BPS 052: Story$elling Your Screenplay with Heather Hale

Today on the show we have returning champion Heather Hale.  Heather Hale’s new book Story Selling: How to Develop, Market, and Pitch Your Film & TV Projects helps you get your stories out of your head and onto the worldwide stage. From the inspiration and conception of all kinds of creative writing, through the development and refinement of all the elements, to navigating the legal, financial, physical production, distribution, and marketing labyrinths of the overlapping businesses of mass media, she explores how (and why) we write, co-create, share and monetize stories around the world today.

Pitching is an art form that brings together content and communication channels. Regardless of What you’re pitching . . . Where, When and to Whom . . . the principles are universal. It’s How you pitch that matters ― and there are countless strategies that combine elements in different combinations.

Heather’s book details all of them, their construction and applications, in a fun and interactive way that inspires readers to create memorable and saleable pitches in order to get their projects made.

Enjoy my conversation with Heather Hale.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:31
Now today on the show, we have returning champion Heather Hale. And today we're going to talk about her new book story selling how to develop market and pitch your TV and film projects. Now pitching is an art form. It is something that we all need to do at every level of our lives. Whether it's pitching a project to a studio executive to an investor, or pitching where you want to go to dinner and trying to convince your wife or your friends that that's the place we should go. It's all about how you communicate. But when you're pitching your stories, it is about how content and communication come together. And in this episode, I dig deep into how to get the most out of a pitch, what little tips and tricks you can do to help you in the room with a studio executive with an investor with someone that's going to hopefully help you with your project. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Heather Hale. I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion Heather Hale. How are you? All are you doing? How are you? I'm good. I'm good. Thank you for so much for coming back. You are a busy bee. So now you're back with your we're gonna talk a little bit about your second book story selling but you were original guests on indie film hustle in Episode 240 talking about how to work the markets.

Heather Hale 3:38
A lot of fun. Thank you. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 3:40
absolutely. And you were a big hit. A lot of people like to love that episode. So when I heard about your new book, I was like, well, we got to have Heather back to talk about this. Because if I just for my own personal I just have so many questions. I'm dying to ask. So for for people who don't know who you are and didn't listen to that first episode. Can you tell us a little about about how you got into the film business?

Heather Hale 4:02
Yeah, so I'm a writer, director, producer, film and television and I have about five broken stories because everybody has to break in and re break in and really break in so me bout to do my next one. Yeah. So I guess my big break in was the courage to love, which was a five and a half million dollar lifetime original movie that Vanessa Williams, Stacy Keach, Gil bellows and Diane Carroll was in. That's the big one.

Alex Ferrari 4:27
I got you.

Heather Hale 4:28
I did a bunch of other little things like a couple PBS series that won Emmys and lifestyle magazine that I'm still doing. It's a TV talk show that won some tellies and Ace awards and just lots of I did a lot of infomercials, commercials trade

thrills, you name.

Alex Ferrari 4:49
So you've been hustling? You've been hustling?

Yes, indeed.

So Alright, so let's talk a little bit about selling your stories. How do you How does one well, what advice do you have to develop a marketable story or screenplay a project?

Heather Hale 5:07
Well, that's a loaded question is,

it depends on where you're at in the process, it depends on where you're at in your career, it depends on the kind of project. So that's a pretty broad question. But it's, of course, a question everybody has. So I think a huge part of it is knowing what your concept is, and knowing who would buy it. And who would watch it. So what are your distribution channels? Is it a limited event series? Is it a contained thriller? Or an indie feature? Is it you know, an indie feature? Is it something could be a one hour drama, comedy sketch comedy? What What is this monster that you're selling? And then who are the likely buyers or the prospects that would be contenders for financing distribution attachments, actors, directors, who are the people that could come on board as part of that daisy chain that get the momentum going to get it pushed up the hill? I, I think I said this in the last time, I feel like Sisyphus, the octopus is pushing like eight rocks up. That's how I always feel. But it's I think it's, it's being able to identify what the gym the concept is, and who's going to care? Who's going to care enough to fund millions or pay 12 bucks, like who's gonna care and want to see that? And how do you get it to them, and what's the best way to pitch it to them.

Alex Ferrari 6:26
And that can work pretty much on almost any level. I mean, even if it's a small micro budget film, you're just pitching it to somebody who you want to work for very little on the movies, it could be a dp, it could be an actor that you want to bring on board, it could be anybody. Or it could be your money,

Heather Hale 6:41
shoot in their restaurant, or you want them to donate Gatorade, like whatever.

Alex Ferrari 6:47
Yeah, it's all it's all part of the same thing. Everyone always thinks that you have to sell your story or selling your stories, or your project is all about millions and millions of dollars and getting you know, Steven Spielberg to executive produce. Yes, there are those but more likely, it's like going down to the local pizza joint that you talk to all the time, like, Look, this is what I'm doing. And getting in those skills that you have to kind of build

Heather Hale 7:09
a restaurant after hours, would you give us a really good deal on your cameras? Whatever you need, beg, borrow, steal everything and getting that star to come for one day? You know, whatever it is, it's, it's pitching it in the best light possible and angling it so that your approach strategy is appropriate for whoever it is, whatever it is, you're asking for, from whoever that prospect is?

Alex Ferrari 7:31
Well, let me ask you a question. When I started, when I first started my very first short film that I did, I turned it into kind of like I was a nobody with no, no real background other than shooting a few commercials. This is years ago. And I was trying to put together a small short film, which was going to be around at $1,000 for film in Florida. And I made it into this kind of I even at that's the this book, of course wasn't available then. And a lot of these concepts wouldn't even talked about back then. But

Heather Hale 7:57
I was I needed to read it 20 years ago.

Alex Ferrari 8:01
Yeah, exactly. I would have loved to read this 20 years ago. So but what I did was, you know, because I was like I'm a nobody from nowhere. And I got to put together a team to make this movie. So what I did is made it kind of like an extravaganza, in the sense, like it's a really big ambitious action film with a lot of visual effects. And I started getting artwork commissioned to make it look good. And as you start building up a bigger a bigger thing than it was I was treating it like it was an x men movie. You know what I was I was treating it like a really big budget movie, even though it's a small movie. And that attracted talent to the piece because nobody else in my area was doing anything this

Heather Hale 8:35
action is reality.

Alex Ferrari 8:37
Exactly. So is that kind of a good point, because I know a lot of people listening might have a short little short film or a little micro budget film, and to kind of create this kind of buzz about it and kind of create like, I want to be a part of that craziness.

Heather Hale 8:50
Yeah, I think, you know, everyone wants to be a part of the next great thing everyone wants to not have missed out. It's like that FOMO fear of missing out if you were the one who, who didn't get that opportunity. I have a friend who was next door neighbors with Bill Gates. And when Bill Gates was a kid, he asked him for $4,000 to buy his first computer and he said no. So you know that we all have the book. I was just listening to the Jim Patterson masterclass. And he said 39 people turned down his first novel. And the truth is, are those 39 people wrong? Maybe. But 39 people who are supposedly professionals in the industry missed the boat on being the publisher for James Patterson. So you need people to think you're the next big thing and even if you're not the next big thing like the hot ingenue or whatever, that that project might be in the Spirit Award worthy Sundance buzzworthy is it going to be like you look at distributors and of course distributors want to see a list talent, but they also love to see a good stable and ensemble of solid talent where they know that the the bar of acting ability is going to be raised to that level or that the deep Or the costume designer, whoever the key key department heads are, that those are rock solid people. So if you can create this ensemble around you that you're the weakest link in the constellation, you're going to be able to pitch the strength of your team and kind of try to parlay some traction off of that. Everybody's communal efforts,

Alex Ferrari 10:22
is it? Isn't it true that like, I've seen so many, and I've done it myself, so many projects pitched around, you know, really high end. below the line people like really excellent editors, really excellent DPS. Riley. Yeah, they're, they're really quick. But that gives you like, as a young filmmaker, or an inexperienced filmmaker, they're like, Look, I have the vision. But these are my craftsmen. These are the people who are going to execute my vision. So at least at minimum, you know, it's going to look and sound and look good. And so that's make investors and even studios, sometimes, depending on what type of studio it is a little bit happier, right?

Heather Hale 11:00
Yeah, you've surrounded yourself with people who are going to make sure that you deliver good quality. And same thing with your, if you're an actor, or an actress trying to write yourself a role and put up the money and buy yourself the roll. You know, that is a strategy that works for lots of people, surround yourself with the best of everything, you know, make, you know, let yourself be the weak, I always think you should be the weakest player on the bench, you know, then your game is always raised to the players around you. So just make sure you get the very best you can secure and then pinch your heart out of look at all these great people that you couldn't have afforded. But I've got at this scale, because they all want to help me. And it is an issue as well, that when you land that one actor, or that one key person below the line, they are the ones that nobody wants to be the first to the party. So yeah, same thing with money. No one wants to be first money, and they all want to be first money out. It's tough. You know, you can often get second and third money, but who's the first jump in the pool?

Alex Ferrari 12:03
I don't know if this is even legal or not. But let's say your mom and dad are going to invest in your in your business. Can you just say we have investors already, we already have money and do

Heather Hale 12:10
that all the time. I know someone who has half a million and he or she told me behind the scenes, it's Mom and Dad, you know, nobody can it's confidence. It's just all smoke and mirrors, you know, and it's not just smoke and mirrors. I mean, you want to you want to take care of anyone else's money like it was your own. And you're going to take care of mom and dad's money because that's not so you're in retirement or your own inheritance. But it's your parents. So I think you just you want everyone to know that you honor the fiduciary relationship that you have and that you're going to do the very best you can in every department and every element and make everyone have faith and confidence in you and you got a pitch and pitch and pitch your heart out every which way.

Alex Ferrari 12:55
Now let's talk a little bit about screenwriters because I know screenwriters unfortunately have the worst the worst luck to have to pitch their their wares. And many times they don't have those visual stimulation, or videos or ripple, maddix or any of those things. What are the biggest mistakes you see screenwriters when they're pitching their scripts? Well, I

Heather Hale 13:16
have a lot of ideas for that. And I also think that times have changed. So they used to say don't use any key art, when you're pitching a screenplay. That's sort of true sort of not true. We talked about this in the other book, how to work the markets, but basically don't use shitty key art. Right, because most of what comes is awful. So it's okay to use key art. It's also okay to turn down the 12 students who want you to use their key art and use nothing. As a writer I worked on projects where I was a judge of a bunch of competitions, and the people came in and what the writer the creator pitched verbally and on the page was so much better than the chintzy budget that they could swing for some trailer or sizzle reel like you know, don't don't if it's not fantastic. Don't give that because your words should be able to see your writer that's we expect you to be a fantastic writer. The reverse is true as well. I've seen lots of slick, beautiful high end ad agency quality pitch decks and sizzle reels where the idea wasn't good. Write the story wasn't there, the characters were no good. It wasn't fresh wasn't original. So people can see through that. So as a writer, just write the best stuff you can. So then beyond that, you can use things like you don't have to have a photoshoot. You can use things like unsplash.com and there's a ton of others that's free images. So just get the image that captures some beautiful photographer who's done it for free and given it to you. Also, you can use any image you want in a pitch deck, right? It's not going you're not selling it. It's not necessarily going on the internet. Even if it goes on the internet, it can be password protected. So You can grab images off other things. And that's, you know, another thing people can do what's called a rip ematic. Instead of shooting a short film and editing your proof of concept for your feature film or your TV show, grab images of ala stars with the kind of production value you're wanting to communicate, and then just do a voiceover that kind of unifies it was telling your story. And they know that the Brad Pitt that changes even to Will Smith, that changes to whomever that that's the character we're tracking, then they can visualize in your mind's eye and a list actor with that kind of production value. Or don't worry about it, just have it written, you know, on the written page or grab images, I've done things where, wherever the set is, maybe it's Martha's Vineyard, maybe it's the Wild West, you grab images that conjure that sense of place and time and that mill you. And then don't worry about the actor so much. I have a project where we have an ensemble cast, and of course, we have whoever the hottie of the week is male and female, right? whoever they are, I'm not gonna say who they are because they look dated. But your veteran actors, some of your character actors, those are some of the anchors that you know, maybe you're going to stunt cast a cameo for a day or two. So maybe in your fantasy, you get Frances mcdorman and Kevin Costner. Alright, cool. And then we'll cast whoever the stars are, you know, but those are the anchor that are going to let you know the caliber of acting involved.

Alex Ferrari 16:24
Yeah, I have edited many a rip ematic in my day for clients, where it's it's a kind of a, it's an art form, first of all, but also a lot. But it's, but it's also something that not many people even know about. It's not a very known thing, or diplomatic where I literally would go to, you know, seven and Fight Club. And I would because it was a dark thriller esque thing. And I would just grab images of Brad Pitt and I actually carry Brad Pitt through multiple movies, in the trailer. And there's a lot of those kind of things like these pho trailers on YouTube now that I did do for fun. But

Heather Hale 16:58
on my website, so I have Heather Hill comm forward slash story selling. And I have rip ematic examples. And any that you have, that you I'll put tons more up there. So I keep trying to put things that are good examples. So and there are lots of when the fo ones are fantastic, because if you've ever seen the trailers that take something like the shining and turn it into romantic comedy, Oh, those are the best, right? But look at what it teaches you about images and juxtaposition of images and music and lighting, like you've lightened it up to a different color palette, and suddenly, it's not the shining anymore. Or you take some you know, Wes Anderson thing and make it gritty, film noir ish. Like, that's how you can change what we think the genre is, and who the target audience is. So I talk a lot about in both books, reverse engineering from your comps, your film and television examples that are similar, or that have the same sensibility or same target audience. And what can you learn from their taglines from their keywords? And are you pushing the boundaries in unique and interesting ways? Are you? Are you colliding ideas so that what comes up is fresh and in your wheelhouse really specifically? And I think all of these marketing materials, whether they're on whether it's a pitch deck, that's like a PowerPoint, whether it's a proposal in Microsoft Word or PDF, whether it's a sizzle reel, or rip, ematic, whatever an animatic. All those things are just to communicate the idea that's in your mind's eye to kind of emulate the viewing experience for your prospect.

Alex Ferrari 18:27
Now, can you tell everybody, we just want to go down the line? What is a pitch deck? So if you explain to people what a pitch deck is exactly?

Heather Hale 18:34
Well, I'm I think this is all changing all the time, because we have a whole generation of students who couldn't edit, what, 2030 years ago. I mean, it's just it's a whole different world. And so we have a very visual multimedia savvy, social media savvy generation, plus veterans that have been in the business for a long time and have done things in a different way. So I'm not sure that anybody knows this exactly. But in the book story selling especially I really tried to say, here's what a synopsis is, here's what a summary is. Here's what a logline is, you're going to hear a ton of different examples of what a treatment script meant all these words, but pitch to me. When I think of pitch deck, I think of a deck of cards. And I think of a stack of images. So I think PowerPoint for pitch deck that doesn't make it right or wrong. It can be saved as a PDF and sent in different ways. But I think, image image image with very little writing in a pitch deck, right? I did a fantastic pitch deck for a project. And then they wanted to know what were this episode synopsis. They wanted all the words after I went to all this effort to make this great image rich thing. I had to turn around and end up doing character breakdowns. Here's where the each episode would begin. And then here's our Cliff Notes. I'm cliffhangers. So, to me a pitch package is any one of these things. It's the package of the material. And a proposal might be more like a series Bible where you might have, here's a synopsis of the pilot. Here are the key episodes that we're going to talk about. If it's a limited series, you might have all of them. And so in the proposal, you're putting everything and it's a proposal to someone. Is it to a product placement company? Is it to a director? Is it to a star? Is it to someone playing a small supporting role, that's really key, and they're an A Lister, and you're going after them? And then you're gonna pitch it like, I don't know if you've seen the new, I don't know if it's called Karate Kid, but the new Karate Kid series or

Alex Ferrari 20:34
you mean, Cobra Kai? Kai,

Heather Hale 20:37
they teach that, right? But you know, they pitched it wildly differently to each of those actors, right? Because to one actor, it was his chance to he was the victim, he was the one that had the illegal kick to the head, right? So it was totally pitched differently to each of them to get them to feel like they were the protagonists of their stories. Yeah, so So it's the same thing, if you're pitching to someone who's got a fan, it's a fantastic big part. But they're only in two episodes of maybe a 10 episode limited series, you're pitching that key role, none of the rest of it really matters because they're not even there. So you have to make sure that it's what's in it for me. And what's relevant to me about this.

Alex Ferrari 21:19
So it's cost is your custom making pitches per person. Yeah, person thing,

Heather Hale 21:24
but honestly, 85 to 90% is the same, right, you're just taking out some stuff and shifting it. So I've started doing pitch decks and proposals. And then some, I don't normally have the ability for a sizzle reel. I mean, I can do Ripa maddix and things but my editing skills are are on the upswing. Make them so if I have someone on the team, who's a great editor, that's fantastic. I grab images and I grabbed I'll give like a an AVI timecode script of here where this would be great this clip this clip, this clip, and here's how we could pull this together. But for my purposes, I can usually do it with images, I've grabbed off the internet, which you know, I'm sure everybody knows, but right click and you can use it, you don't need REITs you don't need to pay for it, get the highest rates can and then, you know, make it smaller and wrap your text around it. And you can make a really beautiful presentation that really hits the high notes. And then on the website, I have a bunch of examples of everything too.

Alex Ferrari 22:22
And we'll put those in the show notes without question and then a sizzle reel. Because that's also another mystery that like a ripple Matic what is a sizzle reel. Exactly.

Heather Hale 22:29
Well, if you think of a trailer, the trailer for a movie, say for example, is often unfortunately beginning middle and end and it gives away all the best moments and it ruins the spoilers, right? That's typical bad trailer but it gets butts in the seat. So the cinema a trailer for let's say, Jane, the virgin for this week will be this week. And they're not going to tell you about pilot they're not gonna tell about the whole season. It's just what's coming up. So if you're or Game of Thrones, whatever it is that you're, you know, binge watching, if you happen to be watching it weekly on say, broadcast television. It's this upcoming week that are the like America's Got Talent. Here's who's in the semifinals, whatever it is, that's coming up, that's the trailer, a sizzle reel might be the whole season. Here's the whole asset that like if you were selling a TV show that you've put in the cat, let's think like like the dog whisperer. It might be clips of the whole five or 10 years or big bang theory it might be you know, they might be selling that to other countries. And that sizzle reel is the whole season, or the whole series, or the whole anthology series you think a True Detective American Horror Story. So it's not telling you what's coming up next week. It's not telling you the whole story like a trailer might or a trailer should tease. So they're all different ways of teasing. It's just how much content of the asset are they teasing and even as I give you all those definitions that you know they could all be wrong for a different kind of project. It's just I think I love the saying sell the sizzle not the steak. Right? You just you just want to tease and intrigue them so they want to come back they want they want like a logline is to get them to ask to read the script if if a logline gets them to ask to read the synopsis. They just asked for the second hurdle like you want to always go for the clothes so you're trying to get them to ask to read the script ask to see your you know your screener asked to get to the next step. And if you can't get them to make that leap, what's the very best next thing that will hopefully keep driving towards your goal?

Alex Ferrari 24:42
Now, how do you construct the pitch? I know that's also a loaded question because it depends on what kind of pitches but like you know, let's say a screenwriter is going to go into a pitch meeting with you know a potential producer or studio. How do you construct literally like construct the pitch like because some some of them will go in there and talk for 30 minutes you're like, nope. So how do you do it?

Heather Hale 25:04
And I talk a great deal in the book about different kinds of pitches, different kinds of projects, different environments. So the pitch for an on the studio lot, meeting, an official pitch meeting, that might be 30 minutes long, where everybody in the room has read your writer's Bible, your series Bible, they might have even read this read the screenplay, like sometimes you go in, and you're pitching after the fact where everybody's read everything. And then other times, you're doing a pitch fest event or virtual pitch fest thing, where it's five minutes, it's a total stranger, and you got to, you know, do your whole elevator pitch and don't even have time to build rapport. So I think it depends on what you're pitching, character driven projects are going to be pitched quite differently than a plot driven project, a high concept project is going to be quite differently pitch something that might be a famous novel, or a famous life story, somewhere where we have some point of reference, that's going to be quite differently pitch than some original worldview of like a Juno. Right? And it's, it's a whole, you have to know the world and the person and so depends on what it is you're pitching. Same thing with a pilot, a pilot for a, whether it's comedy or drama, it's going to be very much about that driving protagonist, because it might be it might be a serial, it might be episodic, who knows that? Are we going to want to tune into this character week after week. And then in the book, I go through everything, including reality TV, game shows, documentaries, everything. So it depends on two, do you know anything about the people you're pitching to? Sometimes who you're pitching to you can google them and you have a good feel for who's going to be in the room? I give strategies for how to find out who's going to be in the room. Sometimes you're completely prepared and who's in the room has changed by the time you get there. Like I had to deal with MPC when comp when Comcast was acquiring NBC Universal, so I had a four year deal. And you would go in and you who you thought you were pitching to, and you've done all your research on was different. And I even went in and pitched one day, and they had to call it off because of the stock shares. And who was they were requiring? And they couldn't hear y'all. You know, there's all sorts of stuff going on. Same thing with an investor, are they legit? Are they real? Are they not, it's just sometimes hard to know who you're pitching to. So you want to make sure that you're prepared to kind of lead off with some top notes. I often think of like an overture and a musical or an opera. It's like boom, boom, boom, skipping a rock across the water, so that they get a sense that there's going to be gunplay, there's going to be some fight choreography, there's going to be this epic romance, we get a sense of the type of things we're going to be seeing. And then you do a deep dive into the character that you're pitching to maybe the visuals and cinematics to a director, maybe why there's a great affinity target audience to an investor. It depends on what you're pitching to why, who and why. And that's another thing I talk about is the like journalism, the who, what, where, when, why, like, think about those things. And so in the book, I did what I thought was a lot of fun. And I've had a lot of readers read it, and they loved it. I'm not tooting my own horn, I just was really thought every minute. What What did I wish I had 20 years ago, what does storytellers need to have. And so I did all these work, worksheets and spreadsheets, and here's how to break it down. I have some stuff from Blake Snyder in there that would save a cat and all the genres. And here's an approach for loglines. If you don't like that, no worries, here's how to break down a tagline. Here's how to use irony. Here's how all the different ways of going from logline to synopsis to pitch deck to video, all the different ways because you might have to go backwards and forwards. And that's a big premise of the book is as you refine and hone your marketing materials, it becomes real glaring, where your problems are in your script. Right? Real Clear. So you're rewriting and developing as you're marketing and as you're pitching. And when you pitch and people are confused. It's probably a problem in the script. You know, or missed opportunity when someone laughs when they're not supposed to. There's something there's a there's a gap there waiting for that you you should go back and rewrite your script. And not that you should you know, be influenced by all that. But but it's it's not art until someone encounters it. Right. So what you think is in your head might be quite different. Like I don't know if I told you this in the last one. But I had a thrower class with Neil Hicks at UCLA that I love.

And he gave us this exercise in class and it was you know, what do you want? So one character asked the other character, what do you want? And my brother, his wife had just come out of the closet. So this had rocked the world of our family. And so I wrote you know, what do you want a divorce like Because to me, it was a very melodramatic, poignant thing. So I wrote this little exercise, and I wrote a divorce. And I did this dialogue back and forth. And then he asked us to read it. So here's my family processing this challenging thing. And as I'm reading it, the class is in hysterics laughing like it was a spoof on comedy. And I was too embarrassed to like, I could have cried with how embarrassed I was, but I just kept reading it. And at the end, you'll Hicks it that is some of the best comedy writing we've ever heard. Well, I haven't even had the time to see the humor in it. But it just shows you that what you think you're expressing somebody else might be getting something quite different based on their worldview, or the juxtaposition of what you've put together. So it's all about your delivery, and their discovery. And is there a gap there? And and can you is that a missed opportunity? Or do you need to refine your presentation?

Alex Ferrari 30:59
Now? And would you agree that sometimes if you are lucky enough to walk into an office or someone's home, or you know, depending on an investor or something like that, and you haven't had a chance to do your research, because you didn't know who that person was? That if you do scan that room and see what they have in the room, like, oh, there are Laker fans, oh, they got an autographed picture of Muhammad Ali Oh, they've got you know, things on the wall, like to kind of like quickly do a profile in your head about them and try to connect or create rapport with them in one way, shape, or form before you even start the pitch even if it's for a couple minutes. Does that make sense?

Heather Hale 31:32
It that's actually an age old sales technique called fish on the wall technique. And you walk in and you see the big Marlin on the wall and you go, Hey, did you catch that? And it opens up a chance for them to talk about something that they love. You may see a photo cube and say, Oh, your son so cute. He plays soccer. Well, yeah, now he's in college, because that picture is from when they were five or eight or whatever. But still you have a frame of reference. I often suggest people wear icebreaking jewelry or like your shirt is the who knows it the camp.

Alex Ferrari 32:05
Yeah, the cap. Yeah, it's just a word something. Yeah. Uh huh.

Unknown Speaker 32:08
Well, what is it though?

Alex Ferrari 32:09
It's just a place you work out?

Heather Hale 32:12
Yeah. But I mean, so then I then we begin to have something to talk about, and hustle and be your baseball cap, indie film, hustle, right? So same thing, I'm not wearing anything good. But if I had like a Native American project, and I had turquoise jewelry, and someone said, Oh, I love that I'll actually see how to Staci like boom. And you go right into your story, right? I often try to think of what could I wear that will make them and good example, I used to go down every year to the Marlin fishing tournament in Cabo San Lucas, where lots and lots of millionaires and billionaires aren't that 25,000 just to fish, right. So I would carry the bag from last year's tournament so that when I was at LAX, and you're in this little teeny terminal going to Cabo San Lucas, everyone knew you were going there. And so by the time you got there, you had met a few people on the plane, he had to switch to a smaller plane. They all knew Cabo San Lucas, they saw that the Bisbee, black and blue, and then by the time you're on the shuttle, which they always stop at someone's house or something, you know, the cousin's gas station for beer. You have made 568 friends before you even got into the hotel. Same thing with like the American Film market, Matt p these things if you bring last year's bag, and you're at the Loews hotel, people know that you're in that mill you in that world. So whatever it is that you've got, I wouldn't be wearing costumes. But if you have a T shirt or basically a baseball cap something, but even I have like some really cool jewelry from Ireland Murano. That's like glass blown, and then you can talk about, you can figure out a way to have an anecdote that drives you to your story. It's just a way to shortcut.

Alex Ferrari 33:50
I've heard of some of the most horrible pitches I've ever heard. I'd love to hear when anyone Have you heard about like people like literally dressing up sending Chippendale dancers to agents. It's not a good thing. And it generally does not work if you're just trying to get attention for attention sake, that kind of stunt stuff. It can work. But from what I again, always if it's done properly, if it's done well and it's just generally not.

Heather Hale 34:19
A million examples are going through my head. We could talk all day about bad pitches. million pitch fast by planned and organized millions. But two that come to mind one was a stripper who did a lap dance as part of her pitch. Okay, sure.

Get her It's fine, but it's pretty neat to clearly think everybody in town wanted to hear that pitch. He had no interest in her script. So she had to schlep around all over town doing lap dances for what like that's, that's not going to help you. Another one. This might be incredibly politically incorrect, but I will tell you someone came up to me this was 1520 years ago, and I think it was a female to male transgender. And he was saying that he didn't want that it was a true story. It was his story. And he didn't want people taking the meeting, just to see what look like, right? It was 20 years ago. So it was less. It was it was more rare than and I said to him, I said not to be disrespectful. But I wish I had a hook line. And the guy laughed. He's like, you know what, you're right. Like, it is what it is, right? It is what it is. So it's not the same as the stripper doing it. It's like you get in the room. That's the hook. Okay, now is the story there. So there's, there's always a hook, there's always an angle there. Like I said, I have a million stories of people who've done good jobs, bad jobs. It is what it is. I did one with Martha's Vineyard project where I went into pitch to I think it was NB C's blue sky network. Those USA. And there had there was two different execs I was pitching to. And they each had a different assistant. And so I was doing a lot of coordinating, trying to get the two of them in the room. And so the day that I came, I took chocolate bars from Martha's Vineyard for the two assistants. So it wasn't it was a little brown nosing. But it was kind of project specific, they would remember it was just a thank you, I gave it to them off to the side. And I think a little touches like that are very personal and nice. And then they remember that. So I think there's a lot of things you can do that are within the scope of not just common courtesy, but like I think of other than Japan a year they do oh Miyagi, where they bring a taste of the season. So that was a little taste of Martha's Vineyard for this comedy that we were pitching to their bosses.

Alex Ferrari 36:56
In my book, I actually had went around Hollywood pitching with a mobster, you know, with the book I wrote a little bit ago. And that was my hook like they I was sitting at the short term Armand with some of the biggest actors in the world purely because they just wanted to have a dinner or coffee or drink with the mobster and he never disappointed. So it you use what you got? I guess

Heather Hale 37:25
that's the same thing. Like I was talking with a transgender guy like, I'm not I'm not making any kind of a judgement just that there will be that curiosity looky loo kicking tires. It sucks, but why not use it? So if you've got a mafioso that's willing to come with you and schmooze Have at it, right?

Alex Ferrari 37:42
I don't think there is a mafia. I don't think there is a mafia so that wouldn't come around and instruments in Hollywood. Are you kidding? Yes, they are definitely pitch worthy without question. Right. Now, how do you research potential buyers for either your screenplay or potential projects? There's a lot of people just have no idea where to even begin with just searching. Who's gonna want this?

Heather Hale 38:04
Yeah. So I cover that real extensively in both books. And probably that's one of my, that's probably my superhero skill is like, my dad was a spy. And I was almost a spy. So

Unknown Speaker 38:16
I, you know, I

Heather Hale 38:17
ended up I interviewed with the CIA in Arlington, Virginia for a week when I was 19 years old. So my dad was Yeah, so my dad was in the Secret Service. And so I am like, Spidey skills and spin research and due diligence. So a couple things I learned, unfortunately, for Sony, you know, they had that huge leak. I did not know this, but this is a terrible tip to give people but it's true. And you know, once it's on the internet, it's out there forever. If you're trying to track down contact information for someone, like let's say, you know, it's at caa.com, like, you know, the, the domain name, right, and you know, their name, if you put in, like if you put in Alex Ferrari Plus, at indie film, hustle, calm, something like that. And just do a search for that. What I found was a gold mine of all the Sony press releases that pulled up that person's name that had whatever their actual email address was below, because it came up on all these different documents. And now you've got their contact information. So that's better than variety insight that's better than IMDb Pro. It's the stuff they're using internally. So I shouldn't share that because it'll probably I'll scramble to change it. But that's been an amazing resource for contact info. But I also do like, I'm, I'm sure you have run into investors who are not investors

Alex Ferrari 39:48
know, never they're all on the up and up. Right? They all have millions. This is my favorite. This is my favorite. They say it's only 5 million. I don't that's no problem at all. I could do 5 million in my sleep. I don't know Get up for lesson. One. I can't pick up lunch right now. I can't pick up lunch.

Heather Hale 40:04
And their shoes are cheap. Right?

Alex Ferrari 40:08
So not there's anything wrong with Payless shoes. But if you're saying you have $5 million to invest, you shouldn't have Payless

Heather Hale 40:13
shoes. I'm saying, we can have shoes from Payless. We're asking for 5

Unknown Speaker 40:18
million. Exactly.

Heather Hale 40:20
Exactly. So coming off I've started to do is put in the name plus scam plus scandal plus fraud Plus, you know, and find out because someone somewhere will have said, this guy's a total fraud, it's a scam. So using those search terms, you know, become a world class internet search person. Because you'd be amazed what you find. And and even if you find, you know, who is it, Zuckerberg, anyone who has 10 million friends is bound to have a few enemies, you're bound to find some dirt on anybody. So you can see if it's legit or not, you can see that. So, but finding out what they've done, I had an example where I won't use it. And I won't use any names. But basically, somebody tried to bully me. And they won into optioning, one of my best projects, saying that they had produced a little movie called and then I won't say what it is because it's going to be too easy to track down. But they produced a little movie called XYZ. And then when I did some due diligence, they have been the second unit producer, second unit line producer,

Unknown Speaker 41:34
oh my god,

Heather Hale 41:36
well, I have options I should have at the time this was pre like I should have gone into the backroom. And IMDb need to see that they were second unit line producer, that's quite different than even if you're one thing,

Alex Ferrari 41:48
first line producer, that doesn't

Heather Hale 41:50
mean anything, while difference to cut checks out of a checking account that somebody else got money into. Right? So just do your due diligence, like crazy. And then unfortunately, and I found this if you find someone who has a company name that's really common odds are they chose it because it's really common, and you can never quite suss them out. So, you just, there's so many people playing Hollywood, like if I could go back in time, and clean my calendar of all the people who wasted my time. How much of like Pulitzer Prize Nobel winning projects, right? Because we would have all that time back. So do your due diligence and, you know, pay attention to red flags, because red flags don't get better.

Alex Ferrari 42:35
And yes, it was without question. But But I am I am shocked to hear all these stories about the business. I've never I could never imagine something like that happening and our business. No, it's in our dish is shocking, shocking, shocking.

Heather Hale 42:56
And that's the problem is a lot of people are playing Hollywood.

Alex Ferrari 42:59
Everybody want to pay 95% 95% of like hollywood,

Heather Hale 43:03
hollywood, so you need to figure out, are they I mean, it's one thing, like, I have respect for the guy who's trying to fund his fluffs. Breakthrough, fine. If you're gonna put up money for or whoever, their son, their daughter, if they're gonna put up money to get a break for someone, I'm all over it, let's surround them with the best talent, let's give like, let's get you your money back. Like, like, let's just be honest about what we're trying to do here. But it's when the people are playing Hollywood, they don't really have the money. So you know, I'm a former mortgage banker. So I'm pretty good at tracking down to see if people have the money or not. Because in mortgage banking, you have to do proof of funds. If you ask for proof of funds, a legit investor will give you proof of funds. Yeah, they may block out the account number, they may have it just be better off from the bank manager saying that they have X number of digits. It's none of your business, but just some third party verification. lots of ways to prove that. So it's exhausting.

Alex Ferrari 44:08
I could see it in your face just talking about it. You're exhausted about it.

Heather Hale 44:13
Like I was involved.

I'll tell you two things and we gotta move on because I'll just get sick to my stomach. So I won a senate commendation from California State Senate for helping San Juan Capistrano stay out of the junk bond scandal when Orange County filed bankruptcy. San Juan Capistrano is the only city to not be dragged through that. And so I was the vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, I was really actively involved in saving a historic building yada yada yada. But we saw that come in like a train wreck like there are signals. There was also a company and I'll go ahead and say it because it was a big deal quest financial. That pulled a scan on lots and lots of films. I won't mention them but they are films you will have heard of. We thought we had 30 million raised we thought we had Money in escrow like, and I actually had the FBI call me and say, Can you help us like I was involved in that investigation because I was the one company that pulled out and said, I said to my partners who are all high profile, I said, guarantee you in the 11th hour, they're going to switch escrow companies, they're gonna say there was a problem with the wire, they have to switch escrow companies, and what's going to happen is, people who are supposed to put skin in the game have to put just 400,000, right, because you're getting 30 million This is your skin in the game, you're going to go and that's going to not be that building won't be there. Because there's there will be fraud. So there were I helped try to help them figure this all out. But unfortunately, not a week goes by you think of the people who are all those internet scams with that you inherited money that all the

Alex Ferrari 45:49
Nigerian prince, yes,

Heather Hale 45:51
Prince or even the Social Security scams that are going on, unfortunately, goes on in our business all the time where people say they're going to hire you as a line producer for a project and they're going to wire you money and you need to buy equipment, the equipment is going to somebody else that's cash out of your account because the funds bounced. So the scams are just there.

It's it is exhausting.

Alex Ferrari 46:12
I'll tell I'll tell you, I'll tell you my FBI story if you'd like to. Yeah, first and foremost. So, so the, the worst and I've never spoken about this on on any of my shows, because it's just not. It's not, it's not something that you actually, you know, talk about a lot. But I was called by the FBI, which is not a phone call you want to get because when you get it, you're like, Hi, this is the FBI. I'm like, No, who is this? And they're like Sarah, where the FBI was like, Oh, God, and like, we're USA, you attach this product. Did you work on these projects with these producers? And I'm like, Yeah, I did. I worked in post and I just like, we're flying down to interview you. They've been indicted. And we want to see if we're gonna use you as a witness. And we just want to hear your side of the story, not your side. I'm not in trouble. You're like, well, hang on. Let

Heather Hale 47:00
me just check with my mafioso see what

Alex Ferrari 47:05
this is, thankfully, years later, and my documentation of the mafia story. The mafia story has been documented in my book, which is available. I'll find bookstores on Amazon as we speak. But this was a completely separate thing. I mean, this is probably about 10 years later, but man and they had him come over, we had a set sit down, and we talked to over over a coffee. No, no, no, it didn't come over house, we went met at a coffee shop. I'm like, hey, come over, and we set that and then afterwards, after we felt they felt that like, Okay, this guy was absolutely not involved with anything. And it was cool. Then, of course, I'm talking, then, of course, I'm like, so do you watch the exe files? area? 51? Is it real? Come on, tell me. And I said they just started laughing. They just start pacing themselves. But it's a serious thing. Another project that was involved with the director went to jail, because he defrauded tax tax incentives, because he told the told the state that he paid an actor $6 billion when he actually only paid him $600,000. Right and probably pocket in pocket pocket of the difference. And then all of a sudden, he's in jail for five years.

Heather Hale 48:12
That's hurting, not just the IRS, but it's also hurting your investors, your party, project, star, everyone's pissed at the star because he's making 6 million when he's only making 600,000. Like the lies that go backwards and forwards is, like said exhausting. And I will say not not just in sales. There is like we talked about the beginning. You have to project that you're bigger than you are you have to buy Payless shoes on the first day and wear them before they get scuffed and fall apart. Like you have to wear it's all smoke and mirrors. So there are people who are hammering their crew down saying that their budget is 600,000. And they turn around and tell the investor or the distributor that it's a million dollar project. Well, that is truck because they have the the distributor will say well, it's a million dollars, we're only going to give you 600,000 Well, now you're good, right? But then the crews find out you're getting it's a million dollar project, you will meet a quarter more an hour and then they're striking. Like it's tough. It's tough the balancing.

Alex Ferrari 49:14
It's a balancing act with that kind of stuff. But we have we have gone off the rails here, which is bad. But it's fantastic. Because actually it's all very, very good information for people. Listen, listen, you know, you and I have been around the business for a long time. We've seen a lot of stuff and and I tell you some people have not like I know people right now listening to this podcast, their minds are blown completely by some of the things that you and I take for granted because we've experienced it so many times. But out there that's who they're marking. That's their mark the guy or the girl listening.

Heather Hale 49:45
I think in the last podcast about the thing I overheard at the market right about taking skimming off the top of a SAG bond.

Alex Ferrari 49:53
No, no, no,

Heather Hale 49:54
no, no, don't tell us it. So I was at the American Film market and I overheard you One distributor training a wet behind the ears, another distributor sales agent, basically saying that the contract should read that they make a commission off all proceeds. So what that means is is you know how you put up a SAG bond right to pay all your actors? Yeah, so let's say that bond is a mil of a million dollars 200,000 depends on whatever your budget is sure you put up that bond to guarantee sag AFTRA that you will pay your actors. So when that refund of your bond, your savings account, that composite, the composite that you have allocated to pay payroll, comes back through the account, they take a commission off the top of you getting your own deposit back. So you got and they're teaching one another how to screw independent filmmakers. So you just gotta watch. I know, shocking, shocking,

Alex Ferrari 50:51
I can't a distributor never I thought they were the they were the were the cream of the crop, never a distributor.

Heather Hale 50:57
Yeah. So I mean, it's just, I'm not jaded, I love what we do and love what we do, we are lucky to get to tell stories to connect, you know, I love it, you just have to pay attention to the daisy chain of middlemen in the middle. And the people who are not craters, I also find that with agents and managers and entertainment attorneys, and there's a lot of good ones in the business. But by the time is one creator to another and there's 12 you know, dominoes in the middle. By the time the two creators can talk together, they have a shared vision, and they want as much as they can get on the screen. They want to be honest and authentic to the material. It's all people in the middle who just take a piece off top, every time your money changes hands, someone's getting a piece of it. So it's just a tough, tough business. And still, we're in it.

Alex Ferrari 51:45
And we're and we're still psychotic enough to do this on it. And smile and smile about it because we're all psychotic, and we're all a little bit crazy inside

Heather Hale 51:54
I I often say if I won the lottery, I'd wake up and keep doing what I'm doing only and do a hell of a lot easier. I know exactly what projects I'd be working on and who I'd be hiring. I keep doing it, it would just be easier.

Alex Ferrari 52:07
It'd be a lot it'd be a lot easier without question. Now do you have any marketing tips for screenwriters, and also filmmakers to either help them with their own personal brand or the brand of the project because I've something like a movie like Kung Fury. I don't know if you ever heard of that movie that did so well that they're actually doing a feature of it. Now. That was such a well branded, I mean, so brilliantly branded with some guy from Sweden, I think or something like that, who did it. And that's, that's a great example of a of a project brand name, but then there's filmmaker branding, as well. Or screenwriter branding in general. Like any advice, you have a marketing tips on how you can get them out there.

Heather Hale 52:47
Well, it's funny because you know you it's the flip side of the coin, the more you brand yourself, the more pigeonholed you are. And then you want to shift from a historical biopic to a thriller and, oh, that's not what she writes. You know? So I think, I think Jeff, Archie wrote Sleepless in Seattle said once at selling to Hollywood, you get nouns and verbs, right? nouns and verbs. If you're going to use an adjective, they need to be precious. So with you with your project with your brand, make sure that you're thinking of your adjectives, as almost SEO, Search Engine Optimization words, like are you? Is it a hip word that's going to conjure that affinity market the right age demographic? Is it? Are they words that really clearly delian ate your worldview? The sensibility like if you think of Wes Anderson, or you think of john Grisham, I mean, you can think of Steven key you can think of some of these people or you think of like Jane, the Virgin, like it's a kind of a campy telenovela with its tongue in cheek, like it's really fresh in the woods now. I mean, it's much it's been around for a long time, Big Bang Theory, you know, making geeks hot, like all the different things they did. They, they knew what they were going after what they were creating. So I think it's the same thing for you, if you have a product project is easier to brands and a person because the person might want to evolve and change and, you know, look at the Beatles and the different influences they incorporated as they call, right. So music from India, like whatever it was, they were doing, they were evolving. So I think it's important that you make sure that what you're the Nisha carving out for that project is really crystal clear to that nation. And that's a huge part of the collaborative process and making sure you're all making the same movie. In a writers group, that you don't have people trying to target and tell their story with your script, like, what is the story you're trying to tell and make sure you honor that vision? And then beyond that, how do you communicate that and even, you know, I've done some faith based things that are Not necessarily a Christian faith base, but you want to not alienate people who aren't feeling that. So you know, how can you kind of play down some elements so that you can get these pieces of the puzzle and then play up those benefits to other people? So it's what, what are the pieces of the puzzle? Same thing with ethnicity, you know, I always try, I have a couple projects now where the characters are like Jordan, Chris could be a girl or a guy could be black, white, Asian, Native American, like, I'm cool with that. So I try to like, right, colorblind, unless it's really important that it's a ginger Scotsman, right? That'd be something that that woman has to be middle aged or postmenopausal to. That's what the story is. So whatever the issue is, but otherwise, can you be colorblind and your writing and your casting, so that now if you're going to, if you're pitching that to an African American woman to play the lead, that same pitch package could go to an Asian guy to play that same role? Because it's a thriller, and they are an agent, or whatever? So how do you? How are you, it's all comes down to who you're pitching to? And why what are you trying to get out of them?

Unknown Speaker 56:14
You know, are

Heather Hale 56:15
you trying to get them to fall in love with that role?

Are you trying to get them to feel like they're gonna make their money back? Are you trying to get them to open their doors after

Unknown Speaker 56:23
hours per

Heather Hale 56:23
location? Like, what is the reason you're, what are you trying to do with that?

Alex Ferrari 56:29
Excellent. Now, I also want to ask you, cuz you're out there and you're, you're in the in the trenches, as they say, what's easy? I know, right? What's

Heather Hale 56:39
one of these days want to not be in the trenches, I want to be like up at the Cannes Film Festival on the balcony, not in the trenches, or on a yacht somewhere. But yeah, I'm in the trenches.

Alex Ferrari 56:48
I can set I can, I can sense that from you. I can set so we all want to be at the top of the mountain with Spielberg and Cameron, and all these kind of guys could just do whatever they want, whenever they want. But until that day comes we're here huffing it. So as as we are here, down in the trenches,

Heather Hale 57:05
these are the good old days, we just don't know it yet.

Alex Ferrari 57:06
Exactly. These, these are the stories that will tell these are the stories that will tell them the yachts. Oh, no. But so TV projects or feature film projects, what's the better? What's a good market right now? What's where's the most opportunity? Or in general? What is where is there the most opportunity for content creators, screenwriters, filmmakers to make a dent?

Heather Hale 57:32
Well, I haven't I, I have an opinion, not advice. So I've got lots of opinions. I think no one knows. And if I knew I'd have a crystal ball, and we would be on that yacht having a really fine wine, right. So I'm not saying I'm the Oracle, I have my opinions. And my opinion is film and television when I first wrote the first book, you know, my book proposal said that film and television were converging. And 11. People thought that was really insightful and one person's like, No, they're not. They're totally different business models. They're totally different. No, they're converging. They're so converging. It's so seamless. Now. The viewer doesn't care how that content got to them, whether it was satellite, or you know, coaxial cables, or cell service, they don't care if it's on an iPhone screen, a big screen of their screen, the cinemas at home are as good as they are even better than some of the Cineplex at the mall. So that convergence is pretty incredible what everyone wants. Remember the old days with websites where they called Sticky, sticky website, they want sticky TV now and is what is TV is TV Cable broadcast. Is it streaming like what is it? It's just content, it's all content. And so what they want is, whether they're ad supported, whether they're subscription supported models, whether they are you know, there's so many different models now, what they want is addictive, binge worthy marquee value stock. And so I think the biggest opportunity at the moment is limited event series anthology series. Its serial programming, whether it's episodic look at Black Mirror, or which only did three episodes I guess in their next season, which is kind of odd. But who cares like it's whatever the stories require. So is it are like Twilight Zone, they're rebooting, you know, these kinds of anthology series where the grand American Horror Story True Detective the genre unifies them and you know that you can come back week after week and get that kind of thing who knows who's going to be starring in it? Or like one hour dramas and serials your your Netflix and Amazon and Hulu you know, Hulu just won its first Emmy for Handmaid's Tale. So all of these things, they want people who are going to be loyal and come back, whether it's appointment viewing or binge viewing or just wanting to talk about it because the we've had this nonlinear time shift where people don't talk around the watercooler anymore, right now, you could have seen all of Game of Thrones, and I might not have seen any of it. So how do we, how do we engage on that? And that's what's happening with your, your got talents all around the world is it's like they want this, it's either gotta be live, and you have to be that fear of missing out, we're talking about, you know, so, again, it depends, is it reality, it's documentaries are having a total resurgence of Renaissance now. Because it's easier to find these things. So I think again, it's all about identifying your target audience and being authentic and true to the material. And there's some series out there where one episode is 11 minutes, and another one is 44. It's whatever the story needed to be for that chapter. So we have so much freedom as storytellers today. And that the fragmentation of the dial, I often think of millennials going what dial, right? What's the dial, to dial like, they don't even know that I have this frame of reference. So we have to be able to shift with that and know that at the end of the day, people but there's so many jobs in our industry and around the world, in every industry that are being taken over by robots. It's tough for a robot to tell a story.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:14
Yeah. They're not well, they can't, they can't, but it's all based on older people's I saw AI doing it. There was a whole episode on coming up about that, like AI and and how they wrote it. But it's all algorithm based. It's all based on old scripts. Right? And it's just not, it's not there.

Heather Hale 1:01:36
Yeah, so that's what I think I don't even know if I'm answering your question now. But I'm interested in what we're talking about.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:40
No, no, no, I got you. You made it, you made a very good answer to it.

Heather Hale 1:01:44
But it's being tapped into not just the Zeitgeist that's current, but what matters to you. Like, what's frustrating to you? what pisses you off? What's inspiring to you, because if you're authentic and real about that, you're going to find others, for whom that's true, as well. And the more you can stay stick to the truth, the more like specific it is, the more universal it is. So I think, I think we're in an amazing time. And I think if you just keep sticking to your guns, and stay in the trenches, and keep hustlin and happen, you know, good, good work rises to the cream of the crop.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:20
Now, tell me a little bit about the book. We've talked a lot about stuff inside the book, but just tell us exactly what the book is. Where can people find it when it's available?

Heather Hale 1:02:28
It's called story selling, how to develop market and pitch your film and TV projects. It's a Michael easy book. And it's, there's a link on my website, Heather Hale comm forward slash store selling, that it's a pre order on Amazon. So they actually can order it now. But they don't ship till July. So it's done. It's ready to go. So I don't know what happens in that process of how hard is it to hit print, right, and, like, get it to you. But it's coming out. And I have had a lot of people read it. And like I said not to toot my own horn, but it's it's really good. I'm really proud of it. I think I have had people who've been in the business 30 years who are like, I would read this for every project. So I'm really pleased with that. And people who have never written anything are like, Okay, this is it's not rocket science. And it's not colored by numbers, either. But there are steps and there's some things to think about. And there's a lot of fantastic books out there on everything under the sun. But I didn't feel like there was a book out there that explained these things that we're all scrambling to create all the time pitch decks series Bibles, rip of maddix like, what are these words? How do you pull them together? And do you need a treatment for every project like you'd like? And what are the what order do they get done in so and I talk a lot about like, you know, it's the affinity backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. It's it's an never ending process and it can be development hell, or it can be I talked about, you know, reduction sauce, you take this huge soup terrain and reduce everything down to great, fantastic ingredients and get to the essence of each of those elements and let them shine and that's what you're trying to do. And I also think of like kindergarten rooms with feng shui like everything should have a place of you know me zomboss knees on scene, everything's got a place and do you have all the pieces you need all the elements so that somebody can help you achieve your dream gives them the pieces they need to sell on your behalf?

Alex Ferrari 1:04:23
Now I'm gonna ask you questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today? Get a job. get a real job. No, no, no. I would not I would not get a job in the business. I would say as a good piece of advice.

Heather Hale 1:04:40
It's not a bad advice. I would say.

You know, write what you know, write what you need to know. Like follow that process of discovery so that you're writing stuff that you would want to watch. Surround yourself with really fantastic people. trust your gut instincts. If you Someone makes your skin crawl, run, and really enjoy someone and they improve your writing or they improve their good collaborator, like, spend time with people that you get this, you know, these productions can be, as you well know, just delicious and dry. So you want to be surrounded by people who make you laugh, who make you feel good about yourself who make you step to the plate to create the best work. Don't surround yourself with naysayers and people who make you question yourself and, and are hyper critical. I mean, it's all about people at the end of the day, not just the people you're working with, and not just, you know, the people you're accountable to whether they're investors or distributors, but also think about what you're putting out into the communal consciousness. Like, is that something that you want to be part of your legacy? Like, really think about that, you know, put out there images that you want out there? I think people often try to kowtow to the up to the market. And what do you think is good?

Unknown Speaker 1:06:01
How about what wish was good?

Alex Ferrari 1:06:05
That was that was that was good. I liked that one. That was? That was good. That was a good one. I like that one. That was actually really, really good. That was it. So the rest of it was scrapped. But this was actually really cool. Can you tell me a book that had the biggest impact on your life or career? Oh,

Heather Hale 1:06:25
yeah, I probably shouldn't because it'll reveal my politics. Iran, atlas shrugged. The Fountainhead. I'm a libertarian through and through.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:35
Fair enough fair dose.

Heather Hale 1:06:37
You know, she came from Russia. And

Unknown Speaker 1:06:38
she, you know, so

Heather Hale 1:06:40
I don't know that we're, that we have the American Dream right now, or real capitalism or real democracy. But what, what we hoped it would be, you know, that's pretty pure in that, and I know, there's people who can't standard.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:52
Hey, everyone's got everything. I asked you a question. What was the book that impacted you? And that was the book. And that's all good. Yeah. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life,

Heather Hale 1:07:04
I'm probably still learning it? Well, there's several things I would guess one of them is life's not fair. You know. I mean, that's it. It's really I wish life was fair. And it's not. It's not a meritocracy. You know, the best person doesn't always win. And sometimes it doesn't matter how hard you work. Doesn't matter how hard you want it life isn't fair. And it stops. But

Alex Ferrari 1:07:29
you gotta keep running. Keep hustling. Okay, hold on.

Unknown Speaker 1:07:33
Only life was fair.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:34
Oh, my gosh, would there be better they'd be a lot better movies in the world.

Heather Hale 1:07:39
That's like fat comedy and that trailer if life were fair.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:43
Now, what is fast? All right. Now, what is the biggest fear you've had to overcome in your career just to kind of make those first few projects?

Heather Hale 1:07:54
Oh, well, a million. Of course. I think everybody has the I'm not good enough.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:58
Yes. imposter syndrome.

Heather Hale 1:08:00
So I'm not worried about that issue. Um, I think a huge part of it. I this is probably way too truthful. But it's just coming to me. I'm not married. Because I have suffered so many betrayals and divorces professionally, that I'm in a happily committed 11 years solid rock solid romance. But I think I'm just so I feel like I've been divorced 25 times, you

Alex Ferrari 1:08:27
know, the feeling, right? Look, when you're with a project for three, four or five years, and you and you keep in like oh, it's almost there. It's normal. It's always there. It's almost opposite. It is about to drop.

Heather Hale 1:08:40
The rug keeps getting pulled out from under you, you thought that had a ring on it. Like every time like I had a project I was in a payer play offer. And the first check had cleared and the contract was signed, and it fell apart. And it didn't get either pay or play like how does that happen? Why is like not fair. Like, I vented everybody like I every project, I get a step further. And then, like there's a million ways to get screwed in this business. And I've been screwed by all of them. And I just keep thinking I've run out of them. And the next one, like, I don't know, I don't know what the lesson is there. But you just have to, again, have people in your life that you can turn to who can help you see the irony and the life lessons and the comedy in the shit that we put up with. Like, there's always a pony there. Maybe there's it's just not in that room.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:33
Right, right. Or if it was just a couple guys in a horse outfit.

Heather Hale 1:09:38
We're in like, Horton Hears a Who and we're looking in all the wrong rooms that are full of shit. Like there's a pony here somewhere. I don't know where it is, but

Alex Ferrari 1:09:47
I'm glad this turned into a therapy session. I'm glad I could help you with this. Not Listen, listen. I actually I absolutely feel you I feel I've had so many projects fall apart and but for whatever reason. We're still here. We're here. And we and then I don't know if that says something about the business or us well, or both gone with the wind

Heather Hale 1:10:07
when Scarlett O'Hara standing there and it's I think it's Civil War, Civil War, revolutionary

Alex Ferrari 1:10:13
Civil War,

Unknown Speaker 1:10:14
the war and there's all those dead soldiers. Yeah. And they just

Heather Hale 1:10:19
blow and that's awesome man in Hollywood, right? And you look around, you're like, I recognize him from 20 years ago, and I used to hate her guts, but she's a trooper, she's still here, we're gonna be friends like you just, at some point, you see who the survivors are. And that's awesome, man. I know what

Alex Ferrari 1:10:37
and it's so true. And I hope I mean, I hope we have not scared off a whole gaggle of people listening to this.

Unknown Speaker 1:10:45
Or your listeners

Alex Ferrari 1:10:46
know, but you know what this is, but this is the truth of the business. And I'm always like, my, my mantra is follow your dream, but Don't be an idiot. And it's, it's like, I'm all about the positivity and the motivation, you've got to go for it. But you have to be aware of what's out there. And that was the main purpose. I even opened up in the film, hustle and bulletproof screenplay, or bulletproof screenwriting in the first place because I wanted this kind of information out there. Because it's not taught in schools. It's generally not in books, it's stuff that you hear about in the back at drinks at AFM, or in a coffee shop. And you never hear the whole story know each other. Exactly, you you're lucky enough to overhear a conversation like this and that's why I wanted to bring people like you on the show. So I'm grateful for your honesty and I'm

Heather Hale 1:11:32
grateful that you're out there doing this and I'm not jealous of other ones of your episodes. I mean, they're great. So I'm honored to be on here and I hope I hope I said stuff that was cathartic to people who feel like idiots because you're not an idiot like it's happening to the people the people who got screwed and that other deal or third generation filmmakers episode i thought you know what, they've got credits I would be as killed have and I thought come in and not that I my nose hasn't been kicked in many times. But you see them again and their patterns you can recognize so just it's not fair. It sucks get over it. And no, you got yourself and write great stuff and do stuff that makes it at the end of the day worth it.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:17
Yes.

Heather Hale 1:12:17
Right. And at the end of all of this, you didn't write some schlock and you didn't throw together some piece of shit that someone else could have done like make it more worthwhile

Alex Ferrari 1:12:28
without question and I have one last question three of your favorite films of all time.

Heather Hale 1:12:34
Oh well always Shawshank Redemption is

Unknown Speaker 1:12:36
oh

Alex Ferrari 1:12:38
it's my top as well.

Heather Hale 1:12:41
One recently booted from I think I need to do a list where you have the how long they've been on the list Sure Sure. Brand new one is greatest showmen.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:51
I I really enjoy scripts I loved it

Heather Hale 1:12:53
loved that loved it. And then there's a bunch that would be neck and neck for third and in their would for sure be waking the divine.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:03
I love waking that the vibe is such a really little film. Big fish in there. Yeah, Tim Burton,

Heather Hale 1:13:10
and there's a one. There's a million of them. I have a list. I did a list on my website top 10 films. And at 231 I had to stop. So now I just go in and update the top 10 but I always

Alex Ferrari 1:13:25
tell people if you haven't seen Shawshank Redemption, or if you don't want if you don't like Shawshank Redemption, you are dead inside and we can't have a conversation. I've yet to meet someone who didn't like Shawshank Redemption and even if they did if they heard me say these things they probably wouldn't admit to it but but every time by the way anyone listening anytime I get a bad review or someone doesn't like something I do. This is all I google bad review Shawshank Redemption and they exist and you read these things and they were from Big, big reviewers and you just sit there going wow.

Heather Hale 1:14:00
Though, Shawshank is a really good example. I'm not gonna say bad branding or marketing. It was bad

Alex Ferrari 1:14:06
it was it was bad branding horrible.

Heather Hale 1:14:09
To see Shawshank Redemption I have no interest in seeing the jail dropped like zero interest. It came out everyone talked about it. There was no I had no interest it took me like a year and a half to do Shawshank Redemption. And when I did I can't tell you how many times I've seen it so that that makes me feel better again, bad branding bad advertising, bad marketing, whatever it was, but at the end of the day, it didn't matter because it was so

Unknown Speaker 1:14:35
good. It is and it's played 1000 times like that it

Heather Hale 1:14:39
won't matter if it's poorly branded it won't met all the other stuff just write shit like Shawshank like shots you she sell seashells on the seashore.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:54
Like Shawshank like Shashank Heather where can people find you and your work and your Your stuff that you do.

Heather Hale 1:15:01
Heather Hale calm and Heather, Heather held calm. I thought long time ago, just brand new, because you're gonna have wear lots of hats, right? And you don't even the two books are how to work the film and TV markets, which is by focal press, which is a guide for content creators and the other is story selling how to develop, market and pitch your film and TV projects. And my best film and TV projects are ahead of me. They are coming, right you don't need to watch anything else.

Unknown Speaker 1:15:32
Learn and we're moving forward.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:33
Yes, mistakes were made. But now we're moving forward. Taken. Heather, it has been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. And thank you for dropping such honest knowledge bombs on the tribe today. So I appreciate that

Heather Hale 1:15:45
all through the day and regret it but I am my biggest fault. And then there's plenty to choose between.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:52
Thank you, Heather. Thank you. I want to thank you for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs on the tribe today. We all need a little help with pitching. It's a big, big deal. And if you don't know how to pitch your story, I hate to tell you, you're not going to get your story out there. It really is a very helpful tool to put in your filmmaking and screenwriting toolbox. Now if you want to get in touch with Heather and want to read any of her books, head over to the show notes at indie film hustle comm forward slash bps 052 there I'll have links to her her official website and to the books as well. And if you haven't already, please head over to screenwriting podcast.com and leave a good review for the show. Subscribe, and tell every screenwriting friend you know about the show. It really helps what we're doing here out a lot. Thank you guys again for all the support. Thank you for listening. As always, keep on writing no matter what. I'll talk to you soon.


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