advertising, AVOD, how many people who jump on it watch HBO? How many people watch Disney plus more than they do now? It's I want people to understand how difficult it is to me. Make Money With a movie in today's marketplace. It's absolutely cutthroat brutal. I, you know, I'm going to be speaking at AFM this year, I'll be there in November. I'm dying to see what everybody's talking about and what everyone's because from my experience going to the market, everybody's just like, I don't know what, I don't know, maybe this maybe that nobody knows no distributor really knows what's going to happen the next three or four years. No. So that's why your case study so interesting.

Mark Toia 55:30
Distributors work, distributors work less their sales on commodity. Right? Right. Their business is not about selling movies, their business is about collecting movies. So the more movies they need, the more movies they have, and the libraries, the more little rats and mice you know that it just sprinkles money on them little bits of money, but it all adds up in the end of the day. And we get it you know, so if you're gonna do that, get a distributor to help you he number one transparency. Try and get that person 15% or less and, and flog the advertising yourself as hard as he can, even though they want to do it. They're going to charge you for it and probably spend a quarter of what they've told you they're going to spend, right,

Alex Ferrari 56:28
Which was then you're going to spend the money on the advertising then at the end of the day? Why the hell are you gonna go with them? Maybe Maybe you can make a deal to get into AVOD or something like that? I don't know. Alright, sorry. So I want to I do want to ask you about the Teva. What is the platform that made you the most money Apple, Amazon? Google, what was the platform that in order? Because a lot, there's a lot of myths about Amazon? Which one Amazon

Mark Toia 56:51
Was probably 70%.

Alex Ferrari 56:54
Wow. And that's a that's so valuable for people to understand. Because a lot of people still think that Apple and iTunes is the place to rent, but they're like, oh, I have to be on iTunes. iTunes at the beginning of the TV. Revolution was the place to be but Amazon is just everybody's on Amazon.

Mark Toia 57:12
I think. I think Amazon has just everyone's got an Amazon account buying shit online, right? So a lot of people have prime accounts, their prime accounts, it just comes with when you subscribe when you order your toilet paper online, you get your free ship.

Alex Ferrari 57:28
You got free shipping, you've got Amazon Prime.

Mark Toia 57:30
Yeah, very clever. Very, very clever. Amazon, Amazon is a beast, you know, it makes good money. It you know, when you look at all your data that comes online through their through the portal, you get to see all your sales. You you could do it yourself, you're getting initially loaded up on Amazon yourself hoping that they like it. You don't I mean, if it's thinking part ship, they will just pull it off over time.

Alex Ferrari 57:57
Yeah, without warning, without warning. Without warning, we weren't gonna pull it off staff, they'll just pull things off.

Mark Toia 58:04
It's not making money. I can, I can see why. Right? Because data, data costs money, and they just got so much stuff sitting up online at the moment.

So okay, so yeah, Apple TV, I got it.

I got fleeced by Apple, oh, not so much by Apple. But they've got these recommended list of aggregators.

Alex Ferrari 58:24
I think was one of those distributor was one of those months, a long time ago.

Mark Toia 58:30
Apple just seem to hire or the gun owners at Apple seem to recommend all the sharks, you know, anyway, is company surname unnamed, and we're trying to sue them at the moment, but they literally stole most of our apple profits. So they probably still owe us a half a million dollars or more, and maybe even more, I mean, we literally physically the take the movie down from Apple, wait three months and then put it back up again, like very disruptive from that angle. But Apple is a big apple and a big earner. As much as Amazon Amazon is the machine Apple is next. Believe it or not. The Google Google Play SEO slash YouTube sales were very good as well. And Microsoft was amazing.

Alex Ferrari 59:22
It was even on Playstation and all that. X box. Yeah.

Mark Toia 59:28
The next Xbox PlayStation, whatever it was that no, not PlayStation, new Xbox. That's one.

Alex Ferrari 59:34
What else but that makes sense with your kind of,

Mark Toia 59:36
You know, the fan dangos and the videos and all that. Don't waste your fucking time. Nobody. I think we got like $14 You know?

Alex Ferrari 59:49
That's really good. That's really good information for people listening out there because a lot of times they'll spend all this money with aggregators, like I gotta have it on Fandango and on Vudu and I'm like, no, no I always tell him I have always said I've always consulted filmmakers to do Amazon. I go iTunes is vanity that's a vanity play just to say to people I'm on a habit you still making

Mark Toia 1:00:09
Money there and a lot of people out here in my house for instance, we don't we don't buy shit from Prime I don't

Alex Ferrari 1:00:15
Either I use Apple TV, but those are the two words that you really if you're going to spend money Amazon Apple, maybe Google maybe play maybe

Mark Toia 1:00:25
I'm finding myself now I'm starting to buy more movies. I mean, I've got all the isopods right, I've got the primes the fact that this that they're all They're all a thumbprint away but it's all it's it's love it's a scrap it you know maybe I'll watch too much and I've gone through all the good stuff but you've reached the end of the good but now I've got well here's the latest Elvis just turned up you know? I'll just a bite 25 bucks fucking What the hell is this? Bring me Elvis into my room. You know? I've got a really nice theater in our in our house. So it's like I've seen scrapes.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:04
I've seen pictures of your theater sir it's it's embarrassing. So you should be you should be ashamed of yourself.

Mark Toia 1:01:10
It is not that expensive to set up by the by the way.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:13
They're not as much as they used to be. That's for sure. Now, okay, so with Avon so in a in the Avon world what are the rankings to be number one and I know IMDb TV which is now free V is I heard that's doing really well. And so what an Avon Where are you making your money?

Mark Toia 1:01:34
The AMD IMDb TV in the UK is going great guns at the moment.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:41
Which has now turned into Freeview, by the way, and I think that's changed, I think in the UK as well.

Mark Toia 1:01:46
What you know, whatever they were Yeah, they rebranded it. And then he went, we're not on all the AVOD yet, because I'm still, I'm still I'm still up in here, but I thought I mean, it's there and it's gonna sit there for next 20 years bubbling away. But you're still gonna drive traffic to it. But you can make more money still, I can get one sale on tabled. Right, which equates to 50 people watching my movie on Avon. Does that make sense?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:20
It makes sense the world? Yeah, absolutely. That's fine, if you can, but you gotta find a customer that's willing to pay for it. Either rented, or so you can obviously

Mark Toia 1:02:30
I'm going to spend that money. I'm gonna get I'm gonna do a new advertising campaign. And you know, I'm gonna throw 1000s at it. And it's going to be because I know every time we have put advertising in, we see massive spikes in sales. So the other day, I just did one as a bit of a macro and just a play thing. Right? I put $1,000 in and we got like 70 grand for the sales. Extra sales.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:54
How much did you put in $1,000. So just so you're getting a seven to a return on your on your money on $1.

Mark Toia 1:03:04
That's more excessive as a 349 percenter.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:07
Yeah, exactly. So you're sure you're not doing bad. I mean, I'll do that all day. But just keep putting money in and you keep again, the ROI. Why not? You put $1 in you get $8 out of it.

Mark Toia 1:03:18
Yeah, all of a sudden, you don't see the intern coming in with your advertising going in, he just fucking turn it off. But end of the day, just believe it there. I mean, the sales from that area, just just topping up your advertising spend. So it's just, it's just a cyclic system. It's very basic and simple. Yeah. And I'm thinking about and the original name of my movie was robot four. Do I relaunch the movie again as robot four and put up the 90 minute one, you know, I don't know. All these things that go through my mind.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:49
You could you could do the Director's Cut

Mark Toia 1:03:52
Robot for the target is the is the cut down.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:57
You know, the thing that's wonderful about your story is that you are generating revenue you've you've turned your movie into a money making machine, which is exactly what the book talks about how to turn your movie into a money making machine. You've been able to do that using all these little tools and tricks and stuff. Did you generate I saw that you selling or at least you're focusing energy on the single from the music single. Is that something you own? Are you just trying to give love to the artist on your ear?

Mark Toia 1:04:24
Well, that's my daughter sung that song at the end. Oh, wow. That's awesome. She did great. It's very accomplished musician, singer songwriter. She was living in Sweden at the time. And I said hey, do you want to do a song for the movie? And she goes Yeah, cuz I stress her out apparently. Shocking. Anyway, she sent it to me she was shooting herself and she sent me the sent me the track. We checked it on the timeline at the end. Let's drop this straight over and it was perfect. I got it's great darlin love it. She's like, What? Do you want me to change anything? I said, No. That's your piece of art. And we're going to have as your family. My son helped help me shoot the film. My wife helped me produce the film. My daughter wrote a little tiny piece of music at the end of it.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:16
You don't degenerate, degenerate, generate revenue. Has she generated any revenue with sales from that song or now?

Mark Toia 1:05:23
Oh, she's made a few cents. You know, the music industry is

Alex Ferrari 1:05:27
Just as bad as Spotify, how much do you make negative two cents every time you owe us money every time someone plays it.

Mark Toia 1:05:37
Spotify started the whole cancer is subscription based bullshit. I mean, I've got a lot of disdain for that model. Because it you know, when we're thinking about Netflix, I suppose is Netflix will find a filmmaker with a good idea. Give them the money to go and make the movie. Give them their producers fee directors fee. And that's it. They'll keep the movie and fuck you off. And that's it. And it's all done. So Netflix is great for creating content and paying crew and directors and producers that didn't have the money to make that movie. And do it themselves. You know what I mean? So good on good on Netflix for that. But it's sad when they see a great movie, but they won't pay that filmmaker what that movie is at least cost at least what it costs the anatomy or what they what it could be worth in the marketplace. I've seen a lot of my friends that have sold to Netflix and they are like getting chump change.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:48
You know that way forever and waiting forever for that chump change? Yeah, oh, yeah.

Mark Toia 1:06:53
Well, yeah, the deals are very long, like long, like, oh, yeah, three, three year deals, and they get paid once a year dividend. And if they don't, if it's not really working, and that's falling off the grid a bit they'll just they'll drop it year after year. I'm sure there's a whole bunch of different deals going through. I don't really know in detail. I don't really want to know it's I just see my my filmmaking friends all upset. They've cried their beer in front of me.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:23
So somebody asked you so let me ask you then you because we've kind of hinted about this during the conversation. You use this as a calling card for for Hollywood to go off and do some movies. You from our from our past conversations, which will you know, we won't say who, but you've had some pretty big players in the in the studio system call you about possibly doing some work and you talk whatever you can say about that? Let me know. Can you talk about it?

Mark Toia 1:07:52
It is a few little India haste. But yeah, the biggest, the biggest of the biggest, the biggest, the biggest of court, and the smallest of the smallest of court, or, you know, everyone in between? Yeah, I've been probably sent well over 100 scripts, I think since the movies come out. I've attempted to read most of them. But if they don't have me in the first 10 pages, I'm fuckin I'm out, you know. But it's, you know, I, it's a hard game, even for the studios, right. But they might have the money, they might have the clout, they might have everything, but there's a big, there's big machines attached to a lot of it. And I'm wary to do the big the big John studio job next, because I know I'm gonna have a bit of a hand up the coin puppet thing, you know, I'm gonna be and, and really, they're not going to get my full potential because they literally it's going to be directed from the sidelines. Right? Don't say why ring me. I mean, what they need, they just they need to employ. And this is why a lot of young directors that are shot short films are doing massive blockbusters, because the studio just needs a pop up in there to, to strike together. They've already directed it, they already know what it's going to be like, have you done? Yeah. You know, the, there's, there's 10 directors on that movie, and it's not the one that they hired, you know, he's just pieces, maybe the full guy. Right and the thing, and you go and do those big movies and it doesn't do well and your career is over and done with the rest of your life. It's all finished. You know? So I've been very careful with who I jump in bed with. And a lot of them tell you, a lot of them tell you on my mind is going to be your vision. You've got total creative control, blah, blah, blah. But you know, that's complete utter bullshit, right? You know, give me finally come out of the come

Alex Ferrari 1:09:59
It asked for final cuts, see what happens.

Mark Toia 1:10:05
Look, I love anomalous in respect to all the guys that have called me and the people we're still talking to. And we've, we've got this, there's a half dozen guys with their films, the big, biggest well known producers and they've got some really great script ideas. I'm really excited actually about what's coming up. Now, the thing is, they are still at the mercy of actors. They are still at the mercy of they don't get money unless they're like the signs. They're still going to try and convince that actor that Mark Toya is the director for the job. Right. So there's all these hurdles, I might have opened the door nice and wide, and everyone's jumping on the mat train because they go well, toy just made a fucking movie, what would have cost us catering money, you know, and he's made a whole movie of our catering budget. And it's, it's pretty good. And like, and that's why I'm jumping on because they see me as a bit of a meal ticket in that sense, which is great. And I want them to see me as a meal ticket. Yes, I can do all the special effects myself. I shoot myself I do everything else whole lot myself and I can do that stuff so swiftly and easily. And then I know how to break the rules. I don't need the technic cranes, I don't need all that shit. That complicates the movie and makes the movie massively expensive. And they still get their big budget looking movie for probably quarter the price. So and they know that it's so hard for them now to make movies to make profit on a movie. So all of a sudden people like me that are sort of multi skill are we become a commodity we become the the, the little goldmine for a bit, so. So I've proven that with the monster movie, the monsters Man movie. Now I just need to prove to that. So same people that I can do deep drama as well. So then I'm going to do another film where it's going to be very, very active driven. And that will just tick off that box. I can do the action and I can do

Alex Ferrari 1:12:12
Now are you going to release it the same way? Or what are you going to do with that one? It worked. Yeah, but but there's no explosives. No killer robots are so I'm not sure if the drop explosions.

Mark Toia 1:12:28
Goes in there. And he's, you know, in a gun, he holds up a petrol station in LA and we blow up the petrol station, right? So it's an explosion. Maybe there's an explosive you're in a trailer moments. Seriously, if you're gonna sell a movie, you need moments in that trailer where people go, this looks fucking cool. Right? It does. It can't be stupid, right? Dramas don't sell every distributor in the world will come until here. Unless you got Meryl Streep and the bloody thing. It won't sell. And even if it has Meryl Streep in it doesn't wait, I still don't know. Right? So if you're going to do a nice beautiful drama, or you know, a love story, whatever the odds are you making $1 Lucky next to nothing.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:16
And also, by the way, you also saw you also sold this one to territories individually, right? So you're doing that as well?

Mark Toia 1:13:22
Yes, yes. It's in about 140 Different countries now. You know, we need some to a region, you know, like to Japan, French speaking countries, all of a sudden, that's combines 30 countries or something. But it's not hard to you know, it's nice to say yo sometime in 50 countries, but the reality is we've sold it to, you know, probably a dozen or more regions that encompass those countries. But yeah, now we've done pretty good out of that.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:51
Yeah, it does

Mark Toia 1:13:54
Automate a lot more. I mean, um, during I think it was I think it might have been What's the fucking dodgy show? You love guarantee that AFM

Alex Ferrari 1:14:04

Mark Toia 1:14:04
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, there was a guy there. And he rang me up. He said, I'll give you a million dollars for the movie. For international sales, right? I should have just given it to him, because international size is such a pain in the ass.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:17
But that's a whole other level of crazy.

Mark Toia 1:14:21
Yeah, it is a whole lot of little crazy. And you know, the Germans are ringing up in the gate. Oh, Mike, we love your movie. It's fucking great. But our AI robots have scanned your movie, and we've found 137 problems with it, and what type of problems? So you go down to the timecode. And there's like a pixel out that no one will ever see me fix that and they go, Well, there's a little bit of artifacting and I go what it's fucking stock footage, of course, it's gonna have an artifact and I've destroyed the QC QC here. So all the QC stuff and you just go out of it. I think we're probably out of the 100 Something comments is probably false. Things that were okay. There is a tiny is a missing frame or something which you can watch that movie 1000 times and never seen the missing frame. But the robot picked it up. Anyway. So you fucking around the Germans for six eight months just trying to get your movie kisi where everyone else it's playing around the world and no one else has any other problem with

Alex Ferrari 1:15:23
Germans but Germany history right?

Mark Toia 1:15:25
They paid well. In France The French paid well and I've purpose OMA to this thing. I've purposely kept all the English speaking countries for myself. You know, America, Canada's Australia, New Zealand, blah blah But anyway that they speak English I've I'm not going to sell the rights to the movie for the analysts they and this is a nice fat check that the Netflix or the Amazon has ring up and just dangle a carrot which they won't, completely won't. But it's a I love keeping the English speaking one for myself, because that's the one that's going to just keep churning over for me forevermore. You've got probably one distributor rang me saying, you know, telling me everything I wanted to hear. Which is great. They always do. But they he said this thing's probably got with his body of work that he's got that he's selling. He said you probably got another 1015 years. Because it's a relatively current subject. The post production is done really well. It's not shot in a city that's going to age race. In that age is the movie is Neal McDonough has a wire coming out of the zero everyone's Bluetooth now. I don't fuck it. Maybe I'll just paint the wire. There you go.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:44
There you go. Now is there gonna be a sequel? Nah. You left us open at the end.

Mark Toia 1:16:52
Come on, you know I did on purpose. It's it. They could be there's a lot of a lot of people have rung me not a lot. There's been a few people that have rung me again. Hey, can we do? Can we do the second version? You know, we'll pay for it right at the 100 bucks. Nice. But we want you to direct it. No. And get back to me. You know, I'm not listing no time into it. You guys want to go and do that. And that's fine. You go nuts and get back to me and we'll we'll decide then. So, but I like to do a I'd like to do Monsters and Men too. It'd be it wouldn't be fun. Yeah, it wouldn't be fun. It literally is opened up to go bigger. Because when I was making the movie, I thought Fuck, I just want to go full Michael Bay. If

Alex Ferrari 1:17:47
We're gonna give you some money for this, you're like, Okay,

Mark Toia 1:17:50
If I start doing movies to studios, I'm going to try and convince them to fucking do a Michael Bay execution. So.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:57
So my question to you is, sir, do you regret reading Rise?

Mark Toia 1:18:06
Well, again, I didn't read the book. Sorry. I don't like killing trees. But listen, the the ebook was fantastic. And and I've recommended it to a lot of people, don't you worry.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:19
No, no, thank you. I appreciate that.

Mark Toia 1:18:22
It's, it's, you know, you probably just need to do a, what I call the addition to Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:30
I got up there. Yeah, there's,

Mark Toia 1:18:33
Yeah, it might have to do with every year because she changes so fast.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:37
I mean, a lot of the core concepts and they're still gonna be good for their evergreen. But there's some things that I wish I knew I needed an expanded edition, I need to do a second edition and the third edition and a fourth.

Mark Toia 1:18:47
I can't recommend it highly enough. It is that book is a lot. Like I said, when I was listening to it all says God, it's so fucking logical. Right? It's so logical. And within, you know, there's so many alarm bells in the film industry. So many alarm bells. If you were an indie guy wanting to make a movie, you really need to go to therapy first, because and read your book. I was one of the lucky ones. But I the amount of effort and energy I put in behind my movie to make sure it didn't fail was extraordinary.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:32
And you also you also have massive volume of of expertise, education, knowledge about all the things you're doing. So you also are on an anomaly in your own right, just yourself. So it takes a lot to do what you've done without question. Yeah,

Mark Toia 1:19:51
I mean, look, I've I know the whole production production thing. I've been doing posts forever. So I can post a movie on On my laptop, on an airplane, same here, I can make an 8k movie, like literally in my on my laptop where other people have got to go to a post test and they get completely, like, right. Like that they will you'll be getting of getting big bill if you did it that way. Right? That you know just you know people go I've made a movie for 30 grand. I said Yeah, but by the time we do proper sound, proper everything so you can sell it to certain companies this law that's going to cost more than your movie, if you want to do it. Because these companies might even take your movie with your shitty stereo sound that you did in Premiere? You don't I mean, they certainly do this the stems, you need to supply a loan,

Alex Ferrari 1:20:48
Oh, my God, just the deliverables? And then you get into QC with the pixel here and the pixel there that

Mark Toia 1:20:55
Oh. And the reality is no reality is that so overcooked, and so overhyped, I think that's been manufactured by postales is to give them more work. But the reality is that the amazing content you see on YouTube now done by young kids at home, and we got these amazing pieces of content, no one cares about a visa fucking missing frame or a pixel out or whatever. And it looks fantastic. So a lot of that the film Qc is just a lot of shit.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:26
I wouldn't I would agree with you 100%. And, and by the way, if you do have a distributor that will take that crappy version with a crappy audio, I promise you, they'll never get to pay, you know,

Mark Toia 1:21:37
If they because they will have to be fixing it.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:40
Yes. If they fix it, or they just put it out the way it is. And they just don't care. And they're just gonna see whatever money trickles in, like you say the little, the little, the little, the little crumbs that get thrown off of it.

Mark Toia 1:21:51
It is on the front for the record, I don't want to diss on distributors because distributors are there for a reason that they're there to fulfill a job that you're too lazy or inexperienced to do you have into I walked into this completely an experience. I've come out of fucking swiss army knife. You don't I mean, and so I know other pieces. So now I know what a real distributor should be doing. Right? I couldn't do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:26
But you're but you know what? You're absolutely right. And it's not that we rag on distributors, distributors have a job to do. And there are good ones out there. It's just the majority of them.

Mark Toia 1:22:36
Other great ones? Not not that great. And yeah, and there's distributors that have a lot of reach. And there's ones that don't, you know, right? There's no fun and games. You know, for example, this is what a movie is worth now, now that the stream has literally devalued a feature film, to literally is now officially a feature film has now officially officially worth about three cents. That's what your feature film is worth in the marketplace. three cents. That's really sad when you say that, right? And I say that three cents, because if the movie will eventually end up in a vote or SVOD or wherever, but that's probably all you're gonna get from your movie. After your TV, VOD experience is about three cents, every time someone watches it. So, you go now, I sold a little bit of stock footage the other day, right to Netflix, for you know, through, you know, through our through just through our stuff, guys. And I made $1,500 for five seconds. Oh, yeah. Well, you know, from an advertising perspective, that's great. So the thing is, how is a movie was so much work and effort from hundreds of people worth three cents when people watch it. But your stock footage, it was a picture of a fucking stop sign, like hundreds of dollars for

Alex Ferrari 1:24:09
So, so perfect example is look, I'll give you a perfect example. Let's say tomorrow, I open up a new service that allows you to get bananas on demand. Demand any anytime you want a banana, you just have to just open up your your your your, your, your cupboard, and there's a banana there because I've set up a technology that allows you to do the bananas before bananas used to cost you know, 69 cents a pound 99 cents a pound, which is not a lot of money, but there's a lot of volume in bananas. Now I've essentially brought down bananas to less than less than a penny, per thing. All of the hundreds of 1000s of people that go into creating bananas, cultivating them, packing them, picking them, packing them, shipping them, all of that all those people, how are they going to be living and that's exactly what's happening to us. as filmmakers we are, we're not able to make a living doing this. And you and I are both old enough of similar vintage to remember, the 80s, the 90s, and even the early 2000s, where you can make crap movies and make a lot of money with it. But now, you can't. And the distributors are still trying to figure it out all of them. The studios are trying to figure it out, which is which is the biggest studio in Hollywood right now. The one that makes the most money

Mark Toia 1:25:26
Would have no idea Disney, Disney.

Alex Ferrari 1:25:30
Now why is Disney make the most money? Because they use the film intrapreneur model. Because I didn't invent it. They've been doing it since the day of seven, the seven dwarfs the second they put Mickey Mouse on a t shirt. They started making money outside the film industry. So now where are they? So where are they making their money's when they do a Marvel movie or Star Wars movie or frozen. They made a billion dollars off the dresses and frozen alone. According to my according to my friend who works at Disney, a billion off the first movie. And that movie, by the way, made a billion in the box office. And they made they make more money off of everything else they sell them the actual movies is that they stopped being a movie studio a long time ago. They're about selling baby Yodas. That's what they want to sell that Mandalorian makes them some money, but it's a marketing tool. And that's what the film intrapreneur method is all about. It's about doing that, but for the independent, and focusing on niches and all that kind of stuff. But, but that's that's and that's the future. And that's why a lot of these other studios are having more difficult times surviving, and making, you know, making money because it's just I don't know where this all gonna go, my friend. But your story is very inspirational. I wanted to have you back on. So thank you so much for being so candid, and open with the audience and with the tribe about your, your, your adventures over the last two years getting this movie out into the world. And of course, when you make your next movie, we will be here to hear what happens with that one as well. And and if you do decide to make one of those big movies, please come back. I want to love to hear this. The stories from the inside of the studio

Mark Toia 1:27:11
Yeah, look, I think I will I will because it's you know, I've got a lot of a lot of time for you, Alex, and the information you give to a lot of filmmakers, because I see a lot of young fellas making movies or young people sorry, not young fellows, but young people making movies, and I'm already looking at dead people walking, right? In many ways. You're absolutely right. And I want to go over there and just say Look, don't don't can't, you know, they've got to go down the path of creating something you don't I mean, creating something to sell. And it's either I think telling a movie is like writing a book, right? For a writer writing a book, or cooking the best fucking food of his life for a filmmaker, creating the best movies can with his own hands. It's a creative release. And it's great if you get if you've got a rich dad or a mom or whatever, that it's just going to dump money on you to go and make your movie and have fun. But the reality is, if you're going to use other people's money, there's a responsibility there. And either, you're never going to be, you're always gonna have this monkey on your back. If you borrow money from the accountant down the road and aren't married, and someone's mortgaged their house, and you go and make a movie, and it doesn't make any money, right? forevermore, the stress that will be upon your head. And the reason why you're not going to make money is not because you might make the most amazing film look like you know, we had a little breakthrough with our one and it did everything right and you got your money back. But the odds if you don't do everything right, you know, and it doesn't work it's going to in the odds are it's not this I don't even know I've I've I know countless filmmakers, independent but myself truly independent guys that have made movies and reached out to me. And literally none of them have got a good story for me. You don't I mean, that religiously ringing me up asking me how. And it's really, really sad that the some of the stories I've heard have been decimated, I mean, terrible. And I've showed them ago. I'm going to tell you my process and that's where I fucked up there. Well, that's okay. That's fine. And you know, and I fucked up in certain areas selling my film as well. I know I could have made a lot more money with it. You know what I mean? But But listen, it's a life lesson. But you know what? System two is you can get into the traditional system. and just make wages, you can go and get your directors fee and whatever. You know, that's the other thing too about being a director is that the director is probably the you're not going to get paid much as a director. You know, I've got a friend of mine that's finishing a movie now for for Netflix. And he worked out because he ended up you know, hanging out with the makeup artist and making out with her. He worked out that per hour. Right? Her our, the amount of time he spent on the movie, compared to the amount of time she spent on the movie, she was making four times more than him because he got a contracted amount of X amount of dollars, you know, 100 grand, she came in just for, you know, the four weeks to suit this thing or five weeks, she was making more money per hour than him. So really, as a director, a movie director, you get jack shit, unless you're going to be like, a fucking famous Marvel director, maybe you know, after your second or third Marvel film, you might be making some good day. But the reality is even a lot of the offers I've been getting, I'll go fuck massive pay cut, you know, I can make what they offer. I can make doing an add in,

Alex Ferrari 1:31:15
Or stock trading week, or two or three weeks.

Mark Toia 1:31:19
You're literally paying me if you want me for a year in a bit, and you're gonna pay me a month's income like it directly at work. directing a movie is not really that What are you thinking?

Alex Ferrari 1:31:34
Right, exactly. And by the way, your story is could have been a cautionary tale very easily you could have if you didn't know marketing, if you didn't know Facebook ads and YouTube ads. If you didn't make your money in T VOD, and just try to throw it on a VOD or let's say you just want to throw it on Amazon Prime and left it there. You you might have been able to make some money with it. But it wouldn't. It this story could have gone wrong in multiple places, multiple.

Mark Toia 1:32:03
But I didn't want it to fail. And if it was going to fail, I wanted to fail with my own hands. I didn't want it to fail on someone else's hands. Because then I would have kicked myself stupid for allowing myself right to let it fail with no because if I'm if I'm going to put no effort into selling that film, I get some years sitting back down. Are they going to do everything for me? Because they told me they're going to do $2,000 in marketing for the PR and they told me they're going to spend six grand here and, and and the movies gonna blow up. Right? Right. I knew that was bullshit. Because I'm in the advertising world. I know that's complete other shit. I mean, like, six grand, don't get you shit. Nothing. Nothing. And online news. You know, when you hit the PR companies and they put stuff on all those fucking Oh, the PR web things? Yeah, yeah, no, talking, no one reads that crap. Come on. No one in how do you how do you even justify monetizing it? You know, it might end up in variety. And it's like poof, gone. It's like, got you know, it's,

Alex Ferrari 1:33:09
I hope this conversation inspires and scares the shit out of people at the exact same time because it is definitely an anomaly. It is a cautionary tale. It's an inspirational tale. And this is the reality of where we are in the world right now. And where we are going as filmmakers. That's why I wrote the book. So we have a fighting chance. Because in the book, you read it, you know, you've got to execute things in order for it to work and you've got to do a lot of work. That's not the filmmaking part of it. It's not the working with actors and getting in the edit room and go into the premieres. That's another part. But in today's world, filmmakers need to do the next part if they want to survive as filmmakers. That's just unfortunate. I don't I don't make the rules. These are the rules. And unfortunately, this is where we're going. Mark, I do want to appreciate your time. Brother, thank you so much for coming on the show again, and being so candid and open with us. And I hope this does help some filmmakers out there. So thank you again, my friend and continued success and let you keep me updated on where you are in the world and what you're doing.

Mark Toia 1:34:11
No worries, Alex, have a good day. It's always good to talk to you mate.

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BPS 279: How NOT to Lose Money Producing Movies with Anne Marie Gillen

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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

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 271: Sundance – La Guerra Civil with Eva Longoria

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show Eva Longoria. How're you doing Eva?

Eva Longoria 0:16
Im good, how are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:17
I'm doing fantastic. Thank you so much for coming on the show as a fellow Latino, or Latin X, as they say, nowadays. Latina, Latina, I appreciate everything you've done for for us as a community in general. And, and you know, growing up has been, it was very difficult to really see a Latino filmmaker in general. I mean, it was Robert for me. When I was coming up, it was Robert Rodriguez. And I was just like, oh my god, there's a director, who's Latino. So that's amazing. It was the first time I saw so I just wanted to start off by saying thank you so much for all the stuff that you've done for our community and the film industry. So thank you.

Eva Longoria 0:53
Thank you, thanks for talking about this amazing documentary.

Alex Ferrari 0:59
I loved it. By the way, I absolutely loved it. I knew about it. I knew about the story, just being Latino in general. And I would tell like I told my dad only Do you remember this Franco's who, if you're Latino, you remember that fight. But I didn't really understand the whole back and forth between the subcultures if you will of Mexico, Mexican American. But before we get started, we're going to talk all about the documentary, is it how did you go from almost becoming a physical therapist to becoming an actor?

Eva Longoria 1:33
My dream was to work for the Dallas Cowboys. Like I was like, I'm a physical trainer for the Dallas Cowboys. And I've arrived ever. I was in a beauty pageant. It was a Scholarship Pageant in Texas. And my final year in college, I ran out of money, I ran out a Pell Grant, like, I had no way to finish my senior year and my friends like, hey, why don't you enter the Scholarship Pageant? I was like, what's that? And she's like, you know, you. If you win, you get money for school. So I did. And I was like, I've never been even. And I'm from Texas, like, we're born and bred football and pageants. And I never seen one. I never been in one and, and so my goal was to win fourth place, because I was like, if I could just give fourth place. It was like books. Right? Okay, I've covered my books. And then like, third place was like, books, tuition. And then, you know, second place was books, tuition boarding. And then the first place was books, tuition boarding and a stipend. Like I was like, Look, I am in high. I just want, I just want my books, right. And then they called the winners, and they were like, fourth place is so and so. And I was like, Ah, man, I didn't get it. And I ended up winning the whole thing. And I was like, oh, okay, that oh, cool, cool. I got I can pay my senior. And then that pageant made me I had it was like a feeder to go into the next level. And I was like, Oh, I don't I'm not make this a thing on my tuition. And so I had to go into the next one, which was Miss Corpus Christi, where I'm from, and I won that one. And, and literally, my mom was like, This is not your food, like you cannot enter one more page. And I'm like, I don't want to I don't know what's happening. I don't know what especially growing up as libreria FEHA, which is the ugly dark one. And I in that prize package, Miss Corpus Christi was a trip to Los Angeles. And that was the first time I was like, Oh, that'd be fun. I've never been outside of Texas. And, and it was like a talent competition in LA that we had to go to. And so I came and then i i won the talent competition. And I was like, What is going on? I don't know what I'm doing and and literally, agents and managers wanted to sign me and because it was like, it was like the Latin craze. I remember. It was like Ricky Martin,

Alex Ferrari 3:53
Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias. Yes. Yeah.

Eva Longoria 3:57
Livin La vida loca was, you know, the hit song at the time. And they were like, Oh, my God, if you're Latina, you're gonna like clean up here in Hollywood. They're looking for Latinas. And I was like, Oh, okay. And I just live on one day to the next set. Okay, I think I'm gonna be an actor, just like that. But it was because I had my bachelor's degree that I was like, I can get a job anywhere. It's not like I'm going to be a starving actor, I can go get a job. So I had a lot of confidence that I would be okay. But still not knowing, you know, the industry or anything. I had $23 in my bank account.

Alex Ferrari 4:27
Now the in you decided that, you know, you just like I heard somewhere that you just called up your parents is like, I'm staying. I'm not I'm not going. I'm not flying back.

Eva Longoria 4:35
I didn't even fly back. That's when I moved. I didn't even fly back to go, Okay, let me prepare for this move. No, I just, I came here for three days. And on the third day, I said, I think I'm going to stay. And my mom and my mom was like, Okay, you're going to do what I said, I think I'm gonna be an actor. I mean, I don't know what that means. But I think I'm going to, I'm going to just stay a little longer. See what happens. And my mom said that, well, you know, at least you can get a job. You have your degree, and I said, Yeah, I'm going to Go get a job. And, you know, went got a job and then became a background actor. And, you know, atmosphere actor for a couple years. I was like, let me let me be on a set. I don't even I've never been on a set. Maybe I should figure that out.

Alex Ferrari 5:16
Right. Now did you? Did you feel because I mean, everything seems very serendipitous that you've just a story you've told me did you feel like there was some for something guiding you during this process?

Eva Longoria 5:29
It's so funny you say that. I always say that. I was like, I don't know what it was. But there was something just that felt right. Every step of the way. Like, they were like, I said, I'm going to stay. I wasn't scared. I didn't know anybody. I didn't have a place to live. I didn't have money. And I was like, I'll be okay. I maybe it's naive, you know, naive. It's youth. is bliss. Like if I knew the dangers

Alex Ferrari 5:58
Right, exactly. No, it's like so any any actress is living listening right now. Please don't do what Eva did. Don't just

Eva Longoria 6:05
Don't do it. No, I had like five roommates in a one bedroom of people who like hey, come live with us. I go okay, like not knowing them. I was like, I could have been murdered. I mean, you know what I mean? Like

Alex Ferrari 6:16
Something was sometimes guiding and protecting you during this process, because the story that you just told me it's ends and Dateline.

Eva Longoria 6:27
Well, that in like, there's no recipe for success in Hollywood. So let's say you do exactly what I did. Yeah, he wouldn't get the same result. It doesn't work that way.

Alex Ferrari 6:36
No, it's different timing different plays different everything. I mean, you hit that the right point, right time, but like you were saying, it took you a little while before you started getting some jobs. How did you keep going? Like just I mean, I'm assuming like, I always treat that when I'm ever I'm casting for a movie. I'm always treat. I treat actors with such respect, because it's so hard, and going out on auditions and getting beat up and, and people just walking in and like, Oh, you're to this or you're to that, and it's just so it's so rough. How did you keep going when there was no real signs that this was the right path for you?

Eva Longoria 7:09
Right. 100%! Well, you know, I, when I came to Hollywood, I went to a temp agency to get a job because I was like, well, they'll have a job for me tomorrow. And that company said, Why don't you work here? And I said, What is What do you guys do? And they were like that were headhunters. You find people jobs. And you know, it's like matchmaking job, people. You know? And I go, Okay, I mean, not knowing anything, but I was so good at it. I made a lot of money. So again, I wasn't ever the struggling actor, I was so good. I was like, This is so easy this head on. But I just like I knew how to find match people up with jobs and all my actor friends were jobless. So I'm like, I got tons of supply, you know. And, and because of that, I got an apartment, I had a car, I paid off my student debt. I paid off my credit card debt. I had headshots, I took acting classes, I you know, I really invested all anything that I made back into myself. Right. And, and it was through one of those workshops or seminars or something that a casting director saw me and said, Hey, you should audition for young and the rest of this and I was like, okay, and, and did and then that was like my big break was young and the restless. And, and it paid so badly. It was like two cents for the week that I kept my head hunting job. So I was a headhunter in my dressing room at young in the restless, because it just it was like I was not making enough young, the restless to quit my job for for two years. I did this did both jobs.

Alex Ferrari 8:46
Talk about hustle.

Eva Longoria 8:47
Yeah, I know. That's another thing is like it is about hustle. And it's about, you know, being resourceful. And that's life, by the way that if I if you dropped me in the middle of Paris, I'm going to figure it out. Right? I speak the language, I don't know. But I'm going to eat how many well, and I'm gonna, I'm gonna figure it out. And that's I think what's missing a lot from a lot of the younger generation today is they're just not that resourceful. And they have all the tools in the world at their fingertips. I didn't have an iPhone. I had a Thomas guide, and a printout from Google that I had to follow, you know. And so, yeah, it was like, Oh, if I had the tools that you have today, you know, God, I would have gone far.

Alex Ferrari 9:28
Oh, my God. I mean, same here. I mean, my first directors will cost 50 grand because I've to shoot an on 35 You know, and it was like, now we just grab a phone because you'd be shooting commercials and music videos and short films all day. There's so much technology. I think it's because you know, you and I are of similar vintage. So you know, we when we were when we grew up there was there wasn't anything like I remember there's no internet I remember very easily there was no internet. I remember printing out the Google Maps in LA and having the You know, the directions like printed out line by line driving around LA trying to drop off a demo reel for, you know, an editing gig or something like that.

Eva Longoria 10:08
Stage West. I submitted myself in for auditions and I would send my headshot, and I would use the postage from the company I worked at, so I didn't have to buy stamps. And so I like, at the end of the day, I'd sneak off and I go on, I put postage on, like 20 submissions, and I saw I was like, oh, yeah, I was a hustler. I did background work just to eat. And I would steal the bananas and apples and take it home. Because I was like, well, I might not eat tomorrow. So let me let me take some of these bananas. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 10:38
And so I mean, you struggled but you you were you something, again, was guiding you and giving you these opportunities that normal, normal, the normal acting story in LA is not yours by any stretch of the imagination. Even at the very beginning. Like you're you're living you're eating, you're you're leaving Well, you have a job, you have a car, you've paid off student debt, like this is unheard of for a struggling actor. But yeah, even then, when you got your first big break, you're like, I still want to keep my day job.

Eva Longoria 11:06
Yeah, I still like my car. So I think I'm, I'm gonna I like my apartment. Let me let me just keep doing this. Also, you know, I what you said like what kept you going because there was no signpost to say successes a year from now hang on. I felt it. And I remember my boss at that company. He goes, you know how much money you can make here. You're so good at this. Give up that dream. Like, you know how many people make it in Hollywood one in 1,000,001 in a million, like, Come on, just focus over here and forget that stuff. And I said, I know. And I'm that one. Like I'm taking up that space. So I've got to hurry up and be prepared. Like, I really thought that I really I never gave myself up. Until if I don't make it well, by 30. I'm moving back home. Like I never had a plan B I was just like, No, this will happen. And I also approached it like a business I knew exactly how to invest in you know what I need to classes. I don't know how to do that. I'm not good at that. I'm going to do this. So, you know, in that time, we know when you're going out for Latin roles are like, Can you do it with an accent and I'm like, I don't I don't have an accent and like there's other levels of target. And there's other levels of Latinos zero and it was like Rosie Perez, yesterday, okay, but there's other levels of dimensions of Latino that don't sound like Rosie Perez, you know, and, and so I was like, I gotta I need an accent coach. I don't I don't have an accent. I need to get one. And when people come to Hollywood, they try to lose their accent. I was like I was trying to get an accent. Like,

Alex Ferrari 12:48
Now, so it sounds like the you really put an intention involved. You really had an intention, and almost manifested what you were trying to get like you'd like no, I'm I'm there already. In your mind. You were already successful, even though there was no signs at all. And there's a difference between delusion because we all we all understand. We all

Eva Longoria 13:08
I might have been a little delusional. I might have been a little

Alex Ferrari 13:11
Listen, listen, Eva to be in our business. You got to be insane. You got to be insane in general, it's an insane business. It's like running off with the circus, basically, you know, so it is it is an insanity to be with. But yeah, there is a little you need a little delusion to even think you can make a movie is a delusion. It's insanity.

Eva Longoria 13:30
Yeah, I mean, it is a little delusional. But the other thing that I had on my side was an I'm an insane optimist and a hard worker. So I knew those two went together. But I also felt I felt like I have very tough skin. So the nose didn't affect me. And I got 1000s 1000s The day I got desperate out the day I auditioned for Desperate Housewives. I had nine auditions that day. And I was changing in my car driving from Disney back to Warner Brothers back to Disney back to Sony back to Culver City. And it was like, Oh, my I ran out of gas that day. That's how many auditions I had. And Desperate Housewives was at eight at night. It was the last audition. I'm changing in the car. And I get there and I'm exhausted. And I just was like, you know it you know, the other seven auditions today said No, I already knew I didn't get them. And and it was like, you know, in the car, doctor, okay, lawyer, okay. Yeah. And then Gabby was like, sexy, and I'm like trying to put on this tight dress in the car. I get down and Mark cheery is an audition and he goes. So what do you think of the script? And I was like, I didn't read the script. Like in my head. I'm like, I read my part. Like, who has time I had eight auditions a day. I'm not gonna read eight scripts. And I said, you don't want and I was just done. I was done for the day. And I said, You know what, I didn't read it. I didn't read the script. But I read my part and my parts really good. And and he he told me Later, he knew I was Gabrielle in that moment because it was the most selfish thing to say. I don't know what everybody else but I'm amazing. And I was like, so can I just do the audition? So you can say no. So I can go like, I it was just, you know, and then you did it again the next day. Yeah. And you started all over. So I had this and I have very thick skin even to this day, I really never take things personal. If I'm if I you know, if I get reviewed badly or this I'm like, Well, you know, it's not your cup of tea.

Alex Ferrari 15:32
Now, do you feel that you getting desperate housewives later and a little bit later in life? Because you weren't? You weren't? You know? 20? You know, I think you were 30 you were like 30? Yeah, exactly. 29 When you got it. So you already kind of had an established, you've established who your identity was at that point. Do you think that helped you deal with the tsunami, tsunami, excuse me of fame, and criticism and love and hate and everything that comes along with that package? Did that help you with that? Because that crushes many?

Eva Longoria 16:07
Yeah. 1,000% I knew who I was, you know, I probably knew who I was when I landed in Hollywood. You know, I didn't drink I wasn't into drugs. I didn't smoke. Like I was pretty, you know, and I was like, oh my god, Los Angeles, you're gonna, you know, get into drugs and travel. And I was like, There's drugs and trouble in Texas like the same thing. But I had a really strong sense of who I was. And so when fame hits you, I think God I was 29 I mean, because I was like, you know, you especially back then the tabloids were like the leading thing not like social media today, but like, the tabloids defined you and so it was like America's sweetheart America Sex Kitten. And then you kind of became that, right? Like, if you look at Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera coming up at the same time, and one was America's sweetheart. And one was the bad girl. And they were babies and they kind of go okay, I got to play the part. Now I've got to be the bad girl. And, and so they tried to do that with me. And I was like, you know, that? I'm not that. And, and I'm very grounded. You know, I have a really great family and I have, you know, great friends, my friends back then. Or, you know, the couches I slept on? And the I didn't have a dress for an audition. And my best friend, you know, let me address. They're still my friends today. They're the girlfriends that, you know, traveled with me and lived with me and you know, but I, I you know, they were there for me when I had nothing.

Alex Ferrari 17:36
So you know, so you know that they're their true friends at that point. Yeah, it's yeah, you know, cuz you never know, famous, such a double edged sword. So many people want to be rich and famous and you like, but look at how many people who are rich and famous who who are destroyed by it. It's just Hollywood is riddled with stories like that. You're an exception. You're like, you're an anomaly.

Eva Longoria 17:56
Yeah, thank you. But you remember EQ Hollywood stories that get worse, of course, that was on E and it was like, you know, she was you know, she was such a pretty girl from Missouri. And then and you're like, and so and then they tell you like the downfall of everybody. And I remember we premiered. And literally three days later, there was an E True Hollywood Story on me. And I go What did I do? Did I fall from grace? Did I do drugs? What happened? Like I was like, the beginning of the end now. Like it's supposed to happen later. It was so funny.

Alex Ferrari 18:27
Oh, God. And then of course, any movies that you might have done before Desperate Housewives they started going into, they go into the archives of the stuff that you did, and like look at what she did back then.

Eva Longoria 18:37
And I did so many student films for real, you know, he did and did so many bad things. And then all of a sudden, I was at Blockbuster. I don't know if people remember there was a blockbuster. You had to physically go and get a DVD before Netflix mailed them to you. And, and my I remember going into Blockbuster and my face is on the cover of this film. And I was like, what is that it was a different title. It was and it was just a student film I had done and this director packaged it sold it on my name. And I never knew until I saw it a blockbuster. But yeah, yeah. And family comes out of the woodworks, right? Like all these people who are related to you. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 19:18
So funny story. When I first started out as an editor as trailer editor, I cut a trailer for one of those films of yours early on. I if I say the name, I won't say the name, but I did. I did. I did edit it. And you were ready. You were ready, you know, Desperate Housewives. And I was sitting there and I'm like, This is so wrong. Like they haven't like you were like, I'm like you're in the movie for like 15 minutes, or 20. Right? And they're just like, bam, I'm like, Oh my God. I'm like, but hey, you know, I had to do a gig. So

Eva Longoria 19:51
A friend of mine who was on another hit show and every time he gets recognized around the world, he gets so pissed off because it's like that's all people know me for And I and every time people come up to me and they go, Gabby so Lise, I am like, Yes, that's me. You know, I'm just so grateful. And so like, so grateful that that director thought I had some sort of value. Because that's what you hope for you don't I mean, you have to have a value that you can make something happen.

Alex Ferrari 20:18
No question I read somewhere that you're an avid meditator. How do you cuz I'm, I've been meditating for years, I meditate hours a day sometimes. And it's changed my life. How do you use meditation, in your balancing your insane world that you live in with all the things that you do? And all the plates you spin, you know, mother, and philanthropist, and actor and director and all these kind of things? How does meditation help you kind of balance yourself? And what does it do for you in general,

Eva Longoria 20:48
You know what, it really centers you before the day I have to do it first thing in the morning, and it makes me more patient, it makes me have compassion, it makes me happy. You know, it really just shifts your energy to a place of positivity and a place of gratitude. That's a big one. You know, I really learned also, do be aware of how you speak, right? So I used to be like, I gotta I have to go to this meeting across town. I have to go to this audition, I have to go. Do you know James Corden, or I have to be on Jimmy Kimmel tonight. Instead, just switching it to I get to write, I get to have a meeting about a project, I want to get off the ground. Like, isn't that what you want? So why are you going on after Oh, you know, I get to be on Jimmy Kimmel, to promote this TV show I was on I get to, you know, I have to get home and bathe my kid. No, I get to make it home in time to bathe my child and put them to bed. Like I get to do that. I get to cook dinner for my family. And just that little word was through meditation, right? Like, be careful of how you speak in life, you know, and people go, how was your day to day you are so busy, I'm so busy. It's like I can't I can't it's just too much. I'm so busy. And switching that word to be productive? How was your day productive? Right, I was so productive today. I had eight meetings. I had, you know, this deal go through I had this conversation with so and so it was a pretty productive day. It wasn't a busy day, you're not doing busy work. Everything you do during the day is towards a goal towards something so so have that gratitude in your words, as you approach your day. And that's what meditation does. It really makes you think about things that are on autopilot that you shouldn't be on autopilot about.

Alex Ferrari 22:39
And I agree with you 110%. You also are an you know, an insane philanthropist that you give back so much. Can you just talk a little bit about what giving back means to you and how it affects your life. Because I started, when I started my show six and a half years ago, I was trying to get in, I was trying to you know, I was trying to knock on the doors and try to get these meetings and try to make connections. And I said I said I'm tired of all that I'm going to start giving back to my to my community, which is filmmakers. And all of a sudden doors swung open. And now I get to talk to people like you and all this kind of things. It was because I gave back and it's addictive to giving back and changing people's lives and whatever which way I can, you know, with the show or with whatever the work I do. So how does that affect you?

Eva Longoria 23:26
Yeah, I mean, you hit it right in the nail. I mean, it's it's studies have proven, you know, giving, giving and being charitable, increases your life's fulfillment, right? Like you're like, Oh, I didn't even know I needed this to be filled. And and then it becomes addictive. Like now I you know, I travel all over the world. I go to India, I go to you know, because I just like love, philanthropy and community efforts. But honestly, I grew up with it in my DNA. I mean, I have a special needs sister. She's She was born with a mental disability. So I grew up in her world, I grew up with other people helping us, you know, charities that you know, sponsored a trip for her to go to Disneyland charities who you know, created after school programs for kids with special needs to have a place to go. And so I always I always like who's charity. She's so sweet. She's so nice. That lady, you know, and, and so I knew before I was even famous that I was going to, you know, do something charitable and give back and and then once I got my platform and my microphone, then I was like, oh, okay, I have something to say.

Alex Ferrari 24:33
And I could and I could do some good in the world. Yeah. Now, when did you decide that you wanted to make the art to add directing as part of your resume? Because so many actresses and actors, they just go on through whole life and they're just actors, and they don't want to do any directing. But I've seen and I've spoken to many actors who've turned director, what it does for them and it also elongates their career. They can direct until they're or whatever and, and just really enjoy that process. What when did you decide at what point in your career did you go? I think I want to direct which is the cliche of everything. What I really want to do is direct.

Eva Longoria 25:10
Yeah, I know, I think I'm better at this than easy. You know, I people think I'm an actor, turn producer, director. And I think I was always a producer, especially producer, I loved the business side of our business. You know, that's why I my approach with myself was like, Alright, I gotta do this. I gotta do it. I like how do I set myself up for success? And, and I remember when I moved to Hollywood, I checked out a bay. I went and bought a book it Oh, my God. Samuel French, right?

Alex Ferrari 25:44
Yeah, yeah, it's through city.

Eva Longoria 25:46
No. And Holly now

Alex Ferrari 25:47
Ohh there's another one. That was a second. That's before they moved, I think. Yeah.

Eva Longoria 25:50
And, and, and how to produce one on one. I mean, I bought that book first over acting, because I was like, Well, I got to create, I got to create my own project. So how do I do that? And there was like, a sample budget in the book and I put it on my Excel spreadsheet, and I was like, pay plugging in numbers. And, and, and then I quickly had a gig with this show called Hot Tamales live with Kiki Melendez at the improv. And he was like, hey, help me book some comedians. And then I said, Well, how are we going to pay them? She's like, I don't know. And then so we asked the improv like, well, how much is it to get the night out of dead night? We want to make it Latin Night. Okay, great. You can have the stage we get the door, you get the drift, you know, and and it was just like, you figure it out, right? And I was like, Okay, we watch tapes, VHS tapes of comedians and to book out the night and, and then we got a sponsor was like, Well, you know, a sponsor, right? We need somebody to pay for this. So we should get a tequila, you get a tequila company to give us money. And then we'll mention the tequila. And like, it was all shooting from the hip, Beto. And how did you went? And I did that first. And then through that, you know, directed some of the sketches we had on stage. I'm like, no, no, you've got to come out through there. And we're gonna hear some props. And you know, and I fell in love with it. And then, you know, became an actor, and then use Desperate Housewives. As my film school. I really used I didn't go to film school, but I was on a set for 10 years. So I was like, paying attention. Pay attention to where the camera went, what lenses What are lenses? What does that mean? 2530 511 10 100. Like, what? Why is that light there? What are you doing? What's a balance? You know? And checking the gate? You know, you said back in the day, taking the gate, what does that mean? Now, you know, I used to load the camera. When we we were one of the last shows to go digital, we shot on film for much longer than other TV shows. And, and so I paid attention. And I really took advantage of all the directors that came through and ask them questions, and I was just a sponge. And so that's when it was on during this process where I said, I think I think I want to direct TV. And and then somebody asked me, Hey, you want to direct this short film? And I go, yes. And the minute I said, Yes, I wanted to put it back into my mouth cuz I was like, why did it? Why don't you? You just said yes. You're not ready. You don't know enough? What are you doing? Who do you think you are? And I think women it encounter that imposter syndrome a lot, you know, like, oh, no, ready? I couldn't possibly do that. No, no, no, no, no, no, I'm not No, no, no, not me. Not me. Not me. But I already said yes. So I was like, stuck. And I had to do it. And and I was good. And I knew I was good at it. And I one of my mentors who directed a lot of Desperate Housewives David Grossman, he came on set and I was like, Well, you just be on set because what if I fuck up the lens choice where he goes, You're not that's not your job, by the way. You know, your job is to get performances. And after we wrapped the DP, and that director goes, I think this is your calling. And they really like gave me that confidence of like, you belong this is you know what you're doing, man, man, do you know what you're doing? You know, a lot more than you think. You know? And I was like, really? Okay. And then I did it again. And then I did it again. And then you know, cut did now or you know, 10 years later, I've been directing and this is my first feature length documentary and my feature like film,

Alex Ferrari 29:21
Which we which comes to. How did this project come together? Like I mean, how did it you know, no one had ever done a boxing documentary about you know, Mexican American that I know of at least anything major. I mean, there's I mean, there's a Muhammad Ali one for every five every five minutes there's a new Muhammad Ali and they're all fantastic. And then there's my face. Then Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray and everything but never really about the Latino you know, which has a fame in boxing.

Eva Longoria 29:53
So everybody did you grew up with boxing I go I'm Mexican. Of course I grew up in boxing like it's in our blood. We have to you have to But no, you know, I've known Oscar for 25 years Oscar and I've been friends. That was one of the first people I met when I moved to Hollywood, me, Mario Lopez and Oscar De La Hoya were like The Little Rascals, we ran around in Hollywood and just caused trouble 25 years ago, and, and so he called me and he was like, hey, there's the anime. This is the 25th anniversary of that fight. Can you direct the documentary about it? We want to do a documentary about that, how iconic the fight was. And I said, Oh, God, what do you mean? No, like a boxing doc, like jabs and punches and stuff? Like, no, no, I don't want to do that. I said, you know, it's so funny. I remember that fight dividing my household. Like, I remember that fight, causing so much ruckus within our community and the fighting. And, you know, we couldn't get the fight because it was closed circuits Do you had to go to a bar, and then kids couldn't go and it was like, it was a whole thing. And people the betting in Vegas in the odds, and I was just like, what is that? Whoa, what is happening? And it was just, I think the biggest fight we've ever had in in the golden age of boxing. I mean, that that time, which was my son era, the mike tyson era, you know, the De La Jolla era, the Julio era, you know, it was huge. It was huge. And I said, that's interesting to me to explore is through the lens of what does it mean to be Mexican enough? And how do you navigate your identity as a Mexican American? That is something I know, you know, I straddle the hyphen every single day of my life. And people go, Oh, you're you're half Mexican, half American. And I go, No, I'm 100%, Mexican, and 100%. American at the same time. And these two things can always be true. And so I knew Oscar navigated that, because when he won the gold medal for the Olympics, he had an he won, he won the gold medal for the USA. And he goes into the ring and holds a Mexican flag up. So he has the American flag and the Mexican flag. And I remember that moment, too. And I remember swelling with pride and going oh, my God, that's me. So Oh, so you can celebrate being Mexican, you don't have to hide it, you know, and, and all the Mexican people in the United States embraced Oscar in that moment. They were like he's ours. You know what pride the Mexican president called him and I added him to Los Pinos, which is the Mexican White House. There was a parade in Mexico for him. And so every fight he had after that, that was his audience that was his supporters. Those were his people, until he challenged Julio. And when he challenged Julio, the Mexican community goes, oh, oh, wait, oh, yeah, you're not that Mexican. Yeah. You're not that Mexican. And then he was like, well, he's

Alex Ferrari 32:51
He's Mexican. He's Mexican Jesus, he was Mexican Jesus.

Eva Longoria 32:55
He's like, he's, he can't touch him. You can't touch Julio. He's our campeón de mexico, you know, company on the Mundo. And so that's the lens in which I wanted to explore this particular fight. Because I think that we still encounter this today, we're not we're not a monolithic group, I get that we're very, we have a lot of differences. But we have bigger fights to fight outside of the ring as a Latino community. So whether you're Puerto Rican, or Cuban, or gentle American, or Argentinian or Venezuelan, Mexican, there is a collective aggregation that has to happen, if we're going to have a political power, buying power, you know, if we're going to flex any sort of muscle, we have to do it together. And so we can't concentrate on how we're different. In order to make change, we have to focus on what what we have in common and the common goal, which is like we should have access to voting, we should have access to health care, we should have access to equal education, there's stuff we need to come together on. And so, you know, the beginning of the documentary, starts with those differences. It's, you know, the, the old, you know, the old lion against the young buck and the Mexican national against the Mexican American and the guy from the Pueblo against the golden boy. And the fight really promoted those differences. Because boxing is a sport that has never shied away from using race, right, like leaned into it, if anything or nationality, you know, the, the Italian, against the, the Irish guy, you know, and the black guy against the Puerto Rican and that it, you know, and so, it did the same thing in this fight without understanding the Civil War, it would cause because of the nuances, they thought it was just two Mexican fighters, you know, heading head to head but it was more much more than that.

Alex Ferrari 34:44
Oh, and I mean, I've, in my culture in the Cuban community, it's very simple. I'm a first generation Cuban from Miami. And you know, my parents came over and you know, you it's exactly the same thing. There's Cubans and this Cubans, Americans and How you how they deal with it? Are you Cuban enough in America, Nakamura flying and flying, you know, like, I still remember watching in the height and I saw a flyer on on screen and I lost my mind. I was like, I never seen a flan in a movie before. And I'm like, I can't believe the flood impacted. But you never see that kind of stuff out there. It was just really interesting. But I understand when I was watching it, I just understood it. So, so clear. And there's a lot of those issues that separate the Cuban Americans from Cubans and all this kind of stuff as well, which is, which is crazy.

Eva Longoria 35:35
We all have it. Every community has it, the Puerto Ricans in New York, you know, in Miami, you know, the Islander the island, Puerto Ricans are different than the New York, New York weakens. And then you know, you have it in the Cuban community and the Cuban American community and then we have it in the Mexican community. You know, we really do a lot to we don't need to do so much to separate the world does it for us, right.

Alex Ferrari 36:02
It's like throwing a few more obstacles on our on our path. It's like, let's it's not, it's not hard enough. Let's throw a few more things on our path, which is always fun. You know, what I found really interesting about watching Julio and Oscar. Both of them seem so and I don't mean this in a derogatory they seem sweet. There's, they seem sweet. They seem like you know, because I've seen boxing documentaries, and a lot of these boxers, they're just brute barbarians sometimes in the way they speak, and they're not articulate. But Julio, and Oscar both are, they said, they seem so sweet that they almost kind of both fell into it. Like it just kind of like, Oops, I guess I'm gonna box kind of like you like, I guess I'm gonna act. And it just seemed that way. And I saw that kind of energy from especially Julio, which I wasn't expecting. He seems so sweet. And I'm like, he was he was a killer in the in the ring. But it's like, I think he disconnected that he was like, I'm a sweet guy, but I go to work. Yeah. Did you find that as well?

Eva Longoria 37:02
100%! And you know, like I said, I've known Oscar for 25 years. So I know he's sweet. And I know him. Well, I didn't know Julio was, I didn't know who they were. I'd never I'd never met him. And I fell in love with him. He is such a truth teller, which is interesting in a documentary about your life about something to happen in your life. You could pretty much of revisionist history, like, Oh, I wish I wasn't bothered by that now. Well, you know, of course, I won that fight. I wasn't whining about it. And he was like, Yeah, I was. There was no way at that moment. I was gonna say I lost even though I knew I did. I knew I had lost, but I wasn't going to say, you know, and you're like, wow. So it felt like he had 2020 looking at 2020 vision, looking back at that fight. He was so open and vulnerable, about his obstacles to fame, His addiction, his lack of preparation, and it for other fights. You know, he's like, look, I December's my party month. I wasn't about to fight in January, but it was $9 million. So I was gonna fight you know, he is very candid and vulnerable and, and kind and it wasn't until 10 years after those fights that he finally gave Oscar the the credit that was due. And then an Oscar side people everybody wants us tacos. Oh my God, my I cried for Oscar. I didn't know he had that much pain going into that fight. He he was he was hurt and then revisiting that. He's like, God, it still makes me mad. Still, as we were interviewing him, I was like, oh, yeah, he's like, God. Oh, I'm so mad. Just thinking about that. You know, getting booed in East LA. Like, what the fuck? Are you kidding me? Come on, you know. So he's over about to read this.

Alex Ferrari 38:43
Well, it's a it's a beautiful film. I absolutely loved watching it. And congrats on getting into Sundance. That must be so exciting. And you get to

Eva Longoria 38:53
That opening night is a film directed by a Chicana. About two Mexican boxers like this progress. This is progress. Let's let's let's savor it.

Alex Ferrari 39:05
Absolutely. Now, I have a couple questions. I ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker? Or a screenwriter or an actor trying to make it in today's business?

Eva Longoria 39:17
Yeah, I think you have to define for yourself what does make it mean? You know, famous say I want to be famous. Okay, well then Go cure cancer. Because if you're gonna be real, do I mean like, by the way, that might be easier than Yeah, but is it is like, you know, figure out what what do you mean by that? Like, I really, I really love directing. I love the creative process. I don't I for this film, I just loved exploring this dramatically and going through the archival footage and did it and I and now that it's at Sundance, I'm like, Oh my God, that's Oh, yeah, that's a big deal. And then the reviews like oh my god, we get reviewed. I told I didn't even think about that. Like, I, I didn't do it for that. So if I had started this documentary, I'm going to get good reviews, I'm going to get into Sundance, like, you have to have goals, but like that, that has to be like a product, a byproduct of really good work. And good work only happens when you're passionate about it. And so if you want to be an actor, if you want to be famous, then I don't I don't care if you want to be a writer, because you want to be rich, that ain't gonna happen. You know what I mean? Like, so define what is make it mean for you. And the other thing is, just do it, do it. I know so many people go, I'm a writer, I go show me your scripts, I haven't written anything. Well, then you're not a writer. Write something. Write a grocery list. I don't care. But like write something, you know, a director shoot something on your iPhone, Shoot it, shoot, work with actors figure it out, put some lights up. I'm, I'm, you know, I'm a producer. What have you done? Nothing? Well, producers of anything can do anything. So do it. You got to do it. You only learn by doing

Alex Ferrari 41:00
And now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Eva Longoria 41:06
Um, it didn't take me. Well, I think lesson to learn that, that I know that I'm qualified and I know what I'm doing. I mean, every time I get a directing gig, I have butterflies in my stomach. I go, Oh, God, I hope I know what I'm doing. Like, I still think that imposter syndrome like imposter syndrome. Yeah, like imposter syndrome of like, Am I good enough? Oh, my gosh, you know, in directing flaming hot. I mean, this is the big budget movie I just directed and going home, I'm so excited to see it. By the way. I was like, I'm in charge of how much money Oh my god. And I remember doing a presentation when I had to get the job. And I'm, you know, I think the movie needs to be this and it needs to be this and we're, you know, we should do this and that. And then I finished a pitch and my agent calls me later she goes, what how are you feeling? And I said, I'm really nervous. I'm gonna get it and have to do everything I said. He's a pipe dreams, I don't know, like, then there's a drone. And we're gonna have a techno green, and we're gonna do this shot, it's gonna look like The Matrix, you know, whatever it is. Great. Go do that. And I'm like, Oh, I have to do it now. Oh, okay. So yeah, it's like that lesson of like, No, you're ready, you're ready, you're gonna be fine. And you're gonna fall down, you're gonna make mistakes. And then you're gonna do it again. And you're gonna do it again. And you're gonna do it again and again and again. And so just, that's probably the biggest lesson. And the other mantra that I live by is, is Maya Angelou quote of like, people will forget what you said, they'll forget what you did, that they'll never forget how you made them feel. And I'm living my life, whether it's with my gardener, or president in the United States, or, you know, do make sure every interaction you have with people or my crew, you know, your, your crew, your prop guy, your boom guy, your DP, like, making everybody feel and not that it's my job. But I just want them to feel appreciated and valued and that they have talent and, and I appreciate you being here and helping elevate my vision. Because, you know, directing is not singular, it's, it's just this whole crew of people. And I meet so many people who go, oh, I don't want to work with them. Because I didn't like that person. I don't like that person. I'm like, yeah, there's a lot of people you're not gonna, like, in this industry, you're gonna have to work with so you know, a get your skin get put your big boy pants on, get some tough skin. And, and flip it, you know, and that's what meditation helps to is like, everybody I encounter today, I want them to feel good. And leave an encounter with me in in a positive way. Even if it's a tough conversation, even if it's, I have to fire somebody or I have to, you know, correct somebody on an edit or give notes on a script like, you know, in a way that they leave that experience going. Okay, okay, I'm good. This is a good talk. That wasn't anything negative, you know?

Alex Ferrari 44:04
Well, I want to first of all, I think you are a absolute force of nature. And thank you so much for everything you do. And for my my twin daughters, they say they said tell you thank you for Dora. They loved it and watch it all the time. So thank you so much for that.

Eva Longoria 44:21
I love that movie.

Alex Ferrari 44:22
I love I saw it in the theaters with them. I went to the theaters with them, and it was back when used to do things like that. But I do appreciate you and thank you so much for for coming on the show and continued success and I hope this movie gets out and is seen by everybody. It's such a wonderful film. So thank you again so much.

Eva Longoria 44:39
Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

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BPS 270: Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films with Austin Trunick

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Austin Trunick 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show, Austin Trunick, How you doin Austin?

Austin Trunick 0:40
I'm doing very well. Thank you for having me on Alex.

Alex Ferrari 0:42
Thank you for coming on man. I you know, you reached out to me about your new book Hold on, I need to work out just to get this up. It's the Canon film guide, volume to 1985 to 1987. This out of all the guests that ever had. Yours is by far the thickest book I've ever had on the show. And this is, by the way, part two. So that means there's another part one, which is as big if not bigger than that. And for everyone listening if you're if you want to learn about canon, Canon films, the 80s amazing film studio, sit back and relax, because we're going to be talking about one of my favorite parts of the 80s in the 80s growing up, because I'm not sure if you know this or not awesome. But I worked at a video store in 88 to 93 I think I was going there to and I saw all of these boxes. And as I was skimming through because God I can't read it all. But as I was skimming through the book, I was like I saw that one. I saw that one saw that one. And if I didn't see the movie, I remember the cover and the boys were very good at putting the cover together. But if Alright, so for everybody listening, Austin. First question is, can you tell everybody what Cannon Films was? And why are we talking about them? All these years later? Because there's a lot of film studios that were around in the 80s. There was Orion Pictures there was you know, the new world new world, there's so many, you know, really great, but why is canon? What is canon? Why does it have this kind of grab on the zeitgeist, as you will?

Austin Trunick 2:28
Well, Canon is a company that as far as what we think about usually when people refer to as canon, they're looking at Canada in the 1980s. When it was under the command of two Israeli cousins, the producers named manakin, Golan and Yoram Globus who had bought the company in 1979, and started pumping out these films in 1980. And these started as really exploitation pictures, low budget, very low budget movies that they start out. But those snowballed really quick, the movies got bigger, they had some success, they were able to make basically bigger and better movies and more and more films. This was a company that very much recognized that there was a market especially at the time 1980 8182 market in the video stores, rentals were new home video, and there's a really a big space for content, they stores needed to fill those shelves, and Canon was happy to help do it. As well as cable cable had, especially premium cable had hours and hours of space to fill. So canon was a company that under golden GLOBIS would sell movies to these markets, primarily. Before they even made them they would take big books full of ideas, big spreads in Hollywood reporter and variety. And they would wait till enough companies had agreed to buy the movie, and they would go and make it. So this is a company that could make films very, very fast. And because of how they did the films, the quality wasn't always there. These weren't always great movies, but to say the least. But they were entertaining. And if you're a fan of especially B movies, a lot of a lot of great magic can happen when a movie is shot for half the budget it needs and half the time it needs. This was a company that could have an idea marketed at the Cannes Film Festival in May and habits in theaters that fall. So that was how quickly going and globalist worked. But people know them nowadays they remember them now for their their eight ninja films. They're 10 movies with Chuck Norris the eight movies they made or Charles Bronson discovering, discovering Michael Duda coffin John Claude Van Damme. These were guys who cannons bread and butter was this sort of low to mid budget action movie. And if you were in the video store, especially in the Action section, but really, oh, yeah, you couldn't go anywhere, edit videos or when probably when you worked there without being able to spin around and knock five or six canon boxes off of a shelf no matter where you were standing in the video store.

Alex Ferrari 5:01
It's pretty it's pretty remarkable what these guys did and you know, I think it was I don't know if I had I've had sand Sam fine Feinberg Furstenberg person Furstenberg on and Sheldon Letich on the show we've talked cannon in the past. But I think when we when I talked to with Sam, I think it was the kind of like he was we were talking about because he was there with the boys almost from the beginning. You know he was there with the ninja movies and all that kind of stuff, which we'll get into in a minute. But it was a perfect storm of these crazy guys making these crazy movies at a time when there's two new technologies coming on that needed content. And the studios were scared of VHS and home video for for probably a good five or six years that they weren't they weren't they didn't want to put anything on VHS and cable was like, What's this cable thing? I'm not sure all this stuff. So there was a hole that can and filled a lot of content in? And do would it be fair to say that once the Studios decided to come in and start flexing their muscle cannon kind of lost? Its it lost its marketplace couldn't do what it was doing in the early 80s? Because in the you don't hear about Canada in the 90s? You know, not really and then it obviously after the 90s you don't hear them at all, really? So what happens? What was the kind of downfall of of canon and why didn't it continue?

Austin Trunick 6:35
Well, Canon there were, again, a perfect storm of things going wrong. There were several factors that contributed to it. One was that their movies got bigger. And when you're spending 16 to 25 million on a movie that makes 5 million at the box office that that's what has trouble when you start making these $5 million movies that you pre sell for 10. It's they just got out of what they did very well. There was also a string of bad investments. Canon took a lot of money that they had earmarked was given to them to invest in films and they use that to buy 30 mi Elstree Studios, the studio where Empire Strikes Back and register the Lost Ark was shot and Canon only ended up shooting two movies there. But if you're a company that makes mid low budget Chuck Norris movies, I don't know what you need with the biggest production facility in London. But this they they made a lot of bad investments with with money that they should have spent on movies that that fit them very quickly. And then as you mentioned, and by the late 80s. The studios were no longer afraid of these formats. And when you're competing on the shelves with the studio action films with your your Dirty Harry's and your your other Clint Eastwood movies and lethal weapon and things like that that's suddenly one year low budget, low budget action film just just isn't going to compete, it isn't going to command the same same amount of real estate on a video store shelf or in cable rotation. So they really got kind of pushed out in those markets that they were early adopters early. One of the earliest studios to really embrace.

Alex Ferrari 8:21
Yeah, and it's it's it's interesting, because I was as I was scanning through your book I saw saw like two I think at least two Lethal Weapon rip offs. The one with Billy Dee Williams, and then and then there was the obvious Indiana Jones rip off with Richard Chamberlain. Have Firewalker with Chuck Norris and Louis Gossett, Jr, which is kind of like a mix. I guess if lethal weapon in Indiana Jones it was kind of like this weird. Hybrid. I mean, as I'm saying, It sounds awesome. As I'm talking about it out loud. I'm like, You know what, I think I should go watch Firewalker again, and then you watch it for 15 minutes you go. Oh, okay. I understand. I understand. I understand now. So. So the success that these guys had early on? Well, the big thing that they think will be on their gravestone is they brought ninjas into the mainstream. There was no talk of ninjas prior to I think it's it's not American Ninja, I think was revenge of the ninjas. And if I'm entered the Ninja, enter the ninja thing. Yes. Yeah, that was the first ninja movie that came in into American audiences. Because before that it was but it's so hard to tell people what an impact that was because I had a Ninja throwing star. I had a ninja outfit. I was sad Eight, seven. I was going to ninja stores where there were ninja like nunchucks and, and throwing stars and there was ninja schools. Like you could like you could go to a jujitsu school you can go to a ninja school and like, you know train in the dark. was like this. It was insane but this was all started by the cannon boys when they brought the world ninja and Ninja had been around for ever in Japan right i mean it's How long has it been like ninjas when did they first come into the into the world stage but it's it's a what like that 1000 years ago I can't remember anymore

Austin Trunick 10:19
Well before during the samurai period,

Alex Ferrari 10:22
Right exactly they were kind of like the more sneaky less honorable samurai

Austin Trunick 10:27
Guys you got to do the dirty work

Alex Ferrari 10:29
Right there's acids they were saying they were assassins so they brought ninjas into the world and can you explain to the audience what kind of I mean impact financially you know enter the ninja had to the point where they had and then you could tell me how many other ninja movies

Austin Trunick 10:45
Yeah well so ninja did Canada did two things with the ninjas that really I think led to this explosion this phenomena the ninja phenomenon are they a is that led you doing just a card with our shirts wrong and there was a they put dangerous front and center in memory. There had been a couple ninja movies, the Octagon Chuck's one of his early ones he fought them but they looked like you know bad guy martial arts and pajamas. They weren't the cool ninjas that we have in the 1980s them at the center, the middle awesome. They got show Kosugi to really come in. He was the guy who was an expert. It was a martial artist but an expert on ninjas and brought a lot of the tools a lot of the weapons a lot of his students to help on on these films and show Kosugi played the bad guy in an enter the Ninja. But so cool. The movie opens with showcase two gauges demonstrating all of these different Ninja weapons against that black screen. And really, it's the these are the weapons that we associate with ninjas. This this is something that to talk about the impact that entered the ninja had in 1981. Historically, a nunchuck talks are not something you would ever associate with ninjas before that that was not a weapon they would use that's not really a stealth weapon. But manakin Kalon the colorful head of Cannon Films The Director of enter the ninja had seen that in Enter the Dragon of course Enter the Dragon enter the ninja you can draw a little line there and he wanted nunchucks in his movie isn't even if they weren't historically accurate. So those became part of that film. And now you know any kid who grew up with Ninja Turtles and who loved Michelangelo was their favorite character. Ken thank manakin Golan for making turning nunchucks into one part of the ninja ninja can with a single end but the movie was did very well the sequel directed by our friend Sam first and Berg did even better and Canon continue really putting these outs as fast as they could Revenge Of The Ninja followed ninja three the domination

Alex Ferrari 12:54
Which is a classic I mean let's just throw it out there right and I know it's Quentin Tarantino is favorite one of his top three favorite a Cannon Films is is it's a three a Revenge Of The Ninja three whatever the hell the domination one Yeah, just like part Flashdance. Part exorcist part ninja movie.

Austin Trunick 13:15
Yeah, little bit of poltergeist sprinkle.

Alex Ferrari 13:18
A little bit of like, why not? That is just brilliant. But then what I found fascinating is that he's like, we need to throw an American in there. And he's like, You know what would be cooler than just having ninjas? Will have American Ninja that would be kind of cool. Like a white guy doing ninja stuff. And boy, was he right? I remember seeing American Ninja in the theater.

Austin Trunick 13:43
That's all I am. And American Ninja is a great film. It turned Michael Dudek off from being a you know a minor comedy actor. He had done bachelor party with Tom Hanks he was a friend that and Happy Days and and you can see I'm in minor roles in the early 80s. And then suddenly, he's an action star not the top tier you know he's not in the same as your Stallone or Schwarzenegger but in the video stores. People would you would he was a recognizable brand name by by the late 80s. And yeah, American inches are an example of cannon. I like to call it cannon magic. They took a relatively low budget but they shot this movie in the Philippines. They got a director like Sam Furstenberg who could work in the fast the fast limitations the low budget and great great stunt stunt choreographer just they really spent what money they had went onto the screen and it looked very cool American inches what what impresses me if this is a lot of the same crew since they shot in the Philippines that had worked on Apocalypse Now that we're trained for that movie had spent all that time three years Yeah, yeah. For three months yeah. had gone through that gauntlet of fire and Then we're sitting around and in the Philippines for a few years and got hired on these Chuck Norris movies on these ninja films over and over again in the in the mid 80s And if you look at any of those jungle movies that that cannon did primarily shot in the Philippines, they look good and a lot of it is because they have this this crew that was available that was well trained that could be hired for $1 Yeah compared to what in Hollywood would have cost much much more

Alex Ferrari 15:30
Yeah cuz they were they did the mission to the the missing in action series with Chuck Norris and and let's talk about Chuck because I mean, they did chuck to I'm trying to remember the chuck to any movies outside of cannon like um, because invasion USA and and the mission missing an action series and it was octagon

Austin Trunick 15:53
That was pre canon. So Chuck had done some movies in the late 70s and early 80s really low low budget martial arts pictures lower budget than canon, actually and but he was somebody he had, he was a former karate champion. At that point, he was well known as a pro owning karate schools and having this sort of a celebrity and I'm in the martial arts world. But he wanted to be an actor and you know, the his his early, independent productions did fairly, fairly decent for our first with the Grindhouse martial arts audience and venues that they played. But when he got to Canon, they took him he was, uh, you know, in his mid 40s At that point, right? And

Alex Ferrari 16:37
He was my god sakes is great. I mean, it was like, he's my age at this point. Yeah, he's

Austin Trunick 16:43
A middle aged, retired like ex karate champion. And canon turned him into a box office star. He had number one movies with missing an action and invasion USA for Cannon and other movies that were huge when they came out if if not Delta Force Delta four Delta Force was with Cannon. And it was it's something that, again, it wouldn't have. I feel like there are very few places that sort of magic could have happened other than a place that was run so fast and loose. And Chuck Norris is someone who won he came to Canada, he was in his mid 40s. He had several low budgets, moderately successful independent movies, but very small movies, martial arts movies, and as a 44 year old 45 year old karate champion instructor, he became a box office star. He had number one movies and missing an action and invasion USA and huge films like The Delta Force that came out with Canon. And again, this is a guy who was was pushing 50 By the time he really reached his peak at at Cannon.

Alex Ferrari 17:55
It's pretty remarkable too, because I remember like invasion USA, watching the invasion USA on HBO, or Cinemax or something like that. And all my family was watching a rat, like sitting around watching it. And it was like the coolest thing you'd ever seen in your life. It was just such it. I mean, but really, Chuck, you know, before there was before Ken and Chuck, and after Ken and Chuck, and after Kennett, Chuck, which is again, he's probably my age, at that point in his mid 40s. turned them into a complete movie star. And I don't know that Chuck. I mean, obviously, Texas Ranger was a it's a Monster Monster television hit after but this is years later, this thing that was in the 90s, if I'm not mistaken, when Chuck did that, and that was a good that was almost like a good retirement plan for Chuck. Because he just went off. He's like, Oh, good. I want to stay this one location. I'll just keep shooting these things. And they went on for like, what a decade? I think that show went on for a decade or so.

Austin Trunick 18:54
Yeah. And that was actually produced by Canon television, the very first set of episodes, unfortunately, they were on their last dying gasp by the time that came out. Yeah. So that was really, again, something where if the dominant if the chips fell slightly differently, where we might still have a cannon today. But Walker, Texas Ranger came out just really as they were barely hanging on to

Alex Ferrari 19:22
And if they would, Texas Ranger would have held them would have definitely held them together if they would have been able to hold on to it. But it's interesting. And it's it's a lesson for people listening because they view the VA veered away from what made them successful. They started thinking bigger and bigger, bigger because they're, I guess I'm assuming ego got into into place and like, I'm gonna buy L Street Studios, I'm gonna be as big as Warner Brothers. And I already saw, you know, you could start seeing it in the movies that they were attempting to make, you know, so like, you know, cuz I don't want to skim over these movies because they're such great amazing things. But so Superman for the quest for peace. Arguably just one of the most horrific things I've ever seen in my life. It's it's it's up there with the room. It is just one of those things you watch and you just like, what and I know Christopher Reeve only agreed to do it, because it was something to do about nucular. He wanted to have make a commentary about nuclear liberal affiliation and and how it needed to stop. And he had the he didn't direct it, but he had a lot of creative control over the project. Is that Is that a fair statement?

Austin Trunick 20:32
That's correct. Canon basically checked three boxes for Chris Reeve, who a few years earlier had gone on the record had gone every talk show saying he would never play Superman again. He backed out of his cameo in Supergirl movie even because he was so done with Superman, but they offered him creative control of the plot. He also got to direct some of the B unit some of the action scenes. They gave him a lot of money that that played into it, obviously. But they also they took on basically a pet project of his called street smart. Oh, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 21:07
I remember that was a good,

Austin Trunick 21:08
A great movie.

Alex Ferrari 21:10
A young Morgan Freeman or a young girl Morgan Freeman.

Austin Trunick 21:13
Yes. A 50 year old Morgan Freeman. Actually, his first Oscar nomination,

Alex Ferrari 21:19
How many hold his mortgage cheeses. I mean, he, he's God, He is God. He literally is God. He doesn't die. He's just there. It just keeps going and going. God bless his heart. No, because I remember him in streetsmart. And that was a dark, edgy film for Christopher Reeve at the time.

Austin Trunick 21:39
Morgan Freeman, I think ages one year for every 10 that actually passed years,

Alex Ferrari 21:45
Cat years, it's like cat years.

Austin Trunick 21:48
He streetsmart was a movie that Chris Murray wanted to be disassociated with Superman he was afraid of being only being seen as you know, this man and a cape and tights. And one of the one of the things he thought would get him away from that was having a critical and commercial success. That was something that was very different. So streetsmart was a role that there was a script that he'd had for a while and he took the cannon because he wanted to get it made. It's about a basically a journalist who lies about a story, he makes up his story in this magazine profile. And it leads to this sort of great success for me becomes a television reporter he gets his own new show. He is the talk of New York City. But it's all based on a lie. And it's a lie that closely resembles the story of the life story of a character played by Morgan Freeman, a pimp named fast black who is on on trial at the time for for homicide for killing somebody. And Morgan Freeman's character sees this as an opportunity to sort of give him an alibi. Use Christopher Reeves characters notes to give them an alibi. And it's a it's a great film about these two characters who are just sort of using each other. And they're both awful people. Christopher Reeve plays a character who could not be further away from Clark Kent, and they have the same profession, but one is just despicable. And the other one is this symbol of everything that is great and in humanity in our world. And it is a it's a movie that Canon made for a very low budget and was very well done. It was very well reviewed. And it's it won it earned Morgan Freeman his first Oscar nomination. I'm not sure offhand up out of how many but many, many Oscar nominations that have come since. But unfortunately, it came at a time where we're canon when they had a movie. That was good. I want to say good in the, I guess critical sense. That's good. It's getting record reviews. It's getting award spas and things like that Canon did not know really what to do with that. Right.

Alex Ferrari 24:01
They called the Weinstein's unlike the Weinstein's with Miramax. They knew what to do with that they built the whole their whole the 90s around. You know, in many ways I think Miramax is almost a sequel to Canon but a you know a higher quality sequel, bringing in foreign films and doing and you know, we'll do the disclaimer Harvey is an evil horrible human being but what that company did in the 90s cannot be ignored without question and I think it's almost like that because they knew exactly what to do. But and that's another thing is like we all make Hahaha You know Chuck Norris and ninjas and all that stuff, but they made some really good movies. Runaway train 52 pickup, fool for love, you know with Kim Basinger and Sam, Sam Shepard. I mean, then the list goes on. There's a bunch of great movies, right?

Austin Trunick 24:56
Yeah, this is a company that again, Canon there Written butter was these actions were these action movies, these ninja movies this Chuck Norris films, but they would take that money and they would channel it into a lot of times projects from great filmmakers, classic filmmakers who couldn't get them made elsewhere. And that's where you have people like Robert Altman approaching them for full for love. You have John Cassavetes coming to them to make love streams because no other studio wanted to invest right? The money

Alex Ferrari 25:27
And John Frankenheimer as well.

Austin Trunick 25:30
John Frankenheimer, who had had a hit a rough patch in his his career there and came to Cannon. And there are many examples of that runaway train was a script that had been written by Akira Kurosawa in the 60s and had been translated and floating around Hollywood for 10 years and more. And canon finally brought it to the screen that championship seasons a lesser known one from 1982. But it's a Pulitzer winning play by Jason Miller, who this is a movie that had been with every studio and the project kept falling through. And canon finally said, if you can make it on a Canon budget, we'll let you make it how you want it with with who you want in it, if this is the the amount of money that you have. So this is a company where not just filmmakers, but stars would we've had these sort of pet projects like like Raven streetsmart, and Katharine Hepburn and a project called Grace grace quickly that she'd been trying to get made since the 70s. They felt safe to bring these projects to Cannon, especially by at 345 when they really hit their peak. And Canada took chances, they took chances on on movies that really the studios would not. And because they were doing it on a budget, though, that's why they were doing it on a budget and they were pre selling it. They knew a star's name if they could sell Katharine Hepburn in a movie. Yeah, they could sell that around the world and they're they've made their money before it hit. You know, it went before the camera.

Alex Ferrari 27:03
And the studios weren't doing things like that because they didn't understand how to work in that kind of budget range. And I mean, when I think of cannon, I think of AFM I think of the Cannes Film Market. Those kind of that arena is not where the studios play. That's where the budget of the craft service table of the studio projects play. I mean, it just they don't understand how to make money in that world even to this day. You can you imagine. I mean, I've talked I've talked to filmmakers who did like how much did you make a movie before they go Yeah, I had I did a low budget movie was like only 10 million. I'm like 10 million Are you out of your like the rest of us live in a you know, sub 500,000 sub $100,000 budget world right now to make independent films. But it was so they were so smart that it looked like they were taking chances. But they these guys were really good businessmen until the ego ran away. And I think the one of the biggest. The biggest one, there's two that come to mind, Masters of the Universe, which is pure magic. absolute pure magic. If if no one's seen it, there's so much stuff going on there. It's like an onion. There's a lot of layers. Courtney Cox's in a Dolph Lundgren. Orko I mean, it's just all beautiful. And well over the top. So I'll take both of them one at a time. So over the top, ridiculous concept. Absolute absolutely ridiculous about an arm wrestling, single dad, who drives a truck, cross country and he's going to the armwrestling championship and he's trying to bring his son along. It sounds on paper horrible. And to be fair, it is in many ways, but to this young man. For years afterwards, when I would get serious I would turn my head around. No, that business was about to get done. If it just hits something so interesting in that that age group where because you look at it now you're like, Dude, seriously, if there's live like turn your head around and then that's where you get the extra force to beat whoever you're going against like it was just crazy. But from at the time from I think it was Sam who told me this was Sam Russia, a shell that forgot who it was. But they they wanted sly at the peak of slice power. I mean, you're talking about 85 and like it's you know, rocky three and Rambo and like he is the biggest star in the world. And they offered him I think they call them up and I think it was I forgot what the number was, but it was such a ridiculous number. That's still John said, Listen, if you pay me 12 million bucks, I'll do your movie. And they showed up which I think it's troubling you probably know better than I do. So please tell the story of of over the top, sir.

Austin Trunick 30:10
And yeah, totally That is correct. With $12 million. They made for a brief period of time, they made Sylvester Stallone, the highest paid actor for any one single, single film. And this was a project that I mean, Sly, supposedly, I guess he wanted to do it. It was something that's the original script he he liked. And it had sort of a at the time, he was kind of catching a lot of flack for Rambo toys being in store and his movies being so so violent, something that I thought he could point out and say, this family film that I've done, you don't have to take your kids who love me to go see Rambo, you could take them to see this. So that was that was his attraction to the project. Cannon they sold was the biggest star in the world really at that, at that very moment in in the 1980s. And especially for the types of movies that they they made. And they were willing to throw that much that much money at them. And it made a big, giant splash. This is something that as soon as Stallone agreed to it, Canon took out the two page ads in every trade. And they would say welcome Sylvester Stallone to the Canon family making over the top shooting soon. The problem was canon, this was not a company that had $12 million sitting around in cash, they they would usually take that money and they would make three ninja movies for that. So they actually in reality, this is this Stallone exclusive wisdom papers, they sent him $500,000 As a retainer as basically an option on on him doing this while they went out and then work their butts off to sell, get get the money, sell all the rights internationally sell the product placement, there's a wonderful amount of product placement of that film, from everything from car batteries to motor oil to brute cologne. It's everywhere in that movie. And then finally they ended up getting Warner Brothers to come in and help distribute the distribution. And with the distribution and also some of the financing. That $12 million is also what paid the loan for COBRA. A lot of people don't don't know that is that $12 million ended up being they ended up getting two pictures of its Warner Brothers

Alex Ferrari 32:31
Who di COBRA COBRA was in cannon, right? That was one of those deal.

Austin Trunick 32:35
That was Warner Brothers, but Canon has the Golden Globe as producers credit on it. And that is because of over the top Warner Brothers wanted to do Cobra Stallone was in line to do over the top with them. But when the steel they got Ken into Wait, push your shoot off seven, eight months. So we can shoot Cobra and we'll pay, you know, will this whole thing will pay this this amount. And we'll get it done. And you can have your movie afterwards. And over the top so fun movie like as a kid i i loved it as well. It was a movie. You know, I want to arm wrestle all the time on my desk at school. But the movie that Stallone actually had, I mean, I guess any movie stone is involved with he had a lot of inputs, but he took no pass at the script. So it's interesting to watch this. It changes greatly. And that final Stallone draft makes it even more of a family oriented movie, which is something I wouldn't expect. It's out a lot of the as your Assam there's more than the original scripts that stolen out of it, which is interesting. But also he he directed Menaka electric directed it and loan was there to advise and it still had a difference of opinion. They had an agreement, shoot it both ways. And Stallone got final choice of which version so they would read a lot of the scenes and to his credit though I can go on didn't have to go about that. He thought he's like this, Mr. Sloane, his movies have made how much of that he's directed. He's won Oscars. He's, he's very successful. If he advice I'm going to listen. What, how, how he's basically anyone asking him really like who was who was directing this. But they essentially code a lot of the scene. See in the action movie that makes armrests actually I think look kind of interesting. On screen for a that is really too large sweaty men grunting hands for about 30 seconds up makes it look like you know a rocky in the section.

Alex Ferrari 34:55
No, there's yeah, there's absolutely no question about it. You like that ends sequence is absolutely a brilliant piece of filmmaking, just the, you know, the lighting the way the skin like it was. I mean, they've used the star filter on it. So there's like the stars in the lights. And he, I mean, they did a lot. And as you're saying that that makes all the sense in the world that's like, would have just basically controlled control that film. There's just no, there's no question about it. And it is very family friendly. Like it's, it's about a kid and his dad, I mean that the movie is about a kid and his dad, that's basically what the movie is about. It has to do with arm wrestling in the background, but it's just, it's one of those was that the movie that started or wasn't Masters of the Universe is the one that really started the downward spiral of canon.

Austin Trunick 35:48
Either, it's really a two, three, because you have all in 1987, in this space of really six months, you have over the top, super more. And then masters universe, all three of these movies that Canon spent a lot of money on and there's of promotion, and they just they were not, they were not the gigantic kids that can and need them to be to really going at that point. So that was, that was when a lot of trouble really happened. I like to I like to look at and see look at the prices of stocks, Cannon stock of 1987. And then the really September of 87, it's gone from trading pretty dollars to like under $4.

Alex Ferrari 36:40
Was, was canon a public company.

Austin Trunick 36:43
They had a public sale in the six. So that was where a lot of this money that they spent on real estate Came From Beyond as well as like, basically promises of loans from banks.

Alex Ferrari 36:58
So going to Masters of the Universe, which was a monster budget for them and a big, just a huge, one of the big what was the biggest production they ever did? Was it over the top or was it Masters of the Universe?

Austin Trunick 37:14
Well, over the top would have been the highest budget and other one that was very close was lifeforce. That was oh my god, the dollar movie.

Alex Ferrari 37:23
Isn't that about that was if it wasn't about vampires in space?

Austin Trunick 37:26
And vampires from space. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 37:28
Yeah, God, I vaguely remember that movie. But I remember that but that had no major stars in it. And they spent that much money on it.

Austin Trunick 37:36
They had no major stars, but they had John Dykstra doing special effects. They had a script by Dan O'Bannon, Toby Hooper directing, they had a lot of the team from Star Wars, Nick melee, and his his team doing the creature effects is the guy that helped design Yoda and the cantina band. This is all of that money went was spent on the screen. That's a movie that for being a kind of silly movie about space vampires is beautiful, it's all set. It's all matte paintings. It's all shot with people actually on on wires, when you have the people going through space. It is just one of those movies. As far as practical effects go. It's one of the last great showcases really for the middle 80s Because soon, very soon after that a lot of those things were going more and more digital more and more computer being involved. And that's yeah, they had no stars, because all of that money really was spent on sets and effects.

Alex Ferrari 38:39
And even then, I mean, I think that was one of the mistakes they made then and this is something I preach about all the time on the show is like you need some sort of star power the higher that budget goes up and unless the star could still be Hooper wasn't an easy yes, he's still be Hooper, but he's not Spielberg, you know, and even Spielberg, I'm not sure would have been able to pull that off. As you know, like, you know, there's very few directors that had that kind of a Scorsese or Coppola might have had that kind of box office power back in the in those days, but that was a mistake they needed if they would have put Chuck Norris in lifeforce or Michael due to cough and lifeforce. It probably would have sold better I'm just throwing that out there.

Austin Trunick 39:21
Yeah. had even just their ability to sell it abroad. If they had a name that they could pin to that film I think would have helped a lot but they had to sell it on the strength of the team behind the camera and it's hard to sell a high concept sci fi film releasing in the summer on on on that sort of

Alex Ferrari 39:45
In 87 competing with predator competing with lethal weapon. Like I mean the you're talking about like really great years of 80s action sci fi esque stuff coming out I mean, it was so good lord. And I think that, you know, it's such a fascinating story to see how these guys in such a short period within a decade rise and start to tumble and fall within a pretty much of a 10 to 12 year period. It was it was you could start watching it. And he, I have to believe that ego had such a huge part to play in it just because they just wanted to become bigger and bigger. But they overextended themselves, they over leveraged themselves, to the point where if they would have just kept sticking to what they knew, and maybe just amped into what they knew more they could have, they could still be going today, you know, in many ways, because these movies haven't gone away. You know, I remember walking into AFM for the first time and looking up at the giant poster hanging from the ceiling and it was oh, it's Mike Tyson versus Steven Seagal. I'm like, well, there you go. You know, you know, and and by the way, let's go back for a minute to a movie called which I from what I understood, was the one of the biggest cash cows ever, in the canon, Canon canon. Which was breakin the original. It was before Beach Street if I'm not mistaken in the breakdancing phase fat of the thing was 8586 is when that came out. That that that exploded that had no stars in it, but it had breakdance and get it and everybody wants to know about breakdancing and it exploded. Is that correct?

Austin Trunick 41:36
Breaking was a movie came out in May of 84. It is the the idea behind it came in Canada, supposedly because manakin Khan's daughter was on Venice Beach and saw the person suggested it to him. And that was the story he always repeated. And they looked at it and then Malcolm that Beat Street was in production. It was already in production when he had this idea. Let's let's do ours. Let's do one faster. Let's get before Beat Street. I think you heard a pair that Beat Street was coming out in June. This is early 84. So they rush this they find the dancers they find basically bang out a script really fast, they shoot it as fast as possible and they get it out. And 84 It was the first one in two theaters so hit that brick dance craze. Even though dia came later than Beat Street and beat Beat Street theaters and it was huge ship was the soundtrack the hit the movie was did spectacularly and in theaters and cannon of course, within two weeks of of the movie coming out had already had ads running in the trades for breaking to

Alex Ferrari 42:51
The electric the Electric Boogaloo. The greatest, the greatest title of all time.

Austin Trunick 42:55
Yes. And they I was gonna be ready for Christmas. So they made to break dance movies in the space of about 11 months from one idea to make a break dance movie came to when the sequel came out in theaters.

Alex Ferrari 43:10
And the thing that's interesting about it is that Beat Street is a much better breaking it break dance movie, there's just no question. I mean, it's the dark greedy it's two different kinds of movie breaking is like no more New York and I was in I was living in New York at the time so it was like more gritty in New York you know in the subway that kind of break the into the core message there's it's dark death, all that kind of stuff. And then break in is kind of like the Disney Disney asked version of breakdancing which is everyone's like, Haha, we're in sunny California was all great. So it was a completely different vibe. And I think at that moment in time, I think people wanted to see the fun, you know, oh, it was ozone and yeah, Turbo turbo. Yeah, the turbo guy and then of course you gotta get you gotta throw in the you know, the cute ballet dancer who needs to break dance and all this insanity on it. But there's one thing also about breaking that she's I have a lot of cannon trivia, as you can tell. I love it that that there was a there was a young star who played an extra role in braking, which is genius to see. It is John Claude von DOM on the beach. I think it's on Venice Beach or something in the background while they're breakdancing. And he's just doing this dancing like the most awkward, weird dance and he's got like spandex on the ad spandex on and he's a young he must have been what in his mid 20s Young Young, very Claude Van Damme in it. So I mean, I remember seeing that for the first time I remember hearing about it because after I saw Bloodsport, I heard that it was breaking and it got breaking and it was just scanning until I found him on VHS. And I was like Oh my god. So can you talk this tell the story of John Claude and how he was dis discovered if you will, and gotten thrown into because I also have a bit of junk Claude. I was he was one of my my favorite guys growing up so it we're talking about no retreat, no surrender Black Eagle, then came Bloodsport and then cyborg was in there somewhere I think was right afterwards and then the studios got a hold of them and double impact and all those other ones that they did afterwards, which were you know kickboxer and all that kind of great stuff. But Bloodsport, was the thing that blew him up. Can you talk a little bit about how the cannon boys got a hold of John Claude.

Austin Trunick 45:42
So John Claude came to the States from Belgium wanting to become a movie star. He actually moved here with his his enemy, his nemesis and kickbox our tongue bow. Shell kiss, they were best friends. They were watch martial arts movies, Bruce Lee movies together and then moved together and they were roommates in Los Angeles is young thing aspiring actors. And John Claude is a very smart person like I he doesn't get enough credit for how for that side of things, but he knew that he looked at Ken and it was a company that they were making these these ninja movies these show what they looked at what they did with Chuck Norris, and saw that if he was going to break in and be one of these stars that that candidate would be the company that could potentially do that for them. So he started going to the cannon offices every every chance that and he would sit in the lobby he would hang out when he wasn't working when he was driving, working as a waiter and things at that time. Here wait for go on and this and he would demonstrate his kicks he would do splits we're gonna wait and see Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris was someone who bought him early on in the in the cannon lobbies and Chuck actually hired him as an assistant for a while. John cod is credited for stunts on missing an action as because he traveled along to with Chuck when he made that movie and they would jog together they would work out together there's some great footage of John holding the the mass as Chuck Norris is kicking them like very, very early on at that age. And that's also how he ended up in as an extra in breakin cannon was making that movie really fast. There's this Belgian kid hanging out, good looking Belgian kid hanging out in their lobby. They're like, Oh, come on, get in, get in the van. We need dancers for this scene. And that's how things like that happen. But this went on for years and years. Finally, from what's the story I got from John Claude, that's a preview for Book Three. Is that I guess monogame really kind of just gave in from this kid sort of paper. Herrera. Basically yeah, trying to become a candidate star by harassing him Blitz and kicking him out him in the in his life and brought him up to his office and John Claude, you know, he doesn't he says it in his he still has that sense. Where he's like, again, in the run up to manakins office. I take off my shirt. I started doing the splits and monogame at that points as your you have to think of don't think you're gonna be a great star. But I have this project. He gets out the script for Bloodsport. And Van Damme is on a plane to Hong Kong to shoot Bloodsport. What's interesting about Bloodsport is that's a movie that sat on a shelf for a quite a while it was shot and asex and it was released in early 1988. And this was a movie that when they came back from Hong Kong Golden Globe just saw the initial which I have never seen I would be very introduced if it still existed in some form but they thought it was unreasonable they thought the looking at them we was gonna did release to a phone and call this judge something unreasonable. It's been pretty rough. But that broke John clouds heart he did but he didn't he went on to do other things in the meantime, but some did. Late at night, really after the cannon was done for the day, he would go to Canada offices and sit down with one of their house editors and they were the fight scenes. So it's John and a cannon you know underpaid over cannon editors sitting overnight, cutting Bloodsport and adding really a lot of the slow motion I think we see in the movie that you would get from Hong Kong movies where you know a plus one to three times different tastes and different angles over and over for to nail every every blow home. And that was added and so by Late seventh guy 88 in dire financial trouble, they had just had Massey University and for all these flops, all these other trades with having to pay back loans and just be not having money, they're releasing everything they can to just get some money in Bloodsport, was a movie that the new cut they looked at, okay, wow, this is this is much better. And it was a hit, Bloodsport made VanDam. But you have to think, again, I'd mentioned earlier if the chips fell differently for Canon in some way. Had they released that movie had they had a better version of it in 86. Initially, that could have been that I'm sure if, if then, if film had landed, like I did earlier on, even if it didn't make the money they needed, they would have signed VanDamme to one of their famous six picture contracts 10 Venture contracts and again, there's there's universe somewhere where and kept going into the 90s. But in that because the strength of this this bar this new star they hadn't abandoned, but in this in the same sense, we wouldn't have had the Van Damme who gave us so many studio films like hard target and sudden death. And so it's interesting. It's one of those things canon they did. They did launch Van Damme but they really fumbled with how they handled it. I could have

Alex Ferrari 51:29
They could have say this they could have saved that could have saved the studios. The studios ass I mean, essentially because the two chucks really ran the studio for a while Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson who was also in his 60s when he became a star with them

Austin Trunick 51:46
Yeah, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 51:48
Gotta bless a man God bless him like I God blessed the boys I mean because the Cannon boysfor doing this because I mean Lord man, there's so much amazing thing that so much amazing lore behind what they did in that decade and change and it's just a fascinating stories fascinating Hollywood story of how they were able to rise to the top of the indie space and they were one of the one of the early people to to kind of create this whole pre selling idea of like, give me a poster and I'll throw a picture on it and you give me money before the movies even made and I'll go make it that and give it to you to be able to finance their movies if I'm not mistaken correct. They were the kind of they were the the forefathers if you will of pre sales and can and AFM.

Austin Trunick 52:40
They had Yeah, that that was an idea they took Corman but they mastered it. They mastered the the art of the they did it very well and they did it at the right time with having so many places to sell their their product to in advance. And again, that led to so many movies that would never have been made it also led to a lot of movies that weren't made and lead me to wonder what what could have been canon is a company that if you Google unmade canon movies, but if you look through any old spider Yeah, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 53:21
Spider Man 86 Spider Man like they had they had a poster for it. It almost happened you know what's about what's behind the scenes story about cannon Spider Man movie? Because I remember Corman I think Corman is the one that made the Fantastic Four movie so so he wouldn't lose the rights and then never released it. I think it's now been released since then. But But Spider Man because that was Marvel was like in bankruptcy they didn't know what to do they were selling off the rights. That's why took us forever to get a Spider Man movie. What was the what was the story behind that Spider Man movie?

Austin Trunick 53:51
Well, Captain Marvel was in a lot of trouble. And this is something that's hard to imagine not in the environment. But they they are in dire straits and movies were not something that people were doing in that that was something that still considered the idea of it. But they were shopping the rights to raise money for for their company and Canon came in they bought Captain America and Spider Man rights and these were two movies these were two characters that those are the only two that have the entire Marvel catalog that they thought were thought thought had any potential for making money they they could have had the entire Marvel catalog by every hero for a song and they just cherry pick to those to the rest ended up going to New World when new world bought Marvel but

Alex Ferrari 54:44
Punisher and all that stuff.

Austin Trunick 54:46
Yeah, but manakin go on what what is funny is he bought the rights to Spider Man not having never read a Spider Man comic not being familiar with the character. He he was under the impression that Peter Parker was a college kid who turned into you know, giant tarantula like a Teen Wolf sort of thing. And the earliest SpiderMan ads, the trade ads for it that they put out because Canada would announce everything immediately as soon as they had any sort of plans in place was going to be directed by Toby Hooper with a script by Daniel Bannon. They alien guy, Ryan, it was going to be a horror film and I think I think what happened was Malcolm had conversations with Stan Lee and family was like, you know, this isn't a doesn't turn into a giant spider right? And his senses came about like, I don't think that ever made it past like, Malcolm's earliest idea there. There are scripts that exist to the Canon Spider Man's that were never made. But the Spider Man cannon movie was one that was in the pipeline's forever that half of the directors who ever worked with Canon were attached to at one point or others started with Toby Hooper that was originally going to be the third of three picture canon deal. Then for a long time Joe Zito they spent a lot of money Josie to the director of invasion USA developing that one with he spent money scouting places, just trying out some of the effects and some of the things that they wanted to do. And then finally towards the end of the Golden Globe as Eric cannon, our Pune who gave us cyborg and some really genius genius genius. Oh, so good. Such a great but that actually if you want to ask what happened with Spider Man, the camera was in very bad financial shape. I as I said 8788 But they had already put some money into developing two movies. They said they were gonna shoot these two movies back to back de Noodler antithesis facilities down in the Carolinas. And the movies were gonna be masters universe two, and Spider Man.

Alex Ferrari 57:03
Two, how could they do two? This is before the first one was released.

Austin Trunick 57:08
No, this was after. So they still it was still in all still all in a we're still all in on on masters universe. And they basically both of these fell apart. Both but they had already been doing some work. They've been building sets for Spider Man, they had shipped all of the costumes from the original masters universe to Digi Digi studios to start on that and our punes plan was and this is one of my favorite things about the abandoned Spider Man is they were going to shoot all the Peter Parker stuff. In the first I think two weeks all the stuff where he's just the nerdy normal team, Team boy. And then they're gonna take a break. They're gonna take eight weeks in the middle and they're going to shoot massive universe two in the same place with a lot of the same actors and crew. And the Peter Parker actor who was this stunt man at the time Scott Liva was his name would have just gone on a training regimen like I don't know if they were gonna get them into the gym with Lou Ferrigno or something and he was just gonna get jacked and so over this eight week like you know, just hardcore working out he'd come back and be trim and muscular and he that's how they would handle this spider man transformation then they would film all the scenes where he's in the Spider Man costume so that was I mean it's it's such a cannon way of doing it of being able to handle transformation very cheaply just by taking a break and they would shoot those last few weeks. But those both those both those deals fell apart. Cannon suddenly didn't have the money to shoot them and ever Pune comes up with the idea to let's try to recoup what we spent already. Like I will write a movie that uses the sets we built the half built sets from Spider Man and the costumes and everything and then the actors we've already gathered here for Master universe to Yes,

Alex Ferrari 59:04
So this is news to me I'm fine fascinate

Austin Trunick 59:06
Yeah, so these two movies so our Pune wrote cyborg basically banged out that script and like kind of a, you know, weekend long fever dream. Makes sense a cannon. They presented it because this was after. After Bloodsport. They still had another deal with Van Damme to do more movies. And so Van Damme picked that script. So they ended up going and shooting cyborg a script that have been written in record time. With with VanDamme using the sets from spider man and a lot of the actors from what what would have been mastered universe to the bad guy, Vincent clan who has you know, he was a surfer. He man was going to be played Dolph Lundgren was not coming back for the second one. He was we played by LAIRD HAMILTON the surfer

Alex Ferrari 59:54
LAIRD HAMILTON was going to play master of the universe Are you kidding me?

Austin Trunick 59:59
He was doll replacement. Yes for him, man.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:02
It's not as not as bulky, not as bulky.

Austin Trunick 1:00:05
No, no but he so his he brought his friends he brought his entourage his crew with him and they were all going to be sort of these barbarian like humans like sidekicks because they did not have any like the second master's was going to be a much smaller budget than the first but they stayed around and they played the bad guys in cyborg so Vincent clean as a surfer he was one of Laird Hamilton's friends who had come to be you know, a barbarian buddy.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:31
Is he the guy please remind me Is he one of the bad guys in Point Break? Oh, gosh. He like because he has such a unique look. I remember he was one of the one of the surfers that surfer group of the gang that that Kiana was Kano and Pat Patrick says Again a fight at the beach with like the red hot chili pepper dude Anthony and and a few other guys in this other just big jacked up, you know very kind of almost Samoan looking. He's I think he might be the same bag. I want to look

Austin Trunick 1:01:08
Look it up. I can't I can't confirm right now. I can tell you he was a bad guy and kickboxer 2 but

Alex Ferrari 1:01:13
Well, obviously, I mean, obviously. So So you are telling me that cyborg the junk cloud of a masterpiece was originally shot on the sets of the failed Spider Man masters universe to

Austin Trunick 1:01:27
Yes, Cyborg Phoenix that rose from the ashes of the crumbled masters too in Spider Man. You can see bits of it in there too, if you know where to look for.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:38
Oh, yeah, no. Now, I mean, if I had the time to go back and watch sideboard I mean, I might one night that I'm bored. I'll find it and go back and scan through it. But that would be that'd be pretty amazing. What I also remember so beautifully about junk Lodz movies is that every movie, they would find a way to get the split in?

Austin Trunick 1:01:58
Oh, like cyborg is one of the best splits to

Alex Ferrari 1:02:01
Split right between the two buildings. And that was, Oh, my God, it was, Oh, my God was amazing. So as we're talking about, you know, Canon and what they've done, you know, you mentioned corpsman corpsman had been doing this since the 50s. And has continued all this way has not stopped. He doesn't have obviously the influence as he used to. He's in his late 90s at this point that he did at one point, but he never lost money along the way. And continued his bet because it seems to me that he never lost his formula. He never tried to be bigger than what he was. He understood that like, you know what, this is my lane. I'm staying in it. And the Canon boys just couldn't couldn't deal they had to go outside their lane. They wanted to be bigger than the bridges

Austin Trunick 1:02:52
Cannon, the Golden Globe as they they modeled themselves over. They wanted to be the next major studios, one of the things that they always build themselves, the next major studio, but they modeled themselves really the way they did business, not after studios of the 1980s. But studios of the 30s 40s and 50s. There was old moguls nobody was signing people to 10 movie contracts these gigantic long canon was because that's that's who manakin Golan that's that's who he idolized those Louis Meyers and the these moguls of the Golden Age.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:28
It was the studio system. It was the old school studio system where they owned the actor for for 10 pictures.

Austin Trunick 1:03:34
Hmm. And that's that's what they wanted to be. But but but corpsman was somebody that they admired corpsman was actually somebody that manakin Milan, who he looked up to one of his first jobs was one of them was a corpsman picture called the Young racers back in the 60s. And that's a film that manakin Kalon worked on Francis Ford Coppola worked on Robert Towne all worked on. And this was a B, you know, almost a C level racing movie. That's that Corman did and just the people that came out of that film that that the talent and the impact on Hollywood in one way or another is just incredible.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:14
I could keep talking to you for at least another five hours about this. I do appreciate you coming on and writing this second volume of The Canon film guide. This is I think you have opened the door to anybody who ever wants to write a book about cannon, and then you shut the door behind you. Because there's no there's why why there's going to be what three volumes. The third one's coming out soon. How many pages is just over 1000 1000 1000 pages. This is volume that that first one is about the same, right? So 2000 Where I'm assuming the next one's not going to be 100 pages. So probably not. So it is. It is fascinating. There's so much I didn't talk about so many movies that we could just go over and over. And I mean each movies like a two hour episode how they did it and how to get this way and, you know, Barfly was one of like, I was like the Barfly was made by them and runaway train and all these you know these amazing films but my my last question to you, sir, I know it's gonna be very difficult question three of your favorite cannon films of all time.

Austin Trunick 1:05:27
Three of my favorite Well, I'm gonna pick three very different ones. The easiest one my go to is always going to be Revenger the ninja by Sam Furstenberg, that's the cannon box that burned itself in the back of my brain as a kid and maybe one of the reasons I want to get back to the video store over and over again so I can finally rent out was was one such movie. I love invasion USA. So I'm sitting in front of a evasion USA poster right now but as far as the Chuck Norris movies, this is a movie that is big, silly doesn't make exact sense. But the action is is so so good. And since you've got Van Damme on in my mind, I have to go with Bloodsport. Yeah, it's such a again, like bendemeer It's so many great movies. That's probably still my go to if I'm going to pick one Van Damme movie, just throw on.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:25
All right, just on a side note. If we can go back to two then damn lore, besides JCVD which arguably is one of the best VanDamme films ever because it's it's it's just so in. It's not a normal Bondam film. It's a drama, but it's just so beautifully done. I think it I think he peaked as a quality film, not fun film quality film. I think time cop holds holds. Probably it was it was Universal Studios. It was a big budget. At least in my memory. I can't. I can't fight about it with anyone because I haven't seen it since probably came out. But I remember being like you know, this is a really good, well written good story kind of film. Bloodsport has a special place in my heart because I just could not stop watching Bloodsport. I know it's so well, but in my mind, it lives beautifully. And then the other day I turned it on. I'm like, no, no, no, no, I gotta turn it off. I can't other than the action sequences I can't watch the story or the acting because it will ruin it for me the you know those movies like the things that were perfect in your head and then you go back and going. That doesn't age well at all. But kickboxer cyborg has a special place in my heart I mean no retreat no surrenders. Cameo essentially that Vontae was that his first was that the first thing released if I remember was the black black eagle was second if I'm not mistaken.

Austin Trunick 1:08:02
Yeah, these movies were ones that came out while I was part was sitting on the shelf, which is crazy to think that this is just sitting collecting Dustin and cannons closet while he's doing these movies where he's essentially playing, you know, Soviet bad guys.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:20
Well, the funny thing is that and I talked to Sheldon about this and Sheldon was the one who wrote Bloodsport. He created and Vaughn DOM and the movie Bloodsport basically created Street Fighter and create a Mortal Kombat and the fighting games as we know him came because of Bloodsport, I mean they there's even characters. Yeah, in streetfighter that are still a little close to to Bloodsport. So it really shifted the the zeitgeist it was in the Zeitgeist and shifted popular culture in many ways. It's fascinating to see what these films that we grew up with what they've done in the course of 20 or 30 years and what they did and how they've affected pop culture and have been created. You know, stars of people that in today's world would never in a van Damme would never in a million years. Rise today. Not in the way it just too much competition too much. But without them. Would there even be a market for those kinds of films? That's the like with without a Von DOM is that without Bloodsport Is there is there above the law? You know, is there a Steven Seagal at that point? You know, what? Do you know all that without the ninja movies? Do we have a Bloodsport? You know, maybe one day who knows but that's just us talking my friend. I appreciate you coming on the show. Man. This has been such so much fun going back back into the archives of my my Canon brain. And all the the amazing stuff. I mean, you have now after the canons you have to do one a new world then you have to write a whole series of books on Orion, and then you know, you got to keep going and you get a trauma, I'm sure Lloyd will be more than happy to talk to you about making a whole series of, I mean, you've got the rest of your life to write all the rest of these books are. And one last question, man, why? Why did you sit down and write two to 3000 pages? On a B level? If not C level? Movie Studio from the 80s? What was the interviewer that said, instead of like, you want one little book about Ah, you went, I mean, deeper than anyone has ever gone before? Why did you do it?

Austin Trunick 1:10:40
I fell in love with movies at my local video stores back as a youth and Canon reigned supreme in those places, even if they weren't the best movies or the hottest renters at that point. There were a lot of cannon movies. And when you went to the video store every weekend looking for a certain type of film, that's you encountered that. And it was it was ninja movies, it was cannons and Indian movies is what made me fall in love with movies, watching Chuck Norris films with my dad, when I was probably way too young, Charles Bronson, things like that. That was they made movies that appealed to me as a young boy, I should say. And then after learning about them, if you start to peel back the you know, the cover of what, what canon was, the stories behind these movies are as crazy as what happens on screen, if not crazier, the how their genesis how they were made and how they came to be. And I wanted to find those stories. I wanted to hear every story I could from as many people that were there as possible, and collect them in a place because this is a company that did something that no one else did back then. And no one has done really since they the way the exact way they did it. And that's it's a very interesting as somebody who loves film history that fascinated me so much that I couldn't I couldn't look away.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:10
Basically, with almost any candidate movie, you can't really look away. I mean, it's kind of like watching a train wreck in a beautiful, wonderful way. It's watching these films. So awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show. And thank you for putting this insanity together in volumes. I love that there's three volumes, the third ones coming out of this. There's so much stuff and you've made basically made a piece of film history that people can come back to in 100 years and they'll go this didn't make this is this is fiction, or not happen. This is not real. Hopefully they'll go back to this interview as well. If they find it on on whatever YouTube is at that point. And look at this interview and they'll go no it was real up. There's people talking about it as opposed to behind the guy. We'll see. We'll see what happened but awesome. Thank you again so much my friend where can people buy this and by volume one, Volume Two and Windows volume three coming up.

Austin Trunick 1:13:02
You can find them anywhere. Anywhere books are sold. So your Amazon's you and your local bookstores can order them if you got a brick and mortar bookstore try to support that that's that's that's always great. If you're if you're lucky enough to be in that position. People can find me online at I'm at Canon film guide on Twitter and on Facebook, my social media handle and I'm always sharing more canon information on there. There are so many things that as big as these books are just would not fit. And social media is the place that I can keep that conversation going answer questions and just show the weird things and crazy stories that I'm still stumbling across that even I can't believe

Alex Ferrari 1:13:41
Last last question. Did you ever talk to the boys?

Austin Trunick 1:13:44
I have not. And not for lack of trying. I have tried so hard to get a hold of your arm. So your arm if you are listening. I've said many, many emails to your assistants, I've sent letters to your office, I would love to talk to you someday. That's my dream interview.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:06
That's the dream. That's the dream. So none of the boys you've got to ever get to talk to so it's all secondhand. All secondhand stuff from like Sam and and all these interviews that you've done over the years of people who are still alive and working. And did you ever talk to John Claude or chuck or any of those?

Austin Trunick 1:14:24
Jean Claude I've spoken to so he'll be in volume three. Chuck No, Chuck does not somebody who looks back very often, but. He's never really done retrospective interviews or anything. And he sadly, I mean, I don't know that he will. He's never been on a commentary or anything like that. I would love to speak to Chuck. He's another one. But yeah, Jean Claude, I've talked to Michael Judah cough and the second one I've, I've talked to at this point, I think about 80 people who worked for Cannon at different points one point or another And, yeah, I'm still reaching every. If there's anyone who's missing from the books, it's not for lack of trying. I'll say that. I've reached out to everybody.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:11
You've done an amazing job, my friends. So again, thank you so much for putting this together. And I appreciate your time today, my friend and continue the good work you do. You're doing God's work, sir. You're doing God's work.

Austin Trunick 1:15:22
Thank you.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:22
Thank you, my friend.

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BPS 253: How to Attach a Bankable Movie Star to Your Indie Film with Steven Luke

Today on the show we have writer, producer, director, actor, and Filmtrepreneur Steven Luke. Steven and I discuss how he attaches bankable movie stars like Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Chuck Liddell, James Cromwell, Thomas Jane, Sam Worthington, Tom Berenger, Ron Perlman, and Billy Zane to his independent films. We also discuss his misadventures in film distribution, how he presells his films and if he actually makes any money with film distributors.

Steven also has a Filmtrepreneur mind when it comes to his film productions. He has found his niche, war films. Understanding his niche market, he uses the films he produces to advertise his company Man the Line. It is the internet’s number one source of recreating war!

Man the Line is a small South Dakota business offering original military and quality reproduction uniforms and headgear for collectors, reenactors, and film productions. By doing this, Steven has created additional revenue streams for himself by using his films. This is the Filmtrepreneur way.

His most recent works include “Souvenirs” starring Academy Award nominee James Cromwell and “The Deep End,” for which he earned a Best Actor recognition at the 2011 Fischgaard Short Film Competition.

Steven’s work in the short film Paper People’ has also earned him the Best Actor in a Short film for the 2012 Best Actors in a Film Festival. Steven utilizes his skills as a historic military technical adviser and supplier for the motion picture and television industries when not in front of the camera.

Enjoy my conversation with Steven Luke.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 2:24
I'd like to welcome the show Steven Luke, man, how are you brother?

Steven Luke 3:50
I'm doing excellent staying. COVID-19 free up here in South Dakota. So

Alex Ferrari 3:58
Yeah, you don't have too many. You're not like LA. You don't have it's or New York.

Steven Luke 4:04
I mean, we literally have like the population of like, one high rise building in New York. So we're pretty pretty safe out here. For the most part.

Alex Ferrari 4:12
Are you are you staying quarantine? Are you?

Steven Luke 4:16
I mean, I guess this is gonna be recorded. So yes, I'm very quarantine safe. Secure in a bunker and, you know, old missile silo from the 60s? Yes, no, we're, we're kind of Yes, we kind of have, you know, doing the social distancing. But trying to like is a little bit kind of like normal here. So,

Alex Ferrari 4:37
Got it. Got it. It's fair enough. Yeah, you're a little bit more spread out than the big cities. takes two months to get to us. So I'm sure in August. That's where you're gonna have some stuff going up. Well, um, thank you for being on the show, man. Before we get started, how did you get into the film business?

Steven Luke 4:53
Okay, that's no, that's a fun story. So I think like with everyone else, you start off when You're young, and you kind of just the magic of cinema hits you. And you get really excited to, you know, see films, and you want to tell stories. And I think that's kind of how I wanted to get involved. And, you know, wanting to tell stories, and you know, just kind of progressively working up to that point throughout my life and career and how to just kind of, you know, tell stories and make movies and getting bigger and better.

Alex Ferrari 5:29
Very cool. So you were bitten by that bug, basically.

Steven Luke 5:33
And you can't get rid of it. No, it's, it's, you know, it's like that artists lifestyle, right. So like, if I wasn't doing this, or I mean, whatever I'm doing, I'm sure I'd be doing something artistic. So

Alex Ferrari 5:51
No, but you also got into the acting side of the business, as well.

Steven Luke 5:55
Yes, yeah. So I always, you know, I do act. What's fun about the film business is it really is a business. And there's lots of pieces that come come to that. So the acting stuff that I do, I consider that usually, like my art, like, it's more of an art form. To me, if I come in and act, it kind of gives me a chance to dive into a character and develop them and be someone else. And that's very, it's fun for me to do that. Some of the other parts of the film making experience are more business related or more kind of world building, or writing or something like that. But the acting is, is an art to me. And it's, it's always kind of fun to get to jump in someone else's shoes.

Alex Ferrari 6:37
But did you start off as an actor and then moved into producing? Or did you start off as producing and moved into acting?

Steven Luke 6:45
I think I mean, acting, you know, in high school, you know, you do plays and stuff. The acting was kind of always kind of that, what you want to do, I kind of realized really, right off the bat, right, as I kind of graduate high school that I wanted, that I could act and produce, those are my two things that I enjoy doing the most. So I kind of found myself, when I produce things, trying to find, you know, pieces, you know, is a part that I can play to kind of kind of have some fun with it as well, because producing for those that know is a little stressful.

Alex Ferrari 7:18
Bit a bit a bit, and you've got to wear like 1000 different hats, and

Steven Luke 7:23
You got to know the industry really well. So it's like when you get to act, you know, you kind of can just one character and then no one bugs you either, you know, like I don't want to disturb him when he's in character. Like, yes, yes. So leave me alone. Until, until that's over, then you can deal with all the craziness.

Alex Ferrari 7:40
It's fun, because I've always been, I've always worn 1000 hats in any of my productions. It's just the nature of what I do. I'm a jack of all trades. So when I get to just do one thing, it seems so light. Like,

Steven Luke 7:54
Definitely does, well, you sit there and you're like, like twiddling is like yeah, it's like to be doing for bed should be helping someone. So

Alex Ferrari 8:03
Yeah, from from my really micro budget films where I'm doing a lot to where I'm working on a, you know, on a series or something like that, where I have a full blown crew. And like, I don't have to worry about lighting. I could just tell someone to go light. It's just kind of, what am I gonna do? What am I doing here? I don't. I'm waiting. 30 minutes for the lighting setup to set up. I'll be like, what do I the actors are ready? Like, I don't know. It's crazy. Yeah, I guess I'll sit down. I guess I guess I'll relax. I guess. I don't know. I'll have a coke. So then how did you get into you know, producing full features, because I saw you did a lot of shorts prior to kind of to get your your feet wet. How did you get into doing full blown features?

Steven Luke 8:46
Yeah, so I yes, I always think it was important to do some short films, tests, test your craft, do some, you know, make some mistakes, learn a lot. To me in shorts, were kind of a great way to do film school. I never I didn't go to film school, I took more of the business side of things than got up, you know, kind of when I was in college got a business degree because that was what I felt was going to be more helpful to me just in terms of what I kind of wanted to pursue. But yeah, short films a great way to kind of hone your craft. And then you want to make that leap to a feature film, if you know your goal. And there's lots of goals, obviously. But if you want to try to tell bigger and better stories, if you want to try to make money, I mean, relatively speaking, that you kind of the feature film game is where you need to be. And naturally, that's kind of the next step that a filmmaker should try to pursue. It has its own I mean, making a feature film and a short film, they almost they almost have the exact same challenges and go through the exact same steps you just our feature film takes is longer days. So it naturally was that next step that that one takes.

Alex Ferrari 9:58
So one of the reasons I wanted you on the show is because a lot of the lot of the movies that you've produced have been with, you know, named talent talent that actually brings money to the table. And, and I always wanted to have someone on the show that has produced these kinds of films, worked with talent like Dolph Lundgren or Ron Perlman or Mickey Rourke, Tom Berenger, Billy Zane, these are like kind of go to character actors who have have a following and also have a value of monetary value in distribution and overseas. So I wanted to kind of dig into the how you do this. And I also want to take away a lot of these myths and illusions that a lot of filmmakers have, like, Oh, I could never afford, you know, adopt, you know, Dolph Lundgren, or Mickey Rourke, or, or Ron Perlman, or these kind of actors, because they must be billions and billions of dollars to to get, and I've been in the industry long enough to know that that's not true. But I wanted to hear it straight from the horse's mouth. So how do you go about first of all attaching named talent like this?

Steven Luke 11:03
Right? Okay. So I think the I'm a big proponent of this always, the first step with named talent is your script. Now, obviously, that kind of complain a lot of key points with a lot of things. But if you have a script, that, obviously is what you feel like a winner, something you enjoy a story you want to tell, that is definitely like the number one way to get talent to say, yes, they've got to like that script. And, and so kind of hand in hand with that the role that you might be offering them, it has to be a role that, you know, like, you see that person, you know, like, okay, like, take, take, Dolph London, like Dolph will have fun with this role. are, you know, so like, when you come to those towns that and sometimes that might mean you adapt your role a little bit for the specific person that you're going after, but like, they have to like, Okay, if they read this, they've never done that character before. Or maybe it's a character that they enjoy doing. I think really tailoring your story and the role that you're going after, before you present it to them. is, is, is vital. Because if it's just generic, you know, office worker, you know, they're going to pass on that.

Alex Ferrari 12:20
But unless, unless the paycheck is extremely high.

Steven Luke 12:24
I mean, that's gonna take probably double what maybe they would actually cost to pay me that. Like, why would you?

Alex Ferrari 12:32
Why would you bring Duff longer does the office worker, unless it's a comedy? And then yes,

Steven Luke 12:37
If you have the budget to do it. And that probably actually would be hilarious. Dolf is a great guy, too. I mean, he's a fantastic actor, and super smart, man.

Alex Ferrari 12:51
No, I hear he's like, he's like, genius level. He's like, really, really smart. Even when he did The Expendables, they would make jokes about it in the movie that like, what do you have, like a rocket scientist? Like,he is like, literally, he,

Steven Luke 13:04
He is that smart. And so like, when you first kind of meet him, you when you talk to him, it? I don't wanna say it throws you for a loop. But, you know, most people grew up with, I will break you. And when he talks to you, you're like, geez, this guy's way smarter than me. Right? Not like that. I'm filming. You're just, it's just, it's a fun story. Okay, so back to so you got your script, you got your, you got your role for these guys. So probably that, like, they always talk about, like the gatekeepers that come that are in Hollywood, yes. Or the talent, it really as their managers and agents, I mean, manager, agent, they guard those guys and all their clients, which is that that's what they get paid to do. So we try to probably the best way then to like, you know, to get an agent manager, okay, you know, having a producer that maybe has worked with them in the past, having, you know, maybe a sales rep that has worked with them in the past. You know, personal contact, emailing them straight up on IMDB, sometimes even can get you to the door. I mean, I hate to say that, but like you're only having to sit, but they read, they read, I mean, they have an assistant, they process that stuff. So that doesn't necessarily mean you know, you're going to get darklands in your film if you just email them with an offer because they don't work that way. Or it doesn't work that way. But if you have a level of if you're attached to someone that maybe has worked with them, the legitimacy of that offer of the script and the role and maybe the price tag that you're offering them, it they they will take it to their client, that they're they're required to take those things to their client if they feel it's actually a legitimate thing. And so by having someone and I'm just going to use like me, for example, like I've worked with Delft, London, you know, for me to maybe put up Like a filmmaker, in touch with his manager and saying, like, Hey, I think that, you know, that, you know, x y&z wants to, you know, it's interesting having dealt with the role, you know, I'll let you, I'll let him present it over to you, they will take that as a sign that I've vetted that person, I wouldn't be doing that. Unless it was a real thing, just in terms of of real because if I do that,

Alex Ferrari 15:25
You're Donnie Brasco in it, you're, he's a good fella.

Steven Luke 15:29
This is not like a real thing. I might not never get to work with that agent ever again. So that's why it's such a big, you know, it's a big deal to be able to be, you know, when that happens, they'll take you seriously. But I'm not saying that they don't just email them straight up doesn't work.

Alex Ferrari 15:46
Real quick. So let me let me jump on that real quick at one question. And this is this is a big question when it comes to talent. And I've heard both sides of the story, I would love to hear your thoughts. If you have a personal relationship or personal connection to the talent, do you bypass their management and talk to them directly? Or make an offer to them directly? If you have a direct connection? Now, if you're good friends, it's one thing? Yeah, yeah. If your buddies, it's one thing, but let's say my producer, like I know somebody who knows the actor personally. And I'm like, Hey, you look, I'll make you an associate producer, if you make the introduction to me, and then I go have coffee with Dolf. And then, like, Hey, I really like your thing, and I make him the offer directly. And then I've completely bypassed, I've just ended up just throwing out the scenario. Hold on before you say now. And you like talk to them and like, hey, look, you know, like to offer it to you directly. A lot of people will do that for PA, which, in my opinion to you shouldn't offer them directly, unless it's a conversation. And like, I always say, when I'm working with talent at that level, I go, do you want me to submit a formal offer to your agent, or manager? And sometimes they're like, no, what do you want? What do you got? And then they'll just want to negotiate with you right there. There's those those that that that talent? Well,

Steven Luke 17:12
Yes, I would say like, if you're in a situation like that, that that, I mean, they're open to it, that that might be different, I would say, in my opinion, if you were in that situation, where you're like, talking to the actor, and they're loving the role, you know, like just offering role and having them say, I love this, I want to do this is like a win. And then I would automatically go to Alright, great, I will get in touch with your agent and manager and work out the details. Because at the end of the day, you still got to work out the details with the agent manager, because there's not only is that mean? Oh, is that their price, there's their green m&ms that they need, there's their flights, you know, I mean, like, there's an entourage that might have to come. So like, you're still gonna have to work with the agent manager on the deal memo. And so you should at least then that way the agent manager feels, I don't wanna say useful because they're very useful, but that's their job. So respecting them right off the bat and saying like, hey, great. Dolph loves this role. Let me go work it out with agent manager, they will instantly I don't want to say like, you have an ally, but you won't make them mad. Because agents and managers do not like to be circumnavigated. They don't like it. And I can, you know, as much as like, sometimes you wish, you could just go right to it. And you can sometimes when you know the talent, you know, get them excited about the role that's already a win for you. Because you know, that they're going to want to do it, they want to do it, and then go back to that, you know, Agent manager, that way everyone stays happy. And then the actors not having to deal with any you know, the other than the money the other the other things that entail that agent manager can be the good guy, bad guy, good cop, bad cop. You know, there was a it's a it's definitely an industry and I had an eight a manager tell me this. So just you know, like always like, great, you know, the talent. They want to do the role then just come back to me and keep it keeping that line Hollywood very much like

Alex Ferrari 19:15
Yeah, there was a there's a story of a couple filmmakers I knew that were they bum rushed an actor at a film festival and got them literally in the back alleys an Oscar nominated actor. And and the actor was cool. He was like, tell me pitch me and he showed him like this, the sizzle reel, and the actor was very taken by their story. And this actor does not do an independent like he's only studio, but for whatever godforsaken reason, he fell in love with the story and wanted to do it. And he was at over at CIA and CIA did everything to torpedo that deal, like everything, but that

Steven Luke 19:57
Those guys did mean what the thing that those guys got, they knew the actor wanted to do it. So ca lost all those playing cards now they might not have been happy about it. But like that's, that is the one nice thing if you can get around them and you just find out if they want to do it, then you got right, you got to,

Alex Ferrari 20:16
But then afterwards that the actor just turned to their ages like, Look, I don't care what you say I'm doing this. So let's make this happen. And now and that's but that's a risk. you're rolling the dice when you do something like that. That's extremely risky.

Steven Luke 20:30
An actor in a back alley and corner him. I mean, literally, I would do it but

Alex Ferrari 20:36
Right. And they were just they were young, independent filmmakers. They weren't like, you know, seasoned professional season.

Steven Luke 20:41
Not that sometimes. That's literally I mean, you get lucky like that. I'm just lucky. He everything the stars lined up. And that worked out great for him. So I definitely not opposed to having that happen. Because sometimes when you're trying to get your film made, I mean, you got to you got to play hardball. The old that is hardball, man.

Alex Ferrari 21:05
Absolutely. Absolutely. I see you we're continuing. Alright, so now. So what's the next part of the process as far as attaching these guys?

Steven Luke 21:12
So let's story script, contacted agent manager, you know, so then you're you're wanting to it's the it's the money, you know, sometimes it's a lot of this talent, it really does come down to you know, they're gonna assume after they read the script, that they're gonna, okay, this is a worthwhile story script. I can enjoy this character, then it really comes down to their rate, you know, what are they willing to do it for? And it really is, I mean, oh, and let me back up because it is money, but like it like, Okay, well, who's who's who's maybe Who am I acting along with? Could matter to like, who's the director, the director? What's the budget of the film? Like, do I have to fly to Taiwan? Because that makes a big deal to them like, or can I just wake up and roll out of my bed and go 30 minutes over to Pasadena and shoot and then come back. I mean, that's what makes it huge people to do that for them. So like, accommodating them along with that offer with like, Hey, we're going to be you know, 10 minutes away from your house. So all you have to do is just get out of bed and woke up and go, we'll come pick you up. And you know, sometimes like literally, that if the money's good, and doing that and be like, well, I don't really care who I'm in with, and who the director is a day,

Alex Ferrari 22:29
Yeah, it's a couple days, and I'm home, back home to sleep on my bed. So one day, or two days, or whatever it is. So that's the thing that a lot of filmmakers, especially young producers don't understand is that if you have, you know, Dolf, let's say, or Mickey in a roll, and you have them on the cover of the poster, it doesn't mean that you shot them for three or four weeks, you know, you could shoot them out in 234 days or less, depending on what how big their part is. But you can shoot all their scenes out quickly. and affordably. Because if you tried to hire them for three or four weeks, it wouldn't be it would be cost prohibitive.

Steven Luke 23:08
Yeah. And they don't do that either. I mean, they they wouldn't, they wouldn't sign on to doing a three four week thing, unless it was a big studio or per bag or a studio are a big project. If you kind of live in that world of a week or less weeks, and go to court coordinate the character around those those scenes. I mean, a good rule of thumb, I think, right now with distributors is, you know, they need about 12 to 15 minutes of screen time, at least out of those guys, which is about the equivalent about 15 pages. So if you can get 50 I mean, how quickly can you shoot 15 pages? Now, I'll tell you this, like, you know, usually, I mean, I've knocked out an actor, and with 15 pages in one day, oh, yeah. Oh, it's doable. But I will tell you this with the talent, like they will not be happy about that, per se. I mean, they're not gonna be angry. Yeah. But it could take cue cards, and it could take, you know, like hiding their lines in you know, spots, or they can just do their thing, and they'll take your

Alex Ferrari 24:10
Earbuds don't forget the earbud I forget about the earbuds. I literally had a whole a whole VFX job once that I this was an Oscar winning actor who was later in his career. And he had earbuds because he couldn't remember his lines. And we had to digitally remove all the earbuds in all his shots because it was a period of peace. Sure. I mean, it's insane.

Steven Luke 24:38
Yeah, I mean, you. I shouldn't say you would think the actors would come prepared, they usually are prepared, but you know, if you can just get them there. I mean, they know they know, you know, a lot of the actor, you know, like when they're named actors. They understand that it's got to be my name and my face on the poster that sells it. So who cares if I know my lines, I mean, that's not saying that they don't know that but like, you know, you got to accommodate them. Sometimes.

Alex Ferrari 25:00
So this is the big the big question, you know, can we discuss the cost? And now we're not going to call anybody out directly, we're not going to go well Dolphus this much. And then you know, Mickey is this much nothing like that. But can we talk about a range? You know, per day? Because I have, I've worked with certain actors, and I know of prices of certain actors, who are name actors. But what is a range price? Because I think people still filmmakers still think like, Oh, I can't afford that guy, even if it's for three or four days? And you'd be surprised that you might?

Steven Luke 25:34
Yeah, well, I think you're looking at and I don't mind saying these things. Because I think they're, they're stuff that the, you know, the industry should know. And I think, you know, I mean, the more kind of money that can go, like, with projects that can go to actors, I think, always the better. You know, so let's talk about, so let's talk about money. So maybe, let's put a range of say $50,000, to up to $300,000. That is your, that is your budget range. And you might get an actor of a name caliber for one day to eight days, or seven days, seven, let's say seven days. So, I mean, that and to say that, that's, obviously there's a lot of factors and a lot of ranges, that that can play into that. But that's really not it is a lot of money. But for those guys, you know, that that could secure the the rest of your budget, and that could propel you know, your film into going to that next budget level. And like, like, I'm not trying to get down on any micro budget filmmaking, but because I love I mean, that's like, my forte, I love, like, how can we not do it the cheapest, but like, I mean, jeez, you get caught?

Alex Ferrari 26:55
Yeah, get the costume

Steven Luke 26:57
With those micro budgets, you're gonna hone your craft. And if you want to try to, you know, those stars will automatically jump your film out of a micro budget capability, just because of how much they cost, if you were to try to pursue them, just in terms of like, you know, let's say you spend an actor $100,000 on an actor, well, you might have an additional 20 to $30,000, other costs, you know, with different crew lighting, you know, green man's, you know, you should report that there are those days that you're shooting with him. So that's the, that's the fact that you got to you got to play, but I feel like it's it's a, you know, with filmmaking and movies, to go to that next level, and to have named talent, you know, it's a, it's a, that's what it will take, in order to take that kind of next baby step, you know, in terms of like, maybe then moving on to having a studio or distributor, you know, trust you with maybe more money, and with more name, talent, you know, and that next step, and if they can see that, you know, hey, this film with this talent, you know, these guys made this and it turned out great, or whatever, it was profitable, you know, different things depend on what you're trying to do, it will help you just kind of take those steps in a filmmakers journey, if you want to pursue that. So I highly recommended, recommend, you know, all the filmmakers listening to this, you know, that can help really be the next little baby step for you, in order to take the bigger leap to bigger budgets, and, and bigger, you know, productions. That's not to say, you know, there's always that wildcard, you get lucky and stars, new jump, which is every everyone's dream, but you know, baby steps sometimes,

Alex Ferrari 28:46
But you have to look at it as an ROI. So like, if you're, if you're spending, you know, $100,000 on a talent that could justify a $2 million budget, without that talent, you're looking at a $500,000 budget, you know, for the same movie, or less or much, much less, you know, so it all ranges you have to just kind of think about it. So you know, if you have Mickey or Dolf in your movie, you've you've got the movie sold almost done in pre sales and we'll talk about pre sales in a minute but it's almost sold automatically because of their because there's an automatic market for that kind of talent involved. Now as far as ranges is concerned, I've heard you know 50 to 300 1000s of good rains but I know guys who will show up for five grand a day and 10 grand a day and and if they go oh for a week, give me 25 grand and we're good. And they might not be at the level of the 50 100 200,000 but they start peppering the cast and you can it can you talk a little bit about the peppering of the cast where you get these known faces, they might not be box office draws, but their faces. One of the big ones was Trey Hill for the longest time, and now he's Danny. Danny, I've gotten to work with Danny, I've always wanted to try but isn't it by law that he has to be in every movie? I mean, that's law now, isn't it? I mean, he has to be in every movie him and Sam Jackson has to fight by? I think it has. You're right. I think it has I think I think the Supreme Court is checking on that right now. But I think it Sam Jackson and or Danny Trejo have to be in a movie. That's the law, I think.

Steven Luke 30:27
But I, if I remember, right, the law also states they can't be in the same movie together, otherwise the world will be

Alex Ferrari 30:33
the case that space time continuum explodes, I understand completely. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. But um, no, but I remember Danny before, you know, machete, and he was before he became a leading man, he was the character actor, and he wasn't. I mean, he's literally in everything. You know, he just shows up. It's fascinating to watch Danny. And he's the first to say he's like, oh, did you have a check? I'm there. And can I bring my typos? And he has this. And that's not racist. He has his own taco company. Because Trey has tacos here in LA. But it was fascinating. So how can you talk a bit about the value of peppering some of these more character actor faces in a movie, which kind of also gives you a little bit of weight when trying to go after a bigger fish to like, Oh, look at all these other guys who've been in a million things?

Steven Luke 31:37
Yeah. So I would say, if I was approaching, like a film, where we're going to pepper in some, some, you know, decent, you know, some some recognizable faces. So maybe TV actors? Yes, you'd want to try to get as many of those guys as possible. One of the nice things that if you were to pursue that route, okay, yeah, that will help. I always, it's always hard to say like, and then for your next project, but like maybe bigger talent, that you know, for a future work that you do when they look back and they say, Okay, well, we've got all these things. Let's see what they've done. They've Okay, well, they've worked with Danny, and they've worked with this. They're like, Okay, well, they, they've, they've worked with some industry people. So sometimes, you know, establishing yourself of being able to work with industry, people will help propel that next year also be a little bit of a baby step for you to kind of if you want to make bigger things. Now, I'm peppering guys in I would say, Yes, I mean, like the more recognizable faces, you know, obviously, the better. I would also throw this in with a caveat, like, really do your homework and research, because there might be like, Danny Trejo, I'm not super familiar with, like, I don't want to put like actors as if they have values. But I know Danny trails super popular in the United States. So like, you kind of get a distributor to bite on having a Danny Trejo in the movie.

Alex Ferrari 33:02
Oh, with that said that, Can I throw a caveat in there real quick? Sure. Yeah, there was a movie, there was a there was a movie that I worked on, which had Eric Roberts in it. And, and Eric is is the face and distributors generally liked Eric Roberts. And do still, unfortunately, Eric did 25 movies that year. So when so when the director went to go sell the producer went to go sell his movie, every distributor, like I already got three Eric Roberts movies this year, I don't need yours. So there has to be a balance as well. You know, so

Steven Luke 33:34
I think that that's why it ties into like, if you're gonna pepper it with, with with faces, you know, really do your homework, right? Because you don't want to have, I'm not trying to put down Eric rabbits, but like you said, you don't want to be in the season where there's 25 of his movies already.

Alex Ferrari 33:49
Right? He's losing his value. He's diluting his value, losing his value. So

Steven Luke 33:53
Just you know, do if you're going to pepper and use some different faces, which can work great and maybe be easier. Do your do your homework, do your research. You know, don't you know, don't be afraid to call like producers from other films with talent that you're looking at. Yeah, yeah. Yes. I would love to have someone email or message me. And so I can tell Mickey Rourke stories. I don't mean that like in a bad way. But like, I can like, Listen, this is what you need to do. This is what you you shouldn't do, you know, try to do this. Like, I mean, I feel like, you know, when you're in the filmmaking community, especially the independence, you know, we all have war stories and battle scars, and to be able to help the other the next person like, avoid, you know, like, Okay, well, this is a pitfall Try not to do that if at all possible.

Alex Ferrari 34:43
You know, we're Lieutenant Dan, we're Lieutenant Dan, the new privates we're Lieutenant Dan, the privates are coming in. It's like, Don't salute me. Get down, do this. You're gonna get burned over here. Like that's who we are. That's what we try to do.

Steven Luke 34:56
And like a lot of producers, a lot of us are very much Like that, so give him give those give those guys a call shoot him an email message though, they'll shoot you straight because you know, at the end of the day, it you know, the younger filmmakers, like you don't wanna say like who you help could be the next whoever but like it really could be beneficial you know, to just relay some information and and because you paid for it and blood sweat and tears so you know don't let it die Don't let it sink with the ship. So that's my thing.

Alex Ferrari 35:26
So with that said, Can you tell some Mickey Rourke stories or Dolf longer and stories that are, you know, you know, appropriate for the show, and that won't blacklist you from the industry?

Steven Luke 35:38
Oh, boy, let's let's okay. Okay, so a quick Mickey Rourke story. So, one of the things when Mickey work first showed up on my set, he, or at least when he showed up on our shooting location, he arrived late at night and me and my other producing partner Went, went, went to go meet him and we we kind of we brought his costumes and everything and Mickey Rourke, he enters the hotel, and he looks right at us. And he walked right on past us, right on passes and his assistant. Yeah, we were like, Did he did he not did because we had the costume. So we assumed like, okay, we must fit the film. I mean, we said that we were going to be there with the film. And you know, like, well, maybe he didn't see us. I don't know what's going on. And later, his like, assistant came out of the hotel and just said, like, Look, we need the costumers here. We don't want to see the producers like, oh, okay, well, okay, well, okay, fine. And so we, we get the customers in there, they're doing their thing. And later on, like, I don't remember if is later that night, early the morning, we find out like, um, Mickey would not like to have the producers on set. If Mickey sees the producers again, he's gonna punch him in the face. And we're like, not leave his trailer. And we're like, okay, so well. So like, literally the whole day when he was shooting, we were hiding in like a back room. And I, you know, I was a little bit younger than so I like, as an actor in the movie, if I screwed up my face, and I went in with the grips to go meet him. So I met Mark as a grip on my own film production. So that way, I didn't get punched in the face, or you have him not leave his trailer, that

Alex Ferrari 37:19
You hear stories about actors not leaving trailers, and, you know, being difficult sometimes on set, and you hear these mythical stories, you're like, this can't really be true. And, and I go, No, no, it can't.

Steven Luke 37:34
Now, to back that up Mickey was he got through the day, we got all this stuff shot, he seemed he was working great with the director, working great cast members. I don't know if it was more of like, just, you know, sometimes actors they like to say or do things just to see if they can get away with it, or just whatever. But you know, as the producer, you don't want to take that chance, hey, I didn't want my face punched. And B, I didn't want him to not leave his set their trailer. So

Alex Ferrari 38:01
Let me ask you, on a producing standpoint, just on a legal standpoint, if I'm paying somebody half a million quarter million dollars, and they do not perform the service, I hired them to do meaning like they are doing things that are creating havoc or not coming out of their trailer, I always wondered, there has to be some sort of legal ramification for this kind of behavior, right? Or if you don't want to answer that, please don't i don't want to put you in a bad spot.

Steven Luke 38:29
I don't know. I don't think that's a bad spot. I mean, obviously, you have a contract with them. And there's obviously some stipulations. And one of them primarily has been that they have to add

Alex Ferrari 38:40
Should I mean, to be fair,

Steven Luke 38:42
You know, that's where it kind of can get really great. Like, if they show up to set and they do a scene or two, and then they start making demands, and they don't get the day done. I mean, they're not, they can get really great. I mean, it really can with some of these things, like, you know, can you you can't put, you know, like, I'll just say for instance, like state law might dictate that or wherever you're shooting might say, like, Listen, you you, you can only work our normal eight hour day or sag rules. They only are an eight hours a day. They might do eight hours and then say hey, I'm out. I did my day. So, I mean, you just I've never experienced that myself where an actor has has not, you know, they're more, you know, if you treat them well. With respect, with respect, you're doing everything that you can in order to, I don't want to say accommodate them, but you know, just like just like they want to work, they want to work. And they know they know the situation of like what you know, like maybe you have them for three days. They know this, and they have so much they got to do and they're more than willing, if you if you treat them with respect, if you're accommodating if you're you know, going out of your way to you know, make sure that they have a good time just in terms of like experience set, you know, they will go that extra mile for you. Because they they are those I mean, they're the artists they want to they want their work to be good.

Alex Ferrari 40:14
Did you want to look? So did you ever hear the story of Marlon Brando on the on the set of the score with dinero and Ed Norton?

Steven Luke 40:22
Oh, I want to say that I have but please tell it

Alex Ferrari 40:26
Because what's Marlon Brando is legendary for being difficult. I mean, even the Godfather, he was being difficult, because he was already Marlon Brando when he did the Godfather. And he was on this movie called the score which was directed by Frank Oz. Now for many people who don't know who Frank Oz is he's very well known director but he also is known for being the voice of Yoda. And also being the voice of not the voice but he puppet puppeted up Kermit the Frog, he where he became up he came up as I'm up, I'm up at you know, a puppeteer. And and Marlon refused, refused to even let him be on the set. Now, when those two forces like the director, and Marlon Brando, that like in the Marlins, like I'm not acting if that puppet director and you know, expletive expletive, is there I'm not going to work so De Niro had to direct Brando on the set. While poor Frank Oz was in a trailer. radioing directions to Robert, while they would leave and like you're like and Roberts, like, come on Marlon. He's like, No, I'm not gonna work. Bobby, I'll work with you, Ed, I'll work with you. I can't work with this puppet director. I did this puppet guy with this frog frog effort. And he was saying, but I heard this story. And he just like and I've heard it multiple times from different people you just like those are the that's where this stuff happens is where these myths start coming like people becoming difficult. But also what you do that once this is a small business and everyone hears it. And then the next so you know when you're Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando, like what do you what are you gonna do? It's Marlon Brando. But you know, when you're an actor, you know, a paycheck actor, meaning that you've got to work to keep the bills common, he can't be pulling that kind of stuff for the most part.

Steven Luke 42:30
Yeah, and for the most part, they don't bite right. If you have a situation like that you find yourself in with with like Marlon Brando type of situation, you got to pick your battles. And at the end of the day, at least in terms of a producer, like you just got to get their footage, you got to get them shot, you got to get their face on camera, get their scenes, much, you know, I mean, like, just and, and they know that, you know, the actors know that. So, you know, they're being difficult because they know, you got to get them shot. So admission, say they're being difficult just because of that. But, you know, you got to pick your battles. And sometimes you got to, you know, you got to have Robert DeNiro directing with?

Alex Ferrari 43:10
No, I mean, do you find it that a lot of named actors, and seasoned actors in general will test, the director will test the production? We'll test to see how far they can push some things sometimes just to see what happens. I

Steven Luke 43:29
would say, I would say yes. So always be prepared for that. But at the same time, like they're doing next, they want to see how cool how quality you are, like, are you do when they're under pressure? Or is this like a real thing? You know, so don't don't, you know, be hesitant to speak your mind? And, and, you know, challenge them right back? Potentially not like in a bad way. No, no, no, absolutely like a test every once in a while. So be prepared for that. But you know, really, for the most part, like right off the bat, to to avoid, like the testing is to like, if it's the director, the producer, whoever it is, with the main talent, like, Go straight and try to establish rapport, they're almost always if they sign on to your project, they want to talk to the director, they want to know, like, go pick them up at the airport, you know, like you been if it's if it's all possible, I'm talking about maybe more of the director, like, be there, be there talk, I mean, then they have to talk to you in the car, and you can tell funny jokes. And you know, if they've written a book, read the book, read the book, you know, you can talk about their book, you don't do you know, talk about things that they enjoy? And like, Is it the end of the day, we're all human beings, and, you know, they approach like, where, like, maybe for us as independent filmmakers, movies or likes, like, this is my life. This is what I do. But for them, you know, they've been made more established in their career, like, this is their job. So and sometimes people don't like to talk about their jobs, they talk about dogs, they like to talk about their cars, but you know, I mean, like, like about talking about just things and Just kind of establishing that right away with them, that you're, you know, not that the film's secondary, but like, you really are excited to have them there and you just want to connect as a, you know, hey, let's just talk about, you know, funny stories and this and that. And that will really loosen them up to like, okay, they're artistic, you know, because at the end of the day, these are artists, and you just have to really, you know, like, the shapes can be very shy people very, you know, personal people, and to be able to make them feel comfortable is is so important. And it honestly will defuse a lot of the issues that you might have with problems, because if they feel comfortable, you know, then they then they're just they're free to express themselves as artists.

Alex Ferrari 45:42
Yeah, that's, that's, that's my feeling as well, that actress is a general statement, but let alone high profile actors. They want to feel safe. They want to feel that they're in good hands as a director speaking from a director's point of view, and that the second that they see that there's some buffoonery going on, or they don't feel that they've directors got their back, or they can't, they're not safe. That's when the acting up happens. That's where I've seen that happen, and they start because they're defending themselves. They're like, you know, what, if this guy's not gonna take care of it, this girl's not gonna take care of me that I'm going to take care of myself. And this is how I'm going to do it.

Steven Luke 46:16
And I always say, like, anyone can put up with anything for one day. Now, that's not to say that you need to abuse people by any means, but like, you think for a day. So, you know, like, when it comes to just, you know, be be upfront. And like, you if you're having issues on onset, I mean that with being like, oh, to the actor, apologize, say, hey, we'll work on you know, just, yeah, just work it out. And, you know, put up with it, if they know that you're, you know, they're not there. They know what, that they know that they're not on the studio set. Right. And that's not down what you're doing by any means that you understand. And if you are, you know, responsive to them, as such a being cordial that you won't have any issues.

Alex Ferrari 47:03
Did you ever listen to that? That vo session with Orson Welles that legendary vo session with you have heard that one isn't that brilliant? isn't for everyone listening Orson Welles did a vo session for I think some sort of commercial as a wine commercial or something. And this poor vo director oh my god he just ripped him for like 30 Let's just it was like a train wreck you couldn't you couldn't look away like that with the Christian Bale and all that was that was that was that was brutal. That was that was brutal. Now, let me see. Oh, the well Do you have any other fun stories? Dolf story Ron Perlman story.

Steven Luke 47:51
Intel so one, fun one London story is and this will kind of tie in with we're shooting with off and I happened to be in a scene with him as well as if we were knife fighting. So we only had him in for the hour, we were doing a knife fight. And we didn't have any practice space. And he was only available for two hours. So we literally brought him into the production office this little like 12 by six to block the knife fight. So we're with everyone else running around blocking the knife fight and, and I was literally like, on the phone with sag, like right before I was supposed to talk to him. They told me it and I won't go into the details. But basically, I still need to get the actors cleared. So they let me know that I need to get the actors cleared. And then I had a knife fight doll. And then as soon as I got done knife fighting dolphin the tournament's were steps I'd get back on the phone with sag to try to clear, you know, the actors and Dolf to actually be in the film. So that was kind of a fun he was and like, for, you know, obviously Dolf knows what he's doing in terms of action. Yeah, and I mean, we're like, in a production office, like basically a little room, everyone's copiers going and we're blocking our knife fight scene. And, and I'm just thinking this whole time, like, there's no way that he's not that he couldn't remember it, but like, there's no way this is gonna look good. Or, you know, like we're, but no, like, we shot it seven days later. And he knew it. He knew that knife fight, like as if he had been practicing it for like, you know, months to prepare for it. And like, knew every step and he was just like, dude, like, he knew it. And we literally had 20 minutes in an office. So I thought that was just professional. Talk about a professional.

Alex Ferrari 49:26
So let's talk about financing. Because, you know, this is all sounds great. You know, we got a great script, you've talked to the actors, the agents are happy, and they're ready to go. Then there's that whole money thing. You've got to pay them and also have money for the budget of the film. How First of all, how do you finance the film? How do you finance most of your films in what part of pre sales come into that? And secondly, when you're when you're trying to lock in an actor, a lot of times they need proof of funds or something along that Correct, correct?

Steven Luke 50:01
Yes. Um, so, at least for me and kind of what I've gotten blessed to be able to do is with a lot of with pre sales movies, and, you know, kind of your so the financing then in the distribution in a pre sales movie are kind of tied hand in hand. So let's, let's say, we'll do we'll use Mickey Rourke as an example. You might go to a distributor and say, Hey, if I get Mickey Rourke in this movie, so let's, let's take it say it's a horror movie. And if I get Mickey Rourke attached to this movie, what do you think that's worth? What would you give me? And they might come back to you and say, Hey, we'll give you 100 grand to distribute your movie. And so you take that kind of offer. And you go and say that's in the United States. And then you go to Germany and say, Hey, I have this horror movie with Mickey Rourke in it, what would you give me they say, they'll give you 10 grand, okay, great. 10 grand. So right now you got 110 and then you go you so you go to different territories, potentially, and say, Hey, into distributors there and say, Hey, will you give me and maybe you add all that up to say, let's say $500,000? Okay, so then you've got you, my friend have not necessary. I mean, there's, there's some more steps in there. But here you've got $500,000 worth of value with your movie and Mickey Rourke. Okay, so while that might not be money, that is worth something. Now, that's probably worth something to say like, Hey, we could actually probably approach Mickey Rourke. Well, assuming you hadn't maybe approached Mickey Rourke to do the movie in the first place. Let's like, okay, now we know we actually can have some money if we have Mickey work in this movie. So then you go to Mickey Rourke and say, hey, what would it take for you to do this movie, you know, you make an offer, bam, bam, bam. So, you know, and then so once you once you connect the two, pre sales, and we'll just say Mickey Rourke, then you can go to, there's a couple options for you. You can go to a bank, I've lost it. I mean, I want to say like a Los Angeles bank, any bank will do it, like a bank? Could you could take these pre sales with the actor attached and say, hey, how much will you with this? With these kind of offers? How much is that? Would you loan against that. And they might say, hey, we'll give you you know, $300,000. So there, there's your money, there stirner, $1,000, make movie, now you got to go out and find maybe $200,000 more, or maybe you've got, I don't want to say you've got $200,000 in your pocket, but then you got it, you know, so automatically, your ability to then kind of go out to investors, you know, you just you've just added you know, if you go out to investors, and you only need that's way easier to raise, maybe $200,000, than it is to raise $500,000. And as opposed to even having to raise, you know, the budget of your movie without having any of these things, you know, an actor or any, any sales beforehand.

Alex Ferrari 53:15
So two things. One is pre sales is more rare nowadays, rare nowadays than it used to be before you really could do exactly what you're saying, with doesn't even need to be at a caliber of making work. How would you feel that the today's not literally today? Because we're an upside down? But pre COVID? Like, you know, just late 2019? What was the world like for pre sales? And is it Have you seen it become harder or easier?

Steven Luke 53:44
I think it's been it's been better. It's been bigger? I think the giant myth is that pre sales are no longer a thing. Now, the actual value amount of what your presets can be is down. Yes, that is that is true. And that's where like, the value is down. But like that's where if you're like a micro budget filmmaker, that's where your value as being able to do that has just increased, right? Because you know how to do things way cheaper than maybe someone else knew how to do it 10 years ago, because the value the values have come down. And that, in my opinion, is across the board, like on everything. And that has primarily to do with the DVD market, just shrink. And they haven't been able to completely monetized VOD, or, you know, streaming VOD. As soon as your movie goes, you know, on the internet, it's or even released on DVD and released anywhere. It's pirate city and everyone watches it for free. But you know what I mean, give or take. Yeah, he's just now it's available free and now you're fighting pirate city.

Alex Ferrari 54:47
So that's the part that's the hard thing. So then we've got this whole chicken and egg situation where if you go to Mickey works people and go Hey, look, what would it take? Well, we want 250 But I'm sure Mickey is getting hit up by producers in this, I've heard this, I've seen this happen. He gets hit up by producers daily, and they just want his name to go to go raise the funding now, but a lot of them they will not let you attach their name to the project unless they see verifications of them. So you kind of need that money first, in order to attach a Mickey Rourke in order to then go off and get pre sales to get you know, it's kind of like, so how does that work in today's world with you?

Steven Luke 55:26
Yeah, so it That does sound convoluted, and complicated. And it's almost circular. My answer to that is yes. Okay. And it literally, I mean, it's a fine dance. And I would record I mean, that's why I like bringing in having maybe someone a little bit experience and being able to do that is is very valuable to project. Not that they because it it's like it literally is that I mean that that and that is the film system. In a nutshell in a smaller world, because like, I'll let you in in the secret of Hollywood and our cheap right now this no one has any money should so tell them what no one does. tell anyone. And so, but I think that's a fun, that's a basis to start with it. When you know this, okay? It makes it a lot easier to work in the circle to try to get the money to make a project because everyone that's a basic building block of films is no one has any money, and everyone secretly knows this. And so that's why it's like, okay, you know, a Mickey Rourke might say, okay, we won't let you attach your name unless you have the money and then you but you can kind of softly then approach someone with money to get the money because you make you work softly attached. And then it's all kind of tied together. And you just kind of keep working. You just keep working it in a circle until it so I wish it simpler.

Alex Ferrari 57:04
Oh, it should be.

Steven Luke 57:05
I mean, I mean, it should be but like I've done several of these now. And each time I'm just like, it's just so easy. You just know, it's it works in a circle. And you just got to keep the circle going. Right? Because if it stops, things will fall apart.

Alex Ferrari 57:20
Right? The mute if the music stops, you're gonna run out of chairs. Yes. What's the old? What's the old joke in Hollywood? How do you how do you have? How do you? How do you get it? How do you get a small fortune? And how do you make a small fortune in Hollywood? I don't know this. How do you make a small fortune in Hollywood, you start with a large fortune. I mean, it's insane. Now, one thing about actors, and I have a lot of experience with this. And I would love to hear your point of view. And if this is actually a thing, but I my feeling is it isn't but letters of intent. What the hell? Is it really worth? Is it worth anything? Is it just, it's just kind of fluff? You know, because I remember when I was, you know, in my first book about making a movie with a mobster. And well, we have this actors letter of intent. And we had Oscar winning actress letters of intent. And we never got money, it doesn't really mean anything. From my point of view, I'd love to hear yours. Yeah.

Steven Luke 58:27
I would say, like to have an actor with a little letter of intent. The value to that is if you've had someone, and I'm just gonna say like a director that has worked with that actor with the letter of intent. Because then automatically, you know, it's a it's a like, it'll tell investors or like a financing bank, that that's a real thing.

Alex Ferrari 58:51
Because there's a relationship there. There is I mean, they, yes. So if you if you all of a sudden have a letter of intent from Dolf, and for Mickey to be in a movie, and that's what you have, you can go to investors like, well, he's already done movies with them. So this this is a real thing.

Steven Luke 59:06
Yeah, this is a real thing. Yes. Yes. And that's why it's me. I hate to say like, yeah, you need someone kind of like that on your project. It's super helpful. It's very helpful because and not that those guys would then do it because this person's in the project, but like, it adds to that level of like believability, but no, no,

Alex Ferrari 59:30
no, it's, it's it's a smoke and mirrors. It's smoke and mirrors. You kind of like, Look, look over here, look at the dance, look at the dance going,

Steven Luke 59:37
you got to keep that circle going. And if, you know, like, if, if have someone that has worked, I mean, like, I'll give you an example. Like I could message like probably, I'm gonna say Mickey Rourke because I know he's switched agents. But in the past, like, I couldn't leave message Mickey Rourke's agent and say like, Hey, I am doing this project and this and this is Mickey Rourke even available, and he would get back to me because a, you know, we've paid him for something and he would he would at least respond, he would say like, oh, Mickey schedule is, you know, not available for nine months, or whatever that is. And that's why like having that kind of value of a producer or someone attached, the project that has that ability is so helpful because it kind of cuts through all the BS right away. And you can know like, I mean, it's not that Mickey Rourke not interested in your project, it's because he's just not even available. I mean, he could be, you know, on vacation, so, you know, then you can move on, you're not wasting time.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:37
There. Fair enough. Makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Now, with the distributor and pre sales, when you in your experience when you're getting mg. So essentially, you're getting mad and you're getting mg is basically before you're not just giving the movie and doing a profit participation.

Steven Luke 1:01:06
Like you said, like Promise, Promise, Promise letters. Pay you this once the movie is finished,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:13
But they are paying you once the movie is finished. So it's not like this isn't These aren't not speculation. It's not? What are those called? what they think the movie is going to make? This could be worth? Yeah, this would be cash, cash in the pocket. Right? So after that cash in the pocket comes in, you're hoping that all the cash that you're going to make off of the initial MGS is going to be not only enough to pay back your budget, but also maybe make a nice little profit it because do you actually see back end? Do you actually you know, with the way distribution is worked, is worked in the whole system is played out? I don't know. And dude, just say Alex, I don't feel comfortable asking.

Steven Luke 1:01:59
I think this is a great answer. Okay. So they always say in, in when you're trying to do distribution, whatever you're going to make, if they offer you, let's just say $20,000. That's all the money you'll ever see. Right? And I would say that like you, you can take that same to the bank every single time. Because if it but barring, okay, barring that, if your film is like a sensational hit or a hit, and then maybe you can, you'll see some more money later on, like down the road, like maybe two or three years later. And I'm not saying that's a lot of money. But like, you'll see some royalties come in, maybe two or three years later down the road. But whatever they are going to offer you up front is about all they'll see. I mean there, I mean, all you're gonna see from whatever that territory is, or let's just say us just to make things simple. So yeah, whatever, whatever that mg is, if they're offering you know money, and they're going to pay you are off of I'm not saying you shouldn't do that deal. Just like just know that you will not just put that in your brain, you will not see any money ever.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:11
It's what I've been up in the mountains for a while now.

Steven Luke 1:03:15
And I know you have you say in all your shows I want for those that are listening, like I listen to Alex's shows, like from the beginning. So I've taken a lot of his advice to heart. So start at episode one. And then you know, what are you on two, maybe 300 and out?

Alex Ferrari 1:03:32
We're getting close to 400. Now,

Steven Luke 1:03:34
Listen to all them. They're all irrelevant. No, and you can stop fine. And then you can be done. Yeah, there's no you'll learn everything. No, no. So very important. But yes, I mean, please, please, please, please. And that's to say like, if you're if they're offering you just to distribute your film without paying you something upfront, you won't see any money. I mean, the odds of you seeing a money are very, very slim. And so like, and maybe I don't mean to paint doom and gloom on that scenario, because maybe, you know, obviously, you want to try to make more money off your movie, but maybe that just but literally the act of getting distribution for your movie has its own value. That means something when you're ready to make a second one or third one, you know, take it on the to take it on the chin is you might have to take it on the chin it on the chin on the first but you might have to take it on the chin. So just realize that if you're in that situation, you have you know, you might have to take it on the chin in order to get that distribution because that act of distribution literally will help you on the next one that's 100% it 100% will help

Alex Ferrari 1:04:46
Right so if you if you get picked up by Lionsgate or you know Warner home movies or you know or one of these distribution companies like that, that are upper echelon not Yeah, not lower Echelon, but higher echelon

Steven Luke 1:05:00
But even lower guys, I mean, just that act of like, being able to get, you know, I mean, there's a lot of things but like they always say like we can get your movie in Walmart. You know, I don't that might not equal any dollars but it means something

Alex Ferrari 1:05:15
or theatrical or or limited theatrical. Don't even what do you think about limited theatrical? Well, I mean, obviously right now theatrical is a big question mark. But before COVID?

Steven Luke 1:05:29
Like, forget theatrical. Like, if they're trying to tantalize you with limited theatrical, that means they'll play it in if they play it at all. I mean, if they actually do it, they'll play it in 10 cities, and they'll run it on a weekend in some small theater that no one they won't have any press about to play. I mean, it will be limited. And away then to charge you, you know, a lot of money in expenses. So

Alex Ferrari 1:05:59
he just used he used he just use air quotes for people not watching this. There was sorry,

Steven Luke 1:06:04
I forgot. Yes, I put expenses in air quotes. And but I will throw I will throw if it if it means but saying that. Okay. theatrical run a limited theatrical run could help the film out in order to get on Netflix, let's just say,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:23
right? How about how about for foreign if it's a US

Steven Luke 1:06:26
limited me for foreign discipline. So you know it. So maybe you got to take that on the chin as well.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:35
So I want to be very clear about this. everyone listening, you the way that you're making money with your films is by stacking the cast with value that has presale value to distribution companies around the world in different territories. If you don't have that pre preak, that that valuable cast, pre sale value cast, you won't sell your movie, you won't get any pre sale money, you will not pre some money, but you won't even get any offers, you will get no MGS. And then now you're in the world of I'm going to donate my film attacks a non tax deductible donation to a film distributor. Is that fair to say?

Steven Luke 1:07:15
Yeah, I mean, yes. But I like I said, like, maybe that's what you have to do in order to take that next step on to the next one. I'm speaking maybe more for those micro budget filmmakers, right,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:26
you don't want to throw a million dollar movie?

Steven Luke 1:07:30
Yeah, I mean, if you, you know, if you make a film for $5,000, and you're able to go through all these steps and get distribution, and even if you're not gonna make any money, do you only have five grand and you get distribution on your movie, that's huge. That means someone in the distribution world sees value, at least enough for them to even just put on this go, they have to spend a little bit of money to put your stuff out there. Like, that's a huge deal. And, and don't let that discourage you, you know, and you're only out you'd only be out five grand, which is like, huge, because when you get into that, you know, let's say $100,000 Plus, I mean, you could literally you could be in the exact same boat except the out $100,000.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:11
Right. That's why my first film cost me about five grand, and I got sold to Hulu and sold it overseas and, and you know, got it on different platforms and stuff. And it's five grand, my last film was three. And I got distribution for that. I was like, Okay, great.

Steven Luke 1:08:27
And it's a big deal. Because, you know, like, it would it that helps for things like when you approach talent or investors, right? And they're like, Okay, well, at least he got a film to the distributions point. Like, we know, he got out there to start selling. I mean, they Oh, there might be some things that investor might not totally understand. But they definitely understand like, hey, his last movie, at least got to distribution. And I can actually watch it on a physical like on almost a DVD, but they can actually see it going to market. And then you can still get the known the market.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:02
How important are filled markets to your process? Like AFM can.

Steven Luke 1:09:08
I mean, I think they're important. You know, for the producer in me hates them, because all it is is just a bunch of added expense, in my opinion, that film will have to go through, especially in today's world when you can like send out a screener out to just about anyone and they can go watch the film and check out they can see it from their home and if they want to buy it, they'll go after it. If not, I won't, but it is, um, for the industry. You know, sometimes it's that showmanship factor that you know, you got to be in that game to some extent in order to be taken seriously. That's not to say that you're not a serious person. But that's still that part of that Holly perception

Alex Ferrari 1:09:49
is perception keepers.

Steven Luke 1:09:51
Yeah and market you know, with maybe an established sales rep selling your film, you know helps you know What helps you and your filmmaking journey and career do now that might say be financially, but it does help?

Alex Ferrari 1:10:06
Do you use sales reps? I do. And but these are pre built relationships, they have sales rep that you actually trust.

Steven Luke 1:10:14
Yes, yeah, I've got honestly, like, I've got one go to sales rep team that I use for, like all of my stuff. And I've had that relationship since the first movie that I've ever had. And that, you know, if I can give a piece of advice to like, being able to establish, I think there's like a misconception about sales reps. That is partially true, but also built, you know, like, just the nature of the beast. First approaching a sales rep. And your, I don't wanna say nobody, but like, you don't have anyone in your movie, you don't, you know, it's maybe not a genre, that's super sellable. And if they take you on, you know, like, there's a lot of, you know, like that movie, we'll have a hard time selling, like, it's just, you know, and my family's in does real estate, like, I always did real estate, and one of the things that I've always learned is that, listen, I can get up and, and you can price your house, at this price, at the end of the day, I still got to show the house, and someone still got to buy it. So if it's not the house, you know, I mean, like, if the house is not worth it, the buyers will let you know. And so a sales rep company, they they'll give you all the lights, the showmanship and the lights and glamour and the estimates, but at the end of the day, your movie has to sell, like, it's your product that they're selling, they can't sell it for you. Now, obviously, there's some things that they can do to, like help. Like, it's the product. So my my piece of advice then is like, just realize that like it's your product, so sometimes that doesn't mean it's bad, but like then to so pick a sales rep for your project that you you feel maybe comfortable with and trying to build and establish that relationship. And then but and also realize that maybe they're not going to make it have, they're not going to make me any money off this movie. But you know what, that 10 year relationship potential that you could develop with them will pay off in dividends, just because, obviously, you know, like, you'll establish that rapport, they know you're a filmmaker that can deliver a movie, you know, then you kind of go maybe the next one, you have a talent, well, then all of a sudden, you're like, they know you're a filmmaker that can deliver with talent, and they'll help push you. And they'll help guide you into things to help your career along, they will be there for you. But you got to you got to you got to build that relationship with them. It can't be, here's my product, how about you sell it? And when they don't do that, then you you you burn the house down and you leave? I mean, now saying all those things like, yes, are predators out there. And you Oh, that's why it's so important to call other producers. But, you know, there's a lot of really great established sales reps. And you just want to, you know, go in there thinking, hey, I want to start I know, people that sell my movie, I want to start a relationship with them.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:12
You know, I think because I know a lot of sales reps as well. And I know the handful that are I know a handful of good ones I got ripped off by one early on in my career episode, I think number two or three of this show was me ranting about producers, sales reps. Because I was still I was still 10 grand off of me back in the day. But I feel that a lot of times that producers reps and sales reps get bad raps is they'll pick up a movie that has no talent, quote, unquote, no marketable talent. And they try to do their best. And generally the market will say no, but if you but if you show up with a movie with Dolf, or RA, or Ron Perlman or someone have, you know, some sort of marketable talent, it makes their job a lot easier. They can pick up the call and call Germany call two or three buyers in Germany and go, I got a Mickey work movie here. What can you give me for it? And that's the that's why you hire someone like that, because they have those automatic connections to all these buyers around the world, that you just don't,

Steven Luke 1:14:12
yeah, and they'll play ball with you. So like, Look, if your first film totally tanks, just because of the you know, not because it's a bad movie. It's just because it just didn't have the glitz and the glamour that it takes for a distributor to sell. Probably, you know, to the best of their ability. You know that if you kind of if you do approach them with like, hey, I've got this horror film, then if we had Mickey work distributor might go Oh, let me make some calls for you. Right there.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:39
And the guy. I'd work in it. Exactly. Now, which leads us to my final question COVID-19 and how production is going to be moving forward, how the film markets are being affected what you think in your personal opinion from being a veteran in the business. How do you think things are gonna move moving forward, like I know nobody knows the answer to this, but I just like to hear your opinion about first of all production and then also film markets because I don't know about you like, I'm not going to AFM this year, even if I'm invited on, but I'm not going to a public event in 2020, pretty much. So how can you do a film market without hundreds of 1000s of people together?

Steven Luke 1:15:23
If you want my opinion, Now, granted, this is my opinion. And let me give you some background. I'm a history major by trade. Okay, so I always approach things, just naturally, because it's who I am, by looking into the past to predict the future. Okay, let's just, I put

Alex Ferrari 1:15:39
very slow sound advice. Sound Advice, sir. Okay,

Steven Luke 1:15:42
so my advice would be, history has always rewarded the bold, and this is an opportunity for the bold to us, I mean, I, I'm not recommending that you go out there and make your movie. You know, people at risk can pay for all these things. But I mean, they're a whole industry is ground to a halt. And those that are willing to go out and be creative this craft and create will be rewarded. That's just my opinion. So and, you know, and I'm not saying they like, that's a. So that's my right now, I think, eventually, if we looked into the future, I think things by, I think by, like productions will limp along here this fall, like in terms of just what's happening, like there'll be, they'll, they'll try to make some things work. I think by next year, this will all be in our rearview mirror. I think things back on track. I think we'll see a giant spike in you know, profitability, potential off of VOD, because a lot of people are staying at home and getting used to watching now things on TV and streaming. I think that will only help boost the streaming markets from the into into the future. And so that will be which is great for independent filmmaker independent films, because that's been the one area that's been a real big hit on just our ability to make income from our work. Um, I think unfortunately, you know, theaters will have a really hard time. You know, but I, I always foresee like the big tentpole movies, the big budget stuff, you know, the Marvel movies, I think that's the only way to really experience them.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:41
I agree with

Steven Luke 1:17:43
that. relief. So though the theaters will be okay. But I do think it will, you know, very, it won't be it's, you know, it's hard to be profitable as independent doing theaters anyways, I think it just won't be the death be a real death sentence to like, Don't even bother taking two years. That's not to say that there's not some allure to it,

Alex Ferrari 1:18:02
you know, but also, and I'll be, I'll play devil's advocate here, if there isn't a lot of studio product for all these screens, there might be opportunities for iPads to come in, and to intake because honestly, beforehand, the studios are only making 30 movies a year 40 movies a year,

Steven Luke 1:18:23
you've got a lot of great videos on how to market and distribute your movie. And I think that there is, especially with theaters, there's a giant missed opportunity to just focus in on theaters and marketing your film, and keeping it that world. And I could go I could mean that's its own like, Oh, no, it's its own thing. And I have had guests on who've made millions, millions theatrically self distributing, and for walling and booking their own theaters, and it's a thing, but it's a lot of work. And it's a lot. And if you're you know, if you're in the most creatives like to do the project, get it out there and then move on. And that's what I it's hard to, it's hard to you know, like live in your film for another two years, or whatever, you know, oh, no,

Alex Ferrari 1:19:11
I I've been trying to tell people like the the real work starts at the end of the cut. That's when the real work started. Like, the hardest part is not getting the movie made. The hardest part is getting the money

Steven Luke 1:19:23
back. Yeah, well, and so Alex, that's why with the pre sales that we've been talking about, you, you can do that process of, you know, attaching the talent to the you're doing a lot of work. But you're doing it almost before you start shooting it and as opposed to after. And so like the same, it's the same amount of work, except that you're taking that took risks. You're taking that risk away from what you're trying to do, and you're putting it on the front end. And so that's why it's, in my opinion, if you're able as a filmmaker To be able to get to that point where you can like, okay, hey, we're gonna raise. That's why that the distribution and the financing, you can tie together and put it towards the front end of you trying to make a movie, because then you could spend two years in that circular motion. Oh. And it's way better to do that than to have done six months in pre production, trying to raise the money, scrape out money, shoot the film, post production, and then spend two years trying to sell it. It's just,

Alex Ferrari 1:20:30
Yeah, you just want to hedge your bets. If you can, it's like, you know, when, when Apple creates an iPhone, they know that they have a market, they have an infrastructure, they have sale predict, you know, they know that they're going to recoup whatever money they spent to make or design or invent that product. filmmakers never think about that. They're the only business we were, when I use the term business. It's very loosely in our in show business. But we're the only product that's like, I'm gonna go spend a half a million dollars and then figure out how I'm going to get my money back. There's no other business that does that.

Steven Luke 1:21:06
Yeah, no, it's very true. And that's why if you can, if you can take that the business side of things and throw that in on the front end of your movie, you know, yes, will make your life not easier, but it'll be more enjoyable, you'll enjoy the product and so much mean not that you're not gonna have stress. But man, it's a lot easier to you know, only have to worry about maybe, you know, 10% of your budget coming back, as opposed to like, 100% of your budget coming back.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:33
Even just breaking even is a win, win. It's a complete win.

Steven Luke 1:21:37
Yeah, don't you know, if you break even on your movie that is a win

Alex Ferrari 1:21:42
100% win? Again, no other business? No other business is that a win.

Steven Luke 1:21:47
But you know, here's the here's the the other secret, like, you keep at it long enough. And you will have, you will have that catapult and I mean, one of the things I know we didn't really talk about, or maybe like investors, investors, one of the, I always like to tell investors is like, Listen, maybe it's not this movie, I'm asking you for this. And, and, and this is why, you know, this is gonna work. And maybe it's not this movie that we make a lot of money on. And but it's gonna help us get to that next level. And then when we get to that next level, maybe you know, I'm gonna ask you for more money. And maybe it's not that movie, that's gonna make us the money, but I'll get you, I'll get you, I'll get your money back, you'll get on the red carpet, you'll get to meet some stars. And then when we get to that next level, I'm gonna ask you for even more money. But that'll be the point where we're going to hang off really, really well. And you know what an investor can see that, because it's just like any business, they understand the risks. And they see like, hey, this person has got a plan and a future and they know where they're going. And they know that this is, you know, if you're not an investor, I shouldn't say they're not worried about 20%. Because they are, but like, they're investing in movies, there's a lot of glitz and glamour, but they want to have the huge hit. Where they you know, I mean? Like, that's what that's why they're investing. That's why they're investing in the upsell

Alex Ferrari 1:23:09
the upside?

Steven Luke 1:23:11
Yeah, you have to you have to explain that to them. Like that is your goal as well. And but it might not, you know, like, it might not be the project that you're making for him right there at that moment. But you have to get you have to take those steps in order to get there. That's the only way. It's the only way to be able to to proceed forward. Fair, and they'll see that they'll respect that. And it'll add that level of like, I've solidly we'll invest in in the steps that maybe we're gonna take.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:42
Very cool. Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests, as you know, if you've listened to the show yet, these are what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Steven Luke 1:23:52
Collaborate, collaborate, the film, filmmaking is such a collaborative business at all levels. And, you know, even collaborate with everyone on your team. I mean, we all know if you look at the back end of the credits, there's hundreds of people that work on your film, and collaborate with as many you know, of all the people that you know, all the all the people that help you make your film and your project, collaborate with them, they're going to have good ideas, they're going to have bad ideas, roll with it, take it, let it sink in. And it's like producers, all this stuff, because it's such an it's an art form. It's like molding clay. You know, there's things that will happen that you got to collaborate and you got to trust those around you to be immersed in that process. And I think of all the things that, you know, filmmakers have a tendency to lose is just that that art I mean, they don't forget it. They don't forget about the art form, but that art takes others especially in our business, and what bring their bring, you know, other people's, you know, art to life with them and it will just There'll be magic there. And that's when the magic is created. So collaborate, collaborate, collaborate,

Alex Ferrari 1:25:05
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life,

Steven Luke 1:25:11
Perseverance, reservere, don't give up. Don't stop. You're gonna have so many pitfalls in life in filmmaking, and they're gonna seem like instrument hurdles. And maybe at that moment in time, it's gonna seem insurmountable, insurmountable. But with some time, and, and persistence and patience, like, you'll get past those things, life will go on, things will keep moving forward, it's just like this COVID-19 I'm literally sitting here, just like, I have a couple projects that were literally I mean, literally, like I was on a movie that I'm producing, I literally had just driven to Montana, the day before pre production, we're supposed to get started in March to start shooting, like for pre production to start. And that's when the national emergency started, all the dominoes are falling, everything was put on hold. And I just was like, Oh my gosh, we're just like, at that point, this movie is gonna get made, as the Debut Movie was supposed to get made, you know, I mean, like, where everything would have been sealed. So I only tell that because like, you just got to be patient, that your timing will come, your moment will be there. And you just got to be ready for it. And I think that's hard, especially in our business to be able to just, you know, sit still. So

Alex Ferrari 1:26:34
Three of your favorite films and three of your favorite films of all time.

Steven Luke 1:26:37
Okay, so I know you asked this to everybody. And I was like, I have a list of like, like art films, I was like, that are my favorite but and not that I don't want to get those boxes. Like I want to like talk to Lord of the Rings. Which one which one, the whole thing? Fellowship of the Ring, okay. First time I sat in a theater and I saw when those guys when that when the hobbits and everyone was going across the I'd read the book, but I'd seen the book come to life. And I just sat back, I was like, I want to do this. I want to make this whatever this is. I want to do that. So that was a big deal to me. Probably the other one is a Star Wars Empire strike. I know I'm given like generic, generic, big, big budget ones. But you know, like this. They're like ones that I watch all the time. And then a world war two movie called Kelly's Heroes. Yeah. Mmm. Kelly's Heroes. Yeah. It is a comedy. It's so funny. And I would recommend if you have not seen Kelly's Heroes, watch Kelly's Heroes. It's like the best combination of story. You know, historical accuracy actors and comedy. It's great Donald sutherlands in it.

Alex Ferrari 1:27:49
It's fun. It's a it's a good flick. I remember it. And now where can people find you? Like in terms of how they can get a hold of your personal your personal address if you could and phone number now I'm joking. But how can people find you online? Sir? If you want to even put that information out there. Yeah.

Steven Luke 1:28:07
Just get my wallet out. And here you go. Just for people that are going to see the video you get a sneak peek

Alex Ferrari 1:28:14
Social security card will be fine.

Steven Luke 1:28:16
Everything. So the probably the best way is you know IMDb me, Steven Luke on there. I think I got my email on there. shoot me a message. You know, say hi, check in. I'm always open to give advice, especially via email. I mean, that's easy. I say that because I have a lot of stuff going on and emails kind of the best way for me to keep track of like, not what I said but like, Oh, yeah, okay, I can I tuned myself back into the maybe a conversation better that way. So that's probably the best way to get ahold of me. You know, you can some of my stuff is on. I'd recommend you know, I'll do a shout out like, some of my stuff is on amazon prime. Give it a watch. I need the seven cents per hour but because

Alex Ferrari 1:28:58
First of all, you're getting seven cents. Holy cow down to five. It's a penny.

Steven Luke 1:29:04
A penny now?

Alex Ferrari 1:29:05
So it's a between Penny and 12 cents. So if you're good, you get up to 12 cents. But generally everyone's at a penny.

Steven Luke 1:29:13
Oh geez. Well, I've got to film at least at seven so let me give you the wow whoa,

Alex Ferrari 1:29:19
Wait a minute. You've got a seven cents an hour movie. That's quality. Its quality.

Steven Luke 1:29:25
I didn't know that was such a big deal. Now I'm more excited about the seven cents.

Alex Ferrari 1:29:29
Oh you kidding me? Seven

Steven Luke 1:29:31
Check out my films then online. I mean, she's apparently I'm making bucco bucks.

Alex Ferrari 1:29:35
Oh no. Seven euro seven cents an hour filmmaker, my friend. That is something I put on? That's like an Oscar like you're you're up there.

Steven Luke 1:29:45
I don't know about all of my phones. But I've seen one a couple years ago. I don't know. I know. I feel it. You know, it's funny as we're having this conversation. It's like, oh, seven cents an hour. Oh boy. Oh boy.

Alex Ferrari 1:29:58
Do you see what Where this is a ridiculous business. We're in an absolutely ridiculous ISIS button. Since we can't do anything else. We're stuck here.

Steven Luke 1:30:09
That's storytelling, start telling stories. And you know, it all bites us and we all got a story to tell. And yeah, man, best format film.

Alex Ferrari 1:30:20
Luke it has been an absolute pleasure man talking to you. This has been a just knowledge bomb filled episode, which I knew it would be. And I think it's I'm gonna make sure this is mandatory listening for all filmmakers because it, I covered things in this and you and I covered things in this episode that we've never I've never really had on the show before. So it is it's really, really great stuff. So

Steven Luke 1:30:46
Why don't I share with everybody and I want to at least leave with this last like, I am a filmmaker out of South Dakota. I went to Los Angeles for a few years, and now I'm back doing the films where I live. So let that be an encouragement to all those people sitting and saying like how can I do this? totally doable. You can do it from even little state of South Dakota. So just keep hanging in there.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:10
Thanks again, my friend. I appreciate it. Stay safe out there.

Steven Luke 1:31:13
Awesome. You to stay safe. We'll talk soon, hopefully real soon.

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BPS 252: The Ever-Changing Film Marketplace with Producer Bradley Gallo

Today on the show, we have producer Bradley Gallo. His production company, Amasia Entertainment, is behind the upcoming Wild Mountain Thyme, starring Emily Blunt, Christopher Walken, Jon Hamm, and Jamie Dornan.

His 2019’s Official Sundance Selection Them That Follow, starring Olivia Coleman, Jim Gaffigan, Walton Goggins, Kaitlyn DeverLewis Pullman, Alice Englert, and Thomas Mann, is now on Showtime.

Amasia has also recently acquired the rights to the Green Hornet franchise. Bradley’s other credits include Mr. Rightwith Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell (available on Netflix), The Call with Halle Berry, and Careful What You Wish For with Nick Jonas and Dermot Mulroney.

Bradley and I discuss the ever-changing film marketplace, how he is positioning his new project to adapt to the new rules of the game, and much more.

Enjoy my conversation with Bradley Gallo.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:02
I like to welcome the show Bradley Gallo, man, how you doing Bradley?

Bradley Gallo 3:24
I'm doing great.

Alex Ferrari 3:24
Thanks for being on the show my friend. How are you holding up in this weird and wacky world that we live in today?

Bradley Gallo 3:30
You know, I'm too busy thinking about all the development projects we have that I actually just sort of block it out. But I'm I'm sure that everybody is suffering in their own right. And, and I totally understand, you know, it's tough.

Alex Ferrari 3:45
It's it is it is tough. Like I was saying earlier the struggle is real. Without question. And you know, I you're either gonna use either Chicken Little or an ostrich. I think those are the two you either just like I don't see anything. I'm just moving forward or Oh my god, the world's coming to an end. I tend to be more the world's coming to the guy but I know people who are very ostrich like You know what, I can't deal with that right now. I just got to focus on what I can control, which is a lot healthier, sir, than where I live.

Bradley Gallo 4:14
I'm trying to be positive. I have a similar mindset. Sometimes.

Alex Ferrari 4:20
I always say prepare for the worst and hope for the best. And that's and that's all you can do. Now, how did you get into the business?

Bradley Gallo 4:27
Oh, wow, I got into the business a long time. But first of all, if you look at my fifth grade yearbook, I wrote, I want to be a movie star. And I think a lot of people who are in this industry always wanted to start out by being an actor. I like that was kind of the thing you're in plays and all that stuff. It didn't come around to bite me as a bug until later around. 1718. When I was trying to be a veterinarian, I thought I was going to go to college to be a veterinarian. I was at all the different vet like tech, you know I worked at every single Veterinary Hospital in Long Island, New York and picking up poo most of them time. But you know, I had an issue with putting animals to sleep that was my big like I couldn't do it. But I was in love with these these veterinarian books that were written by James Herriot called all great and small. And it was just like it was stories. It was storytelling through animals. And for me, I realized at one point that it wasn't about the vet thing that I like, it was the stories that I liked, and it came right back around to I need to be in film and TV and I have to figure that out. And that became a very long journey. Starting in graduating college with a totally different degree, and then becoming a production assistant on sets in New York keeping the faith with I don't know if you remember that Edward Norton Ben Stiller movie, yeah, an autumn in New York, which was a Richard Gere movie. Yes. Back with the back one on a writer. Yeah, with one. Yeah,

those were the production assistant jobs that I had when I first started. So that's kind of the entry. And then I realized it was a 30 year old, I was 21. At the time, there was a 30 year old production assistant on that set. And I said, there is no way that was what went into my mind. Oh, no, during the time of, you know, when, you know, Edward burns would make his movies and go Sundance and there was you can make movies for like, 30 grand, but you were like, thinking it was so weird time it was very Sundance related in the 90s. So I said, Well, okay, like everybody else, I'm gonna go right and direct and produce them Sure. And raise the money. And, of course, that's a lot harder than you think. So I had a lot of energy then a lot less now. And then I I sort of accomplished that I raised money from doctors and lawyers and family and all the stuff that you do then. And I wrote a screenplay and I started the movie, and I put it together. And I actually shot it in a summer camp because I knew at that time, summer camps were the thing like you made horror films at summer camps, right? So I knew you can make them for real. So I had a connection because I've gone to a summer camp. I rented out the camp after the summer was over $10,000 to feed the crew, how's the crew and use all the locations sold? Oh, so I wrote a screenplay around it. And and and that's literally how the first movie came to be. And of course, that went to festivals. There's no easy way of how you get there.

Alex Ferrari 7:13
It was also different. It was also a different time you're talking about you were still in the 90s. Right?

Bradley Gallo 7:17
Yeah. 90s. Right. Yeah. Early cost there. Yeah, that's it. That was a whole other world. Totally, no, but you're asking how I started. China then and then. And then when September 11 hit, it was impossible to raise money for movies, like 2008. Like now that this stuff always comes around. And so I pivoted to television at that time. In reality TV was blowing up and I needed to pay rent, I had come out of my family home at that point. And, and so I worked in reality TV, I ended up on a reality TV show, called America's next producer.

Alex Ferrari 7:51
Really, I never heard of this. I never

Bradley Gallo 7:53
heard of this source. Because it lasted one season, it was on the TV Guide network. So like, was there a TV Guide network? Remember, they had the stream across the bottom? Yes, they actually made programming above the top. So I was in one on that show. That's amazing, the top 10. And, you know, I then had my breakdown, because you know, they don't, they don't feed you. They don't you don't get to just sleep. It's purposely set up for you to get into fights and all that stuff. So I did all that. And then and coming out of there, I kind of was sort of fed up with my dreams of like, I wanted to be in film. And then there was reality TV. And I just said I want to do something a little bit better for the greater good. And I went back to school when I got my masters at Columbia, in journalism, which I did really well in the school and came out with a CNN fellowship and started working for CNN was eventually rotated through the shows ended up on anderson cooper show for a bit. And then journalism got to the way it is today, which is what massively by, you know, polar. Where we're on one side argument, the other side of the argument. And I would just I it wasn't it wasn't speaking to me in the way I wanted it to speak to me. It's nothing wrong with journalism. It's just, it's changed. And it wasn't. It was again, back to the stories it was, it was less about the stories and more about the headlines. And I wanted to get deeper into stories. So I I moved, I made a couple of phone calls. I had some connections in LA and I took totally moved way late into my 30s to LA to start my career all over again from the bottom with somewhat of a background in media. And then I was sort of a creative development Exactly. And in a company called Troika and then headed their production and development and started producing the films and sort of built my career there. We had a hit early the call with Halle Berry. Yeah, it was a very a hit movie very early. And then of course, I made subsequent movies at some work, some didn't. And, you know, the rest of the career is where we are right now, which we can talk about.

Alex Ferrari 9:56
Now. Which which I always find it fascinating because I've had so many Many people on the show and I've talked to so many filmmakers, successful people in the industry that they go, yeah, I went to college and I got a degree in ballet, like something so

Bradley Gallo 10:11
In horticulture

Alex Ferrari 10:12
Yeah, exactly that like, but I, but I, what I really want to do is direct, you know, it's always, it's always fascinating because I see people like like that all the time. Like I went to film school, like I always knew I never wanted to be an actor, actor, thank God, I always knew I wanted to be a director and a filmmaker. So I went to film school. So when I hear people, like, I went to a four year school and got a degree in something else, but then I'm like, Yeah, but I really want to be a director. So I be I piayed. And I've seen those 30 year old PS, I saw a 40 year old PA, okay, and it is terrifying. I got when I, when I started playing when I was I was playing in college. And then once I got out of college, and got my first jobs, I started playing on the side. And I just said, this sucks, I'm going to go into post because at least there's an air conditioned room. Sure, and I learned posts. And that's how I kind of went down

Bradley Gallo 11:03
a lot of post production. In fact, that's even better. I've learned a long time ago that I wasn't going to be the director. And I'll tell you why. I mean, I can direct a film, if you hire me to director film, I know exactly what you have to do to do. Sure. But can I be good to the level of getting above the noise? Do I have the talent that's so creative, that it's so like universal is going to be calling an enforcement, like that kind of talent, there are so many more talented people that may that that's not where I lie, I lie in the journeyman version, I can make you the movie with that script. But in terms of the angles and the thinking and the way to be even more beyond, I didn't have that that level of talent, in my opinion. And so from a producing, sampling, what I liked the most about it, and why I got so into it was that I get to be a part of every single part of the process, and have a little bit of an effect. And then think of it from a big picture perspective. So I'm involved from the idea to the script, to the prep, to the production to the post, to the distribution to the collection, to the accounting to the end, you know what I mean? And nobody is able to do that everybody comes in and out. Yes. Um, and, and, and, and that is a good thing for me, because I'm very good at sort of managing people to do their best, as opposed to being my best isn't going to be as creative, if that makes sense. So know that that's kind of what I came to this

Alex Ferrari 12:27
That takes a tremendous amount of self awareness, to be able to, to be able to say, you know what, I can do this and I, it's kind of like me like I can I let my first feature. But I was like, Can I light up? Can I be a cinematographer for a feature? Yes. Am I going to do it like Deakins? No, I will never even get to the remote close. I wouldn't even be in his shadow anytime. So can I make something look decent on screen?

Unknown Speaker 12:53


Alex Ferrari 12:54
I'm like, No, I'd rather hire somebody.

Bradley Gallo 12:57
Yeah, and that's what, that's how I ended up trying to, because a lot of people always asked me like, how do you figure out which one you want to do. And it's like, a lot of the directing thing is ego, either you have it, and you want it and you need it. And it's everything you've ever been, or you are just ego. And those guys that doesn't pose that doesn't bode well for an actual collaborative process. So, so frustratingly, you know, I've run into that.

Alex Ferrari 13:23
So let me ask you something. Because I've made my last feature I did was called on the corner of ego and desire, which is about filmmakers, and their ridiculous egos and how we are delusional and all that kind of stuff. So I what do you do as a producer, when, because the ego doesn't show up in the interview process. A lot of times the

Bradley Gallo 13:44
ego shows up I it's absolutely shows up for me only because I'm so in tune, typically and open to it now. Okay, good. But saying there are people who can be a certain way to get the job and then it starts to get really intense. I always look at the person in the interview, and I go, what where's the level in the interview? And then I'm going to times that by five or six, and then I can I work with that? Sure if the level of interview is at the 10 Oh, you know, you're done. You're not know

Alex Ferrari 14:14
if he does. So how do you do? How do you as a producer, how do you deal with ego centric directors, actors, co producers, collaborators, like how because your your your papa bear, you kind of like you're overlooking the whole thing. So everyone it comes to you, when something goes wrong, the producers like the most abused.

Bradley Gallo 14:36
So the first thing you do is you set the tone early and you have to have the relationship with the director. If you don't feel like you're having that relationship from the interview to the prep, then you got to get out. It's just you got to find a new director because it's a three year process, you know, in making a movie and and in the director, it's at least a year of that. So you are like 24 seven with that person you have first of all you have to enjoy That time if you want to be with that person making that vision, and if you're not feeling that early on, even in even in like early prep, it's over, you got to move on if you can't sustain that, but let's say you get past that, and then the ego is still gonna be there, you need a healthy amount of ego because they have to drive decision making, they can't be like, I don't know what decision to make, what do you think, what do you think they have to have a vision, and a decision has to be made. But they have to have somebody in their ear, sort of swaying in a direction that works for everybody. So sometimes I call myself the bridge between art and commerce. But you can't make a film without understanding that. So there are times when you have to, you have to say to the director, look, you don't need this big concoction with a drone in the thing, and then we can shoot it like this, save a bunch of money, and then you get the scenes you want it over here, right? So there's a lot of that in indie filmmaking, and that's about the comp, but then there's the other side, you know, we're gonna need some extra money talking to the investor, this idea that just came out of this is amazing, and it's going to change the way the film is gonna look. And so we need this extra money, and here's why. So I'm bridging that back and forth. But when the ego is flying in the middle of that, that's when you have to check the director. Why do you need this? What is your reasoning for acting this way? Tell me I want to understand artistically, how important that is, or isn't for this vision. And when I get that, I'm either able to, I feel a very strong internal talent to say, you know what, you're right. Or you know what, you're wrong. And, and I have the answer for why they're wrong. And then they have to sit with that. And, and they start to respect you early, you have to set this tone early. And when they start to respect you, either by your body of work, or by what you're saying, because you really understand your shit, then they're going to go in a way that starts to work for you that the ego starts to work for you. If they don't respect you, and or they are so stubborn in their ego, you're likely in trouble. And in that scenario, it's not gonna work. And it's just, it's just not gonna work. And I just sort of set the tone early that, yes, I'm the boss, but you are the boss of the vision. And I want to support that the whole way. But I will have to sway you, depending on how far off you're going from the original vision that you pitched us speaking in the beginning, from the original vision of the script, and what the finance ears and or studios are expecting. And that's my job, protect your art, but at but keep you in the line. And, and that's that's kind of how I feel.

Alex Ferrari 17:39
I always I've been saying for a while now that you could do exactly what you said the current commerce, there's the word show in the word business. And the word business has twice as many letters as the word show. And there's a reason and there's and there's a reason for that. I always say like, you got to look at the ROI of a specific thing you want on set. So do you need the techno crane that day? Can you know, what's the ROI? If you spend 4000 bucks to get the techno crane in for that one shot? Is it going to put in 4000 extra bucks in return? Is it like what is what? Like, do you need to go shoot off this giant thing with 1000 extras? Or can you do it another way that's going to be more cost effective and still tell the story appropriately? So we can make some money with this? Because it is and I have to? I have to believe that if you think this is true. It's tough to make money with

Bradley Gallo 18:28

movies nowadays. Very tough, much tougher than it's ever been. In fact, I got to my peak in career, let's say at the moment that I would consider that would have been around 2013 or 14 that there was shockingly like why can I actually not make a living at it? Can I make a living at this? Like you actually Wow. Yeah, about that. Which is not something that you think about in 20 years ago, when they were making hand over fist but it was very insular. There's only five people and the DVD business all that stuff. Now it's in the indie side, it's a struggle, you can make a lot of money and the big side if you had you know you're fast and furious, right? That's a whole nother story. And even when you go to the streamers, they're they're setting it up in a way where they're getting, they're giving you a little bit of vague above what the budget is that you can make some money on. But you better do 10 or 15 of those to have a real specific amount of income that then funds your company and then also has to fund your staff and and your lifestyle whatever that is. So you're actually looking at this as a regular job now not as the way people used to think where if you make it, you now are good zillionaire driving the Bentley's not true we have we have definitely changed that in this business.

Alex Ferrari 19:44
So I mean, so you did you did the call with Halle Berry who obviously she was just one of the biggest movie stars in the world very well known Oscar nominated an Oscar winner, all that stuff.

Bradley Gallo 19:53
Oh, fantastic person.

Alex Ferrari 19:55
Yeah. And from what I hear a fantastic I fear she's here. She's a wonderful person to work with. Film like that. When did that come out? Again, that came out a few years ago. 2013 2013. Alright, so 2013 is a very different time than 20. Let's say 20 1920 2020 is a whole other conversation fine.

Bradley Gallo 20:12
But think about that. That's seven years years.

Alex Ferrari 20:15
Yes. Yeah, six years, right. So six years, the industry changed dramatically. If you had the call today. Again, let's not let's take COVID out of the picture, let's say 2019. And you had the you had the call today, do you think you would have made the same kind of revenue? With the call today that you did back in 2013?

Bradley Gallo 20:35
I don't think it would have been in the theaters. And that movie was a wide release in the theaters. Yeah, that's how far they've come. But I'm saying that was a wide release in the theaters, it made a lot of money. So the question to you is, I don't think it ends up in the theaters. So that's a whole nother ballgame. Now, I'd say that movie gets made, it ends up on a streamer, and we make a lot less money. Unless we made it independently for less than money budget, they bought it for a huge bidding war moment. And even then, it wouldn't have made as much money as it made as a successful theatrical film. So no, it's a double whammy, it's no wouldn't have made as much money. And it wouldn't have been on the theatres. And so now I think that that that business has gone so dramatically, you know, theatrical has to be something massively IP, or massively when I say IP, now I think of I think of producers and directors as IP two. If it's Neil Moritz, that's an IP. If it's Steven Spielberg, that's an IP, right? that everybody's talking IP all the time, but not thinking about brand IP, too. So if it's not them, or content that warrants that, like our film, The Green Hornet, which has a massive property, wide release, big time, budget, those types of things, then why are they going to put, especially not, they're not gonna roll out the red carpet for sort of a smaller film on a wide release? They're not going to do it.

Alex Ferrari 21:57
But isn't it funny that all the IPS, you just talked about these IPS were developed in the 70s 80s 90s? And very 1000s? These are not IPS. So like, to have an IP? There's just no, yeah, it's a harvesting old IPS that are harvesting. greenheart It's from the 60s. You know, you know, so it goes

Bradley Gallo 22:17
back further than that. Right. Exactly. Radio Show in the in the 40s.

Alex Ferrari 22:21
Yeah, like the shadow like the shadow was, um, so it's, it's fascinating that, you know, a lot of people like, oh, there's very few directors in today's world that have the IP of a Spielberg, the Nolan's The finches, but those even those guys came up in the 90s in the early 2000s. You know, there it's you know, Rodriguez Tarantino, you know, these guys that have marquee names, they still all came up, then like, I'm curious, like, what's happening like, Ryan coogler? Did Black Panther. But Ryan coogler is not a brand, like people aren't gonna go see Ryan coogler films. I mean, unless they tell him Oh, this guy who did Black Panther, it's gonna take,

Bradley Gallo 23:00
yeah, he's getting there. It's gonna take time, you know, he's gonna take time, but he couldn't get there. And he probably will. But but it's rare. Like you said it so far. and few between that get to that level. So if you have a handful, let's say there's, you know, 20 names, you matter, right? And you have maybe 100,000 actors per state 100,000 directors per state. But I mean, I'm just saying like, it's, it's very hard, it's very hard, right? There is a tremendous amount of content that can be made and sold, but just not at a level that you think you're going to be sustaining some rich and famous lifestyle. So I always used to say, when I was younger, of course, inflation needs to adjust for what I said. But if I'm making $50,000 a year, and I'm making movies, that makes me a happy person. Now, it's like, you probably say, a different number, you probably say 150, or 200,000, right? It's like, what is the number, but it's not going to be the way it used to be. So you have to think about that, too. If you're if your egos in this, and it's all about rich and famous and all that. It's just, that's just not a goal. You have to love film forth and or television, and or storytelling, for as much of that as you love it to do it on a regular salary. Because you'll have a couple of moments. Maybe you have a year that you had, you did, you made $300,000 a year, and one year you made 25,000 if you're not planning for that, and averaging it over, and then you have kids and you're married and whatever that means your life is leaving. It's really hard. So keep keep that in mind. Now when you're going through the future of of content, which eventually is going to be AI, which is a whole nother thing.

Alex Ferrari 24:40
Yeah. I mean, that's the thing is I think Hollywood has been selling that story. I mean, for years. I mean, I talked to filmmakers all the time to think that they're going to make an independent film and send it to Sundance, and I'm telling them dude, even if you get into sun if you're the 100 if you're one of the 118 or 19 films that they accept, it doesn't mean what it used to. Don't get me wrong. If you get into Sundance, it's fantastic. It's great, but it's not a golden ticket like it was in the 90s.

Bradley Gallo 25:05
Now, it's give you a perfect example. I made a movie, it's called then that follow it went to 2009 teen or 2018 or 2019. So a very recent Sundance Film Festival. It has, you know, all really great actors, Olivia Coleman and Walton Goggins and you name it, there's Katelyn Deaver. I mean, there's a lot of a lot when a bunch of but this this film was made for, you know, under $2 million dollars, and independent and, and really well written and directed by to first time filmmakers. So exactly what your audience is dreaming about your gets in, does not have a bidding war. One company buys it for not too far off from what we spent, right, and then releases it. And then it didn't, it didn't have like a huge release, it had a very limited theatrical release, followed by the typical streamers and everything else. So it was playing on Showtime and so forth. good movie. Really good movie. I'm very excited about that film, actually. And it's launching a bit of careers around it some of the talent, but financially, we did our we did, okay, everybody made a little bit of money, a little bit of money, that but I have to go right into the next one to make some more because we're kind of like, you gotta hustle. I was even saying that on purpose. You gotta hustle more now than ever, to make the money that you need to sustain a lifestyle. And that's what and that's

Alex Ferrari 26:46
the message I've been trying to preach from the top of the mountains. I'm so glad you you know, someone like yourself is on the show telling people this because it's one thing hearing from me again and again and again. But I always love hearing it from people who are actively working and doing that's a perfect example. Like, oh, yeah, we just had a film. Exactly. Yeah. Just had a film in Sundance, it was a two mil undertone with first time directors, first time filmmakers. And this is a reality of what happened. Did we make some money? Yes. If that's all we did that year, would it have been good? Probably not. I would have probably had to do something else. Like we have to keep the ball going.

Bradley Gallo 27:19
We have to. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 27:20
yeah. It's a you know, it's not like, again, we'll

Bradley Gallo 27:24
go back to the 90s, where this myth began, where you go to Sundance, you get a buyout of a million or $2 million, the movie cost $50,000 to make and you're good. And you're good. Well, I'll tell you where the misconception is. Right? That and it's dangerous, because it's the streamers early on. And yes, the recent times of streamers, even in my year, the NFL there, which was I've been to Sundance a million times. But that's the first time I had a film in Sundance. So here's a guy who's been in the film business for a while, and it took me forever to get to Senator. So I finally get there. And it's like, you know, great. It's a wonderful experience. I'm so happy to have the film here. But I wasn't the film in the same year, late night came and sold for like, $20 million. Right? You know, another couple of films like Britain, all these movies, they they sold for a lot of money. But the misconception there is, who funded it? Where did that money go? And how much was the budget of that film? Right. So so there's a bit of that, that people don't think about, Oh, my God, they made an independent film for $20 million. The movie cost 15. And then there's 12 other people who are taking part of that five, right? So it's like, you don't really think you don't know you don't know the formulas of those movies. It's amazing that it got bought for that much that it went to Amazon, that it was a great movie, which it was. So something it's always as well with that they have, every movie is really actually very good for it's for whatever the genre is, or the person that's making it. They're good at finding talent, and it's wonderful experience. I can can't take them. But I want people's misconceptions to come down. The streamers are going to slow down on that. They're not going to

Alex Ferrari 29:03
well, they really have to do they already have they already have I mean, I

Bradley Gallo 29:06
don't go I mean, what hope owl but

Alex Ferrari 29:08
but I mean, look when I was I was in Sundance in 20. I don't know 2016 I think 2017 and at that year, Amazon said, If you got into Sundance, you have an open, we have an open bid, we'll buy your film for $150,000 if as long as you got accepted, and that was the thing that they were doing. Like if you don't get anybody else will buy $450,000 and then Netflix was buying a budget with like Netflix bought a ton of stuff. They don't do that anymore. Like you'll get the one or two three outliers

Bradley Gallo 29:32
to actually definitely Yeah, Netflix definitely does not they were not buying that year at all. But Amazon was going to the commies they bought like four comedies. You know if there's something they need, and it's really cool, and it has a lot of stars, they'll go and they'll pay big for it when they're ready.

Alex Ferrari 29:48
But that's the thing with some stars. He stars

Bradley Gallo 29:50
Yeah, yeah, no big stars, big stars, for sure. So yeah, it's it's a different beast. But yeah, it really comes down to it.

Alex Ferrari 29:58
Really you're saying late night me In a trip to late night, late night was with Emma Thompson and Mindy forgot her last name. And she that's over $20 million in a comedy. But that's, but that's not an indie.

Bradley Gallo 30:11
Look, it is not an indie. But it is it is. But it isn't. That's fair. There are big companies behind it. The agencies and the and the financial companies that Yeah, big. And then and then of course, it's really a good romantic comedy, which usually doesn't go to Sundance. Right. You know, there's that. And and then there's also the concept of, you know, what was the budget? I really don't even know what the budget was. But if the budget was 15, again, is 20 a huge deal? You know, you don't know who's taking that five.

Alex Ferrari 30:47
Yeah, I mean, we're exactly what kind of back end percentages that we got. And it's at the end of the day, it would just be like, yeah, we all pulled in 100 150,000 200,000 each, which sounds great. But, you know, if you live in LA, that's, you know, that's a month's pay. No, I'm joking.

Bradley Gallo 31:07
No, it's expensive to live here.

Alex Ferrari 31:08
Oh, it's, it's really it's ridiculous, sir, to live here. Now, let me ask you, what do you think the biggest mistake you see with first time filmmakers, you know, in either the pitching process, or working with them? Or, you know, just like pitfalls that you see, they should try to avoid. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Bradley Gallo 31:35
I mean, a lot of time, it's ego. That is usually the biggest one inability to compromise inability to, you know, adjust or see their, the script that they have, or that they wrote in another way, or make revisions or, you know, they get caught in that hole. Like, I don't want to be noted. Listen to too many podcasts about being No,

Alex Ferrari 31:57
no, no, I am not my podcaster I tell them, Look, I've had whole episodes dedicated to how to deal with notes. And you you're going to have to deal with notes like nice and but sometimes highly good. Really. Like they're not idiot executives. Like they everyone thinks like all this executive doesn't know storytelling,

Bradley Gallo 32:16
you know, they don't get to those jobs for being idiots. It's just, you know, there are times where there are executives who might have a note that doesn't totally make sense. I get that but then you explain it and and that executive understands the explanation. You know, and and I just think that's a mistake because you're getting somebody from an outside perspective, coming in and telling you from their experience, having know what gets green lights, what makes things work, right? or What even is right for story structure and character. Come on. So notes is an issue. The the attitude of uni me more than I need you. My genius,

Alex Ferrari 32:55
my genius, Sir, my shoes do not do not understand the presence, you're in my urine. My genius, I need three hours to tell the story. I need three hours to tell this story.

Bradley Gallo 33:06
And I just don't think anybody out there realizes at that earliest stage, that it's a collaborative process. Your movie at the end of the day is not necessarily because of you solely. It's because of your script supervisor, me pointing something out on the set your editor coming up with an ingenious way to fix a problem that you messed up in your shoot. Okay, you have to that's why I always think the film by Okay, I'll film by, no, it's not. It's everybody who was on that list at the end, that put that film together a film by the whole whole crew, you know what I mean? Sure, like, not a film by one person. So that that's where the ego starts. And you got to think about that. So more collaborative you can be the more taking on the best people the Best Cinematography the best for your budget that you can get, and then listening to them because you hired them because you think they're great. Yes, I am putting that together and then letting the producer sort of set the stage in the tone of the schedule, and the timing and the and the money and how that works. And then you just focus on your vision and getting everybody to just sort of to that. That's how you do it. That's the mistake of first time filmmakers

Alex Ferrari 34:20

if you can, I'll give you a little window into where my mindset was, when I first started my first production company when I was 22 was called a tour pictures. So that alone

Bradley Gallo 34:34

by the way, I am here because I had that energy and that ego at 21 to say, Well, I'm not going to be productive. So I get the aggressive I but there's a I did that in a collaborative way and anybody who worked on a film, that first film on the way I handled the process, and He always talks about it to this day. It's just it's a way of understanding and being appreciative of everybody else coming to the table to make That just happen. Not because you are the guy next Scorsese, you know or female.

Alex Ferrari 35:05

Yeah, so everyone's the next Scorsese Sofia Coppola or, or David Fincher, Chris Nolan. It's It's his Yeah.

Bradley Gallo 35:13

We can talk about people who are going to get there there are. But they come, they come once every five to 10 years. It's not necessarily you. And by the way, it's better to be you if somebody else is telling you that it is, rather than you telling us that it is.

Alex Ferrari 35:33

If you're telling yourself, you're telling everybody, you're great, as opposed to somebody other people telling you that you're great. There's a difference in that situation.

Bradley Gallo 35:40

You're the next AC, they will let you know.

Alex Ferrari 35:43

You don't have to tell anybody. Marty didn't go around saying hey, do you know who I am? I'm Martin Scorsese. And do you know what I'm doing? No, everyone else said it in the future. And then let's just hold on for that thought for a second everyone listening. Every great director that you know of Spielberg, Scorsese, Noland Fincher Kubrick, none of them went around with a billboard saying, Hey, I'm amazing. That generally is not what greatness does. greatness just works on the work and lets everybody else tell them how great they are.

Bradley Gallo 36:17

Yeah, and look, there's a huge push, which is long overdue in the industry, to get diversity and female directors going. And 50 to 60% of my films have been directed by females, not by just trying to be diverse, but by they sent a great script, or they pitched a great project, or I just thought this was a great movie to make or whatever it is. And so as long as you keep that in mind, yes, there is a significant way to go. I think it's like 4% of projects are directed by females, of course, that's in the film world of television was getting is much more progressive in that which is great. But you know, a great idea can come from anyone, any size, any color, any everything. And I think that's another mistake that I would say, first time producers make and just sort of how they were raised and how they were thought things were and because because, you know, when we mentioned greatness, we go see this building a little model. And we say essentially, we say, but it's hard to say, you know, you know, Catherine Hardwicke, or you know, Kathryn Bigelow, Kathryn Bigelow, or Catherine's, the Katherine's know, just anybody, like, it's hard to go and give you like a 10 person list. It's very done. That's, that's ridiculous. It is. So we have to get past that. And, and I'm hopeful that first time producers will will will, will be a part of that.

Alex Ferrari 37:48

Absolutely. Absolutely. Now, how can you in today's world mitigate risk when making a film? Like what what is there things that you can do to your project, in your opinion, that can help you if there is no guarantees anymore, but at least mitigate that risk a little bit, because making a feature film is probably one of the riskiest financial investments you can make. Unless you're unless you know, how to package how to do things. You have those output deals, you have those relationships, all that stuff, what can you do as an independent filmmaker to mitigate that risk?

Bradley Gallo 38:24

Well, if you don't have those relationships,

Alex Ferrari 38:27

just don't do it. Just run away

Bradley Gallo 38:29

your risk by keeping your budget as low as possible in that scenario. And to do that, you have to start with something very contained. You know, whenever you whenever you see the movies that are made by first time filmmakers, and they're just like in a room, or they're just in one location,

Alex Ferrari 38:45

or summer camp, or summer

Bradley Gallo 38:46

camp, exactly. You need to think contained to keep that budget down. If you have zero relationships. And then you relate you're, you're literally going to cold send to streamers, or festivals or producers to say look at my film, can you help me sell this? You know, that's one way. Another way is you make a short of that film, which that's been going on for since two decades. And I do have to say, it does work for me as a producer. I don't know about the streamers. But like if I get a short and then the script, and I love the short and I love the script, it certainly gives me the opportunity to say okay, you're a first time director, but I feel strongly about taking a chance on you. So just a heads up on that. And then the other thing is, you can actually it's not that hard to find out where who are and where are the the foreign sales companies. And what they do is they mitigate risk by selling pre selling your film. overseas. I did that on my first film, where they pre sell all the different territories ahead of time to get you contracts that you can then bank for your making of your movie. So if you made a $250,000 budget, but you got 100,000 by selling the world early You then have another 150,000 that you need to, to get for the US or for other remaining territories. That's another mitigation risk thing

Alex Ferrari 40:10

is there, it's pretty simple. It's pre sale still, as much as me I know before it was a lot bigger than it is now.

Bradley Gallo 40:16

No, it's it's definitely changed. And I know that everybody always talks about how that markets dead that markets dead. It's not

Alex Ferrari 40:21

dead, it's just it's on life support, it's on life support.

Bradley Gallo 40:26

It may be dead for the mid range films, right 12 to $15 million films or even the $5 million films. But when you're talking about $100,000, and you're going to, you know, making that $200,000 film, and you can sell $5,000 to each territory, it adds up very quickly. I'm just saying in terms of getting a movie made not about upside, you're losing the upside by giving that away, right, but you make your money, but you're making it right there, there's, that's another one. And then the last one is to is to actually, you know, have a script. And, and literally go into the streamers or go into the companies and get somebody to say we're gonna make this movie with you, which, you know, there are places like, you know, certain festivals enter a contest and or platforms that will do these types of things. And I've seen that, and I don't, I'm blanking on the names of them right now. But there are ways to do it that way. And you'd be surprised how many young people are in these streamers, they have so many employees. And you know, they're gonna hate me for this, but I'm just giving it away. Like I you could find them on LinkedIn. And so you see this, like, lower end, you know, just at a college executive that's, you know, in Netflix, and you can connect to them, or you know, them or you ask 25,000 people, you know, in your orbits and say, Does anyone know anyone who knows anyone who works in Netflix, or you have these Facebook's are like, connected to this guy who's who's at Facebook, it's like, there's a wait to get to these companies, through the youth, who now have to make a name for themselves in the company, who then found and discovered you with your great script that's going to be made for $20,000. And then they say, you know what, we'll give you a million dollars, go make this film, will you need it for our thriller silo? You know, yada, yada, yada, yada, or those young executives start moving up within Netflix, or Hulu or Amazon or whatever. And as they move up, they become more important and have more green lighting and set and you've been friends with them for 10 years. And now you have a new film or a new project or a new person to bring to the table. And I'm just saying or IP. I was a big time there was something called the Hollywood creative directory. Yeah, in the day, yeah. thick book, oh, yeah, to 300 names. And I called every one of them for any project, before I would fly out to LA and then meet with the five that actually answered me. Do you know what I mean? Like, it's people used to write letters in the old days, or before email. So you still have to do that just on whatever the new version of that is. You have to and the new version of that is LinkedIn, Facebook, you know, you know, whatever connection, I mean, look, I've,

Alex Ferrari 43:09

I've tweeted people and they've got I've connected with people, because I tweeted them, it's I'm a grown man saying the word tweet, it's just it, but it works.

Bradley Gallo 43:19

I mean, even on Bumble these days, you can probably see what they're doing and, and figure it out. But anyway, the point being, that you have to be aggressive, you have to care about this. And you can't think that it's about rich and famous. And if you can get that out of your system. You'll get there if you're really if you're really persistent, and generally competent, and somewhat

Alex Ferrari 43:39

count. And Nice. Nice, just nice. Nice, huge.

Bradley Gallo 43:44

It's huge. attitude. humbleness. Yes. Oh, that is so huge. Let everybody else, you know, help you along the way, because you're just a good person who's talented. But that's the way to go.

Alex Ferrari 43:56

Now, how is How is COVID affecting you right now? How do you think it's affecting the business currently? Where do you see the business? Because I know no one has a crystal ball. But I'd love to hear your thoughts on in the next six months, in the next year. What's gonna happen? Yeah, no, it's

Bradley Gallo 44:15

a good point. It's actually already affecting the industry already changing the industry in dramatic ways. We see the studios are making different types of deals of when theatrical starts and when, you know, universal afterwards that universal do that though, AMC and all that it's all ever changing. And the reason why we don't have a crystal is because we don't know how many people are going to go back to the theaters when it's all over, which by the way, is probably after November 3. But once all November 3 comes and they announced this miraculous vaccine and the miraculous treatments. You know, people go back and will they go back to the level they were before and does something like attendant does something like a Milan or whatever the new thing That comes out, you know, quiet place to do something, make everybody go out, get comfortable and feel good. And then that's about the capacity, they're only opening 30% capacity. Will they open 100% capacity? And we're losing streams wired on. All that. Yeah, screens. All that. So my answer about COVID is we in the beginning, the first three months of code, we're just like, Alright, we'll just focus on development, right development, development and get the PPP load, hold ourselves over. We're not in production, that's okay. We had a movie in post called wild mountain time, which is, you know, hopefully, eventually coming in. And then we were focused on Green Hornet development, we're focused on movies that we were going to shoot in the next couple of, you know, months, but now we'll just push. So everything just pushed a bit. And we were able to hold and sustain. Now, if after November 3, this still sticks around in a long term kind of way that isn't solved visa v these these options. I think a lot of companies are going to go down a lot. And, and that's going to be a whole new world. And even as small as our company is, and as low as our overhead is, we will we will struggle if it continues, or we can't go actually into production. And the reason why indie film is affected the most. And I love how everybody was like, well, indie films are going to go first because they'll be able to valve less crew, and they'll be no, that's not how it works. What works is the big boys go first, because they can insure themselves, they can pay for that extra PP, they have, you know, huge amounts of money that they can they can set up their franchises and shooting weird locations and, and make it all work locked down a studio that they own. Right, all that stuff is going to happen before indie, indie has to like, can't take a risk that one person gets COVID or one person gets something. It shuts us down for a week and we lose half of our budget where we're at a risk for that. So I think we're we're slowly trying to figure out how we can get into production, as Indies. But most of its focused on development, just to see what the crystal ball brings. I really don't have any answers. Other than I know that the streamers are getting more powerful. And the big studios are going to have to either buy or merge or create their own streaming systems to keep those eyeballs.

Alex Ferrari 47:18

Yeah, I mean, that's what I mean Disney, what did they have 60 70 million now subscribers, they did that less than a year, it took Netflix forever to get that I mean,

Bradley Gallo 47:26

HBO still Disney has a built in though. Brent biji has a built in like guarantee that they were going to be able to be successful. And I never doubted that. Walmart is interesting if they come into this space, because they have a huge following that they can really work. And of course, Amazon. Netflix actually although huge and not going anywhere. They're not tied to other things yet. And it'll be interesting to see if they like Amazon's tied to groceries or, or tied to books or identity or just selling they're

Alex Ferrari 47:59

not diversified. They're not diversified at all.

Bradley Gallo 48:01

That'll be interesting. Do they get acquired? Do they acquire? Do they start to diversify in some way half. That'll be very, very interesting to see what happens there. And then the middle, the little ones like the peacocks and the when they're starting to build the HPA axis as they're starting to build. You know, it seems like as you can see with HBO Max, which is very interesting. It was really I knew it right away as soon as they named it HBO Max, I was like, You know what, HBO is going to get folded into a climax, of course, HBO max thing, and he was gonna fold it. And and it's already happening. So. So peacocks might have to do something similar to what I mean, how are they gonna, you know, fold in an

Alex Ferrari 48:40

apple and there's, I just literally no, I'm behind the times. I just got Hulu, like, a month or two ago, like for the first time ever? And I'm like at Disney though. No, no, I just got the Disney. I just got Disney. I got Disney A while ago. I got it. But before I was I have kids.

Bradley Gallo 48:56

So get a package for all three. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 48:58

but I don't watch ESPN. So it's like it's a little bit cheaper. I don't know if it's cheaper. I don't know how it is I have to actually look that might be Who knows?

Bradley Gallo 49:06

It might be free.

Alex Ferrari 49:07

It might be free, right? But I just got Hulu and I was like, oh my god. There's so much content, so much TV and movies. And I was blown away at HBO because it Hulu has the best of everybody. It's got a little bit of this, a little bit of that. A little bit of this network, a little bit of that network. It is massive. So the whole streaming, the whole streaming wars as they say, I still feel there's three big players who are sitting on the sidelines with a lot of cash, who's going to come in and gobble up some people Apple, Facebook and Google and they all have the money and they all want to get into this space because they do have diversified product lines and having a Netflix like if Apple which they've already been talking to Netflix, if Apple bought Netflix.

Bradley Gallo 49:52

I mean no i mean it's it's such a juggernaut. Anybody who buys Netflix is gonna be a juggernaut.

Alex Ferrari 49:57

Right exactly, but Apple specifically Because of their infrastructure and because of what they do, I mean, imagine you buy an iPhone and you get Netflix for free like it just because it's like Amazon.

Bradley Gallo 50:09

But to get back to the COVID of it all, do you think that everybody's gonna want to stay home and just watch content all day? Like, I feel like there has to be a backlash that when this is over, or we're past or people just say whatever, like, we're good. People want experiences, they go, they love to travel, if you've been told they can't, right? They love to go out to the movies on dates and do things and like they love their cars, or I'm just how I just don't know if the Add home experience will last like that, if it will be the the opposite black backlash scenario? I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 50:45

I personally think that I can, from what I'm seeing, I think that it will won't ever get back to where it was, in my opinion, I

Bradley Gallo 50:54

don't know expecting. Yeah, I

Alex Ferrari 50:56

don't think you'll ever get back to January 2020. I those numbers I don't think will happen again. Because we're losing theaters, we're losing screens in that capacity within those theaters, once we open up, so it's gonna take time to get them the trend was going down. The only thing holding the cards, that house of cards up was Marvel, like, if you imagine taking Marvel out of the box office for the last 10 years. What do we have like Marvel is basically Disney has been holding up the theatrical experience between all their brands, really. And then you have some universe with Fast and Furious, maybe a James Bond here and there. But all these tentpoles is the majority of them has been Disney, Warner Brothers and universal. Those are the three big boys that basically held it all up. I don't know, if I think people will go back to theaters. I want to go back. I was attending an IMAX. I absolutely want to see that. But I'm not probably doing that this year for sure. And might be till next summer till I feel real comfortable. And I think people are I think a lot of people will rush out to go back to the theaters. But I think a lot of them are going to stay home because now they're used to it. And there's and let's not say anything. The contents pretty amazing.

Bradley Gallo 52:07

The TV shows our conference. Amazing.

Alex Ferrari 52:10

It's the stuff that we have it accessible to us at any moment. I mean, we've got

Bradley Gallo 52:16

a one thing that doesn't work is I am not gonna be able to assist nobody in the middle of this country or even in the middle class of this country. I was gonna be able to sustain on having Hulu, Showtime, Amazon.

Alex Ferrari 52:29

Oh, no, you got to pick and choose. You got to pick and choose.

Bradley Gallo 52:32

Yeah, but that sucks. Because I want let's say somebody says like, I want to know what's the best content, right? So if somebody says to me, okay, Hulu has got the best show on TV, but I don't know, I'm now going to become a member just to see the show and then take it. Like that doesn't work. There has to be a scenario where, okay, tonight. I just want to buy that show on Hulu. I'm not gonna be a member of you. Because I'm already doing this. But I'll give you $15 to have the show. We're because nowadays you just bought the DVDs of the set. Yeah, but the show didn't matter what.

Alex Ferrari 53:01

Yeah, I feel you. I don't think that'll happen. I feel you though. I wish Yeah, cuz I like I wanted to see Handmaid's Tale for a while. And now I've watched it. I'm watching it now. But before I was like, I didn't have Hulu. So I did watch it. And I you know, like I'm

Bradley Gallo 53:15

weird, though, that there's a demand for your show. And you can't find another pricing structure that allows me to, to see that show. It's like this way you should say about the theaters needs to be variable pricing, I would hope that that comes through, where if you go to see a demo that follow, it's only $6. But if you go to see a Marvel movie, it's $25 I'm totally up for that. You know what I mean? Like that. That is another way to drive people back into the theaters is variable pricing. So it should be the same thing. If I want to watch a show on Hulu, but I don't want to be a member of Hulu cuz I can't afford as a middle class person. I have to have Disney and I have to have whatever and it's like boom I can't have a $300 a month of all this.

Alex Ferrari 53:54

I mean but you're talking crazy talk sir. You're talking crazy talking. You mean you you want the entire industry to to come together and create a pay structure with multiple different companies multiple different business models. It's

Bradley Gallo 54:09

I thought we were in a dream man.

Alex Ferrari 54:12

No circus. I don't know about you. We're in a nightmare in 2020 I have no idea it's definitely the worst year

Bradley Gallo 54:17

ever. I often go through my own personal life will tell you how bad this year was was the worst year ever.

Alex Ferrari 54:22

I mean it's it's horrible. It's a horrible horribly and people like I can't wait for 2021 I'm like don't you don't know. You don't know 2021 can make 2020 look like 2019

Bradley Gallo 54:33

Do you remember when the year 2000 y2k pours the world was gonna blow up 20 years later.

Alex Ferrari 54:41

I mean, that is seriously That's exactly right. You're absolutely right. Because in I remember y2k was ridiculous. I actually watched that that made for TV movie The y2k movie. Oh, it was great playing for fall in flames were falling down. The visual effects were horrible. Oh is great, then agewell doesn't age. Well. That movie. But, but that was the people were losing their minds back then. And now 20 years later, this is exactly what's, what's going on. And I wanted to ask you, do you have any advice for attaching bankable talent, to our project base, having an amazing script, and a lot of money in the bank, besides those two things,

Bradley Gallo 55:23

partner up with the managers, the managers or producers. So if there's a manager of that bankable star, he or she would love to produce the film. So if you, if you if you, I find it interesting for somebody who doesn't have any connection doors to try to figure out how to get stars attached, you know, you have to do a couple of things. One, you have to, you know, start to network and a level that you say, Okay, this measure reps like 10 really well known actors, if I manage if I can get them a couple of good scripts, and they like them for even if it's one of their stars, that sort of like, you know, down right now that comes back, you know, there's tons of those and when john travolta went and came back, and when Michael Keaton went and came back, like they, you know, find the Michael Keaton and the john travolta is before you know, Pulp Fiction and whatever. And, and, and put them in your movies, but the manager is trying to get them work and needs to find something really great. And, and let that manager produce with you so that they feel comfortable handling the star. And, and at the same time, you get to have a movie with a banker. So I think that's another option to think about. Besides that, you know, your stunts. You know, people do stunts all the time you, you and then all of a sudden, the star finds you because they want to work with you, because you did some crazy stunt that involved the viral video that shows a good heart that this person was trying to do something like I've seen that, you know, somebody that you've never even heard of.

Alex Ferrari 56:52

We like the Fresh Prince, The Fresh Prince, the video that the serious, Fresh Prince trailer, and then Will Smith like, and by the way, that does actually look quite incredible.

Bradley Gallo 57:04

No, no, I know. But it's constantly, it's weird, little like things like that happen, they get viral, and they get called, and they get brought in and all of a sudden, they're there said like, Look, I'll do I'll do, I'll be in your short to make sure to this. And I'll be in your short, and that'll help you and lift you up in so many ways. And, you know, I think there's a bit of that going on. And then it's again, there's always the go find out what restaurant they're at, and, you know, pop the script into the back of the car. And I've heard all those stories, too. No, I think it's hard. There's no real, real answer. There's two others working for companies that do it and, you know, be you know, be in the mailroom as a young person in one of the big management companies, and you'll interact with stars, and you'll learn what people want. And you'll become friends with those managers and those agents. That's the barrier. That's the first barrier. There's no miracle beyond that, you know, right

Alex Ferrari 57:55

place, right time, right project.

Bradley Gallo 57:57

Yeah, or really good script gets around town, if it's really good.

Alex Ferrari 58:01

And since you're producing you do see the entire process from development all the way to final output and distribution. Is there a part of the distribution process you wish could change?

Bradley Gallo 58:16

A part of the distribution process? Sure. I mean, absolutely, the answer would be all those fees that they put

Unknown Speaker 58:26

that they take off, the top of the tickets

Bradley Gallo 58:28

are down here. And that by the time as they spend on PNA, right, your number gets pushed down. And but the movies doing better, but they have to get their pa and their percentages, and you just keep going further down. I would I would change the structure of where, where the producers can, you know, get some money out of the distribution agreements have gotten to a level that even I think the distributors are tired of. It could be 80 to 150 pages, just the distribution agreements. So you know, that process of precedent I, we can only do what we've done before, is archaic at times. And I do believe that even the distributor, probably frustrated by it, but it's sort of it needs to needs to change a bit. So that would be the part of the process. The other part would be a lot of times, the distributors have have to they're spending a lot of money. So they have to blanket sort of everything. They have to get billboards, and they have to get ads on TVs and they have to, instead of trying to, I guess revolutionize a system that goes directly to the consumer. It's it seems to be better for them to blanket the world, in essence, or the United States on all types of advertising platforms, including digital to get the attention for their trailers, their movies, their posters, and And it would be nice for somebody to come up with a system that sort of gives data to it. That isn't streaming. I mean, obviously, Netflix has figured out a streaming way to do it. But a data system that helps them use the money in a more specific way. So they instead of paying $30 million to or $100 million to release a movie, you can spend less and get to more people. And that's going to come through technological advancements in programs and software's.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:26

And I think after COVID COVID is going to I think I've been saying for a while I feel that Rome is burning in the distribution side of the world and in the space because the system is I think you're saying archaic, I agree with you. A lot of these companies are going to go down and

Bradley Gallo 1:00:41

that they know that they know it's that way. And and the question is, are they which ones are being inventive enough to to survive the change that's happening so fast every month? It's a new change.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:53

Yeah, exactly. And I think after the after the out of the rubble, something new has to come. Something new hasn't come yet, because I've been I've been at these film markets. And I mean, from three years ago to 2019 film, like I went to AFM I was like, This is fairly different than it was AFM is extremely different. Do you go to like those film markets,

Bradley Gallo 1:01:18

I'm actually on their panels, I actually enjoy doing the panels for them. But you know, it's a different type, what in the old days, it would be much more like very industry focused. Now, I think it's a very much independent filmmaker. I guess the word would be like fans, or educational, we're trying to break in educational, it's going more in that direction. As opposed to the industry saying I need to be at de FM specifically to do the buying and selling. I mean, they do it. There's tons of it, all the booths are there. It's wonderful. But again, even the foreign sales market, so if it wouldn't change, I'm sure AFM and all these foreign sales markets are doing a lot more virtual stuff now have to and that saves a lot of companies money because they would have to fly out get the suites spend a ton of money to be a part of that process that they have in their budget every year. And now they can't spend that as much anymore. So instead of spending like literally like 50 to 100 or even three $400,000 per company to come out here to go to Cannes right to do that. You're telling me I saved a couple 100 grand and I'm virtual and I made the same sales like there's going to be a bit of that they'll send maybe one representative instead of the whole company now is what I'm betting but don't worry

Alex Ferrari 1:02:33

but they'll but they'll still charge the filmmaker full full monty don't worry about that that's on the on the expense sheets are still going to be that three or $400,000 in expenses even though they went virtual but that's another conversation for another day.

Bradley Gallo 1:02:48

Now what now what not the world itself set it up where that they needed to be. It's just I don't know how to change the model. They have to change the model. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:58

Now what what projects do you have coming up?

Bradley Gallo 1:03:01

So I have a movie that's in post. We're in the music elements right now called wild mountain time. It starts Emily Blunt, Jon Hamm, Jamie Dornan and Christopher Walken.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:12

So you guys you guys ever heard of fantastic.

Bradley Gallo 1:03:15

It's awesome. It's really well done. It's written and directed by john Patrick Shanley, who is a famous playwright also wrote and directed doubt which won an Oscar for Viola Davison and Moonstruck, Moonstruck which won the Oscar for him for writing. And, and he's, he's, he's an amazing romantic fairy tale, comedy that is pushing all of these actors to different, you know, muscles of their own acting. And, and it's sweet. And it's family oriented. There's not one curse in the movie. And, and it's lovely, and in a time that we're dealing with sort of nothing but morose news coming at us. And so I think it's gonna play extremely well and sort of break out. And hopefully even for award season, because I think some of these actors have done an incredible job awards wise, if possible. You never know what that again, that's about timing.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:13

And when is this going to get released this year?

Bradley Gallo 1:04:16

So we're, we're, we're debating it, it's already got its distributor, which was meant to be theatrical, which is Bleecker Street. And the goal was to, you know, do this in in the fall, but now we're talking about possibly, maybe the first of the next year because they've extended the award season to like February. So like, you can qualify if you put out a movie January in February. So there's talk of that sort of feel out what's going to happen and can we release and are they 100% capacity, because a movie like this one, we make independent films, and they go out and sort of a build the old Fox Searchlight method, you build like 300 screens and then you go to 500 screens and you go to 1000 you build if it's working. Well, you don't want to do that with 30% Pass it, you want to do that with 100%? passing? Because you'll never know if it's really building. But so we have to make a decision, you know, and how we're going to do it. And, you know, there's obviously talk of things that are like that are other avenues besides theatrical? So we'll see. I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:17

Yes, it's a weird and wacky world. So

Bradley Gallo 1:05:20

that's, that's me. And then we're working on green on it all the time. You know, we're in talks with a fantastic a list writer, who will impress when, when whenever announced, and and we're going to try to, you know, go from the writer to attaching a director and then get some cast and build that the goal for that would be shooting somewhere in 2021. And maybe at the end to release in 2022. But you know, all that stuff could get pushed, we don't know. But it's a big property. We're going to reinvent. Yeah, it's not going to be in this Seth Rogen bench. It's not gonna be as dark is a dark night, but it's going to be what is right to that brand. And you know, thinking more like bondish tones.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:04

Yeah, because that that film is, you know, for better or worse, it was introduced to the world in the 60s with that, that can't be show with Bruce Lee, which was the highlight of the show was Bruce Lee. button. And then Seth was just super campy as well was kind of like a fun, funny film. But I would be interesting to see how that could be turned into a more serious James Bond esque,

Bradley Gallo 1:06:29


Alex Ferrari 1:06:30

style gold style thing. And

Bradley Gallo 1:06:33

yes, it's when we pick the right writer for that. But But no, we're going to do it as a two hander so it's going to be not the driver. Kato No, has to be the B it's actually called the Green Hornet and Kato. And so we are going to have it as a two hander, we're gonna have an interesting new sort of storyline. And we will build it for generations so that it can be, you know, multiple sequels.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:59

Absolutely. And it's, as they always say, sequels baby sequels, lots and lots as far

Bradley Gallo 1:07:04

as it's coming back to Universal universal had at one point. And so universal has been super supportive and extremely rolling out like every red carpet, you know, going after the best of the best for this movie. It's a top priority for them. And, and we're, we're so happy to have our team there.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:21

Yeah, I'm sure they want another IP that they can be you can make 1212 movies from

Bradley Gallo 1:07:27

Well, you think about it, they don't they're not like Disney is connected to marvel and Warner Brothers connected to TC and so they have the monsters universe. But in terms of the superhero stuff, and what we like about Green Hornet that's so great, is it's not a superpower type of figure, this is more of a real man superhero than it is of the spectacular, you know, big time powerful, effective, more

Alex Ferrari 1:07:49

james bond is more James.

Bradley Gallo 1:07:51

I think that's what I'm excited about. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:53

very cool. Now, I'm gonna ask you a couple questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Bradley Gallo 1:08:01

I think I gave a lot of advice in this whole thing. So far. They're asking for a new piece of advice, or

Alex Ferrari 1:08:07

just a specific.

Bradley Gallo 1:08:09

If you're trying to be a filmmaker, you need to understand every single part of the process. If I were you, I would be an actor, I would be a writer, I'd be a director, I'd be a producer, I would go and put the lights up, I would learn how to move to be the grip. Like those things that they do in the film schools are for a reason. And well, you're the grip on somebody else's film. And then you're the so like, do that if you can't afford film school, and you can't afford to make a movie, try to like take little jobs and be in the construction side of the production design, like learn what everything's going on. Because no matter whether you're the producer, the director, the writer, the actor, you will now have an appreciation for the whole process, and how much hard work goes into it so that when you're talking to them, they're not low level on the totem pole. They are a job you've done that you understand. And I think that's the best way to start.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:55

What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life,

Bradley Gallo 1:09:00

or in life? Man, the lesson that took the longest to learn in the film business was that nothing is instant and that it takes for ever I projects on my development projects that have been there for 1012 years. No, still, we're still at and so I mean, that when you're young, yeah, we just go make a film and I went and made it and it happens. And as you progress in your career, that that doesn't happen and and to stay humble about that is really hard. And a lesson in life. That what was it? What was the first part

Alex Ferrari 1:09:40

it was the longest? The lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Bradley Gallo 1:09:45

Well in life, every time I say I'm not going to do something, so I'm not going to move to the valley. I'm not gonna I'm not gonna go into TV. I'm not gonna whenever I say I'm not going to ends up not only happening ends up being The thing that I should have been doing a long time ago, yeah, never gonna move to LA, whatever you're fighting internally in your life that you're like, I'm never gonna do that. But you really, probably should, or really want to. I say do that as soon as you possibly can, as opposed to nice. So it's inside your body, you feel this, like internal struggle, you're stopping some flow to actually open up your life. And I can't tell you how often I have handcuffed myself still to this day, on stuff like that. I'll give you a perfect example. I've always wanted to do a podcast. I feel like I'd be pretty good at it. But you're fantastic, sir. You're fantastic. But I have this internal struggle and never actually do it. Because I'm like, just can't seem to get over that hump. And of course, there's time management issues for me. But the truth is, whatever that is, that is, is internally like, I'm not going to do this, but I really want to just open up and do it and stop being afraid. Kill fear, go for it, and do it as fast as you can. Because the older you get, the harder that is to do. The harder to take those risks. Remove those barriers. And and I can't employ that enough. That's life and film.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:18

Ops eight preach, sir, preach. That is that is some of the best advice. And after doing over 400 episodes of this show, probably one of the best answers to that question I've had and is on the show, because it is so so true. It took me forever to go out to LA from Florida. I was in Florida, and it took forever. And I might look to my girlfriend, who's not my wife, I go look, we have no kids. We do it now. Or the SEC if we if we it's gonna be harder every year we wait is going to be a bit harder to do it. And absolutely great answer. Great answer. And the toughest question of all sir, three of your favorite films of all time. Ah, I

Unknown Speaker 1:11:59

hate that.

Bradley Gallo 1:12:03

But I'm gonna name a film that nobody talks about it from. Guys don't say this is their favorite film. But it's in my top five. I have a top five and I'm sure this is in my top five. Titanic. I'd love to tell you why. Love, don't talk about it as a producer, at that time, making that movie for $200 million, making it feel and historical with a love story and action and special effects. All it was it was incredible. And it deserved to be at that time the greatest, you know selling film of all time. Titanic baffles me. I see the only movie I've ever seen in the theater. With the ticket for the movie theater five times. I mean, go back to see our movie five times. I was that was a big one. Goodfellas is a huge one. I can't stop watching Goodfellas. I'm Italian. But I'm also a Scorsese fan. You know that that's a near perfect movie. I wrote a dissertation on it. Like I'm that's a big movie. For me. goodwill hunting was a huge movie for me because at the time that those guys were 25 I think I was similar to their age. And they had written a movie won an Oscar. It had all the elements. I want Robin Williams doing a non comedy. You know the struggle of a real life person in that world. I just love that movie. It reminds me of the Dead Poets Society and the standby movies and this kind of genre that I love so good wanting was up there. Cinema paradisio one job fair. A fantastic film. Anyone who's a film lover loves that movie. Again, Italian but just just just sweet with it with a mentoree grandfather he rolls and the kid in the love of film. I mean, I even if you're not a film person cinema paradisio is just like, bam, but of course, there's incredible movies. Sure, sure, sure. Better than these three that I probably mentioned, but I just you know, I can't you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:14:00

those are the ones I hate. It's it's that comes to mind what

Bradley Gallo 1:14:03

affected me. It's what affected me during that. That's,

Alex Ferrari 1:14:06

that's the question I've had. I've had, I've had

Bradley Gallo 1:14:09

big time to make that that question is to say, what three films are the ones that affected you the most, as opposed to say the greatest to you of all time? Just an idea just

Alex Ferrari 1:14:18

I you know, I mean, after after 400 episodes, I might have to switch you right? You might have a bit but I've actually had people come on. I've actually had people that are big time filmmakers and they'll say the weirdest movies I'm like, really like like, I would think you would say Goodfellas or you know Seven Samurai or Citizen Kane or what have you. And they'll say like you know them Yeah, but like I had one guy said into the dragon and I'm like really into the dragon like I love into dragon Enter the Dragon. And I was like, I'd be I love to dragon but on the scope of like the greatest films of all time. It's It's wonderful, but it's from this from this person. I was like, Wow, he says, I saw when I was a kid and in fact To me,

Bradley Gallo 1:15:01

it affected me exactly. That way. I'll tell you a movie that affected me. But I don't consider the greatest film of all time, but I can't stop referring to endorse talking about a movie that nobody's seen. I'd be shocked if you saw it. It's called stir of echoes.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:16
Yes. The one with Kevin Bacon.

Yeah. And it was directed and it was written and directed by David Co Op.

Bradley Gallo 1:15:24
Yeah. David cap, right. Yeah, yeah.It's did no business so nobody knew about it. But like, I had that DVD I had this special edition. Just the end Get Shorty. Another one that I could not get off of get you a just a comedy side of like, you know, the john travolta being like, sort of that mafia type. It was just weird. I just had I just had Barry on I had Barry sonnenfeld on the show the other day.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:51
Yeah. And and we talked about it. Sure. I mean, that's one of my favorite interviews of all time.So he's so good. It was like, first 10 minutes, just the first 10 minutes alone is how he started off as an adult film. cinematographer. And that's the first 10 minutes and the most

Bradley Gallo 1:16:09
graphics. Well, that's everybody knows that about him. The great

Alex Ferrari 1:16:12
most graphic conversation about a porn set I've ever heard in my entire life. Within the first 10 within the first day, he goes, how hard you want to be Go Go bury. You can go as hard as you like, sir. Okay. And he lays in within the first 10 minutes. I'm like, this is gonna be an amazing conversation. And we did to our conversation. such an amazing guy. I just love talking.

Bradley Gallo 1:16:36
Listen to that one. That's awesome. That honor that fun. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:16:40
Yeah, it's available. I'll send you a link. I'll send you a link. But listen, we can keep talking for at least another two hours. Bradley but I appreciate you coming on the show. I appreciate your your time and and you dropping amazing knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Thank you so much for doing what you do. And I look forward to seeing all your projects.

Bradley Gallo 1:16:57
All right. Thank you so much. I appreciate it be well.

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BPS 245: How to Get One Million Followers in 30 Days with Brendan Kane

Ever wanted to know how to build a large following on social media? Today’s guest Brendan Kane was able to get over 1 million followers in 30 days. His new book, One Million Followers: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days breaks down how he was able to achieve such a feat. Brendan Kane is a growth hacker for Fortune 500 corporations, brands and celebrities. He thrives on helping brands systematically find and engage new audiences who reward relevant content, products and services with their attention and spend.

Over 60 billion online messages are sent on digital platforms every day, and only a select few succeed in the mad scramble for customer attention.

This means that the question for anyone who wants to gain mass exposure for their transformative content, business, or brand or connect with audiences around the globe is no longer if they should use social media but how to best take advantage of the numerous different platforms.

How can you make a significant impact in the digital world and stand out among all the noise?

Digital strategist and “growth hacker” Brendan Kane has the answer and will show you how—in 30 days or less. A wizard of the social media sphere, Kane has built online platforms for A-listers including Taylor Swift and Rihanna. He’s advised brands such as MTV, Skechers, Vice and IKEA on how to establish and grow their digital audience and engagement. Kane has spent his career discovering the best tools to turn any no-name into a top influencer simply by speaking into a camera or publishing a popular blog—and now he’ll share his secrets with you.

In One Million Followers, Kane will teach you how to gain an authentic, dedicated, and diverse online following from scratch; create personal, unique, and valuable content that will engage your core audience; and build a multi-media brand through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and LinkedIn.

Enjoy my conversation with Brendan Kane.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 1:16
Now guys, today on the show, we have author and growth hacker Brendan Kane, whose new book 1 million followers How do I build a massive social media following in 30 days is taking the world by storm, especially the social media world and marketing world. He was able to generate 1 million followers on Facebook and Instagram within 30 days. So we go deep into how the heck he did this, his strategies, and how you can use these strategies to help sell your movie and how to build a following for your film. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Brendan Kane. I'd like to welcome to the show Brendan Kane, thank you so much for being on the show, my friend.

Brendan Kane 3:11
Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Alex Ferrari 3:12
I am a big fan of your book, The 1 million followers. It's It's awesome. And I'm so glad someone wrote it. Now, first off, how did you gain 1 million followers in 30 days.

Brendan Kane 3:29
So first off, it wasn't like I just woke up one day and I'm like I'm I'm like without any experience or testing and design, we're just gonna do this I, I inspect. First off, I've been in the digital space for about 15 years. And I have in terms of how I generate a million followers specifically, I spent about three years building a set of my own, like testing methodologies on top of Facebook and Instagram that would allow me to test content at scale. And really learn what content formats themes and stories work so that you can generate growth in any area, whether that's lead generation traffic, and in this case, followers. And the basic system that I used was to to test as many variations of content in real time to really understand what it would take to get somebody to perform a specific action, in this case following an account. So I had tested over 5000 variations of content in that 30 day time period. Now that sounds like a huge daunting task. And they're like this guy's insane. He probably didn't sleep. he hopped on caffeine. But it really I spent maybe an hour and a half a day on it. It's not as daunting of a task as it seems when you understand kind of the system and the methodology. And the way that I did it for Facebook is different than I did it for Instagram. So with Facebook specifically, I'll just start with that because that was the 30 day time period. So what I did is I leverage the Facebook app advertising platform, which extends to Instagram and WhatsApp and messenger as not an advertising tool or media buying tool which people normally use it for, which is it's remarkable at that. But I use it as a market research tool to be able to see content of different people from different backgrounds in different parts of the world, and see the response rate of what would happen, and that would fuel my content strategy, both in the short and the long term. So when I talk about 5000, variations, it wasn't 5000 pieces of content, like there's two to a variation, there's five elements. So you have the creative itself, the headline, the demographics, the interest level, what like what they're interested in products or services, and then the geolocation. So if you take one piece of content and swap out a headline, that's one variation. Or you can swap out the demographics and interest a geolocation, all of them are interchangeable. So that's where you can take one piece of content and essentially test it 100 to 200 different ways. And what it does is it gives you more chances to win and more chances to learn. So every night at midnight, I would schedule tasks between 30 to 300 variations of content, when I would wake up in the morning, I would measure the results, see what have worked or what had not worked. And the things that were working, I would feel more of that the things that weren't working, I would figure out what behind it wasn't working, and take those learnings to apply it to the next test and the next test. So that's how I did it for Facebook over that 30 day period. And then Instagram, I had to develop a different system for that. Because the advertising platform doesn't really allow that much for follower growth, the way that we found for for rapid follower growth as you distribute content and other channels and drive traffic back versus Facebook, you can push content out and just generate exponential growth that way. So with Instagram, we still use this kind of rapid iteration process. But the way that we do is we have a partner account with 3 million followers. And we see content out to that channel test and measure the effectiveness of that piece of content to convert back to followers to an account. And then once we found a winning variation, then we have a we have about 18 different accounts that have large followings that we can syndicate that content out to to to scale and drive that traffic back.

Alex Ferrari 7:20
Okay, so it's kind of like creating a network of you within yourself that you are able to syndicate throughout your own your own war, your own ecosystem, if you will.

Brendan Kane 7:29
Absolutely. And but at the end of the day it comes down to content is, for example, we have a partner that has 17 million followers on Instagram. And if you post a piece of content that hasn't been tested, it's not really optimized. Even though you're posting an account with 17 million followers, it can only generate like two or 300 followers. versus if you have an optimized piece of content that has been designed with this in mind that has been tested and validated. It could generate anywhere from like five to 10 to 15,000 followers off that single post. So it's really, people get caught up in this idea of Oh, if I just get in front of a bunch of people, I'm going to be successful. That's not the case. Like, like, you know, in the film industry is these films spend 10s of millions of dollars getting a trailer out there that doesn't guarantee that people are going to go see the movie because of the trailers not good. It doesn't matter. The same principles apply here in generating followers or any of that having success in any aspect of digital is like you have to optimize that content to to a point that's going to motivate and inspire people to click that follow button.

Alex Ferrari 8:35
Now what advice would you have for filmmakers or independent filmmakers trying to generate some sort of attention? Or for them to actually have them click or rent or watch something on Facebook or Instagram? Like what what advice would you have for for filmmakers just starting out?

Brendan Kane 8:51
There's a few things that I would look at. I mean, first off, this is common knowledge because every major movie studio does this. But the first three to five seconds of the video is critically important especially when you're talking about Facebook or Instagram where 70% of the video is watched with the sound up as you're swiping up the feeds. And that's why the studio's think it has been like five or six years now put a three to five second trailer before the trailer plays. So really understanding that important the critical importance of that first three to five seconds of your video to get people in to watch for a longer period of time. I think secondarily is really knowing your audience is who is that core audience that you're going after? What is it that is going to capture their attention what what some historical data really look at trailers of movies that have worked in the past and also look at trailers of movies that haven't worked in the past it really decide or really determine what you can take away because I think some filmmakers they just look at it from from the actual movie of what worked and more importantly is actually look at the trailer of what worked because the truck the trailer is really What's driving success? I will film now, yes, there are films that are just so good that start on a limited release. And that word of mouth will carry them. But those films are so far and few between majority of the time it's the trailer that's selling the movie. So really understand and studied the trailers of films that have worked or have not worked? And what are the key elements that they used in those trailers to attract that attention? secondarily, it's testing like test different trailers. I mean, the studios do this all the time. But you should do this yourself is test different three second intros, test different clips, different ways of telling that story. I think it's hard. And I recognize it's hard for independent filmmakers, to create variations of trailers, but you're really limiting yourself if you're only putting one trailer or one teaser out in the world and expecting that just to perform. So I think that that's a good place to really start from a content perspective.

Alex Ferrari 10:59
And when you're saying testing, please explain to the audience that testing is something that could be done extremely affordably, I mean, for a few bucks, you know, 510 1520 bucks, you can do a real quick test to see if something's gonna play or not correct?

Brendan Kane 11:12
Absolutely. I mean, first off with the Facebook and Instagram advertising platform, which I think is one of the best testing tools at our fingertips, there's no minimum, like you can spend $5 $10 $20 and learn something from it. Or if you don't want to take it that far, you can test it organically as get the trailer placed on a blog or a website, or even on your own social channel and measure the response between that it's not as effective but at least you're learning something. But yes to test like, you don't have to spend 10s of 1000s of dollars to do it. You can spend 1020 3040 $50 and learn something from it.

Alex Ferrari 11:49
Now targeting How can you give any advice in regards to targeting for especially, especially for filmmakers? Because I find that they sometimes will, like let's say they do a romantic comedy, and then they try to target people who like romantic comedies, it's just not going to work. They don't have the finances to do you know, to hit that giant demographic? would you suggest niching? down as much as possible? What advice would you have for targeting demographically and also locations?

Brendan Kane 12:14
So typically, the way that I approach testing is, you test as many interest levels and demographics against each other. So within so within the Facebook advertising platform, there's there's three core aspects to it, or three levels. So you have the campaign, which is where it kind of you set the objective is like, am I trying to generate video views? Am I trying to generate conversions? Am I trying to generate traffic, whatever that is? Then the second is the ad set. And the ad set level is where you actually control the targeting. That's where you can control the audience. The demographics, are they male? Are they female, female? Are they age? What other movies do they like? Do they like romantic comedies, they like adventure movies, do they like Tony Stark Do they like the Hulk whatever it is like you can put it in there. And most of the time, they'll have it. And and also within that you can do geolocation, you could do it all the way down to the specific zip code. Now for filmmakers, I typically don't recommend that because your costs are extremely high in the in the auction. And then the third is the ad level is like the actual creative itself. So the ad set level is where you get really creative with all of this. And what I typically do is I create different ad sets that break out the interest level. So for example, you'll create an ad set with just romantic comedy fans, and you'll they'll create another one with adventure fans, another one with Tony Stark fans whatsoever you can, it's really important to segment those out into separate tests, because what most people will do is they'll put all those interests into one ad set. And then you don't learn anything because Facebook doesn't provide you data on who viewed it from which interest level, it does provide it from a gender and a age group. So what we'll typically do is we'll start just broad and say 18 to 65, plus both male and female, and then we'll see where Facebook pushes it because you can break down whether it was pushed to more males or females, or whether it was pushed to a specific age group. And I like to do that because for two reasons. A it brings down your costs and the auction so you can reach more people for cheaper costs. And then also I like it because what it does is it allows Facebook's auction and algorithms to push it to who they think is going to resonate with because that's its job, because they want to push content to the people they think are going to respond to it. And it gives you some data on who's actually responding to it who is getting seated to and then from that then you can create subsequent ad sets or tests based on that data that's coming in.

Alex Ferrari 14:49
Now, Facebook has basically become a pay or play kind of platform where before if you had a million followers you put a post up on your on your page and it would reach a significant amount or even even a small amount now, you know, I have 120, some 1000 followers and I post something and 300 people will see it 400 peoples unless it goes viral unless I push it or unless I do other things to get attention to it. Do you have any advice on getting attention or using the platform without having to boost or without having to pay?

Brendan Kane 15:23
Absolutely. So let's just talk about the algorithms because the algorithms control how many people see your content. And I feel like the algorithms get a bad rap. People are get upset and frustrated with them. And I understand I get frustrated by it as well. But if you really look at the fundamental principles of why they're there, it'll give you a better understanding of a how to take advantage of it, and how to problem solve if you're not getting the reach that you need. So the algorithms are designed so that every time you open up the app, whether it's Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter or whatever app you're using, YouTube, it's designed that every time you open that up that app up, you're going to be served with content that they feel is going to be the most engaging for you. Because they know if you open up Facebook or Instagram, and that piece of content that you're first seated with are the first three pieces of content is not engaging, you're going to get bored, and you're going to leave. And if that keeps happening over and over again, you're going to resort to using that app less and less until eventually you won't use it any further. So the algorithms are always designed with. And this is individually for each person like what is the content that's going to resonate with this person the most, to get them to stay on the app longer. And today, we're following hundreds in some cases, 1000s of pages more so on Facebook than Instagram, I think you're following the hunt your 1000s of pages over the years of engaging with the platform, Instagram, maybe it's a few 100. And you've got to take into consideration when they're when you're opening that app, it's got to decide where to give me the top three or five posts that it's going to push to you out of hundreds or possibly 1000s of posts. So if you're pushing out content, so let's just say you have 100,000 followers, and you push out a piece of content, what Facebook is going to ultimately do is it's going to seed it to 500 of those 100,000 followers and measure the response rate. And if that response rate is not good, that contents not going any further. If that response rate is good, it will seed it to another 1000, measure the response rate and see if it holds and if it holds, it will extend it to more people and more people. And that's where that organic reach comes from. That's where that virality comes from. But if you keep putting out content that when it sees it to those initial people, it doesn't generate the response that it's looking for. And you do that over and over again, your page is automatically going to be labeled in the in the algorithms as something that doesn't push out, engaging content, versus on the flip side of your account gets known for pushing out content that's highly engaging, it has far more flexibility in the algorithms and the amount of reach that it gives you. So that's why you'll see content creators like Prince EA, who wrote the foreword of my book or like a Jay Shetty, who are generating 10s of millions, in some cases, hundreds of millions of views on their content, a their content is good. But B also they built up so much trust in the algorithms that they're getting so much reach out of their content. So that's first and foremost, just understanding that concept. And then if you're not getting the reach, then it's starting to determine Okay, what am I doing wrong with my content, what aspects of my content is not engaging when it first seeds it to that first three 300 to 500 people. And this is what we do a lot with my content and the content that we work with people on as well measures, things. For example, with video, what we'll measure is the the most important metric is the number of views to the reach that we get. And what is that ratio look like in a view is counted at three seconds. And that metric is so important to to Facebook, because it determines whether or not people are actually engaging because if people are swiping up and they don't watch the first three seconds, they're going to stop seeing that content to people. But if you can generate that a high ratio, and typically we look at anywhere between 30 to 40%. Anything above 40% is amazing. But 30 to 40% is our sweet spot that we're aiming for. If we can get in that 30 to 40% range, we just see the reach exponentially grow. Because Facebook's algorithm see that the content is resonating with people people are actually taking the time. Now unfortunately, Instagram doesn't give us that metric. But we can generally tell by the reach by the number of views that we're generating off piece of content. But that's kind of how we look at it and we just really design our content to feed into the algorithms. First of all foremost, because without that, you're just not going to get the reach that you need.

Alex Ferrari 20:04
So it's not throwing everything up against the wall on a Facebook page, you really, really got to be a little bit more strategic with what you're saying.

Brendan Kane 20:10
Yeah, I mean, there's definitely testing that goes into ball that's involved in I mean, one of the first places we already kind of talked about it, the first place that I start is competitive analysis, is who's doing well on these platforms? What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? So we'll always do a competitive analysis of counts, we'll make a list of like five or 10 accounts that will track and we'll just see what they're doing differently than everybody else that's leading them to have success. And then we reverse engineer that. And then we see how do we apply that to our content.

Alex Ferrari 20:41
So that's what that because Jay Shetty is such a unique example, or tastes, a test case study, because he's basically he owns Facebook watch. I mean, he's got billions and billions of views. And he basically did in a very short amount of time. I mean, he within a couple, two, three years of putting these videos out. So he's not paying for that kind of exposure. This is just now he's gotten to a point where it's organic 100, almost 100%.

Brendan Kane 21:10
Yeah, I mean, for him, it's been organic since the very beginning print CA's, another great example goal cast. And they like what BuzzFeed did with tasty and some other platforms? Yes, there's been a bit of a dip in the algorithms being changed. But there is so much potential from an organic perspective. And that goes for Instagram and YouTube as well. It's just people. Where I see people go wrong is they're typically designing content for themselves, not for the algorithms and not for other people. They're just designing for themselves. And they get so caught up in what they want to say and what they want to show people. And first off, they don't think about the the audience. But more importantly, they don't even think about the algorithms all they just throw their hands up and be like, the algorithms are unfair, oh, Facebook just wants me to get people to pay for reach. That's not the case. Like, yes, Facebook and Instagram make their money off of advertising. But that's not the reason that they're limiting reach their limiting reach, because there's only so much content that they can push into your feed. And they have to be very selective with it.

Alex Ferrari 22:14
Now, we've talked a lot about Facebook and Instagram is Twitter and YouTube. How would you approach those two? Because they're such different beasts than Facebook?

Brendan Kane 22:23
Absolutely. So Twitter, I don't really touch that much. YouTube, I think is is still a tremendous opportunity and, and YouTube, there's a few different variables that come into play, thumbnail and headline are a huge critical part of success. Because a lot of video views are coming from like suggested videos that you'll see on like the right hand side. And what they'll typically do is they'll measure the first and foremost the click through percentage of if like, let's just say there's five videos on the right hand side, as you're watching a video. What is that click through percentage of somebody clicking on that video? And then they'll also match it with the watch time, like, how long are they watching that video. And if those two metrics play together, well, well, then it'll just give you more and more reach, because that's just showing you that are showing the algorithms that this content is retaining users. It's interesting to people and it's keeping people on the platform longer. So we typically focus heavily on thumbnails and headlines as that first component, but then also the content has to hold attention. Because all of these platforms, they make more money, the longer you're on the platform. And YouTube is a long form consumption behavior platform. So it's always looking for those videos that are going to retain people for the longest period of time. And that's where you see Facebook and Instagram, like Facebook, creating Facebook watch, and Instagram, generally are creating igtv, they're trying to change their consumption behavior, because their consumption behavior today is very short form content. But they're trying to compete against YouTube, which is a very daunting and difficult task, which I think they're gonna have trouble making that shift in consumer behavior on their platforms. But the whole idea of all these platforms is they want to see the best content to that. So the top that are going to retain the users for the longest period of time.

Alex Ferrari 24:16
And then so with Facebook, watch, you know, they're trying to go after YouTube. And but but I agree with you, 100% of people are so used to Facebook being what Facebook is, and now they're trying to change things. And the other thing that annoys the heck out of me is that they throw the commercials in the middle of the video, as opposed to YouTube that puts it generally at the beginning or the end. So, you know, what do you how do you feel that's going to play in, you know, moving forward? Do you think it's going to be successful? In your opinion,

Brendan Kane 24:44
I don't think that the current iterations are going to be successful. But the one thing that I admire about Facebook and Instagram is they are not afraid to fail. And they are not afraid to test things. So I mean, you just look at what they did in Taking out snapshot with with Bernice, she's, they've tested several iterations before that are things that just didn't work. But they figured it out and it was a game changer for them. I firmly believe they are smart enough that they will figure something out. I don't know that it's going to be the current iteration of Facebook watch and igtv. But I don't I don't doubt them for a second because they have the smartest people on the planet working for those companies. And I think that they will figure out a solution for long form consumption. My bet would probably be that it would be a separate standalone app instead of within Facebook or Instagram. But we'll see what they what they come through with.

Alex Ferrari 25:40
And what social media platform, do you see the most growth potential in moving forward?

Brendan Kane 25:47
It's a great question. I still firmly believe in the Big Three, it's it's Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, I think there's tremendous amount of potential for LinkedIn, not so much for filming. I mean, there's some strategic things for filmmakers. But last, so I think Facebook, there's still a huge opportunity there. When you look at the global scale of it. I mean, there's 2.2 billion people on the platform, people just focus on the US numbers. But especially on the film side, where we know 60 to 70% of box offices is generated nationally, there's a tremendous amount of growth potential with that platform, if you're trying to drive traffic out to a third party destination, it's very good for that. It also the viral coefficient of pushing content through that platform is much higher than any others. That's where you can generate videos, that that or create videos that generate 100 million views. You can't really do that on Instagram, I don't even know if there has been a video that has generated 100 million views on this. Maybe there is but it would probably be less than five, YouTube, you can get some videos mainly on the music side to generate hundreds of millions of views. But it's not as easy for the average creator to do it like a Jay Shetty going to YouTube is not going to generate that exponential growth that he did on Facebook. So that's a huge growth potential Instagram, I see as a platform that is probably the most attractive from a brand perspective. Most people value Instagram over the other two platforms at this point. It's a little bit slower growth. But the engagement rate to generate typically is higher with stories in native posts. But that's going to change as more people get on the platform. And as we talked about what happens with the algorithms, if there's more content in the platform, it needs to determine which content to see to the top. And YouTube I think is filled. There's tremendous value growth potential in that platform, just by the sheer size. And just the fact that it is one of the only platforms on digital, that is long form consumption behavior where you can get somebody to literally watch a video for 30 minutes or an hour. And I think that there's there's a lot of competition there. But I think if you really study and you get good at it, there's tremendous value, because you're fostering a deeper relationship with your audience and your fan base than you can with an Instagram or Facebook. Now, would you recommend boosting a post on Facebook, or actually taking an ad out for that thing, I always do things through ads manager because you can have more control, you can segment tasks and all those things that we talked about earlier, I will say that we're very strict about what we'll put money behind. Because if you're putting money behind a piece of content that's not going to perform or is not performing while you're basically teaching the algorithms that your contents not good. Versus the reverse side is if your content is really good, and it just needs that extra push, you're teaching the algorithms that the content that your page is putting out is good. So you've just got to make sure that if you are going to spend money even if you're spending $10, that the content is worth spending $10 behind because are putting behind because that is going to reflect on how the algorithm see the content in your page.

Alex Ferrari 28:59
And last question, what is the biggest mistake you see people make when they're trying to grow their social media accounts, or build an audience in general,

Brendan Kane 29:08
Everything comes down to content. And the mistake I mentioned, one of the mistakes I think is a huge mistake is people are designing content for themselves. They're not designing for the algorithms or not designing it for their audience. So that's one thing. And then I think also, as people don't really look at any analytics or data, they just keep pushing the same content out and they're not testing, they're not iterating. And they just keep pushing content out. And then they expect different results. They expect the algorithms to start picking it up or for them to go viral. But if you don't take that time to test and iterate and also do a competitive analysis and study other people's content, you're never going to get better. And so we spent so much time looking at other people's content of how they're doing, what they're doing, where their successes, to really understand how we can get better as content creators not saying steal people's content, but steal their formats. peelers stealer structures, like if you see like on a lot of videos, they have a meme card built, burned into the top and captions at the bottom. Everybody is that now and they use it because 70% of that that video on Facebook and Instagram is typically watch with the sound off as as they're swiping up, and somebody came up with that concept. I don't even know how long you're five or six years ago, and everybody's doing it now. And now you have to iterate off of that to get it to perform. But those are the type of things that pay attention to is what are the formats? What are the structures that are working for people and pay attention to as much detail as possible pay attention to those first three seconds, pay attention to collars, tones, all of those different things.

Alex Ferrari 30:41
Brendan man, thank you so much for coming by. I know you're a very very busy man. You're you're creating social media empires everywhere. So I do appreciate you coming by and talking to the tribe today. So thanks, man.

Brendan Kane 30:53
Great. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

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BPS 216: Why Most Screenplays Don’t Sell with Brooks Elms

Brooks Elms is a screenwriter and independent filmmaker. His specialty is grounded personal characters and writing story tension so thick it knots up your stomach.

He’s written 25+ screenplays, a dozen of them on assignment, and sold several scripts, including one this year with Brad Peyton as Executive Producer. Brooks was recently hired to rewrite a screenplay started by an Oscar-winning writer. Brooks began his career writing, directing, and producing two indie features (personal dramas) that he screened all over the world.

And Brooks also loves coaching fellow writers who have a burning ambition to deeply serve their audiences.

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Brooks Elms 0:00
Here's what they're doing, you're getting back to the thing is there when you see somebody that's writing at those higher levels, it's that they are open to something bigger and it flows. It's almost like they're not doing what other because other people are kind of doing like, Oh, I was in school, I was supposed to do the homework, blah, blah, blah. But when you see somebody that has like a masterful voice, and then it feels like you're connecting to another human being, it feels different. It almost feels like they're not screenwriting.

Alex Ferrari 0:26
This episode is brought to you by Bulletproof Script Coverage, where screenwriters go to get their scripts read by Top Hollywood Professionals. Learn more at covermyscreenplay.com I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Brooks Elms. How you doin Brooks?

Brooks Elms 0:41
I'm doing great. Good to see you. That introduction reminds me of my favorite interviewer back in the day was Charlie Rose, you ever watch the Charlie Rose years back?

Alex Ferrari 0:51
Yeah, back before, before the thing

Brooks Elms 0:54
Before the thing, and he was great. And he always go, and I'm happy to welcome back to this table. So and so he kind of snapped the table.

Alex Ferrari 1:03
You're returning champions, I would say returning champions. So. But thanks for coming back on the show, man. Last time you were on the show. It was a great success. That tribe really loved what you had to say. And it's been a while since you've been back. So it's like, you know, time let's bring it back. And let's talk some shop and see if we can have some more, some more screenwriters and filmmakers out there. So I'm gonna I'm gonna come in hot with the first question, sir. I like it. Why do most film Why do most screenplays fail?

Brooks Elms 1:32
Oh, I love that question. And yeah, really good question and loaded in different way. I would first of all, invite you not to think about it binary fail success. Because what ends up happening when we think about it in binary ways, it's kind of freaked out that success sounds too big and failure sounds too small. So to me, it's just process. And the reason why it's not further along is generally people underestimate how long it takes to do trial and error to get a point where it's like, blowing people away emotional.

Alex Ferrari 2:07
That's where it is exactly. Because a lot of people that are like, Oh, I made I wrote the script, I can't sell it. That's a failure. Like no depends on what you look at. If if your barometer for success is a sale, which don't get me wrong, it is one of the things we're doing this for. Just like if you if a tree falls in no one's there to hear it. kind of vibe. But also, like, if I did the script, how much better? Am I as a writer? How much have I gotten to be a better writer? How do I understand character better? Did I learn how to write dialogue better? These are successes that you have to think about.

Brooks Elms 2:39
I'll go further. So for sure, development of my craft, that's one part just realization of who I am as a human being that the personal thing, it's really significant. I mean, like, you can just write a journal, a memoir, and it's fine. But if you understand story, sort of structure and process, when you really get into like a theme and an art from Vice to virtue, you really surprise yourself about who am I at a deep level, so just the personal growth aspect of it off the charts valuable. So certainly sharpening your skills, personal growth aspect of it. And even in the business side. Scripts are wonderful. But new relationships, oh, we can't do this grip because of whatever. But like, here's these other things, right? That's really good. And then just writing samples, it's like, oh, I didn't realize you could write that sort of thing. So there's all sorts of bend if you're in it for the long term. There's all sorts of benefits.

Alex Ferrari 3:33
And I think a lot of times screenwriters fail in general is because they are always, they're always focused on the destination and not focused on that journey. And writing a script is a journey, selling the script is a destination. And if you if you've put all of your hope, and all of your happiness in the sale, or in the destination, you're going to be miserable in this business.

Brooks Elms 3:54
Amen, brother. That's exactly it's, it's, it's that wonderful game where it's interesting, because everybody kind of knows, okay, I know, I know. It's not the destination, it's a journey. But like, most people, most of the time are focused on the destination and, and when we can recognize how we do that in our own process, inadvertently or whatever, and just really go under No, just right now, in the moment, enjoying this for the sake of enjoying it. It really is a game changer. And then the paradox is those milestones come much faster. Because it's like that time warping, it's like you're working on something like Oh, shit, where the time go, you know, it's like, well, because you're in it, you're in that flow state. And you can we can be in that flow state in the draft after draft process of writing a screenplay. And here's another way to think about Flipside was one of these writers that I worked with who you know, good, talented writer, he's doing some great, you can see he's like, Okay, now I'm done. I'm done with this thing. And you can see eagerness to be done, which always, almost always means we're really probably not quite there probably more juice to squeeze. When we're just like in a place of, I loved writing this draft. I'm ready for feedback, I'm ready for anything. And that's like, oh, let's you know, it's done. You don't even if the energy is different,

Alex Ferrari 5:07
And how about the concept of the Muse is something that so many screenwriters and writers general but screenwriters think about is like, I need to wait for the muse to show up. You know, I'm just gonna watch Netflix until the Muse shows up. And that kind of attitude towards this news is inspiration. From my point of view, and from people I've spoken to at the PI's levels of the business. It's, they say, show up every day, and you let them us know where you're going to be. Because if you don't tell the Muse where you're going to be She don't know where to go, brother. You don't know where to go. So you show up at eight o'clock in the morning to 10 o'clock, that's your writing time. Hey, Muse, I'm going to be here between eight and 10. Not at three o'clock when I'm in the shower, or out at lunch, eight to 10. That's when if you're going to show up, please show up there. Is that what you? Is that your feeling as well?

Brooks Elms 6:00
Yes. And yeah, it's a really beautiful question. Because if we, it's this game of how we're playing this game with ourselves, right? If you genuinely are in the flow, you might need to not show up in that window, right. But most times, when you carve out that space, and ask the muse to meet you, there, it is a much better way of doing it. Because even if you're feeling resistance, or fear, or this or that, or the other, when you show up, the news meets you, um, even if you show up to be like, I don't want to be here, I'm scared, blah, blah, blah, I suck. And then all sudden, the faucets going and then also good ideas come right. That's generally better. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 6:43
Let me ask you, though. I love asking writers this. There are times when I've been writing where especially my books, when I am on a flow state. And then I stop and I look, I go Who the hell wrote that? This is good stuff. Like you can't read you literally can't recognize. Did I did I write this? There's that moment. And I think every creative and a painter as well, and an artist and stuff, but generally writers because it's such a solitary, you know, experience that it happens. And when I've asked that question to some big guys, they go go this I happen to like, yeah, not as often as I'd like. Because it's almost like you're being you know, to get woowoo on you, you're channeling something that's coming through you, there's some sort of, there's some sort of energy going through you. And I always love using this the story of of Spielberg, where he would he used to say, those ideas floating in the ether. And when the ideas time is to come out, it looks for a host to come through. And if I ignore that idea, it's happened he goes, it's happened to me so many times, I can't tell you where it will go. It's like, okay, you're, it's gonna stay with you for Steven for seven days, if you don't start acting on it, it's gonna go over to James Cameron. And if James Cameron doesn't do anything, because he's an avatar land, he's gonna go over to Chris Nolan. And then it'll just keep jumping to see how this idea is best going to be expressed at this time when it's supposed to come out. So he's like, so when I thought when I saw the idea of dinosaurs in a park, I jumped on it, before anybody else had a chance to do it, because that's an idea that once it was brought into the world, there was no stopping it. And someone was gonna grab onto that T Rex and write it. And there was a probably a handful of people in Hollywood, who could have done it. And I'm gonna say, in one hand, maybe who could have done what Stephen did with Jurassic. But that is one of those things. So I do believe that as well, when the idea is ready. That's why we had like asteroid movies, remember, and Armageddon and deep impact, and they all just start showing up. Like before, then nothing's zombies. All of a sudden, there's a decade without zombies. And then boom, can't freaking get rid of them. They're everywhere. Literally, no pun intended. But things like that. So what are your thoughts on it?

Brooks Elms 9:13
I love that. It's really actually really interesting. And subtle, because the nature of creativity at that level, and everybody I've worked with that's higher level had, there's almost a float to them. They just come in, and there's just this spaciousness about the way they are. And not necessarily we will crazy, but just this opens a lightness to them. Yeah. And what was fascinating to me, the way even you phrased it, you were like, there's that opportunity to be openness. And if you don't dope on it, you lose it. So to me, that was an interesting part the way you phrase it, because maybe, but like, I, so I would invite people to say yes, there's an openness. Yes, you can sort of just connect to something that's out there. Big Garan mysterious and beyond us. And don't worry about the window closing, there's an abundance of opportunity, it's going to come back, just get into the habit of, of the joy of being open to that stuff. And then writing from that place, because you know, the, the nuts and bolts of writing, you know, it helps to have, you know, boxes and stacks in a system, whatever. But like you want to get both, you want to have a way to be able to construct a story that's going to have a design element to it that's functional in an engineering sense. And as you sort of build those sandboxes, you have an openness to something bigger than us. So the sandcastles almost emerged in the Sandbox is feeling like you didn't even write them. So it's both those things.

Alex Ferrari 10:45
And there was this story I heard about this poet, and I forgot her name. But it's such a brilliant story. She said that she was out in the field. And she saw the poem coming, she literally saw it coming towards her. And she had nothing to write down on. So she literally was running towards her house. As the poem was in the ether, she said, and she's like, I'm gonna lose it, I'm gonna lose it. She ran in, grab the pen and paper. And she was so on the tail end of it, she started writing the poem backwards. So she, like literally grabbed the end of the poem, and drag it back into her. And she wrote it backwards first, and then she read, just to get it in before she lost it. And I was like, oh my god, isn't that amazing? Because because of the visuals, the visuals as a filmmaker, you're just gonna, oh, you could see it. And she literally wrote it backwards. And first, because it was already out the door, and she kind of grabbed it by the tail and Riad it back in. It was all it's amazing.

Brooks Elms 11:57
Well, you had me in that anecdote bias, like she was in a field. I was like, Ooh, sounds good. So yeah, it reminds me of, you know, Paul McCartney woke up one morning, one of his greatest songs, you know, and was like, who did the song with any kind of homage to people? And they're like, Gavin, no, he was talking about and he's like, oh, okay, I guess it's me. And that's just if we tune in, it's almost like, you know, like the law of attraction, people talk about it and sort of receiving, if we're in receiving mode, you just kind of like, okay, I'm, I'm ready for really good things to come to me. It just, it's a different way of feeling.

Alex Ferrari 12:29
I think. And I think for people listening, you know, they might sound a bit woowoo. But I, but the reason I, I, I know different is one my own experience, but also you and I are very unique in the sense that we have worked with and or spoken to people at the highest levels of our business. And when you ask these questions, I ask these questions on and off. And the stories that I hear, I'm like, Oh, if this Oscar winner is looking at it this way, and it's not just a one, dude, it's probably like five or 10 of these really legendary people that I've spoken to, who are, they understand this at a level like a Spielberg like they understand at a different level, then there's something there because they're obviously able to do it. And then the key is to be able to learn how to do it again. And again, because sometimes it happens once. And you never hear from them again. It's, there's some times that's that idea comes in, and it blows up. And it's a one hit wonder happens in music all the time. Books, it happens in movies, happens in scripts, where they just come in, and they're like, they never got off the ground again after that, like it was downhill from that point. But the Masters understand how to tap into that again, and again, almost at will, almost at will.

Brooks Elms 13:56
Yeah. And I think what happens I love this this topic is because what, two thoughts they're the first one is this idea of woowoo, which is kind of like you know, it's crazy, but like it is crazy. But why is it crazy and it's crazy is because we sort of in a sort of traditional education system that we were in, they were kind of telling us what to do what does pence spin our attention on and you have to do this great. It was all sorts of distraction of stuff that was out of touch with our bodies and what we really felt like for me, I loved recess I went to art class I love gym and everything else like everything else. I was good at school but I just It drove me crazy because I wasn't fascinated

Alex Ferrari 14:39
They were they were preparing you for a factory job. That's what school was designed to do. It was prepare you that's why there's a bell every hours. So they mean they were preparing you gonna go to a factory. It's Industrial Age system.

Brooks Elms 14:51
That's right. Your Dylan said that 20 years of schooling and they put you on the day shift. Right. So yeah, so So we were trained to be out of touch with those bigger ideas and impulses. So when you come across somebody that speaking to that esoteric or stuff, it feels weird or strange or woowoo. But, um, but it's just because you're out of the habit of it. But when you surround yourself with people that are just sort of aware, connected in that way, it becomes as normal as anything else. It's just access to sort of more intuitive ideas. It's not that sort of mystifying, right? There's a mystery quality to it. But it's really just a matter of connecting dots in more subtle, more powerful ways. So that's the one part. The second part about is, is can you you know, for those one hit wonders, what's the difference between somebody who had a musician who had a one hit wonder and 86, or like you two, or Madonna that hit in several different decades. And my theory is, it's they, it wasn't like this one impulse, one song, they had awareness of how they showed up to the party. So it's like, you know, when you were in middle school, and you had a circle of friends, and then you were in high school, and you had a circle of friends, and then in your early 20s, you had a circle of friends, if you were able to show up as you and make good friendships in those different circles, you can take that as a transferable skill for you as an independent filmmaker, or screenwriter. The key is, go beneath it, it wasn't that oh, it was my one friendship with you know, Jimmy, whatever you want. Beneath that you had a way of showing up. That was a puzzle piece for what Jimmy was looking for. And you guys became really good buddies. And then a romantic way is same thing. It's like it's stories, or any sort of art. There's the artist and the audience, and they're puzzle pieces for each other. And if you know the impulse from what you come from as like a as like a, like what you're most fascinated by in life as a puzzle piece, you can then find your complimentary puzzle piece to snug to fit snugly in that. as things change. You know, who's my favorite current guys is Jon Favreau, right? starts out as a working actor, right, then creates a right swingers phenom, like if he stopped there. He'd be like a lot of amazing, right? And then he's like, no, no, I actually want to direct something myself. And then I want to do the studio movies. And then I want to do Marvel movies. And then he creates Mandalorian. He's probably the best of, you know, better than a lot of the Lucas Star Wars stuff. So like, how do you do it? He did this exact way totally conscious and sustainable. He knew how he showed up to the party. He knew him as himself as a puzzle piece, the soul in a deep level, his soul. And then he was like, Oh, I can fit this new puzzle in this way. Here's how I fit. Here's how I don't fit in. I actually know people that I know if he's been on your show. But know people that work with them. He's just what they've said is he's really good about focusing on what does matter and not caring about the stuff that doesn't. And that to me is like an awareness of who am I is a puzzle piece. And that's how you can keep reinventing yourself on every new level and every new time.

Alex Ferrari 18:08
It's really interesting. And John's really interesting concept, guy because you're right, I mean, you know, you and I are of an age to remember him from swingers. And Rudy, if you remember to go back to acting and Rudy and these kinds of films, and then him trying to make him His bones in in directing where he made a movie called made where he was the director of that. And then they gave him elf and ELF had no reason at all to be successful. There Will Ferrell was a guy at center at live. And it was a ridiculous concept.

Brooks Elms 18:43
Well, that was first

Alex Ferrari 18:44
That was that was Oh yeah. That was his first I think that was either his first starring role, or his first movie I don't know. But it was big. They did not want will like the studio didn't not want with us all documentary on Netflix about it. They did not want Will. They're like who the hell is gonna go see a movie with Will Ferrell in it? This is a ridiculous how that movie got made is a miracle. And then how John got it was even more of a miracle. But he turns it into a hit. And then then he's able to start building his career off of elf. But then he did an Ironman thing launched the entire Marvel universe. And then he jumped into Star Wars and kind of, you know, basically, there's been dragging along Star Wars ever since. You know, he's a great, he's a great man him and Dave Dave Filoni. They're basically creative force of Star Wars right now. I don't know. It's that

Brooks Elms 19:33
If not them who?

Alex Ferrari 19:34
I mean, I mean, who else is it? Who else? Who else are we talking about in that world? But it's really interesting how someone like that can do that. And you look at someone like Tarantino who's been able to create art at some of the highest levels in three different decades. By not focusing on the decade he's on because his films, like anything that he's, he's on, he's such on his own past. So The thing is really interesting about him and he's a once in a generation talent. You love him or hate him. He can respect the man. Yeah. As an artist and what he does when the idea comes to him, this is the thing that's so brilliant about him. There is nobody else in the planet can make it. Like there's just know, there's nobody else who's making Inglourious Basterds. There's nobody who's making Jagland chain. There's nobody's making once upon a time in Hollywood, it's just so quintessential Quinton, that you nobody can make those movies. There's just little Could somebody else make aliens could not take anything away from the genius that James Cameron brought to it, or Ridley Scott or any of these guys. But you'd be like, oh, you know what? Maybe a Spielberg aliens would have been interesting. Or maybe a Scorsese. You know, a Scorsese. Jaws would have been interesting or like that, but you can't say like, oh, yeah, let's give you know Chris Nolan. Inglorious Basterds. It's gonna be interesting. I'll give you that. But it's not Inglorious. Basterds?

Brooks Elms 21:01
Yeah. Yeah, that's right. No, he, he definitely had a deep sense of his puzzle piece, and was able to kind of plug it in for the audience. And actually, I think he's, too. Two stories about him that I think of will be really instructive for people listening to this. One was when he was an actor in acting and acting classes. He was writing down stuff, if he was like, in mid 80s, and didn't have like VCRs, even at that point where he didn't have one. So he was running out. He would like you saw some show, some some film, and he wanted to do like the acting, he wanted you to look at that scene. Right? Right. So he writes it out. And then he gives it to his acting partner. And the guy's looking at it and going, Dude, this isn't in the movie. Here's what you're what I thought it was, oh, man I had so in my head. I've seen this so many times. I thought it was new, because I know this better than what was in. And so he was like, oh, maybe I'm really good at this. Maybe that's part of my sort of puzzle piece that I have to offer. Right? Like I can go so deeply into this thing, then I can start sort of building from where they where they started and taking it off to that also to that point, he I think his superpower has to do with curation. So he starts off as a as a you know, a guy working in movies in a movie store, move around movie buffs recommending movies, Oh, you like this one, you probably like this one to steeped in it. But like, you know, if you look at the music in Reservoir Dogs, it's like such a distinct, obscure set of songs that are that really go down easy to play. So to me, he was a curator of pop culture. And he just even though he speaks, it's like explosively passionate. And so I think he just was so good at going, Oh, I'm like, a million times interested in X, whether it was a song or this or that, and he would just kind of curate it together, learn enough of the rules and then do his own thing. Like I was, I don't know if you ever you know that sequence in Pulp Fiction when when she overdoses and they got the whole syringe and then she was that was taken like verbatim from from an obscure taxi driver doc documentary called American boy I think from like the early 70s. You know, this story.

Alex Ferrari 23:23
American boy, isn't it the one that's Scorsese?

Brooks Elms 23:26
That's so intense. There was a short Yeah, I think was the short documentary but it was the actor from taxi driver that sold Travis Bickle, the guns. Steven prince, I think his name is. Yeah, I'm just off top my head. So like, I'm pretty sure it was it was. It was a short documentary that Scorsese basically directed that was basically about this guy. About the actor from taxi driver basically telling this story. And he tells the story of this overdose beat by beat by beat, which is, as far as I can know, pretty much beat by BBB. What happens in Pulp Fiction, to the point where I saw Pulp Fiction first, I ran across that Scorsese documentary later, and I was like, oh my god, he seems like he ripped it off. But like, you know, I've never heard any sort of plagiarism things and like, to me that sort of indicates how Where's greatness comes from he, you know, who knows how many people saw that obscure documentary, but he did it made a really big, big impact on his soul. And he kind of took it and then and then made it his own in a whole other movie. That was but with the connection there, I felt like he was really very direct.

Alex Ferrari 24:36
But this his genius is being able to to have a encyclopedic mind on cinema, and music, and be able to connect the pieces in a way that nobody else on the planet can. There's just nobody else on the planet that could connect pieces like he does. In his films. You I mean, you watch once upon a time in Hollywood and you just sitting there going, you know and the revisionist the revisionist history that he does As in, in Django in glorious and Hollywood, you just go on? And In what world? Do you kill Hitler? Like the way they do? And like, that's brilliant. In what ways does the Manson family not do what they were supposed to do? It's, it's pretty remarkable, you know, as a screenwriter looking at at his work, and then you go down to someone like Nolan. And you're like, there's nobody else that can make an inception. This is not this. This is this is nobody. Those are so specific to the artists and to the writer and to the filmmaker, that there's no way that James Cameron can't make inception. He can make something, but it won't be inception, the way it's it was conceived the same thing though. I'd argue that it'd be difficult for somebody to make avatar.

Brooks Elms 25:49
Yeah, well, they said Cameron superpower is is is is really insane. Because it's a little more subtle than Tarantino superpower. He's like, obvious. He's just like, like, wildly passionate about some of some some sort of obscure things. But he's smart enough about he connects the dots, he's just so singular in that way. Moving on, like Nolan is a little more traditional, but he definitely has a very, here's what it is, Alex, here's how people listening to this can actually figure it out for themselves. We are all world class experts on our favorite stuff, right. And if you sort of review our favorite stuff, like in the book that I that I that I wrote, I kind of tried to systematize this, for anybody that looks at it, you list your favorite films, you list your favorite TV shows, you start looking at the connective tissue of it, you sort of get more mindful about what you're a world class expert on just based on other movies that are out there. And once you know your voice, and what's most compelling about your voice and analysis on your favorite stuff that really matters. Separate from the stuff that doesn't matter, you get to be you get to be able to you're coming from a place a creative sort of Nexus, where you can then express your idea from that place. And that makes you singular. So Tarantino does it with curating stuff from music and movies and all sorts of things. Right. And then it goes out, Nolan, there's his his style is a little more like, you just get the sense like, you can see how deeply how layered how aware he is about what he cares about. Right. That's what a director is doing is just sort of taking them through a personal growth experience shot by shot by shot with Cameron, what's so interesting is his style is kind of average ish. But avatar, Titanic I mean, he's made some of the most I think he's the box office champ of all time. Right? And he's so how is he doing it? I think he just has it. Anything that's popular is the same but different. And I think Cameron has a really deep sense of what awakens his own soul in terms of the same but different. In my, in my opinion, his stuff is a little too similar to other stuff. But um, you know, the global box office sees it differently. I mean, they love this stuff.

Alex Ferrari 28:04
But the thing is with Cameron is that he taps into primal ideas. Yeah, he taps into really primal ideas. Aliens is not about aliens. It's about a mother, protecting her young on both sides. The alien queen and Sigourney Weaver. That's what that movie is about. It's about it's not about aliens. And that's where a lot of the filmmakers who followed didn't get with aliens. So like they made some interesting alien movies. But what do we talk about when we talk about aliens? Aliens one, aliens two. And then visually what Fincher did with aliens three, and then the studio took it away from him. And that whole conversation, but it's really like after alien, which is arguably one of the greatest sci fi films ever created. Yeah, how do you follow that? With one of the greatest sci fi action films ever created from a note from a guy who just did a terminator? And then you look a Terminator, the primal ideas in Terminator, Titanic abyss, even True Lies, which is probably his most fun, like, having a good time kind of project. But look at an avatar and people always bust balls about avatar like oh, it's FernGully meets Dances with Wolves. And I'm like, and he he tapped into some primal stuff, but what he also does is on the writing side, by the way, I don't know if you've written read any of his scripts lately, but

Brooks Elms 29:43
How's his page craft?

Alex Ferrari 29:45
It's impeccable it's impeccable. You read aliens is a masterclass on description, on economy of words. There is a sea of white is so Eliquis is like reading a shame black script. And you're just like, Oh, I've never read description like this before. Like, are you? Are you kidding me? Like, like, I mean, I went back and read Lethal Weapon and longest deny, and and you're just sitting there going the way he did description, the way he writes description is unlike anyone else. And then you look at someone like Sorkin and the dialogue is something insane. It's insane. It's insane. The cadence, the artistic dialogue,

Brooks Elms 30:29
Here's what they're doing, you're getting back to the thing is there when you see somebody that's writing at those higher levels, it's that they are open to something bigger and it flows. It's almost like they're not doing what other because other people are kind of doing like, Oh, I was in school, I was supposed to do the Hallmark, blah, blah, blah. But when you see somebody that has like a masterful voice, and then it feels like you're connecting to another human being. It feels different. It almost feels like they're not screenwriting, they're there. And what it is, is they're open to something that's so deep and intuitive. And, and it just feels different in a very human but almost universal way. It's really strange and mad, right?

Alex Ferrari 31:07
Yeah, exactly. You look again, well, they'll toto you look at you look at these kinds of writers that you just sitting there going. I mean, no one's making Pan's Labyrinth, other than to give them a little tour. Like there's just, it's not happening. So but their voices are so connected to them to their work. And you're absolutely right, everyone we're talking about. And I've said this, I've said this 1000 times in the show, and I'll say it again, the thing that sets you apart from everybody else in the pack is you being authentic to yourself, your own juice, that thing that Brooks juice, the Alex juice, whatever the juice is that makes you who you are, is what sets you apart in the marketplace in the world. And that's what people connect to. And that's honestly one of the reasons people always ask me, Why do you think that? You know, you, you started podcasting. When there was a lot of podcasts and filmmaking space to seven years, but seven years ago, by the way, in July, it's seven years I've been doing this thing. And they go Why is your show in shows done well over the last seven years, and a lot of other shows haven't haven't continued? And like why do people find your show? Popular? I'm like, they want to listen, and I go, because I am who I am. I am authentic. I'm asking authentic questions. I am not a journalist. I use the essence of me comes through my show comes through the work that I do comes through the marketing comes through my websites, it all is authentically me. I do it without trying or thinking about it. Because when I first started podcasting, and I use podcasts as an example, but when I first started interviewing people, I didn't know how to frickin interview anybody. I've never interviewed anybody in my life. I'm a frickin filmmaker. Like, I'm sitting there talking to somebody. I'm like, I don't I'm gonna ask you questions I would like to ask you. And that was, that was the because I was true. So even to this day, I talked, I'm talking to you, I'm asking you questions. I'm just I'm just having a conversation with you, man. I let nobody

Brooks Elms 33:03
Let me answer let me add something significant enough because I think it's a really great topic and and it'll bring your greatness to the surface in an even better way. Because think about this, in theory, you could be 100% authentic to you, and be pretty antisocial hermit on a mountain 100% authentic absolute, like, the difference between what you're doing my friend and everybody we've talked about in terms of a thought leader, the either entertainment or in this case, you know, is that you, my friend have absolutely absolutely a connection to your own authenticity, but a real burning desire to serve. Like if if you and I started going off the rails and having a part of a conversation that you didn't really feel was serving your audience, you'd be like, up up, up up up here. You're not effing around with that.

Alex Ferrari 33:56
But that's subconscious. But that's that's a conscious thing in the back of my head.

Brooks Elms 34:00
Yeah, but here's the thing, my friend, maybe if you allow it to be a little more conscious, you might have increased your ability to be more sort of reinventing if you want to go to different places or sustain it, because it's the dance. It's not just you being a great dance partner you are, it's that you that's one part of you, and you are really connected to somebody else. So it's you serving your audience, like nobody else does. So it's those both those things, it's not just the authentic thing, because that would be the hermit on the mountain. You are it could be the hermit on The Most Extreme. You are authentic and you genuinely care to serve. And the way you've served people with such a wonderful powerful suite of different programs and tips and services is amazing. And that comes from real generosity and service. You see what I'm saying to me? It's both it's it's like like here's the thing like with Tarantino when these guys that part of when they're yes, they want to express themselves, but they They are dancing with somebody if they're serving maybe like their own inner child in the audience or something at a very soul level, but it's us talking to something else as an advocate. So it's that connection between the two points. It's not just me and my own subject experience, you know, I'm saying the difference.

Alex Ferrari 35:16
No, absolutely. And I agree with you, I think any, any of these masters that we're talking about on the screenwriting side, or on the filmmaking side, or, or the, or the both, is that they are truly thinking about the audience. They're thinking about their own stuff. But they're doing it both at the same time, because there are filmmakers who literally just want to do their own thing and could care less about the audience. And we've all seen those movies. And then we have the other one was like, I only care about the audience, because I want to make money. So I'm going to put out some crap. And then the audience feels it.

Brooks Elms 35:58
You got it. Right. So there's everybody else, I'm just thinking about me, which might be authentic, but it's just so like, look at my belly button. Right. The other one is I'm chasing the market that I'm chasing the market. I'm a hack. If you say this, I'll do this. I don't care, right. And then the real Arts, which to me, Chris Nolan's Dark Knight was the most magnificent, sort of modern example of all the things that felt amazingly personal and intimate, and as big of a spectacle, and it's more, you know, see movie, but like, to me that was like it was it was really, I feel chills even talking about because I felt like, it was a rare time that something was as broadly popular as it could be, and also intimate and personal. I mean, to me, that's that, that I'll give up.

Alex Ferrari 36:43
I'll throw another one at you Thor Ragnarok. I mean, it was they gave basically an independent filmmaker, you know, 100 million dollars to go out and make or 100 $50 million and made some of the most ridiculous insanity of a Thor movie ever. Because the first Thor two Thor movies were fine in the first one was okay. Second one kind of was like one of the considered one of the worst of all the Marvel films. So they like they're like, hey, you know, let's give it to this incent this insane guy. And they did and what did they do? Now Thor went from a, like a background character in The Avengers, to now being one of the most popular characters up there with Iron Man and the other ones, purely because he's so funny. Now that changed his he's a completely different character. It was because of this, this filmmaker, this writer who infused it, and now love and thunders coming out, and I just can't wait to see what's going on.

Brooks Elms 37:41
They took him they met a person. I mean, it's what Todd Phillips in the Joker, right? So he took he took, basically, you know, sort of a taxi driver at a sense, and then put it in the DC universe. And it was an a billion dollars box office like what? That one, it's about the psychopath and I was going to kill people. I thought for sure. It's like, oh, I mean, there was there was a shooting in a movie theater with a guy dresses Joker, I thought Oh, my God, this is gonna be terrible. But he, I think, was able to hear and the screenwriter, were able to be really empathetic to that part of us that does get feel like a victim, and then finds a way to stand up for herself, but does it in a way that's you know, kind of dark, right? So like, very, very dark. And that's when we, in our own life, most of us aren't that dark, but we relate to it, because it's an expression of that feels like so. So the intimacy in Joker, I think was palpable. And that plus is totally broad colored Marvel movie or not DC movie. But DC comes together to make it that again, that's the thing is that is that really beautiful balance of, of sort of popular and personal together.

Alex Ferrari 38:56
But on top of that, then there's the artistry of Joaquin Phoenix's performance, that that is the thing that drives that project without Joaquin doing what he does. And what is he doing. He's being authentic in the way that he approaches that thing. And this is a really interesting conversation, because I've had conversations with actors recently, I've had a bunch of great conversations with some really big, you know, actors. And we talk about like Meryl Streep, and how they and how she's able to basically encompass anybody. She does, like does every year it's an Oscar nomination every second automatic Merrill Merrill gets an Oscar now she's done like 29 Oscar nods I think because I'm like, This is why someone like Tom Hanks sometimes like Tom Hanks, can engulf a character in a way that other actors can't Daniel Day Lewis den Zelle these characters, these actors who just get in there, and you're just like, they're, they're not them anymore. They're channeling the character almost. But how are they doing that? So I'm talking about I'm bringing this up in an artistic idea for for writers and for filmmakers listening, how are they able to encompass the character? So what are they doing differently than the 15 million other actors working, are trying to work? aren't doing and why are they doing it at that level? So what is Nolan Tarantino, Shane Black Sorkin What? Are they doing different that the rest of us aren't doing? What is that key? What are they tapping into? That we can't, and you can't tell me that, oh, they're special. You know, we all have the ability to tap into this because Tarantino was bumping his head against against the glass window, trying to get into the party for a decade. Before he finally got reservoir mate. He was in his early 30s, when he got that made. So he was trying and try no one would even give him the light of day, just would not. So he was able to figure it out. And there's also perseverance and all that, and that's another conversation. But what is it about them? And what is it about these directors who can continuously can tap into something and take their art Scorsese Marty, of his generation and Spielberg of his generation? They're still knocking it out of the park at this. They're like, 70s. And like, I mean, it's insane. So what do you say?

Brooks Elms 41:36
I'll do exactly what I'm talking about, like the it factor somebody comes in, they just have it. So it's intention, because we've been actually touching on this the whole time. It's, I would say it's two main aspects. One is they've got like a soul, deep awareness of, of what they are as a puzzle piece. And what they're not, right, knowing what you're not is actually sometimes even more important than what you are. So that it's like, yeah, I'm my puzzle pieces in the shape or whatever it is, right. And they feel there's a, there's a deep sort of acceptance of that. For what it is. It's not it's good, bad. It's whatever, there's a neutral sort of, or even slightly positive love for their thing. Their distinctness their unique view as a human being. There's that part of it. And then there's the other part we talked about, about process, that when somebody walks in, and they have the it factor, they are basically in the moment, emotionally differentiated to a significant degree about outcome. They are here they are present they are in the moment. And those two factors, awareness of authenticity, being in the moment, and then maybe even what I've said before about sort of awareness of where the audience is, so maybe it's those three factors, awareness of me awareness of you, and then being in the moment. And it sounds really simple. But that is to my, to my understanding, that is the it factor, and actors can do it, musicians can do it. filmmakers can do it with their sort of movies, and when they're in the room, and there, if you can get those three things, meeting the person that you're with, where they are fully being you from your sort of soul expression. And being in a moment when you do it. There's just a there's an openness and a spaciousness that happens. That's when that sort of stuff kind of flows through you just have a deep experience you have. It's like what Joseph Campbell talked about, about an experience of being alive, when I'm fully me, and I'm beholding you being fully you. And we're in the moment fully those three things when you can sort of be in the habit. And so somebody like Meryl Streep, she's just in the habit of getting to that place of being fully open and paying full attention. And that's it. And that's the one thing that separates her from all these other actors, is they they're just in their head as opposed to their soul. And sounds simple, but you'd have to practice getting into your soul. And as writers, we want to practice over and over again, dropping down writing from the soul. And if you're a director on this set,

Alex Ferrari 44:12
Instinct, instinct, something that comes from us, yes, yes, most doors, the gut, is writing from the gut, as opposed to writing from the head. Because the head is craft, and you got to learn craft. Because if you don't know how to play a guitar, you're never gonna be able to play guitar, no matter how talented you might be, give or take, give or take, you know, there's the Mozart's of the world of course, but there is craft, so you do need to work at it. But we're talking about now, we understand craft. We understand now we're at a different level, because you and I both know, really good writers in this town that aren't as successful as they should be. That are that are really good at what they do. I've read scripts that I'm going How is this not been made? And I just like what is wrong? So it's not Think about that. That's good craft. But there's that something else that puts you over the top. And that's what this whole conversation has been about is about connecting to that thing that allows you to stand apart after you've understood craft, underused, the perseverance and the mental and all that all the stuff that you got to go through to make this thing happen. But the journey, not the destination, all of that. But what we're talking about is that authentic thing that makes you stand out. And when you were saying, I see you and you see me, we're both sitting authentic. To go back to James Cameron, what did he do an avatar? I see you that concept. The ICU concept is so old. That it's so it's the force man. It's the force that did a thorough look, what's Lucas did with the force. The force is an idea that had been around for millennia, was chi. It's achieved. It's key. It's the life force. It's, but he's like, but we're gonna do some cool stuff with it. And then the lightsabers, what are lightsabers? What are Jedi Knights they're samurais. You know, on a code, this is all they just touched on primal ideas, things that we all knew, and just spun it to a way that we're like, Oh, okay. It fights in space. We're just what we're to literally what war two edited fight the fight they literally edited for war two footage in a sizzle reel and match the cut for cut with, with the with the TIE fighters and stuff like that. It's what they did. So that's what, that's what they were trying to do. And, and again, with someone like Lucas, he was so authentic with what he was trying to do with Star Wars, to bring myth back to give the meat and potatoes of what we needed and wrap it in this beautiful package.

Brooks Elms 46:56
Yeah, yeah, I love it. Man. I love it. One of the thought I want to add to this is I really liked that sort of articulation of you know, me you in the moment, those three things, really, if you can fill those three boxes, I think you sparked you, then the force flows through you, right? There's not so this the writer that we know, we're an actor that we know that super talented, that some doesn't seem to be getting the opportunities that they want. I think one thing that's different these days that was different than you know, when you and I came up in like the 90s or 80s Is it really was before a gatekeeper sort of situation in Hollywood, where it was like you had to kind of know somebody they would because there were too many people that were interested in writing stuff. And most of the people weren't up to that level of, of, you know, I think of it in terms of prowess and proximity, right prowess. Can you write at that level where you're tapping into that soul deep pit factor, right? And then proximity, do you know somebody that can actually do something with your work, right? And so you're talking about some people that have the prowess, but for whatever reason, they're not in proximity to the people that are actually doing things. And back in the day, you needed representation, you knew this, you needed that. But these days, guys, there's this thing called social media. And that just obliterated the gates, the gates are not there. Hollywood is on social media and social media, I invite everybody listening to this, to think about social media as basically an open cocktail party in Hollywood. Not everybody's at the cocktail party, but I'm telling you, if they're not at the cocktail party themselves, and the cocktail party is Twitter, or LinkedIn, or Instagram or whatever. If they're not themselves, their assistant or their second assistant is, and almost nobody, nobody's talking to them. So you have probably one degree, if not two degrees away from everybody you want to be doing business with. If you have you don't have the prowess, then it's a new conversation anyway. If you first have the prowess, you will have the proximity, you just bring the superpower that we're talking about awareness of me awareness of you awareness of the moment, bring that into your social media interactions. And I tell you, you stand out you're not like the weirdo that's going by my script by my script by my script, you are just connecting to them in a soulful way about whatever they're posting about because they have interest in that and you just let the conversation let the relationship long term relationship just build organically. It doesn't take too many too many of those exchanges for them to go oh is this Alice guy he looks really interesting mean they know you but like, but like somebody who's a newer writer. If you show up with that it factor in social media, you stand out and they're going, Oh, who is this person? They click over your profile. And if your profile is optimized to have that it factor that you just feel whatever your superpower is, it's in that profile. They go, that person's interesting, what's going on? Then they start asking you What are you writing? And then you pitch to the difference?

Alex Ferrari 49:55
Yeah, and I've seen so many comedians who've built a career After just telling jokes on Twitter, oh, yeah, they just they tag a few people, couple hashtags, put it out there, and people just start following them. Because they're just funny. And then all of a sudden, you're like, What are they doing? And like, how are they doing? It's, oh, I gotta show like, it's a different world. And I think so many of us. I was I was such a victim of this for such a long time. And I was acting like he was the 90s. I was acting like it was, you know, and I was treating my career and treating what I was doing very much like, I was still stuck in the 90s. Until I finally, you know, it took me a couple decades to figure it out. I mean, I'm not joking about it. Like literally, I mean, when 2015 showed up. And I was at a pretty low point in my life, not the lowest, I wrote a book about my lowest. But the the was really, it wasn't in a great place. And I was like, You know what, let me let me start giving back. And let me start, let me open up this business, and I'm gonna do a podcast. And that's when that's when I launched indie film, hustle. And from that moment on, I was like, oh, okay, this is how the game is played. Now the rules have changed. I'm now starting to catch up. And now it's like, okay, now I gotta be ahead of the game on all these things. I'm certain because I'm kind of at the street level. And I'm interviewing and talking to people constantly about what's the newest thing if it's NFT's and raising money with NFT's? Or is it blockchain? Is that how we're gonna distribute? Are we, you know, SVOD is over are now at TVOD is dead. And AVOD is where the money is. And these kinds of things and Netflix not buying anymore. And, you know, Sundance doesn't have the same poll that it used to and all of these kinds of conversations where so many filmmakers and so many screenwriters are stuck in the time that they were growing up or that they want to be in because the 90s dude got a spec spec, the spec market in the 90s. In the 80s, and 3 million $4 million. Yeah, no. Do you know the story of Shane Black story on how he I don't know how he sold last Last Action Hero?

Brooks Elms 52:11
I'm sure I've heard it. And I mean, he's, you know,

Alex Ferrari 52:14
The historic was this. Yeah, he's, he's the poster child for from what I heard was his manager, said, Shane, what do you have? What's your next script? He's like, I got this idea. He goes, come over and tell me the idea. He's like, okay, great. Write it down on this napkin. So we wrote it down on a napkin. And then that manager called every studio head in town. This is the craziness that that we were in the world at that time. Every student had in town and said, I got student blacks next. Next script idea. If you want it, you need to come down to my office and read it. Wow. Not not assistant, you. So all the CEOs walked into the office and read a cocktail napkin. In three days later, we had a $4 million dollar bid. It was a bidding war. And then we all know how last action here on it.

Brooks Elms 53:04
But yeah, but yeah, that was yeah, that was

Alex Ferrari 53:08
I think that was the death of that. I think after after that. I think they're like, you know, we're, we're good. It's it. There's still million dollar sales every once in awhile in the stock market. No question. But it's nothing like it wasn't. I mean, Joe Osterhaus Jesus.

Brooks Elms 53:22
Yeah, no, that was it was not it was it was it was, it was, it was a good time. You know, it all I was so cute. But here's what I want to point out with you, my friend is that you took this intense passion that you had for independent filmmaking, and for helping others write your own authenticity, because you're no joke, you deeply care about this thing, and risking all these things, you really are the real deal. And you were like, Look, I've learned a few things over the over the years. I'd like to have conversations around that to be in service with your people. That's how you did it. Dude, that's how your puzzle piece went from what it was in the 90s. To what it was, it is now you just said, Here's my puzzle piece. Here's where I spent authentically and here's a way that my puzzle piece fits with what people need. And you just poured that fuel because you have that enthusiasm. And that's why you're so successful. You've made that connection and my friend anything if you know whatever you want to do as a filmmaker or screenwriter you can I invite you to reflect on the the exact way that you did it because if you did that if you have your trance, all these skills are transferable. That's what we're talking about that sustainability like that the Mojo that you use to go from you know, sort of talented indie filmmaker to like one of the biggest podcasts in the sector, that you can take that same Mojo and put it into screenplay, film, whatever you want. That next level is there for you. You just have to slow down and figure out how to connect those dots. You see I'm saying

Alex Ferrari 54:48
That's a that's a conversation we can have off air sir.

Brooks Elms 54:54
That's my favorite thing to do at uni. We're talking about audience right. And here's how I can tell you I have somebody in my program Right now, 3 million followers online, right 3 million followers. He's only been at it for like a year or two really funny comic, but he just moves in like this comedy class or whatever is like you know what I can do that character starts doing the character puts these 32nd clips on, boom, boom, you know, up, fail, fail, fail and then gets good at it and then start dialing in viral viral viral boom, now he's got, you know, auditions on it lives blown up all over, right? He comes to me and I'd show him how to take that third, it's the same thing I'm telling you. I go, Okay, here's your superpower for 30 seconds your world class, here's how you take that same superpower and put it into a 30 page sitcom. And I'm telling you, dude, easy as pie. Because that's what I do all day long. I try to move myself forward. And I try to help other people move forward with them. And I'm that dock connector. So so I can if I was to work with you, I was very specifically go, here's how I think you use crackers. That's a hard nut. Dude. You're just like you're saying a lot of people are doing podcasts. And they're all falling away. How are you? How are you outpacing? And we would get very specific about that. And I'd say here's your sort of very nuanced, specific superpower. And here's exactly how you apply it in your screenwriting directing whatever you want it those dots connect, I promise you.

Alex Ferrari 56:16
It's really interesting, too, because I mean, I always figured that one of the reasons why, you know, I had a popular show is because I'm just relentless. I just put out so much content, that I'll just work outwork you. I'll outwork anybody, and no one. And yet, I outwork companies, and I'm doing it a lot by myself. But companies with full staffs, and I'm still out working them, because that's who I am. Look, I got 50 How many hustles? Can you see in the screen at the same time? My hat, my shirt and giant letters in the back? I mean, it is a three giant words, hustle. I mean, I live the brand, sir. I live the brand. There's no question. But it's really but it's it's really interesting. It's not more just to kind of stroke my ego, but it's using it as an example of what because you're absolutely right. There are tons of people trying to break into the filmmaking and screenwriting space. And I've been able to do it twice with indie film, hustle, and with Bulletproof screenwriting, both at this, by the way, I don't know if you know this or not. But bulletproof screenwriting is as big if not bigger than indie film hustle as a podcast. Wow. I've just I've been realizing that it's, and I'm not saying that boast. But it's just fascinating to me. I'm like, How is this happening? So it's always interesting when when things like that happen in your life, because you feel like okay, let me I mean, I'm so busy doing it. I don't take time to think about why you do how it's doing it. So that thing, same thing could be turned into when you're writing. If you're getting success. Why am I getting success? And if I can figure out that formula, then I can kind of help it along and put fire gasoline on the fire. That's it.

Brooks Elms 58:03
I get I 1,000% guarantee you. Jon Favreau knows how to do it instinctive. I don't know if he can speak to it. If it's that conscious for him, he probably can't because he's so smart and so aware. But that's how he went from, you know, reinvention, reinvention, reinvention, reinvention. He has that authenticity in Him. He knows the types of puzzle pieces that, oh, here's where I fit in. Here's where I fit in. Here's where I fit in. So you're like you 3x Hustle aspect of your superpower. There's a way of doing that with maybe if you're writing a new screenplay, drilling down on theme, like the wreck with the typical again, I'm just pulling this off my head. But like, the typical screenwriter might think of theme one time, you as part your superpower would like I'm gonna hammer I'm gonna think of theme three times, five times. Like with Tarantino, he curates 10 times more than the rest of us. That's how he's differentiating. And so you have your own way of the exact way that you've differentiated as a podcaster. I promise you that's transferable to you in whatever new format you want screenwriting directing, whatever, and it's a matter of the slow and what happens dude is, it's, it's slowing down, opening up getting to that spacious thing going from the deep. Because when we slow down and we just ask ourselves a question, we're open to that. It flows through us and it tells us it'll go Alex this not that.

Alex Ferrari 59:29
If you can quiet the mind enough to hear when it comes through because we're so busy sometimes. That's why I'm such a big proponent of meditation. I meditate every day. And it helps the creative process a lot and I get the best ideas I get if I have a problem, I asked it in my meditation and generally ideas just fly to me because you quiet yourself all the noise down enough to allow that to come in. So as writers, you know, I asked a lot of these big screenwriters like do you meditate and they're like, Absolutely, like I just It's a part of the process to come and just quiet down the mind to allow that to come in. This is the thing that writers and creatives don't understand. If you can allow yourself to receive this, this thing, this thing in the ether, whatever you want to call it fufu or not, I don't give a crap when an Oscar winner, multiple Oscar winners told me the same thing I'm listening. So regardless if you believe it or not, but if you can require about quiet enough to accept it, to open yourself up to it, to relieve your ego to relieve your mind, and get it out of the way, to you instinctively allow it to come through you, that's when magic starts to happen. And that these, these great artists that we're talking about in this conversation, have the ability to not do it just once. But again, and again. And you can see in a in a filmography. If you look at if you look closely at a filmography, especially filmography scripts are different, because once they get made into movie, a lot of different things happen. But if a writer director you can see where they skewed off most of the time, arguably, Cameron is probably the only one that does not have that. His his filmography pretty much is rock solid. There's just it just there's nothing that you're like, oh, he bombed that one. Never is that it hasn't happened yet. Maybe in the next five avatars? I don't know. Doubt it. But But generally speaking, you can see where things go, oh, oh, he there was a misstep there. What happened there? And when you investigate, there's something happening in their lives, they might have gotten too full of themselves, the ego situations like that. And it's really interesting, because I've been a student of the business for close to 30 years, I've read beyond biographies and really studied what these filmmakers do. And you can just see, you could see like, oh, that boom, or boom, or boom, a book. Oh. And you know, and for Tarantino was Death Proof. He, that was that that was the thing that scared the living hell out of him. And it was really interesting, because he's talked about this publicly so many times. He was terrified of Death Proof like because it was the first time he ever bombed first time, it was not well received first time that people didn't love it. I do like Death Proof. But there's, there's issues about it. It's definitely not at the highest of his of his work. But there was something that happened in that transition. That wasn't authentic to him anymore. Something happened. I don't know what it was. But it didn't sing. It didn't sing like the rest of them. Something happened. So what did you do right away is like, Kill Bill. I'm gonna read back to where I know about Yeah. And then he came out with it with this amazing, you know, amazing Opus, that was Bill Bill, and then Inglorious Basterds, and so on. I'm not sure if Cobra was before or after, I don't remember. But the next movie was,

Brooks Elms 1:02:56
He went. So the way I would say that is he went found a way to receive that he wasn't receiving impulses with that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that's it. And so let me wander back up. Because a lot of sometimes people will hear meditation, even if they're sort of down with or whatever. But they're like, sitting on a cushion, whatever. So like, you'll feel Jackson was really big, you know, he was the balls in the Lakers, he was really big into that. But you can imagine a lot of people that are new to really, because this is really close. So what he would do is just like, Okay, we're gonna meditate as a team, if you're not into meditating, just rest, you know, no judgment either way. So like, anybody who's hearing this, that's kind of new to that thing. It's like, I don't know, it's a weird, just, it's cool. There's, you know, there's not a right way to do it. It's really just settling yourself down and being sort of open to the bigger thing, you could actually do it, going on a walk, you can do it journaling, you could do whatever. I'm like, way into personal growth. And I don't traditionally meditate. I do sometimes. But like, for the most part, I just want to get myself into like a grounded state of tapping into something better. You know, and I do it in the morning, and I do it at night. Most of the time, not not all the time, but like, so I would invite people to think about it. And here's the thing, and so sometimes I'll like my, my morning ritual will be journaling. And then I'll be like, yeah, if now I'm gonna do like some Tai Chi. And I'm like, Yeah, that's kind of stupid. But like, it'll change and like so I invite you guys to come up if look, if you if meditation works for you, and you can do that and clockwork amazing. But I would encourage you guys just to find your own way. And that open space and, and that's going to make the difference. And then the one other thing quickly. The other thing that if you get a good coach, or consultant, what they will do is they will help you get into that deep grounded space because it feels really vulnerable, and people are afraid of it. So if you get to a really, you work with somebody who's really good, and somebody who's really good, we'll put you in touch with your superpower and then just duck like when I'm doing my best work. I'm going to go keep going, it's great, you know, like, I'm really good at getting out of the way to recognize because it's not about me it's being in service to their greatness so that they and their audience can have this beautiful union. So I'm in the moment, helping them sort of have this thing. And when we're getting coached, you know, if it's a great coach, if you feel like, amazing, like so powerful, and then from there, you just write at a much higher level, because the stuff is flowing through you. So a start with your first version of whatever meditation is, or whatever, and then be get support from anybody in your life that can get you into that state of awesomeness. One last last thing. You know, it was to me, like when I look at, you know, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and how they, you know, really created, you know, they were having some success in Hollywood, when they, when they, at least what I've heard about, I don't know, that person would have heard about them, making them Goodwill Hunting, I really admired how they seem to just shower each other with love, but they really loved each other. And I know you're awesome. They seem to really build each other up because I had really strong relationships with friends. But in my mind, we didn't seem to be goes as far as those guys seem to go in terms of really celebrating each other. And there's something in that quality. So for them, that sort of celebration was able to, you know, and then it got support from like Castle Rock or whatever, and but like, but but so whatever your version of getting celebrated and supported by amazing people, it could be a coach, it could be friends, it could be whatever, get your version of it, because it's from that place that you're going to create at a much higher level.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:35
Yeah, there's no question Brosman I mean, this conversation went into a direction that I wasn't expecting, which I love. So much, we basically talked about the authenticity of being a screenwriter, and authenticity, being an artist, how to channel how to get things into you how to be able to tap into the ether, all these amazing things that aren't really talked about very often. In this space, you know, we could talk about character development and structure all day. But this is something really interesting. And I'm so glad that we had this conversation and hopefully, it's the beginning place for people listening to start figuring out is this that what's the missing thing? You know, one guy I wanted to bring up before we, before we stop, or finish is Taylor Sheridan, not Taylor shared, and arguably, he's one of the best writers in Hollywood right now. He's arguably the busiest Hollywood writer in Hollywood. There's just he's got 11 shows. In production, I think

Brooks Elms 1:07:34

Alex Ferrari 1:07:35
I think he's got I mean, a god, there's like at least six that I know of off the top of my head. But then I saw a video on Paramount plus that showed like three or four other ones he's developing that are like, you know, there's a new one coming out with Sylvester Stallone as a gangster. And then there's 1932, another prequel to to Yellowstone, and mayors of Kings town and there's like, the six exits, the four sixes ranch of spin off, like there's just so much, but I was watching an interview with him this weekend. He was, I think, on CBS This Morning. And he talked about just bumping his head for years in Hollywood. And he's he's such a matter of fact, guy. He's just like, he's a cowboy. He is a cowboy. That's it. He's straight up cowboy. He's like, I make movies to support my horse habit is exactly that's different. So so he has been bumping it, he was bumping around Hollywood, for almost two decades, just just right, just just acting, and he'd always got parts here and there. And he got a couple of shows and good looking dude, good actor. No reason why he shouldn't have made it. As a leader, he could have easily been a leading man, I could see him as a leading guy. But he's like, I never made it past, you know, 11 on the fucking College. Like he goes, and he goes, I've never seen in town. Anybody batter their head against the wall for 20 years and then make it. And I was like, wow, that's really interesting, because the town tells you what you are supposed to be doing. And I was like, that just hit me like a ton of bricks, man, because I was just like, Wow, that's pretty, pretty deep of a of a comment to say. But then you start thinking about it. And there isn't a story. That 20 years somebody was beating and beating and beating the hell out to be an actor. And then they became Tom Cruise like that doesn't. You know, they were writing for 20 years. And then they became Clint Tarantino like that. He was he's, I've seen it at eight years. I've seen it at 10 years, seen it at 12 years. But I haven't seen it a 20 years. He goes in, that's something really specific. So it's an idea that I was like, huh, the town tells you what you're supposed to be doing. So if you're going in a direction, and after eight or 10 years, it's not working out, maybe this is not the specific path. So maybe I want to be screening for film feature features, feature features, like, maybe TVs where you need to be, you know, maybe you need to be a filmmaker, maybe you need to be something.

Brooks Elms 1:10:30
I love it. To me, that's that puzzle piece. It's like I, I'm probably I think I fit here, right?

Alex Ferrari 1:10:36
I want to I want, I want to fit here. I want to fit here. Yeah, yeah.

Brooks Elms 1:10:40
And then you gotta try it. And then but here's the one thing and and this is, it's a really good thing. It's the key is to when we're trying to find where we fit as a puzzle piece to come from that deeper place, right? Because because sometimes you'll see people going, Oh, I didn't fit here. And then we'll try a quarter. And then we'll try comedy. And then I'll try whatever. And that's kind of a lot of frenetic energy, right, but it's not as deep. So what you want to do is go no, no deeper. And to me, it's like, who am I here to serve. And I think what he did was like, hold on a second, I can connect to the audience in a different way. If I if I write, you know, that I've done I've been able to do so far as as an actor, I can do some serious stuff with an actor, I can go even deeper. So that's to me is what you're looking for is Who can I serve in a deep way? That feels authentic for me authentic for them? To me, that's, that's where that magic is.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:30
And it was so funny, because he's like, someone told him I think he wrote something down somewhere, something I don't know. And a friend of his like, hey, maybe you should write try writing. So that weekend, he went home and wrote the pilot for mayor of Kingston, which I'm watching bomb watching, by the way, it's a fantastic show. And, and he literally said to himself, after he wrote the pilot, which took him a week, that's how much built up craft and energy he had built up, but had never executed in that space, that he was able to create a pilot, by the way, I don't know if you've seen the pilot for sure. Merica? No, no, it's good. It's one of the best pilots I've I've ever seen. It's really, it's up there with, it's up there with the Breaking Bad pilot. It's up there with the madman pilot, in my opinion, because you watch it and it did what a job of a pilot is supposed to do. It introduces characters, and hooks you for the series. And there's something that happens in that pilot that you're just going, we'll have to watch the entire show now, because it is so beautifully crafted. And then just the concept of the of what the characters are doing was something I'd never even never even seen before. So it's such an original idea. That was another thing. But he said, Man, I wish I would have started doing this 15 years ago, he literally stopped and said that, because I wish I would have been doing this 15 years ago, I've been bumping my head as an actor all these years. And what I really was meant to do is write Yeah, and then now he's a writer and director. And then he did carrio And you know of Helen high water. And let me give

Brooks Elms 1:13:08
The keys to one more thought about this was really interesting. There's this personal growth guy named Gay Hendricks and he talks about, he talks about like, these four zones, right? One is like the zone of like, you hate it. It's like you're miserable. And then one is like, okay, you can kind of you know, you can put up with it. But then once whatever. The third is the excellence zone. And then the fourth is the genius zone. Right? And I think what we're talking about with Thomas Sheridan and Tarantino, by the way, as an actor, you know, somebody? Yeah, not not strong. And then, and then through that, but he was trying, he was going out there he was, whatever. So he didn't stop there. He was like, hold on a second. And then, like I said, with that the incident, one guy said, I was ready. You're amazing. And now I was like, oh, yeah, that's actually where my genius zone is. And we share it. And he was, you know, maybe excellent, or whatever, as an actor, but as a writer, that was really his genius. So like, and we know what we're in our genius zone. When you get that time warp thing, things just flow. They just happen. It's just it feels effortless. It's easy. Other people are like, Oh my God, you're amazing at this, you know, but we want to be careful because the excellent zone is tricky, because we're competent for actually getting stuff done. But it's not really why we're on the planet. And maybe those those golden handcuffs, maybe we're good at some other sector or even we're good in a film business, but we're not really connecting soul to soul. We're kind of getting it done, but like that deeper level, so I would invite everybody listen to this. Just think about your different. The book. That's a pretty good one is the genius zone. Hendrix or the big leap by Gay Hendricks, but it's totally applicable to you and your place in the business. Are you working from your real genius on and when you are people they you find your kindred spirits and they find you it's it's beautiful.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:54
It's it's you're absolutely right. Listen, man. Brooks Where can people find out more about you and In the amazing work you're doing, sir.

Brooks Elms 1:15:01
So, go to Twitter Brooks Elms, Brooks Elms at Twitter. And if you'd like me a little bit, just want to hear the stuff, that's fine. If you want to get on my email list, you can click the link on my Twitter profile. And that brings you into, you know, all sorts of different ways to get on my email list. Like there's some free guides about dealing with fear and feedback and all sorts of good stuff. And on my email list, you get exclusive free content, like we did a free group coaching call today, which is really fun. So yeah, and then I actually just came out with a new book, you can get that through the same link. And the book is like a nine step process of how I intend to systematize like that it factor I'm gonna call your superpower. And like where you start to kind of define that. So it's like a system, but the idea is to go really soul deep on your system so that it's repeatable and sustainable, but really clear steps forward. So then writers have been having a really good time with it. So

Alex Ferrari 1:15:57
Brooks, man, it's been an absolute pleasure, man. You got to come back on the show. We always have great conversations. This has been this has been one for the books, my friend so I appreciate you my friend. Thank you again for coming back.

Brooks Elms 1:16:09
Thank you brother. Really happy to be here.

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