BPS 336: From Indie Filmmaker to $1 Billion Sale to Disney with Michael Gallagher

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Alex Ferrari 1:38
I'd like to welcome the show Michael Gallagher, man How you doing, brother?

Michael Gallagher 4:32
I'm doing well. How are you? Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 4:34
Thank you for thank you for being on the show, man. I truly appreciate it man. I i when i when you guys reached out to me, I was like super excited to talk to you because I've known of your work in the past and you're unlike any other guests I've had on the show because of your history with the internet and with YouTube and that and the new wave of entertainment that has kind of moved in. So before we jump into all of that, first and foremost How did you I'm afraid to ask because you're a little bit younger vintage than I am. But how did you get into the business? Because like, I was five years old, I share three features. I'm like, shut up, just shut up.

Michael Gallagher 5:15
So funny. Well, I, I'm from San Diego, I'm 30. So I was born in 1988. So, yes, but growing up, you know, I was always in love with, you know, storytelling in the film. You know, I read, you know, Rebel Without a crew when I was like, I don't know, probably 13 or something. And so I kind of just started getting like obsessed with that sort of like 90s indie film movement of like Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Smith of like, these guys that were just like going off and somehow making a movie. But then as I got older, I started noticing that like, the path of those guys, as soon as they did it, that doesn't exist anymore. It's like Sundance, that whole thing that changes. As soon as someone like gets in the door, that door shuts and now you got to find a window, or a crawlspace, or something to get into the industry. So I was just I kind of kept an open mind. And, you know, it was a little daunted, like, how do you make feature films. And so I just started, you know, as a kid, just doing short films, I would, you know, with my teachers try and pitch doing a video project instead of having to, you know, write a book report or something. So like, even in school, like fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, like, even really young like that I was editing on iMovie and just kind of, you know, taking my dad's camcorder, and just going out and shooting stuff, you know, not not, none of it was good. Let's start there. None of it was actually it shouldn't be. It should. It shouldn't be. Yeah, but I started taking it more seriously. And then, in high school, my parents, I was like begging my parents, like I got to go to some kind of film, school, film camp, whatever I can find. And there was this thing at the New York Film Academy in Burbank that they had a high school summer film program. So I went to that at 14 and shot 16 millimeter film, and cast sag actors and I was just like, hooked like, I'm not a drug person. But that was my drug. I was like, Alright, I'm 14, I can cast sag actors game on let's do this. So then from like, then on in high school, I'm in San Diego kept putting out, you know, actors access notices, and like casting sag actors and running auditions at like Doubletree conference rooms. And, you know, I'm just being this like, ambitious film kid. And then I would submit to local film festivals, and, you know, just try and get better. And, you know, the 48 hour film contest, like, I was just all, I was all in just trying to figure it out. And then, you know, eventually that led to, you know, when YouTube came along, and then the partner program, I saw that people were able to just make whatever they want, put it on YouTube, and actually get paid for it and get seen get an audience. And it seemed, you know, I was kind of doing that with the shorts, like not spending a lot of money, just putting it out there. And I was honing my skills. I thought, Okay, well, what if I could take the filmmaking side and apply it to this new media kind of concept? And that's how I started totally sketch and I just started making weekly sketch comedy videos, you know, on a whim like that,

Alex Ferrari 8:05
Which is, which is the funny thing that you say is that you, you were you saw that wave in the 90s. I mean, you were very young, obviously. But you saw that whole concept of the 90s. By the time you started to really figure it out that that party was over. So you, you realize that that wasn't the way to go. I on the other hand, took 20 years to learn that lesson, and thought that it was the 90s all over again, it was trying to do the exact same thing that Robert did, and Kevin, and Quintin and all those guys. And it took me a long time to figure that out. Because this is and this is my truth. I don't know if you know about this or not. But in 2005, I was on YouTube. I was posting tutorials on how to make films on youtube in 2005. Before anybody had even thought of doing anything like that. And then of course, I said, I said, and you can look, they're still up on YouTube. It's like 13 years old or something like that. look them up the other day. I'm like, Oh, my really bad compression because YouTube was horrible, horribly compressed back then. And then I just said to myself, I don't know if you've ever run across this. I'm a real filmmaker. I don't I don't put stuff on YouTube. I don't teach other filmmakers have them out. I that's not why I went to film school. I'm, I'm on a tour.

Michael Gallagher 9:18
Definitely a classy a class, this sort of system of like Vimeo, YouTube, and at that time, Vimeo was like the classy place for all film, all filmmakers short film. And YouTube was sort of like a, you know, like a loud party that was saying, Yeah, but

Alex Ferrari 9:35
I just wish I would have just stayed on because I would have literally owned the entire space of making showing you how to make movies at that point. Can you imagine if I would have just made content all the time? It was would have been insane.

Michael Gallagher 9:49
You're alright.

Alex Ferrari 9:51
But still, but still. I'm still a very angry and bitter filmmaker. But But what I find fascinating is that you were very open minded to this You medium and I think so many filmmakers, even in today's world, they're not open minded they stick to they're like, Oh, I'm only going to do this, or I'm only going to do that. And you said, Well, wait a minute, that's not working anymore. This is the new thing. Kind of like when guys jumped on Vine, when vine was a thing, there was a small window of opportunity there, there was a small window of opportunity to win YouTube, like you could make an obscene amount of money on youtube when the partner program started and things like that, that window close. Now, it's like you got to work a lot harder to make remotely that much money. Is that correct?

Michael Gallagher 10:31
Yeah, these things like exactly what you're saying. There's like a short window, as something's kind of new and exciting and untested. And the people that get in in that moment and just give it their all, sometimes they they succeed. And then as soon as they've succeeded, big business comes in and says, Wait a minute. Like, we can't just let anybody do this, right? Wait, who made a million dollars who did what? And then all of a sudden, they just start buying everything up and then close the doors, and then no one can get in? Because it's all corporations now. And then it's like, now you got to find a new wild, wild west to like, go in and go make your mark.

Alex Ferrari 11:07
You know, it's Yeah, cuz it was in the 90s. It was the indie films were the wild wild west Sundance, and those kinds of things were the Wild West. And then then it turned into other things. And then eventually YouTube, and now it's streaming, and being on a streaming shows and things like that, what you have experienced on as well. And I'm curious to see what the future I mean, lies right now. Because there's so much competition, even when you started, there wasn't as much competition. You know,

Michael Gallagher 11:31
There really weren't that many filmmakers on YouTube. Like, I think I'm like a crop of like, five people, maybe?

Alex Ferrari 11:38
When did I When did you start? When did you start on YouTube?

Michael Gallagher 11:40
On YouTube 2009. It was like, beginning of 2000. So you right before the partner program had like, just started. And so it was like, right around the time like Freddie Wong.

Alex Ferrari 11:50
Yeah, I was about to say rocket jump. Yeah,

Michael Gallagher 11:52
Yeah, rocket jump, pre rocket jump, Freddie Wong. And then, you know, Julian Smith, who's, you know, great comedian. And also, he would just film and edit and do everything behind the scenes. And, but most of the people on YouTube at that time, were personalities, that were just literally broadcasting themselves, they were just, you know, turning on a webcam, you know, dressing up, like Sarah Palin, or Obama or whatever was Britney Spears, like anything that was kind of like to get the clicks. And, and they would, you know, they would do comedy, but it was sort of unpolished, on, you know, presented. And, and what I saw was, okay, there's all this talent, like, this is a big talent pool, but there's not really anyone guiding that talent. And so I thought my contribution could be well, what if I bring like the the filmmaking that I've been, you know, honing on my short films and music videos and local commercials? What if I brought that to the talent that's on YouTube? And so literally, when I first started totally sketch, I would do, you know, sketches with actors and things that I would cast just like I was doing in San Diego, right. What I would also do is send out emails to the top youtubers at the time, and say, Hey, you don't know me. But here's, here's my body works. I had my short films on Vimeo I had, you know, that look nice. Yeah. And I said, like, Look, here's my work that I've done, here's this new channel, I would love to produce for you a free sketch, a music, video, parody, or whatever, let me handle all of the production, you you would just be the talent in it. And in doing so maybe you could also then be on my channel, and we could do a sketch or something together collaborate. So I was just like, giving like, Hey, you want a free sketch? You want a free music video? I wasn't asking anything of them. Other than Can I give you you know, can I give you my services? And that approach worked really well. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Because people would see my work and they saw Oh, it's not, you know, this isn't like po dunk. Like, this actually looks good. You know, this short film played a bunch of festivals, or, you know, this music video, maybe I've seen that music video online. And so I just started getting, you know, collaborating. And the first person I collaborated with was this youtuber alpha cat, who was the premier Obama impersonator on YouTube. And he, he was like, the guy like he was doing all of these, you know, Beyonce sort of spoof. So, you know, like, but as Obama and it were really funny, but he didn't have like a Producer Director behind the scenes. And so we produced this whole music video for him that and I wrote the, you know, the first draft of the parody, but it was a Jamie Foxx is blame it on the alcohol. It was called, blame it on the economy. And it was about like, the economic crisis that we were going through. And he was like, oh, let's just get on my pals. And and so we called Lisa Nova, who did Sarah Palin at the time, I called my buddy Richard Ryan to play Joe Biden. And we just did this crazy music video, but it looked legit. And it actually got picked up and they showed it on the view. Because it was such a like viral video at that time. And but from there that that kind of helped explode me on the YouTube scene. So then everybody saw that video in the community and said, well, who's this guy like, we need to hire him. Bring bring him in and so he can just sort of bring that filmmaking style to what we're doing. And then that's kind of you know, that's how I got in in the club

Alex Ferrari 15:08
So so again for everyone listening take some notes here you offered your services for free because you were smart enough to provide provide service and be a value to people who are trying to to connect with and to work with in one way shape or form and all you had to offer at the moment was I've got some skills I've got some production I got something that you don't have I'm not asking for anything in return Just let me work with you. And it worked out it worked out for it fairly okay for you.

Michael Gallagher 15:37
Well, it was it was funny because just like in high school anytime I had any money if I made any money if I you know for like grandma gave me like a check for 100 bucks or something for you know, birthday. Like any money I would get, I would put it into film equipment. So like at the time I like saved up I got an HB x you know, I got a Panasonic HV x at the time was like a big deal. Oh, yeah. And then I really saved up and you know, like summer jobs and doing like short films and such. I got a Kino flow kit, I got to four banks,

Alex Ferrari 16:09
Just rock'n, you're like, dampen your Pip, can you? Can you imagine that time of time of YouTube to show up with like an HVX and a keno kit. It was like literally showing up with like a frickin steady cam and a panavision camera for like, full 35 on the student film back in the 80s. I mean, seriously.

Michael Gallagher 16:31
Yeah. So I was like, I had a pretty, you know, robust because I had like an area, I have a three point area lighting kit. And that was used that I ran it to the ground. And then I had the Kino flows. So within my setup for the shorts and things I was doing, I could like pretty much any scene as long as there were no more than like five people in a frame. So but it would look really good. So it kind of helps set things apart. Because lighting is such an important part of filmmaking. And here's kind of elevating that sort of HD look. But, but yeah, that that really helped just because people would see and I was calling in favors left and right, you know, kids, I went to film school with friends that I met at parties that you know, is dp someone in sound, and I would try and pay people as much as they could. But in the early days, like you don't have money, so you're just you call in favors, or you're finding collaborative, excited people around you that want to participate. And that's what I did in the early days of YouTube. And then as it you know, kind of spread, I still kept that mentality of keeping it small keeping it low budget because, you know, you can make money doing YouTube, but the more money you spend doing it, just the less money you can make. Because there's sort of a sort of a cap on the whole thing at that time at least.

Alex Ferrari 17:42
Yeah, there was a you weren't there wasn't the millionaires weren't being made just yet on YouTube. It was it was pre pre millionaire days at that point. But, but yeah, it in very, very true. Now, you also came up with a fairly cool idea called Maker Studios, if I'm not mistaken. You're one of the co founders of Maker Studios.

Michael Gallagher 18:01
So yeah, I'm one of the co founders of Maker Studios, but I it wasn't my original idea. It was actually so from that music video shoot that I did with alpha cat. So Lisa Nova Kane, and Danny zappin was her boyfriend at the time and her brother Ben Donovan Dale, both the three of them all came to the shoot. And they saw what I was doing. And they said, Oh, well, we got to talk to this kid because we're about to start a company and we need some filmmakers to be a part of it because we right now we have the talent what they had been doing is they had been going out and they had this idea of creating sort of like the Saturday Night Live of YouTube like what if we got the top you know performers and put them all together made a super channel and we all promoted that super channel and you know got it to a million subscribers in like a day. And then what from there, we got brand deals and we kind of just helped get everyone paid. And that was sort of the concept of early days it was even called maker that I didn't have a name for it. And so they I remember going to Starbucks over and bennis with Danny after that shoe. And he's like yeah, we're gonna do this thing. We're gonna we're a mess. We're gonna disrupt the whole industry and he's just like, you know, wearing like clothes from Target like drinking a coffee saying like, Yeah, I got I got all the top youtubers involved and it's gonna be great like Yuen like you're gonna you know, dedicate the next year to this thing, man. And I you know, it sounded good but it also sounded like maybe a Ponzi scheme maybe I'm gonna be selling microwaves door to door in like a week. I have no idea. I mean, it was just like, you know, sometimes people are all talk and you have no idea

Alex Ferrari 19:35
In this business. I can't see a none this business No, stop it.

Michael Gallagher 19:41
But But I vetted him out and I talked to some people around him and it seemed legit and it seemed like he did have these people so I agreed I said, Okay, I'm in you know, I will I will come out because they didn't really have any money didn't have much to start it was like we're all gonna just donate our time. We're gonna we're gonna come in and invest in ourselves and collaborate on this. And so it was really like, if we're not all part of this not all lock lock step, it's not gonna happen. And I showed up and I remember going to their house and it was, you know, it was all the top people on YouTube at that time, which, you know, this is 2009. So it's like Phil DeFranco shaycarl Shane Dawson Dave days. Lisa Nova, there more, but it Kassem G. It was like all the people that had like hundreds of 1000s, if not over a million subscribers at that time and getting millions of views on every video. So it was like, Oh, my God, I'm with the Illuminati of YouTube. And I'm like, me and Danny, are like the only filmmakers on this thing everyone else is there on on camera talent. And you know, and we want to like, okay, kids play nice, let's all come together, let's come up with the name, let's figure out what our videos are going to be. Because we're, we were just making sketches, we want to start stockpiling and putting them out there. And so that was really the beginning of what maker was, but but from that process, you had so many cooks in the kitchen, and you had so much creative, you know, kind of like top talent for the medium, that it was really difficult to get everyone to agree on what was comedy, what was the funniest thing to do? What was our style and taste. And so some people had our rated senses of humor, some people were really family oriented. And so it was just a lot of debating of what are we even going to make? And from that kind of creative friction, came this idea of well, rather than all of us doing one channel, what if we empower each creator, and give them the resources and tools and support them for whatever they want to make, rather than force everyone to work together? And that's really what maker became is like, how do we empower the creators to go off and, and make whatever they want, because, you know, all these people are just in their bedrooms, kind of doing their thing. And if we gave them a crew, if we gave them, you know, production budget, if we gave them you know, resources, locations, producer, you know, we could really up everything. And so that was kind of the model, and it just took off because all the top creators, they wanted to make cool looking shit. And so that's, you know, that that spread, and then it was like, Hey, everybody, whoever wants to join just kept scaling up from there and getting attention, Hollywood, etc. So,

Alex Ferrari 22:15
Yeah, I mean, this is still in a time. So maker studio started in what like 2010 2009.

Michael Gallagher 22:20
It was some It was 2000, because I started totally sketch in March of 2009. And maker started July, I think it was like, yeah, July 4.

Alex Ferrari 22:32
So that's a pretty quick, pretty quick, you didn't spend a whole lot of time grinding it on YouTube before things started up for you, man. You are what we'd like to call that the right place at the right time. It's kind of like Michael Gladwell book outliers. It's like that you have you read that book?

Michael Gallagher 22:50
I love that book. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 22:51
It's it's, it's it's kind of like everyone's like, Oh, it's there. They're perfect. They're geniuses. They never have to do anything. Now. They were born at the right place at the right time and at the right skills when they showed up. Like when Robert Rodriguez shows up in 91. Without mariachi, you can't show up now without mariachi because he'll never he would never even be seen. No one would even know who he was. So it was all about the specific timing and you man, you hit it. You were close, though you were you were only about three month window. This is gonna pass you right by Dude, this is gonna pass you right by I just want you to be aware of, I want you to be aware how close you came.

Michael Gallagher 23:26
I'm hashtag blessed.

Alex Ferrari 23:29
So you start 2009. And then and then at that point, YouTube is still fairly much of a what the heck's that thing? No one

Michael Gallagher 23:37
At the time everyone thought we were nuts. Everyone thought the company was like, what you're gonna start you're gonna double down on YouTube. Everyone thought

Alex Ferrari 23:45
You're doubling down on the internet streaming thing, Netflix, whatever. So yeah, it's kind of like when blockbuster had the opportunity to buy Netflix for 50 million bucks. And they said now we're good. We're good. No, we're good. We've got these rentals. Things were good.

Michael Gallagher 23:59
Yeah, brick and mortar is the way to go.

Alex Ferrari 24:01
That's the future the brick, this internet things a fad. So so so Hollywood, when did Hollywood start taking notice? And when did you guys start making some like serious money? Because you started? I mean, it is looking back. It's a fairly genius move. It's insane at the time, but that's generally the way all these movements start. When you look at it at the time to like you were insane streaming movies over the internet, who's going to what it seems to say now you look at and going well, that was genius. So you guys had a small a small version of that one, not that small, but a version of that in the YouTube community where you double down on YouTube, which I would have told you the same thing like you guys are nuts, like, no one's watching. But it seemed to work out for us people like Gary Vee, and those are the guys who who just kept making videos and nobody was watching but one day someone watched. And I kept going. So this this small time so you start building building this up and you start building up the accounts and you start kind of like I can't say it would be like an agent. See? Would it be like a you record? You know, they're sending them? It's like a kind of what would you call it?

Michael Gallagher 25:05
It was a, the term was multi channel network. And so it was the first it was the first idea of well, what if, you know, each person would own their YouTube channel? I mean, they already you already have a split with YouTube if you're doing ads with them. And so what maker would do was, it would kind of represent your channel. So rather than represent you as a talent, it would say, okay, your channel, we're going to help sell premium ads on this channel by talking to advertisers, if we get a brand deal that fits, you know, like, let's say, you know, indie film, hustle, if you were part of maker be like, okay, we want, we got this, you know, film company, or big movie that's coming out as an indie movie that Fox Searchlight is releasing, and what if we partner with you, so you can, you know, do something with the filmmakers and get paid to do it. And so it was like, they were kind of brokering those deals, sort of like what an ad agency would do multiple things. It was providing production resources, it was kind of serving as an ad agency. And then also make it being a content hub, sort of, you know, how Netflix or a lot of places, like, they'll acquire things, but then they'll also, you know, provide the resources. I mean, do they had full production studio, they had equipment they had, you know, everything at maker for, you know, especially DIY stuff, it was DIY, but also for DIY plus where they give you like a three person crew, or a five person crew or something to go out and shoot YouTube videos.

Alex Ferrari 26:27
That's insane. And how long did it take before Hollywood started taking notice?

Michael Gallagher 26:32
Pretty quick. I think, within like, before the end of the first year, I think we were raising, like some VC money and you know, kind of big. Yeah, I know, just started, it just started growing. And then people were leaving their jobs at, you know, kind of whether it was a big tech company, or, you know, a film studio, they were coming in, like, all of a sudden, we were having executives that were just had been at, you know, Disney or they had been at Warner or Sony. Yeah, yeah. And everyone all of a sudden is just like, Yeah, no, I want to work at maker. That's the hot new thing. So

Alex Ferrari 27:07
And you guys are ready, you were in the middle of the storm. I mean, that's, that's amazing. It's amazing. Like you guys, were you and there was nobody around you. There was no competition, there was nothing that even was close to what you guys were doing at the time.

Michael Gallagher 27:19
The only Yeah, things are popping up pretty quick thereafter. So it's always it's hard to say like, what the first thing I think maker might have been the first multi channel network that really had done this. And then very soon, around that time was awesomeness TV. Which, if you remember

Alex Ferrari 27:35
I've heard of I've heard of awesome.

Michael Gallagher 27:37
Yeah, they focused on like kind of more specifically teen oriented content, because they really were trying to get bought by like a Nickelodeon or, you know, a Disney Channel or something like they wanted content that was safe, like kind of age appropriate. And maker was a little bit wild west of, you know, we're not going to censor you, whatever you want to do. That's your thing.

Alex Ferrari 27:57
And, and of course, that attracted all the talent, because he was

Michael Gallagher 28:00
Exactly is no censorship, and we're not going to try and control you. Yeah, you can do, you can just continue what you're doing, and we're going to empower you. And so I think, I think that model really appealed to, you know, the, every level of youtuber top bottom, whatever. And, yeah, in 2014 is when Disney came in, and yeah,

Alex Ferrari 28:18
I heard I heard Yeah, I heard something about that. There was a small company called Disney that decided to buy you guys and it was it. No, it wasn't in the news at all at the time. But if I do remember correctly, and I don't like to talk money on the show, but it's pretty publicly known that the Maker Studios was purchased for 450 million cash and then with a performance bonus up to almost a billion. Is that is that accurate?

Michael Gallagher 28:43
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And I don't know how much is public of like, where it landed or whatever. But I think those numbers are in the ballpark for sure.

Alex Ferrari 28:50
Yeah, that's not a bad deal for you know, young guys who just kind of like get the HV x 200 and the era kit out. And you know, shout with some YouTubers. That's a that that that took that definitely sent, you know, shockwaves through the industry. I remember when that happened. It was about a year before I launched indie film hustle I launched in the film was on 2015 Oh, yeah. And I when I heard that, I was like, wow, this this you okay, I sound like an old fart but like, Oh, yeah, this YouTube thing's really kind of starting to blow up now. I should have stayed on there like what was I thinking? But that that I have to ask you, man, what was that like? Man? You were like you know when Disney's like okay, here's a check. And I'm not going to ask you know, percentages or anything like that. But you obviously did fairly okay being one of the cofounders of it. So what was that day like as a filmmaker man like, you know, Disney is buying you that at a very, very good rate. A good rate, if you don't mind?

Michael Gallagher 29:50
Yeah, no, it was it was pretty outrageous. Well, it's interesting because we started in 2009. And I had been like day to day with the company until about 20. 11 to about 2011 I was like they're kind of making, you know, helping everyone making videos, you know, kind of working on different you know, branded content and interact. I was doing a lot of interactive actually. And so but my my day to day wasn't really didn't really go on beyond 2011 I was still my channel to I eventually brought my channel totally sketch into the network. And then, you know, would work on you know, as a director for hire for them and kind of consulting and things. But I wasn't really in the thick of it. So it was fun to actually see, every time I would go there. It was like, oh, we're gonna go into a new office. Oh, we got a soundstage. Oh, we got a whole block of offices, right? And then it's like, and then you're, you're, you're trying to make your YouTube videos there. And all of a sudden, it's like a James Franco's in today. It's like a Snoop Dogg. He's gonna shoot four videos. And it's like, wait, what, what?

Alex Ferrari 30:53

Michael Gallagher 30:55
And then I was, you know, they because I was, you know, very film or filmmaker oriented. They would, you know, they partnered with the Tribeca Film Festival. I remember meeting with like, you know, I remember they flew us out there to for, you know, doing promotion and kind of cross promoting Tribeca. And they were like, Oh, do you want to do you know, we want to do like a 48 hour like film thing at Tribeca? Do you want to make a 40 hour film in Tribeca? I said, Sure. Like, it was like a bunch of groups like No, just you. And so you'll just do it. And we'll have the full support of the festival and we're gonna screen at the festival and play. Okay. And so, I don't know, I'm like 23 22 years old, and like, we're running around New York, and literally, like, they had like Robert De Niro make a video being like, okay, Michael, here's your, you know, here are the things you're going to do in your 48 hour video. It's like, what what is going on? Like, it was just, you know, is this a small group of friends that have Venice apartment and now it's like, they somehow got Robert De Niro roped into this thing like, talking to me.

Alex Ferrari 31:55
Like, can you imagine, Can you imagine that conversation with Robert like, like, you're just like, Alright, so we're gonna do this thing with these guys called maker studio. They're on YouTube. And like, you've got to there has to be a moment when Robert De Niro goes, What is YouTube? What is this guy? What's going on? I don't understand. This is like, Bobby, Bobby's you got to do this. Just trust me. These guys are big. Just get on the camera. And I'm sure I'm sure I'm sure he's like, Alright, who's this guy's name? Michael. Mike. All right, Michael.

Michael Gallagher 32:24
I know. It just kind of it felt really surreal. So he sort of like, you just kind of had to accept it. Like, at a certain point I let go of, you know how races happen and just started to say, Okay, yeah. All right. We're gonna we're gonna roll with it. We're gonna roll with it. Yeah, and But definitely, you know, and just to be clear on is I don't have like $100 million. Like, I didn't, I didn't like, come out like a bandit, and own and I don't own like Johnny Depp level islands and things, you know, gotcha. Gotcha, gotcha. Just know that. But I definitely, I definitely benefited from the sale as it everyone who was a part of it. And the The great thing about it was it all in one, it set us up in the industry, as you know, look at these guys, they, they bet on themselves, they went out there and invested in this, this kind of idea that nobody really thought would be anything and look at it now. And so it just sort of gave you that sort of like creative capital to then go out and say, Oh, I want to make a film, I want to do this, you know, you just caught people's attention a little bit more. Because you had sort of a proof of concept of saying, and we started this from nothing and look where it got to, you know, moving forward, whether it's just, you know, you want to do a look, web series, you want to do a movie, you wanna do something, it's, you know, people take notice, because it just did so well. So the biggest thing that I've taken away from the whole experience,

Alex Ferrari 33:48
I feel like maker was kind of like the Google or the Facebook of the film industry. It was like this little startup that kind of shook things up. And it was kind of leading the way into a new technology or a new space within the industry that nobody else saw coming. Kind of like, you know, when Facebook came in and, and did their thing, or Google came in like, oh, we're gonna do a search engine. Oh, right. Yeah, search engine Sure. Like everybody else, like I like AltaVista and Lycos, got it. And then, of course, it turned into what it did. And similar to you guys, you were kind of like the Google of the film is an industry in a sense, because it was all internet based. And it was a bunch of crazy kids, somewhere doing some crazy stuff. And it all turned out until finally, the big boys finally took notice. But that also sent the message to the whole industry is like when someone like Disney does spend that kind of money on a company that's outside the norm it sent to the industry. Hey, this is where we're going. This is the future. This is not, you know, this is not a joke, because we're not spending this kind of money on a little bit of a fad, if you will.

Michael Gallagher 34:50
Yeah, well, the the film studios, I think reached a point where they weren't investing in digital. You know, they weren't investing in online content, but they were Seeing like a on our, on our sheets every month or a year like quarter we're looking and seeing how much we're spending on digital advertising. We're seeing how much we are spending on a company like maker to promote our stuff. Wouldn't it make sense for us to have our own digital shingle here? So we don't have to pay somebody else? Like shouldn't? Didn't we already have that? Like, why are we paying them to tell that like they're making it just, it was some kind of confusing loop for them. And so they I think they ran the numbers. And they said, Well, how much would it cost for us to start our own? And they ran those numbers and said, okay, it's going to cost billions. What if we just acquire these companies that have been doing it independently that seemed to have success, and then we will just absorb all their knowledge, what they've learned their tactics, their crew, and and we'll go from there. And so that's what happened. And then you saw that with Microsoft with awesomeness and fullscreen a bunch of other places. And then each studio kind of was eyeing the different media companies and just sort of plucking them up and saying, Okay, now we have our branch. And that's, I think that's what really sparked it was, was that move of the eyeballs, especially like the, you know, the 18 to 24 and teenager demographic, like everyone know what, they weren't watching TV anymore. They were just watching YouTube, they were just addicted to online content. And so they needed to be in the game, so to just market their movies, if nothing else,

Alex Ferrari 36:21
Right, and it's kind of like what Netflix did for the business? Well, now everybody has a streaming service coming out, you know, I own a streaming service, I have my own streaming service, for God's sakes. You know, it was all because of Netflix. And they opened up the doors, and now everybody's like, wait a minute, we got to jump on this train. This is kind of where the future is going to be. So and now how did you parlay you know, from maker into the, into the world of like, legit directing. Now, and I don't say I don't mean that in a derogatory statement at all.

Michael Gallagher 36:50
No, no,

Alex Ferrari 36:51
You know what I mean, by legit like, like, true in the a tour filmmaker, if you will, kind of like the guys who you were looking up to when you were coming up, like Robert Rodriguez and stuff, you know, how did you turn from, you know, making sketch comedies on YouTube to like, Hey, I'm I, you know, I did the thing, the thinning and the whole, you know, the whole series and another movie that you just came out with funny story and all these kind of real, legit films with like, budgets, and like, actors.

Michael Gallagher 37:18
I know, I keep pulling them. I don't know how. What happened was when we were at maker, I really, you know, we've been doing sketches for a few years. It was like, Yeah, 2010. And I really wanted to do, you know, wanted to figure out how am I going to make a feature? How am I going to get in and meet with people? And he would say, Oh, it's great that you've done sketches and had this, you know, millions of views. And that didn't really matter. They, you know, it's like, Where's the proof of concept? For each? Donna? Why haven't you done a first feature already? Show it to us? And then we'll talk? Yeah, so it was like, Okay, this is the chicken in the egg. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 37:53
I know.

Michael Gallagher 37:55
I get the job and out of the movie, but on the job and, and then how am I gonna make money. And so at that point, you know, I live pretty frugally. I was just saving up. And I had a lot of success with totally sketch and maker and just, you know, everything was kind of going with brand deals. And you know, there's paying a ton of money for doing, you know, a couple days worth of work. And so I was just saving all this money, I'm not going on vacation or doing anything with it. I'm just saving it. And so at a certain point at maker, this guy, Glasgow Philips, who had written on South Park and a bunch of other cool things, he on spec, wrote this idea for what became smiley, which was a horror film. That was my first feature that I directed. And he wrote it as an idea of, well, what if we take our resources that maker and just rather than just do a bunch of YouTube videos, we spend, you know, three weeks and go shoot a feature? Why don't we do that? And maker was interested at the time, and they said, Okay, well, Gallagher contracted. And so all of a sudden, I'm, like, attached to direct a movie, I'm super excited. And, you know, cuz I just at that point, it wasn't about oh, I have this really personal story I got to tell it was I got to make my first feature I want, I wanted to make the movie more than it mattered what the exact movie was, like, I wanted to just show what I could do. And just get out there and just, you know, start playing on in the big leagues and playing in the field and making some, you know, feature length. And so what happened was maker almost did it and then they didn't, and then they said, you know, we're really focused on, you know, the short form, but if you guys want to go off and find the money for this thing, go for it. And so then I became obsessed with just getting smiley made. And so we'd go around, and he started pitching it and doing that whole thing and, and we had some interest from places but they were like you You want to cast YouTube stars in this movie. You want to cast people who have millions of fans online to come see a movie, like good luck, like we don't see it.

Alex Ferrari 39:48
People don't see any. I mean, like, you would think that you're part of Maker Studios, which was crazy in the first place. And they're like, Hey, guys, we have another idea. You don't listen to that like, and I'm assuming the budget wasn't 100 million. So like, why wouldn't you Take that Chad's.

Michael Gallagher 40:01
No, I know we were like, We can do this for you know, not like, by your standards, nothing but you know, like a couple $100,000 Max, like, we could do the whole thing. It'd be great. Everyone signed on, you know? That Yeah, it was just sort of crickets like, people were like, No, no, no, it hasn't been done hasn't been proven yet. And so we said, Alright, assholes, we're just gonna call make this movie. And so literally, at that point, I, my producer, Michael wormser, who had worked at makers had a production he had, he had gone off from then. And we would just been, like, dedicated to this movie. And I said, Okay, wormser, if we're gonna make this thing independently, what's the lowest number we can do it for? Like, you know, get the movie in the can like, What's the number? So he crunched the numbers and did it. And I think at the time, he's like, I think we can get it in the can for like, 120,000 if everyone's getting paid. And, you know, we're shooting in 15 days and the whole thing. And I said, Okay, that's all the money. I have. greenlit. Let's go. So. So then from then on, we just went and made the movie, just, you know, self funded, we didn't look for any more money, we just, you know, said, Okay, this is the resource we got, let's get this thing in the camera, shoot it. And so, so it was just kind of, you know, a mad rush in 2011 in the summer to just go make this movie. And so we did we shot it 15 days, you know, we brought on the best crew, we could we just, you know, kind of went out and made it. And, and from there, the movie, we then raised a little bit more money for post and then for, you know, for the release, because what ended up happening is we partnered with AMC independent, which they have this, this great program where they will release your film theatrically, if you can provide the marketing and if they like the movie. And so what we did was we presented this whole plan to them with the YouTube stars with everything. And we said, we're gonna go promote this thing we're going to, you know, we want as many theaters as you can give us, and we will get it out there. And look at how many impressions we can get from videos from trailer, because our trailer went out, we put our trailer out, like after we shot the movie in November, and it got like a million views in a day. And then after that, it was like 10 million views in a week. And now it's, I think, like 40 million views or something crazy. And so it was just like, it kept exploding and so Hollywood started calling and people were just freaking out being like, what is this movie? How can we never heard of it? Wait, there's a horror movie like YouTube start like, you know, so then that really just kind of became a beacon for the industry and saying, like, Who's Mike Gallagher? What, what? You made a movie. I don't understand

Alex Ferrari 42:27
And you're like, I was in your office six months ago. ass!

Michael Gallagher 42:33
Literally, literally. And so yeah, so then we so but we did it all independent. So that was really my film school was was taking his smiley from the development process through production through post and then through marketing, distributing, and getting it out there. And we did a 28 screen theatrical release through AMC independent and it was in 14 markets. And, and then yeah, game and then we, we sold territories at you know, AFM through our sales agent. And you know, it's played theatrically in like Italy, in the Philippines and Japan. And it was just like this, this kind of crazy indie phenomenon. Like, it's surprising how well the movie did like how far I got out there. Because even today, like around Halloween time, if you go like on Instagram, go hashtag smiley. People in Argentina are dressing up as smiley like, still, like from last year, I did this, like 1000s of people I keep seeing every year like people sending me photos and things of just the reach of this. This character is kind of crazy. And this is just a really small indie for me for under $200,000. So it's, uh, it was pretty wild. So

Alex Ferrari 43:41
Did you have any

Michael Gallagher 43:43
That helped prove that as an indie filmmaker, we can solve a big impact you don't necessarily need you know, big budget and you know, huge stars like you can, you can work with the team you have around you and really, you know, exploded out.

Alex Ferrari 43:54
Did you have any other ancillary revenue streams for that movie? Like t shirts, hats, other things like that? Did you have any merch at the time?

Michael Gallagher 44:02
We should have we did.

Alex Ferrari 44:05
Left money on the table, sir. Left money on the table?

Michael Gallagher 44:07
Yeah, definitely, definitely money on the table. But, man, no, the movie did great. And people saw it. And you know, even though it wasn't like, and it's funny, because even though it got out so far, I still, I didn't do everything independently. And I really should have because what happened is my domestic distributor that I brought on for home video and stuff, they screwed us.

Alex Ferrari 44:28
Oh, shocking. I can

Michael Gallagher 44:32
Just when we're calling them on it. They go bankrupt. Oh,

Alex Ferrari 44:36
I never heard of a story like that.

Michael Gallagher 44:38
It doesn't happen. It doesn't happen. It's never happened before. But you know, and so there's like, there's some heartbreaking lessons and things you learn along the way of like, Oh, we did all the work. We got the muscle out there and then just hit the finish line. You know, someone's like, thank you so much. And

Alex Ferrari 44:55
We'll take it we'll take it from here. Did you know Did you have Did you have a A clause that if they go bankrupt the rights go back to you. You didn't. Was there a clause in there?

Michael Gallagher 45:05
No And I were few years away, we're gonna get it back. So it took me

Alex Ferrari 45:09
Okay, okay. Yeah, cuz it's a thing. Alright, so you'll get it back eventually.

Michael Gallagher 45:12
Yeah. So it'll be all right. But still no. But that process the good, the bad, the ugly of making your own movie and distributing and doing everything that that has those lessons I'm still learning because because even with my new movie, funny story, it almost feels like that was my, my, my first feature because as what I did was I told a personal story, it was something that I had to tell. And I did it with friends. And I did it as small as I could just like the smiley. But But smiley wasn't a personal story. It was like, it was almost like I hired myself for a job. It was like, I saw an opportunity. And I took the opportunity and tried to make it the best and the biggest it could, but it wasn't it didn't have any personal connection. To me, it felt like I said, I felt like multiple people like I'm the financier hiring the director, who's then going to produce it and then going to distribute. So it was like I had different hats on all the time.

Alex Ferrari 46:04
You were fighting with yourself constantly.

Michael Gallagher 46:07
Yeah, exactly. But But in terms of like a creative thing, it's like, I'm really proud of the movie and what we've done with it. But in terms of what I can do as a storyteller, and the kind of movies that I want to make, it's it didn't really line up with that. And I think people saw that when they write reviews, or, you know, whatever. But you can't control that aspect of it. You know, you're kind of just do thing and put it out there. But but that's the other thing. I think people thought we had a huge budget for smiley, because it gots we had billboards in Times Square, we had, you know, kind of promotion all around Los Angeles, and you know, big release, but it was just it was Michael wormser knives like these, you know, two little producers just going out and calling Clear Channel and saying, Hey, can we get a billboard? Hey, we have no money, what can we do? And then people were just, you know, wanting to help because they thought it was a cool idea. And why not? And they had the inventory. So we were able to make a pretty big splash with with, you know, a couple of pennies.

Alex Ferrari 47:00
And then and then you started making some films directly for YouTube Red, as well like the thinning.

Michael Gallagher 47:05
Yeah. So that then came about an interesting way. Because post smiley, I had all these I you know, I was wrapped it, I'm still wrapped the UTA and management 360 and all these great places. Because they had seen smiley, and they'd seen the trailer and all the kind of ruckus we were creating. And they said, okay, we want to bet on this guy. So they put me in rooms with every studio, all these production companies, and they're like, what do you wanna do next? And I'm like, I'm exhausted. I have no idea. What do you guys got? And they're like, Alright, well, why don't you go write a script and then call us? I was like, okay, that's another lesson learned. Always have your next thing. Ready. Three things. Three things, right. Yeah, x three things. Definitely. You're gonna have options.

Alex Ferrari 47:49
Like the first one, but they might have like the third one you never know. And you're not going to get back in that room again, easily.

Michael Gallagher 47:54
Is not that easy. Yeah. So I, you know, had that water bottle tour of Milan with everybody without a movie.

Alex Ferrari 48:02
Or without a project? Yeah.

Michael Gallagher 48:03
Yeah, nothing to pitch.

Alex Ferrari 48:05
It's Hollywood masturbation, we like to call it

Michael Gallagher 48:07
Yeah, I got a lot of free waters. It was great. And then. But from that I learned, okay. It's not about me coming over and seeing what they have. They want to see what I got. I'm the generator. So okay. That's how, as a filmmaker, you need to look at these things. And so what I did was, I spent the next couple of years just head down writing. And so I enlisted Steve green, who's my best friend. And we'd been doing all these sketches into writing comedy bits. I said, hey, let's write movies, we could figure it out. And so as I never really I'd never finished a feature from scratch with smiley. I came on it and did some rewrites and polishes and kind of the justice and things but, but it wasn't, I didn't start it didn't start and end with me. And so that was a new process of Steve and I just kind of like head down wrote every read every screenwriting book there is. And we just started going. And so everyone was saying, you know, maybe write something, you know, maybe write from a personal place. So the first thing we wrote was internet famous, which was a parody of all these YouTube stars and the ego trip and the ridiculousness of the YouTube world. So we wrote that as like a mockumentary comedy, kind of like a Best in Show and tone or spinal tap. And yeah, and everyone was really excited about that. So we partner with lake shore. And they financed the movie through their off the dock, which was their digital division. And they said, Okay, well what you do is smile. Let's try and do that with with internet famous, but do it with YouTube stars, making fun of themselves at the comedy, it's all lining up. So then we just kind of we, but now it's a story that it's like I have some basis and that gets, I generated the thing. And so we we put this great cast together and went out and shot it and then Netflix bought it. And so we're on Netflix now. And that was that was cool. That budget was under a million but it was but it was definitely a huge step up from where I'd gone before. And, and then at the same time when we were ready All those scripts, like you said, to have three projects ready, we had written five scripts. And we took out, you know, we were taking them out and seeing what the agents were responding to. And the other one we wrote was the thing, which was, you know, dystopian teen thriller. And so we came up with the idea for that it was sort of like, what if we, what if we created a Hunger Games event, but for YouTube? What if we created like, this big kind of spectacle that but but it was really just aimed to never come out in theaters, but just like be an event on the internet? Because most people, they were just dumping things that they couldn't get distribution on the internet, as opposed to like, what do you make a spectacle for the internet. And so we thought that would be cool. And so we pitch that around. And then legendary, they had started a digital division, and they love to scrap. And so and it was funny, because when I met with them, they were only interested in series. And then there had been like one or two other like digital movies that came out post smiley that started getting like good press. It's like, oh, they're making money. They can do this. As soon as they heard that they can make money making features for the internet. All of a sudden, our phone rang,

Alex Ferrari 50:59
Of course, because they made because it's like, oh, how much is it? How much do you need? That's coffee, daddy? Sure here.

Michael Gallagher 51:05
Exactly. So we went off and got to make the thing with with legendary, and then they sold it to YouTube Red at the time, which was I think they just started that as like a premium content division. And, and then it became like, the biggest movie that they'd ever, you know, the biggest show or anything that they had ever released, like in terms of viewership, like it just exploded, and so immediately they greenlit a sequel. So it is thinning New World Order. And you know, it was just kind of like, all of a sudden, you know, all this hard work and like putting your head down writing, it's like, oh, now we're just making movies. Every you know, it's like, we were doing like two movies every other year. It was like, just, oh my god, we're doing two a year, like going from zero to 1000 It's crazy, right? But it was fun. I mean, it's, it's been kind of a wild process. to, to go from having everyone question you and kind of like not understand what you're going for to then everyone calling and saying, like, how do we work with you? how, you know, sending scripts, sending digital stars over being like, Can you put them in a movie? You know? We got we got $300,000 Can we make a movie with this kid? It's like, what I don't that's not really how you make a movie, but

Alex Ferrari 52:16
Ohh they do they trust me. They do make movies just like that.

Michael Gallagher 52:21
I know, I've had to turn some of those down.

Alex Ferrari 52:23
You know, you know, it's funny, because I'm looking, I'm looking forward in the future. And you're gonna be one day 60 and you're gonna look back and you're gonna be like, Yeah, I was there at you do what it started. Yeah. And I was just like, yeah, and then you tell these stories and people were like, you mean there was a world when there was no video on the internet? Like, is that a world I would want to then I don't understand. One day your generation is very interesting. Like our generation My generation, Gen X or like with The Inbetweeners were like we were had one foot in the old and one foot in the new. So like, we were around before the internet, but we definitely were there when it popped. And you have no idea. Like you said, You were born in 88. I was watching, I was going into high school in 88. So there's a slight difference. slight difference in perspective. But it's fascinating. So I love talking to young filmmakers like yourself, especially once I've had a lot of a lot of success in what they're doing. Because I'm always fascinated with stories like how these different windows that open up and then how you leverage that window to take it to the next step and so on. Which brings me to your new movie, funny story, that I've actually been seeing billboards all around town. I've been like as I drive by, and I'm like, like, and that's why when it came through, I was like, oh, funny story. Yeah, that's that movie I keep seeing everywhere. On like, every second bus thing I see. Is there. So I don't know who's your marketing PR people, but they're doing a good job spending that money? Because it's out there. No question. So because this one looks more serious? It does it looks a lot more serious as it's not smiley. It's definitely not it's the famous. Yeah, it's, it's definitely a little bit more like a serious filmmaker. So tell me a little about that.

Michael Gallagher 54:04
Well, I think after doing, I guess it was like four or five of these kind of youtube news or digital features. I was known as the digital guy. And so I could get into any room, you know, as long as it was starring someone with X amount of followers, you know, I was up for that job. And a place of interest. That's a good place to be it's great place to be, but also there's a frustration because I didn't I never intended for that to become, you know, sort of the branded digital guy. I wanted to be more, you know, just a filmmaker amongst all filmmakers. And I was working in a specific medium, and kind of trying to break open this this area that we thought that we thought needed to be open. And so with funny story, it was kind of going back to you know, the the filmmakers that I grew up on and the people that inspired me to first start and try and tell a movie and try and story that didn't require the you know, you have to have cast somebody that has x amount of followers that you know has has this many Instagram things and it's like this it's not about the result I want to do something that wasn't result oriented that was really just we're gonna go make this because we're all passionate about the story and the characters and and I want to show as a filmmaker what I can do. And so that was the that was the spirit of making funny story. So through wrote this movie, and I was really inspired by like the duplass brothers and Joe Swanberg and, and these guys that were just like going off, you know, they call them mumble core, or whatever, but it's like, go off without really a script, maybe just an outline, we're just gonna go, you know, make this. That's how

Alex Ferrari 55:41
I made my house. I made my first two features. I love this.

Michael Gallagher 55:44
Yeah. Which is, which is great. And so I started with, okay, well, what can I do? You know, I need limited location, I started thinking back to like, you know, the YouTube days of like, how do I just go off and make something, right. And so I was like, looking at all the resources I had, and the people I knew, and I started writing parts for, to the people around me and two really talented actors that I had kind of gotten the pleasure to work with, and putting this thing together. I outlined, you know, full featured, it was like, maybe 30 pages, it was like a script that just didn't have any dialogue.

Alex Ferrari 56:14
It was the technical term scriptment? Yes,

Michael Gallagher 56:18
I'll say thank you. Yes. So wrote a script. Yes. And it was the whole movie, but had no dialogue. And I try, I was like, you know, a little cocky, because it made some other movies and like, okay, I can get funded off a script meant, if good can't be that hard. And everyone's like, no dialogue. Interesting.

Alex Ferrari 56:35
And your last name is Matt. duplass. Not gonna work, buddy.

Michael Gallagher 56:37
If you've never done this before. I don't know about this. And then so then they started making me kind of question and I was like, shit, maybe I should, you should add some dialogue. Maybe. And so I started, I said, and then I started thinking about, well, if I really go and do this on the budget, that I think I could just go off and make it. I think it's, it's too much money where I want to risk the idea of maybe I don't have the answer, because I think it is sort of like jumping out of an airplane without, without the dialogue, because you really have to trust in everyone around you. And I just got cold feet, honestly about trying to do that. And I still want to do it someday. But at that time, I was like, I don't think I'm ready to do no dialogue script and go make it.

Alex Ferrari 57:23
It takes a certain amount of balls, sir, it does truly take a certain amount of balls to do that.

Michael Gallagher 57:27
But my balls were up in my body, and things haven't dropped it

Alex Ferrari 57:30
Dropped yet.

Michael Gallagher 57:35
So then I called Steve green. I was like, Steve, I got a scriptment that I want to turn into a script, let's let's do this. And so we powered together, I think it was like four or five days of just like 12 hour sessions of us just locked in a room just at you know, acting it out writing dialogue making each other crack up. And then and then I had the full script, then it was like a 97 page script. And we went off and I just cast people that I'd either worked with before or met with that I knew we're just going to be passionate about this thing that the crew, everybody, everyone got paid. But it was from the spirit of we don't know what's going to happen with this thing. We're just gonna go and do it. And that set is the best accent experience I've ever had. Because everyone was there for the right reason I'd never actually felt that before. With everything else I'd done. There may be been a few people who were really excited about a project. But on a certain level like you, your your crew, your cast, like they're making a lot of stuff. It's hard to get that genuine enthusiasm of like this. We're doing this because we love it. We love making movies we love We love this story. And that set, it felt like everyone was there for the right reason they had this spirit and this excitement. And it just I don't know, it just it shows in the movie, I think. And so we went out and we submitted the film festivals. And last year, yeah, we've been touring with the film, it got into the slamdance Film Festival. And they're beyond category because I'd already done more than it was my first feature. And so from there, kind of like other film festivals were reaching out, and then we just kind of toured with it for the last year. And so I played, you know, like an one crazy awards, like Breckinridge Film Festival and Woods Hole. And I mean, what Ashington West, I mean, there's just like a million like all these regional film festivals that just the movie was really resonating with audiences. And, you know, we were like, it would play at places and then they add screenings that would sell out and it was just like, there was this weird buzz about the movie, just you know, within these communities. We weren't really promoting it. We didn't have any. There wasn't much to promote on the film festival circuit. You can put flyers up and things but but we didn't even really do that. It was just word of mouth. So it was kind of spreading and other film vessels were asking us to play and, and then this last year, we got it out with blue Fox entertainment. And we did a few screen theatrical day and date with VOD and such Yeah, the movies just, you know, it's gotten great reviews, it's just been really warmly received. And it's, you know, it's this little movie that we went off and made that, you know, we didn't have a marketing muscle behind it. And so I, all I did was, you know, the advertising you've seen, that's just me calling up places I did with smiley saying, like, Hey, we made another indie. You have any inventory? What do you got? Like, what kind of deal and so you know, we just call these places up and then, you know, got billboards and got, you know, bus benches and all that kind of stuff.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:30
And can I ask you, I don't know if you if you're able to tell me this or not, but what are those things kind of cost? I have no idea what a bus bench costs or or like those, like, I've always seen them? And you always think they're like these like 50,000 dude, like crazy expensive? Like, is it? Is it literally affordable to do that, like if you have a little bit of money?

Michael Gallagher 1:00:48
If you have a little bit of money, it is affordable. Yeah. I think I don't have the exact numbers offhand. But I do know that, you know, we negotiated with the companies and just, you know, we said, Look, we're not you know, Lionsgate, we're, we're a small indie, you know, movie coming out. So if there's inventory that you have, or if there's a deal, you can call us, like, let us know, because we'd love to consider, you know, working with you guys. And so I think we're bus benches. I think the company we went with, they do a minimum of 10. And so you have to get 10 of them. But per unit, they're not crazy expensive. It's like $300 or something per batch. I think, like 3000, around 3000. I think you can get 10 benches in LA for a month, for a month for four weeks.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:28
That's insane.

Michael Gallagher 1:01:31
It's insane.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:31
Oh my god, guys, anyone listening? You're gonna start seeing indie film hustle banners all over Los Angeles. I'm just saying, you're gonna be like, is that? Is that a podcast with a bus bench? Like, is that a thing? I'm like, Oh, yeah, it's gonna be a thing.

Michael Gallagher 1:01:47
That's insane. The thing is, like, I don't know, I guess I was never afraid of like just trying to Google something or looking and just asking, yeah, because the worst thing that's gonna happen is you're gonna say Now get lost. And so and I've had that happen to me. And that's okay. And it's like, there's a few outdoor advertising companies that are not filmmaker friendly. And that's okay. But then there's other ones that say, you know, you have a connection with somebody, and you tell them your story, and they want to help you. And then people want to help each other. It's just, we, so rarely are we offering our help to others? Are we asking? It's hard to even ask for help sometimes, but if you if you can be willing to accept whatever the answer is, then you might be surprised by people because I don't know if there's, there's other passionate filmmakers out there, maybe have a desk job at a marketing and an ad agency. And they're like, yeah, I want to help you in LA, be in that position someday.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:36
And la never, I can't believe that. What I find fascinating is that you are known for being online being on YouTube, understanding, online marketing, understanding online branding, and yet you use legacy advertising methods as part of your overall you know, plan. Why do you what kind of return or ROI Do you think you get from these kind of like, would it makes more sense to spend those $3,000 on you know, focused Facebook ads or YouTube ads, as opposed to are you going to get a better ROI? on that? Then bus bench? Look, bus benches are cool as hell and I'm seriously thinking of getting some, but but on an ROI standpoint, like what is it really going to do?

Michael Gallagher 1:03:20
Well, there's, there's different ways to think about it. If you're just concerned about ROI, or just like, the kind of money you're gonna make, you know, from sales. I don't know that outdoor, there's like a one to one of, you know, a bus bench equals as many downloads or rental cars, of course, you have it, I do have a theory about advertising and about selling something, which is that if I haven't heard of it, if I haven't seen it out in the wild, then it's harder for me to as a consumer, just to watch a movie to listen to a song just like I need to, I need to have been in I need to almost been bombarded by it's in three different ways. Like if I saw it out in public, I saw the pre roll ad on on YouTube, and then I see it on Apple TV on, you know, as like a premium movie, then it's like, oh, I've seen this before and then I'm going to check it out. As opposed to something like I've never seen all of a sudden it's just on iTunes or it's just on Amazon. I think that's a harder the harder purchase for me to just go in blind just search around to see what's out true. Whereas if I have the impression of seeing the the key art a few different times, and especially different mediums, I think really helped like even and I really toyed with this and I think next time I'll do it is you know getting pre rolls on podcasts. Because so many people are listening to podcasts. They're in your ears.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:47
I'm available I'm over I'm available, sir. I'm available. You let me know how you want to cut that deal. We'll make that work.

Michael Gallagher 1:04:55
And it's like oh in your ear you're hearing funny story may 24 on you know in theaters and on demand and And then you're seeing it. And then it's like, now you're on Apple TV. And it's like, oh, I've been told it. I watched it, I saw a trailer. And now the movies, you know, trending or whatever. It's in recent discoveries. Now I'm going to watch it.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:11
But you know what this funny thing is, though, that what your theory is, is exactly happened, because it happened to me, because when your poster showed up in my email box, I said, Oh, that's that movie that I saw on the bus bench around the corner. And it added a sense before I even knew who you were like and got into and delved into who you are in your backstory, I automatically associated Oh, this is a real movie. Surely because of the legacy, the legacy marketing that you were using, like, because I know the impression in my mind is a YouTube ads not going to cost nearly as much as a bunch. A bus bench. Yeah, not nearly as much as a billboard for God's sakes. That's like, that's what the studios do. So you already for your small little indie movie, you've already put yourself in the box with the studios, because of that specific move. So it is working. It worked on me. That was that was the first time I because honestly, I was like, Oh, yeah, this and I saw that poster. I'm like, oh, let me dig in a little bit, because I get bombarded with requests to be on the show all the time. But when I saw that, it stopped me. And then I said, Oh, let me dig in. And let me investigate who who's who's Michael galley? I'm like, oh, okay, fine. This makes a lot of sense now, but it was the it was the initial, but honestly, it was the initial looking and I and that's not one billboard, by the way. I've seen it like three, four times. All around all around LA. So it works. It works.

Michael Gallagher 1:06:35
It's good. I'm glad. I'm glad it's working. And yeah, just so you know, it's not like, Oh, we hired some big company do this. It's like now it's it's me. It's me making phone calls. Like, it's not hustling. It's still hustling, you know? I don't know, I haven't gotten to that point where I'm like, Oh, I have a whole staff and everyone's doing everything. It's like, No, I'm still I'm looking at I'm creating marketing assets. I'm cutting trailers

Alex Ferrari 1:06:57
Did you make the poster. Did you make the poster?

Michael Gallagher 1:06:59
I didn't make the poster. But I you know, I know my limits.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:04
That's what I'm saying. It's a nice pose that was good.

Michael Gallagher 1:07:06
But but the the bus benches I did make, I took the key art, and then I remixed the elements if I can do that. Yeah. You know, I mean, so it's like I can I still want to, you know, I saw that in the film spirit in me of like, I'm just gonna go into this.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:20
That's great, man. That's awesome. And I wanted to ask you something in regards to this whole influencer phenomenon, which is basically going on right now and has been going on for many years. Do you think that this is going to like in 20 years, are we going to talk about influencers anymore? Like, do you think there's a window? That's going to close? The I mean, I think the window to be an influencer is it's tighter now than it was five years ago, on YouTube, on Instagram, on Facebook. You know, there's specific places where certain people are making their name. Remember all the guys that vine, and girls are fine. They were like, on a huge vine person. Well, Biden's gone. And then just like, oh, let's just post them all on YouTube. See what happens. Like it's like, yeah, so what do you what do you what do you think? And you know, from your, I'd love to hear your perspective, where do you think this influencer phenomenon is like influence marketing, which is, you know, you guys kind of you were one of the first people to actually do influencer marketing. And now it's become a thing. What do you think and how it's gonna pan out in the future?

Michael Gallagher 1:08:15
Yeah, I think you see someone like, Dwayne The Rock Johnson, you know, and I think we're not far off from him just releasing his own movies on his own app, or something, you know, where because you have somebody who is just a brand. And it doesn't matter if he's doing ballers on HBO, or if he's in, you know, Jumanji or something. It's like, at a certain point, when he makes enough money, he doesn't need the studio. Yeah. And so you have a brand. And it's like, if you like Dwayne, The Rock Johnson, like, you just need to subscribe to his app, or it's like, he can just market directly to his fans. And so I think the follower kind of concept on all these different social media platforms, I think it might collapse into an app or something like that, where every, everyone just has a base, and then they're just, you know, providing content to that base, and they can sell fun. And whether that's Kim Kardashian, or you know, Alex Ferrari, or whoever,

Alex Ferrari 1:09:13
First of all, stop putting my name in the same sentence with Dwayne The Rock Johnson or god forbid kim k. But please, please stop. I've got you. I've got you fooled, sir.

Michael Gallagher 1:09:28
But you know what I'm saying, but I didn't you know, it doesn't matter what your brand is. But I think each person, what influencers are they our brand and what do they sell? It's themselves. It's some it's something about them. And some people you could argue have talent, some people don't, and they're just personalities, but they can attract people and weather and it could be from from anything, but I think the collapsing of the different platforms will happen at some point and I think it'll take someone and it could be you know, you have these Traditional folks like Tom Cruise or something, or it could be, you know, you know, some kid on YouTube with the, you know, just doing this whole thing. And it's like, we learn that like, okay, all of a sudden PewDiePie has this whole little Empire off his app, and he's making $40 million a month or something. And everyone's like, Wait, what? And then it'll take something like that happening, where then everyone jumps in

Alex Ferrari 1:10:21
And that. It's not that far,

Michael Gallagher 1:10:24
Far off. Not at all. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:10:26
I mean, I got I mean, I literally have a streaming service, which is an app, which you download. I'm not making 40 million a month that everybody know that I'm not even close to as many zeros, maybe close to that many zeros, trust me. But it is it is at a certain point. That is something where I think like, I think, I think someone like Tom Cruise who's a little bit more traditional as far as his age and where he came from. I don't think he's, he's not on the he's just not there. But I think the rock is that hybrid. He's the guy who came up. He's like, the middle. He's in the middle. He's like, I'm before the, but I'm embracing it. And I'm built for this medium. And he is he's built for the medium where the young and the old are following him. And that's who you need.

Michael Gallagher 1:11:08
Somebody like Will Smith.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:10
He's, yeah,

Michael Gallagher 1:11:11
He's a YouTuber.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:14
He is right. He's like, literally on the set of bad boys three, with like, the guy who did Bel Air that that great, great trailer for Bel Air. Like if you saw that, right. Oh, it's

Michael Gallagher 1:11:25
It's so great

Alex Ferrari 1:11:26
Great for everyone. Yeah, it's like the dark down and dirty like m&m style, Eight Mile style of Prince, Prince of Bel Air, and it's so frickin good. And you got Will Smith like talking to that filmmaker? on a balcony in Miami? Just like Hey, man, we're like, are you vlogging? Will Smith? Are you really? Are you vlogging?

Michael Gallagher 1:11:47
Will Smith is a weekly vlogger Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:49
He is he is and he does these motivational things. He's, yeah, so like, he saw it, he saw He's like, Oh, I gotta jump on this. This is this is where it's gonna be. And he can leverage his traditional fame to a platform like that, where people like me would follow Him and and younger people who watch the genie will follow him.

Michael Gallagher 1:12:13
I think I think we're gonna see more of that in the future. And whether that's people jumping on a pre existing platforms and just utilizing their celebrity to kind of bring people in. But I do think, you know, with the subscription models and the apps and things, I think we're kind of getting to a place where if they could have it all under one hub, and, you know, apples to apples trying to do that. And I think it'll take a really big personality to just triple down on themselves and do it who has the capital? And maybe it's a company investing in the rock industries? Just like doing it that way? I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:48
But I do think his company is called seven bucks. So because seven bucks, seven bucks, bucks when we started. No, this is fascinating. And I have to ask this question, because I think people would hurt me if I didn't ask this question. Do you have any advice on building a YouTube channel? In today's world, in today's world, not in 2009,2009 2010?

Michael Gallagher 1:13:11

Alex Ferrari 1:13:12
In today's world?

Michael Gallagher 1:13:12
That's a good question. Um, well, I think there's, there's things that you probably heard that I think still apply, which is, you got to come up with a brand, whether that's yourself, or if you're a gamer, you know, gaming, or if it's indie film with tips, be consistent to whatever your brand is. Because so when you go to the grocery store, and you want orange juice, if you take an orange juice container, and the milk in, it doesn't matter how good the milk is, people want orange juice, like in terms of branding, like, I think that's really important for YouTube, like you think of it like a product that you're selling. And it's you, it's your story, it's you know, your, your films, your content. And so, if you create that brand, B, then set a schedule and be consistent set schedule, like live or die by that schedule. So if it's a weekly, if it's daily, just do something manageable that you can commit to, and before you launch, I would stockpile at least a month. So that way, you're not like, you know, if something comes up, then you're not screwed, or, you know, having to be like, Hey, guys, sorry, I couldn't post this week, like, people watching that. Just do it, you know, just like commit to it and do it. And then, and then also, don't be afraid to collaborate with people who are similar to you Don't be like, oh, everyone's competition. It's like, I wouldn't think of everyone as competition. I think of them more as your peers and collaborators. And there's maybe a way that you can provide value to them. So in the same way that I was just called reaching out to the personalities and saying, like, hey, let me make you a star of your own, you know, video creation that I will produce for you. Whatever you can provide. If you have audio equipment, and you notice somebody who's doing a podcast doesn't have audio equipment, or that they should, they should have that maybe you could offer to, you know, let him use your studio or whatever. I mean, there's a million different ways you could think about this stuff. have what you can provide to people, whether that's in person, whether that's, you know, just shouting them out. There's a million different ways, but I think offering value in exchange for collaborating is always a good way to go. And, and yeah, and then I think, I think just being consistent and doing those things, I think that's like the groundwork because it's hard to give advice when you don't have like a specific.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:24
No, it's a very, it's a very broad but like, you look at something like Gary Vee was he was he was arguably one of the godfathers of the internet streaming space because he was there before YouTube. And he can for people who don't know who Gary Vaynerchuk is, please look him up. I mentioned him on the show before he's he's doing okay for himself now. But he created that wine channel, wine t Wine Library TV thing, and he would just every week, just do these wine tasting videos like what's what's a good wine with Oreos? What's a good wine with this? And he did it for like, I think like two years with like, barely anyone watching because nobody was online. And then one day, Conan O'Brien called because when they like, Hey, we need a wine expert. And they look them up. And he was the only guy and they said, Well, he's got 200 episodes, he must know what he's doing. And then the rest as the rest, as they say is history. And that's why a lot of people ask me about my podcast and like, how do you like how'd you get there? I'm like, dude, like, I got 320. As of this recording, I think like 320 something episodes.

And I'm like, it's because I did two podcasts a week because I'm psychotic. And I just kept and I just every week, everyweek

Michael Gallagher 1:16:31
Well, it's because you kept consistent. But more importantly, because you started a lot of people don't even start.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:35
Yes, yes. as a as a as a quote is like the bet. The best. Right? I think it was like the best writing. The Best Writing you never did. Is that better than the worst writing? You know, the best writer You did? is the worst writing you never did or something along those lines. You know what I'm trying to say? Get up and do it.

Michael Gallagher 1:16:54
Yeah, I think Mark duplass has a quote. That's like the 80% rule, because he's a perfectionist. And I know a lot of people are perfectionist and like, I can't start something else is perfect. He has an 8% rule that, you know if it's 80% there, and it's like, oh, that might be like this 20% fuckup. It's okay, just like accept it, say 80% is good enough. And go, because I don't know if we'll ever get to 100% I don't. I never feel like anything I've ever done is 100%. That's like perfection is I think on attainable, but 80% is attainable. And helps. Sometimes in a pinch.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:27
Yeah. And I think 80% or perfectionist I think a lot of is just as a cloak for fear. You're just afraid of moving. You just that's a great excuse, like, Oh, it's not perfect. I gotta go, Oh, I need that red camera. I can't shoot. I can't shoot with that, right. Without a red camera. I know, I need this actor, I need this much money to make this movie. You don't have these illnesses. You just went out and said, like, Hey, I'm gonna go and make stuff and I'm gonna go do stuff. And I'm sure that the videos that you guys were doing at Maker Studios are not 100%. They're not they just like, no, but they're definitely that. But like, if you look even at Mark duplass, you look at puffy chair. He just went out with a camera, and he just shot and he's like, it was I don't even think it was at 80% I think that movie was like 40 or 50%. When he started, he's like, let's just go make something. But yet he made something I was told

Michael Gallagher 1:18:15
There was something there, there was something in there,

Alex Ferrari 1:18:16
There's something there, but at least you got to just go out and try it. And if you fail, you fail. Just do a low budget.

Michael Gallagher 1:18:23
And I can speak as someone who's gone out, you know, it's like that whole, like live life in the arena. You know, it's like, don't be afraid to like, go out there and just, you know, get attacked and have tomatoes thrown at you and get stabbed every once in a while. I've had I think I've every mean thing has ever been said to me and every bad things ever happened. So I can tell you I bounced back. So it's gonna be okay, you're gonna be alright.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:46
Now I'm going to ask you a few questions. Ask all of my guests. If you don't mind, you still have some time?

Michael Gallagher 1:18:51

Alex Ferrari 1:18:52
All right, cool. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Michael Gallagher 1:18:58
The advice I would give for filmmaker breaking into the business today is to do something that you're passionate about. Don't worry about the results. Talk about something you care about and put it out into the world. And, and things will be things will be good.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:14
Now, can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Michael Gallagher 1:19:20
I would say Robert Rodriguez is Rebel Without a crew. definitely read that book like 10 times so good. It's like this great diary of his time in, you know, doing like lab research, like trying to like fund his movie. And he's like doing like all these experiments of food and things and he's like going off and like how he made El Mariachi and then the whole process of taking it to Hollywood and then getting funding and then just kind of going off to the races. And it's a really, it's a really cool book. And even though that path doesn't necessarily exist for us now. It's a great way to see like the the hutzpah that somebody has in their early stages of like, just got to go off and Go make it with the resources you have around you the locations the people. And you know, tell your story.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:05
Have you ever ever ever read his second book? About the making the making of his second movie road racers? I haven't. So if you can find a copy because I had a copy I sold it because it's so damn expensive now. It's rare because they pulled it off, because I think his agents pulled it off the, the the market, because so this is why it happened. Just Just a little bit of knowledge about this. I'm a huge Robert fan. So I'd go deeper. It's about his movie second movie road racers, which was like it's I think it's showtime or Cinemax movie. Right before he did. He did Desperado, they wanted to give him something else to kind of, you know, cut his teeth on. And it's his entire experience working with a film crew or like a professional film crew. And he hated it. Because he was like, they're like, he's talking crap about the DPS talking crap. Everybody's just like laying on everybody these guys are because this is direct. Again, it's the same process as Rebel Without a crew, but for this, and he's like, I just tried to get on my wheelchair and push but no one wants to push me like do my Dolly shots and like, what do you do? That's how we do things. He had a horrible time with that. But I read that book I did get it took me like six months of waiting. But it's available on Amazon like 100 and some dollars. Now if you want to buy it's a paperback, but it's, it's so good. So good. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Michael Gallagher 1:21:27
Yeah, I think lesson, the lesson I've learned that took the longest. That's interesting. I would say I would say that, you know, through the process of making things that you never really know how to make something until you've made it. And then once you've likely say you felt like well, as soon as I'm finished making a film, I'm like, now I want to start because now I know now I know. And that stuff, and then you have to apply it to the next one. But unfortunately, it's like those lessons would be so great. If you could then start from your end point to just go back in time have that Groundhog Day sort of device, and then just go start again. Because I always feel like it takes making a movie to learn how to make that movie. And each one is unique and special in that way. But But you try and take whatever lessons you can apply it to the next one is as best as possible. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:22:22
Spielberg, Spielberg still learning he still says like on every movie, I learned something new as of Steven still at learning will process it, if we're all still learning. Now, what is the biggest fear you had to overcome in making your first features? Or your or your first work in general?

Michael Gallagher 1:22:38
Hmm, I think I first fear is my first fear is not is not finding collaborators that want to collaborate or want to listen to or being steamrolled by others, you know, because I started with young. And so when I was on set of my first feature, I was the youngest person on set, like younger than the PA. And so I was taken. I nobody knew who the hell I was. And so it was just I don't know, it's like the feeling of like being a fraud. I had to get over that imposter syndrome. Yeah. And yeah, I had to get over this imposter syndrome of like, I, what am I doing here? Why? How come I'm the director like, This shouldn't happen. And and so I had to get, I had to find that confidence in myself to say, No, I should be here. And this is why and then that, that just made it like, and it's not yelling at people or being rude or doing anything to like, throw around your power. It's more of just like an internal thing. And so that, that took me a few projects to really get down, being confident in what you're doing the story you're telling and how you're going to do it. Because then if anyone comes up with an idea or a question on something, it's not like, oh, they're attacking me. Because that's, that's like an insecure way to think about it. It's more of now they want to understand it. So they're asking you a question. And then if you're confident yourself, then you can, you can always be able to articulate that to any crew member. So it's having the confidence of in yourself of what you're doing. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:24:10
I By the way, I used to be the youngest guy in the crew to so enjoy it while it lasts sir

Michael Gallagher 1:24:18
I see everybody on set now. And they're like texting, like, Hey, what's going on? They're like, Oh, yeah. And then they say something that sounds like gibberish. And it's like, oh, you're talking about some some app. I've never heard of some old man.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:31
Like I was saying earlier, like, you're like, God, YouTube back in the day, I tell you.

Michael Gallagher 1:24:37

Alex Ferrari 1:24:38
Now, and this is the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time.

Michael Gallagher 1:24:43
Oh, my God. All right. Well, I'll just say the ones that come to the top here. Perfect. Alright, so there's a Big Lebowski. Yes, that's very high. I think the next one I'm going to say is Edwood by tim burton

Alex Ferrari 1:25:03
It was so much fun. I saw that in the theater when it came out and I was like crying not because it was funny, but because I was paying for Ed as a director. Oh, every direct every director should watch that movie. It's so beautiful.

Michael Gallagher 1:25:16
It's so good. And then another one I love that doesn't get a lot of love. And that's what I'm going to mention it is before the devil knows you're dead. And it's Sidney Lumet last movie. Oh, yeah. Sorry. Then Hawk Philip Seymour Hoffman. Marisa Toma Albert Finney. Incredible movie. Oh my god. It's so badass Michael Shannon's. Everyone's in it. And the acting is incredible. The filmmaking it's like, it's so aggressive. He's like, 80 something years old doing this movie. And it feels like a like a really badass indie director went off and made their first gritty crime movie. It's so cool. I don't know what happened. I think it was a distribution thing. It just didn't get a lot of love. But that movie is great. And I recommend it to anyone.

Alex Ferrari 1:25:58
Did you read his book? Making movies?

Michael Gallagher 1:26:00
Oh, yeah, I read that before making anything.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:03
It's so good. It's a good book. I read that too. I was like, Oh my god, you're in there with him. You're like they're going through it with them. It's so awesome. Now where can people find a funny story and find people and find more about you?

Michael Gallagher 1:26:18
Yes. So you go to funny story movie calm but it's also available on Apple TV Amazon to be able to rent or buy and you know, spectrum on demand all that kind of stuff. And then you can find me at totally sketch on Twitter Instagram. Yeah, I'm not that hard to find. Look for the dumb face.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:40
Michael, man, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you, man. And it's been great. Getting into the the history of YouTube almost like you're like a historian sir. of the of that movements. It's, it's great. It really is great. I had one of the co founders of rocket jump in, as well. And we talked about their days, but you have a very unique perspective on it all. And again, if they're if everyone listening, there isn't just one way to do it anymore. Like before, there was just one way to make it in this business. Now there's 1000s of ways, which is scary, but exciting at the same time. And you are definitely proof of that, sir. So thank you for sharing your knowledge bombs with the tribe today.

Michael Gallagher 1:28:34
No, thank you, Alex. Pleasure to be here and honor.

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